HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR REFLECTION 20 YEARS AFTER THE GENOCIDE IN RWANDA
- The Secretary-General will speak this afternoon at the New York launch of “Kwibuka 20”, a series of events marking 20 years since the genocide in Rwanda.
- The theme for Kwibuka 20 is “Remember, Unite, Renew”. The Secretary-General will call for those words to be an inspiration during the weeks of reflection ahead, as the world remembers the more than 800,000 innocent people who were so brutally murdered, draws lessons from the unity of the Rwandan people since that tragedy and marvels at their determination to renew their country.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR IN SOUTH SUDAN DESCRIBES SHOCKING SCENES IN MALAKAL
- The Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, visited Malakal yesterday and said he saw "shocking scenes" at the teaching hospital – with nothing at the hospital apart from dead bodies. He added that Malakal town looked and felt deserted.
- After visiting Malakal yesterday, Mr. Lanzer was in Bor today. He said there were four mass graves in Bor and the business district had been totally destroyed, but there were a few civilians on the streets and some civil servants were working and there were signs of some trade activity. Mr. Lanzer added that an estimated 1,200 people were leaving Jonglei every day for Minkaman, Awerial County in Lakes state.
- And the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, says it has received multiple reports that Opposition forces are in control of Owatchi in Payikang County and Lelo in Malakal County, in Upper Nile State.
- Yesterday, the Mission conducted two patrols in Malakal town around key sites, including churches and a college serving as shelters for displaced civilians. During these patrols, the Mission helped 1,750 people leave the Christ the King Roman Catholic Church compound in Malakal Town.
- The Mission also undertook a number of other patrols to sites to assess the situation of displaced persons, including to Melut in Upper Nile State, and outside of Bor town in Jonglei State.
- Finally, the Mission says that 122 Ghanaian soldiers arrived in the capital, Juba, on Wednesday through an intermission cooperation arrangement, in order to further strengthen the Mission's protection capacity.
SUDAN: U.N HUMANITARIAN CHIEF URGES PARTIES TO ENSURE ACCESS FOR HUMANITARIANS
- The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Mr. Adnan Khan, has welcomed the African Union’s invitation to the Sudanese Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement - North (SPLM-N) to talks in Addis Ababa on 28 February.
- He urges the Government and the SPLM-North to take immediate steps to ensure that humanitarian needs can be addressed while political dialogue continues.
- Mr. Khan said there were urgent and critical needs in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states and the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance should not be conditional on political progress.
IN C.A.R., HUMANITARIAN COMMUNITY AND INTERNATIONAL FORCES PREPARE TO EVACUATE 3,000 DISPLACED
- In the Central African Republic, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian actors and international forces are finalizing the evacuation plan for 3,000 internally displaced people trapped in the PK12 neigbhourhood of Bangui and at risk of massacre. These are mainly elderly people and children trapped by insecurity.
- Meanwhile, the Office also says that access to water, basic sanitation services and improved hygiene practices are needed for 900,000 affected people.
- Humanitarian partners have almost completed the rehabilitation of the water distribution system by the national company in Bangui. Partners have also provided enough products to allow the city’s water treatment plant to deliver safe water to 600,000 people for the next three months.
- The Office also says that internally displaced people, especially those in flood-prone areas, need emergency shelter support and basic household goods, particularly ahead of the rainy season.
- Finally, the World Food Programme (WFP) has been able to resume assistance in greater Bangui in the past weeks, thanks to the arrival of convoys carrying more food supplies.
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF WRAPS UP PHILIPPINES VISIT
- The UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, wrapped up her visit to the Philippines today.
- Speaking to reporters, she commended the work of the Philippines authorities and the humanitarian community, as well as the resilience of the Filipino people, for the pace of progress more than 100 days after Typhoon Haiyan struck the country.
- Ms. Amos noted that even as she saw progress, she also saw how much remains to be done. Millions of people still require urgent assistance to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and ensure that the gains made are not rolled back.
- She said that in the coming months, UN agencies and their humanitarian partners will be prioritizing efforts to help people find durable housing and livelihood while continuing to provide life-saving assistance.
- The Emergency Relief Coordinator said that the humanitarian community will continue to support local authorities to help people recover and build back stronger and safer so that the next massive storm does not bring such terrible levels of devastation.
U.N. LEBANON MISSION FORCE COMMANDER CONTINUES CONSULTATIONS WITH TOP OFFICIALS
- The Force Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, Major-General Paolo Serra, called on the President of Lebanon Michel Sleiman and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri in Beirut today and discussed the situation in south Lebanon. He also met with Prime Minister Tammam Salam earlier this week.
- He said afterwards that he was encouraged by the Lebanese leaders’ support for the UN Mission. They reiterated their commitment to resolution 1701 and acknowledged the enhanced significance of the mission in keeping the calm along the Blue Line in these challenging times.
- Asked about reported air strikes in Lebanon, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations had no confirmation of such reports. He added that any action which adds to the tensions in the region should be avoided.
U.N. AFGHANISTAN ENVOY MEEETS OFFICIALS DURING PAKISTAN VISIT
- In response to earlier questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, travelled to Pakistan from 23-25 February, where he met with Pakistani officials as part of his mandated regional cooperation outreach activities.
- During his meetings, Mr. Kubis repeatedly stressed the importance of the elections and the political transition in Afghanistan and acknowledged the successful preparations for the presidential and provincial council elections in April 2014, as well as the critical importance of holding the elections on time. He maintained that peace, stability, and prosperity in Pakistan and Afghanistan were interlinked.
- Asked about the dialogue on the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) between the Governments of Afghanistan and the United States, the Spokesperson said it was a bilateral matter for both countries and their people to decide. The United Nations remains determined to continue its support to Afghanistan.
U.N. ENVOY ROBERT SERRY STILL IN UKRAINE: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that Robert Serry has been visiting Ukraine and meeting with a wide range of interlocutors in recent days. The Secretary-General sent him to Ukraine, given his past expertise as the Dutch Ambassador to the country.
TIMETABLE FOR SYRIA’S CHEMICAL WEAPONS DESTRUCTION IN DISCUSSION: Asked about the timetable for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, the Spokesperson said that the timetable is being discussed with the OPCW-UN Joint Mission.
JOINT SYRIA ENVOY TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL IN TWO WEEKS: Asked about the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, the Spokesperson said that he was expected to brief the Security Council in two weeks’ time.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO TO TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTION AGAINST ARMED GROUPS: Asked about action taken against armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said that the heads of the UN Mission in the country would take appropriate action as needed.
D.P.R.K, CAMBODIA, AND CAPE VERDE REPRESENTATIVES TO PRESENT CREDENTIALS TOMORROW: Asked about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Spokesperson noted that the new ambassador from the DPRK would present his credentials on Friday, along with the new Permanent Representatives of Cambodia and Cape Verde. He said that, as standard practice, the Secretary-General would meet the new officials, although there would be no readouts of those meetings.
U.N. STANDS READY TO ASSIST THAI PARTIES: Asked about Thailand, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had expressed his readiness to assist the parties and the Thai people in any way possible. Any such help would depend on requests from the parties.
BACKGROUND BRIEFING ON C.A.R. TOMORROW: Tomorrow at 10.45 a.m., there will be a background briefing in the press briefing room (S-0237) by two senior European Union (EU) officials on the EU's military operation in the Central African Republic (EUFOR CAR).