HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2012
BANRAIN: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERNS OVER VIOLENCE, URGES MAXIMUM RESTRAINT
- The Secretary-General is concerned about reports of clashes in Bahrain between security forces and demonstrators over the past few days. He calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and expects the Bahraini authorities to act in accordance with their international human rights obligations.
- The Secretary-General strongly believes that a genuine, all-inclusive and meaningful dialogue that meets the legitimate aspirations of all Bahrainis is the way to promote peace and stability in the country.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his call on the Bahraini authorities to do everything possible to expedite the implementation of the recommendations of the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry, especially its provisions aimed at effective confidence-building measures.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR CAMP ASHRAF RELOCATION PROCESS TO START WITHOUT FURTHER DELAY
- The Secretary-General continues to closely follow the situation in Camp Ashraf. Over the past few months, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), under the leadership of his Special Representative, Martin Kobler, and in close cooperation with UNHCR, the European Union, the United States and other interested Member States, has been tirelessly working as an impartial facilitator to promote a peaceful resolution of this issue, within the framework of UNAMI’s humanitarian mandate.
- At the request of the Secretary-General, the Government of Iraq extended its deadline to close Camp Ashraf from 31 December 2011 to 30 April 2012. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed on 25 December 2011 between the United Nations and the Government of Iraq has laid the foundation for a peaceful and durable solution, respecting both the sovereignty of Iraq and meeting Iraq’s international humanitarian and human rights obligations.
- The Secretary-General acknowledges the efforts of the Government of Iraq to prepare the temporary transit location to host the residents and allow UNHCR to undertake refugee status determination. On 31 January 2012, UNHCR confirmed that the infrastructure and facilities at the temporary transit location are in accordance with the international humanitarian standards stipulated in the MoU.
- The Secretary-General believes that the time has come to start the relocation process without further delay. He urges the Iraqi authorities and the residents of Camp Ashraf to continue to cooperate and complete the process in a peaceful manner. The Secretary-General reiterates that the Government of Iraq bears the primary responsibility for the security and the welfare of the residents of Camp Ashraf. At the same time, the residents of Camp Ashraf also bear a responsibility to abide by the laws of Iraq. Any provocation or violence must be avoided and would be unacceptable.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his call to Member States to contribute to a durable solution by demonstrating their readiness to accept eligible residents of Camp Ashraf who wish to resettle in third countries.
- The Secretary-General stresses that the United Nations remains strongly committed to continue to do its utmost to facilitate a peaceful and durable solution.
SECRETARY-GENERAL BEGINS VISIT TO VIENNA
- The Secretary-General has arrived in Vienna.
- On Wednesday, he will address the opening session of the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners on Combating the Afghan Illicit Opiate Trade.
- He will have a number of bilateral meetings, including with the Austrian President and Foreign Minister.
- He will also give an address at the Hofburg Palace on the theme “Empowering People in a Changing World”.
- Asked about a meeting between the Secretary-General and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Vienna, the Deputy Spokesperson said that this meeting should take place on Thursday.
U.N., OTHERS URGE STEPPED UP AID FOR SAHEL REGION
- Leaders of United Nations agencies, representatives of affected governments, and major donors on Wednesday called for an urgent scale up of humanitarian, rehabilitation and development assistance to address rising levels of hunger and malnutrition caused by the combined effect of drought, high food prices, displacement and conflict affecting the Sahel region of West Africa.
- After an emergency meeting at the headquarters of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Rome, participants agreed that the time for humanitarian action in the Sahel is now.
- Leaders attending the meeting called for a comprehensive, rapid and robust response to the crisis to address the needs of the most vulnerable – especially women and children - among the millions who have been affected by drought. They called for a combination of relief with early recovery and longer term development actions.
TOP U.N. OFFICIALS SET TO VISIT NIGER
· The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator, Helen Clark, will travel to Niger for a two-day joint mission on 16 and 17 February.
· The UN officials are scheduled to meet with President Mahamadou Issoufu, Prime Minister Brigi Rafini and other key Government officials to highlight the preparedness work and early action to address the food and nutrition crisis. They will also discuss the need to better integrate humanitarian and development programmes to address the underlying causes of recurrent crises in the region.
· They plan to visit Tillaberi in the south-west of Niger, to see how resilience and humanitarian programmes are addressing the immediate food needs of people and also helping communities prepare for and cope with future crises. They will also meet representatives of donors and aid agencies.
SOMALIA: U.N. AGENCIES CONCERNED OVER IMPACT OF CLASHES ON DISPLACED IN AFGOOYE CORRIDOR
- According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), UN humanitarian agencies are deeply concerned about the impact that recent fighting outside Mogadishu may have on the Afgooye corridor, where there are some 400,000 very vulnerable internally displaced people.
- Early reports indicate that thousands of people in the corridor are fleeing their temporary homes.
- The agencies warn that an escalation of clashes could lead to an influx of tens of thousands of displaced people into Mogadishu, exacerbating the already-fragile situation there.
SECURITY COUNCIL CONTINUES MISSION TO HAITI
- The Security Council is visited Cap-Haitien on Wednesday. The Council members met with Government and city officials as well as representatives of civil society. They also visited the city's prison and tribunal.
- Members of the Security Council are also visiting the Caracol industrial site, outside of Cap-Haitien.
- They will return to Port-au-Prince later in the afternoon and will visit the Delmas police station.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES HALT TO SYRIA VIOLENCE: Asked about the situation in Syria, including the recent attacks in the city of Aleppo, the Deputy Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly said that violence from all quarters must stop. He has also called for a peaceful resolution and that the authorities must listen to the voices of the people.
SECRETARY-GENERAL AWARE OF REPORTS OF CIVILIAN DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN: Asked about civilian deaths due to a bombing in Afghanistan, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is aware of the reports and that we are awaiting a report on the incident from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).
SELECTION OF PEACEKEEPING ADVISORS MATTER FOR MEMBER STATES: Asked about the selection of Shavendra Silva of Sri Lanka by the Asia Group of Members States to an advisory body on peacekeeping, the Deputy Spokesperson said that this is a matter for Member States.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES IRAN TO PROVE ITS NUCLEAR PROGRAMME IS FOR PEACEFUL PURPOSES: Asked about Iran’s nuclear programme, the Deputy Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General has said that the country must prove that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes only. He has also called on Iran to comply with all relevant resolutions of the Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
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