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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

WEDNESDAY, 28 JANUARY 2015

U.N. GOLAN MISSION INVESTIGATING ROCKET LAUNCHES CLAIMING LIFE OF PEACEKEEPER

  • At around 11:30 am this morning, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) observed six rockets launched towards Israel from the vicinity of Wazzani, north of Maysat, in the UNIFIL area of operations. The Israeli Defense Forces returned artillery fire in the same general area.  During the course of developments, a UNIFIL peacekeeper from Spain deployed at a UN position near Ghajar sustained serious injuries that resulted in his death. The precise cause of death is currently undetermined and remains the subject of an ongoing investigation by UNIFIL. 
  • The UNIFIL Force Commander, Major-General Luciano Portolano, was in immediate contact with the parties to help control the situation and prevent further escalation.
  • In the meantime, around 1:30 pm, five rockets were fired from the general area of Kafer Shouba towards Israel. The IDF fired artillery rounds towards the source of fire.  UNIFIL has been informed by the IDF that they incurred casualties as a result of fire from the Lebanese side.
  • UNIFIL has further reinforced its presence on the ground and intensified patrols in the area of operations in coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces. At this time, the situation along the Blue Line is quiet.
  • Major-General Portolano has strongly condemned this serious violation of the Security Council resolution 1701 and has urged both sides to exercise utmost restraint. UNIFIL has launched an investigation to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident.
  • Also from Lebanon, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, today expressed deep concern over the serious deterioration of the security situation in South Lebanon following the exchange of fire. She urgently called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could destabilise the situation further.

‘TERRORISM HAS NO PLACE IN NEW LIBYA,’ SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS, SPEAKING OUT AGAINST ATTACK ON TRIPOLI HOTEL

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General condemns, in the strongest terms, the attack that took place at the Corinthia Hotel, in Tripoli, yesterday on 27 January. He expresses his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of this despicable act. Terrorism has no place in the new Libya and will not undermine the ongoing political dialogue which the United Nations is facilitating. In this regard, the Secretary-General commends the courage of the Libyan actors who are participating in the dialogue to find a peaceful and negotiated solution to the crisis.
  • The recent round of UN-facilitated talks, that took place in Geneva, concluded yesterday. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Bernardino Leon, said that the discussions were conducted in a positive atmosphere reflecting the participants’ sense of national responsibility and sincere determination to find solutions to the crisis in Libya.
  • He also said that the participants were unanimous in condemning yesterday’s attack and rejecting terrorism. They emphasized that such attacks would not derail the political process and would create an incentive for all the Libyan sides to forge ahead with efforts to stabilize the country.

SYRIA: U.N. RELIEF OFFICIAL REITERATES CALL FOR END TO INDISCRIMINATE USE OF WEAPONS IN POPULATED AREAS

  • Kyung-wha Kang, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, briefed the Security Council today on humanitarian access in Syria. She said that the call made by the Security Council in Resolution 2139 to put an end to the indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas continues to be ignored. Ms. Kang said that the Syrian Government has continued to conduct airstrikes, including barrel bombs, in densely populated areas. Armed opposition groups, and designated terrorist organizations, have also continued to use explosive weapons in populated areas.

U.N. YEMEN ENVOY VOICES HOPE THAT RELEASE OF OFFICIAL WILL LEAD TO PROGRESS IN POLITICAL NEGOTIATIONS

  • The Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, met today with Ahmed Bin Mubarak, Director of the Office of the President, who was released yesterday by Ansarallah. That release came after Mr. Benomar’s continuous mediation efforts.
  • The Special Adviser welcomed the release yesterday and remarked that this news would help reduce tensions and enable progress in ongoing negotiations that he has been facilitating. Mr. Benomar urged Ansarallah to undertake steps that would be in the best interest of all political sides and the people of Yemen.
  • Mr. Benomar also today convened another meeting of the National Partnership Agreement in Yemen (PNPA).

MALI: U.N. MISSION INVESTIGATING VIOLENT PROTEST IN GAO, SEEKS TO RESTORE PEACE, STABILITY

  • The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) launched an investigation after a violent protest yesterday in Gao, during which several people were reportedly killed.
  • In a press conference, the Mission explained that the UN Police used tear gas and fired warning shots to prevent protesters from entering the Mission’s base.
  • The Mission said it was saddened by this escalation of violence and said that its only objective was to bring back peace and stability in the country.
  • David Gressly, who is the acting Chief of Mission, promised a serious, thorough and transparent investigation into the events.
  • The Mission called on all concerned to stay calm and refrain from any action that could distract from this investigation or divert further MINUSMA from its focus, which is to bring the parties to respect the ceasefire and resume political talks in Algiers.
  • It especially calls on the parties to the Mali peace process to behave responsibly and to call on their supporters to refrain from more violence.

