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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, 20 AUGUST 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST HORRIFIC MURDER OF JAMES FOLEY

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the horrific murder of journalist James Foley, an abominable crime that underscores the campaign of terror the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to wage against the people of Iraq and Syria.
  • He extends his deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Foley. The perpetrators of this and other such horrific crimes must be brought to justice.

WELCOMING DESTRUCTION OF CHEMICAL WEAPON, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES SYRIA TO BUILD ON THIS PROGRESS

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the destruction of the declared chemical weapons material on board the United States Maritime Vessel Cape Ray. 
  • This marks a significant achievement in the international community’s efforts to eliminate the chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic following the framework agreement between the Russian Federation and the United States of America.
  • The Secretary General appreciates the cooperation of the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic and commends those member states that provided crucial support to this process, as well as the United Nations-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) Joint Mission for its leadership and commitment.
  • He urges the Syrian Arab Republic to build on this historic milestone in order to ensure the full elimination of its chemical weapons programme, including the destruction of the remaining chemical weapons production facilities.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS BREACH OF GAZA CEASEFIRE

  • In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the breach of the Egyptian brokered humanitarian ceasefire which was to expire at midnight local time. He is gravely disappointed by the return to hostilities.
  • The Secretary-General reminds both sides of their responsibility not to let the situation escalate. The hopes of the people in Gaza for a better future and the hopes of the people in Israel for sustainable security rest on the talks in Cairo.
  • The Secretary-General calls on the delegations to live up to this expectation and urges the parties to reach an immediate understanding on a durable ceasefire which also addresses the underlying issues afflicting Gaza.
  • According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of displaced is rising in Gaza again, with some 400,000 people now uprooted in Gaza.
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said today that there are now around 261,000 displaced people in 82 shelters. Some 115,000 are registered as staying with host families, 26,000 are in seven government schools supported by UNRWA, and a further 10,200 are in government schools not supported by UNRWA.
  • According to the Palestinian Water Authority’s preliminary estimates, the cost of direct damage to the water system in the Gaza Strip will be over $30 million.
  • The $367 million Gaza Crisis Appeal has received just over one-third of the funds requested. There are large gaps in critical sectors including health, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and shelter.
  • OCHA says that many United Nations and non-governmental organization partners have received little or no funding for their projects.

U.N. IRAQ ENVOY GRAVELY CONCERNED OVER ATTACKS AGAINST SUNNI MINORITIES

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, has expressed grave concern over recent acts violence committed against members of the Sunni community in Basra Governorate. 
  • Since 23 June, at least 19 Sunni civilian men have been killed and another 19 have been injured. According to the UN Assistance Mission’s (UNAMI) human rights section, the perpetrators are reportedly “unidentified gunmen.”
  • Mr. Mladenov has called on authorities in Basra to do all they can to strengthen security measures to prevent further acts or threats of violence against minorities. He has urged the authorities to investigate the crimes and prosecute those responsible. 
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that UN agencies and partners are scaling up their relief delivery in northern Iraq's Kurdistan region. The World Food Programme (WFP) is providing food assistance to approximately 200,000 people per day in Dahuk Governorate alone.
  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports progress in building camps in Dahuk Governorate, where displaced people are temporarily sheltering in over 640 schools.
  • A cargo jet with 100 tons of emergency relief supplies has landed in Erbil carrying thousands of tents, plastic sheets, kitchen sets and jerry cans. More aid is its way by air, road and sea.
  • Kevin Kennedy, who was recently appointed the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, is in Erbil, Iraq.  

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. VOICES CONCERN OVER INTIMIDATION OF NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER

  • The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has expressed concern over the acts of intimidation against New York Times reporter Matthew Rosenberg.
  • The reporter was informed yesterday that he would not be permitted to leave Afghanistan as he was under investigation for unspecified reasons in relation to an article he had authored.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubis, has said that any attempt aimed at preventing a media representative from freely carrying out his or her duties demonstrates a disturbing disregard for freedom of expression.
  • The mission has urged Afghan authorities to review their actions, domestic laws and international obligations to safeguard press freedom in the country.
  • The United Nations is also concerned about yesterday’s clashes between supporters of Dr. Abdullah Abdullah’s campaign and workers from the Independent Election Commission.
  • Secretary-General’s Special Representative Ján Kubis has called on all parties engaged in the electoral process to abide by the relevant Codes of Conduct. So far, more than half of the ballot boxes have been audited.

EBOLA: W.H.O. REPORTS ENCOURAGING SIGNS IN NIGERIAN, GUINEA

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday that it was seeing encouraging signs in Nigeria and Guinea.
  • The situation in Lagos, where the first imported case was detected in July, looks reassuring as all 12 confirmed cases are part of a single chain of transmission.
  • In Guinea, public awareness of the facts about Ebola is higher than in the other affected countries, according to WHO. Respected community leaders have helped secure the cooperation of 26 villages that were highly resistant to outside help. However, the outbreak is not under control.
  • The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) continues to assist regional and national efforts to contain the spreading of the disease and is providing assistance to the Government.
  • In Sierra Leone, the United Nations has issued earlier this week an appeal for an additional $18 million to bolster the Government’s efforts in halting the spread of the virus.
  • The United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, David Nabarro, has announced that he will visit all four countries affected by the virus in the coming days.

NEW U.N. ENVOY FOR GREAT LAKES VISITS REGION

  • The United Nations Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, arrived in Nairobi today. It is the first leg of his first visit to the region in his new capacity.
  • Mr. Djinnit will then travel to Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, South Africa and Tanzania.
  • He will meet with regional leaders and other key parties to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in Addis Ababa in February 2013 by all countries of the Great Lakes region.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Security Council held consultations on Sudan and South Sudan and other matters this morning.
  • Later today, it will hold consultations this afternoon on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions and other matters.

OMAN JOINS U.N.-BACKED ANTI-LANDMINE CONVENTION

  • Oman has become the 162nd State to join the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. The Secretary-General has called for universal adherence to this important treaty.

 

***The guest at the noon briefing was Ratidza Ndhlovu, Head of the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) in Nigeria, who gave an update on the support given to communities impacted by the abductions of the Chibok girls.