HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 18 DECEMBER 2013
SOUTH SUDAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES PRESIDENT TO DO EVERYTHING TO END VIOLENCE
- The Secretary-General spoke to the press on South Sudan this morning to discuss his concerns about the current situation there. He said that he had spoken to President Salva Kiir on Tuesday, urging him to do everything he possibly can to end the violence and to ensure respect for human rights and the rule of law.
- The Secretary-General also impressed on President Kiir the need to resume dialogue with the political opposition and welcomed the reports this morning that the President is willing to enter into such talks.
- The Secretary-General said that it is essential to protect the human rights of all those who are detained. Mandated human rights monitors must have full access to visit the detainees. Security forces must operate in full compliance with international humanitarian law.
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) continues to support civilians in its two compounds in Juba, now numbering close to 20,000 people, as well as several hundred in Jonglei.
- The Secretary-General called on the Government to cooperate fully with the Mission as it fulfils its protection mandate, including in the provision of basic relief to civilians in need and in conducting human rights investigations into allegations of human rights abuses in recent days.
- Asked about the cause of the recent violence, the Spokesperson said that the situation is extremely confused. He said that UN Headquarters personnel are in touch with the UN Mission to obtain more information about what is happening.
- Nesirky added that the Secretary-General is in constant contact with the Mission.
- Asked about the fighting, he said that fighting between factions within the SPLA has been reported to have broken out within the army camp in Bor, Jonglei, on 18 December.
- The South Sudan Red Cross has reported that 19 civilians were killed in Bor Town. Approximately 800 civilians have gathered around the UN camp in Bor to seek protection.
- The Spokesperson said that the United Nations is not taking any measures to relocate or reduce staff at the moment but will continue to monitor the situation carefully.
U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN REPORTS CALMER SITUATION IN JUBA, RISING TENSIONS IN OTHER STATES
- The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, reports that the situation in central Juba appears to have calmed down to some degree, except for reports of gunfire in parts of the city overnight.
- The Mission continues to provide water and medical care, and its police personnel are maintaining order among internally displaced people around the camps.
- It also says that tensions seem to be on the rise in the other States, such as Unity and Upper Nile.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS DRUG TRAFFICKING PRESENTS ENORMOUS CHALLENGE TO WEST AFRICA AND SAHEL
- The Secretary-General addressed the Security Council on Wednesday at the opening of its debate on drug trafficking in West Africa and the Sahel. He said that drug trafficking presents an enormous challenge to peace, stability, economic and social development in the region.
- The Secretary-General stressed the need to promote a coherent, integrated and pragmatic international response, rooted in sustainable development and the full respect for human rights.
- He also encouraged Member States to actively engage in a broad and open discussion leading up to the September 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem.
- And earlier, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Disengagement Observer Force as well as a resolution on the completion of the work of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former-Yugoslavia.
U.N. OFFICIALS VISIT CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC TO ASSESS IMPACT OF CONFLICT ON CIVILIAN POPULATION
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Wednesday that an estimated 2 million people need assistance in the Central African Republic, including 1.1 million of them who do not have enough food.
- Many people in the affected areas have received food aid, such as 10-day food rations and nutrition support. Since the beginning of this month, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached more than 80,000 displaced people in the capital, Bangui, with food supplies.
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, and the Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, are in the Central African Republic on Wednesday to assess the impact of the conflict on the civilian population, especially on women and children.
- The mission, which will end on Saturday, will conduct field visits and hold consultations with the Transitional Authorities of the Central African Republic. It will also meet representatives of regional organizations in Bangui, the diplomatic community, faith-based organizations, civil society, the humanitarian community and United Nations officials working in the country.
SOMALIA: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE CONCERNED ABOUT CONFLICTS
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has expressed concern about recent local conflicts in the country. He said these clashes could threaten the country's progress towards peace and stability as well as the rights of thousands of affected citizens.
- Clashes have been reported near Jowhar in Middle Shabelle, some areas around Beledweyne in Hiraan and around K50 in Lower Shabelle. Reports indicate that clan-based militia are evicting farmers and villagers from productive farm land. Those affected often come from smaller, or minority, clans and communities.
- Mr. Kay called on the Federal Government of Somalia to continue to take these incidents seriously and asked elders and leaders to find peaceful solutions.
- He also said that the Federal Government should investigate fully what has happened.
SYRIA: ORGANISATION FOR PROHIBITION OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS SUBMITS PLAN FOR DESTROYING CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Üzümcü, submitted on Tuesday to the Organisation’s Executive Council a plan for destroying the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons outside of the country. The plan aims to meet a deadline set by the Council to destroy Syria’s priority chemicals by 31 March 2014 and other chemicals by 30 June 2014.
- He confirmed that the major elements of a transportation and destruction plan are in place and that the mission in Syria is making progress against heavy odds.
- The Director-General cautioned however that time schedules have been disrupted by a combination of security concerns, clearance procedures in international transit, and even inclement weather conditions. He said the possibility of some delays cannot be discounted.
- Asked about peace prospects for Syria, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Joint Special Representative, Lakhdar Brahimi, would convene meetings in Geneva on Friday to take stock of arrangements for next month’s international conference on Syria. Invitations are expected to be sent later this month.
U.N. AID OFFICIALS URGE FOR FULL ACCESS TO SYRIA FOR HUMANITARIAN ORGANIZATIONS
- The leading UN aid officials have urged all the parties to the Syrian conflict to ensure unimpeded access for humanitarian organisations throughout the country. A humanitarian cease-fire would allow aid convoys to deliver assistance to communities which remain out of reach for the time being.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that humanitarian aid is being and will continue to be channelled in a way which fully respects the humanitarian principles of neutrality, independence and impartiality. It should not be made a hostage of military or political considerations.
- Asked who is responsible for problems of access, the Spokesperson said that the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has made clear the need for all sides to enable access. The key requirement is to allow aid to be delivered in an impartial manner.
- The Secretary-General has great respect for the work being done by humanitarian groups and for the efforts that they are making to obtain improved access.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES SYRIA CRISIS WITH IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
- The Secretary-General spoke by telephone on Tuesday with Javad Zarif, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
- They discussed the Syria crisis and the Secretary-General's hope that Iran can help achieve a political solution to Syria's trauma.
GLOBAL ECONOMY SHOWS IMPROVEMENT BUT REMAINS VULNERABLE – U.N. REPORT
- Global economic growth should increase over the next two years with continuing signs of improvement, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects 2014 (WESP) report, launched on Wednesday. The global economy is expected to grow at a pace of 3.0 per cent in 2014 and 3.3 per cent in 2015, compared with an estimated growth of 2.1 per cent for 2013.
- The report says that the world economy saw subdued growth for a second year in 2013, but some improvements in the last quarter have led to the UN’s more positive forecast. The euro area has finally ended a protracted recession. Growth in the United States strengthened somewhat.
- Growth prospects among large developing countries and economies in transition are mixed. Growth in Brazil has been hampered by weak external demand, volatility in international capital flows and tightening monetary policy, but growth is expected to rebound to 3 per cent in 2014. A slowdown in China has been stabilized and growth is expected to maintain at a pace of about 7.5 per cent in the next few years.
- Among developing regions, growth prospects in Africa remain relatively robust. After an estimated growth of 4.0 per cent in 2013, GDP is projected to expand by 4.7 per cent in 2014.
- More detailed regional forecasts from WESP will be released in January 2014.