HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
THURSDAY, 23 JANUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS AT DAVOS ON CLIMATE CHANGE AND MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS
- The Secretary-General travelled to Davos to attend the World Economic Forum and related events there.
- The Secretary-General spoke at an event with Millennium Development Goals Advocates and other champions for the empowerment of girls. He also met with the Rwandan President and Norwegian Prime Minister, the co-chairs of the Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group.
- The Secretary-General spoke also at a press conference on climate change with the President of the European Commission and the World Bank President.
- The Secretary-General flew to Davos from Montreux, where he met this morning with the Chinese Foreign Minister.
- There are many more events on Thursday and Friday before the Secretary-General flies back to New York on Friday.
JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE MEETS WITH HEADS OF TWO SYRIAN DELEGATIONS IN GENEVA
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is meeting in Geneva this afternoon, bilaterally, with the heads of the two Syrian delegations: first with Mr. Ahmed al-Jarba, and subsequently with Mr. Walid Al-Mouallem.
- Journalists will be informed of other meetings on Friday as they develop.
- Asked about the talks, the Spokesperson noted the importance of the Syrian parties being involved for the first time at the negotiating table, after so many years of fighting.
- Asked whether Iran may still become involved in the process, Haq said that the Secretary-General had been in touch with Iranian officials, including Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, in recent days and hoped that Iran would try to play a constructive and positive role in the Syrian peace process.
U.N. AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES APPEALS ON SOCIAL MEDIA FOR AID TO YARMOUK
- The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) is leading a three-day social media campaign, reaching tens of millions of people around the world to demand that the parties to the Syria conflict allow aid to flow to Yarmouk, the besieged Damascus neighbourhood and a key area hosting Palestine refugees in Syria.
- The Relief and Works Agency says that a small amount of food aid has been allowed into Yarmouk in the last few days, but adds that the amount delivered has been a drop in the ocean. The Agency demands that Yarmouk and other civilian areas throughout Syria are open to safe, regular and substantial humanitarian access; that the civilian residents of Yarmouk be granted free and safe movement; and that all sides to the Syria conflict comply with their international obligations to protect civilians in Yarmouk and beyond.
- In the campaign, more than a thousand people and organizations signed up for a Thunderclap, which simultaneously sent out a Tweet to over 11.5 million Twitter accounts.
- Asked about the problems in obtaining access to Yarmouk, the Spokesperson recalled that early last week, a UN convoy had tried to get to the camp but was turned back due to fighting. UN agencies were pressing to get access from an entry point that might be safer than the one that they had been told to use.
- He added that in recent days, some aid had been able to be delivered to Yarmouk, but not enough, given the urgent needs there.
HUMANITARIAN AND SECURITY SITUATION IN DARFUR DETERIORATED LAST YEAR, SAYS U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, briefed the Security Council on Thursday morning on the situation in Darfur.
- He said that both the humanitarian situation and security situation had deteriorated in 2013.
- He added that protection needs remained considerable as well as the associated challenges facing humanitarian actors and called for increased support for local mediation efforts by the African Union-U.N. Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
- Mr. Ladsous said that durable solutions depend on the larger political context – that is, the need for a cease-fire and a comprehensive peace agreement. He also said that it was essential to strengthen dialogue with the Government in order to improve access to populations affected by conflict.
- He also called on the Government to respect the terms of the Status of Forces Agreement and to ensure that Mission personnel have full freedom of movement in implementing their mandate.
- Earlier this morning, the Security Council also adopted a Presidential Statement on Mali. This afternoon, it will hold consultations on South Sudan.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION PROTECTS 76,000 CIVILIANS AT 8 BASES
- The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that it is now protecting approximately 76,000 civilians at eight bases, including 27,000 in Malakal in Upper Nile State.
- Additionally, the Mission has conducted 186 military and 62 police patrols in various parts of the country in the past 24 hours, including in the capital, Juba, and in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States.
- The Mission has received reports of fighting continuing to occur in multiple locations in the country.
- In Bor, in Jonglei State, the Mission reports gunfire being heard from the north of its compound on Wednesday evening. The Mission is also making improvements to strengthen its perimeter walls at its protection site in Bor, where it is protecting some 10,000 civilians.
- In Malakal, the Mission reports that its human rights division continues to seek to verify the accuracy of reports of serious human rights violations, to collect evidence and document human rights abuses and the violations of international humanitarian law that might have taken place.
- Reports and allegations relate to violations by both the so-called "White Army" when it controlled the town, and by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army after it regained the control of the town after 20 January. The Mission stresses that verification by its human rights team, at this stage, has been extremely difficult because of fighting and subsequent lack of access.
- The Mission also reports that it has completed weapons searches in all its main bases in the country where civilians are being protected. The Mission is also seeking to work with national authorities to ensure that areas immediately surrounding its bases are free of weapons.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission is trying to provide for the needs of everyone who is seeking protection, although UN resources have been stretched in trying to protect so many people for so many weeks.
- Asked about recent comments made by President Salva Kiir and other officials about UNMISS, Haq said that the Foreign Ministry of the Government of South Sudan issued a statement today, in which it clarifies what it describes as the misinterpretation of President Kiir's press statement on Monday 20 January. The Foreign Ministry's statement reiterates the Government's respect for UNMISS and its cooperation with UNMISS.
- Beyond referring to that statement, the Spokesperson declined further comment on reported statements attributed to individual Government officials.
MYANMAR: U.N. RELIEF CHIEF DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT ALARMING LEVELS OF VIOLENCE IN MAUNGDAW TOWNSHIP
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, says that she is deeply concerned about reports of alarming levels of violence – including the killing of many civilians and a policeman – in Maungdaw Township in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
- She asks the Government of Myanmar to take all necessary measures to ensure the full protection of all civilians. She also requested that the Government allow for the safe and continued access for humanitarian staff to affected areas to assess needs and help all those affected by the recent violence.
- Ms. Amos also called for an immediate and impartial investigation into the violence and for the rights of those arrested and detained to be respected.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS RECENT TERRORIST ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN
- In a statement issued on Thursday evening, the Secretary-General says that he strongly condemns recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
- He reiterates his deep concern over continued terrorist attacks and sectarian violence in Pakistan.
- The Secretary-General says that he is also deeply concerned about the recent attacks on polio workers, which have resulted in several deaths. These unacceptable attacks are hampering efforts to eradicate the disease in Pakistan, one of the last three countries where polio remains endemic.
U.N. TO HOLD EXHIBIT ON REMEMBRANCE OF HOLOCAUST IN HUNGARY
- Correspondents are invited to attend the opening of the exhibit titled “A Remembrance of the Holocaust in Hungary: 70th Anniversary Exhibition.”
- The opening will take place on Thursday evening, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., on the first floor of the Conference Building.
- The exhibit will be on display until the end of January and is one of several events organized for Holocaust Remembrance Week.
- Asked about human rights violations in the Central African Republic, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General on Wednesday named a three-person Commission of Inquiry to examine the human rights situation in the country.
- Asked about recent press remarks made about cholera by Pedro Medrano, Senior Coordinator for the Cholera Response in Haiti, the Spokesperson said that what Mr. Medrano was indicating in the interview was that it is now the time to address the epidemic and that his office as the coordinator for the response is rightly focused on making the response as effective as possible.