HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
THURSDAY, 13 FEBRUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ATTACK ON U.N. CONVOY AT MOGADISHU AIRPORT IN SOMALIA
- The Secretary-General condemns the attack on a convoy of UN vehicles that occurred today near the international airport in Mogadishu. The Secretary-General expresses his deep condolences to the families of the Somali citizens that have been killed as a result of this attack and wishes a swift recovery to those injured.
- The Secretary-General remains determined to support the Somali Government in preventing such attacks and holding the perpetrators accountable. He expresses his appreciation to United Nations staff in Somalia for their continued dedication under difficult circumstances. The Secretary-General reaffirms the undeterred resolve of the United Nations to support the people and Federal Government of Somalia.
SYRIA: U.N. DELIVERS AID TO HOMS, BLOUDAN
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that more than 1,370 people have so far been evacuated from the Old City of Homs in Syria since last Friday.
- Food, medical supplies and essential household and hygiene items have been delivered for 2,500 people in total, with enough food for one month.
- Aid was also delivered to Bloudan in Rural Damascus with food and medicines for 5,000 people, including for people with chronic diseases, in the last two days. Bloudan is only 45 km from Damascus, but it is in a hard-to-reach area because of insecurity. The humanitarian team reported that it took four hours to travel the last 15 kilometres, and more than 20 checkpoints had to be negotiated.
- Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, is expected to brief the Security Council this afternoon on the situation in Syria at 3pm and is expected to speak at the stakeout afterwards.
- Asked about the men being questioned in Homs, the Spokesperson said that, of the 1,370 evacuees from the Old City of Homs, 430 men between the ages of 15 and 55 were being processed and so far 181 have been released from the transit centre: 111 yesterday and a further 70 today.
- Valerie Amos said on Wednesday that UN staff are on the ground at the transit centre, keeping track of what is happening as people are being processed.
- The Spokesperson added that UN protection officers have been keeping track of the men who are questioned. He reiterated that it is imperative that no harm comes to them.
- Regarding reports of an extension of the Homs ceasefire, Nesirky added that the United Nations has had no official communication regarding an extension of the ceasefire, and UN teams continue to stay on the ground to negotiate to see if this can become a sustained aid operation.
- He added that the United Nations believes that around 2,000 people remain in Homs Old City. He said that the UN teams have done a courageous job to get aid into the Old City of Homs and civilians out of it, but added that there are many other such problems of access throughout the country.
- Asked about besieged areas, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations continues to seek access to dozens of areas where either Government or opposition forces have prevented access.
- He noted that Ms Amos has said that, as long as the truce or the humanitarian pause lasts, and as long as there people who need our help and support, the team on the ground will be there to give it.
U.N. ENCOURAGES PARTIES IN YARMOUK CAMP TO COMPLETE NEGOTIATIONS IN ORDER TO DISTRIBUTE AID
- The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reports that it has sent a team to the northern entrance into Yarmouk Camp in Syria, following an agreement between the parties to the conflict in Yarmouk that indicated that food distribution could be permitted to start again this morning.
- Although the atmosphere remained positive and peaceful throughout the day, the team from the Relief and Works Agency was requested by parties to the agreement to delay distribution until critical negotiations could be completed. It became clear over the course of the day that distribution would not restart. No food parcels were distributed.
- The Agency remains encouraged by the agreement between the parties to the conflict in Yarmouk and has received assurances from Syrian authorities that distributions of urgently needed humanitarian assistance will resume in coming days.
- The Agency encourages all parties to complete negotiations at the earliest opportunity and permit full humanitarian access to the civilian population remaining in Yarmouk.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF SAYS CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC HAS PLUNGED INTO CHAOS, ALLOCATES ADDITIONAL FUNDS
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, has allocated an additional US$10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to support the most critical life-saving aid operations in the Central African Republic (CAR).
- This is the second $10 million allocation from the Fund to Central African Republic in a short period – the same amount was allocated on 9 December.
- Ms. Amos says that the Central African Republic has plunged into chaos and deadly violence following months of political crisis and lawlessness – and that people across the country are living in fear.
- She adds that needs in the country are tremendous, and humanitarian partners are being forced to prioritize the delivery of assistance. Ms. Amos also says that security and stability must be urgently restored, and more must be done to address the root causes of conflict and prevent escalation of violence.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that ongoing violence in the Central African Republic has displaced an estimated 714,000 people across the country. Nearly 300,000 of them are in the capital, Bangui, seeking refuge in 69 displacement sites.
- In the northwest of the country, anti-Balaka and Seleka groups continue to commit atrocities against communities. Entire villages have been looted and burned, forcing communities to flee to the bush or towards neighbouring countries such as Chad and Cameroon.
- A total of $207m in humanitarian funding to the CAR was pledged by 24 donors at the meeting in Brussels on 20 January. As of this week, 28 per cent of the pledges had been committed or disbursed, amounting to $57.5m.
- Meanwhile, the Strategic Response Plan of $551 million is just 13 per cent funded.
- The Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General had just spoken with the President of France, François Hollande, regarding the crisis in the Central African Republic.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN HEAD IN SUDAN CALLS FOR CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES IN SOUTH KORDOFAN, BLUE NILE STATES
- The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Ali Al-Za’tari, has welcomed the renewed direct talks between the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) in Addis Ababa.
- He said he hoped the talks would deliver positive results as swiftly as possible.
- He urged both parties to ensure that the welfare of civilians in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States is an absolute priority during these talks.
- He also urged them to declare an immediate cessation of hostilities allowing humanitarian teams to provide much needed support to these areas.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO CONCERNED OVER REPORTS OF SUMMARY EXECUTIONS IN NORTH KIVU PROVINCE
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, is concerned about reports it has received of several gross human rights violations including a summary execution of over 70 men and women committed in the Nyamaboko villages I and II, Masisi territory, North Kivu province.
- The reports received by the Mission suggest that the summary executions were allegedly committed mainly by armed groups to spread terror among the population. A team from the Mission is on the ground to verify the allegations.
- The head of the Mission, Martin Kobler, said that any person involved in such acts should face justice. The Mission says it will spare no efforts to neutralize all the armed groups responsible for such acts.
SECRETARY-GENERAL: IMPORTANT FOR REASONABLE, MUTUALLY ACCEPTABLE RESOLUTION IN ITALY-INDIA DISPUTE
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s position concerning the dispute involving two Italian Marines in India, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is concerned that this longstanding matter between Italy and India remains unresolved and is prompting tensions between two friendly and important Member States of the Organization.
- The Secretary-General feels it is important that both sides seek to come to a reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution. He is concerned that the matter may have implications for wider common efforts and collaboration around matters of international peace and security, including anti-piracy operations.
- The Spokesperson confirmed that the Secretary-General spoke by phone on Wednesday with Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATES OF U.N. OFFICE IN BURUNDI AND SUDAN PANEL OF EXPERTS
- This morning, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) until 31 December of this year.
- It also extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Sudan for 13 months.