HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
WEDNESDAY, 5 DECEMBER 2012
MULTI-DIMENSIONAL, WELL-CONCEIVED INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE NEEDED FOR MALI, SAYS U.N. POLITICAL AFFAIRS CHIEF
- The Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in Mali, where the security situation in the north has continued to deteriorate.
- Mr. Feltman said that the Secretary-General shares the sense of urgency of regional organizations about the horrendous crisis facing Mali. At the same time, the Secretray-General believes that the international response must be multi-dimensional and well-conceived.
- The Under Secretary-General for Political Affairs said that as a first step, international support should be focused on supporting the Malian authorities in conducting an inclusive national dialogue. This dialogue would aim to reach a national consensus on a transitional roadmap addressing the full return to constitutional order and the grievances of groups in the North.
- He also said that efforts to bring about a negotiated political settlement with armed groups who have disavowed ties to terrorist groups should continue in earnest.
- Finally, a well-conceived and executed military intervention in the North should be conducted as a last resort and planning should be undertaken for stabilisation activities in recovered areas.
- Mr. Feltman also said that Malians themselves need to be at the centre of any efforts to restore their democracy and fully recover their territory.
- The Security Council held closed consultations on Mali after.
- Asked about the funding for a possible international force for Mali, the Spokesperson noted that the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs had told the Security Council the United Nations has a limited ability in the near term to fund such a combat force and that such operations could be supported through contributions by Member States.
- This afternoon, the Council will hold a meeting on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
D.R.CONGO: SITUATION IN KIVUS REMAINS FRAGILE, M23 WITHDRAWAL CONTINUES
- With respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the situation in the two Kivu provinces remains fragile.
- In North Kivu, the withdrawal of the M23 has continued. The Congolese army is deploying back to Sake, west of Goma.
- In South Kivu, the UN Mission, MONUSCO, is supporting FARDC military operations to counter armed group activity in the Bunyakiri, Hombo and Kilembwe areas.
- Also, Congolese authorities announced the re-opening today of the airport in Goma. MONUSCO and humanitarian partners are working on flying in urgently needed humanitarian supplies.
- As well, Radio Okapi resumed broadcasts in Kinshasa yesterday and has indeed been on air in the Kivus through out
- The humanitarian and protection situation remains extremely worrying in North Kivu. The Mugunga III camp, which hosts some 30,000 internally displaced persons, was violently looted by armed men during the night between 1 and 2 December. One NGO has treated 12 survivors of rape, all of which occurred on the same night.
- Population movements have started to stabilize and some 130,000 people are sheltering in 12 sites in and around Goma. Another 47,000 newly displaced people have arrived in Minova and Bweremana in the last two weeks.
- Some 70 rapes have been recorded by health facilities in the Minova area, according to an inter-agency assessment mission to the area. All 70 survivors received treatment within 72 hours.
- Food distributions continue and large-scale distributions of household items are planned in Goma and its surroundings, to the extent that security allows.
SECRETARY-GENERAL IN KUWAIT, MEETS EMIR
- The Secretary-General has arrived in Kuwait.
- He just met with His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Emir of the State of Kuwait.
- They discussed a wide range of regional issues ranging from prospects for peace in the Middle East to the crisis in Syria. The Secretary-General reiterated his commitment to ensuring that Iraq fulfils all its outstanding obligations pertaining to Kuwait.
- Earlier while he was still in Doha, the Secretary-General addressed the delegations attending the climate change talks there, telling them that climate change is not an environment issue for environment ministers, but one for all areas of government and policy making: finance, energy, transport, foreign relations.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS WRITTEN TO SYRIA PRESIDENT TO CONVEY CONCERNS OVER CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- Asked about the situation in Syria and possible chemical weapons there, the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General has grave concerns about the existence and possible use of chemical weapons.
- He said the Secretary-General had conveyed those concerns in writing already some months ago to President Assad and that he had done so again in a letter handed over to the Syrian authorities yesterday.
- The Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General's view that the fundamental responsibility of the Syrian Government is to safeguard any such stockpiles, and that the use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences.
- With respect to possible immunity for Syrian leaders, the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General has underscored the fundamental principle that there must be no impunity.
U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND CONDEMNS SCHOOL SHELLING NEAR DAMASCUS
- The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has condemned yesterday’s shelling of a school near Damascus that killed a number of students and a teacher.
- Since the violence in Syria began, schools have been looted, vandalized and burned.
- UNICEF said that this is unacceptable. Schools are, and must remain, zones of peace.
- UNICEF has renewed its call for all parties to the conflict in Syria to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure that all children are protected at all times.
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS REPEATEDLY EXPRESSED HIS CONCERNS OVER NEW SETTLEMENTS IN EAST JERUSALEM, WEST BANK
- Asked about Israeli plans to build new settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General has already expressed his grave concern and disappointment at the announcement that 3,000 new housing units would be built, and has consistently said that settlements are illegal.
