HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2013
SYRIA: AT SECURITY COUNCIL, U.N. RELIEF CHIEF SPOTLIGHTS GROWING IMPACT OF FIGHTING ON CIVILIANS
- Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, provided an update to the Security Council this morning on the humanitarian situation in Syria, saying that fighting continues to intensify across the country and its impact on civilians continues to grow each day.
- She said that humanitarian workers are still unable to provide assistance to an estimated 2.5 million people trapped in hard to reach and besieged areas, despite attempts to use the provisions in the Security Council’s 2 October Presidential Statement to do much more. Ms. Amos said that the United Nations is engaging with the Government of Syria on expanding humanitarian relief operations and lifting bureaucratic impediments and other obstacles but regrettably, as yet, has not had any major breakthrough.
- Ms. Amos said that, without real and sustained pressure from the Security Council on the Government and opposition groups on the ground, it will be impossible to make progress. She added that additional funds are needed. She noted that the appeal for humanitarian work in Syria and neighbouring countries is only 54 per cent funded.
SYRIA ENVOY HOLDS TALKS IN QATAR
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in Qatar today, where he met the Emir to discuss the Syrian crisis and preparations for an International Conference on Syria, to be held in Geneva.
- On Thursday, the Joint Special Representative was in Turkey where he met with General Salim Idriss of the Free Syrian Army and ten of his military commanders, and they also discussed the International Conference on Syria.
- The Joint Special Representative reiterated his view that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis and that all efforts should be exerted to stop the conflict and end the suffering of the Syrian people.
- Before travelling to Doha, Mr. Brahimi met today in Ankara with Ahmet Davotuglu, Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss preparations for the Geneva conference.
- On Saturday, the Joint Special Representative will travel to Tehran.
- In response to further questions, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Brahimi was continuing with his travels in the region in support of the Geneva II conference.
- Asked about the al-Ghouta attack, Nesirky said that a team led by Dr. Åke Sellström issued a report on that 21 August. That team was preparing a final report concerning other pending credible allegations of the use of chemical weapons, which is expected around the end of October.
- He added that the mandate of the team remains to determine whether chemical weapons have been used, not by whom.
- Asked about money going to a UN trust fund concerning the Joint Mission dealing with chemical weapons in Syria, the Spokesperson confirmed a pledge of $2 million from the United States, as well as 10 armoured vehicles that have been contributed to the Mission.
U.N. MISSION ON HIGH ALERT FOLLOWING CLASHES IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reports that early Friday morning, clashes occurred between the M23 and the Congolese army, around Kibumba, 15 km north of Goma. Heavy weapons including mortars and machine guns were used.
- The Mission says that the fighting is continuing in that area. The Mission adds that as a result of the fighting approximately 5,000 civilians from Kibumba crossed the border into Rwanda this morning.
- The Mission has carried out aerial reconnaissance of the area. The Mission has also asked that the Extended Joint Verification Mechanism investigates reports of a shell landing in Kageyo, in Rwanda.
- MONUSCO is on high alert and is closely monitoring the situation.
MALI: U.N. MISSION NOT PARTICIPATING IN OFFENSIVE OPERATIONS
- In response to questions on the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations says that the Mission is not taking part in offensive operations.
- As part of its mandate for stabilisation and protection of civilians, the UN Mission is conducting operations south of the Niger River. Specifically, MINUSMA units are conducting patrols, maintaining contacts with the local population and showing a presence to deter any threats to civilians.
- MINUSMA coordinates its operations closely with the other actors to ensure that efforts are complementary.
- Malian and French forces are also conducting operations in the Gao Region. This makes the UN Mission's presence south of the river particularly important to prevent a spillover of armed groups' activities into civilian areas which could threaten populations.
U.N. URGES HUMANITARIAN ACCESS IN MYANMAR’S KACHIN STATE
- The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Ashok Nigam, expressed deep concern today over the situation of civilians affected by clashes in southern Kachin state between Government troops and the Kachin Independence Army.
- The UN estimates that some 1,200 internally displaced people live in a village near where the fighting broke out on 22 October.
- While some people have been able to escape the fighting, many are unable to move to safer locations. Mr. Nigam strongly urged all parties to respect the right to freedom of movement and to allow safe passage.
- The UN and its partners delivered assistance to 1,300 uprooted people in this area last July, but a mission planned for last month was cancelled due to renewed fighting.
