HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
THURSDAY, 30 JANUARY 2014
IN BERLIN, SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES DEVELOPMENT, HUMAN RIGHTS WITH GERMAN CHANCELLOR
- The Secretary-General met today in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and discussed development, human rights, disarmament and peacebuilding issues with her. He said that he invited Chancellor Merkel to attend the Climate Summit that he is convening on 23 September at UN Headquarters in New York, which aims to mobilize action and political will towards the new climate change agreement which the world so urgently needs.
- Earlier, he met with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and told reporters afterwards that they discussed the security situations in Syria, the Middle East, South Sudan, Central Africa, and many other areas of mutual concern.
- In the morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the Opening Ceremony to launch the work of the high-level Scientific Advisory Board. He told the gathered scientists that, for too long, we have sought to burn and consume our way to prosperity and that this model is unsustainable. He added that the Board represents some of the world’s best scientific competence and will provide indispensable advice on the interface between science and policy for sustainable development.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s meeting earlier this week with former Cuban President Fidel Castro in Havana, the Spokesperson noted that they had met for nearly an hour.
SYRIA ENVOY DISAPPOINTED THAT AID NOT ALLOWED INTO HOMS
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said in Geneva that there was a lengthy discussion today by the Syrian parties on terrorism.
- He declared his disappointment that humanitarian aid has yet to be allowed into Homs but added that negotiations on getting people out of Homs and bringing aid in are continuing.
- Speaking to reporters in Berlin, the Secretary-General said that nobody thought that the peace talks would be an easy process, and that more patience is needed.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson noted that Mr. Brahimi expected that the current round of talks would end on Friday and then resume sometime next month.
- Asked about the slow pace of progress, Haq reiterated that the Secretary-General and Mr. Brahimi had expected that progress would be slow and patience would be needed, but that it was important that the Syrian parties were finally talking to each other.
U.N. DELIVERS FOOD PARCELS TO PALESTINIAN REFUGEE CAMP IN DAMASCUS
- Today, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) distributed more than one thousand food parcels to the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk in Damascus. This is the first aid to enter the camp since 21 January, when the Agency had distributed 138 food parcels.
- The Agency said that it is encouraged by the delivery of this aid and the cooperation of the parties on the ground. It hopes to continue and increase substantially the amount of aid being delivered, because the numbers of those needing assistance is in the tens of thousands, including 18,000 Palestinians, among them women and children.
IN ETHIOPIA, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS AFRICA’S VITALITY, DIVERSITY
- The Deputy Secretary-General spoke at the assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa today, and he said that the world needs Africa’s vitality, entrepreneurship and diversity.
- He discussed recent crises in Africa, saying that he remains deeply concerned about South Sudan. He said that combined efforts should now focus on protecting civilians, preventing gross violations of human rights and facilitating humanitarian assistance. He urged the parties to strictly adhere to the cessation of hostilities agreement signed last week and to intensify their efforts for reconciliation and domestic peace.
- The Deputy Secretary-General also discussed concerns about the Central African Republic, saying that the common goal should be to stop the horrific clashes between Christians and Muslims and restore the harmonious relations that have existed for so long between the two communities. He said that we must act immediately to prevent further atrocities.
- He pointed to the serious lack of funds for the international force, known as MISCA, and encouraged all UN Member States to be generous at the pledging conference to be held this Saturday.
U.N. MISSION CONTINUES PATROLS IN SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that it has conducted 264 military and 61 police patrols in various parts of the country in the last 24 hours.
- In Leer, in Unity State, the Mission has received credible reports of fighting in the town, but it is not in a position to verify and confirm this independently at this point.
- The Mission continues to seek to verify reports of human rights violations, to collect evidence and document human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law in a number of places, including the capital, Juba, and in Bor in Jonglei State.
- Currently, 1,000 UN Mission troops and police are protecting more than 10,000 civilians at its premises in Bor.
- Overall, 79,000 civilians are sheltering at eight bases throughout the country.
SECURITY MUST IMPROVE FOR AID TO REACH THOSE OUTSIDE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC CAPITAL – U.N. RELIEF WING
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the security situation remains tense in the Central African Republic, especially in the capital, Bangui.
- It says that some 825,000 people are still displaced from their homes across the country, more than 400,000 of them in Bangui alone.
- The Office also says that an improvement in the security situation is vital if humanitarian agencies are to have sufficient access to people in the provinces outside Bangui.
- OCHA also says that according to organizations working on protection issues, a comprehensive system in Bangui and other locations is a priority in order to identify, document, trace and reunify unaccompanied and separated children, and undertake public-awareness campaigns to prevent family separation.
- Meanwhile, the work of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on the identification and verification of boys and girls associated with armed groups led to the release of 23 children this week; a total of 229 children have been released since May 2013.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. CYRPUS FORCE
- In a formal meeting today, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) until 31 July 2014.
- It also decided to renew the measures on arms imposed by the paragraph l of resolution 1807 (2008), concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo, until l February 2015.
U.N., CAMBODIA AGREE ON COOPERATION, FUNDING FOR KHMER ROUGE TRIALS
- On Monday, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Miguel de Serpa Soares; the UN Controller, Maria Eugenia Casar; and the Secretary-General’s Special Expert on the UN Assistance to the Khmer Rouge Trials, David Scheffer, met with Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister.
- They agreed to continue their cooperation on matters relating to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) and reaffirmed their commitment to ending impunity for the atrocities of the former Khmer Rouge regime.
- They also expressed their determination to overcome the funding challenges faced by the Chambers so as to avoid any delay in the judicial proceedings and to assure the welfare of both national and international staff.
- The Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia agreed that the Cambodia Government will be able to provide $1.1 million to cover the salaries of the Chamber’s national personnel for the first quarter of 2014. He also expressed the Government’s view for achieving as soon as possible a clear roadmap towards a completion strategy for the Chambers.
MAURITANIAN APPOINTED AS DEPUTY HEAD OF U.N. MISSION IN LIBYA
- The Secretary-General has appointed Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania as his new Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
- He succeeds Georg Charpentier of Finland who has served as Deputy Special Representative since October 2011.
- Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed most recently served as the UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UN Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative in Yemen.
CLIMATE SYSTEM IS WARMING UNEQUIVOCALLY, FINDS U.N.-BACKED REPORT
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released today its Working Group 1 Fifth Assessment Report.
- The report finds that warming of the climate system is unequivocal and human influence on the climate system is clear. It also says that limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.
- The Summary of this full report was launched in September last year.
- Asked about past rape allegations in Minova, in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission in the country (MONUSCO) had been following up to see what actions the Congolese authorities have taken to deal with the matter and prosecute those deemed to have committed crimes.
- Asked about reports alleging that the US National Security Agency monitored talks at the Conference of Parties in Copenhagen, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations did not have firsthand information on the matter. He said that the inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organizations, has been well-established international law and Member States are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions.