HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 9 JANUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO HOLD FIRST PRESS CONFERENCE OF 2014
- The Secretary-General will have his first press conference of the year on Friday, 10 January, at 11:00 a.m.
- He will discuss the challenges facing us over the coming year and take reporters’ questions.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ATTEND NEXT WEEK’S SYRIA AID CONFERENCE IN KUWAIT
- Next week, the Secretary-General will travel to Kuwait to chair the second Pledging Conference for Syria, on 15 January.
- The conference is hosted, again this year, by the Amir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Jaber Al Sabah. It aims to mobilize the required financial resources to enable the United Nations and its partners to meet urgent humanitarian needs, and to harness solidarity for the plight of the Syrian people.
- As the humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, the Secretary-General calls once more on Member States to participate in the conference and to remain generous.
- While he is in Kuwait City, the Secretary-General will meet with senior Kuwaiti officials, as well as with other officials from Member States participating in the pledging conference.
- Asked about the safety of the process of removing Syria’s chemical weapons, the Spokesperson said that the Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, Sigrid Kaag, spoke to the Security Council and to reporters about that matter on Wednesday. Ms. Kaag made clear that it was Syria’s responsibility to ensure that its chemical weapons could safely be transported to Latakia for their removal from the country and eventual destruction.
- She had said that the Mission has been receiving and continues to expect cooperation from the Syrian authorities.
- In response to questions about regional involvement in Syria, Haq said that the Secretary-General has consistently opposed the further militarization of the conflict in Syria.
HEAD OF U.N. WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME MEETS DISPLACED FAMILIES IN SYRIA
- Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), ended a visit to Syria today after high-level talks with Government officials. She also met displaced families at a food distribution centre in Damascus.
- Ms. Cousin said that the humanitarian situation in Syria is getting more difficult every day, as almost half the Syrian people are now food insecure.
- This month, WFP has increased its food assistance to reach 4.25 million people inside Syria, with access to the besieged areas being a challenge.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: SECRETARY-GENERAL SOUNDS ALARM ON RELIGIOUS UPHEAVAL
- The Secretary-General had a message to the extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), taking place today in N’Djamena, Chad.
- The message was delivered by Babacar Gaye, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office for the Central African Republic (BINUCA).
- The Secretary-General said that he remains extremely concerned about the situation in the Central African Republic. He noted that the danger of further upheaval along religious lines is real and poses a long-term danger to the country.
- The Secretary-General added that it is essential to rapidly address this challenge and prioritize reconciliation efforts. He commends the Economic Community of Central African States Heads of State for proposing an inclusive national conference.
- He also stressed the importance of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of armed groups and said the presence of conditions conducive to such an exercise must be ensured.
- The Secretary-General also said he was troubled by the humanitarian and human rights situation in the Central African Republic. He said the United Nations had stepped up its humanitarian response and is also working to establish an International Commission of Inquiry to document abuses and human rights violations, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2127.
- We must send a strong message that those committing atrocities will be held accountable, he said.
SENIOR U.N. OFFICIALS BRIEFING SECURITY COUNCIL ON SOUTH SUDAN
- The Security Council held consultations this morning on South Sudan.
- Council members received briefings from Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations; Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan; and Haile Menkerios, the head of the UN Office to the African Union.
SOUTHS SUDAN: U.N. MISSION REPORTS SITUATION AT BOR BASE STILL STRAINED
- The situation at the UN Mission base in Bor in Jonglei State, where more than 9,000 civilians are being protected, remains strained.
- On Wednesday, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) was finally able to undertake three flights to the city, where it delivered food supplies and medically evacuated 54 civilians back to Juba. UN flights had so far been unable to reach Bor for the past few days. An additional five UNMISS flights from Juba, carrying food, also arrived in the city today.
- In response to further questions about Bentiu, the Spokesperson said that UNMISS reports that the outcome of the fighting in Bentiu in Upper Nile state is unclear and fluid.
- The humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan and the Deputy Special Representative for the Mission, Toby Lanzer, is currently assessing the humanitarian situation in the city.
- Explosions and fighting have reportedly been heard in the town this morning.
- Currently, more than 8,000 internally displaced people are being protected by 550 troops in the UN base at Bentiu. In order to cope with the increasing numbers of civilians seeking shelter with the UN, the Mission says that it is expanding its protection site.
- Asked about Nepal’s contribution to the expansion of the UN Mission, the Spokesperson confirmed that Nepal will make up one of the battalions to reinforce UNMISS, which will include 350 troops redeploying from the UN Mission in Haiti, with approximately a further 500 troops deploying from Nepal.
- Asked about the political situation, Haq said that the Secretary-General has called for a political solution to the crisis. He reiterated the Secretary-General’s support for the mediation process led by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF ANNOUNCES $15 MILLION ALLOCATION FPR SOUTH SUDAN
- The Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has announced the allocation of US$15 million for critical relief efforts in South Sudan.
- She said that with this funding, UN humanitarian agencies will be better able to meet the needs of people desperately seeking shelter and safety.
- UN agencies will use the funds to improve the living conditions of tens of thousands of people in overcrowded camps. The allocation will also go to air support for medical evacuations and to enable relief workers to reach people in need in places that are inaccessible or too insecure to get to by road.
- It is now estimated that more than 231,000 people have been displaced since 15 December. A further 42,800 South Sudanese have fled to neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, with 32,000 of them in Uganda alone.
BANGLADESH: SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES RESTRAINT, CALLS FOR DIALOGUE
- In response to questions about the Secretary-General’s stance on the elections in Bangladesh, the Spokesperson recalled that, in a recent statement, the Secretary-General called on all sides to exercise restraint and ensure first and foremost a peaceful and conducive environment, where people can maintain their right to assembly and expression. Violence and attacks on people and property can never be acceptable.
- The Secretary-General calls on the political parties to resume meaningful dialogue and to urgently address the expectations of the people of Bangladesh for an inclusive political process.
2013 THIRD HIGHEST YEAR FOR FOOD PRICES – U.N. AGENCY
- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that 2013 marked the third highest year on record for its Food Price Index.
- The FAO Food Price Index averaged 206.7 points in December, nearly unchanged from the previous month, with a sharp increase in dairy prices and high meat values balancing out a steep decline in sugar quotations and lower cereal and oil prices.
- For 2013 as a whole, the index went down 1.6 per cent from 2012, and was well below 2011's peak.