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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 THE SECRETARY-GENERAL

TUESDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2012

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES GOVERNMENTS TO MAKE PROGRESS AT U.N. CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE IN DOHA

  • The Secretary-General addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha on Tuesday. He told the gathered leaders and delegations that we should be under no illusion that climate change is a crisis that threatens us all: our economies, our security and our future well-being.
  • The Secretary-General said that the abnormal is the new normal, pointing to rising sea levels, melting ice caps and natural disasters around the world.
  • He said that we must take ownership, adding that we are collectively the problem. Greenhouse gas emissions are the highest they have ever been.
  • He said that policies and actions to take us into a sustainable, clean energy future are being pursued more broadly and with greater determination but the pace and scale of action are still not yet enough.
  • The Secretary-General urged governments to move forward on the adoption of a ratifiable second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. He urged them to make progress on long-term climate finance and to ensure that institutions to support mitigation and adaptation by developing countries are effective. He also urged governments to demonstrate with no ambiguity that negotiations on a global and legally binding instrument remain on track.
  • He and the Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, also spoke to the press about the urgency of facing the challenges of climate change.

U.N. STILL PERFORMING HUMANITARIAN AND OTHER ACTIVITIES IN SYRIA DESPITE REDUCTION OF PERSONNEL

  • Asked about the reduction of non-essential international UN staff in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations continuously assesses its presence in crisis situations. This is part of the United Nations Security Management Framework, he added.
  • Nesirky noted that as a result of this assessment, it was decided to reduce the number of international staff in light of the escalating violence in recent days. He said the violence included increased fighting around Damascus, the closure of the airport for a few days and fighting on the road to the airport. He also underlined the fact that in recent days, 2 convoys of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) convoys came under fire and 4 people were wounded.
  • The Spokesperson said that it was assessed that the general level of instability was such that most UN programming activity would be affected. He stressed that the United Nations was still in Damascus, performing humanitarian operations as security conditions permit. He also noted that the Office of the Joint Special Representative in Damascus was also maintaining its activities and that UNDOF was continuing to perform its mandated tasks.
  • Nesirky said that, for security reasons and given that staff numbers may not remain constant, he would not comment on the number of UN staff present in Syria.
  • Asked about reports of weapons being provided to opposition forces in Syria, he noted that the Secretary-General had repeatedly said that further militarization in Syria was not desirable and certainly unhelpful.
  • Asked about reports of the presence of chemical weapons in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-general had been extremely clear about the use of such weapons, stressing it would have dire consequences for the population of Syria and of the wider region.
  • He noted that the Secretary-General had in the past communicated his concerns in writing to President Assad. He also said that it was incumbent on the Syrian authorities to ensure the safety and security of any such weapons.
  • In response to a question on contacts the Secretary-General and President Assad, Nesirky said that the Secretary-General, the Joint Special Representative for Syria and others had contacts, if not directly with President Assad, with members of the senior leadership and government.

U.N. FOOD AGENCY WARNS THAT VIOLENCE MAKES IT MORE DIFFICULT TO REACH HARDEST-HIT AREAS IN SYRIA

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that the recent escalation of violence in Syria is making it more difficult to reach the country’s hardest-hit areas and that food insecurity is on the rise due to bread shortages and higher food prices in many parts of the country. It says that high prices are also affecting neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees.
  • The World Food Programme adds that road access to and from Damascus has become more dangerous, making it difficult to dispatch food from World Food Programme’s warehouses to some parts of the country -- particularly to the north.
  • The World Food Programme is prioritizing food distributions to internally displaced Syrians who fled from areas which have seen heavy fighting in recent months – many of them have been displaced twice.
  • It is also taking all measures to remain operational, provide assistance and to monitor its operations.
  • Meanwhile, the Assistant High Commissioner for Protection from the UN Refugee Agency, Erika Feller, visited refugees in Jordan’s Za’atri refugee camp on Monday.
  • She reviewed reception arrangements at Za’atri, which currently has about 32,000 residents.
  • Preparations for winter are well underway in the camp, where overnight temperatures are now dropping to 1 degree Celsius. Tents are being reinforced and better insulated to protect against the weather, including the addition of “porches” where gas heaters are being placed. Some 30,000 high thermal blankets are being distributed, along with winter clothing.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SERIOUSLY CONCERNED ABOUT THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF A PLANNED ROCKET LAUNCH BY D.P.R.K.

