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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General
 
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
 
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
 
TUESDAY, 28 FEBRUARY 2012
 
SYRIA: U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF SOUNDS ALARM ON ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE
 
  • On Tuesday morning, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the urgent debate at the Human Rights Council on the human rights and humanitarian situation in Syria that her Office has received disturbing reports of a rapidly deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation. Recent reports further indicate that Syrian military and security forces have launched massive campaigns of arrest, arbitrarily detaining thousands of protestors, as well as activists and others suspected of anti-Government activities.
  • She was particularly appalled by the recent escalation of violence in the country.
  • She said that the International Commission of Inquiry report, which was published on 22 February, concluded that “the Government has manifestly failed in its responsibility to protect the population; its forces have committed widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations, amounting to crimes against humanity, with the apparent knowledge and consent of the highest levels of the State.” It further stated that anti-government groups have committed abuses, but not “comparable in scale and organization to those carried out by the State.”
  • She called upon the Syrian authorities to cooperate fully with international mechanisms, including Mr. Kofi Annan who was recently appointed as Joint Special Envoy of the United Nations and the League of Arab States. She also renewed her earlier calls for full cooperation with her Office, including through the establishment of a human rights field presence in the Syrian Arab Republic.
  • Asked about reports stating that Saudi Arabia would arm the opposition, the Deputy Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had clearly said that the military option was not a solution. Arming either side is not an option, he added. Del Buey also said that the Secretary-General had stressed the need for violence from both sides to stop and had underscored the need to find a political solution to the situation in Syria.
 
SYRIA FAILED TO PROTECT ITS PEOPLE, TOP U.N. POLITICAL OFFICIAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
 
  • On Tuesday morning, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Lynn Pascoe, briefed the Security Council on the situation in the Middle East.
  • Mr. Pascoe said Special Envoy for the UN and League of Arab States Secretaries-General Kofi Annan arrives in New York tomorrow to begin talks with the Secretary-General. Mr. Pascoe said he hoped Mr. Annan will have the opportunity to meet with all members of the Council to hear their suggestions on how to bring this terrible situation to an end. 
  • Mr. Pascoe noted that the Syrian Government has manifestly failed to carry out its responsibility to protect its people. Unfortunately, the international community has also failed in its duty to stop the carnage, and actions and inactions to date have seemed to encourage the regime in its belief that it has impunity to carry on wanton destruction of its own civilians.
  • Mr. Pascoe said that the “Friends of the Syrian people” conference last week brought together representatives from more than 65 nations and organizations, and called on the Syrian Government to halt attacks on civilians and allow immediate access for vital relief goods and services. The message to Syrian authorities should be clear: the bleeding of Syria must cease.
  • Mr. Pascoe reported that the Middle East Peace Process talks that began 3 January have stalled, and prospects for their resumption remain dim. He said the framework set by the Quartet in its statement of 23 September 2011, with the aim of reaching an agreement before the end of the year, remains relevant.
  • The situation on the ground in both Gaza and the West Bank remains dangerous and ultimately unsustainable.
 
U.N. SOUTH SUDAN ENVOY TO TRAVEL TO SUDAN, UGANDA AND KENYA
 
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, will be travelling to Sudan, Uganda and Kenya this week to meet with the respective Heads of State and Government and senior government officials.
  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that her discussions will focus on the current situation in the country and critical issues affecting the implementation of the mission’s mandate.
 
U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL TO DEPART FOR CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
 
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Emergency Director John Ging will travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) from 29 February to 2 March.
  • Conflict and insecurity have caused widespread displacement in the Central African Republic. More than 95,000 people are displaced across the country, particularly in the north and southeast. Nearly half the population does not have enough to eat and two in five children under the age of five are chronically malnourished. 
  • The purpose of the mission is to assess the humanitarian situation, discuss ways to strengthen the response and ensure better access to people affected by conflict, displacement and food insecurity.
 
U.N. AGENCY RELEASES REPORT ON CHILDREN AND CITIES
 
  • An annual flagship report focusing on children in cities is being launched today by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Mexico.
  • The report – “The State of the World's Children 2012: Children in an Urban World” – says that one billion children live in urban areas.
  • It adds that many of those children lack access to schools, healthcare and sanitation, despite living alongside these services.
  • The report says that the world is undergoing the largest wave of urban growth in history and that the number of children living in urban areas continues to increase.
 
GREEK CYPRIOT, TURKISH CYPRIOT LEADERS DISCUSS PROPERTY ISSUE
 
  • The leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities discussed the issue of property today.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Advisor, Alexander Downer, said that the leaders will continue their talks on Thursday, 8 March.
 
GLOBAL DRUG BODY URGES CLOSURE OF ILLEGAL ONLINE PHARMACIES
 
  • Young people are being targeted through social media and sold illicit drugs and prescription medicine through illegal Internet pharmacies, according to the annual report of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
  • The body warns that half of the medicines bought from online illegal pharmacies are counterfeit and calls for Government to close down these pharmacies operating online.
 
 
***The guest at the noon briefing was Georg Kell, Executive Director of the Global Compact Office.
 
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
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