HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2012
SYRIA REACHES ‘APPALLING’ HEIGHTS OF BRUTALITY, U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Security Council on the Middle East this morning. He said that the conflict in Syria, now entering its 20th month, has reached new and appalling heights of brutality and violence. Available estimates, which the United Nations is not in a position to verify, put the number of people killed at more than 30,000.
- He said that long-standing predictions of the conflict spiraling beyond Syria’s borders are coming true, as illustrated by the recent escalation along the Syrian-Turkish border, rounds of small arms fire in the Golan, exchanges of fire into northern Lebanon and a surge in belligerent rhetoric.
- On the Israeli-Palestinian front, he said that both sides maintain their rhetorical commitment to a negotiated peace, but the creeping realities on the ground and the stalemated diplomacy portray a more worrying reality. Mr. Feltman added that stated intentions to adhere to a two-state solution are not translating into meaningful steps to renewed dialogue on the core issues.
- Asked about the death toll in Syria, the Spokesperson said that there are broad estimates available of a large magnitude, but the United Nations is not in a position to verify such numbers accurately.
- Asked about Israeli air strikes in Gaza, the Spokesperson noted that Mr. Feltman briefed the Security Council on that matter this morning.
SYRIA ENVOY APPEALS FOR IRANIAN HELP IN ACHIEVING CEASEFIRE
- The United Nations-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has appealed to the Iranian authorities to assist in achieving a cease-fire in Syria during the forthcoming Eid Al-Adha, one of the holiest holidays celebrated by the Muslims around the world.
- Mr. Brahimi made the appeal during a visit to Tehran, where he held talks with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi and the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili.
- The Joint Special Representative underlined that the crisis in Syria was getting worse every day and stressed the urgent need to stop the bloodshed. He reiterated the call by the Secretary-General for a cease-fire and a halt to the flow of arms to both sides.
- And you will have seen that this weekend, Mr. Brahimi was in Turkey where he held talks with President Abdullah Gul and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. He also met the Chairman of the Syrian National Council (SNC) and members of its Executive Committee, as well as other members of the Syrian opposition.
- Mr. Brahimi is now in Baghdad.
- Asked about reports of arms transfers to jihadists in Syria, the Spokesperson said that any further militarization of the conflict is unhelpful, including the arming of either side.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS FOOD PRIZE CEREMONY IN IOWA
- The Secretary-General will be travelling to Des Moines, Iowa, on Thursday.
- He will address the World Food Prize Award Ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol. The laureate this year is Dr. Daniel Hillel for his contribution to micro-irrigation.
- Founded in 1986 by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Norman Borlaug, the World Food Prize honors individuals who have made vital contributions to improving the quality, quantity or availability of food throughout the world.
- The Secretary-General will also speak at Drake University on the theme “Global Citizenship in a Changing World.”
- The Secretary-General will be back in New York on Friday.
ORGANIZED CRIME GENERATES BILLIONS, HURTS MILLIONS, SAYS U.N. ANTI-CRIME CHIEF
- Transnational organized crime generates $870 billion and affects millions of people every year, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, said today at the sixth session of the conference of parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
- He said it was important to recognize that crime is smart, sophisticated and largely opportunistic, and that it is capable of moving when successfully challenged.