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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 1 MAY 2015

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL GRAVELY CONCERNED ABOUT CONTINUING VIOLENCE IN YEMEN AND ITS IMPACT ON CIVILIANS

  • In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed grave concern about the continued ground fighting and aerial bombardment in Yemen and its impact on innocent civilians.
  • More than 1,200 people have been killed and 300,000 have fled their homes in the past six weeks. There are credible reports of families in Aden trapped by the bombardment and snipers targeting civilians in the street.
  • Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, humanitarian warehouses and UN compounds, are unacceptable and in violation of international humanitarian law.
  • The violence has severely blocked shipments of food, fuel and healthcare. All airports are closed to civilian traffic – some have come under direct attack – and naval shipments are being delayed.
  • Yemen’s health, water and sanitation systems and telecommunications services are on the brink of collapse. Humanitarian operations will end within days unless fuel supplies are restored.
  • The Secretary-General urged all parties engaged in military operations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. Attacks on hospitals and health facilities must end immediately.
  • The Secretary-General called on all parties to ensure that humanitarian agencies and their partners have safe and reliable access to bring aid workers and supplies into Yemen and to deliver aid to millions of people in need.
  • He repeated his call for an immediate ceasefire – and short of that humanitarian pauses in areas affected by conflict – and urged the immediate resumption of fuel imports to avoid making the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Yemen even worse.
  • The Security Council will meet in consultations on Yemen at 1 p.m. today.

SECRETARY-GENERAL HOSTS RETREAT WITH HEADS OF REGIONAL AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS

  • The Secretary-General will host a high-level retreat with the heads of regional and other organizations at the Greentree Estate in New York on 1 and 2 May.
  • During the retreat, the Secretary-General will lead panel discussions with participants on cooperation between the UN and regional partners in mediation, the way forward in building and sustaining peace, and the changing role of UN peace operations.
  • The heads of 18 major regional and other organizations, or their representatives, are expected to attend.

GENEVA TALKS ON SYRIA TO START NEXT WEEK

  • The Geneva Consultations on Syria will begin next week Monday, 4 May, at the Palais des Nations and last for an initial period of five to six weeks.
  • The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General Staffan de Mistura has invited as many of the parties as possible, primarily the Syrian parties, (government, opposition and civil society), as well as the regional and international stakeholders, to discuss with him the dire situation in Syria today and to provide their candid views on where we stand regarding the implementation of the Geneva Communiqué.
  • The Special Envoy and the Deputy Special Envoy, Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy, will conduct closed and separate consultations with each party.
  • No major public announcements are expected during, or at the conclusion of, these Consultations. The Special Envoy will assess the progress of his stock-taking at the end of the process and report to the Secretary-General with his findings and recommendations. 

NEPAL: U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF AND HEAD OF E.U. HUMANITARIAN AID CALL FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR EARTHQUAKE-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES

  • Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos and the European Union’s Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Christos Stylianides, appealed in Nepal today to the international community for continued support to the millions of people affected by Saturday’s earthquake.
  • Ms. Amos said that she is heartened and encouraged by the generosity and solidarity shown to date, but that she is also conscious of the urgent need to provide emergency shelter and basic goods and services to people affected as the monsoon season rapidly approaches. So many people have lost everything, she noted.
  • The UN and its partners launched a $415 million flash appeal earlier this week. So far, more than $50 million has been provided, and this amount includes bilateral support, funding for the flash appeal, and money released from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund. Funding is needed immediately to continue the relief operations.
  • A plane chartered by the World Food Programme (WFP) carrying 50 metric tons of high-energy biscuits arrived in Kathmandu yesterday.
  • WFP is also supporting logistics for the entire humanitarian community, and is using a hub at Kathmandu airport to help manage the flow of relief cargo arriving by air.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners have mobilized resources, including medicine and medical equipment, to prevent the possible spread of diarrhoeal diseases.
  • WHO says that after an earthquake of this magnitude, the water supply is often damaged and contaminated, increasing the risk that people drinking it could develop diarrhoeal diseases. Crowded living conditions in temporary shelters also increase the chance that these types of diseases could spread.
  • Following a joint assessment with the Government, WHO found that hospitals in 4 of the worst-affected districts are completely destroyed or too badly damaged to function.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIALS VISIT MALDIVES TO EXAMIN BROADER ISSUES RELATED TO CASE AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT

