Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 2 OCTOBER 2014

 

EBOLA CASES IN WEST AFRICA TOP 7,000 – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

  • According to the latest figures from the World Health Organization (WHO), the total number of cases in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is now 7,178, with 3,338 reported deaths.
  • The upward epidemic trend continues in Sierra Leone and most probably also in Liberia. By contrast, the situation in Guinea appears to be more stable, though it must be emphasized that in the context of an Ebola outbreak, a stable pattern of transmission is still of a very grave concern, and could change quickly.
  • In Liberia today, the Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Anthony Banbury, spoke to the press to present the Mission’s priorities.
  • He also visited Lofa’s county treatment centre and met with senior government officials, civil society, NGOs, the UN Country team and the peacekeeping mission to gather their needs.
  • On funding, we would like to welcome Australia’s announcement of an additional contribution of $10 million to the international response.  
  • The Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, said it was exactly the kind of quick and effective response the UN is asking of Member States given the complexity and scale of the crisis.
  • This will bring Australia’s total contribution to the Ebola response to $18 million, in addition to the more than $40 million provided to the World Health Organization over the past year to support global health services, activities rather.
  • We would like to encourage other countries to also intensify their support to the international response.
  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Humanitarian Coordinator Moustapha Soumaré has allocated $2.5 million to fight the Ebola outbreak in Equateur province.
  • Some $1.8m will go to the World Food Programme (WFP) to buy food and also to run the Humanitarian Air Services (UNHAS), and UNICEF will also receive for health, water, hygiene, and sanitation projects.
  • As of yesterday, 1 October, 43 people had died out of 70 Ebola cases in Boende district, some 600 km north of the capital Kinshasa.

NEW U.N. REPORT SPOTLIGHTS GROSS HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES CARRIED OUT BY I.S.I.L. IN IRAQ

  • In Iraq, the ISIL group and associates have committed a staggering array of gross human rights abuses and acts of violence of an increasingly sectarian nature during a recent nine-week period, as well as a number of violations committed by Iraqi security forces and others in their efforts to combat ISIL, according to a report, produced jointly by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, covering the period from July 6 to September 10.
  • The acts by ISIL include attacks directly targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, executions and other targeted killings of civilians, abductions, rape, and forced recruitment of children, among others.
  • Nickolay Mladenov, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, called the report terrifying, and said that Iraqi leaders must act in unity to restore control over areas that have been taken over by ISIL and implement inclusive social, political and economic reforms.
  • Meanwhile, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that many of the group’s acts may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity.

SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST HOMS BOMBINGS, VOICES GRATITUDE TO HEAD OF CHEMICALS WEAPONS MISSION

  • Two Syria-related statements were issued yesterday afternoon.
  • In one, the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest terms the bomb attacks in Homs which reportedly killed 39 people, including 30 schoolchildren between the ages of six and nine. He regards this as an act of the utmost depravity.
  • In a separate statement on the closure of the Joint OPCW-UN Mission on 30 September 2014, the Secretary-General expressed his deep gratitude to the Special Coordinator, Ms. Sigrid Kaag, as well as all the staff members from both the UN and the OPCW, who have worked under difficult and often dangerous conditions to complete the elimination of the declared chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic.

SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES U.N.-BACKED MEETING AS STEP TOWARDS RESOLVING LIBYAN STALEMENT

  • The Security Council has issued a press statement welcoming the UN-facilitated meeting between members of the Libya’s House of Representatives in Ghadames on 29 September as an important step towards a peaceful resolution of the current political stalemate in Libya.
  • Council members expressed their strong support for efforts to address differences between the parties through peaceful dialogue. And they welcomed the agreement for the UN to facilitate another meeting following the Eid al-Adha holiday. 
  • Also the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Bernardino Leon, yesterday called the Libyan House of Representatives’ commitment to political dialogue an encouraging sign.

SOUTH SUDAN: CALM RETURNS TO U.N. PROTECTION SITE AFTER SOLDIERS ATTEMPT TO ENTER CAMP

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that yesterday, around a dozen armed soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) moved to the perimeter of the Bentiu camp in Unity State. More than 47,000 uprooted people are being protected at that site.
  • The soldiers were asked not to enter the camp and did not get inside, but their presence resulted in panic among those sheltering at the site. Some of them ran to the parts of the compound reserved for Mission staff.
  • No weapons were fired and the situation returned to normal several hours later.
  • UNMISS reminds all parties of the inviolability of UN premises and reaffirms its resolve to defend its protection of civilian sites and personnel. The Mission is also working with community leaders.

