HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 2 MARCH 2015
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP VISIT TO CHILE
- The Secretary-General has returned to New York this morning from his visit to Santiago, Chile.
- Over the weekend, he met with civil society representatives at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights and was made citizen of honour of the city of Santiago by its mayor, Carolina Toha.
- He also addressed the closing ceremony of the high-level event on “Women in Power and Decision-Making.” He joined the high-level participants, including Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, and called for action in achieving gender equality.
- On Sunday, he visited the Pablo Neruda Museum. He called Pablo Neruda, not only a great poet and a Nobel Prize winner, but also a great friend of the United Nations and a global inspiration.
- This evening, the Secretary-General will deliver remarks at the “Stop Ebola and Build for the Future” concert, to note progress and urge solidarity in the final push to defeat Ebola.
- The concert, which starts at 6:30 p.m. in the General Assembly Hall, is organized by the Governments of São Tomé and Principe, as well as the Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, the United African Congress and the Give them a Hand Foundation. It will feature performances by musicians such as Estelle and Artists with One Voice.
IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY URGES ARMED FORCES IN TIKRIT TO DO UTMOST TO AVOID CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, today urged all armed forces in Tikrit to do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties, and fully respect fundamental human rights principles and humanitarian law.
- He also called on the Government and the international community to take urgent action to ensure that desperately needed humanitarian aid is provided to and to ensure that people who fled from ISIL can safely return to their homes.
- Our humanitarian colleagues say that aid organizations are monitoring the humanitarian situation in Tikrit and other areas in Salah Al-Din Governorate. They are in contact with local NGOs on the ground in Samarra and other areas where civilians are reported to be fleeing and are providing assistance as needed.
- The UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) reports that more than 1,100 Iraqis have been killed and another 2,280 people have been wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in February.
- In its casualty figures for February, the mission says that Baghdad was the worst affected of all the Governorates in Iraq.
U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF MEETS SRI LANKAN LEADERS
- Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is continuing his visit to Sri Lanka today.
- On Saturday, he met with President [Maithripala] Sirisena, Acting Minister of External Affairs Ajith Perera, and the leadership of the opposition parties, including the Tamil National Alliance.
- Yesterday, Mr. Feltman visited Jaffna, the capital of the Northern Province, where he met with the Governor, the Chief Minister, members of the Northern Provincial Council and a group of civil society leaders.
AT OPENING OF HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL SESSION, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO PREVENT ABUSES FROM OCCURRING
- In a video message to the opening of the new Human Rights Council session, the Secretary-General emphasized how the protection and realization of human rights is intrinsic to the entire agenda of the United Nations.
- He said that the world faces serious violations of human rights, from discrimination and inequality to oppression and violent extremism, and that our shared challenge is to do far more to keep these and other abuses from occurring in the first place.
- Also speaking at the opening was the High Commissioner, who noted that violent extremists continue to perpetrate horrors daily and that we condemn their merciless conduct daily.
- Yet, he cautioned, if we are not careful, if we are not completely principled and cunning in our collective attempt to defang them, we will, unwittingly and inexcusably, be advancing their interests.
- The High Commissioner also said that in recent months, he has been deeply disturbed by the contempt and disregard shown by several States towards the Human Rights Council’s independent experts, appealing once again for the focus to be on the substance of the complaint rather than lashing out at the critic.
UKRAINE DEATH TOLL TOPS 6,000, U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR COMPLIANCE WITH MINSK AGREEMENTS
- The number of people killed in eastern Ukraine since last April has now topped 6,000, despite successive ceasefires, according to the latest report from the High Commissioner for Human Rights which was issued today.
- The High Commissioner said that it is imperative that all sides comply with the provisions of the Minsk Agreements and halt the indiscriminate shelling and other hostilities that have created a dreadful situation for civilians, in stark disregard of international humanitarian law and human rights law.
- The latest human rights monitoring mission report – the ninth – was issued today.
- The High Commissioner said that the report paints a picture of merciless devastation of civilian lives and infrastructure, with women, children, and the elderly among the worst affected.
- The new report notes some positive developments, including the talks that resulted in the new ceasefire agreement.
- The UN Human Rights Office also welcomes the provisions regarding an “all-for-all” release of hostages and unlawfully detained people, the pullback of heavy weaponry from the line of contact, withdrawal of foreign armed formations, mercenaries and weapons from the territory of Ukraine, and the reinstatement of full control of the state border by the Government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area.
