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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO ETHIOPIA TO ATTEND A.U. SUMMIT

  • The Secretary-General is expected to travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Thursday, where he is scheduled to address the opening ceremony of the 24h Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union on 30 January.
  • He will also attend other meetings on the margins of the African Union gathering. These include the 29th Extraordinary Summit of the Intergovernmental Authority on development and an African Union peace and Security Council meeting on South Sudan, Boko haram and Ebola.
  • The Secretary-General will also co-host an Ebola event with the Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
  • He will hold a series of meetings with the Heads of State and Governments present in Addis Ababa.

KING ABDULLAH GUIDED SAUDI ARABIA’S DEVELOPMENT AND REGIONAL PEACE, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL

  • The Secretary-General signed a condolence book for the passing of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • In the book, the Secretary-General wrote that King Abdullah guided his country’s development and advanced regional peace and security, as well as counter-terrorism and that he contributed generously to humanitarian relief and anti-hunger programmes.
  • The Secretary-General also noted the King's devotion to promoting inter-faith dialogue.
  • Over the weekend, the Deputy Secretary-General travelled to Saudi Arabia, where he represented the Secretary-General at a condolence ceremony to pay the UN’s respect following the King’s passing.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General, while in Riyadh, also met with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General praised King Abdullah’s major contributions to the progress and prosperity of the Kingdom, as well as his efforts to address regional and international challenges at a time of turmoil and rapid change.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General is back in New York. Today the UN flag is flying at half-mast today to observe the passing of King Abdullah.

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE UNDERMINES U.N.’S WORK, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL

  • The Secretary-General held an internal high-level meeting right now concerning sexual exploitation and abuse by UN personnel.
  • The meeting was intended to endorse recommendations in the Report of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and Department of Field Support (DFS) Working Group on Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.
  • The outcome of the meeting will be presented to the General Assembly in a forthcoming report by the Secretary-General.
  • At today’s meeting, the Secretary-General made clear the point that sexual exploitation and abuse undermines the noble work done by UN personnel who serve with honour in some of the toughest places on earth.
  • He said that we must all be resolved to create a UN that lives up to the public’s trust and that combats any form of sexual exploitation or abuse.
  • The approach he presented to deal with such cases is based on three key elements: prevention, enforcement and remediation.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDENMS HORRIFIC CRIMES AGAINST JAPANESE HOSTAGES

  • The Secretary-General condemned the horrific crimes committed against the Japanese hostages, including the beheading of Haruna Yukawa.
  • The Secretary-General has been condemning all the crimes committed by extremist groups in both Syria and Iraq, and he again called on anyone who is holding hostages in any country to release them unconditionally.
  • The Secretary-General will be writing to the Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, to extend his condolences for Mr. Yukawa’s death.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON CYPRUS, YEMEN AND UKRAINE

  • The Security Council discussed Cyprus in closed consultations this morning. Under other matters, Security Council members also received an update on Yemen from the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser Jamal Benomar, who spoke by video conference from Sana’a.
  • This afternoon at 1 p.m., the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the Council, in an open meeting, on the situation in Ukraine.

U.N. ENVOY IN YEMEN CONTINUES TO CONSULT WITH POLITICAL PARTIES IN SANA’A

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, continues his work in Sana'a. He has been convening and chairing daily meetings of 16 political parties in order to build consensus on an agreement for the way forward.
  • He met this morning bilaterally with the Houthi leadership, the President of the Islah party, and senior leaders of the General People's Congress. Mr. Benomar also remains in close touch with Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as well as Security Council members.

OVER 900,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED BY CRISIS IN UKRAINE

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that renewed fighting in the east of Ukraine and indiscriminate shelling has resulted in civilian casualties, triggering additional displacement and the destruction of infrastructure, with more than 900,000 people have been registered as internally displaced as of 21 January.
  • The UN Humanitarian Country Team continues to appeal to all parties to the conflict to ensure full and unimpeded access to all in need, as well as to ensure the safety and security of humanitarian staff and supplies.
  • The Secretary-General strongly condemned Saturday’s rocket attack on the city of Mariupol.  He also further denounced the unilateral withdrawal from the ceasefire by rebel leadership, and particularly their provocative statements about claiming further territory.
  • In the statement, the Secretary-General said that this constitutes a violation of their commitments under the Minsk accords.
  • The Secretary-General urged all concerned to redouble their efforts to revive the Minsk accords. Ukraine's peace, territorial integrity and stability, intrinsically linked to that of the broader region, must be urgently restored, he added.

U.N. ENVOY IN D.R. CONGO APPLAUDS COMPROMISE ON REVISION TO ELECTORAL LAW

  • The head of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler, congratulated the Parliament on reaching a compromise on the revision of the electoral law.
  • Mr. Kobler said that the wisdom shown by parliamentarians in reaching a compromise and reconciling the different positions, in line with the Constitution and especially with regard to the electoral timeframe, is remarkable and will have a beneficial effect.
  • He also applauded the political stakeholders for demonstrating their common resolve to preserve social peace, and a better representation of women that the new law guarantees.

NEW ROUND OF TALKS ON LIBYA CONVENES IN GENEVA

  • A new round of UN-facilitated Libyan political dialogue started today in Geneva. Libyan parties, including representatives from women’s groups and the civil society, have gathered to continue discussions on ways to end the political and security crisis in the country.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Mr. Bernadino Leon, said the current session follows a round of talks which were held earlier this month in Geneva.
  • Mr. Leon said that the atmosphere and discussions remain positive. He has encouraged all parties to approach the talks in a spirit of openness and reconciliation, guided by the national interest of the Libyan people.

U.N. CONDEMNS ABDUCTION OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC’S YOUTH MINISTER

  • The UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) condemned the abduction of the country’s Youth and Sport Minister, Armel Sayo, which took place yesterday.
  • The Mission called for his immediate release. It also says that it is using all means it can, under its mandate, to assist the national authorities in this matter.
  • The Senior Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, Claire Bourgeois, has called for greater protection of displaced communities after visiting Batangafo last week, where there are now more than 30,000 displaced people and a continuous influx of newly displaced.
  • She said immediate action is needed to ensure the safety and protection of civilians who are at severe risk of attacks in the region, especially in the western area.

A.U.-U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR FACILITIES LAUNCH OF DARFUR INTERNAL DIALOGUE AND CONSULTATIONS

  • The African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) today facilitated the launch of the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultations process at El Fasher University in North Darfur.
  • The event brought together the Government of Sudan, Darfur Regional Authority officials and members of the Darfur Internal Dialogue and Consultations Implementation Committee, as well as representatives of the Darfur civil society and internally displaced people and UN and African Union officials.
  • This remains an important step towards the integration of the Doha Document Peace Darfur at the grassroots level.

HEALTH CHALLENGES WORLD FACES IN POST-2015 ERA ARE CONSIDERABLE SAYS HEAD OF W.H.O.

  • The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan yesterday presented her report to the Executive Board of the organization, in which she said that the health challenges we will face in the post-2015 era are considerable.
  • She said that with the rise of chronic non-communicable diseases, the sharp divide between health problems in wealthy and developing countries is dissolving.
  • She added that the challenges ahead are more complex than they were at the start of this century. For many of them, delivering medical commodities will not be enough, as reducing several major health threats requires action from multiple non-health sectors and behavioural change.
  • Finally, she drew attention to the current plague outbreak in Madagascar, warning that the fleas that transmit the disease from rats to humans have developed resistance to the first-line insecticide. Consequently, plague established a foothold in the capital city of Antananarivo, affecting densely populated slums.
  • Dr. Chan asked the Executive Board to keep in mind the need for a strong and flexible Organization, well-equipped to respond to these kinds of surprises, setbacks, and complex dangers, as they discuss the draft programme budget 2016–2017 and WHO reform.

EBOLA HAS TAUGHT THE WORLD MANY LESSONS, SAYS HEAD OF W.H.O.

  • The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Margaret Chan, also addressed a special session of the Organization’s Executive Board on the current Ebola outbreak.
  • She stressed that it was West Africa’s first experience with the virus, and that it delivered some horrific shocks and surprises. The world, including WHO, was too slow to see what was unfolding before us, she said.
  • Dr. Chan added that Ebola was a tragedy that taught the world, including WHO, many lessons, including about how to prevent similar events in the future. Factors such as culture, history, geography, and weak road and health infrastructures produced a mix of opportunities that the virus quickly exploited, she highlighted.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Dr. David Nabarro, also addressed the Executive Board. He said that as we enter 2015, the evidence is clear that the strategy to end the outbreak is working. He added that the goal is to track and contain Ebola until there are no cases anywhere, and that ending the outbreak will require sustained commitment from the global coalition of actors.
  • The Kingdom of Bahrain has contributed US$1 million to the Secretary-General’s UN Ebola Trust Fund. Bahrain is the first Gulf country to contribute to this Fund established to provide support to the UN Ebola response, bringing the total of contributions to US$140 million.
  • Dr. Chan also flagged the current plague outbreak in Madagascar, warning that fleas that transmit the disease from rats to humans have developed resistance to first-line insecticide. Consequently, plague established a foothold in the capital of Madagascar, affecting densely populated areas.

FIFTEEN COUNTRIES PAY DUES TO U.N. IN FULL

  • As of 23 January, 15 Members States have paid their dues to the UN’s regular budget in full. Some of the most recent contributors included Austria, Finland and Luxembourg.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • The Spokesman said that the UN building will be closed from 2:30 p.m. today as well as tomorrow. He added that the UN will make a decision either late tomorrow evening or very early on Wednesday morning whether we will reopen on Wednesday.
  • Despite the closure, the Secretary-General's programme for the rest of today will continue as scheduled. He is expected to meet President Reuven Rivlin of Israel, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom of Sweden and Minister of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno of Colombia.
  • The Spokesman’s office will post highlights of major developments on the Spokesman’s page by about noon on 26 January.