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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 FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 7 JANUARY 2014

SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PROGRESS IN EFFORT TO ELIMINATE CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROGRAMME

  • The Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations has informed the Secretary-General that further progress has been made towards the removal and eliminations of Syrian chemical weapons programme.
  • The Secretary-General welcomes the continuing progress in the international effort to eliminate the chemical weapons programme of the Syrian Arab Republic, as demonstrated by this latest achievement.
  • The Secretary-General once more commends the Special Coordinator and her team for their steadfast work in challenging circumstances.

SYRIA SHIPS OUT FIRST BATCH OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS MATERIALS – O.P.C.W.

  • The Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations confirms that an initial quantity of priority chemical materials was moved from two sites to the port of Lattakia, in Syria, for verification and was then loaded onto a Danish cargo ship today.
  • The vessel has been accompanied by naval escorts provided by Denmark and Norway, as well as the Syrian Arab Republic. This movement initiates the process of transfer of chemical materials from Syria to locations outside its territory for destruction.
  • The vessel has left the port of Lattakia for international waters. It will remain at sea awaiting the arrival of additional priority chemical materials at the port. Maritime security is being provided by naval escorts from the People’s Republic of China, Denmark, Norway and the Russian Federation.
  • The Joint Mission continues to coordinate with Member States, in particular Syria, to mobilize resources and undertake all the necessary steps towards the complete removal and elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons programme.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SENDS INVITATIONS FOR GENEVA CONFERENCE ON SYRIA

  • On Syria, a statement was issued on Monday confirming that the Secretary-General has sent invitations to Syrian and international participants of the Geneva Conference on Syria. The list of invitees was determined at the 20 December Trilateral meeting between the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Nations.
  • The Secretary-General views the conference as a unique opportunity for ending the violence and ensuring that peace can be restored and the transition foreseen in the Geneva Communiqué can be implemented in a way that fully meets the aspirations of the Syrian people. At the core of this effort is the establishment of a transitional governing body based on mutual consent.
  • Asked about the participants at the conference, the Spokesperson said that, besides the two Syrian sides, 30 countries and three regional and international organizations, in addition to the UN, had been invited. He noted that the list of invitees had been read out by Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi in a press conference in Geneva on 20 December. 

MORE THAN 2,500 SYRIANS CROSSED IRAQ-SYRIA BORDER, SAYS U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY

  • The UN Refugee Agency said that the Syrian-Iraqi border opened on Sunday and more than 2,500 Syrians crossed by barge. Border crossing points between the Kurdistan region of Iraq and Syria had been closed since mid-September in the wake of an exodus of some 60,000 Syrians. Aid workers and local authorities worked overnight Sunday to process the group.
  • Authorities in the Kurdistan region of Iraq have told the Refugee Agency that they have adopted a flexible approach and those Syrians who say they do not want to stay as refugees can visit for up to seven days or approach the local authorities to legalise their stay.

U.N. AGENCIES LAUNCH $1 BILLION CAMPAIGN FOR SYRIAN CHILDREN

  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), together with its partners, have launched a $1 billion public engagement campaign to prevent a lost generation of Syrian children and lift them out of misery, isolation and trauma.
  • UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that now is the time for the world to step up and provide Syrian children with fresh hope and confidence for their future.

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN CONTINUES TO PROTECT SOME 62,000 CIVILIANS IN ITS BASES

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, continues to protect approximately 62,000 civilians in its bases, with humanitarian actors providing relief and support. This includes nearly 30,000 at its two Juba bases.
  • The Mission reports that the situation in Juba continues to be tense. In addition to protecting civilians in its bases, Mission troops are conducting day and night patrols in the capital.
  • The Mission also reports continued instability and fighting in a number of locations, including around Bor and in areas in Unity State.
  • In Jonglei State, the Mission reports fighting south of Bor and sporadic gunfire in the vicinity of its compound. It also says that a number of explosions have been heard this morning southeast of the city.
  • In Unity State, the Mission undertook a patrol to Pariyang and observed that most villages along the road from Mayom Junction to Pariyang appeared burnt or looted. Severe food, water and shelter shortages were also reported to the Mission by local officials.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Hilde Johnson, continues to meet with senior Government officials as well, as with opposition leaders, to ensure full cooperation with the Mission to enable it to implement its mandate to protect civilians. This includes cooperation for flights to Bor to deliver essential supplies for UN personnel and displaced people seeking protection in the Mission’s base.
  • Preparations continue for the deployment of military and police reinforcements for the UN Mission.

