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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

FRIDAY, 25 JULY 2014

 

IN CAIRO, SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TALKS ON POSSIBLE MIDDLE EAST CEASEFIRE

  • The Secretary-General is in Cairo and has been in intense discussions with a number of key interlocutors, including the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the US Secretary of State, as they work to build support for a possible ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.
  • The Secretary-General also spoke to the staff of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza by video link today. He expressed his deep appreciation and thanks for the brave work that they were doing. The staff briefed the Secretary-General on their efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. He also heard about the daily challenges they face.
  • Yesterday evening, he spoke to the press after meeting US Secretary of State John Kerry, and he told the Israelis and Palestinians, “You must stop fighting, and enter into dialogue. Whatever grievances you may have, this is wrong.”
  • The Secretary-General arrived in Cairo after visiting Iraq yesterday, and he concluded that trip by traveling to Erbil, where he met with President Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
  • Speaking to the press afterward, he said that in this difficult time, it is important that all political leaders exert maximum effort to engage in meaningful and constructive dialogue within the framework of the Constitution.  This crisis requires leaders in Erbil and leaders in Baghdad work together to maintain the unity of the country within its federal system and remove the dangers of further tensions and conflicts.
  • Asked further about the Secretary-General’s diplomatic efforts, the Spokesman said that he had also spoken by phone with the Foreign Ministers of Turkey and Qatar.
  • He added that the Secretary-General was continuing to see what kind of pressure could be brought on all side to obtain a ceasefire. The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that an immediate halt to the fighting is essential, after which the parties need to look at root causes so that the fighting that Gaza has experienced in recent years does not recur.

GAZA: U.N. TEAM'S ATTEMPT TO SURVEY ATTACKED SCHOOL IN BEIT HANOUN CUT SHORT BY GUNFIRE

  • This afternoon in Gaza, a team from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which included an international weapons expert, went to the school at Beit Hanoun which came under attack yesterday, causing multiple deaths and injuries. The aim of the visit to the site was to survey the scene in the aftermath of the incident.
  • The mission had to be cut short and the team was forced to leave the area after gunfire around the school. The Relief and Works Agency regrets not being able complete even this initial assessment. It will attempt to visit the site when the situation allows. UNRWA reiterates its call for an immediate and comprehensive investigation.
  • Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said that the bombing of the UNRWA school in Gaza and the death of innocent children will be seen as an international outrage. He said that schools should never be theatres of war but should be safe havens for boys and girls.
  • Asked about efforts to evacuate people from the Beit Hanoun school before the Thursday attack, the Spokesman said that UNRWA had sought clearance to evacuate people from the school so that they could leave safely, because of concerns about fighting in the area. They had not received that clearance before the attack.
  • Asked whether Israel was responsible, Haq reiterated that it is not known yet who was responsible for the attack, which is why it was important to conduct an investigation.
  • Asked about UNRWA casualties, he said that no UNRWA staff were believed to be killed in the Beit Hanoun attack but three UNRWA schoolteachers had been killed in separate incidents in recent days.
  • Asked about the treatment of UN premises, the Spokesman said that the message to all sides is that UN premises are off limits, and should neither be attacked nor used for military activity or the storage of weapons. He said the inviolability of UN premises is essential so that facilities like the UNRWA schools can provide protection to innocent civilians.

IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DESTRUCTION OF HISTORIC MONUMENTS IN MOSUL

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, has condemned in the strongest terms the recent destruction of the Prophet Jonas tomb and mosque in Mosul, as well as several other historic monuments symbolizing shared history and traditions.
  • Mr. Mladenov said that the systematic persecution of minorities and the destruction of cultural heritage and ancient landmarks, sacred to both Islam and Christianity, show the Islamic State’s total contempt for human values. 
  • He called on the international community and Iraq’s political, religious and civic leaders to unequivocally condemn these acts.
  • Asked about an alleged edict on female genital mutilation, the Spokesman said that the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) is aware that the Deputy Special Representative Jacqueline Badcock made reference to it during a press conference with Geneva, but is trying to clarify in which context it was said.
  • The United Nations is looking into the issue and trying to verify the information and will clarify accordingly. At this point, Haq said, the United Nations cannot confirm or deny any of the media reports on the subject.

