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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WORK OF THE U.N. SYSTEM
FROM THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

Friday, 28 December 2012

[There are no noon briefings provided by the Office of the Spokesperson during the final week of the year. Attached below are recent developments in the UN system.]

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS MORE SHOULD BE DONE TO ALLEVIATE THE SUFFERING OF SYRIANS

  • In a statement issued on Friday, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is extremely concerned about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Syria, where more than 5 million people urgently need help. As a consequence of this situation, over 2 million people have been displaced inside the country and more than 540,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries.
  • The UN Refugee Agency has warned that the number of Syrian refugees could double to 1.1 million by June 2013. This winter, many families are struggling to keep warm, without adequate shelter, warm clothes and heating fuel. Children make up more than 50 per cent of the civilians affected by the crisis.
  • Despite the growing needs, the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan (SHARP) and the regional Refugee Response Plan (RRP) for 2012 are underfunded, limiting the ability of UN agencies and their humanitarian partners to reach people who desperately need help. The revised plans now require more than US$1.5 billion to cover the most urgent humanitarian needs during the first half of 2013.
  • The Secretary-General reiterates that the international community must do more to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in Syria and the neighbouring countries. On 30 January 2013, the Secretary-General will chair a high-level International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria in Kuwait City. The conference, hosted by the Government of Kuwait, is a timely and much-needed opportunity to address the funding gap. The Secretary-General urges all Member States to be generous in their pledges and is thankful to those who continue to support the humanitarian efforts.
  • The Secretary-General is particularly grateful for the generosity of the Government of Kuwait for agreeing to host the conference and for its recent pledge of $20 million for the humanitarian response in Syria.

JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SYRIA TO MEET RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW ON SATURDAY

  • The Joint Special Representative of the United Nations and the League of Arab States for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Moscow on Saturday.
  • Earlier this week, he visited Damascus, where he met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
  • On behalf of Mr. Brahimi, the Spokesperson said that the Joint Special Representative had never mentioned that President Assad should stay in power until 2014.
  • Mr. Brahimi has consistently been saying that the transition should start as soon as possible, that a government should be established as soon as possible, and that he hopes that the crisis can be solved in 2013 because it cannot wait until 2014.

SECURITY COUNCIL DEMANDS THAT ARMED GROUPS CEASE HOSTILITIES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • In a press statement issued on Thursday evening, the members of the Security Council condemned the continued attacks on several towns perpetrated by the “Seleka” coalition of armed groups in the Central African Republic.
  • The members of the Council reiterated their demand that the armed groups immediately cease hostilities, withdraw from captured cities and cease any further advance towards the city of Bangui.
  • They called on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence against civilians and to respect human rights and emphasized that those responsible for violations should be held accountable. They called again on all parties to seek a peaceful solution by engaging constructively in an appropriate political dialogue.
  • The members of the Security Council said they support the efforts undertaken by the Economic Community of the Central African States (ECCAS) to solve the crisis.

TWO U.N. HELICOPTERS FIRED UPON BY REBELS NEAR GOMA, IN DR CONGO

  • The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) said on Friday that two U.N. helicopters were fired upon from two localities under the control of M23 rebels near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on 26 December.
  • The U.N. Mission said that this is the second time that U.N. helicopters have been deliberately targeted by M23 elements during the month of December.
  • The helicopters were 20 kilometers north of Goma undertaking a routine flying certification when they were fired upon. MONUSCO said that these unarmed utility helicopters are routinely used for medical evacuation for both U.N. personnel and civilians.
  • The Mission said that any attack against peacekeepers constitutes a war crime and that those responsible for such acts will be prosecuted and brought to justice.

APPOINTMENT OF SPECIAL ADVISOR FOR COMMUNITY BASED MEDICINE AND LESSONS FROM HAITI

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Dr. Paul Farmer, of the United States, as his Special Advisor for Community Based Medicine and Lessons from Haiti. 
  • As Special Advisor, Dr. Farmer will work closely with all key partners to help galvanise support for the elimination of cholera in Haiti. He will also use the data gathered from the Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti to advise on lessons learned and how those can be applied in Haiti and other settings. 
  • Dr. Farmer is a founding director of Partners in Health, an international non-profit organization, and he served as Deputy Special Envoy for Haiti from 2009 to 2012.  In that capacity, he supported Special Envoy Clinton and the people of Haiti in implementing the Government of Haiti’s priorities for the recovery effort.