HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 6 NOVEMBER 2013
WHILE IN NIGER, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON LEADERS IN THE SAHEL TO GIVE WOMEN A VOICE IN DECISION-MAKING
- The Secretary-General left Bamako for Niamey, in Niger, on Wednesday morning. He is traveling with the heads of the African Union Commission, World Bank, African Development Bank and the European Union Commissioner for Development.
- Together, they met with the President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou. They then had a larger meeting with the President, the Prime Minister and members of the cabinet.
- Later, the President of Niger also made a "Call for Action" for improvements in women's reproductive health and girls' education, to which the UN and World Bank responded. The Secretary-General said that, throughout his visit to the Sahel, he was calling on leaders to listen to girls and women, hear their needs and concerns and give women a voice in decision-making. And he asked men to speak out for gender equality.
- The Secretary-General also met with the Speaker of the National Assembly and addressed a plenary session of the Assembly. He said the UN was in the country to help Niger in its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and underlined Niger's role in facing the challenges of the Sahel.
- He also offered his condolences to the families of the migrants who died in the Sahara last week, saying that we must bring their traffickers to justice and address the problems that pushed them to leave.
- Asked about the countries the Secretary-General is visiting on his current travel, the Spokesperson said they were Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad.
JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SYRIA SAYS GOAL IS TO HOLD GENEVA II CONFERENCE BEFORE END OF YEAR
- Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, concluded a series of meetings in Geneva on Tuesday – first, involving the United Nations, the Russian Federation and the United States; then with all five permanent members of the Security Council; and then with Syria’s bordering countries: Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. Finally, there was a meeting with representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the humanitarian agencies of the United Nations.
- Mr. Brahimi said that we are still striving to see if we can have the Geneva II conference before the end of the year. He said that the Secretary-General is impatient to get this conference going. And he added that, in January, the Secretary-General will have a second pledging conference for Syria, to be held in Kuwait, and he asked for donors to be generous.
- Asked about the prospects for holding the Geneva II conference, the Spokesperson said that it was a complex task, and that the Secretary-General and Mr. Brahimi remained determined to arrange for a conference before the end of this year.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General was disappointed by the outcome of Tuesday’s talks, Haq reiterated that, as Mr. Brahimi noted, the Secretary-General was impatient for a conference to be held, since that is needed by the Syrian people.
- Asked how the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles will take place, he said that the Executive Council of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was to consider the plan submitted by Syria by 15 November.
- Asked about a shooting incident involving the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the Spokesperson said that shots were fired at an UNDOF convoy near one of the peacekeepers’ positions, and the UN force protested that firing. There were no UN injuries.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON D.R. CONGO
- The Security Council held consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Wednesday morning. Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country, and Mary Robinson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, briefed the Council by videoconference on the recent developments in eastern Congo.
- Asked about further actions by MONUSCO, Haq said that Martin Kobler had made clear that other irregular armed groups must also disarm.
U.N. SAYS FIGHTING IN NORTHERN YEMEN HAS CUT OFF HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE TO THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that fighting between al-Houthis and Salafists in northern Yemen has cut off humanitarian assistance to thousands of civilians in the town of Dammaj.
- Access to the area is limited but reports indicate that three villages have run short of food, water and medicine.
- On 4 November, the International Committee of the Red Cross evacuated 23 wounded people from Dammaj but said there were others left in the town. Aid agencies are concerned for some 29,000 people living in the Dammaj area.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs adds that more than a million children under the age of 5 in Yemen are acutely malnourished, and nearly 300,000 suffer from severe acute malnutrition.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ALARMED AT SENTENCING TO DEATH OF 152 PARAMILITARY PERSONNEL IN BANGLADESH
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed serious alarm at the sentencing to death in Bangladesh of 152 paramilitary personnel after mass trials that she said fell far short of international human rights standards.
- Those sentenced to death were convicted of crimes, including murder and sexual assault, during a mutiny in February 2009.
- Navi Pillay said that these crimes were utterly reprehensible and heinous, but that justice will not be achieved by conducting mass trials of hundreds of individuals, torturing suspects in custody and sentencing them to death after trials that failed to meet the most fundamental standards of due process.
U.N. METEOROLOGICAL AGENCY SAYS GREENHOUSE GASES REACHED NEW RECORD HIGH LAST YEAR
- The amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high last year, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
- The Organization’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin finds that between 1990 and 2012 there was a 32 per cent increase in the warming effect on our climate.
- The Bulletin also says that carbon dioxide, mainly from fossil fuel-related emissions, accounted for 80 per cent of this increase.
- The Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Michel Jarraud, said that limiting the impact of climate change would require large and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.