U.N. ENVOY DISCUSSES SITUATION IN LEBANON WITH HEAD OF ARAB LEAGUE, SENIOR EGYPTIAN OFFICIALS
- The Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, met yesterday in Cairo with League of Arab States Secretary-General as well as with senior Egyptian officials.
- Her meetings focused on the situation in Lebanon and developments in the region, including the need for the full implementation of Security Council resolution 1701.
- Other topics discussed included the importance of Lebanon’s stability, security and the need for stabilization in the complex and very difficult regional environment. Stability in Lebanon also includes the urgent need to resolve the presidential vacuum, and the Special Coordinator noted that in 83 days Lebanon will have gone for one year without a president.
- Ms. Kaag stressed the importance of the upcoming International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, that’s to take place in Kuwait, as an opportunity for Lebanon and its international partners to secure sustained international assistance for the country.
ABYEI: U.N. MISSION REPORTS TRIBAL CLASHES
- The UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) reports that today some 100 armed Misseriya attacked the village of Marialachak in the southern part of the Abyei resulting in three Ngok Dinka killed, three wounded and eight children abducted. The Mission also says 24 houses were burnt in the operation.
- UNISFA launched patrols to engage the attackers, which they encountered near the town of Shegag.
- In the ensuing firefight, four armed Misseriya were captured and three killed. A UNISFA patrol also apprehended four unarmed Misseriya men moving from the general direction of the incident.
- The operation is still ongoing. The Mission notes that this is the fourth serious incident between Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities in the past two months, which signals a worrying trend towards deterioration of the security environment in the area.
SOUTH SUDAN: ABDUCTED CHILDREN REMAIN CHILD SOLDIERS – U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND
- The UN Children Fund (UNICEF) says that the children seized by armed men from a village in northern South Sudan two weeks ago remain forcibly recruited as child soldiers, despite intensive efforts to locate and free them.
- UNICEF says that it now believes that the number of children might be in the hundreds – rather than 89 as first reported. In addition, adult males were also forcibly recruited during the 15 and 16 February raid.
- UNICEF and UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism partners have tried to piece together what happened during and after the raid and to discover the location of the children. A formal UN Monitoring Report of a grave violation of child rights is being prepared.
- One of the challenges hampering evidence gathering has been a heavy militia presence remaining in Wau Shilluk, thus making it impossible to receive first-hand information.
U.N. MISSION IN MALI LAUDS DRAFT PEACE PACT, URGES CONTINUED ENGAGEMENT TOWARDS FINAL SETTLEMENT
- The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) congratulated the parties on the draft agreement on peace and reconciliation which was initialled in Algiers yesterday by the Government of Mali, one of the coalition of armed groups "Platform" and all members of the Mediation.
- The Mission notes that the "Coordination" of coalition of armed groups has not yet initialled the document and has requested additional time to consult with its constituencies in Mali.
- The mission says the draft peace accord is “the most viable compromise to meet the multiple challenges facing Mali”. It also notes that sustained and united international support is required to assist the parties in finalising and then implementing an inclusive and sustainable peace agreement. The ownership and commitment of the Malian parties is crucial for success.
- The mission calls on all Malian parties to continue to engage constructively and in good faith towards a final settlement.
U.N. TO MARK WORLD WILDLIFE DAY, WITH FOCUS ON THREAT OF ORGANIZED CRIME
- Tomorrow, the UN will mark the second World Wildlife Day which will focus on the increasing threat of organized crime.
- The Secretary-General, in a message, will stress how such crimes not only affect conservation efforts, but also sustainable development, and peace and security in troubled regions where conflicts are fuelled by these illegal activities.
- Estimates from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners show that monetary value of all environmental crimes, including logging, poaching and trafficking, are between US$70 and US$213 billion annually.
- A General Assembly event to commemorate the Day will be held on Wednesday in the Trusteeship Council Chamber.
NEW HEAD OF U.N. FIELD SUPPORT DEPARTMENT TAKES UP POST
- Today is the first day in office of the new Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare.
- he succeeds Ms. Ameerah Haq as the head of the Department of Field Support.
UPDATES ISSUED ON SYRIA, RUSSIA AND LESOTHO
- Over the weekend, a note to correspondents was issued on the activities of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura.
- Statements were also issued on the murder of Boris Nemtsov in Moscow and on the elections in Lesotho.
TUNISIA LATEST MEMBER STATE TO PAY DUES IN FULL
- Tunisia is the latest Member State to pay its dues in full to the United Nations, bringing the total number of Member States to 50.