HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 9 MAY 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS BOMB ATTACK IN SYRIA
- On Wednesday, the Secretary-General issued a statement on a bomb attack occurred in the vicinity of a convoy of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), soon after it had crossed a Syrian Military checkpoint near Dar’a town in Southern Syria.
- The statement notes that there were no United Nations casualties or any damage to UN vehicles. The Syrian Government reported that the explosion resulted in the injury of ten Syrian soldiers.
- The Secretary-General says we have no evidence to believe that the explosion was intended to target the UNSMIS convoy; however, this incident demonstrates the difficult and challenging conditions under which our United Nations observers are operating. It also demonstrates the volatile and dangerous situation in which the Syrian people have been living for months.
- The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the recent increase in the detonation of explosive devices throughout Syria. Such incidents, in addition to the continued violence reported in many cities in Syria, call into question the commitment of the parties to the cessation of violence and may have a direct impact on the future of the Mission.
- The Secretary-General strongly condemns this attack and calls on all parties to adhere to the cessation of violence and to cooperate with, support and protect the UNSMIS observers. This mission and the efforts of the JSE are possibly the only remaining chance to stabilize the country and avert a civil war.
- The Head of the UN Mission, Major-General Robert Mood, was in that convoy. He said that the explosion was a graphic example of what the Syrian people are suffering on a daily basis. He reiterated the need for all forms of violence to stop.
- The Secretary-General spoke by phone with Major-General Mood on Wednesday morning to express his concern and thank the observers for their work under difficult circumstances.
SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL WITNESSES APPALLING CONDITIONS IN KABUL INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, visited an informal settlement in Kabul on Wednesday.
- During her visit to Parwan Se settlement in Kabul, Ms. Amos met with some of the 80 families living in the settlement.
- She witnessed first-hand the many hardships of living in lean-to shanties, with little access to water and sanitation, basic hygiene, health, education, and access to regular income.
- The United Nations in Afghanistan today donated the first series of more than 60 cars and vans to support Government efforts to strengthen rule of law, justice and the well-being of workers.
- Jan Kubis, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, handed over the keys for the first nine vehicles donated by the UN Mission to the Afghan Government at a ceremony in the UN compound in Kabul today.
U.N. MISSION INVESTIGATES MILITARY HOSTILITIES IN SOUTHERN DARFUR
- On Tuesday, there were hostilities between the Sudan Armed Forces and elements of Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi in and around the area of Greida (approximately 100 kilometers south of Nyala in South Darfur).
- The UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) is working to ascertain the facts.
- At this time it is our understanding that the armed elements have left Greida and hostilities have stopped there.
- UNAMID investigation patrols have been dispatched and more information will be communicated as it becomes available.
- Asked about reports of aerial attacks in South Sudan, the Spokesperson noted reports on Friday, 4 May, of Sudanese Air Force attacks against Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) positions in Panakuach/Hufra and Lalop. Following that, a UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) patrol visited Panakuach on 7 May.
- He said that the patrol confirmed at least two craters in Panakuach consistent with reported bombings.
- An UNMISS patrol to Lalop on 4 May also confirmed three craters caused by recent bombings, and two injured civilians – namely, one woman and one child.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT ONGOING HUNGER STRIKE BY PALESTINIAN PRISONERS
- In response to questions on Palestinian prisoners, the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General issued a note to correspondents on Wednesday, in which it says the Secretary-General continues to follow with concern the ongoing hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody, in particular, those held in what is known as administrative detention.
- He stresses the importance of averting any further deterioration in their condition.
- He reiterates that those detained must be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees, or released without delay.
- The Secretary-General urges all concerned to reach a solution without delay, and fully supports in this regard the work of his Envoy, Robert Serry, who is actively engaged on this issue with the parties on the ground.
- Meanwhile, Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said he was deeply troubled by reports about the critical condition of at least two detained Palestinian prisoners who have been on hunger strike for more than two months.
- Mr. Serry urges all sides to find a solution before it is too late, and calls on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.