COMMEMORATING HOLOCAUST, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO UPHOLD HUMAN RIGHTS, RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT AT-RISK PEOPLE

  • The Secretary-General is participating in today’s ceremony marking the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust.
    The event was originally scheduled to be held yesterday, but was postponed to today because of the snowstorm.
    In his remarks at the event, the Secretary-General spoke about his visit to Auschwitz in 2013, where he saw for himself the full machinery of murder and how the scale of the crimes committed there remains shocking to this day.
    He will note how, even today – after all we have witnessed and all we have done – we face widespread challenges to our common humanity.
  • The Secretary-General will underscore how we must all remain on our guard and uphold human rights, democratic freedoms and our responsibility to protect people at risk.
    Also this afternoon, he will also attend the opening of an exhibit entitled “Shoah – How Was It Humanly Possible?” where he will once again pay tribute to the survivors of the Holocaust.
    This morning, there was a briefing on the subject,“Holocaust, Homosexuals and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Today,” and this evening, there will be a screening of the film, “Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald.”

U.N. KOSOVO MISSION: RECENT VIOLENCE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH EXERCISE OF RIGHT TO EXPRESS LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCES

  • The UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), is concerned by violent events in the centre of Pristina in recent days, noting that they have nothing to do with the exercise of the democratic right to express legitimate grievances.
    The Mission said that it is the responsibility of the Kosovo Police to ensure public safety and to take appropriate action against individuals who abuse the inherent right to peaceful protest by committing inexcusable acts of violence and vandalism.

FUNDING SHORTFALL FORCES U.N. AGENCY TO SUSPEND CASH ASSISTANCE PROGRAMME IN GAZA FOR HOME REPAIRS

  • The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has been forced to suspend its cash assistance programme in Gaza to tens of thousands of people for repairs to damaged and destroyed homes and for rental subsidies to the homeless.
  • Over 96,000 Palestine refugee family homes were damaged or destroyed during last summer’s conflict and $720 million is required to address this need.
  • To date, UNRWA has received only $135 million in pledges, leaving a shortfall of $585 million. While some funds remain available to begin the reconstruction of totally destroyed homes, UNRWA has exhausted all funding to support repairs and rental subsidies.
  • Also from Gaza, Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, expressed his outrage at the assault on the UNSCO compound in Gaza this morning. During a pre-announced demonstration, of which Hamas was well aware, a number of protestors climbed the perimeter wall and entered the compound causing damage to United Nations premises and property.  Due to precautionary measures taken, United Nations personnel working in the compound were fortunately unharmed.
  • The Special Coordinator notes with deep concern that, despite repeated assurances, the security forces in Gaza did not take the necessary and timely measures to protect the UN compound. 
  • As this serious incident took place in the context of increasing incitement against the United Nations in Gaza, the Special Coordinator is conducting an urgent review of its operations there.

IN WAKE OF FLOODING, U.N. AGENCY CALLS FOR SEEDS, LIVESTOCK FARMERS IN SOUTHERN MALAWI NEED

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns today that farmers in southern Malawi urgently need seeds and livestock after intense flooding.
  • More than 170,000 people have had to leave their homes, with 79 confirmed deaths and at least 150 people still missing.
  • An estimated 116,000 households have lost their crops and livestock due to the floods.
  • FAO aims to work closely with the Malawi Government to supply affected families with short-cycle varieties of cereals and vegetables for replanting as soon as possible.
  • At the same time, it stresses that local families need new livestock to ensure animal protein intake, and that irrigation facilities should be restored before the dry season to ensure food production.

NEW HEAD OF U.N. MISSION IN ABYEI NAMED

  • The Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Haile Tilahun Gebremariam of Ethiopia as Head of Mission of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). 
  • He succeeds Lieutenant-General Yohannes Tesfamariam of Ethiopia who completed his assignment in June of last year.
  • The Secretary-General is grateful to both Lt. Gen. Tesfamariam and to the former acting Head of Mission, Major-General Moges, for their dedication and effective leadership of the force.

RWANDA BECOMES 16TH MEMBER STATE TO PAY ITS DUES IN FULL

  • Rwanda has paid its dues to the United Nations in full, making it the 16th Member State to do so.