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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

MONDAY, 30 DECEMBER 2013

SOUTH SUDAN: SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON LATEST SITUATION, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO PRESIDENT

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, briefed the Security Council in consultations this morning.
  • After consultations, the President of the Security Council, Ambassador Gérard Araud of France, and Mr. Ladsous  spoke to reporters.
  • In a note to correspondents issued on Sunday, the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, reported that up to 180,000 people are estimated to have been displaced since 15 December. Of those, up to 75,000 people have sought refuge in the UN Mission’s bases.
  • The UN Mission conducted aerial reconnaissance on Sunday and reported that it has identified some armed groups north-east of Bor. It cannot, however, independently confirm the size or precise location of these groupings.
  • On the humanitarian front, aid agencies have reached an estimated 106,000 displaced people so far with assistance, including food, water and sanitation and health care, both inside and outside the UN peacekeeping bases.
  • They have delivered high-energy biscuits to children and are working on establishing malnutrition screening and treatment centres in Juba. Thousands of children under 15 years of age will receive measles and polio vaccines at the peacekeeping base in Tomping, Juba.
  • Aid organizations have appealed for a total of $209 million to provide immediate assistance to families affected by the current crisis over the next three months. They have received $43 million of the funding so far and still require $166 million.
  • The Spokesperson added Secretary-General spoke today to the President of the Republic of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit.  The Secretary-General welcomed the President's commitment to a cessation of hostilities and readiness to engage opposition leaders in dialogue and encouraged him to consider the early release of political prisoners.
  • The Secretary-General reiterated the full support of the United Nations for the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) mediation process and called for the full cooperation of all parties in finding a peaceful solution to the current crisis. He also underscored the need to hold accountable those responsible for attacks on civilians. The Secretary-General and the President also discussed plans to urgently strengthen UNMISS in accordance with Security Council resolution 2132 of 24 December. 
  • Asked about formed police, the Spokesperson said that formed police units comprising 73 specially trained police from Bangladesh serving in the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) arrived in Juba late last week, with 24 going to Malakal, 37 going into Bor, and the remainder staying in Juba. More formed police unit personnel from Nepal, serving in the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), are expected later this week
  • Asked further about fighting in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that the Mission reports that Juba remains tense but quiet for the eleventh consecutive day and that operations are continuing nationwide.
  • He said that Bentiu remains in the hands of Machar-led opposition forces, while heavy fighting occurred in town of Mayom in the western area of Unity State, with fears that fighting could spill over into neighbouring Warrap state
  • In Malakal, Nesirky said, heavy fighting reignited in the late afternoon on Sunday and went on until Sunday night. The Kiir Government has stated that it remains in control of Malakal Town. Meanwhile, the Mission reports significant battle damage in the city and widespread looting, and 22,000 civilians are sheltering in the UNMISS compound
  • In Bor, UNMISS reported that the town remains under the overall control of Government troops loyal to Salva Kiir. There are indications of a concentration of large groupings of armed youths and SPLA regular troops who have defected to Machar north of Bor.
  • The numbers of civilians in Bor compound have dropped sharply from a peak of 16,000 to 17,000 last week to 7,000-8,000 at present. Thousands of civilians have been seen heading south on road to Juba on Monday, motivated primarily by fears of an assault on Bor.
  • An air reconnaissance flight was conducted over southwestern Jonglei state on Sunday, and large groupings of armed youths were sighted during an overflight, 50 kilometers away from Bor.
  • Asked about human rights, Nesirky said that UNMISS is extremely concerned about mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights laws that have occurred in various parts of South Sudan and are continuing to occur.
  • Asked about reported comments by President Museveni of Uganda, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has consistently called for dialogue as the way to resolve the crisis.
  • Asked about the United Nations’ concerns, Nesirky said that no one wants to see the conflict worsen. The UN Mission is trying to talk to people who can get the armed youths to disarm and disperse.

U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO PLACES TROOPS ON ALERT AFTER CLASHES

  • In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there have been clashes which have opposed Government forces and unidentified armed elements in Kinshasa, Lubumbashi and Kindu.
  • The UN Mission in the country, MONUSCO, has taken measures to ensure the safety and security of its staff and placed troops in these locations on alert.
  • A national staff member of the UN Mission was injured during the exchange of fire at the airport but is in stable condition.
  • The Mission reports that calm has been restored in Lubumbashi and in Kindu, where MONUSCO troops stationed at the airport engaged the armed elements. The identity and motivation of the assailants remains unclear at this stage.

