HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2013
HUMAN ACTIVITIES DRIVE CLIMATE CHANGE, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS AT U.N. CONFERENCE IN WARSAW
- The Secretary-General is in Warsaw and took part in the opening of the high-level part of the UN climate change conference there.
- He said the science is clear that human activities are the dominant cause of climate change and that the consequences are profound. He said he was inviting world leaders to a climate change summit in New York on 23 September next year, the day before the General Debate begins.
- In Warsaw, the Secretary-General has also had a range of meetings on climate change, including with the Group of 77 and China and the European Union.
- The Secretary-General spoke to reporters and, earlier in the day, the Secretary-General met with the Polish President.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS TERRORIST BOMBING NEAR IRANIAN EMBASSY IN SYRIAN CAPITAL
- In a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General issued today, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the terrorist bombing near the Iranian embassy in the Bir Hassan neighbourhood of Beirut which killed at least twenty-three civilians, including reportedly one Iranian diplomat, and injured over a hundred others. He extends his condolences to the families of those killed, as well as to the Government of Lebanon and to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. He extends his sympathies to those injured.
- The Secretary-General calls on all in Lebanon to recognise that such appalling and indiscriminate acts of violence target all in Lebanon. He urges all Lebanese parties to act with restraint and to support the institutions of the state, and particularly the security forces, as they seek to prevent further acts of terrorism.
- The Secretary-General hopes that those responsible for this attack will be brought to justice expeditiously. He reiterates the determination of the international community to support Lebanon’s security and stability.
- The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, met with the Caretaker Prime Minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati, and said that the attack underlines yet again the importance of all parties in Lebanon and of the international community coming together in support of security and stability in the country.
- The Security Council also issued a press statement strongly condemning the attack.
SOME 6,000 PEOPLE HAVE FLED SYRIA’S QARAH INTO EASTERN LEBANON – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that an estimated 6,000 people have fled their homes in Qarah, Syria, making their way over the border into eastern Lebanon. Humanitarian partners have been on the ground in Lebanon since last Friday working with the Ministry of Social Affairs and local authorities to cope with this influx.
- Most of the newly arrived refugees are now in Arsal, in north-east Lebanon. More than 1,000 of the newly arrived Syrian families there have registered with the local municipality in the past three days and have been provided with emergency assistance.
- The Refugee Agency and its partners are doing all they can to ensure that temporary locations are protected against the elements and can provide some warmth to the refugees.
- Asked about the peace process, the Spokesperson noted that the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, was to meet later this month with US and Russian officials in Geneva to take stock of progress. Meanwhile, work is continuing to hold an international conference for Syria in Geneva by mid-December.
- Asked about allegations of human rights violations against the Syrian opposition, Haq said that the United Nations has repeatedly called on all sides to halt atrocities against civilians and has drawn attention to the need for accountability.
- Asked about support for the work of the chemical weapons team from the UN and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Haq said that, as we enter the most difficult and dangerous phase of the operation, the full and sustained support of the international community remains essential. In this regard, the Secretary-General welcomes the generous pledges made by Member States and looks forward to continued support.
- He noted that Syria had submitted a plan on the destruction of its chemical weapons that had been approved last Friday by the OPCW Executive Council. That plan would entail the destruction of some chemical weapons outside Syria.
MIDDLE EAST TALKS REACH ‘DELICATE’ MOMENT, U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, briefed the Security Council this morning on developments in the Middle East.
- He said that, four months since their resumption, the talks between Israelis and Palestinians have reached a delicate moment. On the positive side, it appears that the negotiators have been engaging on substance and have gone some way towards narrowing their differences. But strains have been growing dangerously between the parties, and these can and must be overcome.
- Mr. Feltman also discussed Syria, and said that more fighting will bring nothing but further suffering and despair for the Syrian people. It is past time to move to a political process.
- He also reiterated the Secretary-General's call for stemming the flow of arms and foreign fighters to Syria as well as his commitment to deliver humanitarian assistance to all in need in Syria and in neighbouring countries.
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF NOTES PROGRESS IN SCALING UP AID IN WAKE OF TYPHOON HAIYAN
- UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos today visited Tacloban City and Guiuan on the far eastern coast of Samar province in the Philippines. She noted that major progress has been made in clearing rubble and debris from the roads and that the aid operation in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan has been scaled up substantially.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that as of today, the Government of the Philippines reports that 13 million people having been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, with 4 million people having been displaced by the disaster.
- Ms. Amos said that a massive relief operation has been mounted by the international community in support of the Government, and that it will need to be sustained over the coming weeks and months.
- She added that Government efforts, supported by the international community, are paying off, but it is clear that much more will be needed to respond to a crisis of this magnitude and help families recover.
- The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, visited the Philippines yesterday. The Programme has so far delivered enough food for nearly 2 million people, in partnership with the Government.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) says that there are currently 31 Filipino medical teams and 22 international teams in the affected areas. WHO says that the medical community faces a twin challenge in the Philippines: most people going to health centres are those who are injured, while there are also a number of people with non-communicable diseases, women who are pregnant or have just given birth, or those needing treatment for tuberculosis or diabetes.
- For its part, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that thousands of typhoon survivors from Tacloban and other areas have sought refuge in surrounding areas or as far away as Cebu and Manila. The Agency and its partners will set up a service at the airport in Tacloban on Wednesday to collect information on the uprooted to prevent trafficking incidents.
U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE VOICES CONCERN OVER LIBYA VIOLENCE
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said today that it is deeply concerned by violent incidents which started last Friday in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and have left more than 40 people dead and hundreds others injured.
- The Office condemns the use of violence against peaceful demonstrators. It calls upon the Libyan authorities to launch a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into the violent incidents and to ensure that those found responsible for unlawful killings and other human rights abuses are brought to justice.
- The Office also urges all sides to exercise the utmost restraint to avoid the escalation of violence and engage in peaceful dialogue.
DARFUR ENVOY URGES TRIBAL LEADERS TO RESOLVE CONFLICTS THROUGH DIALOGUE
- The African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, addressed about 200 tribal leaders from all localities in South Darfur today. He urged them to embrace the principle of resolving conflicts through dialogue, negotiations and other peaceful means and to guard against repeating the same patterns that have caused so much suffering in the region.
- He also expressed concern about the tribal violence that has affected the civilian population and has contributed to an increase in the number of displaced persons in various camps around Darfur. He said that after 10 years of conflict and much suffering, it must be clear to everyone that there can be no viable military solution to the conflict in Darfur.
- The tribal leaders are attending a two-day conference in Nyala, sponsored by the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), which aims to discuss the root causes of tribal conflict, map them and recommend possible solutions for sustainable peaceful coexistence in the region.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had submitted a report to the Security Council concerning different options on how to deal with the deteriorating situation in the Central African Republic, including some that involved redeploying other regional or UN forces. He said it would be up to the Security Council to determine which option to take.
- Asked about an incident involving an errant comment by a UN interpreter last week, the Spokesperson said that the matter has been resolved.