HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC, SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 26 MAY 2015
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPLAUDS IRELAND’S DECISION TO FULLY INCLUDE L.G.B.T. COMMUNITY IN LIFE OF NATION
- The Secretary-General wrapped up his visit to Ireland today, where he received the Tipperary international peace prize on Sunday. Accepting the award, he said that this is a time of test.
- The past 70 years would surely have been far bloodier without the UN, and yet conflicts continue to exact an unacceptable toll. It is time for an era of stronger cooperation and action to respond to the millions of people around the world who look to the UN to uphold its obligation to maintain international peace and security.
- On 24 May, he gave the Iveagh Lecture at Dublin Castle. There, he said that the same-sex marriage referendum means that Ireland has decided to fully include members of the LGBT community in the life of the nation.
- On 25 May, he met separately with Ireland’s President Michael D. Higgins, Foreign Minister, Defense Minister Simon Coveney and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
- He also met with resettled refugees from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar, as well as Syrians. He expressed his appreciation for Ireland's resettlement programme, and also stressed the need for safe and regular avenues of migration.
- The Secretary-General today met with the Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, and then met with young people actively working on promoting sustainable development.
- He arrived in Brussels a few hours ago, and he will shortly take part in a dinner meeting with European Union (EU) development ministers, hosted by EU High Representative Federica Mogherini.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DISPPOINTED AT LACK OF AGREEMENT AT NON-PROLIFERATION CONFERENCE
- In a statement issued on 23 May, the Secretary-General expressed his disappointment at the inability of the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons to reach consensus on a substantive outcome.
- The Secretary-General regretted in particular that States parties were unable to narrow their differences on the future of nuclear disarmament or to arrive at a new collective vision on how to achieve a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction.
- The Secretary-General appealed to all States to sustain the momentum they have built over the past five years, including new initiatives in the pursuit of nuclear disarmament and continuing efforts to strengthen nuclear non-proliferation. With respect to the Middle East, the Secretary-General continues to stand ready to support efforts to promote and sustain the inclusive regional dialogue necessary to achieve this goal.
- He hopes that the growing awareness of the devastating humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons continues to compel urgent actions for effective measures leading to the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.
YEMEN: BASIC SERVICES IN TAIZ GROUND TO A HALT
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that many basic services in Taiz in southern Yemen have ground to a halt. The health ministry reports that several hospitals have closed because of a lack of fuel, and access to other health facilities has been limited by heavy fighting.
- Humanitarian organisations are struggling to provide lifesaving assistance due to lack of access and high levels of insecurity. Ten civilians are reported to have been killed and more than 100 injured in the last few days alone.
- Throughout Yemen, based on data collected from health facilities, over 1,870 people were killed, half of whom are believed to be civilians, and about 7,580 people injured between 19 March and 18 May. Figures are likely to be much higher given the recent escalation of conflict.
U.N. FOOD PROGRAMME CALLS FOR PAUSE IN FIGHTING TO HELP FARMERS IN SYRIA
- The World Food Programme (WFP) has called for humanitarian pauses in the fighting in Syria so farmers can safely harvest and transport crops within the country to reach all Syrians in need.
- The WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, said that we must support unhindered and unrestricted food transport across frontlines. This will ensure that food now available in one part of the country reaches Syrians wherever they are in the country. Without a humanitarian pause by all sides, providing unhindered access to Syrian food and opening up corridors for transport, people will still go hungry despite a good harvest, and prices for food will remain high.
- The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, applauded the call, saying that he strongly welcomes and supports WFP’s appeal.
- He said that the Syrian people have shown incredible resilience and determination in going through this terrible conflict, and they should be given a chance to make sure their own crops can reach their own people safely during this critical period.
U.N. OFFICIALS EXPRESS CONINUED SUPPORT FOR LEBANON FOLLOWING ONE YEAR OF PRESIDENTIAL VACCUM
- The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, spoke with Prime Minister Tamam Salam of Lebanon to express the UN's support for the Prime Minister and for Lebanon's stability after one year without a President of the Republic.
- The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, has urged Lebanon's leaders to put national interests above partisan politics for the sake of Lebanon’s stability, and to show the flexibility and sense of urgency needed to resolve this issue.
- She stressed that the presidential election is a Lebanese process, and called on Members of Parliament to fulfil their constitutional duties, to uphold the country’s democratic tradition and convene to elect a President without further delay.
- The Special Coordinator commended Prime Minister Salam, who has succeeded in upholding a unified Government despite enormous pressures and who has shown remarkable leadership in the face of increasingly difficult circumstances.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS RECENT VIOLENCE IN BURUNDI A SIGNIFICANT SETBACK
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, spoke at the informal briefing of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva today.
- He said that Burundi is a country with deep and terrible knowledge of the potential consequences of outbreaks of violence, adding that following a decade of growing recovery, and prosperity, the recent violence is a significant setback.
