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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

 

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING

BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 26 JANUARY 2011

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES INAUGURATION OF LOWER HOUSE OF AFGHAN PARLIAMENT

  • The Secretary-General welcomes the inauguration earlier today of the Wolesi Jirga, the Lower House of the Afghan Parliament, presided over by President Hamid Karzai.
     

  • The inauguration marks the end of the electoral process and the beginning of a period in which Afghan governing institutions must work together to solve the pressing problems that the country faces, putting aside the differences as any robust and vibrant  democracy demands.
     

  • The Secretary-General acknowledges the statesmanship of President Karzai and supports his call for unity in the interests of all Afghans as the new Parliament assumes its functions. He further commends Afghan political leaders, and all who participated in the electoral process – voters, the electoral institutions, and both winning and losing candidates – for their contribution to Afghanistan’s democratic development.

 

MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE ON OUTSTANDING CORE ISSUES, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS FOLLOWING CYPRUS TALKS

  • The Secretary-General met in Geneva today with the Cypriot leaders, and afterwards he told the press that there has been progress since the last meeting he had with the leaders in November. Based on the discussions today, he said it is clear that the two leaders worked to move closer together through a range of bridging proposals. Nonetheless, he said, more work must be done on the outstanding core issues.
     

  • The Secretary-General said the two sides have also agreed to intensify the negotiations through a series of additional meetings in the coming weeks. He has pledged to make himself available to them again soon.
     

  • The Secretary-General also addressed the Conference on Disarmament today, telling its members that their continued deadlock has ominous implications for international security.
     

  • Earlier today, he spoke at the first session of the Accountability Commission for Women’s and Children’s Health.
     

  • Asked about the Cyprus talks, the Spokesperson said that the most important thing about the talks is what the process means for the people of Cyprus. That is why, he said, the Secretary-General is encouraging the leaders to do more work. The Secretary-General said that the people of Cyprus stand to gain considerably from a solution.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES EGYPTIANS TO AVOID FURTHER VIOLENCE

  • Asked about protests in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is closely following the evolving protests and tensions in Egypt and the broader region.
     

  • The Secretary-General urges all concerned to ensure that the situation in Egypt does not lead to further violence and calls on the authorities to see this as an opportunity to engage in addressing the legitimate concerns of the people.
     

  • Nesirky said that the United Nations will continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and in other parts of the region and stands ready to help.

 

PROGRESS MADE IN DARFUR POLITICAL PROCESS, SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • The Security Council heard a briefing on the situation in Sudan from Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Atul Khare. He said that, despite clashes in Darfur, there has been some progress in the political process. The mediators will work with all parties in Doha next month to achieve consensus on the terms for peace in Darfur.
     

  • Khare said that there has been no recent violence in Abyei, but added that tensions there mean that there is always a threat that violence may recur.
     

  • Ibrahim Gambari, the UN-African Union Joint Special Representative for Darfur, briefed Council members by videoconference. He discussed new fighting, which has displaced some 43,000 people in Darfur. He said that the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission, UNAMID, has stepped up patrolling in villages affected by the fighting to pave the way for the return of people displaced by the conflict. He said fighting had continued Tuesday in the area between El Fasher and Shangil Tobaya, but that it has subsided today.
     

  • UNAMID reported that patrols from the Graida team site, located 100 kilometers south of Nyala, in South Darfur, were denied access on Tuesday by Sudanese Government Forces at two different checkpoints.

 

U.N. ENVOY ANNOUNCES SPECIAL HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON SOMALIA ON SIDELINES OF AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT

  • Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, announced that a Special High Level Meeting on Somalia will take place in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of the African Union Summit. The meeting, jointly convened by the Secretary-General and the Chairman of the African Union Commission, will review the current status of the peace process in Somalia.
     

  • Mr. Mahiga said that there was unanimous agreement, both inside and outside Somalia, that the transitional period has to end in August, as envisaged under the Djibouti Peace Agreement.

 

TUNISIA: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS TEAM SET TO BEGIN MISSION

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said today that a team of top-level specialists from her Office (OHCHR) is assembling in Tunisia, and will officially start its week-long assessment of human rights priorities there on Thursday.
     

  • The team will meet with the interim authorities, civil society groups, UN agencies on the ground and other key actors.
     

  • Ms. Pillay said that human rights abuses were at the heart of the problems faced by the people of Tunisia, and therefore, human rights must be at the forefront of the solutions to those problems.
     

  • She said that the team’s observations and recommendations will enable her to put together a set of concrete proposals for immediate and future action to improve the human rights situation in the country.

 

U.N., RELIEF AGENCIES APPEAL FOR $280 MILLION TO HELP IRAQI REFUGEES

  • On behalf of dozens of international relief agencies, High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres announced an appeal for $280 million to support Iraqi refugees living in neighbouring countries.
     

  • The appeal spotlights the needs of nearly 200,000 Iraqis registered with the UN Refugee Agency, most of whom live in Syria and Jordan.
     

  • Mr. Guterres, who recently visited Iraq, voiced hope that “we are marking the beginning of the end of the displacement chapter in Iraq.”

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

SPOKESPERSON CONFIRMS GABONESE POLITICIAN IN U.N. COMPOUND: Asked whether an opposition politician has sought refuge in a UN compound in Gabon, the Spokesperson confirmed that Mr. Andre Mba Obame, Leader of the “Union Nationale,” is in the UN compound, along with party leaders. Obame handed a letter to the Resident Coordinator requesting UN protection, stating that they fear for their lives if they step outside of the UN office. The Resident Coordinator is consulting with authorities on the ground and with UN Headquarters.

 

U.N. FLOTILLA PANEL STUDYING REPORTS BY ISRAEL, TURKEY: Asked about the work of the Panel of Inquiry looking into the 31 May 2010 flotilla incident, the Spokesperson said that the Panel is now studying the reports given to it by Israel and Turkey, as well as additional information.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TO URGE CALM IN LEBANON: Asked about the situation in Lebanon, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General called on all the parties to maintain calm and avoid any act of violence. He added that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon is an independent judicial body and its work should be unaffected by political developments.

 

*The guest at the noon briefing was Catherine Bragg, Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, who briefed reporters on her mission to Sri Lanka last week.

 

 

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