HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
TUESDAY, 8 JANUARY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL REGRETS DECISION OF BAHRAIN’S COURT TO UPHOLD HARSH SENTENCES AGAINST POLITICAL ACTIVISTS
- In a statement issued on Tuesday, the Secretary-General deeply regrets the decision of Bahrain’s Court of Cassation on 7 January, to uphold the harsh sentences, including life imprisonment, against 20 Bahraini political activists.
- He reiterates his firm belief that the only way to promote peace, stability, justice and prosperity in Bahrain is through a national dialogue which addresses the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis, and in which all communities can participate freely, without fear or intimidation.
The Secretary-General calls on all Bahrainis to contribute to creating a peaceful and conducive atmosphere for such a dialogue to begin as soon as possible.
The Secretary-General also calls on the Government of Bahrain to follow through on its recently reiterated commitment to judicial reform.
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has also expressed its regret about the convictions being upheld.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES SITUATION IN SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN AND IN THE D.R. CONGO
- The Security Council was briefed on Tuesday morning in closed consultations by the UN Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Haile Menkerios, on the situation in both countries.
- John Ging, the Director of Operations for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), also briefed the Council.
- In the afternoon, the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, was due to brief the Council in closed consultations on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
U.N AGENCIES CONTINUE TO REACH HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN SYRIA
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners continue to reach hundreds of thousands of people in Syria despite insecurity, attacks, roads closures, fuel shortages and lack of access to conflict-affected areas.
- Since the beginning of January, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached 800,000 people and it says that it hopes to reach 1.5 million people with food distributions in Syria this month.
- It is estimated that 2.5 million people are in need of food assistance in Syria.
- The World Food Programme says that it is unable to further scale up assistance because of lack of implementing partners on the ground and challenges reaching some of the country’s areas. Insecurity and fuel shortage are also other complicating factors.
- The World Food Programme says it has recently received approval from the Syrian Government to import fuel for its operations in Syria.
- Other agencies, such as the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), have reached more than 150,000 people with essential supplies such as hygiene and first aid kits and warm clothes for the winter.
- Concerning Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that aid organizations have increased winter assistance in places where the temperature continues to drop. In Jordan, for example, thousands of families have received heating stoves, blankets and other winter items.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) is also responding to the needs of refugees in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey with food distributions and food vouchers.
- The bad weather in some neighbouring countries has caused some roads to be blocked, but agencies are responding to best of their abilities and prepositioned stocks are being distributed.
U.N. CALLS ON PROTESTERS IN IRAQ TO REFRAIN FROM VIOLENCE
- The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) is closely following the course of the demonstrations that are currently taking place in several Iraqi governorates.
- The Mission has reaffirmed its commitment to support the political and human rights of all Iraqi citizens, as well their social, cultural and economic rights, in the framework of the rule of law.
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, called on the protesters to refrain from violence and to maintain the peaceful character of their demonstrations. He called on the security forces to show the utmost restraint in maintaining law and order.
- Mr. Kobler also urges all sides to engage without delay in a peaceful and constructive dialogue, in accordance with the Iraqi Constitution and Iraqi law.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s response to the situation in Iraq, the Spokesperson said that he shares the views of his Special Representative for Iraq on this matter.
U.N. EXPERT WELCOMES SECURITY COUNCIL SANCTIONS ON REBELS FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN D.R. CONGO
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, has welcomed the sanctions imposed by the Security Council on the FDLR [Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda] and M23 [Mouvement du 23 mars] for committing heinous acts of violence including grave and repeated acts of conflict-related sexual violence against civilian populations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- She said that the Security Council’s Sanctions Committee for the Democratic Republic of the Congo had led the way in focusing on crimes of sexual violence.
- The Special Representative condemned reported acts of violence being committed in areas controlled by armed groups, including M23 and FDLR.
- She said that these recent sanctions by the Security Council serve as a reminder and a signal of intent that they will be held accountable for all acts of sexual violence committed in these areas.
U.N. FOOD AGENCY SAYS WAREHOUSE LOOTED IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that its warehouse in the town of Bambari in the Central African Republic had been looted and that 209 tons of food had been lost.
- The UN Food Agency also said that three trucks were vandalized.
- The World Food Programme said that it is poised to restart operations in the Central African Republic as soon as practically possible. The World Food Programme said that, with more than 1,000 tons of food in its warehouse in the capital, Bangui, it is still able to feed 300,000 people for one week when needed.
U.N. UNDERSCORES NEED FOR INTERNAL AND REGIONAL RECONCILIATION IN WESTERN BALKANS
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is following developments in Serbia's Presevo Valley. He said that the United Nations has consistently underscored the need for internal and regional reconciliation in the Western Balkans.
- This point has been emphasised during recent meetings between the Secretary-General and senior officials of the region, including Serbian President Nikolic and representatives of the Kosovo authorities.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPRECIATES EFFORT TO HAVE A MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY U.N. BUILDING: Asked about the Secretary-General’s reaction to the newly renovated UN Headquarters, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General appreciated the effort to have a building that is more environmentally friendly and efficient, and the ways in which the new complex can help the United Nations do its work better.
U.N. AWARE OF MEDIA REPORTS ABOUT DEVELOPMENTS IN KASHMIR: Asked about reported developments in Kashmir, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is aware of the media reports.