  • A delegation from the UN Human Rights Office recently visited the Maldives to examine the broader issues related to the criminal case against the former president, Mohammad Nasheed, who is serving a 13-year prison sentence.
  • While in the country from 20 to 23 April, it met with Government and judicial officials, civil society members and with Mr. Nasheed.
  • The delegation found that however serious the allegations against him, the trial of Mr. Nasheed was vastly unfair and his conviction was arbitrary and disproportionate.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CALLS ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC ABHORRENT

  • The Spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today responded to questions about the investigation of sexual abuse of children in the Central African Republic, which are now being investigated by the French authorities. The French authorities have said publicly that that investigation started on 31 July last year.
  • The Spokesperson said that the allegations about what happened to these children are abhorrent. The details, contained in interviews with alleged victims and witnesses by UN investigators, including one of our staff, are utterly odious.
  • The Human Rights Office is extremely glad that the French authorities are investigating this and that they have said they plan to call for the harshest punishments available under the law for anyone found guilty.
  • Meanwhile, there is a second, internal investigation proceeding, which is being carried out by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) at the request of the High Commissioner. 
  • That investigation concerns the manner in which confidential information, and especially the identities of child victims and witnesses, as well as of the  investigators, was communicated to external actors, in possible breach of strict rules that exist to protect victims, witnesses and investigators. 
  • Victims, witnesses and investigators may be extremely vulnerable to reprisals, and we know of plenty of cases elsewhere where they have disappeared. 
  • The OHCHR Spokesperson expressed concern that in recent days copies of a preliminary compilation of unredacted interviews with the children appear to have been given to journalists, possibly with the names still unredacted, and he urged any media organization or other individual that has this document not to circulate that information any further.  The protection of sources must be of paramount importance.

BURINDI: U.N. DEEPLY CONCERNED OVER MEASURES TAKEN TO CURTAIL RIGHTS TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND ASSEMBLY

  • The Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed deep concern about the series of measures taken this week by Burundian authorities to curtail the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful expression and assembly.
  • The reported use of live ammunition by intelligence and security forces during protests is particularly alarming, and the High Commissioner’s Office stresses that restricting independent coverage by closing radio stations, curbing live coverage of protests and curbing the use of social media will not succeed in quashing dissent.
  • It calls for freedom of expression and the right to information to be protected.

OVER 200,000 SOUTH SUDANESE HAVE FLED TO ETHIOPIA SINCE START OF CONFLICT

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that the number of South Sudanese refugees who have fled to Ethiopia since fighting broke out in South Sudan in mid-December 2013 has passed the 200,000 mark, and more are expected amid fresh conflict across the border.
  • UNHCR field staff members have observed a sharp increase in new South Sudanese arrivals, mainly women, children and older people.
  • Most are fleeing from renewed fighting in Upper Nile and Jonglei states or as a precautionary measure. Some young men also say that they are fleeing from alleged forced conscription.

U.N. MISSION IN HAITI CONTINUES TO INVESTIGATE RECENT GUNFIRE INCIDENT

  • In response to a question asked yesterday about Haiti, the Spokesman said that on 28 April around 6 p.m. in Cité Soleil, UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) troops, while carrying out a routine patrol, came under fire by unidentified individuals and responded in self-defence.
  • Subsequently the Haitian National Police’s Public Order Unit arrived on the scene and took the lead in the response. 
  • It was later reported that a Haitian citizen, who died from gunfire, was found in the area where the exchange of fire involving all the parties took place. The Haitian National Police has recovered the body and has launched an investigation into the circumstances of the death of the individual.
  • MINUSTAH for its part has launched a preliminary investigation to ascertain the circumstances of the events.

U.N. PENSION FUND RECEIVES A-RATING ON GLOBAL CLIMATE 500 INDEX

  • The UN Joint Staff Pension Fund received an A-rating on the climate change work being done by the pension plan.  This grading was conducted by a group called Asset Owners Disclosure Project.  This is the second year that they have issued a survey and graded the results. 
  • The Joint Staff Pension Fund is number 21 of all pension plans rated by the survey, which is called the Global Climate 500 Index. A total of 24 pension plans were graded A or better. 

83 MEMBER STATES PAY DUES TO U.N.

  • Indonesia becomes the 83rd Member State to have paid its regular budget dues in full.