HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 13 NOVEMBER 2013
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WITNESSES DEVASTATION IN PHILIPPINES, IN WAKE OF TYPHOON
- UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos visited the city of Tacloban in the Philippines today and saw the total devastation left in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.
- Ms. Amos noted that tens of thousands of people are in the open and in destroyed buildings, and that medical facilities, food, clean water and basic sanitation are still widely unavailable.
- She said that the priority for humanitarian agencies for the coming days will be transporting food, tents, body bags and other items, as well as putting in place a service to trace families.
- Ms. Amos said that she had again been struck by the resilience of the Filipino people.
- She will address the press in Manila on Thursday.
- Ms. Amos has emphasized that she commends the Philippines Government on their relief efforts so far, under extremely challenging circumstances, and hopes the international community will give generously to the humanitarian response.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) today distributed rice and other items to nearly 50,000 people in the Tacloban area. The Programme is working closely with the Government to bring in food and other items by air, road and sea, but it notes that logistics are a challenge.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners said today that while it is getting people and supplies into the Philippines in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, reaching people in need remains a challenge.
- WHO is supporting the Government of the Philippines in coordinating the deployment of international medical teams. To date, nine teams from countries such as Australia, Germany and Japan have confirmed that they are en route or have arrived in the country. Two of the teams are positioned in Tacloban and all are self-sufficient, having their own hospital tents, supplies to perform surgeries, medicine and fuel.
- Asked further about humanitarian aid in the Philippines, the Spokesperson said that there is a tremendous effort, both by the Philippines authorities and the international community, to get aid to where it is needed. Not enough is happening quickly enough, he added, given the vast number of people who need assistance.
- He noted that the roads to Tacloban are blocked and need to be cleared. That work is beginning, but for now, helicopters are needed to bring aid to areas that trucks and other vehicles still cannot reach.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO ASSISTS IN RESTORING STATE AUTHORITY IN LIBERATED AREAS
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, has helped redeploy 200 Congolese police to areas liberated from the M23 rebel group.
- Speaking to the press on Tuesday in Goma, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the country, Martin Kobler, said that this part of the Mission’s efforts to assist the Government in restoring state authority.
- He also said that the UN Mission was committed to support the aerial transportation of a further 300 police officials from the Légion Nationale to North Kivu. In addition, some 900 police officials from other areas will be deployed to Kiwanja, Rutshuru, Rumangabo and other liberated areas.
- The Mission will also create UN police posts in Kiwanja, Masisi, in the next days, to support the activities of the national police.
- Mr. Kobler also reiterated that the Mission’s mandate was to neutralize all armed groups, not only the M23.
- He insisted that these armed groups should join the political process and emphasized the importance of continuing this process – as stressed by the group of special envoys on the Great Lakes Region in the last days.
U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY CONCERNED OVER ISRAELI SETTLEMENT ANNOUNCEMENTS
- The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, said that he has been following with growing concern the series of settlement announcements made by Israel over the past weeks, which cannot be reconciled with the goal of a negotiated two-state solution. He once more reiterated the UN position that settlements are against international law and an obstacle to peace.
- Mr. Serry met today separately with the Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. He understands from his discussion with chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and other Israeli officials that yesterday’s decision to plan a large number of settlement units has been stopped.
- The Special Coordinator is also deeply concerned by recent violent incidents, which he condemns. At this sensitive moment, it is imperative to avoid negative actions and support talks to preserve the remaining chances of achieving a two-state solution in the interest of Israelis and Palestinians alike.
U.N. COORDINATOR FOR LEBANON VISITS SYRIAN REFUGEES
- The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, visited Zahleh and Joub Jennin in the Western Bekaa Valley today to examine the conditions of the Syrian refugees and the local communities hosting them.
- The Special Coordinator met with representatives from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and other international humanitarian organizations in Zahleh who briefed him on the efforts to ensure that the necessary support is available through the coming winter season. Those efforts began at the start of this month.
- Mr. Plumbly said that he hoped for a political solution to the crisis in Syria that would enable the refugees to return to their homes.
SECRETARY-GENERAL RECEIVED LETTER FROM SAUDI ARABIA ON SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson confirmed that the Secretary-General received a letter yesterday from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia concerning its Security Council seat. This is a matter for the Member States to consider.
- He noted that, as the Secretary-General said last month, he is looking forward to working very closely in addressing many important challenges with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, particularly to bring an end to the war in Syria, to help Palestinian people to achieve a viable State, and to help the current transition in Yemen.
- Nesirky noted that the Saudi Ambassador, in his letter, talked about the importance of working with the United Nations and he added the Secretary-General would concur.
- Asked about precedents for the Saudi action, the Spokesperson recalled that there have been other incidents in different circumstances where countries have not taken up Security Council seats.
EGYPT: SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED FOR POLITICAL INCLUSION, HUMAN RIGHTS AND RULE OF LAW
- In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, the Secretary-General took note of the expiration of the state of emergency in Egypt earlier in the day. He stressed the importance of respect for peaceful protest and freedom of assembly, and a commitment to dialogue and non-violence.
- He noted the heightened debate in Egypt on a draft law regulating protest and stressed that international human rights standards should form the basis of any new legislation.
- The Secretary-General continues to underscore the need for political inclusion, respect for human rights, including of those in detention, and the rule of law as the basis for a peaceful, democratic transition in Egypt.
AFGHANISTAN: OPIUM POPPY CULTIVATION HITS RECORD LEVELS THIS YEAR
- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today welcomed the completion of the latest phase of voter registration. An additional three million Afghans are now registered to take part in the Presidential and Provincial Council elections next April.
- The Mission said that Afghan-led and Afghan-managed elections are at the very heart of the country’s political transition, and it also reiterated the importance of public participation in order to ensure transparent, credible and inclusive elections.
- Also on Afghanistan, a new survey launched jointly by the country’s Government and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) found that opium poppy cultivation rose to record levels this year, with a 36 per cent increase compared to last year.
- The head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, called the findings sobering and underscored the need for an integrated, comprehensive response to the drug problem, embedded in a long-term security, development and institution-building agenda.
2013 TO BE AMONG TOP TEN WARMEST YEARS – WORLD METEOROLOGICAL ORGANIZATION
- The year 2013 is currently on course to be among the top ten warmest years since modern records began in 1850, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The first nine months, January to September, tied with 2003 as the seventh warmest such period on record, with a global land and ocean surface temperature of about 0.48°C (0.86°F) above the 1961–1990 average.
- WMO’s provisional annual statement on the Status of the Global Climate 2013, released on Wednesday at the United Nations climate change conference in Warsaw, Poland, provides a snapshot of regional and national temperatures.
- The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Michel Jarraud, said that temperatures so far this year are about the same as the average during 2001-2010, which was the warmest decade on record.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MONITORING PROCEEDINGS ON I.C.C. IN SECURITY COUNCIL: Asked about African Union views concerning the International Criminal Court’s case involving Kenya, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General would monitor proceedings on that matter in the Security Council.
ALL JOURNALISTS SHOULD BE FREE TO GO ABOUT THEIR WORK: Asked about the recent treatment of journalists in Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that journalists should be free to carry out their work unhindered, including at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.