- Mr. Nigam called for immediate access for humanitarian partners, as people are in urgent need of assistance.
U.N. AID WING, PARTNERS CALLS FOR $50 MILLION FOLLOWING PHILIPPINES QUAKE
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced today that the United Nations and its humanitarian partners in the Philippines are launching a new action plan and are seeking nearly $50 million to help victims of the Bohol earthquake, which struck the country on 15 October.
- The new plan will support Government priorities, including emergency shelter for nearly 350,000 people; water and sanitation; and debris removal.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR STEPPED UP SECURITY FOR U.N. PERSONNEL, RELIEF WORKERS
- In a new report on safety and security, the Secretary-General has appealed to Member States and host Governments to support all safety and security measures to improve the operational environment for United Nations personnel and humanitarian workers.
- The report says that there were 1,793 significant security incidents affecting United Nations personnel in 2012, an increase from 1,759 such incidents in 2011. There were 35 deaths recorded last year, with violent acts as the primary cause for 20 of them, while 15 people were killed in safety-related incidents.
- The Secretary-General also expresses concern for the disconcerting rise in abductions. Thirty-one United Nations personnel were abducted in 2012, compared to 21 in 2011, 12 in 2010 and 22 in 2009. During the first six months of 2013, 15 United Nations personnel were abducted, including 12 who were abducted in Syria.
RENOWNED CHINESE PIANIST TO BE DESIGNATED U.N. MESSENGER OF PEACE
- On Monday, the Secretary-General will designate the world renowned pianist Lang Lang from China as a United Nations Messenger of Peace to support his Global Education First Initiative.
- The designation ceremony will take place at a press conference to be held in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium at 12 pm. Lang Lang will perform Chopin’s Waltz No. 1 for the occasion.
- Lang Lang has served for close to 10 years as a UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador.
- Asked about tensions between India and Pakistan at the Line of Control, the Spokesperson said that the situation needs to be dealt with by the two parties in a peaceful manner. He noted the recent discussions that took place between India and Pakistan on the margins of the General Assembly, saying that the Secretary-General encouraged that process.
- Asked about recent reports concerning the US National Security Agency, the Spokesperson said that any issue between States was a bilateral matter for them to handle. Asked whether he was aware of any spying on the United Nations, he said that he was not.
- Asked whether Saudi Arabia has notified the United Nations of its reported intention to withdraw from the Security Council, the Spokesperson said that no formal notification has been received.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
26 OCTOBER – 1 NOVEMBER 2013
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 26 October
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Sunday, 27 October
Today is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.
Monday, 28 October
In the morning, the Security Council will be briefed on the cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations.
At 4 p.m., the Security Council will hold a private meeting on the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
At 11:00 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Mr. Pablo De Greiff, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a designation ceremony of the world renowned pianist Lang Lang from China as a United Nations Messenger of Peace to support his Global Education First Initiative.
At 12:45 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Mr. Alfred De Zayas, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.
At 3 p.m., in Conference Room 6 in the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “Regional cooperation as a driver of growth and stability”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
At 3:30 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by H. E. Mr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
In Geneva, the Committee against Torture will begin the 51st session. It will end on 22 November.
Tuesday, 29 October
In the morning, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the implementation of the working methods of the Security Council (Note S/2010/507).
At 10:30 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Ms. Margaret Sekaggya, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and Mr. Pavel Sulyandziga, Chair of the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Press briefing room, Mr. John Ging, Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.
At 1:15 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by the Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 1 in the Conference Building (CB), there will be a panel discussion on “The role, protection and effective participation of human rights defenders in development”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Norway and the International Service for Human Rights (ISHR).
At 3:00 p.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Mr. Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
Wednesday, 30 October
In the morning, the Security Council will adopt a resolution concerning the Security Council Annual Report, followed by a briefing and consultations on Somalia.
In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on Western Sahara.
At 10:30 a.m., there will be a press conference by Mr. Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory.
At 12:00 p.m., Ms. Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Mr. Richard Kollodge, Editor of the UNFPA report “Motherhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy”, will be the guests at the Noon Briefing.
In Geneva, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will hold a press conference on the launch of the State of the World Population Report 2013: “Motherhood in Childhood – Facing the challenge of adolescent pregnancy”.
Thursday, 31 October
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Friday, 1 November
Today, China will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for November.