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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 FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

MONDAY, 28 JULY 2014

 

United Nations Headquarters in New York will be closed on Tuesday, 29 July, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr

 

MIDDLE EAST: AS WORLD MARKS EID AL-FITR, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES END TO VIOLENCE

  • The Secretary-General spoke to reporters today on the situation in Gaza, saying that, as the world marks Eid al-Fitr, it is time for an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire.  In the name of humanity, the violence must stop.
  • He said that the death toll keeps climbing. The fighting has claimed well over 1,000 Palestinian lives - most of them civilians, hundreds of them children. Hamas rocket fire has claimed the lives of three Israeli civilians.
  • The Secretary-General said that Israelis and Palestinians have a responsibility to stop the fighting, to start the dialogue now, and to address the root causes that will finally break the endless cycle of senseless suffering. That means securing peace through mutual respect, an end to the economic strangulation of Gaza and the nearly half century of occupation.
  • More suffering and siege conditions in Gaza will only hurt innocent civilians, further isolate Israel, empower extremists on all sides, and leave our world far less safe.
  • In a statement issued earlier today, the Secretary-General called on parties to build on the current calm. With hundreds of Palestinian civilians already killed in Gaza and horrifying levels of physical destruction, he urges those responsible to step back from provoking or inflicting yet more tragic violence on civilians there.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s work, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had just recently returned from a week-long trip to the Middle East in which he had spoken to Israeli and Palestinian leaders, as well as others in the region and with influence on the parties, to push for a ceasefire.
  • Asked about the efforts by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to tally the casualties in the fighting, Mr. Haq noted that OCHA receives its information from a variety of sources, including the local Ministry of Health and Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups and attempts to cross-check the information it receives.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO NICARAGUA, COSTA RICA

  • The Secretary-General will depart New York on Tuesday morning for a trip which will take him to Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
  • In the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, he will hold talks with President Daniel Ortega Saavedra and other Government ministers.
  • The Secretary-General will also visit a wind farm in the Department of Rivas called Parque Eólico Camilo Ortega Saavedra.
  • On Wednesday morning, the Secretary-General will travel to Costa Rica, where he will meet with President Luis Guillermo Solís and Foreign Minister Manuel González Sanz, as well as with representatives of indigenous groups.
  • The Secretary-General will give a lecture entitled “Costa Rica and the United Nations: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century” at the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
  • The Secretary-General’s official visit to Costa Rica will wrap up on Wednesday evening.

U.N. CHIEF SPOTLIGHTS COOPERATION BETWEEN PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, REGIONAL ORGANIZATIONS

  • The Secretary-General briefed the Security Council this morning on regional partnerships with United Nations peacekeeping, and he noted the cooperation between United Nations peacekeeping operations and regional organizations, particularly in Africa.
  • He said that partnerships with regional organizations should continue to be based on the comparative strengths of each organization. It is also important to draw detailed lessons from recent transition experiences in the context of Mali and, very soon, the Central African Republic.
  • Among other things, the Secretary-General expressed concern about the situation in South Sudan, which is the most rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the world today, worse even than Central African Republic and Syria. He repeated his call to the leaders of both sides to abide by the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement signed on 23 January.

UKRAINE: NEW U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT DOCUMENTS REIGN OF FEAR INFLICTED ON EASTERN UKRAINE’S POPULATION

  • A total breakdown of law and order and a reign of fear and terror have been inflicted by armed groups on the population of eastern Ukraine, says a new report issued today by the Office of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • The report, which covers the period of 8 June to 15 July 2014, says that these armed groups, well organized and well equipped militarily, have intensified their challenge to the Government of Ukraine. In response, there has been an acceleration of Government security operations during July in the areas still under the control of the armed groups.
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that the reports of increasingly intense fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are extremely alarming, with both sides employing heavy weaponry in built-up areas, including artillery, tanks, rockets and missiles.
  • She said that increasing numbers of people are being killed with serious damage to civilian infrastructure, which – depending on circumstances – could amount to violations of international humanitarian law.
  • Concerning the shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines plane on 17 July, which came just after the cut-off date of this report, Ms. Pillay said that this violation of international law, given the prevailing circumstances, may amount to a war crime. She called for a prompt, thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation to be conducted into this event.
  • She also stressed to all those involved in the conflict, including foreign fighters, that every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law including war crimes will be brought to justice, no matter who they are.

U.N. AGENCY DELIVERS MEDICAL SUPPLIES IN SYRIA’S YARMOUK FOR FIRST TIME SINCE JANUARY

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that for the first time since January, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) was able to distribute basic healthcare items and medicines to Palestine refugees in need in Yarmouk camp, south of Damascus city in Syria.
  • Despite this positive development, the Relief and Works Agency was forced to halt the distribution of food in the camp over the weekend due to lack of authorization, interrupting food distributions that have been taking place since 16 July.

IRAQ: AHEAD OF EID, AID AGENCIES STEP UP MEDICAL ASSISTANCE IN ANBAR

  • On Iraq, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that ahead of the Eid holiday, the Anbar Department of Health has increased the number of specialist doctors on duty in the main hospitals, the amount of blood supplies, and medical and therapeutic services.
  • At least one primary health care clinic in each district will be open in addition to the 24 clinics operating in the governorate. Routine vaccination activities are ongoing in all health centres.
  • Food distributions by the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners are ongoing in a number of governorates, including food parcels for 7,000 families in Erbil area and for 1,000 families in the Babylon area.
  • An estimated 1.2 million people have been displaced by the violence in Iraq since January 2014, including some 650,000 people who have been displaced over the last two months alone.

U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN CONDEMNS ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANS IN GHOR

  • Over the weekend, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) issued a statement condemning in the strongest possible terms the recent attacks in Afghanistan’s western province of Ghor. At least 15 people were killed, including three women. 
  • Jan Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said the killing of civilians was deeply troubling especially when Afghans nationwide are celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr. The United Nations has called for prompt and thorough investigation into these killings.
  • Asked about reports of advances made by the Taliban, the Spokesman noted the concerns about Taliban activity reported by UNAMA and added that the United Nations was working to ensure that there would be an orderly process of government formation so as to deal with the threat posed by the Taliban.

ON WORLD HEPATITIS DAY, W.H.O. URGES THE WORLD TO RETHINK GLOBAL RESPONSE

  • Today is World Hepatitis Day. Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver disease and killing close to 1.4 million people every year. However, it remains largely ignored or unknown.
  • On this day, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners urge policymakers, health workers and the public to 'Think again' about this silent killer.
  • WHO calls for coordinating a global response to the viral hepatitis, strengthening prevention, screening and control of the disease, and increasing hepatitis B vaccine coverage.