SOUTH SUDAN: MORE THAN 23,000 REFUGEES CROSS INTO UGANDA – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY

  • The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that more than 23,000 South Sudanese refugees have already crossed into Uganda as a result of the fighting that broke out more than two weeks ago. Refugees are now crossing at a rate of up to 2,500 people a day.
  • The agency says that it is struggling to provide enough water and adequate sanitation at transit centres and at reception centres in the West Nile region of northwestern Uganda. It adds that its staff and supplies in Uganda are stretched because these new arrivals are in addition to refugees still arriving from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Meanwhile, smaller but growing numbers of South Sudanese are also fleeing to other neighbouring countries. The Refugee Agency says that more than 5,300 refugees have been registered in Ethiopia. And in Kenya, 300 South Sudanese are now arriving daily at the Kakuma refugee camp.
  • Inside South Sudan, the agency is still continuing to provide assistance, despite operating with reduced staff. On Monday, a chartered flight arrived in Juba carrying essential relief items from the UNHCR stockpiles in Nairobi. They include 12,500 blankets, 2,500 sets of cooking pots and other kitchen equipment, and some 4,000 plastic sheets to shelter 20,000 displaced people in and around the capital.

U.N. MISSION MANDATED TO PROTECT CIVILIANS UNDER IMMINENT THREAT

  • The Spokesperson, in response to questions about a South Sudanese Member of Parliament, said that the UN Mission in South Sudan has a mandate to protect civilians if they are under imminent threat of physical violence and if national authorities and their security forces, who have primary responsibility, are not in a position or not willing to do so.
  • The Mission’s protection mandate is based on the principle of non-discrimination. It applies to all civilians irrespective of who they are or where they come from.
  • The United Nations is not disclosing any specific details regarding individuals having sought our protection.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME RESUMES FOOD DISTRIBUTION FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE IN BANGUI

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) resumed food distributions today to displaced people at Bangui International Airport in the Central African Republic.  The World Food Programme plans to reach all the displaced people there within 10 days.
  • An estimated 100,000 people have sought refuge around Bangui airport. The last food distribution on 18 December was suspended when men armed with machetes stormed the distribution site and some food was stolen.
  • Today’s distribution today included food, as well as buckets, tarpaulins and water containers provided by other organizations. It took place without incident.
  • The World Food Programme remains deeply concerned about deteriorating security in the northwest of the country and urges all parties to the conflict to ensure safe access to people in need of assistance.

U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE ALARMED AT USE OF FORCE IN RESPONSE TO DEMONSTRATIONS

  • The Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that it is following the situation in Cambodia with serious concern, noting its deep alarm at the disproportionate use of force by law enforcement officials in responding to demonstrations.
  • The Office said that on Friday, five people were killed when security forces opened fire, with 20 more people injured by gunfire and beatings.
  • It calls on the Cambodian authorities and security forces to exercise utmost restraint.

PHILIPPINES: MORE FUNDING NEEDED IN WAKE OF TYPHOON HAIYAN – U.N. RELIEF OFFICE

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, shelter is an urgent priority and more funding is needed to scale up relief activities.
  • Electricity is still unreliable in vast parts of the affected areas and that is hampering economic recovery.
  • Many schools reopened this week, but there are continued shortages there.

U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESUMES WORK ON DEFINING NEW SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

  • The final two rounds of discussions in the stocktaking phase of its work to define a new set of Sustainable Development Goals resumed on Monday as the General Assembly’s Open Working Group began its penultimate session.
  • The issues under consideration during this week-long seventh session include sustainable cities and human settlements, sustainable transport, sustainable consumption and production--including chemicals and waste--and climate change and disaster risk reduction.
  • The Group will conclude its deliberations with the eighth session in February, after which countries will begin discussions to reach broad agreement on a set of goals to be provided to the next session of the General Assembly.
  • At the 2012 Rio+20 conference, countries agreed to establish an intergovernmental process recognized as the Open Working Group to develop a set of “action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate” sustainable development goals to help drive the implementation of sustainable development.
  • It also called for the process to define the Goals “to be coordinated and coherent” with the work on building the post-2015 development agenda.