- Mr. Zeid said that he remains encouraged by the mobilisation of the African Union, the International Conference on the Great Lakes region, the East African Community, the European Union and the UN, and by the priority they have given to human rights concerns. He hopes that the Human Rights Council can send a strong message to national actors and the international community to stop the wave of violence.
- On the current migration crises in Europe and South-East Asia, he said that the paramount concern of all actors must be the human rights of the people who have embarked on their desperate voyage out of fear and need.
- He also spoke about the European Agenda on Migration. The Human Rights office is expected to hold an expert meeting on 17 June on the issue of human rights and migrant smuggling. He added that the international community must protect the human rights of migrants at all times, above all other considerations.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL CALLS FOR SUSTAINED SUPPORT FOR CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- At a pledging conference on the Central African Republic (CAR) in Brussels this morning, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang, said that it is crucial that the level of response and commitment by donors, and humanitarian actors in the country is maintained.
- The number of humanitarian organizations working in the country doubled since last year but needs continue to far exceed resources. An estimated 2.7 million people out of a population of 4.6 require humanitarian assistance and protection, and the 2015 Strategic Response Plan is just 21 percent funded so far.
TWO PEACEKEEPERS IN MALI INJURED BY GUNSHOTS
- The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) reported that yesterday, two peacekeepers travelling in Bamako in a UN vehicle were injured by gunshots and that one of them subsequently died.
- Malian authorities and MINUSMA are investigating the incident but we have no further information to share at this time.
MYANMAR: U.N. OFFICIALS VISIT RAKHINE STATE
- On Myanmar, the UN Secretary General’s Special Advisor, Vijay Nambiar, and other senior UN Representatives visited Rakhine State on 22 May.
- They met with the Chief Minister, Maung Maung Ohn, and other representatives from the State government, as well as visited Ale Than Kyaw Village, hosting disembarked migrants. The UN commended both the Union Government of Myanmar and Rakhine State Government for the important rescue of over 200 migrants in Myanmar waters on 21 May.
- The UN also recognizes recent improvements in the conditions in Rakhine, including efforts to improve the situation of the displaced people, but has called for more efforts to ramp up development initiatives for all communities in the State.
U.N. ENVOY IN KOSOVO NOTES FUNDAMENTAL IMPORTANCE IN OVERCOMING LEGACY OF HOSTILITY
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Farid Zarif, briefed the Security Council today, commending on Belgrade’s and Pristina’s ability to work together on subjects of common concern. He said that this has been of fundamental importance in overcoming the legacy of hostility and conflict.
- Mr. Zarif thanked the Security Council members for their sustained and constructive support with both parties, which he said remains essential for encouraging full implementation of the April 2013 agreement, and supporting progress on other challenging issues including the establishment of the Specialist Court to try cases from the findings of the European Union Special Investigative Task Force.
UKRAINE: SPORADIC FIGHTING CONTINUES IN DONETSK
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that sporadic fighting continues at Donetsk airport, as well as in Shyrokyne, Avdiivka and Shastia. Many civilians continue to seek refuge in underground shelters.
- The Ministry of Social Policy has registered some 1.3 million people as internally displaced. This is an increase of about 44,000 people over the past three weeks.
- The number of people fleeing Ukraine for neighbouring countries is also on the rise. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that about 857,000 Ukrainians have sought asylum, residence permits or other forms of legal stay in neighbouring countries – an increase of about 23,000 people over the past two weeks.
- Access to healthcare services is severely constrained across the east and in non-Government controlled areas in particular, because of lack of medicine and medical equipment. There is an increased burden over healthcare facilities because of the influx of displaced families.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CALLS ON KYRGYZSTAN TO ENSURE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION OF CIVIL SOCIETY
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that the Kyrgyz parliament is scheduled to begin its first reading tomorrow of a draft law on “foreign agents” which could negatively affect the work of numerous civil society organisations working on human rights and delivering services in Kyrgyzstan.
- The Human Rights Office calls on the Government of Kyrgyzstan to ensure that the freedoms of expression and association are protected in line with international human rights law and standards. The Office urges a review of this draft law to ensure that it does not restrict the important work of civil society organisations in the country.
WORLD HEALTH ASSEMBLY ADDRESSES ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTENCE, IMMUNIZATION GAPS, MALNUTRITION
- The World Health Assembly just wrapped up its work today. Over the weekend, delegates made a series of decisions stemming from the Ebola outbreak which gave the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Secretariat the go-ahead to carry out structural reforms so it can prepare for and respond rapidly, flexibly and effectively to emergencies and disease outbreaks.
- On 25 May, they agreed on resolutions to tackle antimicrobial resistance, improve access to affordable vaccines and address malnutrition.
***The guest at the noon briefing was Magdy Martínez-Solimán, Assistant Administrator and Director of the Bureau for Policy and Programme Support at the UN Development Programme, who briefed on Nepal.