MORE THAN 96,000 SOUTH SUDAN REFUGEES FLEE TO NEIGHBOURING SUDAN – U.N. RELIEF WING

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 96,000 South Sudanese refugees have sought refuge in Sudan since last December.
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that there has been an upsurge in this number in late September, when 3,500 people crossed into Sudan’s White Nile State following renewed fighting in Renk in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State.
  • The Refugee Agency welcomes the decision by the Government of White Nile State to open a new site for refugees, but says that additional camps will likely be needed.

ON EVE OF ANNIVERSARY OF LAMPEDUSA DISASTER, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY URGES STEPPED UP ACTION FOR MEDITERRANEAN RESCUES

  • On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the disaster off the coast of the Italy, of the island of Lampedusa, in which hundreds of African migrants died, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said that irregular crossings of the Mediterranean are becoming more deadly.
  • The Agency noted that there has been an alarming increase in the numbers of people perishing while attempting to make the journey to Europe in the third quarter of this year.
  • Between July and September, 90,000 people have crossed to Europe, and at least 2,200 have died making the journey.
  • This is compared to 75,000 people crossing and 800 deaths in the entire first half of this year.
  • In light of the dangers, UNHCR is reiterating its call for Europe to commit more resources to carry out rescues in the Mediterranean and to step up efforts to provide legal alternatives to dangerous voyages.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP GENEVA VISIT

  • The Secretary-General is wrapping up his visit today to Geneva, where he visited a number of UN offices today and yesterday. He will be back at UN Headquarters tomorrow morning.
  • Earlier today, he visited the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and he met with the new Executive Secretary, Christian Friis Bach. He was sworn in and Erol, in response to a question I think you had asked he was sworn in for a term of two years.
  • He also visited the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein. He spoke to the staff at both bodies about the work they will be doing under their new leadership.

FUNDING GAP COULD JEOPARDIZE EFFORTS TO END LOCUST PLAGUE IN MADAGASCAR, SAYS U.N. AGRICULTURE AGENCY

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is warning today that a gap in funding is threatening progress to halt a locust plague in Madagascar.
  • By April 2014, the locust had spread towards the country’s largest rice crop areas in the northwest and threatened the livelihoods of 13 million people.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW TEMPORARY SENIOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS OFFICIAL

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Jens Toyberg-Frandzen of Denmark as Assistant Secretary-General ad interim for Political Affairs.
  • Mr. Toyberg-Frandzen will succeed Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina, who will take up his new appointment as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support on 1 November.
  • The Secretary-General is very grateful to Mr. Fernandez-Taranco for his dedication and commitment to the Organization during his term as Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs. A search for a permanent Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs is on-going.
  • Mr. Toyberg-Frandzen most recently served as United Nations Resident Coordinator and head of the UNDP office ad interim in Ukraine.

ON NON-VIOLENCE DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL ADVOCATES ADVANCE OF GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP, FORGING OF HUMAN SOLIDARITY

  • Marking the International Day of Non-Violence, in a message to commemorate the birth and philosophy of Mahatma Gandhi, the Secretary-General calls on everyone to counter the forces of intolerance, advance global citizenship and forge human solidarity. 
  • Earlier today, speaking on the Secretary-General’s behalf at an event commemorating the Day, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said that all too often the response to violence is more violence when, in fact, reconciliation and dialogue is needed.

STRENGTH OF U.N. GOLAN FORCE TOPS 900

  • In response to questions about the status of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the Spokesman said that as of yesterday, the total strength of Force was more than 900 peacekeepers from five countries: Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal and the Netherlands. UNDOF Headquarters functions are being carried out at Camp Ziouani and in Damascus on an interim basis. UNDOF peacekeepers are currently manning a number of strategic positions in the area of separation and along the Alpha line. UNDOF continues to monitor the ceasefire line, report and liaise with the parties to the Disengagement Agreement.
  • UNDOF operations are also being supported by the Observer Group Golan (OGG) military observers, who have continued to man UN Observation Posts, including several temporary posts, along the ceasefire line and in its vicinity on the Alpha side.

U.N. WORKING ON IMPLEMENTATION OF DEAL ON CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS ENTERING GAZA

  • In response to questions about the status of the agreement to bring construction materials into Gaza, the Spokesman said that the Office of UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry says that the mechanism to deal with construction material in Gaza has not yet been implemented, but that his office is working with the parties on a quick implementation.
  • On how many people are still sheltering in UN facilities in Gaza, the Spokesman said that number is 54,646 in 18 buildings belonging to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).