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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 22 AUGUST 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES SITUATION IN GAZA WITH KEY PLAYERS IN MIDDLE EAST

  • The Secretary-General made a round of calls to a number of key players in the Middle East and beyond concerning the situation in Gaza.
  • Today, he spoke to the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas; the Foreign Minister of Egypt, Sameh Hassan Shokry Selim; the Secretary of State of the United States, John Kerry; the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani; and the President-elect of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • In broad terms, they discussed the crisis in Gaza, including the need for the parties to return to the ceasefire negotiations under Egyptian auspices.
  • The Secretary-General also spoke of the United Nations’ readiness to support any agreement the parties may reach. He stressed the importance for the parties to establish a durable ceasefire with a view to the eventual return to a resumption of meaningful negotiations on a two-state solution.
  • During the discussion, the Secretary-General lamented the heavy loss of civilian life in Gaza and emphasized the United Nations commitment to assist Gaza in its recovery efforts once a ceasefire has been established, one that addresses the underlying causes of the cycle of violence so that a permanent calm can be reached between both sides.
  • In addition, with both Secretary Kerry and President-Elect Erdogan, the Secretary-General also discussed the current situation in Iraq. He expressed his deep concern over the situation in northern Iraq and over the plight of Christian, Yazidi and Turkmen communities.
  • Lastly, he told President-elect Erdogan that his personal engagement and support in reaching of a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus was vital. He said he looked forward to the President-elect's participation in the upcoming Climate Summit in New York in September this year.
  • The Secretary-General is expected to speak to the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, later today.

HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN UKRAINE IS WORSENING RAPIDLY, WARNS U.N. AID CHIEF

  • Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, continued her mission to Ukraine and met today with Vice Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman.
  • Ms. Amos also met with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as with members of the diplomatic and donor community in Kiev.
  • She told United Nations Radio this morning that the humanitarian situation in Ukraine has deteriorated quite rapidly and that we need to be able to see how we can support the authorities to reach the nearly 200,000 people who have been uprooted.
  • Tomorrow, she is expected to visit eastern Ukraine to see for herself the needs of the people affected by the current crisis.
  • Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, is wrapping up his visit to Ukraine today.
  • The Security Council is expected to hold consultations at 3 p.m. on Ukraine today. 

NEARLY 200,000 PEOPLE KILLED SINCE START OF CONFLICT IN SYRIA

  • With more than 191,000 people having been killed in Syria between March 2011 and the end of April this year, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today spoke out against what she called the international community’s “paralysis” on the conflict.
  • Ms. Pillay said that the number released by her office is more than double the number documented a year ago. But, she said, tragically, the new figure is probably underestimates the real total number of people killed.
  • Ms. Pillay said she deeply regrets that, due to the onset of so many other armed conflicts, the fighting in Syria and its impact on millions of civilians has dropped off the international radar.

AID ORGANIZATIONS AIM TO REACH 250,000 MORE WITH ASSISTANCE IN IRAQ

  • According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), following more displacement in Iraq since the beginning of August, the United Nations has increased its planning number to 1.45 million people. This is an increase of 250,000 people from the previous planning figure of 1.2 million.
  • OCHA also says that there have been increasing reports of abduction of women, particularly those belonging to minority groups, by armed groups. Human trafficking within and outside the country is of grave concern.
  • Also on Iraq, at the press briefing in Geneva today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that its operation to bring more aid into Iraq is on target to deliver more than 2,400 tons of relief supplies by air, land and sea to some 500,000 displaced people. 
  • So far, two aid flights have delivered tents, blankets and other essential shelter supplies.

DISPLACEMENT IN GAZA CONTINUES CLIMB, REPORT U.N. AGENCIES

  • According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of displaced people in Gaza continues to rise. It is currently at 460,000 – more than one quarter of the entire Palestinian population of Gaza.
  • As of yesterday, nearly 280,000 people were reported seeking refuge in 83 schools run by The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), while another 29,000 are being hosted in Government shelters supported by UNRWA – up from 26,000 the day before.

U.N. ENVOY IN YEMEN URGES POLITICAL SOLUTION TO CRISIS

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, says that he is doing his utmost to help address the roots of the current unrest in the country.
  • He has been closely coordinating with the President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi and other political leaders to reach a sustainable political solution through dialogue.
  • Mr. Benomar has urged all parties to maintain a spirit of national partnership and constructive cooperation to overcome the current challenges and move the political process forward.

W.H.O TO UNVEIL RESPONSE PLAN FOR EBOLA IN WEST AFRICA

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today that it is working on a six to nine-month plan against Ebola, an operational document that will detail the strategy against the virus. That plan should be presented early next week.
  • Meanwhile, the UN System Coordinator for Ebola, David Nabarro, is wrapping up his visit to Monrovia, Liberia, following a press conference on the situation in the country.
  • In light of the recent decision by several countries to close their borders to people travelling from Ebola-affected countries, WHO reiterates that it does not recommend any ban on international travel or trade.
  • It stresses that closing borders doesn’t work and is detrimental, as affected countries will be pushed towards a humanitarian crisis and the international community’s ability to fight and reverse the Ebola outbreak will be hampered.
  • WHO and its partners also continue to highlight that the virus is not airborne and that becoming infected requires direct physical contact with body fluids of people who have been infected or died from Ebola.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
23 – 29 AUGUST 201
4

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 23 August

Today is the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

Monday, 26 August

At 2:30 p.m. in Geneva, there will be a press conference by Alicia Londono from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the rights of people with albinism. 

At 10:15 a.m., in the press briefing room, Ambassador Ri Tong Il of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is expected to brief the media.

At 11:00 a.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a briefing on the upcoming 65th Annual United Nations DPI/NGO Conference (27 to 29 August).

Tuesday, 26 August

In the morning, the Security Council will adopt resolutions on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Following that, Council members are expected to hold consultations on Guinea-Bissau.

Wednesday, 27 August

In the morning, the Security Council will meet on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).

From 27 to 29 August, in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) will hold a Global Conference on Climate Change and Health. WHO is also expected to brief the press on the Conference today.

At 11 a.m. in Geneva, members of the Human Rights Council’s Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria are expected to brief the press on the Commission’s latest report. 

Thursday, 28 August

In the morning, the Security Council is expected to meet on the Middle East (Syria).

The guest at the noon briefing, Nicholas Rosellini, the Deputy Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bureau for Asian and the Pacific, will present findings from a new report on social exclusion in the Pacific.

Friday, 29 August

Today is the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

At 9 a.m. in Bali, Indonesia, the Secretary-General will address the Sixth Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).