HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 29 OCTOBER 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TROUBLED BY FINDINGS OF REVIEW INTO ALLEGATIONS OF MISREPORTING BY JOINT DARFUR MISSION
- In a statement, a review, initiated by the Secretary-General, was conducted into recent allegations that the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) intentionally sought to cover up crimes against civilians and peacekeepers.
- The Review Team examined all the material related to 16 incidents, which were the basis of these allegations. It also interviewed former and current staff in UNAMID and at UN Headquarters. The Review Team did not find any evidence to support these allegations. However, it did find a tendency to under-report unless absolutely certain of the facts. In five of the cases examined, the Mission did not provide UN Headquarters with full reports on the circumstances surrounding these incidents, which involved possible wrongdoing by Government or pro-Government forces. The Review Team also found that the Mission took an unduly conservative approach to the media, maintaining silence when it could have developed a press line, even in the absence of all the facts.
- The Secretary-General is deeply troubled by these findings. He recognizes that UNAMID faces unique challenges owing to its complex mandate and operating environment. Nevertheless, keeping silent or under-reporting on incidents involving human rights violations and threats or attacks on UN peacekeepers cannot be condoned under any circumstances.
- The Secretary-General will take all necessary steps to ensure full and accurate reporting by UNAMID. Every effort will be made to ensure that sensitive information is systematically brought to the attention of UN Headquarters and the Security Council in a timely fashion. UNAMID’s media policy will be re-examined to ensure greater openness and transparency. The Mission will be expected to follow up formally and report on Government investigations into incidents where peacekeepers have been killed or injured.
- Ensuring that the UN speaks out consistently against abuses and identifies the perpetrators is a key goal of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights up Front initiative. The Secretary-General will ensure that all missions are provided with clear guidance on the fulfilment of their reporting obligations, particularly with regard to human rights and the protection of civilians. He looks forward to the upcoming review of UN peace operations as an opportunity to comprehensively address this issue, which is a core element of his Human Rights up Front initiative.
SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES DEEP SADNESS AT PASSING OF ZAMBIAN PRESIDENT
- The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the passing of Michael Chilufya Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia yesterday who died yesterday, on October 28 while receiving treatment at a hospital in London.
- The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to late President Sata’s family, the Government and to the people of Zambia.
EASTERN UKRAINE: SECRETARY-GENERAL DEPLORES PLANNED REBEL POLLS
- In a statement, the Secretary-General says that he deplores the planned holding by armed rebel groups in eastern Ukraine of their own “elections” on November 2nd, in breach of the constitution and national law. These "elections" will seriously undermine the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum, which need to be urgently implemented in full.
- The Secretary-General urges all to uphold these agreements and work toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the fundamental importance of restoring stability and safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
IN SOMALIA, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS NEED FOR CONTINUITY, STABILITY
- The Secretary-General visited Mogadishu in Somalia this morning along with the Presidents of the World Bank and of the Islamic Development Bank as well as representatives of the African Development Bank, the African Union and the European Union. He met with the President of Somalia, the Prime Minister as well as the Speaker of Parliament. Speaking to reporters, the Secretary-General said that slowly but surely, Somalia was waking from a long nightmare. He added that many indicators are finally pointing in the right direction. He urged Somalia’s leaders to remain united, adding that Somalia needs continuity and stability at this critical time.
- The Secretary-General then also made a visit to Dadaab, Kenya, to the Ifo 2 refugee camp, which hosts a large number of Somali refugees. He toured the hospital there, including its maternity ward and nutrition stabilization centre. He also met with refugees and their host communities.
- The Secretary-General has arrived in Nairobi and met with President Uhuru Kenyatta.
- This morning, the Secretary-General was in Djibouti, where he met with President Omar Guelleh.
DESPITE STEPPED UP GLOBAL MOBILIZATION, EBOLA CRISIS REMAINS SERIOUS, SAYS SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL
In Accra, Ghana, today, the Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Tony Banbury, held a joint press conference with the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power.
Mr. Banbury said that there has been a very significant mobilization of international personnel, resources and capabilities to work side-by-side with the governments, and that those efforts are starting to pay off.
- However, he stressed that the crisis remains very serious, with continuous needs to build more beds, get more foreign medical teams in place, build more community care centres, and have more safe burial teams and more community mobilization.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that Guinea is facing growing food insecurity due to the current Ebola crisis. Forest Guinea, the area of Guinea hardest hit by the virus, is experiencing the worst rates of food insecurity in the country.
- Families are increasingly turning to coping strategies, reducing the quality and frequency of meals. WFP has so far distributed food to 776,000 people since April in the most impacted countries - Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION REPORTS CLASHES IN UNITY STATE
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports continued heavy fighting in Unity State between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition combatants in the vicinity of its compound in Bentiu and nearby Rubkona. The Mission has also received reports of SPLA and Opposition troop movements around its base and in Rubkona.
- The UN Mission expresses its grave concern that hostilities continue in violation of the 23 January Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and the 9 May Agreement between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar. The Mission stresses the need for both parties to end all military operations immediately. The Mission further demands that all parties respect the inviolability of all UN assets and premises, including its protection of civilians sites.
U.N. CARRYING OUT ASSESSMENT MISSION IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO AFTER HUNDREDS REPORTED MISSING FOLLOWING HEAVY RAINS
- UN humanitarian staff and the UN Mission in the (MONUSCO) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are conducting a needs assessment mission in Kalehe, South Kivu province, after more than hundred people were reported missing following torrential rains last weekend.
- Some 775 houses, shops, health centres and schools have been destroyed, as well as several plantations according to initial reports.
U.N. AGENCIES WARN OF STEEP DROP IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warn today of significant declines in agricultural production in the Central African Republic.
- According to a new assessment, agriculture, the backbone of the economy, has contracted by 46 percent, compared to pre-crisis levels, due to widespread looting and insecurity.
- Livestock numbers are estimated to be down by as much as 77 percent, due to frequent raids and cattle-rustling, while the fish supply declined by about 40 percent.
NIGER REPORTS DOZENS OF CHOLERA DEATHS SINCE START OF 2014
- In Niger, according to Government figures, more than 1,400 cholera cases and 53 deaths have been registered since the beginning of this year. Almost half of the cases were declared in September. The Ministry of Public Health, supported by humanitarian partners, is providing assistance in affected areas as well as to communities at risk.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the situation in the south-eastern region of Diffa is particularly concerning, mostly due to limited access to water, inappropriate hygiene practices and increase in refugees arriving from Nigeria, where there has been a cholera outbreak. The Nigerien authorities estimate that since May 2013, 105,000 people from northern Nigeria have fled into Niger.
HEAD OF U.N. PALESTINE REFUGEE AGENCY THANKS MALALA YOUSAFZAI FOR DONATION TO REBUILD DAMAGED GAZA SCHOOL
- Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) wrote to Malala Yousufzai today to thank her for donating the $50,000 she received for winning this year’s “World's Children's Prize” to help rebuild an UNRWA school that was damaged during the recent fighting in Gaza.
- Mr. Krähenbühl said that recognition from someone who has campaigned valiantly for children’s rights would lift the spirits of a quarter of a million students at UNRWA schools in Gaza and boost the morale of the more than 9,000 teaching staff there. He added that the Relief and Works Agency shares Malala’s profound belief in the importance of education as a means to lift young girls and boys out of isolation, exclusion or oppression.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE, MIDDLE EAST
- The Security Council is holding closed consultations this morning to hear a briefing from the President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
- This afternoon, the Security Council will hold a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question, followed by a meeting and consultations to discuss the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF KICKS OFF CHINA VISIT
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos: she is beginning a three-day visit to China today. Ms. Amos, who also serves as Emergency Relief Coordinator, will meet senior Government officials and representatives of civil society and the UN family to discuss how to strengthen partnership with China on global humanitarian issues.
- Her visit will also provide key opportunities to learn from China’s experiences and expertise in disaster management in the region, as well as to engage with university students and philanthropists on humanitarian action.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN WING ON STANDBY TO SUPPORT SRI LANKA AFTER LANDSLIDES
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that heavy rains have caused landslides in Badulla in central Sri Lanka.
- The National Disaster Management Centre reports that at least 6 people have died, 300 people are missing and 150 houses are destroyed.
- OCHA is in close contact with this Centre and stands ready to support as requested.
- The Sri Lankan Red Cross Society has mobilized first aid teams, while the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health efforts to assist the affected communities.
***The guest at the noon briefing was John Ging, OCHA Operations Director, who briefed reporters on his recent trip to Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.