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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 EDUARDO DEL BUEY
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

MONDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2012

IN YEMEN, SECRETARY-GENERAL MARKS FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF TRANSITION PROCESS, MEETS LEADERS

  • The Secretary-General has arrived in Cairo earlier today.
  • The Secretary-General flew from Sana’a, where he just spent the day to mark the forthcoming first anniversary of the conclusion of the Yemen peace and transition agreement and to lend his personal support to that transition process.
  • In his remarks at the ceremony for this first anniversary, the Secretary-General said that only a year ago, Yemen had come perilously close to widespread conflict but that now calm had returned to most parts of the country.
  • He said that Yemen still faced profound challenges and that transitions anywhere were difficult.
  • The Secretary-General said that Yemen was now launching a highly important national dialogue process. The Secretary-General said this needed to be open to all and that women must exercise a prominent and meaningful role in any process of change. He said the views and aspirations of Yemen’s young people also needed to be taken into account.
  • During his visit, the Secretary-General also held a series of meetings with Yemeni leaders, including President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi and the Prime Minister, the entire cabinet, the military committee and the Preparatory Committee for the National Dialogue. This brings together a broad cross-section of Yemeni society. He also spoke to reporters.
  • In Cairo this evening, the Secretary-General has a working dinner with the Foreign Minister. He is also expected to meet during this visit the President and the Prime Minister and also the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. He will also be meeting with the Deputy Joint Special Representative for Syria.
  • As the Secretary-General said in his statement over the weekend, he has travelled to the region to add his support to the Egyptian-led efforts to reach an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza/Southern Israel situation.

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY URGES PARTIES TO COOPERATE WITH EGYPT-LED EFFORTS FOR CEASEFIRE IN MIDDLE EAST

  • In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General expressed his sadness at the reported deaths of more than ten members of the Dalu family, including women and children, and additional Palestinian civilians killed as a result of the ongoing violence in the Gaza strip. 
  • He also expressed alarm at the continuing firing of rockets against Israeli towns, which has killed several Israeli civilians, adding that this must stop. He strongly urged the parties to cooperate with all efforts led by Egypt to reach an immediate cease fire. Any further escalation will inevitably increase the suffering of the affected civilian populations and must be avoided.
  • The Secretary-General is now in the region and he is there to appeal personally for ending the violence and contribute to ongoing efforts to that end.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Spokesperson traveling with the Secretary-General said that was the plan.
  • Asked where the Secretary-General would travel in the coming days, the Spokesperson said that he would go to Jerusalem and Ramallah. In response to a question, he added that the Secretary-General would not go to Gaza.
  • He said that the main priority of the trip was to support efforts to end the fighting in Gaza and Southern Israel and reach a cease-fire as soon as possible. The Secretary-General wants to add his diplomatic weight to the diplomatic efforts that are proceeding in Cairo.
  • To that end, the Secretary-General would meet this evening with the Egyptian Foreign Minister and would meet with the President on Tuesday.
  • Asked about attacks on journalists in Gaza, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has made clear that journalists need to be able to go about their work without fear of attack.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General would discuss the wider Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Spokesperson said that the main point would be to secure a cease-fire. The violence has made it more difficult to achieve the two-State solution and move forward with the Middle East peace process.

D.R. CONGO: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES HIS PERSONAL COMMITMENT TO RESOLVE CRISIS IN THE EAST

  • In a statement issued on Sunday, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the resumption of hostilities by the M23 in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. He calls on the M23 to immediately cease its attacks and any further military advances toward the city of Goma in North Kivu. The Secretary-General calls on all relevant States to use their influence on the M23 to bring about an immediate end to the attacks. The Secretary-General emphasized his personal commitment to supporting efforts to resolve the crisis and encourages enhanced dialogue between the relevant parties toward this end.
  • He added that the UN Mission, MONUSCO, will remain present in Goma and will continue all efforts to robustly implement its mandate to the fullest of its capabilities with regard to the protection of civilians. He emphasises that any actions to undermine or target MONUSCO will not be tolerated.
  • In a statement on Saturday evening, the members of the Security Council also strongly condemned the resumption of attacks by the M23 and demand their immediate cessation as well as the cessation of any further advances towards the city of Goma. They demanded that any and all outside support and supply of equipment to the M23 cease immediately.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s phone calls, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had spoken to the Presidents of Rwanda and Uganda and to the Foreign Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Asked about responsibility for the attacks, the Deputy Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General and the Security Council both called for M23 to halt their attacks.

SYRIA JOINT REPRESENTATIVE VISITS QATAR, OMAN AND U.A.E.

  • The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, attended the Sir Bani Yas Forum, in the United Arab Emirates, over the weekend
  • On the margins of the Forum, he met on Saturday with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the UAE, HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
  • On Sunday, he met in Muscat with the Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs of Oman, HE Mr. Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.
  • Today, he was received in audience in Doha by the Emir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani.
  • In all his meetings, the Joint Special Representative discussed the Syrian crisis.

SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON PIRACY AND ARMED ROBBERY AT SEA

  • The Security Council began a meeting this morning on piracy and armed robbery at sea, and the Deputy Secretary-General briefed Council members on the Secretary-General’s annual report on piracy off the coast of Somalia.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General, speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, told the Council that piracy and armed robbery affects the freedom of shipping and the safety of vital shipping lanes that carry about 90 per cent of the world’s trade.
  • According to the latest reports from the International Maritime Organization, there were 291 attacks against ships in the first ten months of 2012. Pirates are still holding 293 seafarers hostage. 
  • The latest report of the Secretary-General notes a sharp decline in pirate attacks in waters off the coast of Somalia in 2012 compared to 2011.  However, the Deputy Secretary-General, these gains can be easily reversed if we do not address the causes of piracy.
  • Consultations then took place on the situation in the Middle East and the Question of Palestine. The piracy meeting will resume in the afternoon.

MEDICAL ASSISTANCE TO WOUNDED COMBATANTS IS PART OF DARFUR MISSION’S MANDATE

  • In response to questions about recent fighting in Darfur, the Deputy Spokesperson said that, following the fighting, the UN-African Union Mission (UNAMID) airlifted, upon request, injured combatants from its team site to El Fasher for further treatment.
  • The provision of medical assistance to wounded combatants is a core requirement of international humanitarian law, which falls under UNAMID’s mandate. The Deputy Spokesperson added that, in the past, the Mission has provided such medical assistance to wounded combatants from both sides, with due respect to the principles of neutrality and impartiality.