HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
FRIDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ATTACK ON SOMALI GOVERNMENT HEADQUARTERS
- The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the attack today on Villa Somalia, the seat of the Somali government in Mogadishu. He expresses his condolences to the families of those killed and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured. He pays tribute to the Somali National Forces and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) for their efficient and professional response in repelling the attackers.
- The Secretary-General is concerned that the recent attacks perpetrated by Al Shabaab insurgents in Somalia are clearly aimed at destabilising the country at a time when many efforts are being mobilized to restore peace and development. He calls on the Somali people and government to remain resolute in the fight against extremism. He reiterates the United Nations' unwavering support for their determined efforts to build a peaceful and stable Somalia.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, also condemned the attack. He said that the Somali people were tired of shootings, bombings and killings. He added that it was time for a new chapter in Somalia’s history and that we could not allow a slide back at this critical time.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT
- The Spokesperson confirmed that the Secretary-General spoke today to President Viktor Yanokovych of Ukraine and that he had urged the President to fully implement the agreement that had been reached as soon as possible.
- Asked about UN efforts in Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations remains ready to support the implementation of the agreement by helping de-escalate the situation and to support all efforts toward a lasting solution to the crisis.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC AFTER SECRETARY-GENERAL PRESENTS SIX-POINT INITIATIVE
- The Security Council continued its discussion of the situation in the Central African Republic this morning, in its closed consultations.
- The Secretary-General briefed the Council on the Central African Republic on Thursday afternoon, and said afterwards that international efforts there must be increased. He said that the international community is working hard to protect people from atrocities, restore stability and provide emergency relief, but it is simply not enough.
- The Secretary-General has put forward a six-point initiative for addressing the most urgent priorities and needs, including for more troops and police, increased efforts for the peace process, support for the Government, funding for humanitarian assistance and accountability.
- He said that time is of the essence. A delay of a week or even a day can mean the difference between life and death for many people.
- The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that the number of refugees from the Central African Republic has sharply increased this month in Cameroon, as violence continues through the country.
- Since the beginning of February a total of nearly 20,000 refugees from the Central African Republic have crossed into Cameroon. This is up from less than 5,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in the first week of the month.
- The latest influx brings to more than 35,000 the total number of refugees who have fled to Cameroon since March 2013.
- The Refugee Agency says that they have started registration and are moving the new arrivals in eastern Cameroon to a new site which can host up to 10,000 people.
- The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos wrapped up her visit to the Central African Republic on Thursday and said that security needed to be restored so that people can go back home and not live in fear.
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners are increasing their delivery of life-saving aid as fast as security and access conditions allow. The humanitarian community also calls on donors to give generously to support humanitarian response efforts in the Central African Republic.
SOUTH SUDAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY RENEWED FIGHTING IN MALAKAL
- In South Sudan, the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS) reports that it conducted a patrol to Malakal town, in Upper Nile State, on Thursday to assess the situation, after the recent wave of fighting which began on 18 February.
- The Mission observed Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in Opposition forces and armed youth on the streets as well as Opposition elements along with some South Sudanese National Police and other uniformed personnel at a former SPLA checkpoint. The Mission says it counted more than 50 bodies in various parts of the town.
- The Mission patrol further noted that Malakal town had been looted and appeared to be generally empty of civilians.
- The UN Mission also reported sporadic firing this morning close to its Malakal compound. The Mission says that it responded by moving armoured vehicles to the spot. Two women, who sustained wounds, were admitted to the UN hospital inside the base.
- Meanwhile, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that aid organizations are concerned by reports from civilians in Malakal that a number of people have been killed this week at the Malakal Teaching Hospital, including those who sought shelter at the facility. Access to the hospital is currently restricted due to insecurity in the town and aid agencies have not yet been able to verify the reports first-hand.
- In a statement issued on Thursday night, the Secretary-General noted with deep concern the reports of renewed fighting in Malakal and the catastrophic consequences for civilian populations. He urged all parties to the conflict to respect International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law and ensure that civilians are protected.
- Asked about fighting among groups in the Malakal camp, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission reports that there was no fighting today among internally displaced people in the protection of civilians site.
- Asked about the UN Mission’s examination of the use of cluster bombs in the conflict, Haq said that all States were encouraged to cooperate with the Mission in its work.
HEAD OF U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO CONCERNED BY VIOLENCE IN BUKAVU, SOUTH KIVU
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler, said he was deeply concerned by the violence yesterday in Bukavu, South Kivu, where 47 people were injured during a rally.
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, was able to visit and hear the testimonies of 27 of the injured, both civilians and police.
- The Mission highlights that the freedom of peaceful assembly and demonstration are enshrined in the Congolese Constitution.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CALLS ON STATES TO ADMIT ADDITIONAL SYRIAN REFUGEES
- The UN Refugee Agency called upon states today to make commitments so that an additional 100,000 Syrian refugees can be resettled or admitted in 2015 and 2016.
- The Refugee Agency had earlier called upon states to provide solutions for 30,000 of the most vulnerable Syrian refugees through resettlement or other forms of admission by the end of 2014. To date, 20 countries have offered more than 18,800 places towards this goal.
- The Agency anticipates that in the coming years, there will be increasing numbers of vulnerable Syrian refugees who will be in need of resettlement, relocation, or other forms of humanitarian admission.
- There are currently more than 2.4 million refugees registered in the region.
- Asked when the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, would come to New York, the Spokesperson said that, although Mr. Brahimi intends to report to the Secretary-General in New York soon, there are no dates for his travel yet.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s views on the recent round of talks, Haq noted that the Secretary-General told reporters on Thursday that, although he is disappointed that two sessions of the political negotiations have not brought good progress, he believed there was no need to be overly pessimistic.
- The Secretary-General said that there is no other option but to continue the Geneva process.
- Asked about arms transfers to different parties, Haq said that the Secretary-General was opposed to any further militarization of the conflict and had made that clear to all his interlocutors.
- Asked about access to parts of Syria that are difficult to reach, he reiterated the UN’s call to all parties to provide the humanitarian access that is needed so that life-saving aid can be given to the people who need it. He noted that a quarter of a million people are in areas where access is limited.
- Asked about the death toll in Syria, Haq said that the High Commissioner for Human Rights had said that more than 100,000 people had been killed in the conflict by the middle of last year. Since then, the death toll had not been updated by the United Nations because of difficulties in obtaining agreement on an accurate methodology.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH NEW CITIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE ENVOY, MICHAEL BLOOMBERG
- The Secretary-General met this morning with Michael Bloomberg, the UN Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change, and he praised Mr. Bloomberg’s work when he was Mayor of New York City in helping to make New York a carbon-free city.
- The Secretary-General said that megacities like New York are vulnerable to the impact of climate change. But he noted that at the same time, considerable work is being done to make New York City resilient against the effects of climate change, through policies on land use, transit, improved building codes and sustainable energy.
- He said he would rely on Mayor Bloomberg’s help to make the UN climate change summit meeting in September a great success and to get a global climate change agreement by next year.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
24 – 28 FEBRUARY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Monday, 24 February
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.
Today, at 10:00 a.m., in the Trusteeship Council, the International Year of Small Island Developing States will be launched. The Secretary-General will open the ceremony along with the President of the General Assembly, John W. Ashe.
At 1:00 p.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference on the International Year of Small Island Developing States. Speakers will be: H.E. Mr. Baron Divavesi Waqa, President of the Republic of Nauru; H.E. Mr. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi; Prime Minister of Samoa; H.E. Ms. Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Barbados; and H.E. Mr. Devanand Virahsawmy, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of the Republic of Mauritius.
Tuesday, 25 February
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the situation in the Middle East, followed by consultations on the same subject.
At 10:00 a.m., in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the General Assembly will hold an informal meeting of the plenary concerning the humanitarian situation in the Syrian Arab Republic.
Wednesday, 26 February
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on its mission to Mali. It will also hear a briefing and hold consultations on Guinea-Bissau.
At 13:15 and at 15:00, in Conference Room 1 (CB), there will be an event on “Power of Collaboration: Women and the Future of Global Leadership”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of the Czech Republic and the Impact Leadership 21.
At 18:00, in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, the UN Programme for the Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade will host a screening of the film 12 Years a Slave. After the screening there will be Q&A with the film’s director, Steve McQueen.
Thursday, 27 February
From 10:00 to 12:00, in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, there will be a panel discussion on “The rule of law, peace and security, human rights and development”.
From 13:15 to 14:30, in Conference Room 6 (NLB), there will be the launch of the Report on Preparedness Financing of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and Overseas Development Institute (ODI) (organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC))
Friday, 28 February
There are no major events scheduled for today.