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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,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

 

THURSDAY, 24 APRIL 2014

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT CONTINUED VIOLENCE IN EASTERN UKRAINE

  • In a statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, the Secretary-General said that he is deeply concerned about continued violence in eastern Ukraine, which has led to loss of life, further instability and which is contributing to a climate of fear and anxiety.
  • As the stakes are now so high, the Secretary-General is seriously concerned that the situation could quickly spin out of control with consequences we cannot predict. He stresses, in the strongest terms, the necessity for all parties to honour their commitments under the Geneva Statement. Military action must be avoided at all costs. The Secretary-General calls on all sides to immediately refrain from violence, intimidation or provocative actions and find a way forward toward de-escalation.

SOUTH SUDAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO REGIONAL LEADERS TO PROMOTE TALKS BETWEEN PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADER

  • This morning the Secretary-General is made a round of phone calls to Heads of State or Government of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to express his support for their efforts in bringing President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and opposition leader Riek Machar to the negotiating table.
  • The Secretary-General feels that the two parties need to be strongly warned of the consequences of their actions before the country descends into yet further violence.  

SECURITY COUNCIL VOICES HORROR AT MASS VIOLENCE IN SOUTH SUDAN’S BENTIU

  • This morning, the Security Council issued a press statement on South Sudan in which it expressed horror and anger at the mass violence in Bentiu on 14-16 April.
  • The members of the Security Council indicated their willingness to take additional measures, should attacks on civilians and violations of the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement continue.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS ATTACK ON BARGES DELIVERING SUPPLIES TO MALAKAL BASE

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has strongly condemned the attack this morning on a convoy of barges hired by the Mission to deliver urgently needed food and fuel supplies to its base in Malakal, Upper Nile State.
  • The barges came under small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades were also fired at the convoy of four vessels. Four crew members and UNMISS peacekeepers were wounded during the incident.
  • The Mission has not yet established the identity of the assailants.
  • The UN Mission once again calls on the main parties to the South Sudan crisis to comply with the cessation of hostilities agreement they signed in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on 23 January 2014 and also respect the inviolability of UN assets and facilities in South Sudan.

NEARLY 80,000 CIVILIANS SEEKING PROTECTION IN 8 U.N. SITES IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • There are now more than 78,000 civilians seeking protection in 8 UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) bases throughout the country.
  • This includes 32,000 people in Juba, more than 18,000 in Malakal, more than 22,000 in Bentiu and more than 4,800 in Bor.
  • In Juba, UN agencies and partners continue to work on upgrading facilities at the UN bases in to improve the conditions for people sheltering there.
  • Two areas are being developed due to concerns over overcrowding and the risk of disease outbreaks. 
  • A new site, which is being built close to UN House, is expected to host some 13,000 displaced people.
  • A new space within UN Tomping is being cleared to accommodate some 2,000 people who are living in overcrowded parts of the base.

DARFUR SEEING RENEWED VIOLENCE, DISPLACEMENT, U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, briefed the Security Council this morning on the work of the African Union- United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
  • He said that Darfur was currently seeing renewed violence as well as large displacement of population.
  • Ladsous added that in light of the political and security environment in Darfur and of the challenges faced by UNAMID, steps were taken to strengthen and streamline the Mission.
  • He said that the Mission together with the UN Country team, and with the support of UN headquarters, were coming together on more effective strategic operational planning with an oversight mechanism in order to make the best use of available resources.
  • The Security Council is now holding consultations on Darfur, and this afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on Yemen.
  • Asked about the many problems in Sudan and South Sudan, the Spokesperson recalled the need by the Governments and armed groups in those nations to show the necessary will to halt fighting and work toward negotiated solutions of their differences. He said that the Secretary-General and UN officials were working with the parties and key regional leaders to press the various sides to do just that.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS ON PEACEFUL SOCIETIES, URGES END TO DEATH PENALTY

  • The Secretary-General addressed the General Assembly today at the opening of a two-day debate on ensuring stable and peaceful societies.
  • He said that at least 20 per cent of humanity lives in countries experiencing significant violence, political conflict and insecurity, and that countries with major violence have poverty rates more than 20 per cent higher than average.
  • The Secretary-General stressed that violence and homicide are a global phenomenon. He encouraged Member States to work together to develop a post-2015 development agenda that will address the underlying causes of violence and conflict wherever they occur.
  • The Secretary-General also spoke at a panel event this morning on the death penalty.
  • He welcomed the growing trend against capital punishment, with some 160 countries having either abolished the death penalty or no longer practicing it.
  • However, the Secretary-General deplored the fact that many States still execute people with little regard to due process.
  • He emphasized that the right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES ALGERIA FOR PEACEFUL PRESIDENTIAL POLLS

  • In a statement issued this morning on the recent presidential elections in Algeria, the Secretary-General congratulated the people and the Government of Algeria for the overall peaceful manner in which the presidential elections were held.
  • He encouraged the Government of Algeria and all political parties in the country to work together in an inclusive and peaceful manner to maintain stability and strengthen the democratic process in Algeria.

