HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 17 DECEMBER 2013
IN PHONE CALL WITH PRESIDENT OF SOUTH SUDAN, SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER JUBA CLASHES
- The Secretary-General spoke by telephone this morning with President Salva Kiir of South Sudan. He expressed his concern about the reports of fighting in Juba and of reports that members of certain communities were being targeted. He said that up to 13,000 civilians have sought refuge at the UN compounds in Juba.
- The Secretary-General urged all parties to cease hostilities immediately, and called on the Government to exercise restraint in the management of the situation and to guarantee the protection of all civilians regardless of their ethnicities.
- And on the ground, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that discipline, command and control in the security forces are more important than ever at this juncture.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Hilde Johnson, has also called on all South Sudanese and all parties to refrain from any community-motivated violence and any action that fuels ethnic tensions.
- The UN Mission continues to provide protection to civilians seeking refuge from the violence. As of early this morning, the Mission’s clinic in Juba had admitted 39 civilians for medical treatment. In the last two days, nine babies were born in the Mission’s health facilities, eight in Juba and one in Bor, in Jonglei State.
- Asked whether a coup had been attempted in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that the Mission was monitoring events, while undertaking its primary task of trying to ensure the safety of civilians affected by the armed violence.
- He added that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is aware of reports of displaced people seeking shelter in other parts of the city.
- Humanitarian partners urgently need access to areas where civilians may be located, to assess their needs and provide medical care to people who have been injured.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is working with Government authorities to secure access to where people may be sheltering. Humanitarian partners are mobilizing aid including water, blankets and nutritional support to ensure that an immediate response can be launched once access is secured.
- The Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General was following matters closely and called South Sudanese President Salva Kiir this morning.
- The Secretary-General urged the President to make sure that all security forces operate in full compliance with International Humanitarian Law. He said he was counting on the President to exercise real leadership at this critical moment, and to instill discipline in the ranks of the SPLA to stop this fighting among them.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: 210,000 PEOPLE UPROOTED IN CAPITAL IN PAST TWO WEEKS – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that it now believes that some 210,000 people have been displaced just in the last two weeks alone in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.
- The Refugee Agency also said that it is sending additional emergency teams to the country because of the deteriorating situation there and reports of new displacement. Staff have begun arriving this week and more are on their way.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) said that it has assisted nearly 100,000 people with 414 tons of food in Bangui since the beginning of the crisis.
- Near the airport, the World Food Programme has been providing food to some 40,000 people as many people displaced by violence are located there. The distributions have started from 13 December, but were halted over the weekend for security reasons and were due to resume today.
U.N. MISSION CALLS FOR SWIFT INVESTIGATION INTO KILLINGS IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has called for an investigation to be quickly launched after some 21 bodies were found by Mission troops in Beni territory, in North Kivu.
- The Mission says that the victims, including women and children, were brutally killed and that three minors were raped before being beheaded.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Martin Kobler, said that these atrocities cannot go unpunished and he called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
- The UN Mission is conducting foot patrols in the area and has dispatched helicopters to prevent any further deterioration of security.
EXPLOSIONS REPORTED NEAR U.N. MISSION CAMP IN MALI’S KIDAL
- Asked about reported violence in Mali, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission (MINUSMA) reports that, on Monday night, at least three explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Mission’s camp in Kidal. Preliminary assessments indicate that rockets or mortars exploded in the vicinity of the camp, without causing injury to MINUSMA personnel or damage to MINUSMA assets.
- The United Nations Mission in Mali also said that it is investigating the bombing attack on Saturday, 14 December, in Kidal which killed two of its peacekeepers, and injured a number of Malians. Since then, national forces and the Mission have further stepped up security and safety.
- The Mission reports that on two separate occasions, its peacekeepers fired upon approaching vehicles in the context of security threats.
U.N. ENVOY UPDATES SECURITY COUNCIL ON PROGRESS, CHALLENGES IN AFGHANISTAN
- The Security Council was briefed this morning by Jan Kubis, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
- Mr. Kubis told the Council that progress continues and efforts are on track, although not without challenges and temporary setbacks.
- Despite volatility and uncertainty, he said that the fundamental elements required to enhance stability in Afghanistan and the wider region are being consolidated as the drawdown of international forces continues.
- Mr. Kubis said that the United Nations remains committed to long-term partnership in support of Afghan institutions and Afghan priorities with the goal of a stable, inclusive and sustainable state.
- This afternoon, the Council will hold an open meeting on threats to international peace and security caused by terrorist acts, and that is followed by an open meeting and consultations on West Africa.
INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SYRIA TO BE HELD IN MONTREUX, SWITZERLAND
- The office of the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, announced today that the International Conference on Syria will begin in Montreux in Switzerland, on 22 January.
- The conference will then continue with negotiations between the two Syrian sides on 24 January at the Palais de Nations in Geneva and will continue there.
- Mr. Brahimi will hold a trilateral meeting this Friday with Russian Deputy Foreign Ministers Mikhail Bogdanov and Gennady Gatilov, and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, The meeting will be followed in the afternoon by a meeting with all the five permanent members of the Security Council and the immediate neighbours of Syria; namely, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. It will also include representatives of the League of Arab States and the European Union.
- Asked about the reported bombing of Aleppo, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was aware of reports of aerial activities and of civilian casualties.
- Asked whether there will be a mandate to find out who is accountable for the use of chemical weapons, Nesirky said that the mandate from the General Assembly, which was reaffirmed by the Security Council, was clear: to determine whether chemical weapons were used and not by whom.
- The question of accountability, he added, needs to be dealt with outside of the mechanism established by the General Assembly. It would be up to the Member States to determine how to follow up.
- Asked about the report by Åke Sellström’s team, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has full confidence in the professionalism and the work of the team.
- In response to a question to the Secretary-General during his press conference, the Spokesperson noted that the Deputy Secretary-General is briefing the General Assembly in an informal meeting of the plenary this afternoon on the Secretary-General’s initiative, Rights Up Front. Last month, the Secretary-General wrote to United Nations staff about this initiative.
- In response to a question, the Spokesperson clarified that a request for a guard unit for UN offices in Libya was simply to guard personnel, as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, Tarek Mitri, said when he spoke to the Security Council last week.