HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
WEDNESDAY, 16 JANUARY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ATTACK ON ALEPPO UNIVERSITY, CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION
- The Secretary-General strongly condemns the appalling attack at Aleppo University yesterday in which scores of people have been reported killed and wounded.
- Deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian targets constitutes a war crime. Such heinous attacks are unacceptable and must stop immediately.
- All combatting parties in Syria must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law.
- The Secretary-General sends his condolences to the families of those killed in this tragic attack. He believes this latest atrocity should be promptly and fully investigated.
- He also calls for a reflection by all Syrians about the degradation of a conflict that is tearing their nation apart, and stresses the urgent need for a peaceful political solution that ends the violence and meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.
- The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, also expressed deep shock at the two attacks on the University of Aleppo. She called on all those involved in the fighting to respect the right to education.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly called for a diplomatic solution to the situation in Syria and has called for all parties to avoid any further militarisation of the conflict.
- Asked about reports alleging the use of chemical weapons, the Spokesperson said that there was no verification of those reports.
- He said that any use of chemical weapons would constitute an outrageous crime which the international community would not tolerate. The Secretary-General has emphasized the primary responsibility of the Syrian Government to ensure the safety, security and non-use of any such weapons or materials.
WEST AFRICA ENVOY HOLDS CONSULTATIONS WITH PRESIDENTS OF GUINEA AND SENEGAL
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Said Djinnit continues his consultations in the sub-region as part of efforts to speed up the implementation of the Security Council resolution 2085.
- In that context, he met this morning in Conakry with the President of Guinea, Alpha Conde.
- He is expected to meet with President Macky Sall of Senegal this afternoon in Dakar.
U.N. AGENCIES, A.U.-U.N. MISSION PROVIDE ASSISTANCE TO DISPLACED IN NORTH DARFUR
- The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan expressed his concern about the fighting that has severely affected civilians in North Darfur over the past few weeks, including the killing of civilians and the burning of villages.
- More than 100 people have been killed and some 70,000 have fled their homes in the Jebel Amir gold mining areas of North Darfur.
- The United Nations and aid organizations have been working with state and federal government authorities and with the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) to provide urgent aid to all affected civilians.
- As part of its efforts to facilitate humanitarian assistance, UNAMID is transporting by road 75 tons of relief items (plastic sheets, blankets, jerry cans, mattresses and mosquito nets) to El Sereif and Garrah Azawia from today, 16 January. The Mission has also provided escort to World Food Progamme (WFP) trucks.
- UNAMID says that clashes between the Beni Hussein and Aballa tribes over the control of gold mines have subsided but security in the area remains tense and volatile.
- The Mission is actively supporting ongoing mediation and reconciliation efforts.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that 5 to 9 January intermittent clashes between the two communities spilled over into surrounding areas, resulting in the burning and looting of a number of villages and the displacement of thousands of civilians, many of whom were in Jebel Amer to work in the gold mines.
- Immediately following initial reports of the tribal fighting, UNAMID dispatched a verification patrol from its team site in Sarf Umra to Jebel Amer. The patrol, however, was obstructed by armed groups blocking access roads to the affected area.
- UNAMID engaged State Government officials in North Darfur to urge swift intervention to diffuse tensions and to request access to protect the civilian population in the affected areas.
- The Mission offered support to facilitate humanitarian assistance and mobilised three medical evacuation flights to evacuate 26 casualties from El Sereif and Kabkabiya to El Fasher.
- UNAMID provided air support for high-level Government delegations and Darfur Regional Authority officials on 8, 9 10 and 12 January to Kabkabiya, El Sereif and Garra El Zawaya to diffuse tensions.
- As a result of Government intervention, the tribes had reportedly agreed to cease hostilities and engage in a reconciliation conference planned for this Thursday, 17 January.
U.N. IRAQ ENVOY CONDEMNS ATTACKS WHICH AGGRAVATE TENSIONS IN DISPUTED AREAS
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, strongly condemns the recent wave of attacks which have targeted individuals or crowded areas in the country, killing and injuring dozens.
- He said that he was particularly alarmed that attacks in disputed internal areas further aggravate the tensions there. Mr. Kobler urged all Iraqi leaders to live up to their responsibilities and to work without delay on defusing the situation and engaging in peaceful dialogue.