HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 17 JANUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO SWITZERLAND FOR SYRIA CONFERENCE, WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM
- On Monday, 20 January, the Secretary-General will depart New York for the Swiss city of Montreux, where he will convene the Geneva conference on Syria.
- As the Secretary-General has said, he views the conference as a unique opportunity for ending the violence and ensuring that peace be restored. He also hopes that the transition foreseen in the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 can be implemented in a way that fully meets the aspirations of the Syrian people, with the establishment of a transitional governing body based on mutual consent at the core of this effort.
- On the sidelines of the conference, the Secretary-General will hold bilateral meetings with delegates attending the meeting.
- On Thursday, 23 January, the Secretary-General will travel to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum, focusing on meeting the global climate challenge.
- While in Davos, the Secretary-General will engage private sector leaders as well as Heads of State and Government in public and private sessions, aimed at advancing concrete deliverables at the 2014 Climate Summit in September.
- The Secretary-General will return to New York on Friday, 24 January.
- Asked about communications received by Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General received a response from the Foreign Minister of Syria to his invitation to send a delegation representing the Syrian Government to the Geneva Conference on Syria.
- Asked whether Syria was attending the Geneva Conference, Haq said that the Foreign Minister confirmed the participation of the delegation representing the Syrian Government. As it was an answer to an invitation, the Secretary-General has not responded. The United Nations has not made public the invitations, or the responses, as both constitute diplomatic correspondence.
- In response to questions about Yarmouk Camp, Haq said that an estimated 18,000 people, mostly Palestine refugees, have been sealed off in Yarmouk without any aid apart from some polio vaccines since September 2013. There are credible reports of severe and chronic malnutrition. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) continues to seek access to the camp.
BAN KI-MOON BRIEFS GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON U.N. PRIORITIES, CHALLENGES FOR 2014
- The Secretary-General has briefed the General Assembly on his priorities for the coming year and also discussed the challenges that the United Nations faces in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, among other places.
- On Syria, the Secretary-General said that we will press the parties in Montreux to launch a political process, move to a transitional governing body with full executive powers, and stop the violence.
- He pointed to South Sudan and the Central African Republic as two situations that require the heightened and focused attention of the international community, where grave violations of human rights are taking place and where there is a great danger of mass atrocities.
- He said that the crisis in South Sudan has reached tragic proportions. The United Nations has opened its peacekeeping bases to people in imminent danger, providing protection and shelter to tens of thousands of civilians. Many of them are alive today only because they made it in time to the UN Mission’s camps. He added that, as we help civilians, we are promoting a peaceful resolution for South Sudan.
- The Secretary-General said that he remains deeply concerned about the violence and pervasive fear in the Central African Republic, especially reports of atrocities against civilians. Wherever such atrocities occur, the perpetrators must be held to account.
SENIOR U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL CALLS SOUTH SUDAN ‘HORRIFYING’
- Wrapping up a four-day visit to South Sudan, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic said that fighting the country has turned into a horrifying humanitarian and human rights disaster, with mass atrocities committed by both sides.
- He said that one month of conflict has set South Sudan back a decade, and that the situation has now reached the threshold of an internal armed conflict.
- During his visit, he received reports of mass killings, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, sexual violence, widespread destruction of property and the use of children in conflict.
- Mr. Šimonovic’s visit took him to Juba, Bentiu and Bor, and he met senior government officials, anti-government forces, armed groups, UN officials, diplomats and a wide range of civil society representatives, including traditional and community leaders. He also met with displaced people and victims of the fighting.
- He described Bentiu as a ghost town, and he characterized what he saw there – including some 15 bodies lying on a road – as a horror.
- Mr. Šimonovic said that he made clear to military leaders on both sides that accountability is key and that an independent and impartial fact-finding commission should be established as quickly as possible.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION CARRIES OUT PATROLS, CONTINUES TO PROTECT MORE THAN 67,000 CIVILIANS
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that it has conducted more than 140 patrols in the past 24 hours.
- It is protecting more than 67,000 civilians in its bases around the country.
- In Bor, the Mission said that there are no civilians and that it has received reports of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) advancing towards the town.
- It also says that the situation in Upper Nile state remains fluid, with civilians continuing to arrive at its protection site in Malakal, where there are currently 22,000 people.
- In the capital, Juba, the Mission’s health workers at its Tomping site say their medical capacity is severely overstretched. The site was built to treat UN staff, but is now handling pregnancies, deliveries and children’s diseases. As of today, there are nearly 30,000 civilians who have sought shelter at two bases in Juba.
- The Mission says that its operations have been obstructed, including deliberate restrictions and delays in delivering rations and water to troops and civilians in its bases in Juba and in Western Equatoria state.
- It reminds all parties that, as the Security Council has said, efforts to undermine the Mission’s ability to implement its mandate, as it seeks to protect civilians, will not be tolerated.
- Asked about the reported looting of one humanitarian group’s compound in Malakal, the Spokesperson said that humanitarian workers must be allowed to go about their work without obstruction.
- Asked about the UN Mission’s reinforcements, the Spokesperson later added that the Mission says that the advance team of 25 Nepalese soldiers arrived in Juba on Wednesday, as part of the 5,500 troops authorised by the Security Council to strengthen the Mission’s protection mandate. The rest of the battalion is expected to follow shortly.
U.N. RELIEF WING REPORTS NEARLY 500,000 PEOPLE UPROOTED BY SOUTH SUDAN FIGHTING
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that nearly half a million people are estimated to have been displaced by the fighting in South Sudan which started on 15 December.
