HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 22 DECEMBER 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL: EBOLA REMAINS AN EMERGENCY, THERE CAN BE NO LET-UP IN EFFORTS
- The Secretary-General briefed the media on his recent trip to Ebola-affected countries in West Africa, where he went to show solidarity and to thank the courageous health workers who have inspired the world.
- He explained that he met with international, national and civil society partners, had a chance to personally thank UN personnel on the ground, and spent time with local doctors and others who are the cornerstone of the response to Ebola.
- The Secretary-General said that he had an especially memorable and moving encounter at a local Ebola Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone with a nurse named Rebecca Johnson, who contracted the disease, survived and then immediately became a caregiver again.
- He added that during his visit, he saw the progress that was being made but that despite inroads, Ebola remains an emergency and there can be no let-up in our efforts.
- He said that four steps were especially urgent: adapting our approach to fit the emerging picture of the crisis, increasing emphasis on hunting the virus, stepping up recovery efforts and learning the lessons of Ebola, which go well beyond strengthening public health systems.
- The Secretary-General also stressed that the immediate goal was zero cases and reiterated that Ebola caregivers should be praised, not shunned.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) and the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation today launched a public fundraising campaign with Tencent, one of the world’s largest internet companies. Funds raised from the campaign will go towards WFP’s emergency operations to meet basic food and nutrition needs of affected families and communities in the three countries worst impacted by Ebola –Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
- Since the Ebola outbreak was first identified in West Africa in April, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 2 million people and has supported the medical response through logistical services for the entire humanitarian community, including air transport of people and good.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET ON DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA
- The Security Council met on its working methods this morning. In the afternoon, at 3 p.m., it is expected to meet on a letter sent by a number of countries on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
- During the meeting, Council members will be briefed by Taye-Brook Zerihoun, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. Mr. Simonovic is expected at the media stakeout following the meeting.
FIGHTING CONTINUES IN PARTS OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has reported that it is concerned over fighting over the weekend in several locations in the country, which also involved armed confrontations between anti-Balaka members and peacekeepers.
- On Saturday, anti-Balaka elements clashed with peacekeepers in Berberati when MINUSCA troops were deployed to prevent anti-Balaka attacks in the area. One anti-Balaka member and one civilian were killed as a result of the clash, and the Mission also recovered a number of weapons.
- On Sunday, an armed confrontation occurred between anti-Balaka members and peacekeepers in Nola, in the Sangha Mbaere prefecture. As a result, four anti-Balaka members were apprehended and disarmed. One MINUSCA peacekeeper and one civilian were slightly injured.
- The Mission has also received reports on fighting near Bambari on 20 December when anti-Balaka launched an attack against the ex-Seleka branch of "General" Ali Darass. Reportedly three ex-Seleka and four civilians were killed, and four others were wounded.
- Today, the Mission says the situation is tense in Bataganfo, located in the North of the country, following the killing of two ex-Seleka member by anti-Balaka members.
- The Mission is closely monitoring the situation and addressing these issues both through political channels and providing security with its troops. The Human Rights Division of the Mission will also deploy a mobile Human Rights unit to investigate further.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED OVER LIFTING OF MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY IN PAKISTAN AND JORDAN
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said that he deeply regrets the lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan and Jordan in recent days. Both countries have resumed executions, reversing the moratoria on the death penalty that they had put in place in 2008 for Pakistan and 2006 for Jordan.
- Mr. Zeid said that this was particularly disappointing given that just last week, a record 117 States voted in the UN General Assembly in favour of an international moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
- The High Commissioner also stressed that no justice system, no matter how robust, can guarantee against wrongful convictions. He urged the Governments of Pakistan and Jordan to re-impose the moratoria on the death penalty.
10 YEARS AFTER INDIAN OCEAN TSUNAMI, COUNTRIES ARE BETTER PREPARED TO DEAL WITH DISASTERS
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has said that 10 years after one of the world’s worst natural disaster, which affected hundreds of thousands of people in South and Southeast Asia, countries in the region are now better prepared to deal with tragedies like the Indian Ocean Tsunami.
- The agency adds that many countries in the region have improved their ability to reduce the risks and mitigate the damage of natural disasters, and protect their agriculture and food systems.