SYRIA: 92.5 PER CENT OF CHEMICAL MATERIALS REMOVED, DESTROYED – JOINT MISSION

  • The OPCW-UN Joint Mission confirmed delivery of a further shipment of chemical weapons material in Syria today. By today, 92.5 percent of Syria’s chemical materials have been removed or destroyed in country.
  • The Joint Mission’s Special Coordinator, Sigrid Kaag, welcomed the significant progress of the last three weeks, and she strongly encouraged the Syrian authorities to conclude the removal operations as part of their efforts to achieve the 30 June 2014 deadline.
  • In addition to the removal operations, the Syrian authorities have destroyed buildings, equipment and empty mustard gas containers, and decontaminated other containers in a number of chemical weapons storage and production sites. A majority of these sites are now closed.
  • Asked about reports that chlorine has been used in combat in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is aware and very concerned about recent media reports on the use of chlorine in the Syrian Arab Republic.
  • The international community has firmly rejected the use of toxic chemicals under any circumstances to inflict harm, as demonstrated by the overwhelming international support for the global ban on such weapons.
  • Haq said that allegations of such use should be made subject to the procedures in terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which is under the purview of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
  • Asked about continuing problems with humanitarian access in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has made clear that, two months since the adoption of Security Council resolution 2139 (2014), none of the parties to the conflict have adhered to the demands of the Council. Civilians are not being protected. The security situation is deteriorating and humanitarian access to those most in need is not improving.
  • Haq said that the Secretary-General believes that the Security Council must take action to deal with these flagrant violations of the basic principles of international law.

U.N. ENVOY MEETS LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER, NOTES U.N. SUPPORT FOR GOVERNMENT IN HOSTING SYRIAN REFUGEES

  • The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam today, and told reporters that he expressed appreciation for the security measures that the Government has been taking. He also emphasized the continued UN support for the Government as it tries to address the challenges of hosting a large number of refugees from Syria.
  • Mr. Plumbly also said that he welcomed the beginning of the presidential election process yesterday and underscored the UN’s concern that it be completed successfully within the timeframe set by law.

WORLD IMMUNIZATION WEEK KICKS OFF, SEEKS TO SPOTLIGHT EFFECTIVENESS OF VACCINES

  • Today is the first day of World Immunization Week 2014. Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners, this week is an opportunity to remind families and communities how effective vaccines can be.
  • Today, immunization averts 2 to 3 million deaths each year from diseases such as diphtheria, measles, pertussis, pneumonia, polio, rotavirus diarrhoea, rubella and tetanus.
  • One important driver of this progress has been the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), which celebrates its 40th anniversary in May 2014.
  • When EPI was established, just 5% of the world’s children were receiving basic immunizations. Now this figure stands at more than 80%.
  • However, more than 22 million of the world’s children (about one-fifth of infants) are still not being immunized with basic vaccines.

U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY MEETS PALESTINIAN PRESIDENT TO DISCUSS HAMAS, FATAH RECONCILIATION

  • In response to questions about an agreement between the Hamas and Fatah movements, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has received reports of progress on Palestinian reconciliation. 
  • The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, is meeting today with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to get his assessment on this important development, among other things.
  • Haq said that the United Nations continues to support Palestinian unity based on the PLO commitments and under the leadership of President Abbas.
    Asked about reports that Israel was suspending negotiations with the Palestinians, the Spokesperson said that recent developments would need to be assessed. He said the members of the Quartet would be expected to evaluate what has happened and would continue to press the parties to continue with negotiations to move forward on the goal of a two-State solution.

KOSOVO: U.N. NOT INVOLVED IN CREATION OF INTERNATIONAL WAR CRIMES COURT

  • In response to a question about the creation of an international war crimes court in Kosovo, the United Nations has not been involved in the discussions related to the establishment of a "specialist court". 
  • The United Nations is, nonetheless, already cooperating with the European Union-led investigation and will continue doing so. 
  • The establishment of the court, in connection with allegations raised in the 2011 Council of Europe's report, should help strengthen the rule of law in Kosovo and ensure accountability.

SECRETARY-GENERAL: INTERNET IS ‘BACKBONE’ OF GLOBAL ECONOMY, ESSENTIAL TO DISSEMINATE INFORMATION

  • In a message yesterday to the Global Multistakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the Secretary-General noted that only through inclusive and bottom-up participation will we be able to foster an accessible, open, secure and trustworthy Internet.
  • He said that the Internet is transforming societies in all regions and that it is the backbone of our global economy and an essential vehicle for disseminating information and ideas. 
  • The Secretary-General said it is essential that Internet governance policies continue to foster freedom of expression and the free flow of information, and that Internet governance should aim for universal access to an interoperable, globally connected and safe online space.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about an attack on foreigners in Afghanistan, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has spoken out clearly against all attacks on civilians in the country, whether nationals or foreigners.
  • Asked about a possible nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly called on the DPRK to avoid provocative steps, including such tests.

***The guest at today’s Noon Briefing was Zainab Hawa Bangura, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. She briefed you on the launch of the Report of the Secretary-General on Conflict-Related Sexual Violence.