HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2012
SYRIA ENVOY EXPECTS GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO CALL FOR PAUSE IN FIGHTING
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, briefed the Security Council today on his latest efforts.
- In Cairo earlier today, he said he expected an announcement by the Syrian Government regarding his proposed pause in fighting. He said that many in the opposition have also responded positively.
- Separately, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the killing of a cameraman from the Syrian television broadcaster Al-Ikhbariya, earlier this month. Ms. Irina Bokova also called for efforts to secure the release of journalists reported to have gone missing in Syria and presumed to have been kidnapped.
- Asked whether the UN has a plan in place if there is a pause in fighting, the Spokesperson said that the ultimate aim is to move toward a political track and away from the violence of the past months. Clearly, steps need to be taken to get to that point.
SENIOR U.N. PEACEKEEPING OFFICIAL TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON DARFUR
- This afternoon, the Security Council will hear an update on the situation in Darfur by the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet in an open meeting, followed by consultations.
PROTECTION OF RIGHTS IN CONFLICT AMONG MOST DAUNTING GLOBAL CHALLENGES – U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights addressed the General Assembly today, saying that the past year has been marred by developments which have put to the test the capacity of the international community to prevent and promptly respond to human rights and humanitarian crises.
- Navi Pillay said that the protracted violence is an immediate reminder that the prevention of conflict and the protection of human rights in times of conflict remain among the most daunting challenges for the international community.
- She stressed that outright disrespect for international human rights and humanitarian law, let alone for human life, is an anachronism which cannot be tolerated. The United Nations must act to uphold the rule of law and protect human rights.
MIDDLE EAST ENVOY VOICES CONCERN OVER STEPPED UP VIOLENCE
- Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, marked United Nations Day by visiting the UN Gaza office and a UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) project in Gaza.
- He said that, during his visit, there was another escalation of violence between Israel and Gaza, which he deeply deplored. Mr. Serry called on all parties to show maximum restraint.
- He expressed his concern that with recurrent violence, as illustrated today, continued closures, and the persistent Palestinian divide, we will lose the race against time to preserve Gaza as a livable place.
- Mr. Serry added that people in Gaza and the West Bank expect their leaders to take tangible steps towards Palestinian reconciliation, and that the United Nations would continue to work with all parties to build confidence.
- Asked about the violence today in Gaza and Israel, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General supports Mr. Serry’s call on the parties to show maximum restraint.
SUDAN: U.N. CONCERNED BY STEPPED UP FIGHTING IN SOUTH KORDOFAN
- The Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Za'tari, has expressed deep concern about the escalation of fighting in and around Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan.
- He said in a statement that an exchange of fire yesterday between Sudanese Government forces and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North killed a child and injured many others. Two shells landed near the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) compound in Kadugli.
- Mr. Al-Za'tari called on the two sides to implement the revised plan of action issued by the African Union, League of Arab States and United Nations. He asked the sides to provide the security guarantees to allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance to people affected by the conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.
SENIOR U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL KICKS OFF VISIT TO EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- John Ging, the Operations Director in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has arrived in South Kivu on the latest leg of his week-long mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
- The latest crisis in the Kivus has displaced more than 767,000 people so far this year in eastern DRC.
- Mr. Ging said that UN agencies and non-governmental organisations are making a huge difference on the ground in trying to alleviate the suffering.
- Mr. Ging called on the international community to sustain and strengthen a response that continues to save lives every day. That response has already brought health services to more than 10 million people this year, as well as food, nutrition and agricultural support to 1.6 million people.
PHILIPPINES: U.N. EXPERT ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT WELCOMES PEACE AGREEMENT ON MINDANAO
- The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, has welcomed the landmark peace agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which sets up a framework for settling the decade-long conflict in Mindanao.
- Leila Zerrougui said that this is a major step, not only to bring peace and reconciliation to the region, but also to alleviate the plight of children affected by the conflict.
- In August 2009, the Front and the United Nations in the Philippines signed an Action Plan to halt and prevent the recruitment and use of children in the armed conflict in Mindanao.
POLIO DEATHS DROP BY MORE THAN 99 PER CENT SINCE 1988 – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that polio cases have decreased by more than 99% since 1988. The reduction is the result of the global effort to eradicate the disease.
- In 2012, only three countries - Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan - remain polio-endemic, down from more than 125 countries in 1988. Today is the first World Polio Day since India was removed from the list of countries with active transmission of wild poliovirus.
- The World Health Organization says that this is a historic opportunity to complete polio eradication in the three remaining endemic countries and that complete elimination of polio in the next five years would save more than US$ 40 billion.