HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
WEDNESDAY, 29 JANUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL BEGINS VISIT TO GERMANY
- The Secretary-General arrived in Berlin from Havana and has met the Interior Minister of Germany.
- On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will meet President Joachim Gauck, Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Foreign Minister and the Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development. He will also attend the inaugural meeting of his Scientific Advisory Board.
INSECURITY HINDERS DELIVERY OF AID, U.N. RELIEF CHIEF SAYS AT END OF SOUTH SUDAN VISIT
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, wrapped up her three-day visit to South Sudan today.
- At a press conference, she said that so far, aid agencies have assisted over 300,000 displaced people. She added that while this has saved many lives, humanitarians had not been able to provide assistance to many others due to the continuing insecurity.
- She also said that aid workers have been subjected to violence, and that there are worrying reports of interference in humanitarian activities.
- During her meetings with high-level officials, including President Salva Kiir, Ms. Amos highlighted the urgent need to implement the agreement to cease hostilities, signed last week in Ethiopia, and welcomed the President’s statements about reconciliation and assurances for more humanitarian access. She said she hoped that the agreement would lead to an environment where people will feel able to return to their homes and rebuild their lives.
- She also called on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and ensure that all civilians are protected, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
BAN KI-MOON: NEW GOVERNMENT FRESH OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE POLITICAL PROCESS FORWARD IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- In a statement issued Tuesday evening, the Secretary-General welcomed the announcement of the new Government in the Central African Republic (CAR). He said the establishment of a new government offers a fresh opportunity to move the political process forward.
- The Secretary-General also said he remained deeply concerned about the ongoing sectarian violence in the country and the humanitarian crisis that affects more than half of the population. He repeated his call for contributions to the African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic, or MISCA, during the donor conference to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, this Saturday.
- The Secretary-General also appreciates the timely adoption yesterday of a new Security Council resolution on the Central African Republic which reinforces the mandate of the UN peacebuilding mission in the country provides for sanctions on individuals involved in violations of human rights and of the arms embargo, and authorizes the European Union’s troop deployment to the country. He said that the Council’s sustained engagement will be crucial to the efforts of the United Nations to restore peace and stability in the country.
U.N. ENVOY VOICES CONCERN OVER WORSENING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN D.R. CONGO’S KATANGA PROVINCE
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and head of the UN Mission there (MONUSCO) said today that he was extremely concerned by the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Katanga province.
- On Tuesday, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also expressed its concern, noting that there are now 400,000 displaced people in the province.
- Mr. Kobler said that all armed groups must stop their activities and allow humanitarian access to the civilian populations.
SYRIA: AID AGENCIES POISED TO DELIVER RELIEF TO AREAS CUT OFF BY CLASHES
- In response to questions concerning the delivery of aid to Homs, the Spokesperson said that humanitarian organizations working in Syria remain ready to proceed with convoys of life-saving aid for people into areas affected or cut off by the fighting, including the Old City of Homs.
- He added that, as negotiations among the parties to the conflict continue over aid going into Homs and civilians being evacuated from there, it would be up to those parties to make that possible. Haq said approval was being sought from both the Syrian Government and the opposition for access to Homs.
- Asked about the progress of the peace talks in Geneva, the Spokesperson said that it had never been expected that the negotiations would be easy. But he added that the Secretary-General was encouraged that the peace talks had at last begun after so many years of fighting.
- Asked whether Syria is behind in meeting its deadlines for the removal of chemical weapons, Haq noted that, in a letter to the Security Council, the Secretary-General said that the 31 December 2013 deadline for the removal of all priority chemical weapons material was not met, and the 5 February 2014 deadline to remove other chemical materials is imminent.
- The delay is not insurmountable, the Secretary-General told the Council. The 30 June 2014 deadline is still five months away. However, it is imperative that the Syrian Arab Republic now examine the situation, intensify its efforts to expedite in-country movements of chemical weapons material and continue to meets its obligations under resolution 2118 (2013) and the decisions of the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
AT SECURITY COUNCIL, U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF SPOTLIGHTS ROLE OF PEACEBUILDING IN CONFLICT MANAGEMENT, PREVENTION
- Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, spoke at today’s open debate of the Security Council on “War, Its Lessons, and the Search for a Permanent Peace.”
- He said that past crises have shown that the immediate imperatives tend to be so overpowering that what appear to be longer-term aspects often receive less attention. At the same time, he said, peacebuilding is now an indispensable part of the UN’s conflict management and prevention work.
- Mr. Feltman discussed how the United Nations deals with the need for reconciliation, as well as how the UN's approach to crisis management can be combined with the imperative of enabling societies to heal.
- In response to a question, the Spokesperson confirmed that the Secretary-General has asked Robert Serry, his Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, to travel to Kiev on his behalf to convey the United Nations’ solidarity with Ukraine and to encourage dialogue. Mr. Serry will be in Ukraine from 28-30 January.
- In one of several events organized as part of Holocaust Remembrance Week, the film “Blinky and Me” which be screened this evening at UN Headquarters. The film highlights the struggles of Jews during the Holocaust and tells the life story of Australian Animator Yoram Gross.