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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, 6 DECEMBER 2011

SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY ATTACKS IN AFGHANISTAN

  • The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by Tuesday’s attacks in Kabul and Mazar-i-Sharif, which resulted in the death and injury of dozens of Afghan civilians who had gathered to mourn on the occasion of the Tenth of Muharam.

  • The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms such indiscriminate attacks against civilians and extends his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and wounded.

  • The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also strongly condemned the explosions and stressed that today's attacks on Afghan civilians have no justification.

BAN KI-MOON EXPECTS ADVANCES AT DURBAN CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

  • The Secretary-General is in Durban, South Africa, where he addressed the High Level Segment of the 17th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

  • Speaking to the delegates, he said that we must be realistic about expectations for a breakthrough in Durban. But, he added, we can and must move forward on key issues.

  • He said that he expects advances in Durban, starting with implementing what was agreed upon at the last Conference of Parties in Cancun and achieving progress on short- and long-term financing. He also urged delegates to consider a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol in Durban. Finally, he called on countries to not forsake the collective vision of a comprehensive, binding climate change agreement that is both effective and fair for all.

  • Earlier on Tuesday, the Secretary-General met with South African President Jacob Zuma as well as with the president of COP-17, who is the South African Minister of International Relations.

  • He also held a press conference with Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, and attended the launch of the Momentum for Change Initiative, which showcases projects on urban poverty and climate change.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES INDONESIA’S RATIFICATION OF NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY

  • The Secretary-General has welcomed the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by the House of Representatives of Indonesia on 6 December 2011. Secretary-General encourages all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty and is counting upon the engaged leadership of the remaining eight States whose ratification is required for the Treaty’s entry into force.


IRAQ: SOLUTION TO CAMP ASHRAF POSSIBLE, U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, briefed the Security Council on Tuesday morning.

  • He said that the Iraqi Government has asked the United Nations to help facilitate a peaceful and durable solution to the situation concerning Camp Ashraf.

  • Mr. Kobler said that he believes such a solution is possible, but noted that the positions of the Government and camp residents remain far apart.

  • He said that the 31 December deadline set by the Government to close the camp is fast approaching. He appealed for an extension to permit adequate time and space for a solution to be found. This would also help lower tensions.

U.N. AGENCIES CALL FOR PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN YEMEN

  • United Nations agencies have spoken out against attacks on civilians in Yemen, particularly in the city of Taiz.

  • The UN Human Rights Office said that the continued use of disproportionate force by parts of Government security forces is extremely disappointing. It also called on authorities to grant immediate access to the Office’s staff to assess the human rights situation on the ground.

  • For his part, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen called on all armed actors in the conflict in Taiz to ensure the safety and protection of all civilians in accordance with universally-recognized principles of human rights and international humanitarian law.

  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said it deplores the deaths of children in Taiz. In the past four days alone, at least three children have been killed and seven others have been seriously injured.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS MISSION TO SYRIA YET TO TAKE PLACE

  • Asked about the situation in Syria, the Spokesperson said that while a humanitarian mission to the country has taken place, the UN Human Rights Council has long called for a rights assessment mission to the country which has not materialized despite repeated promises.

  • On a recent resolution by the League of Arab States, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is awaiting further details so that it can provide assistance.

  • The Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General remains concerned about the continuing loss of life in Syria and that President Bashar al-Assad must heed the resolution by the League of Arab States and listen to the voices of the international community.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN ARM VOICES CONCERN OVER SITUATION ALONG SUDAN-SOUTH SUDAN BORDER

  • In response to a question on fighting along the border of Sudan and South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is aware of reports of fighting in the Jaw area on the border between Southern Kordofan and Unity State.

  • However, the Mission is not in a position to confirm this information at this moment.

  • For its part, the Humanitarian Coordination Team in South Sudan is concerned that thousands of people have been placed in severe danger following the protracted artillery and aerial bombardment that took place this weekend along the Sudan-South Sudan border.

  • The attack comes amidst a worrying increase in hostilities between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army–North (SPLA-N) in the Lake Jaw area in South Sudan.

  • Aid agencies have been forced to withdraw staff, and are concerned that they cannot provide sustained and uninterrupted assistance, such as food and health, to the approximate 20,000 refugees in the Yida area in South Sudan.

  • Plans to help 4,000 people who had fled earlier fighting move to safer areas have been complicated by reports of landmines in the area.

  • The team has called on the Government of Sudan and the SPLA-N to abide by international humanitarian law and refrain from further actions which could harm innocent people.

DOZENS RESCUED AT SEA OFF COASTS OF MOROCCO, ITALY AND MALTA

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that the Moroccan Royal Navy rescued dozens of people in a boat off the country’s northern coast.

  • Several people have drowned, with four bodies having been found so far. The dead included a Congolese woman and her daughter, both of whom were registered refugees.

  • In a separate incident, two boats departing Greece with some 80 people – mostly Afghans – on board were rescued by the Italian coast guard on Monday after a week at sea. The passengers were found dehydrated with no food and water.

  • The UN Refugee Agency said it has also been informed that a boat reportedly carrying many Somalis was rescued by the Maltese Armed Forces was rescued after leaving the Libyan coast over the weekend.

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