HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
FRIDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL EXTREMELY CONCERNED ABOUT GAZA, ISRAEL VIOLENCE, PLANS TO VISIT REGION SHORTLY
- The Secretary-General is extremely concerned about the continued violence in Gaza and Israel, and deeply worried by the rising cost in terms of civilian lives.
- He urgently appeals to all concerned to do everything under their command to stop this dangerous escalation and restore calm. Rocket attacks are unacceptable and must stop at once. Israel must exercise maximum restraint.
- The Secretary-General’s paramount concern is for the safety and well being of all civilians. All sides must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law in this regard. A new cycle of bloodshed will make neither Israelis nor Palestinians more secure. Nor will bloodshed open the door to negotiations that could achieve the two-state solution necessary to end such violence permanently.
- The Secretary-General has continued to speak with international and regional leaders and officials by telephone and in person as part of his efforts to call for restraint and push for an end to violence. As part of those efforts, he plans to visit the region shortly.
- Asked about the recommendations made by the panel headed by Justice Richard Goldstone, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s paramount concern for all civilians, both in Gaza and in Israel. He said that there was a need to restore calm and de-escalate the situation.
- Asked to specify which countries in the region would be visited, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General would visit the region shortly.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED BY SITUATION IN GAZA, SOUTHERN ISRAEL, URGES PARTIES TO “PULL BACK”
- Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed her concern about the unfolding situation in Gaza and southern Israel. She is appalled that once again civilians are losing their lives.
- The High Commissioner has repeatedly and unequivocally condemned the indiscriminate firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel, and is deeply concerned both by the recent major upsurge in the number of rocket attacks, and that they are now being aimed at a major city such as Tel Aviv. She is also extremely concerned by the sharp increase in aerial attacks by Israeli forces on the heavily populated Gaza Strip in the past two days. Ms Pillay urges both sides to pull back from an increasingly dangerous confrontation.
- The High Commissioner urges all sides involved to comply strictly with international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
D.R. CONGO: U.N. MISSION ON HIGH ALERT AFTER CLASHES BETWEEN M23 GROUP AND CONGOLESE ARMY
- On Thursday, clashes erupted between the M23 and the FARDC, the Congolese army, in the Kibumba area, 25 km north east of Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The United Nations has reports that the Congolese army repulsed the attack and that the situation in Kibumba today is calm but very tense.
- Unconfirmed reports indicate that the M23 sustained a high number of casualties in the clash. Humanitarian partners indicate that between 1,500 to 2,500 people may have fled the area as a result of the fighting.
- MONUSCO, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is on high alert and has deployed quick reaction teams in Goma and at the airport, as well as in Kibati, on the main road between Kibumba and Goma. The Mission's attack helicopters are also on standby.
- The Mission says the clash between the M23 and the Congolese army is the most serious incident since July.
PEOPLE RETURNING TO THEIR HOMES IN SOUTHERN YEMEN
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that growing numbers of internally displaced people are returning to their homes in southern Yemen.
- Over the past four months, the Agency, working with the Yemeni authorities, has helped more than 80,000 people go home, and further returns are proceeding. This is the first significant decline in displacement since May 2011, when fighting between Government troops and militants erupted in the south of Yemen.
- The decline in displacement follows the re-establishing of government authority in the southern province of Abyan in July, which was followed by demining in the area and improvements in security. Many of the returns have been from people returning to the south from Aden.
- Meanwhile, the Refugee Agency reports that more than 300,000 people are still displaced in northern Yemen from the conflict between Yemeni Government forces and al-Houthis. The lack of security continues to hinder returns there, while tribal clashes earlier this year generated over 6,000 new internally displaced people in the northern governorates.
U.N. SEES SHARP RISE OF NEW REFUGEES ARRIVING AT YIDA CAMP, SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that there is a sharp rise in new refugee arrivals at South Sudan's largest refugee settlement, Yida, in Unity State.
- Over the past week, 2,100 new refugees arrived in Yida, saying they were fleeing intensified fighting in their home region of South Kordofan in neighbouring Sudan.
- UNHCR says that more than 85 per cent of the new arrivals are women and children.
- The refugees have been through medical and nutritional screening and have received an emergency food ration, as well as other relief items such as jerry cans and kitchen sets, to help them settle.
- The Refugee Agency is also setting up a water point between Yida and the border to ensure access to drinking water, as it is expected that more people will be heading to Yida.
CAMBODIA: U.N. CONCERNED BY SOME ACTIONS BY AUTHORITIES, AHEAD OF A.S.E.A.N. SUMMIT
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, is concerned about the actions of the Cambodian authorities in the run up to this weekend’s summits in Phnom Penh.
- The UN Human Rights Office in Cambodia has monitored peaceful meetings of civil society groups from across the region discussing human rights issues. Many of these meetings have been closed down under pressure from the authorities.
- The Human Rights Office says that at least 60 people have been arbitrarily detained during an operation to 'sweep' Phnom Penh clean of street people prior to the arrival of heads of government for events related to the summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
*** The guest at today’s Noon Briefing was Margareta Wahlström, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
17 NOVEMBER – 23 NOVEMBER 2012
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 17 November
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Sunday, 18 November
Today is World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.
Monday, 19 November
This morning, the Security Council will have an open debate on piracy.
At 10:00 a.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a plenary meeting of the General Assembly on cooperation between the United Nations and regional and other organizations.
At 10:30 a.m., in Conference Room 2 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be the 346th meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 1 (NLB), the official closing of the International Year of Cooperatives on the theme “Promoting cooperatives beyond 2012” will start, ending on 20 November. It will be organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), in collaboration with the International Labour Organization, the Permanent Mission of Mongolia and Rabobank.
At 3:00 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (NLB), there will be a special high-level event on autism and disabilities. It will be organized by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh.
In Geneva, a special session of the Working Group on People of African Descent will begin. It will end on 23 November.
In London, there will be a press conference by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to launch its new report on Environmental Risk in Sovereign Credit.
Tuesday, 20 November
Today is Universal Children’s Day.
Today is Africa Industrialization Day.
At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), there will be a special meeting of the Counter-terrorism Committee on preventing and suppressing terrorist financing.
At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs on “Promoting Cooperatives Beyond 2012”.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to launch its new HIV Results report. The speaker will be Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director.
In Geneva, Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and Oksana Tarasova, WMO Scientific Officer, will release the annual WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin.
Wednesday, 21 November
Today is World Television Day.
This morning, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on Somalia piracy. Then the Council will hear a briefing on the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the DR Congo (MONUSCO), followed by consultations on MONUSCO and DRC sanctions.
At 11:00 a.m., in Conference Room 6 (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “Accelerating industrialization for boosting intra-African trade”. It will be co-organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA).
In London, there will be a press conference by UNEP to launch the latest edition of its Emissions Gap report. Speakers will include Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director, via video link.
Thursday, 22 November
Today is an official holiday at United Nations Headquarters in New York.
Friday, 23 November
In Geneva, there will be a presentation of the Least Developed Countries Report 2012 (Embargo 26 November at 5:00 p.m. GMT) by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Speakers will include Supachai Panitchpakdi, UNCTAD Secretary General.