- He noted the Secretary-General had said specifically that any plans for the so-called E1 envelope, which would risk completely cutting off East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, must be rescinded.
- He has repeatedly called on all concerned to resume negotiations and intensify efforts towards a comprehensive and lasting peace.
- Asked about the Quartet, the Spokesperson said the Quartet remains an important part of the overall equation, and it is for the members of the Quartet to decide how they should move forward. The Secretary-General continues to be actively involved in their deliberations.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF VISITS COMMUNITIES IN RAKHINE STATE, MYANMAR
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, visited today several different communities who have lost almost everything due to inter-communal violence in Rakhine State, in Myanmar.
- Ms. Amos said that she saw thousands of people in overcrowded, substandard shelter with poor sanitation and that she was very concerned.
- The unrest, which started in June and then flared up again in October, has left some 115,000 people living in camps or with host families across Rakhine State.
- Ms. Amos highlighted the security threats to humanitarian workers as a major challenge in providing assistance.
- She said that political leaders in Myanmar should support the important humanitarian work being done by the United Nations and its partners.
MALDIVES: MISSION ASSESSES POTENTIAL SUPPORT TO FORTHCOMING PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, led an integrated United Nations Needs Assessment Mission (NAM) to the Maldives from 3 to 5 December 2012.
- The mission was in response to a formal request from the Government to assess potential UN support to presidential elections in 2013.
- While in Malé, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco met with senior officials of the Government and political parties, members of the Elections Commission (EC) and representatives of the diplomatic corps and civil society.
- In his discussions, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco emphasized the urgency for the Maldives to resume political dialogue at all levels and implement without delay its institutional reforms, particularly in the areas of police, judiciary, the People’s Majlis, the Human Rights Commission and the media, as recommended in the report of the Commission of National Inquiry (CoNI).
- He also stressed that the next elections should be not only free, fair, and credible, but also peaceful and inclusive.
U.N. READY TO PROVIDE INTERNATIONAL ASSISTANCE TO PHILIPPINES AFTER TYPHOON
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today that the Humanitarian Country Team in the Philippines and partners at national and provincial levels are standing by to provide assistance if needed to people affected by the typhoon Bopha.
- While no request has been received, the Humanitarian Coordinator has offered international assistance to the Government of the Philippines.
- The most pressing humanitarian needs are food, water and shelter according to the authorities.
- Humanitarian agencies and a specially deployed United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team, are in Mindanao assisting the Government with a joint Rapid Damage and Needs Assessment and will continue to provide assessment support as necessary.
U.N. AGENCIES WORKING TO LOWER FATALITY RATE DUE TO YELLOW FEVER OUTBREAK IN DARFUR
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that over 670 people are reported to have contracted yellow fever in Darfur, with over 160 people dying from the disease since the World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of the outbreak on 29 October. It is likely that many more cases of yellow fever have not been reported to health authorities.
- UN agencies in Sudan are financially and logistically supporting the efforts of the federal and state Ministries of Health to address the outbreak. Some USD 2.6 million has been mobilized by the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund, alongside other donor contributions, allowing the purchase of 3.7 million vaccines. WHO estimates that it requires an additional 2.2 million doses of vaccine for over two million people who are still at risk in Darfur – a further USD 1.9 million is required to procure these doses.
- In collaboration with the federal Ministry of Health, a vaccination campaign was launched on 20 November in the 12 worst-affected areas of Darfur to prevent people contracting the disease. So far, 1.3 million people have received yellow fever vaccinations.
- The response has reduced the fatality rate from 40 per cent when the outbreak began, to around 24 per cent. The international humanitarian community is working with the Ministry of Health and medical partners to lower this rate even further.
U.N. LAUNCHES NEW APP ON INTERNATIONAL VOLUNTEER DAY
- Today, International Volunteer Day for Social and Economic Development, the United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) is launching an iPhone app that illustrates the breadth of activities of the UN system around the world.
- The app is available at https://unp.un.org/calendar
- The UN Calendar of Observances app, which can be fully integrated into a user’s iPhone calendar, features UN observances as well as ways to get involved. The app provides engaging interactive features on UN achievements, links to videos and photos, and options for sharing information via e-mail and social media.
DIFFERENCES IN EGYPT SHOULD BE ADDRESSED THROUGH DIALOGUE: Asked about the situation in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that Egypt is in transition, and that any differences should be addressed through dialogue, and that protests should be peaceful.
U.N. TO CREATE WORKING GROUP TO LOOK AT RECOMMENDATIONS OF SRI LANKA REPORT: Asked about the implementation of the recommendations of the Internal Review Panel on United Nations Action in Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations system has made clear it takes the report extremely seriously. He said the Chef de Cabinet recently announced the creation of a working group to study the report's recommendations. The Spokesperson said this group will be headed by the Deputy Secretary-General.
SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN HAVE TO PURSUE EFFORTS FOR ABYEI SOLUTION: Asked about the situation in Abyei, the Spokesperson said that both parties have to continue efforts to find a mutually agreeable solution to the final status of Abyei.