HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
THURSDAY, 17 JANUARY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SPEAK AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY, CALIFORNIA
- The Secretary-General is on his way now to San Francisco, and should be arriving there shortly.
- This afternoon, he will speak to students at Stanford University, discussing, among other topics, the sustainable development challenge that the world faces.
- He will point out that in the next twenty years, the world will need at least 50 per cent more food, 45 per cent more energy and 30 per cent more water.
- He will also talk about the continuing crisis in Syria, as well as our humanitarian efforts there.
SYRIA: U.N. AGENCIES TO CONDUCT TO REVIEW HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE DURING VISIT
- The Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, is scheduled to visit Damascus, Rural Damascus, Homs and Dera'a from 18 to 22 January 2013.
- He will undertake this visit with the Emergency Directors from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN-HABITAT, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO) as well as from the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the situation in Syria is getting worse. There are an estimated 4 million people in urgent need of assistance, including at least 2 million who are internally displaced. More than 650,000 people have fled the country.
- The Office says that humanitarian workers are feeding 1.5 million people and providing basic relief supplies for some 400,000 people – but that this is just not enough. As you know, the humanitarian community has requested US$1.5 billion to help displaced people and their host communities across Syria and for refugees in neighbouring countries for the next six months.
- Asked about the amount received so far for the $1.5 billion humanitarian pledge, the Spokesperson said it was around 3 percent funded so far.
- Meanwhile, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, has called on all sides in the conflict in Syria to refrain from taking up positions in or conducting the conflict in civilian areas.
- In a statement, the Agency called on all parties to ensure the protection of Palestine refugees, other civilians and their property and to comply with their obligations under international law.
It added that the integrity, inviolability and neutrality of United Nations premises, vehicles and other assets must be respected and safeguarded by all.
The Relief and Works Agency is particularly concerned about the unrelenting and escalating conflict and its devastating impact on Palestine refugees in all areas of Syria, including those living in Damascus, Rif Damascus, Dera’a, Aleppo, Latakia, Hama and Homs.
- Asked about press reports alleging the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware of the reports but does not comment on every single news report, especially where such stories involve apparently leaked information.
- Nesirky said that the Secretary-General reiterates 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.
DARFUR: A.U.-U.N. MISSION ASSISTS IN ADDRESSING NEEDS OF DISPLACED
- The African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says it is committed to engaging with all stakeholders to address the current humanitarian needs of thousands of civilians who were displaced in the North Darfur villages of Saraf Omra, Kabkabya and El Sereif.
- At the beginning of the week, the Mission deployed a team, consisting of civilian, military and police personnel, to the three affected areas to assess the security and humanitarian situation.
- UNAMID is now supporting mediation and reconciliation initiatives between the two tribes and is transporting medical supplies and other critical items to those in need.
- In addition, the Mission is conducting security escorts to facilitate humanitarian access and is stepping up daily patrols in El Sereif, the area most affected by the tribal clashes. During the past week, the Mission has conducted several medical evacuations for wounded Darfuris in the affected area, and has provided full logistics support to the local mediation teams working to reduce the tensions in Jabel Amir.
- The head of the Mission urged all parties to enable UNAMID, UN agencies and their humanitarian partners to be given full access to all areas of Darfur, so affected populations can receive needed protection and assistance.
U.N. MISSION RESCUES TWO HOSTAGES IN D.R.CONGO
- The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) confirms that on 6 January, its peacekeepers rescued two European tourists, a German and an Austrian, who had been detained by members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), an armed group operating in the country's eastern region.
- The two individuals were travelling from North Kivu province to nearby Orientale province.
- The operation was launched from MONUSCO's base in Kiwandja under the mission's mandate to protect civilians.
MALI: U.N. CALLS ON ALL PARTIES TO RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS
- In answer to a question from yesterday, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is aware of reports that various human rights violations have allegedly been committed in Mali, including extrajudicial killings, and we condemn any such violations. Any parties to the fighting must respect human rights.
- The UN is preparing to deploy the UN's multi-disciplinary presence to Bamako, which will include a human rights component that will aim to monitor and report on alleged human rights violations.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW YOUTH ENVOY, DEPUTY CHIEF OF HAITI MISSION
- The Secretary-General has appointed Ahmad Alhindawi of Jordan as his Envoy on Youth. The Secretary-General, in his Five-Year Action Agenda, identified “Working with and for Women and Young People” as one of his top priorities.
- The Secretary-General has also appointed Carl Alexandre of the United States as his Deputy Special Representative for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
- Mr. Alexandre replaces Kevin Kennedy, who served in this position from April 2010 to December 2012.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON CYPRUS, COTE D’IVOIRE: The Security Council is holding consultations this morning on the work of the UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, UNFICYP. At 3:00 p.m., Council members will hear an open briefing from Bert Koenders, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, about the work of the UN peacekeeping mission in that country (UNOCI), followed by consultations on the same subject.
U.N. REGRETS OFFENSE TAKEN FOLLOWING PERFORMANCE AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONCERT: Asked about a Monday concert at the United Nations, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware that some people were offended by the encore song at the concert held in the General Assembly on Monday. He expressed sincere regret that people were offended by this song, which was not listed in the official programme. The Secretary-General, he added, obviously was not aware what the song was about or the use that has been made of it in the past.
U.N. CONDEMNS ANY HOSTAGE TAKING: Asked about the hostage situation in Algeria, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware of the reports coming out of the region. He said that the United Nations utterly condemns any hostage taking. He said that our thoughts are for the safety of those being held and are also with the families of those who have been taken hostage.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HEARD STAFF VIEWS DURING RECENT TOWN HALL MEETING: Asked about UN staff views on the mobility process, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General heard staff views during a recent global town hall meeting at which staff from UN duty stations around the world were able to participate by videoconference.