HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2014
UKRAINE: SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES FOR NON-VIOLENCE, DIALOGUE
- In a statement issued this morning, the Secretary-General reiterated his call for non-violence in Ukraine and urged all Ukrainians to express their differences peacefully and through dialogue, and to seek a durable solution through compromise.
- The Secretary-General, above all, calls for an inclusive political process that reflects the aspirations of all Ukrainians and preserves Ukraine's unity and territorial integrity. In order to bring about a stable and prosperous future for Ukraine, the Secretary-General calls for a firm commitment, by all concerned, to uphold the key principles of democracy and human rights and thereby create a conducive environment for free and fair elections.
- To assure Ukrainians of the support of the UN and the wider international community, the Secretary-General has sent his senior advisor, Robert Serry, to Ukraine. In his meeting with the new Speaker of the Parliament, Oleksander Turchinov, Mr. Serry conveyed the Secretary-General's solidarity with all Ukrainians and his commitment to assist a Ukrainian-led inclusive governance process.
- Asked about the events over the past weekend, the Spokesperson noted the fast pace of events and the speed with which the Secretary-General sent Robert Serry to the country. He added that Mr. Serry is expected to meet with Catherine Ashton to discuss the European Union’s efforts.
AFTER SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION, U.N. AGENCY SEEKING TO DISTRIBUTE AID IN SYRIAN REFUGEE CAMP
- The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) says that it is trying to get aid into the Yarmouk camp in Syria following the adoption of Security Council Resolution 2139, which called for improved humanitarian access in Syria. The Relief and Works Agency’s Commissioner General, Filippo Grandi, visited Yarmouk today and a small amount of food was distributed,
- The Security Council voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 2139 on Saturday morning.
- The Secretary-General said after the passage of the resolution that, if it is implemented quickly and in good faith, at least some of the suffering can be eased.
- He added that this resolution should not have been necessary. Humanitarian assistance is not something to be negotiated; it is something to be allowed by virtue of international law.
- Asked about bombings in Syria, the Spokesperson said that there has been considerable violence in the country for three years now. The violence has hampered humanitarian aid deliveries, which is one reason why the Security Council issued its resolution.
- The Secretary-General was encouraged by the unanimity of the Security Council in adopting the resolution but noted that there is no similar unanimity for a political resolution.
- Asked when the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, will come to New York, the Spokesperson said that the dates for his visit are not yet confirmed.
IRAQ: U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES PAUSE IN FIGHTING AROUND FALLUJAH
- Nickolay Mladenov, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, welcomed the announcement yesterday by Iraq’s Defense Ministry of a 72-hour halt to military operations around the city of Fallujah.
- He said that the announcement has raised the possibility of boosting the much-needed delivery of humanitarian aid to thousands of families in critical need of assistance in Fallujah and other parts of Anbar Province. The United Nations will continue to work with the Government of Iraq, local authorities and the people of Anbar to ensure that emergency aid is delivered to those in need.
U.N. MISSION CONDUCTS PATROLS IN SOUTH SUDAN’S MALAKAL
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that it has conducted multiple patrols to Malakal in Unity State over the weekend, where it reported the situation to be tense. The patrol reported that the town was deserted, with signs of looting and burning. The Mission also counted more than 100 bodies scattered along their routes.
- UN Mission personnel also visited various civilian sites in the town, including churches and a hospital. At the Malakal Teaching Hospital, the patrol observed approximately 100 patients, most of whom were wounded or sick. UNMISS extracted 13 patients requiring urgent medical attention to its hospital within its base.
- The UN Mission continues to protect some 22,000 civilians at its site in Malakal. Overall, 75,000 people are sheltering in a number of bases across South Sudan.
- The Spokesperson had been asked last week about reports on social media platforms that claimed that some of the national staff of UNMISS had locked themselves in a bunker at the UNMISS compound in Malakal. The UN Mission said that it is unaware of any incidents of violence among its national staff members since the crisis in South Sudan began on 15 December.
U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF SPEAKS OUT AGAINST UGANDA’S NEW ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY BILL
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights has denounced the anti-homosexuality law signed into force in Uganda today.
- Navi Pillay says this law would institutionalise discrimination against lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and could encourage harassment and violence against them.
- The law, which was signed into force, criminalises and imposes life imprisonment for homosexuality, same-sex marriage and “aggravated homosexuality.”
- Ms. Pillay said that disapproval of homosexuality by some can never justify violating the fundamental human rights of others. She added that the law is formulated so broadly that it may lead to abuse of power and accusations against anyone, not just LGBT people.
- She also expressed deep concern that the law could threaten the critically important work of human rights defenders in the country. She urged the Government to take immediate steps to ensure that they are not prosecuted for their advocacy.
- The High Commissioner voiced hope that the law would be reviewed at the earliest opportunity in light of its fundamental conflicts with Uganda’s constitution and its international human rights obligations.
- The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about the negative impact of the Anti-Homosexuality Act signed into law by the President of Uganda today.
- He shares the view of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that this new law violates human rights. It will institutionalize discrimination, restrict the vital work of human rights activists, and could trigger violence. It will also hamper potentially life-saving efforts to stop the spread of HIV.
- And also, the Secretary-General has a meeting this afternoon with the Permanent Representative of Uganda to the United Nations. This is a meeting to discuss South Sudan, but the Secretary-General will also be raising this topic of the anti-homosexuality act.
U.N. OFFICIAL CONDEMNS ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANS IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Moustapha Soumaré, has strongly condemned recent attacks against civilians in North Kivu's Masisi Territory.
- Clashes between the Congolese army and armed groups in northwest Masisi have led to the displacement of thousands of people. An estimated 40 people have been reportedly killed and villages have been burnt down. Humanitarian supplies and health centres in the area have been looted.
- Mr. Soumaré added that aid organizations still face numerous challenges but will continue to respond to the emergency needs of the most vulnerable people.
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF TO ASSESS TYPHOON RECOVERY EFFORTS IN PHILIPPINES
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, will undertake a two-day visit to the Philippines this week to assess the humanitarian response nearly four months after Typhoon Haiyan struck the country, affecting some 14 million people.
- During her visit, she will meet with Government representatives and humanitarian partners, and she plans to travel to the hard-hit areas of Guiuan and Tacloban.
- Despite progress made in the Government-led relief operation, millions of people still require urgent assistance to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
- Ms. Amos visited the Philippines twice last November to see first-hand the impact of the disaster and to ensure adequate support for humanitarian assistance.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE IN THAILAND
- In a statement issued yesterday on Thailand, the Secretary-General condemned the escalation of violence over the past week, in particular armed attacks against protesters in which even children have been killed. He called for violence from any quarter to cease immediately, and for the Government to bring those responsible to justice.
- The Secretary-General believes strongly that there should be no place for violence by any side in resolving political differences and disputes.
SMALL ISLAND DEVELOPING STATES READY TO LEAD GLOBAL DECISIONS ON COLLECTIVE FUTURE – BAN
- The Secretary-General spoke at an event this morning launching the International Year for Small Island Developing States, which he said provides an opportunity to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the people of Small Island Developing States – and to honour their many contributions to the world.
- He said that all Small Island Developing States share a common understanding, that we need to set our world on a sustainable path, and they are all poised to help lead global discussions on our collective future.
- The Spokesperson, in reply to questions, noted that the Secretary-General has put out a radio message to the people of the Central African Republic, in both French and Sango.
- The Security Council today heard a briefing from the Chairperson-in-Office for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Didier Burkhalter, who briefed reporters afterwards