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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 MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 12 JANUARY 2011

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TAKE PART IN WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY MARKING ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF HAITI EARTHQUAKE

  • The Secretary-General will address a wreath-laying ceremony this afternoon at UN Headquarters to mark the first anniversary of the Haiti earthquake of 12 January 2010.  After a symbolic silence of 47 seconds – the duration of the quake – the Secretary-General will express solidarity with the people of Haiti as well as the families of 102 United Nations colleagues who lost their lives.  He will reaffirm the UN system's commitment to assisting the people of Haiti to rebuild.
     

  • In a parallel ceremony in Port-au-Prince, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy will deliver a message from the Secretary-General that echoes these sentiments.  It also pays particular tribute to the dedication of United Nations staff in Haiti who survived the earthquake and worked to save lives in the following hours and days, and the hundreds of other UN staff from duty stations around the world who responded immediately to the call for volunteers.
     

  • In a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the Secretary-General called on the international community to continue its support for the people of Haiti. He said that the UN and international response was one of the largest of its kind ever mounted and continues to this day to help survivors of this tragedy.  These efforts must be redoubled and renewed.
     

  • Also issuing a statement on the occasion of the anniversary was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti, Edmond Mulet.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR CALM, DIALOGUE IN LEBANON

  • The Secretary-General is monitoring closely developments in Lebanon, where the situation is fast evolving.  He emphasizes the importance that calm be preserved. 
     

  • The Secretary-General further calls for continuing dialogue among all parties and respect for the Constitution and the laws of Lebanon.  He reiterates his full support for the independent work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

  

 

CÔTE D’IVOIRE: U.N. MISSION DEPLORES AMBUSH AGAINST BLUE HELMETS BY LAURENT GBAGBO’S FORCES

  • The UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) deplores the ambush against its peacekeepers by the armed forces of Laurent Gbagbo in the Abobo neighborhood of Abidjan on Tuesday night.
     

  • A mixed team of police and military personnel was coming back from patrol when shots were fired at it. In response, the team fired back. Three members of UNOCI’s force were slightly injured during the incident.
     

  • The Mission notes that this ambush occurred one day after the forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo blocked and looted a UNOCI convoy on its way to re-supply the Golf Hotel.
     

  • The Mission also says that on Tuesday, several hundred men in black uniforms reportedly began shooting and evacuating houses in Abobo. As soon as the Mission was made aware, it made contact at the political level with Mr. Gbagbo's team and sent two patrols that were blocked by those people manning the checkpoints.
     

  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the movements of UN patrols continue to be hindered, but added that UN peacekeepers are doing their best to monitor and respond to events on the ground. He said that the Mission operates under a Security Council mandate and is working to carry out that mandate.
     

  • Asked about actions by the Ivorian security forces, the Spokesperson noted the responsibility of security forces to protect civilians.
     

  • Asked about a hotline used to report human rights violations in Côte d’Ivoire, Nesirky said that the hotline had worked effectively during the electoral period and afterward so that UN human rights officers could follow up to allegations of violations.
     

  • Asked about an incident in which four drivers in a UN convoy had been detained, the Spokesperson said that he understands that the four people have been released, and that some of the goods on their trucks have now been recovered.

 

U.N. REPORTS VOTING IN SUDAN REFERENDUM PROGRESSING SMOOTHLY

  • Voting in the self-determination referendum is progressing smoothly with continued large turnout of voters in Southern Sudan.
     

  • In Southern Sudan now, the percentage of people who cast their ballots during the first two days is reckoned to be at 46 percent. The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission (SSRC) on Tuesday reported 25 percent turnout in the north and out of country voting.
     

  • The Southern Sudan Referendum Commission has released the estimated time-line for the aggregation and declaration of the results of the referendum. The preliminary results are expected to be announced by 2 February and, depending on whether appeals will be submitted to courts or not, the final result will be declared on 7 or 14 February.
     

  • Asked about the helicopter transport provided to a Sudanese official indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Spokesperson said that Governor Ahmed Haroun was critical to bringing the Missiriya leaders in Southern Kordofan to a peace meeting in Abyei to stop further clashes and killings.
     

