HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
FRIDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS CAMPS FOR SYRIAN REFUGEES IN JORDAN AND TURKEY
- The Secretary-General visited camps for Syrian refugees in Jordan and Turkey on Friday.
- He saw the Za'atari camp in Jordan first, visiting a food distribution centre run by the World Food Programme (WFP) and a playground for children run by UNICEF. He later travelled to Turkey's Islahiye camp, where he saw a tent city and spoke with some residents there.
- In remarks to the press following his visits to the camps, the Secretary-General said he was shocked, humbled and deeply moved by the stories that families shared with him. He recalled one child who simply told him he wanted to go back to school.
- The Secretary-General has once more appealed to all sides in Syria to stop the killing. And he pleaded for more funds for humanitarian assistance, at a time when the Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan is only 50 percent funded.
The Secretary-General said the people he met today are mothers, brothers, fathers and sisters. They are our family, he said; let us stand by them.
He met in Ankara later with the Turkish President and Prime Minister. He was due to meet the Foreign Minister on Friday evening. He will return to New York on Saturday.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF EXPRESSES ALARM AT RISING TENSION IN EGYPT
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed alarm on Friday at the rising tension and recent deaths and injuries during protests related to Egypt’s draft Constitution.
- Ms. Pillay welcomed President Morsi’s call for dialogue on Thursday but regretted there was no significant progress on the core issues relating to the Constitution. She raised serious concerns about the process leading up to the referendum, and said her Office had been carefully analysing the contents of the draft Constitution, as well as monitoring the Constitution-drafting process.
- She added that the lack of inclusive participation of various actors in Egypt in the constitution-drafting process was a matter of major concern, and one of the main reasons for the situation that has been developing in Egypt over the past couple of weeks.
- The High Commissioner noted that the draft Constitution contained some important positive elements, including for example the limitation of the presidency to two four-year terms, but that there were also some very worrying omissions and ambiguities.
CHIEF OF U.N. AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES VISITS OPERATIONS IN SYRIA
- The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Filippo Grandi, visited UNRWA operations and staff in Syria on Thursday.
- In the Yarmouk Palestine refugee camp close to Damascus, the Commissioner-General spoke with displaced people sheltered in one of the UNRWA’s 15 schools.
- There are currently 2,631 internally displaced people in UNRWA schools as of 6 December, down by 275 from 22 November.
- Mr. Grandi inspected damage to the school caused by shelling last week and paid condolences to two of the five families of UNRWA staff members recently killed in Syria.
- The Commissioner-General also met with the Foreign Minister, the Deputy Foreign Minister and the Russian Ambassador with whom he raised issues of continued humanitarian access, protection of civilians and the importance of ensuring Palestine refugees’ neutrality. Lastly, he met with UN political and humanitarian officials and discussed ways to ensure the continuation of UN operations in the present security circumstances.
- In answer to questions on Syria, the Deputy Spokesperson said that Secretary-General had repeatedly called for end to the violence in Syria, from all sides. He had made it clear that the situation was unacceptable.
- Del Buey also said that the Secretary-General had stated that further militarization was not helpful and that he was concerned about a potential spillover of the conflict to neighboring countries.
D.R. CONGO: SITUATION IN THE KIVUS REMAINS FRAGILE
- The situation in the Kivus remains fragile. Reports indicate that some M23 elements remain in the Kibati and Munigi areas. Goma remains calm and reports indicate that some 2,400 Congolese police have been deployed back in the city. The return of United Nations personnel who were temporarily relocated out of Goma and Bunia is expected to be completed today.
- On Friday, in Dar es Salam, President Zuma was due to chair a Summit of the Southern African Development Community countries that was expected to focus on the situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- With regard to reports of human rights violations in the Minova area, preliminary investigations by MONUSCO indicate that several human rights violations, including rape and looting, were committed by FARDC elements.
- The soldiers had gathered there after retreating from Goma. MONUSCO cannot confirm the reported figure of 72 rapes, but is on the ground conducting further investigations. The Mission has expressed its serious concern with the Congolese authorities and has offered its support to ensure that those responsible are held accountable.
- In terms of response, the United Nations and partners have been working with the provincial health authorities in South Kivu in order to make medical assistance available to survivors of sexual violence in health centers in the Minova.
- MONUSCO has also received allegations of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including killings and wounding of civilians, rape, looting, as well as forced recruitment of children, by elements of the M23 in Goma and neighboring territories of Rutshuru and Masisi, North Kivu province, since June 2012.
- Investigations into these allegations are ongoing. Despite difficulties in verifying reports due to security constraints, limited access to certain areas, and witness protection concerns, MONUSCO is able to confirm several serious human rights violations, including the killing and wounding of civilians, as well as looting, committed by the M23 in Goma and surrounding areas.
- Meanwhile on Friday morning, the Security Council held closed consultations on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and received an update from the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous. The Council earlier heard briefings by Chairmen of its subsidiary bodies.
U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR SAHEL HOLDS MEETING WITH ENVOYS, MEDIATORS AND U.N. OFFICIALS IN ROME
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, had a meeting on Friday in Rome with Special Envoys, Mediators and senior UN officials dealing directly with the crisis in the Sahel.
- He said the meeting was productive and that participants discussed a wide range of issues including the key challenges affecting the region and took stock of ongoing efforts to address them, as well as means by which coordination mechanisms and synergy could be enhanced in support of peace and security in the Sahel region.
- Mr. Prodi said the meeting also reviewed the situation in Mali and how to strengthen the international community’s support to the resolution of the crisis that the country is going through.
- The Special Envoys and Mediators expressed a unique convergence of views and underlined the need to work together in support of the countries of the Sahel and Mali in their efforts to stabilize the region towards long term development, Mr. Prodi said.
