HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2013
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL WORKING TO CONVENE GENEVA II CONFERENCE IN MID-NOVEMBER
- Asked about a Geneva II conference for Syria, the Spokesperson said it would be for the Secretary-General to convene such a conference and to invite the parties to attend.
- He noted that the Secretary-General said on Wednesday that he was working to have a Geneva II conference convened by mid-November.
- Asked about the whereabouts of Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, the Spokesperson said that he had been in London and Moscow in recent days and was returning to New York.
- Meanwhile, Nesirky said, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will be travelling in the region, as will his Deputy, Nasser al-Kidwa.
- Asked about funding for the work of the United Nations and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the Spokesperson said that there were separate trust funds set up for each organization’s work in Syria.
- Asked about Iran’s presence at a Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson said that would be a topic to be discussed during Mr. Brahimi’s travels. He noted that UN officials have said in the past that Iranian participation would be useful.
- Asked about the final report by Dr. Åke Sellström’s team, the Spokesperson said it was due by the end of this month.
STAFF MEMBER OF U.N. DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE NOW FREE
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson confirmed that Carl Campeau, a staff member of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) who was abducted in February, is now free. He is now with the United Nations. Initial indications are that he is in good health.
- He said that the Secretary-General is delighted that Carl Campeau is free. And the Department of Safety and Security (DSS), which had been working to secure his release for months, was relieved that he was free.
- There will be a period of debriefing, he added, now that he is free.
CHAD, CHILE, LITHUANIA, NIGERIA, SAUDI ARABIA ELECTED AS NEW NON-PERMANENT MEMBERS OF SECURITY COUNCIL
- The General Assembly today elected five new non-permanent members of the Security Council.
- Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia will each serve a two-year term starting in January of 2014.
AID AGENCIES DISTRIBUTE RELIEF ITEMS TO PEOPLE ARRIVING IN ABYEI AREA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that people continue to arrive in Abyei, with aid agencies estimating that over 3,000 people have travelled to the area since September.
- The Office adds that local communities have organized transport from Agok to Abyei town, but poor road conditions – which currently prevent any vehicle traffic between these locations – mean some people remain in Agok and others are stranded in transit.
- Aid agencies have distributed household items to transit areas along the Agok-Abyei road and in Abyei town itself, to ensure that new arrivals have shelter, clean water, mosquito nets and other essential items.
- Humanitarian partners are preparing to distribute food to vulnerable people in different transit sites.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION CLASSIFIES AIR POLLUTION AS CARCINOGENIC
- The specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), announced today that it has classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans.
- Experts convened by the agency concluded that there is sufficient evidence that exposure to outdoor air pollution causes lung cancer. They also noted a positive association with an increased risk of bladder cancer.
- Although the composition of air pollution and levels of exposure can vary dramatically between locations, the conclusions of the experts apply to all regions of the world.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR IRREVERSIBLE POVERTY ERADICATION
- As the United Nations marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Secretary-General has said in a message that the only way to make poverty eradication irreversible is by putting the world on a sustainable development path.
- He also said that the achievement in cutting poverty by half should not blind us to the fact that more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty worldwide.
- The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, has also called for action by all – individual citizens, community activists, development actors, and decision-makers – to realize a world without discrimination, the theme of this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has emphasized the link between poverty reduction and environmental protection in a statement for the International Day.
ENVOY FOR NAME ISSUE TO MEET REPRESENTATIVES OF BOTH COUNTRIES: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, will meet with the Representatives of the two countries later this month. Mr. Nimetz will meet with the two Representatives separately and then jointly with the purpose of continuing the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the “name” issue.
HUMANITARIAN CHIEF ATTENDS DISASTER MANAGEMENT REGIONAL MEETING IN JAMAICA: The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, will visit Jamaica today to attend a regional meeting on disaster management and humanitarian response. Ms. Amos is expected to hold a press conference after the meeting.