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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
FARHAN HAQ,
ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 10 DECEMBER 2013

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL ATTENDS NELSON MANDELA’S MEMORIAL SERVICE, SAYS WORLD LOST BELOVED FRIEND AND MENTOR

  • The Secretary-General on Tuesday wrapped up his visit to South Africa, where he attended the official memorial service for former President Nelson Mandela.
  • In his remarks at the event, the Secretary-General noted that South Africa has lost a father and that the world has lost a beloved friend and mentor.
  • He said that Nelson Mandela was more than one of the great leaders of our time. He was one of the greatest teachers, who taught by example.
  • The Secretary-General said that what stands out most is Mr. Mandela’s compassion. He showed the awesome power of forgiveness and of connecting people with each other and with the true meaning of peace.
  • He will leave South Africa shortly and return to New York on Wednesday.

CRISES IN MOGADISHU POSE SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES, SAYS U.N. REPRESENTATIVE FOR SOMALIA

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, briefed the Security Council on Tuesday morning.
  • He said that two crises in Mogadishu had posed significant challenges in the last months: first, the voting out of the Prime Minister, which had slowed progress on vital state-building tasks; and second, the resignation of the Central Bank Governor which had been a blow to international donor confidence.
  • Mr. Kay said that the Central Bank crisis should lead to tighter financial oversight and that the no-confidence vote had tested parliamentary institutions and found them to be strong.
  • Mr. Kay said that the priority now is to establish a new Government quickly, one which brings Somalis together and which has the skills and integrity to deliver what people need: peace, jobs and public services.
  • He also said that the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, UNSOM, would become an integrated mission on 1 January – which he called an important milestone.
  • Earlier on Tuesday morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending Liberia sanctions.

BANGLADESH: SENIOR OFFICIALS OF GOVERNING AND OPPOSITION PARTIES MEET, SAYS ASSISTANT-SECRETARY-GENERAL

  • Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the Assistant-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, continued his visit to Bangladesh, aimed at encouraging a dialogue and consensus around the holding of elections.
  • In Dhaka on Tuesday, he announced that senior representatives of the governing and opposition parties had met with one another, at the UN’s invitation, and initiated a dialogue. 
  • Mr. Fernandez-Taranco told reporters that he applauds the decision to sit down and seize this opportunity. He added that this shows political leadership, responsibility and courage.
  • He said the start of a dialogue represents an “important moment” and that both sides have agreed to continue their dialogue in a spirit of good will and compromise and to work constructively together to decrease tensions and build confidence. 
  • Mr. Fernandez-Taranco will continue his meetings on Wednesday.

SYRIA: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY BRINGS RELIEF SUPPLIES TO MORE THAN 3 MILLION PEOPLE

  • The UN Refugee Agency says that it has brought relief supplies to more than three million people in Syria since the start of this year. This includes internally displaced people and others simply vulnerable and needing help.
  • The Refugee Agency’s assistance has reached all of Syria's 14 governorates, and each week sees approximately 250 more trucks being dispatched. It has participated in more than 40 inter-agency cross-line missions into conflict zones. Over 35 per cent of the Agency’s assistance has been to displaced persons in hard-to-reach or "hot spot" areas.
  • Also on Syria, in a statement issued on Monday, the Secretary-General expressed his concerns about the targeting of places of worship and religious representatives in Syria's conflict.
  • These concerns are most recently underscored by the situation of the twelve nuns who went missing from Saint Tecla Orthodox Convent in Ma’aloula. The Secretary-General joins in the appeals for their safety and well-being, and that of all persons who may be detained against their will in Syria.

U.N. SAYS TENSION REMAINS HIGH IN BANGUI, WITH MORE THAN 100,000 DISPLACED PEOPLE

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday that tension remains high in Bangui, in the Central African Republic, as there are reports of looting and riots. OCHA said that it is negotiating to maintain appropriate protection for humanitarian organizations and their staff.
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that more than 100,000 people are now displaced in Bangui. This brings to more than half a million the total number of people displaced within the country since the crisis began in December 2012.
  • The Refugee Agency and its partners have been distributing tents, blankets, sleeping mats and other relief items to ease the suffering of the mostly women and children in the displaced sites.
  • And the World Food Programme (WFP) said that it is providing food assistance to people displaced across Bangui, as well as in Bossangoa to the northwest.
  • Asked about sectarian violence, the Spokesperson said that the UN peace-building mission on the ground, BINUCA, had provided warnings about violence being committed across sectarian lines. The peacekeepers have tried respond to that situation, he added, noting that there were some signs of stabilization in Bangui.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS HEAD OF U.N. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Shamshad Akhtar of Pakistan as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).  She will replace Noeleen Heyzer of Singapore,
  • Ms. Akhtar is currently the Secretary-General’s Senior Advisor on Economic Development and Finance and Assistant Secretary-General, in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

MALI: LETTERS OF ASSIST ISSUED TO SUPPORT MISSION OPERATIONS

  • In response to earlier questions on procurement in relation to the UN Mission in Mali, the Spokesperson said that, to support missions operations, particularly at start up, Letters of Assist (LOAs) may be issued.
  • Letters of Assist are generally for goods and services of a military nature, or where military capabilities are best suited to the operating environment, and are awarded to governments, following review by Committees in accordance with Financial Regulations. Prices are benchmarked by the UN against the market. They are not public documents.
  • The companies mentioned in the query raised earlier at the Noon Briefing - France Expertise International, Sodexho, Thales and GEOS - are not currently under Letters of Assist contract for logistics services in Mali.
  • There is only one Letter of Assist for logistics services in Mali, for critical airfield support by the French military in the north of the country.

 

** The guests at today’s Noon Briefing were tennis and basketball stars Martina Navratilova and Jason Collins. They briefed journalists on sport and the fight against homophobia on Human Rights Day.