HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
FRIDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2012
[There was no noon briefing on Friday. 23 November 2012. Highlights of news from around the UN system follow:]
U.N. MISSION: SITUATION IN EASTERN CONGO ALARMING, MISSION TRYING TO PREVENT FURTHER M23 ADVANCES
- The situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo remains alarming, according to the UN Mission in that country (MONUSCO). The M23 are now present in Sake, with reports indicating that they may be on the move toward Masisi territory, which is their stronghold.
- MONUSCO retains control of the Goma airport, and continues active patrols throughout the city. The Mission is also positioning itself to try to prevent further advances of the M23, including toward Bukavu. However, MONUSCO cannot act in substitute to the Congolese army and national security forces in directly confronting the M23.
- As part of its efforts to protect civilians, MONUSCO has extracted and airlifted some 76 people to safety to date. This includes individuals who were at risk of being targeted by the M23, many of whom sought refuge at MONUSCO bases, including Government authorities, magistrates, Congolese police, journalists and human rights defenders.
- MONUSCO has been actively monitoring and following up on reports of human rights violations in the context of the fighting. Though access by investigation teams remains difficult due to the security situation, MONUSCO is verifying a number of reports of civilians who may have been wounded, some killed, due to the recent fighting in Goma and Sake. There are also reports of targeted killings and health personnel being abducted by the M23. Reports of recruitment and abduction of children by the group continue.
- MONUSCO is especially focused on the protection of children in the context of the military attacks and advances by the M23 group. The Mission continues to receive reports about child recruitment by M23 in Sake and Goma.
- As part of the daily monitoring and reporting mechanism, MONUSCO continues, with partners, to investigate and follow-up on allegations of grave child rights violations. The Mission is also visiting hospitals to talk to children. MONUSCO is also prepared to receive and respond to the needs of any children who might surrender or escape from the M23 armed group.
- Many children have been separated from their families in past weeks while fleeing from areas overrun by M23, including Kibumba, Kibati and Munigi. MONUSCO is working with UNICEF and other partners to address the protection concerns and provide support to these children.
- MONUSCO is working to support the Government to address essential services for the population, in particular to urgently repair electricity infrastructure damaged during the M23 attacks in the Goma area.
SOME 140,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED IN AND AROUND GOMA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that initial estimates indicate that 140,000 persons are displaced in and around Goma and need food and other items. Some are staying in primary schools without basic facilities and power.
- Schools and banks remain closed. There are concerns that the ongoing developments in Sake could cut off food supplies from Masisi.
- Further assessments are underway and humanitarian partners are stepping up health care support to vulnerable populations, despite the extensive looting of health centres, including in the past few days between Goma and Sake.
- Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos called for the fighting to stop immediately and urged all parties to uphold their obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. This includes prohibiting attacks against civilians and ensuring safe and unhindered humanitarian access to people in need.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO VIENNA, ATTEND INAUGURATION OF CENTRE ON DIALOGUE
- The Secretary-General will travel to Vienna, Austria, later this weekend.
- He will meet with the President and Foreign Minister of the country and will also hold discussions with heads of several United Nations and international bodies present in Vienna, such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
- The Secretary-General will also attend the inauguration ceremony of the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue.
- He will be back in New York on Tuesday, 27 November.
FAMILIES IN GAZA RETURNING HOME AFTER GETTING SHELTER AT U.N. SCHOOLS
- Most of the families in Gaza who fled their homes and sought refuge in emergency shelters set up in the schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and others in recent days have now returned home. UNRWA schools are expected to re-open on Saturday.
- Key humanitarian priorities include: risk awareness activities and urgent removal of explosive remnants of war; ensuring treatment of the wounded; addressing the psychological impact on families, especially children; ensuring shelter needs are quickly addressed; replenishing food stocks; and rehabilitating critical infrastructure, including the damaged coastal bridge.
- The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the area, James Rawley, said that opening the crossings into the Gaza Strip in order to help the movement of people and essential supplies is critical at this time. However, it is also essential that the prevailing blockade is lifted, he added, saying that the people of Gaza cannot go back to the situation that existed before. The cycle of violence and de-development must end.
AFTER CEASEFIRE, HEAD OF UNESCO HOPES CHILDREN CAN RETURN TO SCHOOL QUICKLY
- The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomeD the ceasefire agreement reached in relation to the Gaza Strip and recalled that media and educational facilities should not be used either as targets or as shields for military purposes.