  • In answer to a question, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General was seriously concerned about the announcement of a planned rocket launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Any such launch would constitute a clear violation of Security Council Resolution 1874 (2009), in which the Council demanded that the DPRK not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology. Such a launch would also heighten tension in the region, he added.
  • Nesirky said that the Secretary-General strongly urges the DPRK to reconsider its decision and to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile programme. He also said that the Secretary-General further calls upon the DPRK to re-establish its moratorium on missile launches, as required by the Security Council.
  • The Secretary-General renews his call on the DPRK authorities to work towards building confidence with neighbouring countries and improving the life of its people, said the Spokesperson. He reaffirms his commitment to working for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and helping the people in the DPRK.

U.N. D.R.CONGO MISSION SAYS GOMA IS CALM BUT CLOSELY MONITORING SITUATION

  • The UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports that the overall situation in the Kivus remains volatile, with some security vacuums are being filled by other armed groups.
  • With regard to the withdrawal of the M23 rebel group, the situation in Goma remains relatively calm following the restoration of control by the national authorities. Congolese police and army units continue to be redeployed into the city and local administrative structures are becoming operational.
  • In Uganda's capital Kampala, Congolese Government officials have announced the planned start of discussions with the M23 in the coming days, under the auspices of Uganda in its role as Chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR).
  • Asked on Monday about the request by the Security Council on an update on external support to the M23, the Spokesperson said that the Secretariat did provide information on this matter in a closed session at the Security Council on Tuesday morning.
  • The Council was also updated on this by the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • Asked about the control of the airport in Goma, the Spokesperson said he understood it was due to reopen in order to provide humanitarian access.
  • He also noted that the provisions of the agreement reached in Kampala, Uganda, at the meeting of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, should be adhered to.
  • In answer to a question about the withdrawal of the M23 from Goma, Nesirky said that this withdrawal had taken place and that the Congolese police and military had moved back into the city. He noted that the United Nations was closely monitoring the situation.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY WORRIED FOR SECURITY OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED IN D.R. CONGO

  • Also on the DRC, the UN refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that it is worried for the security of displaced people and aid workers in camps in eastern Congo after an attack on Saturday at the Mugunga III camp outside Goma.
  • It says the incident highlights the need for security at sites for internally displaced people to be prioritized, along with improved humanitarian access so that such populations can be better cared for.
  • According to UN figures, 130,000 people have been newly displaced by the recent instability in and around Goma. This is on top of the estimated 841,000 people who were already displaced before this latest wave of insecurity.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF IN MYANMAR FOR HER FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, was in Myanmar on Tuesday. It is her first official visit to the country in her role as the UN Humanitarian chief.
  • Ms. Amos held meetings with the Vice-President, the Minister of Home Affairs, the Minister of Immigration and Population and the Minister of Defence, in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.
  • During her four day visit, Ms. Amos is expected to meet with the President of Myanmar, U Thein Sein. She will also meet with donor States and humanitarian partners.
  • Ms. Amos is also expected to visit Kachin and Rakhine States. She will meet officials there, as well as the humanitarian community. She will visit affected people in displacement camps and see first-hand projects being implemented by humanitarian partners. Ms. Amos will brief the media at the end of her visit on 7 December.

SOMALIA: THREE-YEAR HUMANITARIAN APPEAL LAUNCHED IN MOGADISHU

  • A three-year Humanitarian Appeal for Somalia was launched on Tuesday in Mogadishu -- the first time such a launch has taken place in Somalia itself.
  • The 2013-2015 humanitarian strategy targets the immediate humanitarian needs of the Somali people and aims to enhance resilience and address the protracted nature of the humanitarian crisis in Somalia -- one of the largest in the world.
  • For the first year, the appeal is for $1.3 billion and will fund for 369 humanitarian projects targeting 3.8 million Somalis in need.
  • The strategy will be implemented by 177 national and international non-governmental organizations and UN agencies operating in Somalia.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. DEVELOPMENT AGENCY CHIEF IN IRAQ TO DISCUSS SUPPORT: The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, Helen Clark, wrapped up a two-day visit to Iraq on Monday. She met with senior Iraqi government officials in Baghdad to discuss on-going UNDP support in areas such as elections, human rights, public sector reform, private sector development, and women’s empowerment. Ms. Clark’s visit to Baghdad comes as UNDP finalizes plans to relocate its operations and programmes to Iraq from Amman, Jordan.

SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS ITS PROGRAMME OF WORK, TO MEET ON YEMEN: On Tuesday morning, the Security Council adopted its programme of work for the month of December. It was followed by a press conference on this matter by Ambassador Mohammed Loulichki, the Permanent Representative of Morocco to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for December. In the afternoon, the Security Council was scheduled to meet on the situation in Yemen.