HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
MONDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED AT THE CONTINUED ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE IN SYRIA
- A statement issued on Sunday expressed the Secretary-General’s alarm at the continued dramatic escalation of violence in Syria over the past several days, and the grave danger facing civilians in areas under fire. The reports of aerial bombing yesterday amid intense violence resulting in many casualties among the Palestinian refugee population in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus are a matter of grave concern.
- The Secretary-General firmly condemns this escalation of armed violence, in particular the shelling of population centers and attacks against civilians. He calls on all sides to cease all forms of violence. The Secretary-General reminds all parties in Syria that they must abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians. Targeting civilians or carrying out military operations in populated areas, in an indiscriminate or disproportionate fashion that harms civilians is a war crime.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the international community to make every effort to stop the tragic spiral of violence in Syria and urgently to promote an inclusive political process leading to a peaceful political transition.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson confirmed that the Secretary-General spoke by phone this morning with the Syrian Foreign Minister, in line with the statement issued on Sunday night. The Secretary-General made his views very clear about the escalation in fighting, as he did in his statement.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ENTERS HIS NEWLY RENOVATED OFFICE
- The Secretary-General entered his newly renovated office on the 38th floor of UN Headquarters on Monday morning. That’s the first time he’s been back in that office since he moved to the North Lawn Building three years ago as the renovation of the building under the Capital Master Plan proceeded.
- Speaking to reporters, the Secretary-General said he was excited to be back in the Secretariat building after its renovation. He noted the eco-friendly nature of the building, saying that the UN Headquarters building now reduces its energy and water consumption by 50 percent and its carbon emissions by 40 percent. He said, “With this renovation, I believe that we can better serve the world’s people.”
- Asked when the Security Council will go back to its previous offices, the Spokesperson said that their offices are expected to be ready in about two months’ time. Asked about the press briefing room, he added that his hope was that the new room would be ready by the end of January 2013.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO BRIEF THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON SYRIA
- The Security Council held consultations on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Golan on Monday morning.
- In the afternoon, the Council was schedule to hold meetings on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts.
- After that, the Security Council was due to hear from Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, in consultations on Syria.
U.N. CONDEMNS DEADLY ATTACKS IN IRAQ
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, strongly condemned the attacks that have claimed dozens of lives across Iraq since yesterday. Many of those attacks targeted civilians.
- Mr. Kobler said that the attacks in the disputed internal areas further aggravate the tensions there. He called on all parties to engage in inclusive dialogue and to urgently work on defusing the situation to prevent an escalation. The United Nations stands ready to help if requested to do so.
- Asked about the perpetrator of the attacks, the Spokesperson noted that Mr. Kobler condemned the attacks whoever was instigating them.
U.N. MISSION STEPS UP PATROLS IN RESPONSE TO REPORTS OF M23 MOVEMENTS AROUND GOMA, IN D.R. CONGO
- The situation on the ground in North Kivu and South Kivu remains tense and fragile, with reports of movements of M23 rebels around Goma, in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Over the weekend, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, stepped up ground patrols and air reconnaissance flights in response to these reports.
- While many of the reports could not be confirmed, the UN Mission was able to confirm the presence of M23 rebels in several locations in North Kivu, including near Rwindi, Kibati and in the Masisi area near Moja. Such movements are in breach of Security Council Resolution 2076.
- The UN Mission is continuing frequent patrols in and around Goma.
U.N. PEACEKEEPERS LAUNCH AN INVESTIGATION OF EXPLOSION IN SOUTHERN LEBANON
- At around 7 am on Monday, an explosion took place in the vicinity of the village of Tayr Harfa in southern Lebanon.
- Troops from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces, have launched an investigation to identify the precise nature and circumstances of that explosion.
SPECIAL ENVOY FOR THE SAHEL STARTS A VISIT TO SENEGAL, COTE D’IVOIRE AND NIGER
- Romano Prodi, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, and Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, will hold consultations from Monday until Wednesday in Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire and Niger, as part of the work to develop an integrated UN regional strategy for the Sahel region.
- The purpose of their joint visit is to discuss challenges affecting the Sahel region and ways to address them. During their consultations, Mr. Prodi and Mr. Djinnit will hold meetings with the countries’ Heads of States, representatives of UN agencies, funds and programmes and civil society groups and non-governmental organizations.
- This is the third visit Mr. Prodi in the region since his appointment as Special Envoy for the Sahel.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONFIDENT THAT JAPAN WILL REMAIN AN IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTOR TO THE U.N.: Asked about the elections in Japan, the Spokesperson said that Japan is an important and committed contributor to the work of the United Nations and the Secretary-General is confident that will remain the case.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HOPES THAT ISLAND DISPUTE BETWEEN JAPAN AND CHINA TO BE RESOLVED THROUGH DIALOGUE: Asked about the island dispute between Japan and China, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s hope that the issue is resolved through dialogue.
U.N. SPECIAL COORDINATOR STAYS IN CLOSE TOUCH WITH PARTIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, remains in close touch with the parties to follow up on the agreement reached to end the fighting in Gaza and Israel.
SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES CONDOLENCES TO GOVERNOR OF CONNECTICUT ABOUT SHOOTINGS: Asked about the shootings last Friday in Connecticut, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had written to Governor Dan Malloy of Connecticut to express his deepest condolences.
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S PRESS CONFERENCE ON WEDNESDAY: Asked about the Secretary-General’s next press conference, the Spokesperson said it would take place this Wednesday at 11:00am.
***The guests at the noon briefing were Ray Chambers, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Malaria, and Dr. Fatoumata Nafo-Traore, the Executive Director of the Roll Back Malaria Partnership, who participated by video link from Geneva. They briefed reporters on the World Health Organization (WHO) World Malaria Report.