HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 14 JANUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS SYRIAN REFUGEE CAMP IN KURDISTAN REGION
- The Secretary-General is in Kuwait City on Tuesday, where he will chair the second high-level Pledging Conference for Syria on Wednesday. He will meet the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister on Tuesday and is also scheduled to meet other Kuwaiti officials and officials from Member States attending the pledging conference.
- The Secretary-General arrived in Kuwait from Iraq, where he was in Erbil this morning. He visited a camp for Syrian refugees in the Kurdistan region. He met with a refugee family and was briefed on the situation in the camp.
- Speaking to reporters, the Secretary-General said that he was there to show the solidarity and support of the international community.
- The Secretary-General also met in Erbil with Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Region, and Nechirvan Barzani, the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government. He appreciated the generosity of the Kurdistan Regional Government in hosting Syrian refugees.
- Asked about the amounts that different countries are giving to humanitarian aid for Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General will try to raise the amount of money that is needed. The United Nations needs $6.5 billion for its latest appeal and is seeking generosity from donors.
- Nesirky noted that more than 60 countries have already confirmed their participation at the Kuwait pledging conference, at a senior ministerial level.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION REPORTS HEAVY FIGHTING BETWEEN PRO- AND ANTI-GOVERNMENT FORCES IN MALAKAL
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is reporting there heavy fighting between pro- and anti-government forces in Malakal, in Upper Nile state, on Tuesday.
- The Mission says that the fighting began early on Tuesday morning in the vicinity of the UN base, with combatants reportedly using heavy machine guns and tanks. Stray bullets are reported to have landed inside the UN base, wounding internally displaced people who had sought shelter there. The UN Mission says it is treating dozens of patients for wounds at its hospital.
- It calls on all the parties to respect the integrity of UN installations.
- As a result of Tuesday’s violence, the number of uprooted people seeking refuge at the UN base in Malakal has in fact nearly doubled to 20,000. Nearly 1,000 UN peacekeepers – including 110 newly-arrived police – are protecting civilians at the base.
- The Mission is protecting, overall across the country, more than 65,000 civilians at its bases across the country.
- The Mission has received reports of a boat carrying a large number of civilians capsizing on Sunday in the White Nile River between Malakal and Lelo in Upper Nile State. The civilians were reportedly fleeing fighting in the area. The Mission is seeking to verify reports of casualties.
78,000 SOUTH SUDANESE FLEE TO NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that more South Sudanese civilians are escaping the violence and leaving their homes for Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as volatile regions of Sudan.
- The Agency says that 78,000 people have now fled to neighbouring countries since mid-December. More than half of those people have headed towards Uganda’s West Nile region.
- The Agency is increasing its staff presence in Ethiopia, where more than 18,000 South Sudanese have arrived from Jonglei, while Kenya has also seen nearly 7,000 people arrive from Jonglei.
- It estimates that 10,000 people have crossed into Sudan’s West and South Kordofan states. The Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme (WFP) and other organizations are providing assistance to these people through local partners.
- With fighting still being reported in parts of South Sudan-mainly in the states of Jonglei and Upper Nile – and the slow progress in the political talks in Addis Ababa, we are anticipating further displacement both within and beyond the borders of South Sudan. Internal displacement figures are now at 355,000, up from 200,000 last week. The added displacement is being fuelled by the fighting itself as well as by fear of it, combined with deteriorating living conditions, including a lack of food in some markets.
- Despite the challenges UNHCR continues to provide assistance to 230,000 refugees in 10 camps in South Sudan. It is planning to begin food distribution on Wednesday for some 77,000 Sudanese refugees in the camps of Yida and Ajuong Thok in Unity State, with the support of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, which has agreed to redeploy troops to secure Yida.
C.A.R.: HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION REMAINS EXTREMELY VOLATILE, SAYS U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says that the human rights situation remains extremely volatile in the Central African Republic, with around 40 people reported to have been killed in Bangui since last Friday. A number of kidnappings and mutilations as well as widespread looting also occurred over the weekend, according to reports.
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also issued the preliminary findings on Tuesday of a four-person team that was deployed in the Central African Republic from 12 to 24 December. Those findings describe a cycle of widespread human rights violations and reprisals. These include extrajudicial killings, sexual violence, mutilations, enforced disappearances, ill-treatment, rape and the deliberate targeting of civilians based on their religion.
- High Commissioner Navi Pillay said that, despite some important reconciliation efforts in Bangui, the situation remains extremely volatile and dangerous. Without serious intervention, further attacks may recur.
- The High Commissioner will give a fuller account of her team’s findings during a Special Session called by the Human Rights Council which will take place in Geneva on 20 January.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL CALLS FOR DONOR RESPONSE TO CRISIS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- John Ging, the Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), spoke to the press at the end of a visit to the Central African Republic on Tuesday. He said the response of UN agencies and international NGOs had been expanded, but humanitarian needs had increased dramatically.
- He said humanitarian agencies were delivering to meet the priority needs in the country, including health, food, protection and clean water and sanitation. More assistance was urgently required to save lives.
- Mr Ging called on donors to support the response to the crisis, adding that so far, only a fraction of the requirements set out in the original humanitarian plan for 2014, estimated at $247 million, has been received.
D.R.CONGO: MAYI MAYI SHEKA FIGHTERS ATTACK PINGA, SAYS U.N. MISSION
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reports that, late Monday evening, Mayi Mayi Sheka fighters attacked Pinga, in North Kivu. The Congolese Armed Forces retaliated and, after a 30 minute gunfight, the Mayi Mayi Sheko fighters left.
- Around 1,000 civilians sought refuge during the confrontation near the UN Mission’s base in Pinga. Only 90 remain there on Tuesday, with the others having returned home.
- In a press release issued on Tuesday, Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Mission, strongly condemned the attack. He presented condolences to the families of the dead and the Congolese people and said that the Mission will continue to work to consolidate the recent military gains.
NIGERIA: U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF ALARMED AT NEW LAW BANNING SAME-SEX UNIONS
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that a new law in Nigeria that criminalizes same-sex unions violates a wide range of human rights.
- Navi Pillay says that the new law undermines the rights to privacy and non-discrimination; the rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly; and the rights to freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.
- She adds that the law reinforcing existing prejudices towards members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, and may provoke an upsurge in violence and discrimination.
- Ms. Pillay has expressed hope that the Nigerian Supreme Court would review the constitutionality of the new law as soon as possible.
- For its part, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, says that it is deeply concerned that access to HIV services for LGBT people will be severely affected the new law in Nigeria.
- In a joint statement with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, UNAIDS says that Nigeria has the second largest HIV epidemic globally. In 2012, there were an estimated 3.4 million people living with HIV in the country.
- The organizations urge Nigeria to put comprehensive measures in place to protect the ongoing delivery of HIV services to LGBT people in Nigeria without fear of arrest or other reprisals.
NEW LEGAL FRAMEWORK TO ALLOW CHILDREN TO COMPLAIN TO U.N. FOR RIGHTS VIOLATION
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has announced that a new legal instrument on the rights of the child has been ratified by the required 10 countries.
- With this ratification, children whose rights have been violated or their representatives will be able to submit complaints to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Where a violation is found, the Committee will recommend the State concerned to take action to remedy the situation.
***The guest at the Noon Briefing was Martin Sajdik, the incoming President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations.