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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 THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
 

FRIDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2014

 

[The United Nations Headquarters in New York will be closed on Monday, 17 February. The noon briefing will resume on Tuesday, 18 February.]

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS HE IS COMMITTED TO DO ALL IN HIS POWER TO PREVENT FURTHER ATROCITIES IN C.A.R.

  • The Security Council began a meeting this morning on the cooperation between the United Nations and regional and subregional organizations, notably the European Union. While discussing such cooperation, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations and its regional partners face an urgent test as the dark clouds of mass atrocities and sectarian cleansing loom over the Central African Republic
  • He emphasized the need to live up to the promises made in the Security Council to act swiftly and robustly in the face of such bloodshed.
  • The Secretary-General said he is committed to do everything in his power to prevent further atrocities and reduce the risk of a de facto partition of the country.
  • The Secretary-General said that he intends to return to the Security Council on Tuesday with recommendations for containing and then ending this crisis.  He said that this will be a crucial opportunity to fortify collective efforts and show that cooperation between the United Nations, African Union, European Union and others can help the people of the Central Africa Republic at their time of need.
  • Asked what the UN can do to prevent the killings, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had made clear that he is duty-bound to bring to the Council’s attention his best possible advice on how to address threats to international peace and security.
  • Nesirky said that next Tuesday, the Secretary-General looks forward to discussing with the Council what it will take to urgently curtail the violence, save lives, protect human rights, support the delivery of humanitarian assistance and strengthen command and control of the forces on the ground.
  • He said that the Secretary-General had said that he sees the situation in the Central African Republic in the context of his Rights Up Front initiative to act against violations of human rights once detected.
  • The Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General is focusing on a tighter command and control of the forces on the ground in the country so that they can deal with the atrocities being committed.
  • Nesirky stressed the need to prevent mass reprisals, saying that this is a crisis that requires urgent, swift action.

W.H.O. TAKES STEPS TO ADDRESS HEALTH SERVICE GAPS IN C.A.R.

  • On the Central African Republic, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that hospitals and clinics have been devastated in the country. The vast majority have been extensively looted and damaged and most health workers have left their posts, leaving huge gaps in delivery of care.
  • The World Health Organization adds that, even before the conflict, health needs in the Central African Republic were enormous.
  • The World Health Organization says it is taking key steps with its partners, such as extending health services to displaced persons in camps, vaccinating children, and distributing drugs. The Organization is also setting up a system with partners to detect when outbreaks occur and working to address major gaps in health services.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that over the past two months, it has verified the killings of 37 children and the maiming of 96 children. The Fund also says that the targeting and emptying of communities over the past couple of weeks has also led to a significant increase in the number of unaccompanied and separated children who are particularly at risk.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO VISIT C.A.R. NEXT WEEK

  • The Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, will be travelling to the country next week, from Tuesday to Thursday.
  • She will be there to take stock of the grave humanitarian crisis in the Central African Republic. She is expected to visit the field and meet with senior Government officials, UN representatives, international non-governmental organizations, donors, religious leaders and affected communities.
  • On 20 February, Ms. Amos is scheduled to hold a press conference in Bangui at the end of her mission.    

SOUTH SUDAN: MEASURES TAKEN TO ADDRESS OVERCROWDING IN SITES AHEAD OF RAINY SEASON

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that overcrowding of protection of civilian sites in the country is a major challenge for the United Nations and the humanitarian community. With the rainy season approaching, there is great concern that these sites will become breeding grounds for disease outbreaks and epidemics.
  • To address this, the Mission says that the Government of South Sudan has accepted a Chinese donation to build a new protection of civilians site in Juba, adjacent to the UN House.
  • The Mission adds that construction, with the assistance of UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), has already begun, and is expected to be completed before the start of the rainy season. Emergency funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has been made available for this project.
  • Additionally, the UN House, which hosts some 15,000 civilians, will also be expanded.
  • Overall, UNMISS is protecting approximately 75,000 civilians in a number of bases around the country.
  • And also on South Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 700,000 people are estimated to have been displaced since violence began on 15 December, while nearly 150,000 have fled across borders.
  • It adds that some 302,000 people have been reached with assistance.
  • The Office also says that humanitarian access to sites outside UN bases remains limited, especially in Jonglei and Unity states.
  • UN agencies and humanitarian partners are concentrating on pre-positioning supplies in safe places before the rainy season begins in April, when it will become extremely difficult to move humanitarian supplies around the country. 
  • Asked about the involvement of Ugandan forces in South Sudan, the Spokesperson expressed the hope that the parties will abide by the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, which they signed on 23 January 2014, and which calls for a progressive withdrawal of allied forces invited by either side.

HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE ALARMED BY REPORTS OF MILITARY BUILD-UP IN YABROUD, SYRIA

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its deep alarm today at reports of a major military build-up and the increased threat to the population in the town of Yabroud, an opposition-held area in the Qalamoun Mountains of Syria. The Office noted estimates suggesting that there are some 40,000 to 50,000 people in that area and that thousands have been fleeing over the last few days.
  • The Human Rights Office said it was deeply concerned that the attack on Yabroud may follow the pattern of previous attacks on cities and towns across Syria. It is closely watching the situation unfold in Yabroud and urges all sides to respect their obligations under international law.
  • As you know, Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Security Council yesterday on Syria, and noted that she had brought before the Council 11 points that they could act on immediately that would make a difference on the ground, building on last October’s  Presidential Statement. She said that it is important that the Council takes action and that the Council has the levers that are required to ensure that the action is taken.
  • Asked about criticisms of Ms. Amos’s remarks, the Spokesperson said that her remarks speak for themselves and were widely commended by Security Council members.

U.N. AGENCY VISITS SYRIA’S YARMOUK CAMP TO URGE RESUMPTION OF DELIVERY OF LIFE-SAVING AID

  • The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) says that it has been a week since it has not been able to distribute life-saving aid in the Yarmouk in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Food supplies that have been distributed so far are running out.
  • An UNRWA team was at Yarmouk today to continue efforts to persuade authorities and concerned parties to allow the Agency immediately to resume the delivery of food, medicines and other humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian needs of Yarmouk’s civilians remain enormous and UNRWA will continue to press all concerned to ensure that food deliveries are urgently resumed.
  • An undetermined number of people, including sick, elderly and disabled and their families were allowed to leave Yarmouk under arrangements agreed by the authorities and Palestinian charities. An UNRWA doctor provided medical assistance at the scene to those who needed it.
  • The atmosphere remained positive and peaceful during most of the UNRWA team’s visit.
  • UNRWA strongly appeals to the authorities and all concerned parties to allow the Agency immediate and unrestricted humanitarian access to the civilian population inside Yarmouk.

U.N. GREAT LAKES ENVOY WRAPS UP TWO-DAY VISIT IN D.R.CONGO

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, was in Kinshasa on Wednesday and Thursday, and she held constructive discussions with the Congolese President and other Government officials on the implementation of national commitments to the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.
  • She also met with international partners to encourage their engagement and support to the process as well as with local non-governmental actors. She said that the engagement of civil society was crucial to achieving the goals and objectives that have been set.

INDONESIA: EVACUATIONS RECOMMENDED AFTER INCREASED VOLCANIC ACTIVITY AT MOUNT KELUD

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that following increased volcanic activity at Mount Kelud in Indonesia, authorities have recommended that people living within a 10 km radius of the crater be evacuated.
  • Two people have reportedly been killed and 70 have been hospitalized. More than 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes.
  • International assistance has not been requested, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continues to monitor the situation.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE IN VENEZUELA CONCERNED AT ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE

  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is deeply concerned about the escalation of violence and the death of at least three people during demonstrations in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on Thursday.
  • Thousands of people in large cities throughout the country reportedly took part in protests against rising crime rates and increasing economic hardship.
  • The Office has received reports of intimidation of journalists, as well as reports that some local and international journalists were attacked while covering the protests.
  • The Regional Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in South America has called on the Government of Venezuela to ensure that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of opinion and expression are guaranteed, and that a prompt, full and impartial investigation into the killings and any act of excessive use of force is undertaken.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General welcomes the high-level talks between the two Koreas. When he met with Kim Yong Nam, who chairs the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, in Sochi, the Secretary-General had stressed the need to decouple family reunions from the political track.
  • In response to an earlier question Afghanistan, the Spokesperson said that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) understands that there is a bilateral agreement between the Government of Afghanistan and the United States on the release of detainees. The Mission hopes both the countries will quickly resolve this matter.
  • In response to a question about Vietnam earlier this week, the Spokesperson said that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has received a letter from several groups and its contents are being reviewed by the Human Rights Advisory Group. A reply will be sent in due course. The Office says that, as a part of the wider UN Secretariat, it advocates the abolition of the death penalty and calls upon Member States to follow international standards concerning its abolition.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
15 – 21 FEBRUARY 2014

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Saturday, 15 February

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Sunday, 16 February

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 17 February

Today is an official US holiday. The UN headquarters in New York will be closed.

In Geneva, the Commission of Inquiry on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea will launch its report on the Human Rights in the country.

Tuesday, 18 February

This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing and hold consultations on the situation in the Central African Republic.

At 12:00 p.m., Mr. John Ging, Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) will be the guest at the Noon Briefing. He will brief on the situation in Somalia.

Wednesday, 19 February

Today, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the promotion and strengthening of the rule of law in the maintenance of international peace and security.

At 13:30, in Conference Room 1 (CB), on the occasion of the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, there will be a panel discussion on “Palestinian non-violent resistance” and screening of the documentary “5 Broken Cameras”.

Thursday, 20 February

This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on its 1718 Committee as well as its 2127 Committee.

From 13:15 to 14:30, in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “Global Citizenship and the Future of the United Nations” organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC).

From 13:15 to 14:30, in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (CB), on the occasion of the World Day for Social Justice, there will be a panel discussion on “Inclusive growth and decent work: Realizing social justice” co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Friday, 21 February

There are no major events scheduled for today.