HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 31 MARCH 2015
FOUR IN FIVE SYRIANS LIVE IN POVERTY, WARNS SECRETARY-GENERAL AT KUWAIT PLEDGING CONFERENCE
- The Secretary-General spoke at the Third Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, earlier today in Kuwait. The Secretary-General said that four out of five Syrians live in poverty, misery and deprivation. The country has lost nearly four decades of human development.
- He reminded the audience that Syrian people are the victims of the worst humanitarian crisis of our time but that they are not asking for sympathy. They are asking for help.
- He stressed that the best humanitarian solution to end the human suffering of this crisis is well known: a political solution must be found.
- The Secretary-General added that the international donors had pledged US$3.8 billion at today’s conference. He said that today, the international community has come together in solidarity with the people of Syria and neighbouring countries bearing the heavy burden of hosting millions of Syrian refugees.
- The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said that this funding will help humanitarian organizations deliver life-saving food, water, shelter, health services and other relief to millions of people in urgent need.
- The Secretary-General gave a press conference with the heads of UN agencies, in which the Secretary-General once more called upon the international community to lend its full support to UN efforts to forge an inclusive, Syrian-led political transition based on the Geneva Communiqué and which meets the aspirations of the Syrian people.
- On the margins of the meeting, the Secretary-General held a number of bilateral meetings, including with the Amir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah, whom he thanked for organizing the conference and for Kuwait’s own generous pledge, and the Prime Minister of Lebanon, Tammam Salam.
U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT DETERIORATING SITUATION IN IDLEB, SYRIA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the humanitarian situation in Idleb, north-western Syria, is deteriorating. The fighting, which escalated on 24 March, between the Government of Syria and Non-State Armed Groups has led to numerous civilian deaths and injuries, and to the displacement of some 30,000 people.
- The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Yacoub El Hillo, said that he is gravely concerned by the ongoing fighting taking place in Idleb governorate and its possible impact on hundreds of thousands of civilians.
- He appeals to all parties to this conflict to adhere to their obligations to protect civilians and all humanitarian personnel under international humanitarian law and human rights law.
- The situation in Idleb is becoming increasingly dire, with electricity shortages and closure of schools and hospitals. Limited commercial supplies are available, but many shops have closed. Most of Idleb’s population, which is estimated at 500,000 people, has remained in the city.
- However, should the fighting continue to intensify, the UN and partners are worried that large scale displacement could take place towards neighbouring governorates and across the border to Turkey.
YEMEN: AIR STRIKES HIT CAMP FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE IN AL MAZRAQ
- Humanitarian organizations and local residents have confirmed that air strikes bombarded the Al Mazraq area of Hajjah Governorate yesterday morning, hitting a camp for internally displaced persons and surrounding civilian infrastructure.
- According to initial reports from the World Health Organization (WHO), these strikes killed at least 29 people and injured 41 – all of whom appear to be civilians. Of the 41 people injured, 14 are children and 11 are women. Casualty figures are likely to rise as bodies are retrieved from the camp and additional injury reports are verified.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Johannes van Der Klaauw, deplored yesterday’s attack in the strongest terms and called on all parties to observe their solemn obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law at all times.
- UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein expressed alarm about the fast deteriorating human rights situation in Yemen and called on all sides to protect civilians from harm and to resolve their differences through dialogue rather than through the use of military force.
- He expressed shock at the airstrike against the Al-Mazraq camp for internally displaced people and also roundly condemned all attacks on hospitals and other medical facilities, which have a special protected status under international law.
U.N. WELCOMES CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT IN LIBYA’S OIL CRESCENT AREA
- The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) today welcomed the ceasefire and the withdrawal of forces from the Sidra Oil Crescent area.
- The Mission considers the withdrawal a significant first step in ending the fighting in the Oil Crescent area. It plans to invite the parties involved to a meeting soon to continue the negotiations, including on interim security arrangements for the oil facilities.
- UNSMIL has repeatedly called for an end to the fighting across Libya, including in the Oil Crescent area. It added that stopping the bloodshed and securing Libya’s oil wealth would help to create an atmosphere of trust as Libyan parties engage in a decisive stage of the political dialogue.
