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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 3 OCTOBER 2013  

SECRETARY-GENERAL: DEATHS OF AFRICAN MIGRANTS MUST SPUR ACTION

  • The Secretary-General spoke at a major meeting on international migration and development this morning. Before beginning his remarks, the Secretary-General offered his deep condolences for the dozens of African migrants who have died in the Mediterranean after their ship sank. He noted that this incident emphasizes the importance of the dialogue on migration and that we should take this tragedy as another spur to action.
  • The Secretary-General said that migration deserves and requires our concerted attention and we must make migration work for the benefit of migrants and countries alike.
  • He also said that we must do more to protect the human rights of all migrants and address the plight of stranded migrants as well as of those caught in conflicts or natural disasters.

U.N. REFUGEE CHIEF SHOCKED AT LAMPEDUSA BOAT TRAGEDY

  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, also expressed his shock at the news of this boat tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa.
  • Mr. Guterres expressed his dismay at the rising global phenomenon of migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea.
  • The UN Refugee Agency says that of the estimated 500 passengers on the boat, only 147 have been rescued so far. The boat, which had set sail from Libya, caught fire half a mile from the coast. The press release also says that today’s incident was the second boat disaster this week off Italy's coast.

SYRIA: U.N.-O.P.C.W. CHEMICAL WEAPONS TEAM MAKING ENCOURAGING INITIAL PROGRESS

  • The joint team from the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has made encouraging initial progress, following the first working day of meetings with Syrian authorities. Documents handed over yesterday by the Syrian Government look promising, according to team members, but further analysis, particularly of technical diagrams, will be necessary and some more questions remain to be answered.
  • The team hopes to begin onsite inspections and the initial disabling of equipment within the next week, but this depends on the outcome of the technical groups established with the participation of Syrian experts yesterday. These groups are working on three areas which are key to the mission’s success: verification of the information handed over by the Syrian Government; the safety and security of the inspection teams; and practical arrangements for implementing the plan, under which Syria’s chemical weapons material and equipment are to be eliminated by mid-2014.
  • Asked about the documents handed over by the Syrian Government, the Spokesperson said that these included technical diagrams. He added that the technical experts needed time to do their work in Damascus and to study very closely the material they were given.
  • Nesirky noted that there was good cooperation with the Syrian Government’s experts.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO TRAVEL TO D.R. CONGO, RWANDA, UGANDA AND ETHIOPIA

  • The 15 Members of the Security Council will depart New York this afternoon on a trip to the Great Lakes Region of Africa. The delegation will travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Uganda and Ethiopia.
  • One of the aims of this visit is to reiterate the Security Council’s support for the implementation of the commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region.
  • On its way to Africa, the delegation will stop in Brussels, where it will meet with the Political and Security Committee of the European Union.
  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Security Council delegation will meet in Kinshasa with senior Government officials, including President Joseph Kabila. On Sunday, it will depart to Goma, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There, members of the delegation will meet civil society representatives and visit a camp for internally displaced people. Then, they will travel to Kigali, Rwanda.
  • While in Kigali, the delegation will meet with President Paul Kagame. It will also visit the Gisozi Genocide Memorial Site and a demobilization centre for ex-combatants.
  • Then, the delegation will travel to Entebbe, Uganda, where it will meet with President Yoweri Museveni.
  • The last leg of the visit to the Great Lakes region will be Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. On Tuesday, 8 October, the Security Council delegation will meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and with the Peace and Security Council of the African Union.
  • The delegation will return to New York on Wednesday, 9 October.

U.N. ENVOY BUOYED BY INTERNATIONAL FOCUS ON AFGHANISTAN

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan said today that that he is encouraged that the attention of the international community – including the Security Council – remains focused on the country.
  • Speaking to reporters in Kabul today, Ján Kubiš said that in a meeting last month, Council members highly praised Afghanistan’s progress in preparing for forthcoming elections.
  • He said, this has strengthened the resolve of the international community to continue with their long-term support for the country.

MALDIVES: U.N. CONTINUES TO FOLLOW SITUATION FOLLOWING POLL DELAY

  • In response to earlier questions about the UN role in the Maldives, the Spokesperson said that we continue to follow the situation in the Maldives with concern in light of the mounting tension in the country following the postponement of the second round of its presidential election.
  • The Secretary-General has issued several statements recently urging all Maldivians to exercise restraint, renew their commitment to the constitution and rule of law, and work towards creating enabling conditions for peaceful, credible run-off elections to take place as soon as possible. 
  • Furthermore, and at the Secretariat’s initiative, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Maldives yesterday, under other matters, during its consultations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about an attack on the Russian embassy in Libya, the Spokesperson said that, as with any attack on diplomatic premises, these are unacceptable and that diplomatic premises should be inviolable.
  • The global supply of cereal this year will surpass the 2012 level by nearly eight per cent, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported today, as it also announced a drop in global food prices for the fifth consecutive month. In its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, FAO said the increase is mainly the result of an 11 per cent anticipated expansion in coarse grains output. The report coincides with the release of the agency’s monthly index, showing a drop in global food prices for the fifth straight month.