HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 15 AUGUST 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL HAILS PROGRESS MADE IN TIMOR-LESTE
- The Secretary-General arrived in Timor-Leste on Wednesday morning, where he met with the country’s President and then spoke to reporters. The Secretary-General told the press that Timor-Leste had made much progress in just 10 years of independence, but there were still many challenges. He said he had discussed with the President what would be the most appropriate form of UN assistance once the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) is withdrawn at the end of this year.
- On Syria, the Secretary-General said he was actively searching for a successor to the outgoing Joint Special Envoy, Kofi Annan. He said he would make an announcement as soon as possible.
- The Secretary-General later met the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers. He also addressed parliament, saying there was no limit to Timor-Leste's future if its people and leaders continue to show a strong commitment to democratic values, meaningful participation, peace and stability.
WAR CRIMES COMMITTED IN SYRIA, INDEPENDENT RIGHTS BODY SAYS
- The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria on Wednesday released its latest report on the human rights situation in Syria in which it concludes that Government forces and Shabbiha fighters have committed crimes against humanity, war crimes, and gross violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Those include unlawful killing, indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations and acts of sexual violence.
- The report underlines that such violations were committed pursuant to State policy pointing to the involvement at the highest levels of the armed and security forces and the Government.
- The report also updates the Commission of Inquiry findings on its special inquiry into the events in Al-Houla on 25 May 2012 concluding that Government forces and Shabbiha fighters were responsible for the killings of over 100 civilians, nearly half of whom were children. The Commission further reports that war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial killings and torture, were perpetrated by anti-Government armed groups. However these violations and abuses were not of the same gravity, frequency and scale as those committed by Government forces and the Shabbiha.
- In response to a question, the Spokesperson confirmed that there was an explosion near the UN Mission (UNSMIS) Headquarters in Damascus. He added that no UN personnel were injured as a result.
- The Spokesperson said that the situation on the ground continues to be violent, hindering the effort of the UN Mission to play an effective role. He said the Mission would try to carry out its work if circumstances would permit.
- Asked about the appointment of a Joint Special Envoy for Syria, del Buey noted that the Secretary-General continues to search actively for a successor to Kofi Annan in that position.
- Asked about hostage incidents in Syria, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s view that the holding of hostages is unacceptable. He noted that the United Nations had received a request from the Government of Iran last week in that regard.
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF CONTINUES SYRIA VISIT
- Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, met the Syrian Foreign Minister and members of the diplomatic community in Damascus on Wednesday.
- Ms. Amos also visited the An Nabk area, 80 km north of Damascus, where tens of thousands of displaced people, many from Homs, are living, as well as other areas housing displaced people.
- She visited schools hosting hundreds of displaced people in Damascus yesterday, and said that the people she met had told her that they need clean water, sanitation, medical help and food. They are frightened. Many have no home to return to and they desperately need more help and support.
- In her meetings with officials in Syria, Ms. Amos has called on all parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and to protect civilians caught up in the crisis.
SECURITY COUNCIL SPEAK OUT AGAINST DARFUR ATTACK
- The President of the Security Council read a press statement on Wednesday, in which the members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the attack by unidentified armed men on a community police centre of the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), in which one peacekeeper was killed and another injured.
- Council members reiterated their full support for UNAMID and called on all parties in Darfur to cooperate with the mission.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. SEEKING TO ADDRESS IMPACT OF ECONOMIC CRISIS ON STAFF
- In response to a question about the concerns of local staff of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), the Deputy Spokesperson said that the UN is aware of the economic conditions in South Sudan and their impact on the national staff. The UN mission, along with the UN Country Team, have been continuously engaged with the Executive Board of the Mission and the UN Country Team Staff Association, which represents the National Staff working for the UN in South Sudan, to address the economic difficulties faced by the National Staff.
- The United Nations is looking into all possible options to address the effects of the current economic crisis on staff welfare.
- The United Nations is committed to supporting our national staff during this difficult period that South Sudan is experiencing, and will continue to work closely with the Staff Association to find a viable solution.