  • The UN Mission in Sudan is mandated to provide good offices to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement parties in their efforts to resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiations. Transporting Governor Haroun was a necessity to help bring parties together and avoid further violence, Nesirky said.

 

SUDAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL’S PANEL ON REFERENDA CONTINUES MONITORING ACTIVITIES

  • The Secretary-General’s Panel on the Referenda in the Sudan today continued its monitoring of the Southern Sudan referendum as a fourth day of voting concluded. The Panel members visited polling centres and met with referendum authorities and voters in the states of Upper Nile and Northern Bahr el-Ghazal.
     

  • On Thursday, the Panel members will travel to other states across Sudan as they continue to monitor the referendum process.
     

  • The Panel's Chairman, former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa, told UN-backed Radio Miraya in an interview today that at the current pace of voting since polling began on Sunday 9 January, “there should be no cause for extension” beyond 15 January – the scheduled final day of polling.

 

NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN NEED OF FOOD AID IN SOUTHERN SUDAN HAS DROPPED, NEW U.N. REPORT SAYS

  • The number of people in need of food assistance in southern Sudan has decreased markedly – though prospects for food security largely depend on the post-referendum period and the number of people returning to the South, according to a new United Nations report.
     

  • An assessment by the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) warned that recent gains in food security, especially in states bordering on northern Sudan, such as Upper Nile and Unity, could be reversed by increasing food prices and any escalation of localized conflict.

 

D.R. CONGO: U.N. MISSION AND CONGOLESE OFFICIALS WRAP UP JOINT PROBE INTO SEXUAL VIOLENCE ALLEGATIONS

  • Human rights officers from the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and Congolese law enforcement officials on Tuesday completed a joint mission to Fizi, in the South Kivu province. They were there to probe allegations of sexual violence against local women, which reportedly took place earlier this month.
     

  • Their provisional report says that 13 women were raped. Nineteen others suffered various other abuses. The assailants also looted 14 shops.
     

  • The Mission says that 10 suspects, all members of the Government army and including a ranking officer, are being held in connection with these crimes.

 

U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF URGES TUNISIA TO ENSURE ITS SECURITY FORCES HALT USE OF EXCESSIVE FORCE AGAINST DEMONSTRATORS

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged the Government of Tunisia today to ensure that its security forces cease using excessive force against demonstrators. She also called on the Government to launch transparent and credible investigations into the deaths that have taken place during recent protests.
     

  • Pillay said that she is extremely concerned about the very high number of people killed in Tunisia in recent weeks. She noted reports that suggest that the majority of protests have been peaceful in nature, and that security forces reacted with excessive force in breach of international standards.
     

  • Pillay also expressed concern about reports of widespread arrests, including of human rights defenders and bloggers advocating fundamental human rights principles such as freedom of expression, as well as reports of the torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Tunisia.

 

U.N. FORCE COMMANDER MEETS WITH SENIOR LEBANESE, ISRAELI MILITARY OFFICIALS

  • The Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, met with senior officials from the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces today at the UN Position at the border crossing at Ras Al Naqoura.
     

  • They discussed the implementation of resolution 1701, the issue of the village of Ghajar and other matters related to the situation along the Blue Line.

 

TURKISH CYPRIOT AND GREEK CYPRIOT LEADERS MEET

  • Governance and power-sharing were the focus of talks today between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in Nicosia.
     

  • Alexander Downer, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, voiced hope that this will be a good year in terms of dealing with the Cyprus question.
     

  • The leaders will hold talks once more before their meeting in Geneva with the Secretary-General on 26 January.

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

W.H.O. CALLS FOR URGENT ACTION TO HALT SPREAD OF PARASITES RESISTANT TO MALARIA: Unless quick steps are taken to prevent the development and spread of drug-resistant parasites, the world risks losing its most potent treatment for malaria, warns the UN World Health Organization (WHO). A new five-step action plan released jointly with the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) partnership outlines the actions that need to be taken to contain and prevent resistance to artemisinins, which help to treat falciparum malaria, the deadliest form of the disease.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL EMPHASIZES NEED FOR GREATER EFFICIENCY: Asked about reforms, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly emphasized the need for greater efficiency and the ability for the United Nations to do more with its existing capabilities.

 

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