- She commended the efforts of all those who worked to achieve this ceasefire and said she hoped for the earliest restoration of a peaceful environment so that Israeli and Palestinian children can return to school.
- REFUGEE AGENCY HAS DELIVERED AID HELPING SOME 300,000 PEOPLE IN SYRIA
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has now delivered vital aid packages to some 60,300 families across Syria, benefiting more than 300,000 people. The goal is to provide such assistance to half a million people – or 100,000 families – by the end of this year.
- UNHCR aid deliveries so far this month have been made to Hassakeh, Aleppo, Homs and in and around Damascus.
- There have been a number of security incidents associated with the ongoing aid distribution, including the hijacking of three trucks during the last week of October and a fire in an Aleppo warehouse apparently caused by shelling.
- Across the region, meanwhile, the number of Syrian refugees in surrounding countries now stands at more than 440,000 – an increase of more than 213,000 since the beginning of September; and this figure does not include the hundreds of thousands more Syrians who did not come forward for registration.
REFUGEE AGENCY SENDS TENTS FOR PEOPLE NEEDING SHELTER IN MYANMAR’S RAKHINE STATE
- A first airlift of tents provided by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to the victims of recent violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state left Dubai this morning and was to arrive in Myanmar later in the day. This follows an appeal this week by the UN Refugee Agency and partner agencies for additional funds to cover humanitarian needs in the affected areas.
- The plane that left Dubai is the first of two planned flights for this weekend. Dubai is home to UNHCR's emergency stockpiles. In all 3,500 family-sized tents are being provided for 17,500 internally displaced people.
- Since the unrest erupted in June, UNHCR has already distributed over 500 tents from in-country stocks and 700 tents donated by the Korea International Cooperation Agency. But the shelter needs are immense, with renewed violence in late October bringing the number of IDPs in Rakhine state to more than 115,000.
HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER CONCERNED ABOUT EXECUTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, on Thursday expressed serious concern about the executions of 14 prisoners at the Pul-e-Charkhi prison on the outskirts of Kabul on 20 and 21 November. The last such execution in Afghanistan was carried out in June 2011.
- Deficiencies in Afghanistan’s judicial procedures raise serious concerns about the trials of those who were sentenced to death, she said.
- The United Nations has repeatedly raised concerns about the justice system in Afghanistan, particularly its routine failure to meet international fair trial standards and due process guarantees under Afghan law. Afghanistan’s justice system relies primarily on confessions, including some obtained through the use of torture.
OFFICE OF U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED ABOUT DECLARATION OF EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT: The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was very concerned about the possible huge ramifications of the declaration made recently by the President of Egypt for human rights and the rule of law. The Office also feared this may lead to a very volatile situation over the next few days.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
24 NOVEMBER – 30 NOVEMBER 2012
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 24 November
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Sunday, 25 November
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
Monday, 26 November
The Secretary-General will be in Vienna, Austria, today.
This morning, the Security Council will hold an open debate on working methods.
Tuesday, 27 November
This morning, the Security Council will receive a briefing and hold consultations on the Middle East. In the afternoon, it will hold a debate on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
In Geneva, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) will present its “Information Economy Report 2012 - The Software Industry and Developing Countries.”
Wednesday, 28 November
This morning, the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on sanctions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It will also receive a briefing on the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and hold consultations on the mission and on Sudan/South Sudan. In the afternoon, the Council will receive a briefing on Yemen and hold consultations on Western Sahara.
At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference with members of the Inter Campus Soccer Team.
At 3:15 p.m., a special event in observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on the theme, “A promise is a promise,” will be held in Conference Room 6 of the North Lawn Building (NLB). This event is being organized by UN Women.
Today in Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) will release its provisional annual statement on the state of the global climate in 2012.
Thursday, 29 November
Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.
At 9:00 a.m., the Security Council will hold consultations on Syria.
At 11:00 a.m., the Security Council will receive a briefing on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), followed by consultations on the same topic. In the afternoon, the Council will hold consultations on the 1701 report (Lebanon) and on the 1718 Committee (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea sanctions).
At 10:00 a.m., there will be a briefing on “Enhancing African peacekeeping training and research capacities for complex peace and security emergencies in Africa” in Conference Room 6 (NLB) by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC). This briefing is being organized by the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA).
In Geneva, the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) will launch the Landmine Monitor 2012 today.
Friday, 30 November
This morning, the Security Council will hold an open debate on women and peace and security (Resolution 1325).
At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Mr. Maged Abdelaziz, the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA).