HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
WEDNESDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN SOCHI FOR WINTER OLYMPICS OPENING
- The Secretary-General arrived in Sochi today to attend the opening of the Winter Olympics.
- On Thursday, he will deliver a speech to the International Olympic Committee session, the first Secretary-General to do so. He will also speak to reporters along with the President of the International Olympic Committee.
GREAT LAKES ENVOYS WELCOME NEW AMNESTY LAW IN D.R.CONGO
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, and his Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler, along with the Special Envoys of the African Union, the European Union and the United States, have welcomed the new amnesty law adopted by the DRC parliament.
- The Special Envoys said that this was a positive signal. It reflects the commitment of the Government to the Nairobi Declaration, which brought an end to the M23 rebellion.
- The Envoys said the adoption of the Amnesty Law was the next step in bringing sustainable peace to eastern Congo and it will facilitate the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.
- The adopted law grants amnesty for acts of insurgency, acts of war and political offenses. The Envoys commend the new law for excluding amnesty for crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
- The Envoys also urged all armed groups to use this opportunity to lay down their arms.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO KILLING OF ONE OF ITS NATIONAL STAFF
- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Martin Kobler, has condemned the killing, this morning in Beni, of one of the Mission’s national staff. He was shot dead while going to work.
- The head of MONUSCO has urged the authorities to immediately launch an inquiry, arrest the perpetrators of this act, and bring the persons involved to justice as soon as possible.
U.N. OFFICE CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION INTO REPORTED LYNCHING IN BANGUI
- Asked about the reported public lynching of a person in Bangui, the Spokesperson said that the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) has been informed of this specific incident. BINUCA Human Rights Officers have been mobilized to establish the facts.
- In line with its mandate, the Office will liaise with national authorities to advocate for a thorough investigation into the incident.
DARFUR: AFRICAN UNION-U.N. MISSION HOPES SUDAN GOVERNMENT AND I.C.R.C. WILL FIND AGREEMENT
- In response to an earlier question on the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Darfur, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the African Union–United Nations Mission in Darfur, UNAMID, expressed the hope that the Government of Sudan and the ICRC would reach an agreement as soon as possible, so that the ICRC can resume its activities assisting the people of Darfur and the whole of Sudan.
- Answering another question from yesterday on developments in Darfur, Haq noted that the African Union–United Nations Mission reported verified information on the situation in Darfur to the United Nations and to the African Union on a daily basis. This information is then made public in the Secretary-General’s quarterly reports to the Security Council and, as the situation warrants, in press statements.
U.N. ENVOY IN IRAQ CONDEMNS ATTACK ON FOREIGN MINISTRY
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, condemned in the strongest terms the attack on the Foreign Ministry of Iraq today, which killed and injured a number of people.
- He said that those who orchestrate such attacks should be condemned by all political, religious and civic leaders in Iraq.
- He also said that political leaders should show national unity in dealing with such threats and unite against terrorism.
SYRIA: U.N. AGENCY STARTS POLIO VACCINATION AT YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP
- The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has begun a large-scale polio vaccination campaign targeting thousands of children in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus.
- The Relief and Works Agency has also continued with food distributions in the camp, with over 800 parcels distributed yesterday. This brings to nearly 5,200 the total number of parcels delivered since 18 January, when the Agency was first permitted limited access to Yarmouk.
- The Agency has also continued to transfer food supplements, such as iron in tablet and drop form, multivitamins and rehydration salts.
- Asked about the delays in meeting the deadlines for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General, in a recent report to the Security Council, acknowledged the delays and said that Syria needs to do more to meet the deadlines. At the same time, the Secretary-General said that the delays are not insurmountable.
- Haq added that the head of the UN-OPCW Joint Mission, Sigrid Kaag, was expected to brief the Security Council on the question of Syria’s chemical weapons on Thursday and would speak to reporters afterward.
LEBANON: U.N. SPECIAL COORDINATOR DISCUSSED LATEST DEVELOPMENTS CARETAKER PRIME MINISTER
- The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, and his Deputy, Ross Mountain, met with caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati today.
- They discussed the latest developments in Lebanon and the region, including the social and economic impacts of the Syrian conflict on Lebanon and the humanitarian response.
U.N. ENVOY IN AFGHANISTAN STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN’S ROLE IN FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS
- Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Afghanistan, says women’s participation will be a key measure of success in the upcoming elections.
- Addressing the National Conference on Women and Elections, held today in Kabul, Mr. Kubiš noted that the presidential and provincial council elections, scheduled for 5 April, represent a historic political transition.
- Women are needed as candidates, campaigners and electoral workers, he stated, highlighting in particular the need for far greater numbers of female election observers in safeguarding women’s votes.
MEMBERS OF RIGHTS OF THE CHILD COMMITTEE ARE INDEPENDENT EXPERTS: The Spokesperson declined to comment on the report of the Committee on the Rights of the Child concerning the Vatican, noting that the Committee’s members were independent experts who spoke for themselves.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET ON ITS PROGRAMME OF WORK: This afternoon at 3:00, the Security Council will hold consultations on its programme of work for February. At 4:45 p.m., Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite, the Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of February, will brief on the Council’s programme of work for the month.
***The guest today at the Noon Briefing was Amin Awad, UNHCR’s Regional Director of the Middle East and North Africa Bureau and Regional Refugee Coordinator for Syria.