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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 MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 20 DECEMBER 2011

TWO-STATE SOLUTION NOT ADVANCING, SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • Oscar Fernandez Taranco, the Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said in a briefing to the Security Council on Tuesday morning that the realization of a two-State solution for Israelis and Palestinians has not advanced, with violent incidents erupting at a worrying rate. Efforts to get the parties to resume direct talks continue, including recent meetings by the Quartet envoys and Tony Blair with the parties. Mr. Fernandez Taranco said that it is encouraging that, at their last meetings with the envoys, both the Israelis and the Palestinians, showed willingness to consider reciprocal actions that may help to reduce tensions.

  • Mr. Fernandez Taranco noted recent arson attacks and acts of desecration against mosques, among other actions from Israeli extremists. He welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s strong condemnation of these acts and intent to prevent further such incidents.

  • He also discussed concerns about the situation in Syria. He said the signing in Cairo yesterday of a protocol to dispatch League of Arab States monitors to Syria was encouraging.

  • Earlier, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Integrated Office in Burundi until 15 February 2013.

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Iraq

·        The completion of the withdrawal of the United States military forces marks a new moment in Iraq's recent history.  The Secretary-General strongly believes that this important development is an opportunity for Iraqi leaders to demonstrate to their people and to the world that they are fully capable of steering the country towards a better future.

·        The Secretary-General is closely following the current political situation in Iraq.   He urges Iraqi political leaders to engage in inclusive and constructive dialogue to resolve their differences and build on the achievements that have been made so far in laying the ground for a democratic state.  Iraqi leaders owe it to the people of Iraq who elected them to work together in spirit of partnership and national unity to address the pressing challenges facing the country.

  • At this important juncture, the United Nations is strongly committed, through the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), to assist the people and Government in Iraq in their endeavour to build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous Iraq.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY BEGINS AIRLIFTS TO SOUTH SUDAN

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched a massive airlift operation from Kenya to South Sudan today to bring aid to around 50,000 Sudanese refugees.

  • The first of 18 scheduled arrived on Tuesday morning, carrying 12 tons of supplies, including plastic sheets and rolls, sleeping mats, blankets, mosquito nets, buckets, jerry cans and kitchen sets.

  • The items will be distributed to refugees in Upper Nile state and Unity state which have been hosting refugees fleeing the fighting in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states.

  • According to the Refugee Agency, at least 40,000 refugees have arrived in Upper Nile state since September and 22,000 refugees from the Nuba mountains of Southern Kordofan have fled to Unity state since August.

LIBYA: U.N. COMMISSION WRAPS UP VISIT TO TRIPOLI

  • The United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Libya visited Tripoli in Libya from 31 November to 16 December 2011 as part of its continuing investigations into serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed by all parties to the conflict in the country.

  • During their visit, Commissioners met with the Chairman of the National Transitional Council and other senior officials in the Libyan Government. They also met with representatives of non-governmental organizations and interviewed detainees at a detention center.

  • The Commission will return to Libya in January 2012.

HEAD OF U.N. MISSION ATTENDS INAUGURATION IN D.R. CONGO

  • Asked about elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the DRC, Roger Meece, attended the inauguration of President Joseph Kabila today.

  • Nesirky added that Secretary-General and Mr. Meece had called for any differences over the elections to be resolved peacefully through available legal and mediation mechanisms. The Secretary-General has repeatedly called for calm and for all sides to show restraint.

PHILIPPINES GOVERNMENT ACCEPTS INTERNATIONAL AID FOR STORM RELIEF, U.N. RELIEF ARM REPORTS

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced today that the Government of the Philippines has accepted the offer of assistance from the international humanitarian community to respond to Tropical Storm Washi.

  • The humanitarian action plan for Mindanao launched recently will be revised to include a response for this emergency.

  • According to Government figures, nearly 1,000 people have died and some 340,000 have been affected.

  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is delivering water and sanitation supplies and is calling for $4.2 million to help families affected by the storm for the next three to six months.

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) says that it has been requested by the Government to provide food and other support to the people hardest-hit by the storm. It is distributing three tons of high-energy biscuits for nearly 8,000 people and is also providing logistical support.

  • For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working to put a disease surveillance system into place for communicable and non-communicable diseases.

  • The Secretary-General spoke by the telephone on Tuesday morning with Foreign Minister Albert del Rosario and they discussed the impact of Tropical Storm Washi.

  • On Monday, the Secretary-General expressed concern over the impact of the tropical storm and extended his condolences to those affected.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SIGNS CONDOLENCE BOOK: Asked about the death of Kim Jong Il, the Spokesperson noted that the Deputy Secretary-General signed the book of condolence today, on behalf of the UN system. He added that the DPRK mission has said that the condolence book will be open for signing there from 20 December to 29 December.

U.N. MISSION WORKING TO HELP SIDES FIND PEACEFUL SOLUTION TO CAMP ASHRAF SITUATION: Asked about a written request to the Secretary-General for help for the residents of Iraq’s Camp Ashraf, the Spokesperson said that the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), led by Special Representative Martin Kobler, has been working with both the Government of Iraq and Camp Ashraf residents, to facilitate a peaceful and durable solution as soon as possible. He said it was ultimately the responsibility of the Iraqi authorities and the camp residents to resolve the situation.

U.N. MISSION IN SUDAN NOT MANDATED TO OPPOSE STATE FORCES: Asked about an Amnesty International report on the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS), the Spokesperson said that the Mission had not been mandated to oppose the forces of the State of Sudan.

U.N. MISSION LEARNS OF DEATH OF GENERAL ATHOR IN SOUTH SUDAN: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has learned of the death of General George Athor. He said that UNMISS urges the people of South Sudan of all political and ethnic configurations to resolve their outstanding differences through peaceful dialogue and reconciliation, and will do its utmost to support such processes in the implementation of its mandate under Security Council resolution 1996.

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