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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

THURSDAY, 17 APRIL 2014

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS ON U.N. MISSION IN BOR, SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Secretary-General strongly condemns today’s attack on civilians and United Nations Peacekeepers in the UNMISS Protection of Civilians site in Bor, in the capital of Jonglei State in South Sudan. This attack on a location where civilians are being protected by the United Nations is a serious escalation.
  • The Secretary-General reminds all parties that any attack on United Nations Peacekeepers is unacceptable and constitutes a war crime.
  • The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the bereaved families and pledges all possible support to those wounded in the attack.
  • The Secretary-General calls on the Government of South Sudan to immediately take steps to ensure the safety of all UNMISS Protection of Civilians sites in South Sudan. He also calls on all parties to refrain from any actions or statements that could further escalate the situation.
  • According to the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, the assailants -- a mob of armed civilians -- came to the base under the guise of peaceful demonstrators intending to present a petition to UNMISS. The armed mob forced entry in to the site and opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base. 
  • The number of people killed or wounded is yet to be confirmed. The Mission will publish casualty figures once they are ascertained. At the time of the attack, there were some 5,000 displaced civilians in the protection-of-civilians site (POC) inside the base.
  • We do however already know that dozens of internally displaced persons were wounded in the attack and are receiving medical attention at the UN compound’s clinic. Two UN peacekeepers sustained injuries repelling the mob.
  • In response to a question on the Bor attack, the Spokesman quoted that UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, who said that there was no excuse for direct attacks on civilians, or on those risking their own lives to protect them.

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT FIGHTING IN UNITY STATE

  • Also from South Sudan, in Unity State, the UN Mission says it is gravely concerned about the fighting that has erupted since Monday. It condemns these renewed hostilities in the strongest possible terms as serious violations of the cessation of hostilities agreement.
  • As a result of the fighting, the number of internally displaced persons in the UNMISS compound has risen to over 12,000 since Monday.
  • The Mission says that continued fighting will only exacerbate the already dire situation for the civilian population and calls on both parties to fully comply with the cessation of hostilities agreement that they signed under the auspices of the Inter-Governmental Authority for development, otherwise known as IGAD.

REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED BY ARREST, DETENTION OF REFUGEES IN KENYA

  • Moving on to Kenya, the UN refugee Agency is concerned over the arrest and detention of over one thousand refugees and asylum seekers. UNHCR says that they were rounded up during counter-terrorism operations launched by Kenyan security forces in Nairobi since the beginning of the month targeting undocumented foreigners.
  • Most of those who have been arrested are Somalis, 82 of whom were deported to Mogadishu on 9 April 2014.
  • The Agency says that it has received access to Kasarani stadium and police cells where those arrested have been held and where UNHCR was able to secure the release of a number holding refugee documentation. But UNHCR is disturbed by reports of harassment and other abuses and also says that the conditions at Kasarani stadium and in the police stations are overcrowded and sanitary conditions are inadequate.
  • The Agency has welcomed the assurances it has received from the Government of Kenya that no registered refugee or asylum-seeker will be deliberately deported, but remains concerned that others could also face threats if returned.

JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SYRIA REGRETS STOP OF NEGOTIATIONS ON HOMS

  • In a statement issued earlier today, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said that it is deeply regrettable that negotiations regarding civilians and fighters trapped in the Old City of Homs and the inhabitants of the Al-Waer neighbourhood were brutally stopped.
  • Mr. Brahimi said that violence is now rife again when a comprehensive agreement seemed so close at hand.
  • He added that it is alarming that Homs, whose people have suffered so much in the past three years, is again the theatre of death and destruction.
  • The Representative urged all parties to return to the negotiating table and complete the deal which was on the verge of being signed.

DISPLACEMENT CONTINUES TO RISE IN C.A.R.

  • On the Central African Republic, our colleagues from the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) say that displacement figures continue to rise in the country. More than 644,000 people have been displaced by the conflict so far, over 200,000 in Bangui alone. Humanitarian organizations have identified two additional camps hosting some 10,000 people in the capital.
  • The Office also says that recently more people in various provinces across the country and in Bangui’s PK5 neighbourhood fled their homes after their houses and villages were looted and burned to the ground by armed groups.
  • Despite the insecurity, humanitarian organizations are reaching people with life-saving assistance. Since the beginning of April, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners have distributed food to over 70,000 people. They also continue to pre-position food stocks before the start of the rainy season.

BURUNDI: U.N. REGRETS GOVERNMENT’S DECISION TO DECLARE STAFF MEMBER PERSONA NON GRATA

  • Asked about reports of a UN official being ordered out of Burundi by the country’s Government, Dujarric said that the United Nations regrets the Government's decision to declare a staff member persona non grata and will address this matter with the Government of Burundi through the usual diplomatic channels.
  • Asked what the UN had done to follow up on the reports of arming of youth groups, he added that the UN shared these reports with the Government of Burundi at various levels and had also brought them to the attention of the Security Council.
  • The Spokesman also said that the UN calls on the Government of Burundi to investigate promptly these allegations and stands ready to provide support to the Burundian authorities in these investigations, if requested.

