HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 29 OCTOBER 2013
U.N. HEALTH AGENCY CONFIRMS TEN CASES OF POLIO IN SYRIA
- Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF, ended a two-day visit to Damascus, in which he said that the Syrian Government and UNICEF had agreed on the importance of reaching hundreds of thousands of children in some of the worst-affected parts of Syria with life saving vaccines, including those against polio.
- Mr. Lake said that immunizing children is in its very nature non-political and has no connection to any military considerations. He said that, with cases of polio now emerging in Syria for the first time since 1999, vaccinating children against polio is an urgent and critical priority for Syria and for the whole world.
- Also on Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that Wild Polio Virus Type 1 had been isolated in ten cases in Syria. Another 12 cases are still being investigated. The cases are in the Deir Al Zour province in the north-east region of Syria.
- Asked about Sigrid Kaag, the Senior Coordinator of the Joint OPCW-UN Mission in Syria, the Spokesperson said that she has been in Cyprus and Damascus. She will be travelling this week to The Hague for discussions at the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and will then travel on to New York for discussions at UN Headquarters. She intends to report to the UN Security Council, as well as the OPCW Executive Council.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONDEMNS ATTACKS BY M23 REBEL GROUP AGAINST U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO
- The Security Council held a formal meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss its working methods.
- On Monday afternoon, in a press statement, the members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attacks by the M23 rebel group against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission (MONUSCO) in North Kivu in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in which one Tanzanian peacekeeper was killed.
- Asked about the involvement of the Force Intervention Brigade in fighting in the eastern Congo, the Spokesperson said that the Brigade is not undertaking offensive operations at this stage, but is working as part of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) to protect civilians.
- The FIB troops have been intensely engaged in protection of civilians activities - just as the other MONUSCO troops in North Kivu - in order to minimise the harm to civilians in the recent clashes between the M23 and the Congolese army.
- The Tanzanian peacekeeper was killed in an ambush by the M23 while he was on a protection of civilians patrol in a zone known as the "Governor Hills" on the Kiwanja-Rutshuru axis, 25 km north of Goma.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES ISRAELI DECISION TO PARTICIPATE IN U.N. RIGHTS REVIEW
- Asked about Israel’s cooperation with the Human Rights Council, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General welcomes the decision of the Israeli Government to participate in their Universal Periodic Review in Geneva today.
- This comes following efforts by several international leaders, as well as those of the Human Rights Council President personally, which were supported by his Bureau and the Human Rights Council as a whole through a constructive, consensual and cross-regional approach.
- The Secretary-General himself has impressed upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials on the importance for Israel to re-engage with the Universal Periodic Review mechanism as a cooperative and universal process enabling the international community to assess the state of human rights in all countries in the world in a fair and equitable manner.
- Nesirky added that the Secretary-General looks forward to a productive dialogue between Israel and the Human Rights Council.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST FORCED RETURNS TO NORTHEAST PART OF NIGERIA AMID RECENT VIOLENCE
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) spoke out on Tuesday against forced returns to Northeast Nigeria amid the recent escalation of violence in that region. It also called for the borders to be kept open for Nigerians fleeing the country and who may be in need of international protection.
- Violence is estimated to have displaced some 5,000 people within the region, but as humanitarian access has been hampered by the attacks, the UN Refugee Agency believes that the actual number of people affected could be significantly higher.
- Some 10,000 Nigerians have crossed into neighbouring Cameroon, Chad and Niger in recent months.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS CHIEF TO VISIT COTE D’IVOIRE
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, will be visiting Côte d'Ivoire from Tuesday until Thursday.
- During his visit, Mr. Ladsous will attend the Fourth African Union High level retreat of Special Envoys and Mediators in Abidjan.
- He will also have meetings with the Ivorian authorities and meet with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and staff of the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI).
U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND SAYS IT IS RUNNING LOW ON LIFE-SAVING SUPPLIES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- With increasing numbers of people displaced by violence across the Central African Republic, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that growing needs will exceed available emergency supplies in the coming weeks.
- Since renewed violence broke out in August, more than 44,000 displaced people have received plastic sheeting, blankets, mosquito nets, jerry cans, hygiene kits and soap with UNICEF support.
- The UN Agency said that there is an urgent need to replenish stocks in view of the recent trends in violence and displacement. UNICEF said it needs US$3 million in additional funds for emergency relief items.
- Asked about the death of a journalist in Somalia, the Spokesperson said that if a journalist had been killed as a result of his or her duties, that was to be condemned.
- Asked about the situation concerning Saudi Arabia’s Security Council seat, the Spokesperson said that was a matter for Member States.
- Asked about the situation in Tripoli, Lebanon, the Spokesperson said that Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, had spoken to Government officials in Lebanon today and afterwards expressed his concerns about Tripoli.
***The Guest at the noon briefing was John Ging, who is the Director of Operations for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. He briefed reporters on the humanitarian situation in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.