U.N. AGENCY SAYS NEARLY ONE MILLION CHILDREN IN YEMEN ARE SUFFERING FROM ACUTE MALNUTRITION
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that an estimated 967,000 children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition in Yemen.
- Aid organizations are asking for about US$40 million to help more than 267,000 children who are at risk of dying of malnutrition if they don’t receive proper treatment.
- There has also been an increase in the number of children affected by land mines or unexploded ordnance. In the first three months of 2012, 13 children have been killed and another 12 have been injured.
U.N. AGENCIES PROVIDE HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE FOR THOUSANDS OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE IN MALI
- According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an estimated 146,900 people remain internally displaced in Mali and almost 200,000 Malians have sought refuge in neighbouring countries including Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Algeria.
- Recent fighting in Bamako, southern Mali, has hindered humanitarian response and complicated coordination efforts. Despite the insecurity, aid organizations have managed to carry out some activities including distributing food. So far, food has been distributed to an estimated 21,260 people and World Food Programme (WFP) continues to find alternatives to providing assistance to people in non-accessible areas.
- Access to the rebel-held regions of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu in the north is limited but several aid organizations continue to provide assistance to affected communities. Although there is no UN presence in these areas, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has managed to send nutritional supplies to some 55,000 people through partner NGOs.
- Poor access to health services remains one of the main concerns. More than 90 per cent of community health centres are not operational in northern Mali and only one hospital is functional in Timbuktu. Health partners continue to provide basic health services in northern Mali.
- The main humanitarian needs of Malian refugees in neighbouring countries are the lack of potable water, food, shelter and healthcare including the prevention of epidemic diseases. Many refugees are also in areas of the Sahel most affected by the food crisis and humanitarian organizations are providing food, water, shelter and agricultural support to refugees’ and host communities in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.
U.N. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS HEALTH RISKS OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL
- The World Health Organization (WHO) issued the latest 2012 edition of International Travel and Health report on Wednesday, which says more than 900 million international journeys are undertaken every year. Global travel on this scale exposes many people to a range of health risks, which can be minimized by precautions taken before, during and after travel.
- WHO stresses that depending on the characteristics of both the traveler and the travel, people may encounter sudden and significant changes in altitude, humidity, microbes, and temperature, which can result in ill-health.
- In addition, serious health risks may arise in areas where accommodation is of poor quality, hygiene and sanitation are inadequate, medical services are not well developed and clean water is unavailable.
- The 2012 edition of International Travel and Health provides updated information on vaccines and their requirements, malaria and yellow fever risks, and new information for last minute travelers.
U.N.: THREE SECURITY PERSONNEL WOUNDED IN A ROBBERY INCIDENT IN KENYA
- In response to a question about a security incident in Kenya, the Spokesperson confirmed that three UN security personnel were wounded in a robbery in Kenya while they were off duty.
- All three are in good condition and are receiving medical treatment.
- The robbery and shooting is being investigated by the Kenyan authorities.
U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT THE TREATMENT OF BAHRAIN ACTIVIST NABEEL RAJAN: Asked about the treatment of an activist in Bahrain, the Spokesperson said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has been in touch with the authorities in Bahrain about the need to ensure the right to freedom of expression. The Office said that the case of Nabeel Rajan was a cause for concern.
U.N. ENVOY IN TOUCH WITH CYPRIOT LEADERS FOR PEACE TALKS: Asked about the talks on Cyprus, the Spokesperson said that Special Envoy Alexander Downer has been in touch with the leaders..
U.N. CHECKS REPORTED WEBSITE HACKING ATTEMPT: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that he was not aware that there had been any hacking of the UN web site today, but the United Nations is checking, following media reports of a hacking attempt.
CITES PRAISES CHINA FOR WILDLIFE LAW ENFORCEMENT OPERATIONS: On Wednesday, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) awarded a Certificate of Commendation to the National Inter-Agency CITES Enforcement Collaboration Group (NICECG) of China in recognition of two nationwide wildlife law enforcement operations carried out earlier this year. Over 100,000 enforcement officers were mobilised in this effective offensive against wildlife crime.
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