- It says that people need food, water and health care. Aid organizations have reached over 200,000 people with aid so far, including food for more than 160,000 people in six states, while hundreds of children have received nutrition supplements.
- As more South Sudanese refugees are fleeing into neighbouring countries, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is working to set up new camps and expand existing ones in Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.
- According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), nearly 84,000 South Sudanese people have left their country since the start of the fighting.
- The UN Refugee Agency expects that number will exceed 100,000 by the end of this month.
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed its deep concern about the use of children as combatants in South Sudan.
ELECTION FOR NEXT HEAD OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC TO BE HELD NEXT WEEK – U.N. OFFICE
- The UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) reports that an election to fill the position of the Head of State of Transition in the country is expected to take place next Monday. Along with other regional and international partners, the UN Office is providing advice and other support to the process.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative to the Central African Republic, Lt. General Babacar Gaye, has called on the people and the leaders of the country to maintain calm and show maturity at this critical juncture.
- Meanwhile, UNICEF says that 23 children between 14 and 17 years old were released from armed groups in Bangui on Thursday, and many more were identified for release in the coming days. The children released yesterday, among whom six are girls, were taken from a military base to a UNICEF-supported Transit and Orientation Centre.
- Asked about the response to the deteriorating situation in the country, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General and the UN system have been trying to push for more international action, in line with the Rights Up Front plan to draw early awareness to crises.
U.N. MISSION DEPLOYS INTERVENTION BRIGADE IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reports that today it has deployed the Force Intervention Brigade in the Beni area in North Kivu Province, to provide support to Congolese Armed Forces operations against the armed group known as the Allied Democratic Forces, or ADF.
- The Congolese Armed Forces’ military operations were launched following the massacres committed by the ADF last month in Rwenzori, when 21 civilians were slaughtered, including children and women.
- Asked about other armed groups, the Spokesperson said that the Mission was monitoring the activities of other groups and had made clear its intentions to act against groups that pose a threat to civilians.
U.N. STRESSES INDEPENDENT NATURE OF SPECIAL TRIBUNAL FOR LEBANON
- Asked about the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Spokesperson noted that the Tribunal is an independent body with a mandate to try those responsible for the terrorist crime committed on 14 February 2005 in accordance with the highest international standards of criminal justice pursuant to Security Council resolution 1757 (2007) and its Annex.
- He noted the Special Tribunal was established in response to a request from the Government of Lebanon. The trial under way at the Tribunal is a trial of individuals indicted in the case.
U.N. ALLOCATES NEARLY $90 MILLION FOR WORST, MOST NEGLECTED CRISES
- The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has allocated nearly $90 million to sustain emergency aid operations in some of the world’s worst, yet most neglected, crises.
- The funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will ensure that relief work continues in ten countries, which include Colombia, Myanmar, Sudan and Yemen.
- Ms. Amos said that people living through some of the most critical humanitarian crises do not always receive the attention that they need.
- She said that the new allocations will help millions of people who are caught in crises that have been forgotten or overshadowed by other emergencies.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
18 – 24 JANUARY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 18 January
The Secretary-General will speak at the Park East Synagogue in New York City..
Sunday, 19 January
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 20 January
In the morning, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the Middle East.
The Secretary-General will depart New York for the Swiss city of Montreux, where he will convene the Geneva conference on Syria on 22 January.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Press briefing room, Mr. Ivan Šimonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 1 in the Conference Building (CB), there will be the Women’s International Forum: Meeting on “The Post-2015 Development Agenda – Enabling a life of dignity for all”.
At 2:00 p.m., in the Trusteeship Council Chamber (CB), there will be a panel discussion on the situation in the Gaza Strip and screening of a documentary on the impact of the 23-day Operation Cast Lead, on the occasion of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
At 3:00 pm, in the ECOSOC Chamber (CB), there will be a UN Roundtable discussion entitled “The Threat of Growing Inequalities”. The keynote speaker is Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate for Economic Sciences 2001. The event is being presented by the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, in cooperation with International Development Law Organization and the Italian Cultural Institute of New York with the support of the United Nations Department of Information.
In Brussels, Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos and European Union Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Kristalina Georgieva will co-chair a high-level meeting to discuss the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic.
In Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, Johannesburg, Moscow and New Delhi, there will be a global launch of the World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 (WESP). The full report will be available with new regional information as well as on international trade and finance.
In Geneva, at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Human Rights Council will hold a Special Session on the human rights situation in the Central African Republic.
In Geneva, OHCHR will hold 39th session of the Board of Trustees, Voluntary Fund for Technical Cooperation in the Field of Human Rights. It will end on 24 January.
In Geneva, the 1st part of the Conference on Disarmament will begin. It will end on 28 March.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference on the International Labour Organization (ILO)’s annual report entitled “Global Employment Trends 2014” by Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO and Ekkehard Ernst, Head, Employment Trends Unit, ILO.
Tuesday, 21 January
In the morning, the Security Council will hold a troop-contributing countries (TCC) meeting concerning the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), followed by consultations at 11:00 a.m. on the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).
Wednesday, 22 January
In the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Cyprus.
In Montreux, Switzerland, the Secretary-General will participate in the Geneva Conference on Syria.
In Montreux, there will be a number of press conferences, following the Geneva Conference on Syria. Details are not available for the time being, but the list of press conferences will start with the UN Secretary-General and the initiating states, followed by others.
Thursday, 23 January
In the morning, the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution concerning the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). Then the Security Council will be briefed on the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), followed by consultations on UNAMID and the Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions.
Friday, 24 January
In Geneva, the Geneva Conference on Syria will continue.