U.N. ENVOY TO GUINEA-BISSAU WILL COMPLETE HIS ASSIGNMENT AT THE END OF THE YEAR
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Guinea Bissau and head of the United Nations Inegrated Peacebuilding Office in this country (UNIOGBIS), Joseph Mutaboba, who is in New York for consultations and to brief the Security Council next week, is completing his assignment at the end of the year.
- He will spend the next few weeks, as is customary, debriefing and finalizing his end of assignment report at headquarters.
- The Secretary-General greatly appreciates Mr. Mutaboba’s service over nearly four years, in a challenging environment, to support peace-building in Guinea-Bissau. He is in the process of designating a successor.
- Asked if the Special Representative was leaving at the request of the authorities of the country, the Deputy Spokesperson said that Mr. Mutaboba had been in Guinea-Bissau nearly four years since his appointment in February 2009. His contract was set to expire on 31 December, and therefore this was a normal time for a rotation.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF SAYS THAT MYANMAR NEEDS TO STEP UP EFFORTS TO ADDRESS CRITICAL HUMANITARIAN ISSUES
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, wrapped up her visit to Myanmar on Friday.
- In a press conference in Yangon, Ms. Amos said that last year has seen remarkable changes within Myanmar but humanitarian needs continue and in some areas have intensified. She said that as the country moves ahead with the reform process the Government needs to step up its efforts to address these critical humanitarian issues.
- Ms. Amos expressed deep concern at the dire situation of internally displaced people in camps in Rakhine State.
- The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that six months after inter-communal violence broke out in Rakhine State, some 115,000 displaced people are still living in challenging circumstances.
- UNHCR has distributed relief supplies to nearly two-thirds of the affected communities but the needs are still massive. The agency says that some areas of Rakhine State are still hard to reach due to their remote location and continuing tensions. Nonetheless, UNHCR staff has distributed basic relief items and is advocating with the government and partners to improve site planning and provide basic services there.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO LEBANON
- The Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Beirut, Lebanon, on 8 December to chair the annual Regional Coordination Mechanism of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) meeting, to be held on 10 December in Beirut.
- While in Lebanon, the Deputy Secretary-General will hold bilateral meetings with the President, the Prime Minister and other senior Government officials.
- He will visit the troops and staff working for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the South of the country, as well as meet with UN Country Team representatives based in Beirut.
- Mr. Eliasson will also review some of the activities undertaken by the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees in Lebanon.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will arrive back in New York on 12 December.
HEAD OF U.N. OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME VISITS SOUTH EAST ASIA
- The South East Asia mission of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Executive Director, Yury Fedotov, ends on Sunday.
- During the 12-day mission, he discussed illicit drugs, transnational organized crime, anti-corruption, and environmental crimes, including the illegal trade in timber and protected wildlife with heads of state, ministers, and experts.
- He was on Friday on the Indonesian leg of his mission. Previously, he visited Thailand, Myanmar, Viet Nam, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
8 – 14 DECEMBER 2012
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 8 December
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Sunday, 9 December
Today is the International Anti-Corruption Day.
Monday, 10 December
Today is Human Rights Day.
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the situation in the Sahel region.
At 10:00 a.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a commemoration of the thirtieth anniversary of the opening for signature of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
At 2:00 p.m., in Conference Room 2 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “Business action against corruption and the post-2015 development agenda”. It will be organized by the United Nations Global Compact.
At 3:30 p.m., in the main gallery of the Visitors Lobby, a photo exhibit featuring the strides made by Timor-Leste in building a nation a decade after the restoration of independence will formally open.
In Geneva, a meeting of States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention will start. It will end on 14 December.
Tuesday, 11 December
Today is the International Mountain Day.
This morning, the Security Council will hold closed consultations on Guinea-Bissau and Guinea-Bissau sanctions.
At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), the annual high-level Conference on the Central Emergency Response Fund, organized by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, will be held.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, Ivan Simonovic, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, will be guests at the Noon Briefing.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be a special event to mark 10 years of informal conflict resolution services in the United Nations Secretariat. It will be organized by the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services (UNOMS) and the Permanent Mission of Sweden.
At 3:15 p.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), there will be a special event on “The role of leadership in the fight against homophobia”. It will be co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Argentina, Brazil, Croatia, France, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and United States, the Delegation of the European Union, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Human Rights Watch (HRW).
In Geneva, the 22nd round of the Geneva International Discussions will begin. It will end on 12 December.
In Geneva, there will a press conference to launch the nominations for the Green Star Awards 2013. Speakers will include Alexander Likhotal, President of Green Cross International, and Rene Nijenhuis, Humanitarian Affairs Officer at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In Geneva, there will be a press conference by the International Labour Organization (ILO) to launch the Global Employment Trends for Women. Speakers will include Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, ILO Executive Director of Employment, and Ambassador Jean-Jacques Elmiger, International Labour Affairs, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Swiss Confederation.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to launch its 2012 World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI) report. Speakers will include Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO.
Wednesday, 12 December
This morning, there will be a meeting of troop-contributing countries on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF). In the afternoon, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on Liberia sanctions and on the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR)/the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Then, it will hear a briefing on United Nations peacekeeping operations.
Thursday, 13 December
This morning, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on 1267/1989 sanctions (Al Qaeda) and 1988 sanctions (Taliban). Then, the Council will hear a briefing on Sudan by the International Criminal Court (ICC). In the afternoon, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the 1737 Committee (Iran sanctions).
At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), there will be a stakeholders’ Forum on “Preventing and eliminating violence against women”, organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women). At 1:15 p.m., in the same room, there will be a Survivors’ Forum.
Friday, 14 December
At 4:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission to discuss the Commission’s work.