HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
THURSDAY, 6 DECEMBER 2012
U.N. STANDS READY TO ASSIST PHILIPPINES AFTER TYPHOON BOPHA, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
- The Secretary-General is saddened by the loss of life and the serious damage to homes and infrastructure in the Philippines as a result of Typhoon Bopha (known locally as Typhoon Pablo), the second devastating storm to hit Mindanao in a year.
- The Secretary-General extends his sincere condolences to the Government and people of the Philippines, particularly those who have lost family members and who have been otherwise affected by this disaster.
- The United Nations stands ready to provide humanitarian assistance and to mobilize international support for the response.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY DEATH OF OSCAR NIEMEYER, ONE OF THE ARCHITECTS OF UN HEADQUARTERS
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said:
- I was saddened to learn of the death of Oscar Niemeyer, a towering figure and one of the original architects of United Nations Headquarters in
- New York.
- Mr. Niemeyer’s career was exceptionally long and illustrious, but what made him an outstanding architect was not just his stamina and talent.
- He imbued his work with a powerful sense of humanism and global engagement.
- I recall my sense of wonder when visiting some of his modernist masterworks in Brasilia, which have been recognized on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
- His work in designing United Nations Headquarters stands as his legacy to the world. As United Nations staff in New York move back to our newly renovated complex from temporary quarters, we marvel anew at his vision in creating a beautiful and inspiring home from which to carry out our work of service for all humankind.
- I offer sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Niemeyer and to the Government and people of Brazil.
SECRETARY-GENERAL IN JORDAN AFTER VISIT TO IRAQ
- The Secretary-General just arrived in Jordan after a visit today to Iraq, where he met the country's President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and leaders of Parliamentary political blocs.
- In his meetings in Baghdad, he discussed the need for inclusive dialogue as Iraqis move ahead with their political transition. And he said Iraq and Kuwait, which he visited yesterday, have a historic opportunity to improve their relationship.
- The Secretary-General will meet with Jordan's Prime Minister this evening.
- Asked about the Secretary-General's visit to Iraq, the Spokesperson said the visit underscores the importance of the political transition under way there and the need to come together in dialogue.
- The Secretary-General visited Iraq after his visit to Kuwait, looking to help further the rapprochement between both countries and to encourage Iraq to live up to its obligations fully with regard to Kuwait.
- The Secretary-General also expressed his strong support for UN colleagues in the Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) who are doing a remarkable job in many facets of development in Iraq.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO HEAD OF ORGANIZATION FOR CHEMICAL WEAPONS PROHIBITION ABOUT SYRIA
- While in Bagdad, the Secretary-General called the Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) with regard to concerns about Syria’s chemical weapons and recent reports of plans for their possible use.
- The Secretary-General informed the Director-General that he has written again to President Al-Assad urging him to refrain from the use of any such weapons under any circumstances and underscoring the fundamental responsibility of the Syrian government to ensure the safety and security of any such stockpiles.
- The Secretary-General reiterated to the Director-General that any use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime with dire consequences.
- The Secretary-General thanked the Director-General for informing him that the OPCW continues to closely monitor reports on developments and that the OPCW has made numerous approaches over the years to Syria to join the Chemical Weapons Convention.
- Asked about Lebanese developments related to the conflict in Syria, the Spokesperson said tensions in Lebanon underscore our concerns about the spill-over effects of the conflict in Syria. Any further militarisation of the conflict is not helpful.
HEAD OF UNESCO CONDEMNS KILLING OF PROFESSIONAL AND CITIZEN JOURNALISTS IN SYRIA
- The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today voiced deep concern over the continued killing of both professional and citizen journalists in Syria.
- Her comment came following news of the violent death of eight journalists since late November: newspaper editor Naji Assaad, TV reporter Bassel Tawfiq Youssef; professional journalist Abdel Khalil; and citizen journalists Hozan Abdel Halim Mahmoud; Mohammed Al-Khalid; Abdullah Hassan Kaake; Mohammad Al-Zaher, also known as Abu Nasser Na’imi; and Mustafa Kerman
- “The killing of journalists and bloggers is not only a crime against individuals and a breach of their inalienable human right of freedom of expression. It is also a crime against society’s right to access information and engage in democratic debate,” Ms Bokova said.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF CALLS FOR GREATER HUMANITARIAN ACCESS IN KACHIN STATE, MYANMAR
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has called on the Government of Myanmar to work with the UN and its partners to increase efforts to address the humanitarian issues that are causing continued instability in the country.
