HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2012
YEMEN: ABDUCTED HUMANITARIAN WORKERS ARE RELEASED
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, expressed her relief after the release of the seven humanitarian workers who were abducted in Yemen on 31 January.
- All have been released unharmed. They are now in Sana'a and are in contact with their families.
- Ms. Amos said that the incident serves to remind us of the dangers faced every day by humanitarian workers helping people in crisis situations around the world and whose only aim is to provide assistance and protection to people in need.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE IN EGYPT
- The Secretary-General is saddened by the death of more than 74 people and the injury of hundreds of others following the outbreak of violence yesterday evening at the end of a football match in the city of Port Said, Egypt.
- He extends his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and wishes a speedy recovery to those who were injured.
- The Secretary-General trusts the Government of Egypt will take appropriate measures to respond to this tragic incident, with the full cooperation of all concerned.
SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS GAZA, WRAPS UP MIDDLE EAST TRIP
- The Secretary-General is on the last day of his trip to the Middle East.
- This morning he was in Gaza, where he visited a school and housing project, both run by the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA.
- The Secretary-General noted the progress made in building houses at the Khan Younis site he had visited on his last trip in 2009. He said he would again urge Israel to remove restrictions so that work can be further accelerated.
- In a statement on the Secretary-General’s visit to Gaza, he said he was concerned about the situation of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
- The Secretary-General later travelled to Erez in Israel where he visited Sapir College, where he met with survivors of a rocket attack last year on a school bus. He said that nothing justified the indiscriminate firing of rockets and mortars into Israel.
- Before departing, the Secretary-General will deliver a keynote address to the Herzliya 2012 Conference in Tel Aviv. He’s expected to speak about the Arab Spring and the impact on the region.
- He is also scheduled to meet Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Bara.
- The Secretary-General is due back in New York tomorrow.
- Asked about an incident involving the Secretary-General’s convoy while entering Gaza, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General was in his vehicle at that time.
- He added that the Secretary-General fully shared the frustrations and concerns of the people who had been present at that crossing point. Nesirky noted that this was why the Secretary-General had visited Gaza for the third time.
- He said that the Secretary-General had underscored the dire social, economic and humanitarian problems in Gaza as well as the need for people and goods to move freely. Nesirky added that the Secretary-General has urged the Israeli authorities to completely lift the restrictions on Gaza.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s remarks on settlement activity, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had a clear position on settlements which are regarded as illegal.
- In response to a question on a meeting with Palestinians, Nesirky said that there had been a scheduled meeting with representatives of civil society during the Secretary-General’s visit to Gaza. It became clear that these representatives did not wish to attend that meeting, he noted, adding that the Secretary-General felt this was a lost opportunity to engage with civil society.
U.N. MISSION IN THE D.R.C. CALLS ACTORS TO PRESERVE PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE AND TO USE LEGAL CHANNELS FOR DISPUTES
- The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, is calling on all political actors to preserve the peaceful atmosphere which has been observed throughout the country since the announcement of the provisional results of the national legislative body.
- The Mission is encouraging all candidates and political actors to use the legally prescribed channels for the resolution of disputes and to refrain from the use of force or violence.
- The Mission also encourages the Supreme Court of Justice, which has jurisdiction over electoral disputes, to examine with due diligence any and all disputes referred to it with a view to contributing to a peaceful political climate and the strengthening of the rule of law.
- MONUSCO reminds all parties concerned that it is continuing to monitor closely human rights violations and acts of violence committed, notably, in the context of the elections.
HUMANITARIAN COMMUNITY LAUNCHES APPEAL FOR D.R.C.
- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the humanitarian community has appealed for US$718 million to provide emergency assistance in 2012 to hundreds of thousands of Congolese.
- The fund will allow aid organizations to respond to the numerous humanitarian needs of Congolese affected by conflicts, epidemics, natural disasters and the lack of access to basic social services.
- Last year, despite the many constraints that humanitarian organizations faced, 7 million people benefited from health-care services, more than 200,000 children in conflict zones continued to have access to education and more than 3 million people received food assistance.
U.N. PLEASED THAT COURT HAS ORDERED RESTITUTION BY FORMER EMPLOYEE
- In answer to a question from yesterday on Jeffery K. Armstrong, a former United Nations employee, the Spokesperson said that he had been convicted by a federal jury for fraudulently holding concurrent jobs at the United Nations and the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. Nesirky noted that he had been sentenced on 27 January 2012 to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay $128,153 in restitution to the United Nations.
- He added that the United Nations fully cooperated with the United States authorities in this matter and was pleased that the United States Court had ordered that restitution be made to the United Nations for the loss it suffered from Mr. Armstrong's actions.