U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON INVESTIGATES LAUNCH SITES AFTER ROCKET INCIDENT

  • Investigators from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), accompanied by the Lebanese Armed Forces, have inspected four launch sites that were found Sunday by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), east of El Khiam. It is believed that those launch sites were involved in the incident on Sunday morning, in which rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into Israel.
  • The UN Force also inspected one site, near Sarda in southern Lebanon, where one of the rockets had hit after apparently falling short of its intended range, as well as an impact site for Israeli artillery shelling close to the rocket launch area.
  • The Secretary-General strongly condemned the rocket attacks in a statement on Sunday. The Secretary-General urged all actors to exercise maximum restraint and prevent further incidents with destabilising and escalatory potential in the region.
  • The UN Force’s investigations are continuing in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces to unravel all the facts and circumstances relating to this grave violation of resolution 1701. The UN Force has also intensified its patrols across its area of operations to prevent any further incidents.

U.N. AGENCIES USE IRAQ AS HUB TO AIRLIFT AID TO SYRIA

  • The UN Refugee Agency says that it is distributing emergency winter aid, which was airlifted to north-east Syria by in the past two weeks, to more than 50,000 vulnerable people in isolated areas.
  • The UNHCR airlift from Erbil, Iraq, of some 300 tonnes of aid began on December 17 and was completed on Sunday, when the 12th and final flight landed at Qamishly International Airport. The chartered flights were carrying items such as thermal blankets, plastic tarpaulins, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, jerry cans and hygiene supplies. The World Food Programme and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) also flew in vital aid from Erbil.
  • It was the first time the UN has used Iraq as a hub to deliver relief items into Syria. Road convoys to eastern Syria have been perilous since May because of the continuing conflict.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ATTACKS IN VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA

  • Asked about an attack on a bus in Volgograd, Russia, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General, in a statement issued on Sunday, condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist bombing at a train station in Volgograd, Russian Federation that day.  The Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General is equally appalled by today’s attack in Volgograd.
  • Nesirky added that the Secretary-General has expressed his condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives in the Volgograd attacks yesterday and today.
  • Nesirky noted that the members of the Security Council also put out a statement on Sunday condemning the Volgograd attack in the strongest terms.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS PHILIPPE LAZZARINI OF SWITZERLAND AS DEPUTY CHIEF IN SOMALIA

  • United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Mr. Philippe Lazzarini of Switzerland as his Deputy Special Representative, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Somalia.
  • Mr. Lazzarini has extensive experience in humanitarian assistance and international coordination in conflict and post-conflict areas, including in Somalia, where he has been the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative since March 2013.
  • Prior to this assignment, Mr. Lazzarini held a number of senior positions in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, including as Deputy Director of the Coordination and Response Division (2011 to 2013), and in various field positions in Iraq, Angola, Somalia, and the occupied Palestinian territory.
  • Prior to joining the United Nations, Mr. Lazzarini served as a delegate for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in southern Sudan, Beirut, Amman and Gaza. He led ICRC operations in Bosnia, Angola (UNITA controlled areas) and Rwanda, and also held the position of Deputy Head of the Communications Department of ICRC.
  • Mr. Lazzarini graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Neuchatel and holds an MBA from the University of Lausanne.
  • Born in Switzerland, he is married with two children.

OTHER ANNOUCEMENTS

U.N. MISSION IN MALI DESTROYS LARGE AMOUNT OF EXPLOSIVES IN NORTH: The UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, has discovered and destroyed 5.7 tons of explosives – including ammonium nitrate and grenades, in the north of the country, 150 kilometres south-west of Tessalit. The Mission, along with the French Serval Force, discovered the two arms caches over the weekend. The Mission says it is the second largest quantity of explosives found this year in Mali.

U.N. EXTREMELY CONCERNED ABOUT SITUATION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC.: Asked about the violence in the Central African Republic, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations remains extremely concerned about the violence and is monitoring the situation through its political office in the country, BINUCA.