- “The last year has seen remarkable changes within Myanmar but humanitarian needs continue and in some areas have intensified. As the country moves ahead on its reform process it needs to address some critical humanitarian issues,” said Ms. Amos.
- Ms. Amos is in Myanmar to assess the country’s humanitarian situation. Today, she travelled to Kachin State where she met displaced people in a camp outside Myitkyina. She also expressed grave concerns for the people displaced in other parts of the state where the UN has no access.
- Later, she met President Thein Sein in the capital, Nay Pyi Taw, and raised this subject with him as well as her concern about the lack of humanitarian access in some Government-controlled areas and in Kachin Independent Organization (KIO)-controlled areas.
- She said she hoped the Government would give permission to travel to these areas and provide the aid that is so desperately needed.
HUMANITARIAN CHIEF IN SUDAN CALLS FOR ADDITIONAL FUNDS TO STOP DARFUR YELLOW FEVER OUTBREAK
- The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari, has emphasized the serious nature of the yellow fever outbreak in Darfur and has called for urgent funding to get additional vaccines to control the outbreak.
- He said that the outbreak was very significant and the spread of the disease showed no signs of stopping.
- More than 670 people are reported to have contracted yellow fever in Darfur, with more than 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 cases have not been reported.
- International humanitarian agencies are supporting the Sudanese authorities both financially and logistically to address the outbreak. WHO estimates that it requires a further USD 1.9 million to buy more vaccines. So far, 1.3 million people have received yellow fever vaccinations.
D.R.CONGO: GOMA AIRPORT REOPENED, TALKS EXPECTED TO START SHORTLY IN UGANDA
- Asked about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said the airport in Goma is open and flights are taking off. This is crucial for the humanitarian community for movement of aid staff and supplies, including food, medical and other relief items. It will also facilitate access to people in need outside Goma.
- The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) confirms that a delegation of Congolese officials led by Foreign Minister Tshibanda arrived in Kampala, Uganda, yesterday for negotiations with the M23.
- Other reports indicate that M23 political leader Jean-Marie Runiga has also arrived in the Ugandan capital. Talks between representatives of the two sides are anticipated to begin shortly.
- In answer to a question from yesterday, the Spokesperson said the support of UN Mission, MONUSCO, to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) and the Congolese National Police (PNC), including to the units participating in operations against the M23 rebels in North Kivu., was provided in line with the mission's Conditionality Policy.
- The mission is investigating reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights alleged to have been committed by FARDC units during the operations against the M23 rebels and has raised concerns with the senior leadership of the FARDC.
- Speaking generally, if allegations are substantiated, they are brought to the attention of the DRC Government, with a request to take corrective measures to prevent the recurrence of such violations and hold perpetrators accountable.
- Support is suspended or withdrawn if corrective action is not taken in due time.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CLOSED MEETINGS ON SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN AND LIBERIA: This morning the Security Council met in consultations to discuss the situation in Sudan and South Sudan. This afternoon the Security Council will discuss sanctions on Liberia and Sudan in closed consultations.
U.N. CONCERNED BY VIOLENCE IN EGYPT: Asked about the situation in Egypt, the Spokesperson expressed concern about the violence and sadness at the loss of life there last night. He noted that in this process of transition it is up to the Egyptian people to decide their future, and do so through a process of peaceful dialogue. The UN is monitoring developments closely.
U.N. SYSTEM STANDS BEHIND GOAL OF OPEN INTERNET: Asked about the U.N.'s involvement with the management of the Internet, the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General believes the overall objective must be to provide universal access to information technology. Indeed, a digital divide has no place in the 21st century knowledge-based economy. He also believes that the management of information and communications technology should be transparent, democratic, and inclusive, and the UN system stands behind the goal of an open Internet.
CONVENTIONS AGREED BY GENERAL ASSEMBLY SHOULD BE RATIFIED BY ALL MEMBER STATES: Asked about the Convention on the Rights of people with Disabilities, he noted the Secretary-General issued a message on 3 December. The Spokesperson added that as a general principle, when a convention is agreed to in the General Assembly, it is usual that the Secretary-General would encourage ratification by all member states.