HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
TUESDAY, 28 JANUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH CHIEF OF CIVIL DEFENCE IN CUBA
- On Tuesday morning the Secretary-General has been taking part in a summit of CELAC, the Community of Latin America and Caribbean states in Havana. He will address the summit later today.
- Around noon, he met the chief of Cuba’s Civil Defence. Earlier, he visited the Latin American School of Medicine, where students from around the world train to be doctors.
- The Secretary-General is expected to have a number of meetings with leaders attending the CELAC summit. He will speak to reporters before leaving on Tuesday evening for Germany.
- In response to questions concerning Cuban dissidents, Martin Nesirky, the Spokesperson travelling in Cuba with the Secretary-General, told reporters that the Secretary-General has consistently raised the question of human rights with the senior leaders that he has met.
- Asked about the US embargo, Nesirky said that the Secretary-General had discussed the impact of those measures during his meetings with President Raul Castro Ruz and other officials.
HEAD OF U.N. OFFICE IN BURUNDI EXPRESSES OPTIMISM ABOUT RECENT PROGRESS
- The Security Council received a briefing on Tuesday morning on Burundi by the head of the UN Office in that country, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga. He said that he could express optimism about Burundi’s recent progress and discussed the process towards holding transparent, fair and peaceful elections in 2015. His remarks are available in our office.
- Earlier, the Security Council, in a resolution, decided to extend the mandate of the UN peace-building office in the Central African Republic, BINUCA, until 31 January 2015. The Council also authorized the European Union to deploy an operation in the Central African Republic and placed sanctions on individuals found to be acting in violation of the arms embargo established in resolution 2127 or those who were planning, directing, or committing acts that violate international human rights law or international humanitarian law.
- The Security Council will hold consultations on Yemen on Tuesday afternoon.
C.A.R.: TEN TRUCKS CARRYING FOOD ARRIVE IN BANGUI – SAYS WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
- In the Central African Republic, the World Food Programme (WFP) says that ten trucks carrying food – 250 metric tons of rice and maize meal – arrived in Bangui on Monday, after a 600-kilometre journey from the Cameroon border.
- The trucks were part of a 60-vehicle convoy escorted by troops from the African-led International Support Mission in the Central African Republic (MISCA). The World Food Programme says that the convoy was slowed by frequent improvised checkpoints set up by armed groups.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) welcomed the cooperation between MISCA, officials from Cameroon and the Central African Republic that made the road journey possible but warned that securing the country’s roads is crucial to provide a food lifeline to growing numbers of displaced people.
- It says that that more escorts will be needed in the weeks ahead, as the food that arrived on Monday represents only five percent of the cereals needed to provide assistance across the country for one month.
- Another 41 commercial trucks carrying WFP cereals are still stranded at the Cameroonian border, along with hundreds of other vehicles. The World Food Programme is working to unblock the situation at the border.
- Asked about continuing violence, the Spokesperson said that in Bangui, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says that since 21 January, clashes between anti-Balaka and ex-Séléka members supported by armed Muslim civilians in the Bangui neighbourhoods of PK5, PK11, PK12 and PK13, have resulted in several casualties. Mobs went on a rampage, looting shops, homes and mosques in Muslim areas of these neighbourhoods.
- Haq added that the fighting has also forced ex-Séléka and Muslim civilians to flee towards the town of Damara, some 65 km north of Bangui.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. RELIEF CHIEF VISITS DISPLACED COMMUNITIES AND WAREHOUSES IN MALAKAL
- The Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, was on Tuesday in Malakal in South Sudan’s Upper Nile State where an estimated 42,000 people have been displaced by fighting.
- Together with Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer, she visited displaced communities and aid agencies’ warehouses including a World Food Programme warehouse which was recently looted.
- She also met displaced families sheltering in a teaching hospital which is now hosting about 500 civilians, and visited a UN peacekeeping hospital where over 900 patients have received some kind of treatment.
- Ms. Amos said she was concerned about the current situation and the impact of the violence across the country. She added that humanitarian organizations were supporting the Government’s efforts to respond to the immediate crisis, but said they also needed to start preparations to respond to needs during the rainy season in April.
- Ms. Amos is expected to wrap up her mission on Wednesday with a press conference in Juba.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that UNMISS has received reports of sporadic violence in some parts of Unity and Upper Nile States. It is critical that both parties implement the cessation of hostilities agreement in full and immediately.
U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN PROTECTS SOME 79,000 CIVILIANS AT EIGHT BASES
- The UN Mission in the country, UNMISS, reports it is now protecting approximately 79,000 civilians at eight bases in the country, with half of those sheltering in two Mission sites in the capital, Juba.
- The Mission says it has conducted 235 military and 63 police patrols Monday in various parts of the country.
- The Mission has received reports about the deteriorating security situation in Koch and Leer Counties in Unity State. An UNMISS patrol to Mayom in Unity State observed that many parts of the town were burnt.
D.R.CONGO: U.N. RELIEF OFFICE CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT OF ONGOING VIOLENCE ON CIVILIANS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the humanitarian community in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is concerned about the impact of ongoing violence on civilians in Katanga Province.
- It reports that persistent violence over the last several months has left hundreds of thousands of people displaced. There are now 400,000 displaced people in the province, up from 50,000 three months ago. Since October 2013, more than 700 houses in 20 villages have been attacked in Manono, Pweto and Mitwaba territories in Katanga.
- The World Food Program started food distribution on 15 January to people displaced by recent violence and is planning to provide more aid in early February. Other partners have provided life-saving assistance to more than 20,000 people in the northern part of the province. But the Office says that insecurity is hampering efforts to reach more people and expand the presence of humanitarian agencies in the area.
SYRIA: U.N. PREPARES FOR HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO BESIEGED FAMILIES IN HOMS
- The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that the United Nations hub in Homs, Syria, is preparing for an inter-agency convoy to deliver urgently needed humanitarian assistance to besieged families who have been trapped in the Old City of Homs and have not received humanitarian assistance for almost two years.
- WFP has trucks on standby to deliver food for trapped families and is also prepared to provide ready-to-eat food rations to women and children who choose to be evacuated from the Old City of Homs if access was granted. Humanitarian deliveries to the Old City have been impossible since the siege of more than one year.
- The World Food Programme is increasingly concerned about people living in hard-to-reach areas across the country with no access to food assistance. More than 775,000 people in Al-Raqqa, Al-Hassakeh and Deir Ezzor have not been reached by WFP assistance for consecutive months, while over 40 locations in Rural Damascus remain under siege, affecting an estimated 800,000 people.
- Also, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says that it has not been able to deliver aid to Yarmouk camp for the past ten days.
- Asked about responsibility for the blocking of aid to Homs, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was working with the Syrian Government authorities and the opposition to get aid to where it is most needed.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CALLS FOR STRENGTHENED PAIN RELIEF CARE
- The World Health Organization (WHO) says only 1 in 10 people who need pain relief care is currently receiving it. This unmet need is mapped for the first time in the "Global atlas of palliative care at the end of life", published jointly by the World Health Organization and the Worldwide Palliative Care Alliance (WPCA).
- Palliative care includes addressing the physical, psychosocial and emotional suffering of patients with serious advanced illnesses. About one third of those needing palliative care suffer from cancer.