HEAD OF U.N. POLITICAL AFFAIRS IN COTE D’IVOIRE, GUINEA ON LAST STOPS OF WEST AFRICA VISIT

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, is in Côte d'Ivoire today, where he was scheduled to meet with President Alassane Ouattara before concluding his four-day visit to West Africa tomorrow with meetings in Guinea, including with President Alpha Condé.
  • Mr. Feltman also visited Senegal and Mauritania on this trip.
  • In Senegal, he met with President Macky Sall, and they discussed the elections in Guinea-Bissau and the need for the international community to remain engaged. 
  • While in Senegal, Mr. Feltman also met with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita of Mali.  Mr. Feltman encouraged the President to pursue efforts aimed at promoting national dialogue and reconciliation in Mali.
  • In Mauritania, he also met with President Abdel Aziz and Foreign Minister Ahmed Ould Teguedi.  He congratulated the President on his election as Chairperson of the African Union and reiterated the UN’s commitment to a strategic partnership between the two organizations.
  • They discussed the forthcoming presidential election in Mauritania and the ongoing national dialogue, for which Mr. Feltman offered the UN’s support.  They also spoke about the implementation of the UN Integrated Strategy for the Sahel.

U.N. MISSION IN MALI SAYS THERE IS NO MISSING SHIPMENT FOR CHINESE CONTINGENT

  • In response to questions about reports of Chinese weapons bound for the UN Chinese peacekeeping troops in Mali, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, confirmed that there has been no missing shipment of weapons, equipment and goods destined to the Chinese Contingent serving with the Mission.
  • He said this was a batch of containers that had travelled to Mali by road from Côte d’Ivoire, where they had arrived by sea in November.
  • Asked about the UN’s actions on the matter, the Spokesman said that the UN is engaged with the Secretariat of the committee to seek a standing waver for the transfer through Côte d’Ivoire of arms and equipment under UN embargo, intended solely for use by the MINUSMA. This will, however, require a provision in the relevant Security Council resolution.

TWO U.N. STAFF KILLED IN PUNTLAND, SOMALIA REMEMBERED

  • In Vienna, a memorial service was held today at UN Headquarters for Clément Gorrissen and Simon Davis, who were killed in Puntland, Somalia on 7 April in an attack by an unidentified gunman at Galkayo airport.
  • Gorrissen, a French citizen, and Simon Davis, a UK citizen, worked for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and were on mission in Somalia to build local capacities to address illicit money flows.
  • UNODC Executive Director Yury Fedotov addressed the open-air service, which brought together family, friends and colleagues of the departed, and rang the Peace Bell in remembrance of the two fallen staff. 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In answer to a question from yesterday, Dujarric said that the General Assembly had approved the renovation of the Palais des Nations in Geneva and that its cost was estimates at 830 million Swiss Francs. He added that the general Assembly had requested the Secretariat to seek innovating sources of financing the renovation in order to reduce the final cost fro Member States. Among the solution, assistance from the private sector is being looked at.
  • In response to a question on the recent resolution passed by the General Assembly on Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the UN Secretariat will be guided by that resolution.
  • Asked about the recent UN report on human rights in Ukraine, the Spokesman underscored its objectivity in its findings. He added that the Secretary-General had pushed hard for the swift deployment of the UN human rights mission in Ukraine.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
18 APRIL – 25 APRIL 201
4
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Friday, 18 April

Today is Good Friday. United Nations Headquarters will be closed. 

Saturday, 19 April-Sunday, 20 April

There are no major events scheduled for the weekend.

Monday, 21 April

In New York, there will be an event on “Development cooperation for least developed countries in the changing global scenario”; co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh and Norway, from 11:30 a.m. to 01:00 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.

Tuesday, 22 April

Today is International Mother Earth Day.

In New York, there will be a panel discussion on “The potentials, preservation and use of sustainable benefits of Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Small Island Developing States (SIDS)”, organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), from 01:15 p.m. to 02:30 p.m., in Conference Room 9.

In Geneva, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will hold its 69th session.

Wednesday, 23 April

Today is World Book and Copyright Day.

Today is also English Language Day.

The Security Council will meet in the morning on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization in Mali (MINUSMA).

At 12:00 p.m., in the press briefing room, Nicholas Kay, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.

Still in New York, there will be a briefing on “Radioactive Sources: what they are and why we need to protect them”, organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), from 01:15 p.m. to 02:30 p.m., in Conference Room 6.

There will also be a special event on the theme “Movies: A Global Passion” and screening of the short film “Menschen”, organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), from 01:15 p.m. to 03:00 p.m., in Conference Room 9.

 

At 06.30 p.m., the Group of Friends of Spanish at the United Nations will organize a roundtable on “Multilingualism and plurilingualism as common ground at the United Nations” in Conference Room 1.

In Geneva, at 10.00 a.m., there will be a press conference about the forthcoming World Immunization Week, from 24-30 April. Speakers will be Dr Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, Director of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at the World Health Organization (WHO), and Tracey Goodman, Technical Officer at WHO Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.

Thursday, 24 April

Today in the morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the United Nations Missions in Darfur (UNAMID), followed by consultations on UNAMID and on Côte d’Ivoire sanctions. In the afternoon, the Council will hold consultations on the Middle East (Yemen).

At 12:00 p.m., in the press briefing room, Ms. Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.

The General Assembly will start a two-day debate on “Ensuring stable and peaceful societies”.

Friday, 25 April

Today is World Malaria Day.

There will be an open debate at the Security Council on “Women and peace and security: sexual violence in conflict”.

At 9:30 a.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) on travel identification and travel document security. Speakers will include Jean-Paul Laborde, Assistant-Secretary General and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, and Ronald Noble, Secretary-General of INTERPOL.