HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2013
U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF URGES MALI PLEDGES TO MATERIALIZE
- Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, attended the meeting of the Support and Follow-up Group on Mali that took place in Brussels today.
- He said that, to secure the military gains attained so far in Mali, it is important that the pledges made at the Donors’ Conference in Addis Ababa last month swiftly materialize to enable the African force, AFISMA, to become fully operational and for the Malian defence and security forces to enhance their capabilities and capacities.
- Mr. Feltman welcomed the recent adoption of the Roadmap for the Transition by the National Assembly and said he looks forward to its implementation. The Malian authorities should also continue to make visible progress in the preparations for free, fair and transparent elections as soon as possible.
- He expressed concern about allegations of serious human rights violations in the recovered areas, reportedly perpetrated by Malian defense and security forces. The United Nations calls upon all parties to respect international human rights and humanitarian norms and do everything possible to ensure that all allegations are investigated and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
SYRIA: HEALTH SITUATION WORSENING, U.N. BODY REPORTS
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that the health situation in Syria has worsened over the last six months, with heavy fighting in the rural area around Damascus. Access to areas is constantly changing from week to week. Overall, 55 per cent of the public hospitals have been damaged and more than one-third of all hospitals are out of service.
- The World Health Organization’s early warning system is functioning and it reports an increase in Hepatitis A cases, a disease linked to failures in water and sanitation. Vaccinations for Hepatitis A are to take place in shelters for displaced people, where the problem was the biggest.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, almost two years since the beginning of the conflict, the catastrophic humanitarian crisis continues to deepen. If the violence continues unabated, it says that we could, in the short term, see considerably more than the current number of four million people in need of urgent assistance and more than two million internally displaced in Syria.
- Asked about peace efforts for Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met over the weekend with, among others, the US Vice President, the Russian Foreign Minister, the Iranian Foreign Minister, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, the Lebanese Prime Minister, the Qatari Prime Minister and Syrian opposition leader Moaz al-Khatib .
- With all his interlocutors, Mr. Brahimi exchanged views on Syria. All were concerned by the situation in Syria, including the worsening humanitarian situation and the serious risks of regional spill-over.
- Nesirky said that the offer of Coalition President Moaz al Khatib to hold talks with the Government of Syria dominated the discussions and was generally welcomed as an important positive development.
- He added that the Secretary-General considers this to be a good sign, since any move towards dialogue is positive.
- Asked about aid for Syria, the Spokesperson said that pledges made last week in Kuwait were in excess of $1.5 billion. The very generous pledges that were made must now be turned into funds that can be disbursed, he added.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REAFFIRMS NEED FOR TWO-STATE SOLUTION IN MIDDLE EAST
- The Secretary-General spoke at the opening session this morning of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, and he re-affirmed the need for progress towards a two-State solution for the Israelis and Palestinians.
- He said that, following Israel’s elections last month, we look forward to engaging the next Israeli Government in the common pursuit of peace. This is no time to be idle. He added that settlement activity is a major obstacle to the two-State solution and must cease immediately.
- The Secretary-General noted the efforts being made toward Palestinian reconciliation and expressed his appreciation to the Egyptian Government for its efforts in this regard. He added that, for real progress to be made, Hamas must make clear where it stands on the central questions at stake.
U.N. KOSOVO ENVOY SHOCKED BY ATTACK INJURING CHILDREN
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Kosovo, Farid Zarif, has expressed his shock at the news of what he called a “cowardly” attack on a home in north Mitrovica in which two children where injured.
- Nesirky said that Mr. Zarif called on all to clearly condemn such acts and welcomed the investigation being carried out by Kosovo police and EULEX, the European Union’s Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES D.R. CONGO, GUINEA-BISSAU
- The Security Council is discussing the Democratic Republic of the Congo this morning in consultations. Hervé Ladsous, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council.
- This afternoon, the Security Council will discuss Guinea-Bissau. Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Tayé-Brook Zerihoun will brief the Council.
U.N.-BACKED MECHANISM MONITORS SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN BORDER: Asked about reports of fighting between Sudan and South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that, as agreed by the parties, the situation in the border area between Sudan and South Sudan is to be monitored by a Joint Border Monitoring Mechanism. However, since the Mechanism is not yet operational, it is not possible to verify alleged incidents as reported in the press.
ISRAELI MISSION SPONSORING MARCH CONCERT: In response to a question regarding a concert to be held at the United Nations on 5 March by an Israeli singer, all costs associated with the concert are being covered by the sponsor, the Permanent Mission of Israel.