HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2015
VENEZUELA: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER REPORTS OF VIOLENCE, LOSS OF LIFE
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said that he is concerned by new reports of violence and loss of life in Venezuela. He has noted the Government's stated willingness to undertake a full investigation.
- The Secretary-General has also taken note of the call made on February 20th by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) for the building of a democratic space for dialogue in Venezuela.
- The Secretary-General supports the current efforts by the Secretary General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to re-launch the dialogue between the Government and members of the opposition, initiated in April 2014 and supported by the Union of South American Nations as well as the Holy See, to help the country overcome its current challenges and guarantee the human rights of all Venezuelans. In this connection, he welcomes the UNASUR Secretary General's announcement of an upcoming visit to Venezuela by a delegation of Foreign Ministers from South America.
SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENDS PARAGUAY’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO U.N. PEACEKEEPING
- The Secretary-General is continuing his official visit to Paraguay today.
- Earlier today, he visited the peacekeeping training centre for Paraguayan troops and praised the contribution of the country to UN operations, especially in Haiti. He then flew to Itaipu dam, the second largest in the world, where he encouraged Paraguay to share its positive experience in developing new renewable energy sources.
- Yesterday, the Secretary-General met with President Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, in which he commended Paraguay’s progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially in the area of poverty reduction.
- The rights of indigenous peoples and other human rights issues were also at the heart of their meeting, and later in the day, with representatives of civil society and indigenous groups.
- This afternoon, the Secretary-General will address a Special Session of the National Congress of Paraguay.
- He will leave for Chile later today, to attend the high-level event tomorrow organized by the Government of Chile in cooperation with UN-Women.
U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF STRESES IMPORTANCE OF ALL-INCLUSIVE POLLS IN MYANMAR
- Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman continues his visit to Myanmar today. He is leading a UN delegation, which also includes the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor Vijay Nambiar, to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-UN Regional Dialogue on Political Security Cooperation.
- The two-day event was organized jointly by the UN, Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry as well as Myanmar Institute for Strategic and International Studies.
- Mr. Feltman also had a series of bilateral meetings with leaders and senior officials in Nay Pyi Taw, in which he stressed the importance of the national elections, scheduled later this year, being an all-inclusive in order to avoid polarization or exacerbation of communal, ethnic and religious tensions.
- He also expressed support for the continuation of efforts towards a comprehensive peace process.
- Following his visit to Myanmar, Mr. Feltman will visit Sri Lanka from Saturday onwards, where he plans to meet with senior officials of the Government, political parties and civil society groups in Colombo and Jaffa.
U.N. CONTINUES TO SUPPORT LEBANON AS IT FACES IMPACT OF SYRIA CONFLICT, ENVOY SAYS IN BEKAA
- Visiting the Bekaa valley in Lebanon today, the Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, said that the UN continues to support Lebanon as it faces the impact of the conflict in Syria. She also expressed her appreciation for Lebanon’s residents in host communities for their generosity and solidarity with the refugees from Syria.
- Her talks with authorities in the Bekaa Valley covered the main political and security developments, as well as the humanitarian and socio-economic challenges in the Bekaa.
- Noting the presence of more than 410,000 refugees from Syria in the area, the Special Coordinator also noted the importance of sustained assistance to reinforce the stability and stabilisation of Lebanon, benefitting the Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese host communities alike.
U.N. AGENCY UNVEILS PROGRAMME TO COUNTER NEGLECTED IMPACT OF SYRIAN CRISIS ON EDUCATION
- The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today launched a two-year programme to help promote access to quality secondary and higher education and teacher training in Syria and neighbouring countries affected by the conflict there.
- UNESCO says that evidence shows that the impact of the Syrian crisis on education remains neglected.
‘WE MUST NOT FAIL IN GAZA,’ U.N. AGENCIES, AID AGENCIES SAY ON SIX-MONTH MARK OF CEASEFIRE
- With six months having passed since a ceasefire ended the fighting in the Gaza strip, UN agencies and international NGOs today issued a joint statement expressing alarm at the limited progress in rebuilding the lives of those affected and tackling the conflict’s root causes.
- The statement said that the Israeli-imposed blockade continues, and that the political process, along with the economy, is paralyzed living conditions, and also that living conditions have worsened.
- Overall, the statement says, the lack of progress has deepened levels of desperation and frustration among the population, more than two thirds of whom are Palestine refugees.
- It stresses that we must not fail in Gaza, and that we must realize the vision of making Gaza a liveable place and a cornerstone of peace and security in the region.
- On a related note, Japan announced today that is donating $32 million donation to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to support urgent relief and recovery needs in Gaza. This donation is the largest ever one-time contribution from Japan to UNRWA.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON D.P.R. KOREA, SOMALIA SANCTIONS
- This morning, the Security Council held consultations on sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and on Somalia.
- Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous also briefed on the Central African Republic.
- This afternoon, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang and High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres will brief during an opening meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. TEAM LOOKING INTO REPORTS OF CHILD ABDUCTION
- In response to a question on the abduction of children in South Sudan, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that a joint team from UNMISS and UNHCR visited Wau Shilluk last Friday, following reports about the abduction of children from the area by gunmen in military uniforms.
- Witnesses informed the UN team that boys as young as 14 were taken from the town.
- The Mission says it is following up on reports that the abductors allegedly belonged to a pro-government militia operating in Upper Nile State.
- The Mission also says that the Head of the Mission, Ellen Margrethe Løj, met with President Salva Kiir on Wednesday and she expressed concerns about the reports and urged the President to take action.
U.N.-BACKED TOBACCO CONTROL CONVENTION CELEBRATES TENTH ANNIVERSARY
- The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) celebrates its 10th anniversary this week.
- Known as the single most powerful preventive instrument available to public health, the convention has been one of the fastest endorsed by the UN membership to date, with 180 Parties, covering 90 per cent of the world’s population.
IN ‘TIME OF TEST FOR HUMAN FAMILY,’ SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESS APPRECIATION AT BEING NAMED WINNER OF TIPPERARY PEACE AWARD
- The Secretary-General has been named as the winner of this year’s Tipperary International Peace Award. In a letter, he thanks the Tipperary Peace Convention for paying tribute not just to him, but also, through him, the staff of the United Nations who work with great skill and devotion to serve the world’s people.
- This is a time of test for the human family, the Secretary-General says, noting that we face the long-standing scourges of poverty and intolerance, as well as newer threats such as climate change and violent extremism.
- Despite today’s grave challenges, he says that he is convinced that our era offers remarkable opportunities to set the world on course towards a more peaceful, prosperous, equitable and sustainable future for all.
LIBERIA, REPUBLIC OF KOREA LATEST MEMBER STATES TO PAY REGULAR BUDGET DUES IN FULL
- Liberia and the Republic of Korea are the latest Member States to have paid their regular budget dues in full, bring the total number of Member States having done so to 49.