HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 26 FEBRUARY 2014
IN THAILAND, SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE, CALLS FOR DIALOGUE TO END CRISIS
- The Secretary-General is increasingly concerned about the political crisis in Thailand. He has condemned the recent escalation of violence in different parts of the country. The Secretary-General believes strongly that there should be no place for violence by any side in resolving political differences and disputes.
- The Secretary-General urges the parties and all concerned to respect human rights and the rule of law.
- He strongly urges the parties to engage as soon as possible in meaningful and inclusive dialogue toward ending the crisis and advancing genuine reform.
- The Secretary-General expresses his readiness to assist the parties and the Thai people in any way possible.
O.P.C.W.-U.N. MISSION WELCOMES IMPORTANT STEP IN ELIMINATION OF SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- Today, the Joint Mission of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the United Nations says that a shipment of sulphur mustard, commonly known as “mustard gas”, has left Syria. The Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission, Sigrid Kaag, welcomed this shipment as an important step in the elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons programme.
- The Joint Mission looks forward to Syria’s continued efforts to complete the removal of the remaining chemical materials in a safe, secure and timely manner, through systematic, predictable and high-volume movements.
- The Secretary-General welcomes the news of this latest shipment.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that a further 58 men who had left from the Old City of Homs were released from the Al Andalus facility on Tuesday, with some 125 men still being processed.
- Air raids are reported to be continuing on many areas in the Aleppo Governorate, affecting neighbourhoods in the eastern part of the city. Meanwhile, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent managed to transfer 5,000 bread packs and one ton of bananas to Aleppo’s central prison, which is besieged by armed groups.
- And a plane carrying around 38 tons of flour provided by the World Food Programme arrived in Qamishli, in Hasakkeh province on Tuesday.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS SLAYING OF STUDENTS IN NIGERIA
- The Secretary-General strongly condemns the brutal slaying on Tuesday of dozens of students at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi in Yobe State, northeastern Nigeria, by unidentified gunmen. He extends his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and hopes that the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice.
- The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the increasing frequency and brutality of attacks against educational institutions in the north of the country. He reiterates that no objective can justify such violence.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION PROVIDES PROTECTION TO CIVILIANS SHELTERED IN HOSPITAL AND CHURCH IN MALAKAL
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that it observed forces arriving Tuesday east and south of the Mission’s Compound in Malakal in Upper Nile State. Also yesterday, personnel from the Mission conducted another patrol to the Malakal Teaching Hospital. The Mission reports that some patients said they witnessed Opposition forces looting the hospital.
- A further 100 patients and civilians from the hospital were transferred to the UNMISS protection site in Malakal for medical treatment.
- The UN Mission’s patrol also visited displaced civilians sheltering in a church in Malakal town, who reported lack of access to medical services. The Mission will give the people seeking refuge in the church the option of moving to its base, so they can be better protected and receive medical treatment.
- In the capital, Juba, the Mission says it has observed women and children leaving its two protection sites, reportedly for neighbouring countries. Currently, the Mission is protecting some 43,000 civilians in Juba, with more than 75,000 seeking shelter in multiple UNMISS sites around the country.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that nearly 900,000 people have been displaced from their homes in South Sudan since the conflict began in December, including 710,000 people who remain inside the country and 171,000 who have fled across borders.
- Humanitarian partners are providing aid to some 327,000 of the internally displaced people. Food partners have reached some 280,000 people with food assistance since the start of the crisis.
SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOMES PROGRESS IN POLITICAL TRANSITION IN YEMEN
- In a meeting this morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution welcoming the recent progress in the political transition in Yemen. Among other things, the Council decided that all Member States shall, for an initial period of one year freeze without delay all funds, other financial assets and economic resources that are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by individuals or entities designated by a Sanctions Committee set up by the resolution.
- Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, spoke to reporters following the passage of the resolution.
- Also this morning, the Security Council received an update on its mission to Mali by Ambassador Gérard Araud of France.
- After that, Jose Ramos-Horta, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Guinea-Bissau, briefed Security Council members by videoconference on the progress towards elections in that country. He urged the defense and security forces to refrain from interference in the forthcoming elections and to protect candidates. And he called for intensive international support for Guinea-Bissau after the elections.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONDEMNS DISPROPORTIONATE ATTACKS BY YEMEN’S ARMED FORCES
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has condemned the indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks by Yemen’s armed forces in Al Dhale Governorate and called for unrestricted humanitarian access to the area.
- She said today that she was shocked by a series of attacks led by Yemen’s armed forces in Al Dhale Governorate that reportedly killed more than 40 persons since December, including at least 6 children.
- The High Commissioner expressed grave concern that the 33rd armoured brigade of the Yemeni armed forces, which is stationed in Al Dhale, is reportedly responsible for these attacks. And she added that claims by Yemen’s armed forces that they were fired upon by armed groups or that their bases were attacked can never justify the use of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks.
- She called upon the Yemeni authorities to carry out credible and transparent investigations of alleged human rights violations in Al Dhale and to hold those responsible accountable. These investigations should be independent, impartial, effective, prompt and transparent.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF CALLS ON DONORS TO CONTINUE SUPPORTING RECOVERY IN PHILIPPINES
- The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, is in the Philippines, where she visited Guiuan and Tacloban, some of the areas hardest-hit by Typhoon Haiyan.
- She said that in the three months since she was last in the Philippines, she saw today how much progress has been made in supporting local communities but that a great deal more remains to be done.
- Ms. Amos called on donors to continue supporting emergency and longer-term relief and development efforts in the country.
- The nearly $800 million humanitarian appeal for the response to the typhoon is funded at just below 50 per cent so far.
SPECIAL SCREENING OF “12 YEARS A SLAVE” FOR SLAVERY REMEMBRANCE DAY
- Tonight, starting at 6pm in the ECOSOC Chamber, there will be a special screening of the film 12 Years a Slave. The film will be followed by remarks by the Secretary-General and a Q&A session with the film’s director, Steve McQueen.
- The screening is part of the UN’s annual commemoration of the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, whose theme this year is “Victory over Slavery: Haiti and Beyond”.
- The theme pays tribute to the fight against slavery in nations around the world. Haiti was the first nation to become independent as a result of the struggle of enslaved men and women.
- The Day falls on 25 March each year, and more events will be held at the UN and around the world between now and that date.
MEMBER STATES MUST COMPLY WITH ALL SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS: Asked about President Omar al-Bashir’s presence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson noted the relevant Security Council resolutions concerning the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Sudan and the need for Member States to comply with all Council resolutions.
NEW D.P.R.K. REPRESENTATIVE TO PRESENT CREDENTIALS ON FRIDAY: Asked when the new Ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will present his credentials, the Spokesperson said that Ambassador Ja Song Nam of the DPRK will present his credentials on Friday at 11:00 a.m.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MET WITH NEXT SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: Asked about the Secretary-General’s meeting with Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg, the Spokesperson said the meeting was expected to deal with Luxembourg’s Presidency of the Security Council next month.
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S SENIOR ADVISOR REMAINS IN UKRAINE: Asked about Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that Robert Serry remains in Ukraine and has reiterated the Secretary-General's call for an inclusive political process that reflects the aspirations of all citizens of Ukraine and preserves Ukraine's unity and territorial integrity.
U.N. DOES NOT DISCUSS ONGOING LITIGATION: Asked about Haiti, the Spokesperson said that, as in other cases that are subject to litigation, it is not the United Nations’ practice to discuss in public the details of, and the response to, claims filed against the Organization. He added that this practice is quite common in ongoing litigation.