HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2012
SYRIA ENVOY WRAPS UP DAMASCUS VISIT, TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL TOMORROW
- Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, has ended his trip to Damascus and is now in Cairo.
- Tomorrow morning, Mr. Brahimi will brief the Security Council by videoconference in its consultations on Syria.
- Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that Lebanon has become the third country in the region to see its population of registered Syrian refugees and people waiting for registration exceed the 100,000 mark. As of yesterday, Lebanon had more than 101,000 Syrian refugees in the country. Turkey and Jordan already have refugee populations above that level, and across the region, the number has climbed to more than 358,000.
- The Refugee Agency says that, nearly four weeks after its launch, the revised Syria Regional Response Plan for $487.9 million remains only about a third funded. The Agency says that it is racing against time to ensure that hundreds of thousands of refugees are protected from the winter cold.
- Asked about UN support for Lebanon as it assists Syrian refugees, the Spokesperson said that the recent unrest in Lebanon had temporarily disrupted some UN operations, including registration of refugees in Tripoli and Beirut. They are assessing the security situation and hope to resume those operations as soon as possible.
- Asked about prospects for a ceasefire, the Spokesperson recalled that Mr. Brahimi had met with President Assad and opposition figures. Mr Brahimi had earlier said that President Assad's had given a positive reaction to his call for the Government to declare a military pause during the Eid ul Adha holiday.
- Asked about communications for Mr. Brahimi, the Spokesperson said that for the time being, staff in the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and the Spokesperson’s Office would handle those tasks.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES LIBYA
- The Security Council held consultations on Libya today. Taye-Brook Zerihoun, the Director of the Africa II Division of DPA, briefed the Security Council on the latest developments in the country.
- Over the weekend, the Secretary-General called on all the Libyan authorities and those in Bani Walid to begin immediately a process to resolve the Bani Walid stand-off peacefully.
AT AWARD CEREMONY FOR CHILDREN’S ART, BAN PLEDGES ACTION TO RID WORLD OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
- This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at an award ceremony for the United Nations’ “Art for Peace” contest, in which children and young people expressed how they envision a nuclear-weapon-free world.
- More than 6,600 young people from nearly 100 countries took part in the contest.
- The Secretary-General honoured 17-year-old Haruka Shoji, who won for her painting called “Someday,” in which a young woman looks into the distance to a better future.
- The Secretary-General said he will do everything possible to make her painting a vision of the present, not the future.
NEARLY 5 MILLION PEOPLE AFFECTED BY PAKISTAN FLOODS
- According to Government estimates, nearly 5 million people have been affected by the flooding this year in southern Pakistan.
- UN agencies and non-governmental organizations are delivering assistance in support of Government-led relief efforts.
- The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan says that while thousands of food packages and other supplies have been distributed, people’s lives are still in jeopardy in flood-affected areas of the country.
- He said that we must not allow the flood crisis to become a forgotten emergency.
- The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated nearly $10 million to provide water, food, shelter and healthcare to thousands of families devastated by the flooding.
SENIOR U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL VISITS EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- John Ging, the Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is in North Kivu as part of a week-long mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Today he visited a distribution centre for food and non-food items in South Lubero, organized by the Rapid Response to Movements of Population, which is a mechanism managed by OCHA and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This distribution is targeting some 6,500 people.
- Mr. Ging commended this innovative distribution system which gives people more choice and respects their dignity.
- He is also due to meet with humanitarian partners, and the head of the UN mission in North Kivu.
TOP U.N. DISASTER OFFICIAL ATTENDS MINISTERIAL SUMMIT IN ASIA
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, is in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, attended the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction today.
- Government ministers are discussing accelerating disaster risk reduction at the local level and integrating local efforts within national disaster risk reduction plans. The conference will also contribute to the ongoing consultation process towards a post-2015 framework on disaster risk reduction.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WIDE RANGE OF PEOPLE: Asked about the Secretary-General’s range of meetings today, including with Korean rapper Psy and Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, the Spokesperson said it is important for the Secretary-General to interact with a wide range of people. The meetings, in both cases, came about because the people visiting the Secretary-General were in town and were interested in meeting him, as he was in meeting them.
BAN HOPES FOR ARGENTINA, GHANA WILL RESOLVE DISPUTE BILATERALLY: Asked about the dispute between Argentina and Ghana, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General expressed the hope that both Governments will find a way to address the matter on a bilateral basis.
U.N. STILL HAS NO HUMANITARIAN ACCESS TO SUDAN’S SOUTH KORDOFAN: Asked about the shelling of Kadugli, in South Kordofan, Sudan, the Spokesperson noted that we continue to lack humanitarian access to the area, which is needed. There is no UN peacekeeping position in South Kordofan; rather, there is a logistics base which has no mandate to carry out peacekeeping activities. The shelling of Kadugli remains unacceptable, Nesirky said.