HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 26 MARCH 2015
YEMEN: SECRETARY-GENERAL TAKES NOTE OF MILITARY OPERATIONS, REMINDS ALL OF NEED FOR CIVILIAN PROTECTION
- In a statement, the Secretary-General notes that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has announced that, at the request of the Government of Yemen, it has begun military operations in Yemen. He is aware of reports that other states, in particular members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, are also supporting these operations.
- The Secretary-General recalls the Security Council's Presidential Statement of 22 March which, while supporting the legitimacy of the President of Yemen, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, called upon all parties and Member States to refrain from taking any actions that undermine the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen. The Security Council also called on all Member States to refrain from external interference which seeks to foment conflict and instability and instead to support the political transition.
- The Secretary-General reminds all parties involved of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians and of all humanitarian and United Nations and associated personnel, as well as of the rules and principles of international human rights law and refugee law.
- The Secretary-General highly appreciates the tireless efforts of his Special Adviser Jamal Benomar and notes that, despite escalation, negotiations remain the only option for ultimately resolving the Yemeni crisis.
- The Secretary-General will continue to closely monitor the unfolding situation in Yemen.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO EGYPT, KUWAIT
- The Secretary-General will travel tomorrow to Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, to participate in the Summit of the League of Arab States on 28-29 March 2015, before heading to Kuwait City, Kuwait, to chair the third pledging conference for Syria.
- In Sharm el-Sheikh, the Secretary-General will address the opening session of the 26th League of Arab States Summit. He will also hold bilateral meetings with several Heads of State and senior officials attending the meeting, including Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the President of Egypt.
- On Monday, 30 March, the Secretary-General will travel to Kuwait City for the third pledging conference for Syria, organized on 31st of March. He will meet with Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Amir of the State of Kuwait, and hold a series of bilateral meetings in the margins of the conference.
- The Secretary-General will be back in New York on 1 April.
OUTGOING U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY URGES NEW ISRAELI GOVERNMENT TO DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO TWO-STATE SOLUTION
- The Security Council heard this morning from Robert Serry, the departing UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He congratulated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party on winning the highest number of seats in the recent elections but expressed his concern about many of the hardline statements put forward in the final days of campaigning, in particular remarks by the Prime Minister raising serious doubts about Israel’s commitment to the two-state solution. He urged the incoming Israeli government to seize the opportunity of a fresh mandate to quickly demonstrate in words and, more importantly by actions, this commitment.
- Mr. Serry added that there is a genuine possibility that ending Palestinian security coordination with Israel may be the final nail in the coffin of the Oslo Accords. However, there is still time for parties to end the cycle of counterproductive action and counteraction.
- He said that, as the parties do not appear at this point ready to recommence negotiations, we should not rush them back to the table. But he added that if indeed we believe that they do continue to seek an outcome of two neighbouring states living in peace and security, the international community should seriously consider presenting a framework for negotiations, including parameters, to achieve this. This may be the only way to preserve the goal of a two-state solution, in the present circumstances.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in its annual overview for 2014, said today that 2014 witnessed the highest civilian death toll for Palestinians since 1967. In Gaza, 1.8 million people experienced an escalation of hostilities, which resulted in more than 1,500 Palestinian civilian fatalities, including more than 550 children, and left some 100,000 residents without a home.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO, BOOSTS NUMBERS OF PERSONNEL FOR CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC MISSION
- The Security Council extended this morning the mandate of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) for another year. The Council endorsed the recommendation of the Secretary General to reduce the force by 2,000 troops.
- The Council also decided to authorize an increase of 750 military personnel, 280 police officers and 20 correction officers for the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
- This afternoon, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos will brief the Security Council on Syria.
VISITING NIGERIA, U.N. ENVOY CALLS FOR PEACEFUL POLLS
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa (UNOWA), Mohammed Ibn Chambas, continues to follow closely the situation in Nigeria. Today, he is scheduled to travel to Gombe State in the north-east of Nigeria to meet with the State authorities.
- As part of his mission in Nigeria, which started on 15 March, Mohammed Ibn Chambas met yesterday in Port Harcourt Rivers State with the Governor, the PDP Gubernatorial candidate, and the State Resident Commissioner of Nigeria Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
- Mr. Chambas conveyed to all interlocutors the Secretary-General’s message for peaceful, free and credible elections. He urged all stakeholders to strive towards achieving this objective. In particular, he called on the security apparatus to be above board and to demonstrate professionalism in discharging its duties during and after elections.
NUMBER OF ASYLUM APPLICATIONS IN INDUSTRIALIZED COUNTRIES REACHES 22-YEAR HIGH – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced today that the number of asylum applications in industrialized countries reached a 22-year high last year.
- Almost 900,000 were lodged in those countries; that is a 45 per cent increase from 2013, and the highest since 1992, at the beginning of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Syrians were by far the largest group among those seeking asylum in 2014, with almost 150,000 applications, one in every five asylum claims in the industrialized world.
- Iraqis accounted for 68,700 applications, almost double the number in 2013.
- Afghans were the third largest group, with almost 60,000 applications, followed by citizens of Serbia and Eritreans.
- The industrialized country receiving the largest number of asylum-seekers in 2014 was Germany, followed by the United States, Turkey, Sweden and Italy.
- UNHCR also says that the Russian Federation, which is not included in this report for methodological reasons, received some 265,400 applications for temporary asylum and 5,800 applications for refugee status from Ukrainians during 2014.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO OPEN FIRST-EVER MEETING OF SENIOR MILITARY OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS U.N. PEACEKEEPING
- The Secretary-General will open the first-ever Chiefs of Defence Conference at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber tomorrow. The event will gather chiefs of defence and senior military officials from more than 100 Member States to discuss issues central to UN Peacekeeping (DPKO).
- This historic conference is part of a wider process of engagement with Member States to expand the peacekeeping partnership and promote effective and efficient implementation of complex mission mandates.
- Closing remarks will be delivered by the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, and Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous.