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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

FRIDAY, 11 NOVEMBER 2011

PEACEKEEPING CHIEF CALLS ON SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN TO DE-ESCALATE CURRENT TENSIONS

  • This morning the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, briefed the Security Council on his recent visit to Sudan and South Sudan.

  • He stressed that the only course of action available is to recommit to a peaceful negotiated settlement of outstanding issues and to an immediate de-escalation of the current tensions.

  • He said that yesterday, the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, confirmed that the Sudan Armed Forces dropped at least two bombs near the Yida refugee camp and in the vicinity of an the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) camp along the Unity State/Southern Kordofan border, with unknown casualties. 

  • Mr Ladsous said the situation in Sudan and South Sudan is at a difficult juncture, with very low trust between the countries, heightened rhetoric, and mutual accusations of support to insurgencies in the territory of the other.

  • Tensions along the border may also flare up into serious violence during the migration period, particularly in the Abyei area where neither side has fully withdrawn.  It is absolutely imperative that both Governments take the necessary steps to de-escalate the situation, ensure that civilian lives are protected, and resume peaceful dialogue.

  • He also briefed the Council on Darfur.

  • The Special Representative for the Secretary-General in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, noted at the briefing that the United Nations Mission to South Sudan is currently relocating UN staff from the area where the bombings took place.

  • This afternoon at 3 pm the Secretary-General will brief the Council on his recent visit to Libya, and this will be followed by a briefing to the Council by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe.

HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION OF BOMBING IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has called for an investigation into yesterday’s aerial bombing in South Sudan. She said that the information available so far suggested that the bombing may amount to an international crime or serious human rights violation.

  • Pillay also expressed alarm about the fighting and indiscriminate attacks that are continuing to taking place just across the border in Sudan's Southern Kordofan State, and which have spilled over into neighbouring states. The Human Rights Chief urged the parties involved in the fighting to immediately cease all attacks on civilians.

  • The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, also condemned the bombing of Yida camp, which shelters more than 20,000 refugees. The agency says it is readying new refugee sites away from the border but that relocation has been hampered by heavy rains.

HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED ABOUT FREEDEOM OF EXPRESSION AND ASSOCIATION IN EGYPT

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed concern today about what it said appears to be a diminishing public space for freedom of expression and association in Egypt.

  • The Office said that the military trial and jailing of blogger and activist Alaa Abdel-Fatah, after his criticism of security forces’ handling of protests last month, is one such example of an egregious breach of the right to freedom of expression.

  • The Human Rights Office called on the interim authorities in Egypt to guarantee full respect for the freedom of expression, association and assembly, which are particularly crucial to ensure the free and fair conduct of the upcoming elections.

  • It also repeated its call for a repeal of the State of Emergency and the definite cessation of military trials of civilians and called for the release of Alaa Abdel-Fateh and all others who have been imprisoned for exercising their fundamental rights to free speech and association.

  • Asked about the UN’s examination of the overall situation in Egypt, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations has a country team in place there, with other UN teams visiting as needed. He said that the democratic transition in Egypt was Egyptian-led, with the United Nations on hand to provide assistance as requested.

  • He noted that many transitions are occurring, at different rates and in different ways, throughout the region.

  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s meeting with Amr Moussa, the former Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Spokesperson said that they discussed the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, including in Egypt.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY COMMENDS ITALY FOR RESCUE OPERATION

  • The UN Refugee Agency said that 44 people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were rescued by an Italian military vessel last night.

  • The Refugee Agency is grateful that the Italian navy took this initiative, despite the fact that the boat was in Maltese search and rescue waters. Prior to the rescue, the people had been on a boat which had been sending distress calls by satellite phone for two days.

  • The Refugee Agency had been alerted that relatives of some of the passengers onboard the boat called from a satellite phone on Tuesday evening. A full 48 hours later, the boat was rescued in the middle of the night.

  • The Agency said that this was the first boat originating from Libya that has arrived in Europe since August.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME CALLS FOR TOTAL ACCESS TO SYRIA TO DISTRIBUTE FOOD

  • Together with the humanitarian community, the World Food Programme (WFP) is calling for total access to Syria for the distribution of aid.

  • The Programme is concerned about Syrians’ access to basic food items, as well as to water, electricity and medical services.

  • Together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, food has already been provided to some 22,000 people.

  • The Programme seeks to distribute 50,000 packs of food – enough for one month – in November.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS JOHANNA BRANDT AS U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND DEPUTY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Johanna (Yoka) Brandt, a Dutch national, as Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).  Ms. Brandt will succeed Hilde Frafjord Johnson, who was appointed Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for South Sudan. 

  • Ms. Brandt brings to the position strong analytical skills and a deep commitment to working toward a more equitable and sustainable development as well as timely and effective emergency response to humanitarian disasters. She has worked extensively on developing and overseeing cooperation programmes and is an expert on development and emergency response issues. She has lived and worked in Uganda, Eritrea, Kenya and South Africa.

  • Since 2008, Ms. Brandt has served as the Director General for International Cooperation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and prior to that as Deputy Director-General. Until earlier this year, she was the chairperson of the Advisory Group of the Central Emergency Response Fund (OCHA). She has also served as the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Eritrea and Uganda.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS

12 – 18 NOVEMBER 2011

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 12 November

Today, the Secretary-General will depart for a three-country visit to South-East Asia, which will take him to Bangladesh, Thailand and Indonesia. A key purpose of his visit is to showcase the progress and leadership of these countries in advancing women’s and children’s health in the context of the “Every Woman Every Child” effort he initiated in 2010. He will conclude his trip in Bali with the fourth summit between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Sunday, 13 November

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 14 November

Today is World Diabetes Day [World Health Organization (WHO)].

This morning, the Security Council will be briefed on the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). In the afternoon, it will hold consultations on Myanmar and be briefed on the 1267/1989 (Al-Qaida), 1373 (Counter-Terrorism) and 1540 (nuclear, chemical or biological weapons) Committees.

Today, in Geneva, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG), will deliver the Secretary-General’s message to the Fourth Review Conference of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Today, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, will begin a visit to Senegal. Her mission ends on 22 November.

Tuesday, 15 November

This morning, the Security Council will hold an open debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the afternoon, it will receive a briefing and hold consultations on the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS).

Wednesday, 16 November

Today is the International Day of Tolerance.

This morning, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR). It will also hold consultations on the 1718 Committee (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) and on the 751/1907 Committees (Somalia/Eritrea).

At 11:00 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference on “Human Rights and Regional Development.” The speaker will be Dr. Javad Larijani, Iranian academic and politician. This event is sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations.

Thursday, 17 November

Today is World Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Day [WHO].

Today is World Philosophy Day [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)].

Friday, 18 November

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

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