HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 4 NOVEMBER 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS MALI WITH WORLD BANK PRESIDENT
- The Secretary-General was travelling to Bamako, Mali, where he will start a joint visit to the Sahel with the World Bank, the African Union, the European Union and the African Development Bank.
- Earlier on Monday, we issued a note to correspondents in which the Secretary-General said that the cycle of crises in the sub-region could be broken. He underlined the importance of working together and investing in governance, security, resilience and opportunity for women and young people, in order to help the Sahel move from fragility to sustainability.
- Important financial pledges were also announced on Monday by the World Bank and the European Union.
- In the coming days, he will visit Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.
ENVOYS FOR GREAT LAKES REGION URGES M23 TO RENOUNCE REBELLION
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region Mary Robinson and his Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler, together with the Envoys of the African Union, the European Union, and the United States expressed their concern about renewed fighting between the M23 and the armed forces of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- In a joint statement, the Envoys took note of the M23’s announcement of a cessation of hostilities and said it was a first and necessary step to peace. They also urged the M23 to renounce its rebellion as already agreed.
- The Envoys further called upon the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to refrain from further military action at this stage.
- The Envoys recognized the substantial progress in the Kampala dialogue and urged both parties to remain committed to seeing the political process through to a final agreement.
- Asked about recent reports of clashes, the Spokesperson said that fighting has continued on Monday despite M23’s declaration yesterday on the cessation of hostilities.
- He said that the UN Mission, MONUSCO, confirms that four mortar shells were fired this morning by M23 in Bunagana, which killed four people, including Congolese Armed Forces soldiers, and wounded ten others.
- MONUSCO can also confirm that the Congolese Armed Forces are now in full control of Mbuzi Hill and maintain pressure around M23 remnants on Runyioni and Chanzu hills.
- The UN Mission is strengthening measures concerning its protection of civilians mandate on the Kiwanja-Rutshuru-Bunanga axis.
U.N. REPRESENTATIVE CALLS ON FIGHTERS OF LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY TO STOP ACTIVITIES
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Abou Moussa, and the African Union Special Envoy for the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), Francisco Madeira, called on the fighters of the Lord's Resistance Army to stop their activities and return to normal life.
- In a press release issued following a recent joint mission to the Central African Republic and the Republic of South Sudan, the two Envoys called upon the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, to lay down his arms.
SYRIA: JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE TO MEET WITH DELEGATES FROM RUSSIA AND U.S. IN GENEVA
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will meet in Geneva on Tuesday with Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov and United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. That meeting will be followed the same day by a meeting that includes the other three Permanent Members of the Security Council.
- Asked when the Geneva II conference might be held, the Spokesperson said it was for the Secretary-General to announce a date for the Geneva II conference when it is appropriate to do so.
- He said that it was imperative for the conference to take place and for the fighting to stop, noting the daily toll of the conflict on the Syrian people. Some 2.5 million people in Syria are unreachable because of fighting and denial of access to humanitarian workers, he said.
- Asked about Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the Joint OPCW-UN Mission in Syria, Haq said that she was expected to speak to the Security Council on Tuesday morning and to talk to reporters afterward.
YEMEN: U.N. ADVISOR HELPS BROKER AGREEMENT TO ALLOW RED CROSS TO ACCESS DAMMAJ
- Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, has helped broker an agreement to allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to have access to Dammaj – a town in the northern governorate of Sa’ada – in order to bring in medical and other supplies and evacuate the wounded. Dammaj has been the centre of clashes between Houthi and Salafi armed groups for the past several weeks, which has recently escalated, resulting in dozens killed and injured.
- Mr. Benomar has been closely following the conflict in and around Dammaj, and he has been in close communication with President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, the Minister of Defence, and Houthi and Salafi leaders in Dammaj and elsewhere.
- He has pressed all concerned to implement an immediate cease-fire and to allow unfettered humanitarian access into the area. He also has urged them to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue to reach a sustainable solution to the conflict in the area.
U.N. REPRESENTATIVE CONDEMNS ATTACKS AGAINST POLLING STATIONS IN NORTHERN KOSOVO
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Farid Zarif, strongly condemned yesterday’s attacks against polling stations in northern Kosovo, calling them “utterly deplorable”.
- Following the recent wave of violence during the election process, several polling stations in northern Kosovo were vandalised and individuals present were attacked.
- Mr. Zarif has said that these criminal actions were intended to prevent the population from exercising their democratic right to vote. He also said that these acts of hooliganism have no place in democratic societies and their perpetrators must be urgently held to account.
- Asked about the weekend violence, the Spokesperson noted that, according to reports by the UN Mission, the elections went largely peacefully across Kosovo, with some 48 per cent turnout reported.
- However, there were also attacks on three polling centres in north Mitrovica (in northern Kosovo) toward the end of the day, which led to the closure of these polling centres. There were no casualties reported, except injuries to the election staff.
- At present, Haq said, the situation in north appears to be calm, according to UNMIK.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR NOVEMBER
- The Security Council this morning adopted its programme of work for November, in its first consultations under China’s Council Presidency.
- Council members then heard an update on the humanitarian situation in Syria from the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos.
U.S. AUTHORITIES ASSURE U.N. COMMUNICATIONS NOT MONITORED, SAYS U.N. SPOKESPERSON
- Asked about media reports alleging that the US National Security Agency (NSA) had intercepted UN communications, the Spokesperson recalled that, in August, when these reports first surfaced, the UN Secretariat had made clear that it would be in touch with the relevant authorities, and it did that.
- He said that the US authorities have given assurances that United Nations communications are not and will not be monitored.
- Asked about other reports alleging bugging by another Member States, he said that the inviolability of diplomatic missions, including the United Nations and other international organizations, whose functions are protected by the relevant international conventions like the Vienna Convention, has been well-established international law.
- Therefore, Member States are expected to act accordingly to protect the inviolability of diplomatic missions.
U.N. SPOKESPERSON CONFIRMS NO FORMAL COMMUNICATION ON SAUDI ARABIA’S SECURITY COUNCIL SEAT: Asked about reports that Saudi Arabia may withdraw from its Security Council seat, the Spokesperson reiterated that nothing has been received formally from Saudi Arabia on that matter.
U.N. CALLS FOR DETAINEES IN EGYPT TO BE TRIED OR ELSE RELEASED: Asked about trial proceedings for Mohammed Morsi in Egypt, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations had called for those who were detained to be tried or else be released, and he stressed the need for due process.