CONVOY CARRYING U.N. AID CROSSES INTO SYRIA FROM TURKEY

  • Asked about aid deliveries to Syria, the Spokesman said that on Thursday, a convoy of nine trucks crossed into Syria from the Turkish crossing at Bab al-Salam, carrying UN food, shelter, water purification and sanitation supplies

MALI: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES PARTIES ON ADOPTING ROADMAP, BUT VOICES CONCERN OVER CLASHES IN NORTH

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General has congratulated the Malian parties on the adoption of a consensual roadmap at the end of the first round of the inter-Malian negotiations hosted by Algeria. He commends participants for their willingness to engage in constructive dialogue in line with the 18 June 2013 Ouagadougou Agreement. He welcomes Algeria’s constructive role in this process and notes that the second phase of the negotiations will start in mid-August.
  • The Secretary-General nonetheless remains deeply concerned by the deteriorating security situation in parts of Northern Mali, including armed confrontations. Such confrontations violate the Ouagadougou Agreement and the Ceasefire Agreement of 23 May 2014.
  • The Secretary-General calls on all parties to immediately cease all hostilities and to cooperate with the MINUSMA-led joint security commission agreed upon in Algiers. This is essential to foster conditions favourable to the progress of the ongoing talks.
  • Bert Koenders, the head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), responded to the confirmation of the location of the crash of the Air Algérie flight by instructing civilian, military and police personnel to put into practice the plans already in place to assist the Malian and French authorities in search and rescue efforts. The wreckage was located in Mali, in the area between Mopti and Gao.
  • Early this morning, the UN Mission deployed two Apache helicopters to monitor the site and troops to secure the area where the remains are located. MINUSMA also deployed medical personnel and equipment, as well as forensic experts.
  • Mr. Koenders said that he was deeply saddened by the air disaster and offered his sincere condolences to the Governments of Algeria, France and all the countries whose nationals were on board the flight, as well as to the families and friends of the victims.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW DEPUTY HEAD OF U.N. MALI MISSION

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Arnauld Antoine Akodjènou of Benin as his Deputy Special Representative in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
  • Mr. Akodjènou succeeds Abdoulaye Bathily of Senegal, who has been appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa.  The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Bathily’s dedicated service during his tenure in Mali and for his leadership in a very challenging environment.
  • Mr. Akodjènou is currently serving as the Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. RELIEF AGENCIES WORRIED ABOUT POSSIBILITY OF FAMINE

  • At the press briefing in Geneva today, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that it remains concerned about the possibility of famine in South Sudan. The agency added that it needs better humanitarian access to people in need and more financial resources to avert a hunger catastrophe. WFP warned that if the world waited to respond until famine was declared, then it would be too late.
  • WFP is currently facing a funding shortage that makes it almost impossible to carry out lifesaving operations in the coming months. It needs $143 million to provide food assistance to millions of people until the end of August.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that some 1.1 million people in South Sudan are facing emergency levels of food insecurity, which is associated with exceptional levels of malnutrition and significant increases in mortality.
  • The situation is particularly worrying for displaced people or many others who have been affected by the conflict and have not been able to plant crops this year.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CONTINUES EFFORTS TO CONTAIN EBOLA SPREAD IN WEST AFRICA

  • At today’s press briefing in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that it continues to work with its partners and local authorities in West Africa to contain the spread of Ebola and treat people affected by the outbreak. 
  • As of the 24th of July, there have been 660 recorded deaths and 1093 cases reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Last week, the World Health Organization opened a Sub-regional Outbreak Coordination Centre in Conakry, Guinea. The Centre will coordinate technical support and help to mobilize resources for the Ebola response in the region.

U.N. AFRICAN GREAT LAKES ENVOY SPOTLIGHTS KEY ROLE OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IN PROMOTING PEACE, SECURITY

  • The Secretary-General’s outgoing Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa, Mary Robinson, today stressed the importance of youth employment as part of efforts to bring about durable peace, security and recovery.
  • She was speaking at an extraordinary Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) in Nairobi. Young people comprise more than half the region’s population, and the unemployment rate is around 34 per cent.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
26 JULY – 1 AUGUST 2014


(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Monday, 28 July

 

Today is World Hepatitis Day.

 

In the morning, the Security Council will hold a high-level open debate on UN Peacekeeping, focusing on regional partnership and its evolution. The Secretary-General is expected to brief.

 

At 10 a.m. in Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will hold a press conference to launch a new report on the human rights situation in Ukraine. 

 

Tuesday, 29 July

 

Today, the UN Headquarters will be closed for Eid al-Fitr.

 

Wednesday, 30 July

 

Today is the World Day against Trafficking in Persons.

 

In the morning, the Security Council will meet on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus and the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq. It will also hold consultations on Syria.

 

In the afternoon, the Security is expected to hear a briefing on the Implementation of the Note S/2010/507 (Improvement of the working methods of the Council).