INDEPENDENT INQUIRY ON VIOLENT DEMONTRATIONS BY U.N. HEADQUARTERS IN MALI SUBMITS REPORT
- The independent inquiry launched by the Secretary-General to determine the facts surrounding the violent demonstration that took place in front of the UN Stabilization Mission in Mali’s (MINUSMA) Regional Headquarters in Gao, Mali, has submitted its report.
- The report is being examined by the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support and the main findings are expected to be published soon.
U.N. WELCOMES SIGNING OF DECLARATION TO COMBAT RAPE IN WAR IN D.R. CONGO
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, said the Democratic Republic of the Congo today marked a milestone with the signing by commanders of the Congolese Army of a landmark declaration to combat rape in war.
- Ms. Bangura said that this signing shows the progress we can make when political will and commitment are coupled with concrete action and support from the international community.
UKRAINE: U.N. CHILDREN’S AGENCY WARNS THAT OVER 40 CHILDREN HAVE BEEN KILLED BY LANDMINES
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today that more than 40 children have been killed and more than 100 others injured by landmines and unexploded ordnance in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine in the past year.
- UNICEF says that the number of children killed and maimed by mines and unexploded ordnance would be significantly higher if non-government controlled areas were included, adding that a lack of access to these areas is a real challenge for humanitarian actors on the ground.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY URGES E.U. MEMBERS TO INVESTIGATE DEATH OF IRAQIS AT BORDER AREA
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has called for an investigation into the death of two Iraqis at the Bulgaria-Turkey border earlier this month.
- UNHCR remains concerned about the safety of people seeking international protection, who have been denied entry or have encountered violence at the European Union's external borders.
- The agency added that with few legal alternatives to enter the European Union, many people fleeing conflict and persecution are undertaking increasingly dangerous journeys and using smugglers to reach safety.
- It has called on EU Member States to ensure that such practices stop, and has urged them to conduct independent and transparent investigations into allegations of abuses and illegal practices in their border regions.
MYANMAR: U.N. ENVOY CALLS RECENT CEASEFIRE A “HISTORIC AND SIGNIFICANT ACHIEVEMENT”
- The Secretary-General's Special Adviser on Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, has called today's ceasefire agreement between the Government and 16 ethnic armed groups after more than 60 years of conflict a “historic and significant achievement.”
- Mr. Nambiar said that the signing of the agreement is a first step towards a larger dialogue for settling the political and military issues that will pave the way for an inclusive and harmonious future for the country.
- Today’s agreement, he said, is a signal that new levels of trust, confidence and cooperation are possible between former enemies and that the seeds of change in Myanmar are beginning to sprout.
- Mr. Nambiar also said that the achievement is also remarkable and unusual as a process completely initiated and executed by national stakeholders.
- He noted that many concerns and difficulties will remain on the ground in Myanmar, but that today’s developments provide a solid basis from which to continue the hard work that will be necessary to achieve a genuine and lasting peace in the country.
U.N. AGENCIES STAND READY TO ASSIST COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY TYPHOON IN MICRONESIA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that relief efforts are underway to help residents of Chuuk State in Micronesia, as they recover from the impact of typhoon Maysak which struck the islands on Sunday. Typhoon Maysak continues to move west-northwest across Micronesia.
- A Disaster Assessment Task Force has been established by the Government and five assessment teams have been deployed to Chuuk.
- The UN is monitoring the situation and is on standby to assist should the Government request it.
F.A.O. TO OUTLINE CAMPAIGN TO WIPE OUT ANIMAL PLAGUE
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organization for Animal Health will outline today in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, a 15-year campaign to wipe out sheep and goat plague.
- This livestock disease is one of the major risks to their food security and livelihood of hundreds of millions of rural families.
- The plague, known by its French acronym PPR - for Peste des Petits Ruminants - has expanded rapidly in the past 15 years.
- It is now present in around 70 countries across South and East Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and can kill as many as 90 percent of the animals it infects.
66 MEMBER STATES PAY THEIR DUES
- Spain has become the 66th Member State to pay in full its contribution to the regular budget.