HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 12 FEBRUARY 2016
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES VISIT TO CANADA
- The Secretary-General today met with the Governor-General of Canada in Ottawa this morning. They discussed humanitarian issues, the sustainable development goals and climate change.
- He then travelled to Montreal, where he met the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre.
- This afternoon, the Secretary-General will address students at McGill University. He will meet with the Secretary-General and the President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), which is headquartered in Montreal.
- Later today, he will meet with the Premier and Minister of International Relations of Quebec.
HUMANITARIAN ACCESS TO START TO BESIEGED PARTS OF SYRIA – INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT GROUP
- Last night in Munich, Germany, the members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) decided that humanitarian access will commence this week to besieged areas, and an ISSG task force will within one week elaborate modalities for a nationwide cessation of hostilities.
- In accordance with the decision of the International Syria Support Group, the United Nations hosted today the first meeting of the Task Force on Humanitarian Access in Syria in Geneva. The meeting was chaired by Jan Egeland, Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for Syria. The purpose of this initial meeting was to agree on how the Task Force and its members can ensure that immediate access is granted to the civilian populations in besieged and hard to reach areas in line with the agreement reached in Munich. Mr. Egeland said that requests have already been submitted for access to the parties surrounding besieged areas. He expected to get such access without delay.
- In a statement, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O’Brien, welcomed last night’s agreement and urged the parties to the conflict to ensure full, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access, including to besieged and hard-to-reach areas, in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law. He said that the people of Syria – in Aleppo, Madaya, Foah and Kefraya, Deir ez-Zor and elsewhere – need an end to the brutal violence and bombing, the sieges, denial of free movement, food and medical care.
MALI: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOWS DEADLY ATTACK ON U.N. WILL NOT WEAKEN SUPPORT TO GOVERNMENT
- In a statement, the Secretary-General says that he condemns the complex attack perpetrated against the camp of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) in Kidal this morning that claimed the lives of at least five peacekeepers and injured approximately 30.
- The Secretary-General underscores that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers constitute war crimes under international law and calls for the perpetrators of this attack to be brought to justice.
- The Secretary-General reiterates that attacks against MINUSMA will not weaken the determination of the United Nations to support the Malian Government, the parties to the peace agreement, and the people of Mali, in their efforts to achieve lasting peace and stability.
- The Secretary-General conveys his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and to the Governments of those concerned. He expresses his profound sympathy and support to those wounded and wishes them a speedy recovery.
SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO FIRST ALL-FEMALE POLICE UNIT SERVING WITH U.N. LIBERIA MISSION FOR NINE YEARS
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said that he wishes to pay tribute to the first ever all-female Formed Police Unit (FPU) deployed to a United Nations peacekeeping operation, which will end its mission in Liberia after nine years. The 125 women and supporting personnel will return to India this weekend.
- Through their unwavering performance, professionalism and discipline, including during the Ebola epidemic, these brave women gained the respect of both the Government and the Liberian people. The Secretary-General commends the FPU for their contributions in creating an environment for the Government of Liberia to assume fully its security responsibilities by 30 June 2016, as mandated by the Security Council. Through their work, they managed criminality, deterred sexual and gender-based violence and helped rebuild safety and confidence among the population.
- The Secretary-General underscores that the conduct of the FPU served as an example of how the deployment of more female uniformed personnel can help the United Nations in its efforts to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.
- The Secretary-General thanks all the women who served in the FPU for inspiring all Liberians, as well as current and future generations of female police officers, and becoming role models for gender equality and pays tribute to the outstanding contribution of the Government of India, in support of United Nations peace operations.
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL SUBMITS REPORT ON CHEMICAL WEAPONS TO SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Secretary-General has submitted the first report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism to the Security Council today, in accordance with resolution 2235 (2015). The report provides an overview of the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism to date, the sources of information available to the Mechanism and the methodology behind their investigation. The Secretary-General appreciates the professional, independent, objective and impartial work that is being carried out. The Security Council is expected to consider the report on 22 February.
- The Mechanism reviewed the incidents where the OPCW Fact-Finding Missions determined that chemicals were used or likely used as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, and identified potential cases for further investigation.
- Full cooperation from the Syrian Government and all parties in Syria remains essential in the discharge of the Mechanism’s mandate.
MIDDLE EAST QUARTET: CURRENT TRENDS ‘DANGEROUSLY IMPERLILING’ VIABILITY OF TWO-STATE SOLUTION
- The Representatives of the Quartet – European Union High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, United States Secretary of State John Kerry and Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson – met in Munich today.
- The Quartet condemned all acts of terror and expressed its serious concern over the continuing violence against civilians. Reiterating its call for restraint, the Quartet called upon all parties to reject incitement and actively take steps to de-escalate the current tensions.
- The Quartet expressed its serious concern that current trends on the ground – including continued acts of violence against civilians, ongoing settlement activity, and the high rate of demolitions of Palestinian structures – are dangerously imperiling the viability of a two-state solution. The Quartet reiterated that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of a negotiated solution.
- The Quartet reaffirms its commitment to act in coordination with key stakeholders, including regional countries and the UN Security Council, to stabilize the situation and to actively support a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In that regard, the Quartet will prepare a report on the situation on the ground, including recommendations that can help inform international discussions on the best way to advance the two-state solution.
IN PHONE CALLS WITH TOP OFFICIALS IN LIBYA AND EGYPT, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO URGENTLY FORM GOVERNMENT OF NATIONAL ACCORD
- Yesterday, the Secretary-General spoke on the telephone with the Prime Minister-designate of Libya, Fayez Serraj, and he also spoke to the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, by phone to discuss the latest developments in Libya.
- In both calls, the Secretary-General emphasized the urgency to form a Government of National Accord, so that Libyans can address together the many challenges they are facing, including the threat of an expansion of Da’esh and economic decline.
U.N.-BACKED NON-AGGRESSION PACT SIGNED BETWEEN MUSLIM, CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC’S CAPITAL
- Yesterday, following a year of dialogue and efforts supported by the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), a non-aggression pact was signed between the Muslim community from Bangui’s PK5 area and Christian residents from the Boeing area in Bangui’s outskirts.
- The pact was signed during an official ceremony with the participation of the Transitional Authorities, the Head of MINUSCA Parfait Onanga-Anyanga, UN agencies, the diplomatic community and more than 300 members of both communities.
- The agreement includes provision on the freedom of movement, a significant achievement towards enhanced security and reconciliation among these communities.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION CALLS APPOINTMENT OF RIEK MACHAR AS FIRST VICE PRESIDENT ‘IMPORTANT STEP’
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) welcomes yesterday's announcement by President Kiir of the appointment of Riek Machar as First Vice President of South Sudan. This is an important step in the formation of the Transitional Government and the implementation of the peace agreement.
- The Mission urges Mr. Machar to return to Juba, in order for the Transitional Government to be established as quickly as possible and outstanding issues delaying the implementation of the agreement be addressed.
- The Mission is concerned by reports of clashes and ongoing tensions between the parties in Upper Nile, as well as by ongoing violence between communities in Jonglei, which is leading to displacement and violence against civilians.
- The Transitional Government, once formed, must do its utmost to take forward its primary responsibility in protecting civilians within its borders.
MORE THAN 80,000 PEOPLE ARRIVE IN EUROPE IN FIRST SIX WEEKS OF 2016 – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said that more than 80,000 refugees and migrants have arrived by boat in Europe during the first six weeks of this year, with more than 400 people having died making the journey.
- Despite rougher seas, harsh winter weather, and numerous hardships endured upon arrival, the Agency says that more than 2,000 people a day continue to risk their lives and the lives of their children attempting to reach Europe.
- UNHCR hopes that EU Member States will implement at a faster pace all EU-wide measures agreed upon last year, including the implementation of hotspots and the relocation process for 160,000 people already in Greece and Italy.
- More needs to be done to reinforce reception capacities at the points of entry to Europe, to allow for the humane and effective accommodation, assistance, registration and security screening of people arriving every day.
- The Agency also says that within the context of the necessary reduction of dangerous sea arrivals, safe access to seek asylum is a fundamental human right that must be protected and respected.
- Also, ahead of a summit of Central European leaders next week in Prague, UNHCR is urging them to show greater solidarity with desperate refugees who seek sanctuary in the continent.
SOUTHERN AFRICAN DROUGHT DRIVEN BY EL NINO, U.N.-BACKED ASSESSMENT FINDS
A joint statement by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners on the impact of El Nino on southern Africa’s harvests and food security warns that southern Africa is currently in the grip of an intense drought that has expanded and strengthened, driven by one of the strongest El Niño events of the last 50 years.
Across large swathes of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Madagascar, the current rainfall season has so far been the driest in the last 35 years.
- While it is too early to provide detailed estimates of the population likely to be food-insecure in 2016-2017, it is expected that the population in need of emergency food assistance and livelihood recovery support will increase significantly.
U.N. LAUNCHES ELECTRONIC LIBRARY
- United Nations Publications is pleased to announce the launch of the United Nations iLibrary, the first comprehensive global search, discovery, and dissemination platform for digital content created by the United Nations.
- To begin with, United Nations iLibrary includes publications, journals and series comprising facts and expertise on international peace and security, human rights, economic and social development, climate change, international law, governance, public health, and statistics. In future releases, the platform will also provide access to other resources such as working papers series and statistical databases.
- At its launch, United Nations iLibrary comprises 750 titles in English, and 250 in the other official languages of the United Nations: French, Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Arabic.
U.N. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL SETS UP INDEPENDENT ADVISORY TEAM
- The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Bureau announced today the establishment of an Independent Team of Advisors.
- These Advisors will generate ideas and proposals for the ongoing ECOSOC Dialogue on the UN development system.
- The Dialogue is focused on how to make the UN system better fit for the 2030 Agenda.
- The Team has selected as its Co-Chairs Juan Somavia of Chile and Klaus Töpfer of Germany. The work of the Team will culminate in June of this year with the conclusion of the ECOSOC Dialogue.
NETHERLANDS BECOMES 30TH MEMBER STATE TO PAY DUES IN FULL
- The Netherlands has become the 30th Member State to pay its UN dues in full.