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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
 

THURSDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACKS IN IRAQ

  • In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the recent terrorist attacks in Iraq, including against the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. He extends his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes those injured a full recovery.
  • The Secretary-General appeals to all Iraqis to unite in confronting terrorism. The United Nations stands by the people and the Government of Iraq in this endeavour.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said today that the United Nations continues to provide aid to those affected by the fighting in Iraq’s Anbar province, despite the challenges posed by the deteriorating security environment and ongoing operations in the province.
  • He noted that the Government of Iraq, the provincial authorities and tribal leaders have committed to facilitating humanitarian access to the affected population.
  • The United Nations continues to hold discussions with senior political figures in an attempt to assist in paving the ground for a political solution to the crisis, calling on all to show national unity and address the root causes of violence in Iraq. 
  • UN agencies are continuing to deliver aid to around 45,000 displaced families registered so far. Those include tents and kits supplied by the UN Refugee Agency, potable water shipped by UNICEF and food parcels from the World Food Programme (WFP).

U.N. WELCOMES REPORTED AGREEMENT ON HUMANITARIAN PAUSE FOR HOMS, SYRIA

  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson welcomed the reports that the Syrian parties have agreed to a humanitarian pause to allow civilians out of, and aid into, Old Homs City. The United Nations and humanitarian partners had pre-positioned food, medical and other basic supplies on the outskirts of Homs ready for immediate delivery as soon as the green light was given by the parties for safe passage. Aid staff are also on standby.
  • Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, welcomed the news of the humanitarian pause agreed in Homs, which will allow civilians to leave and the delivery of essential, life-saving supplies for about 2,500 people. She will continue to follow developments closely. She said that we need to see unhindered, continuous and safe access for humanitarian workers to deliver aid to the millions of people trapped in all the hard to reach or besieged areas across Syria.

HEAD OF JOINT O.P.C.W.-U.N. MISSION BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission of the United Nations and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, briefed the Security Council this morning on the Joint Mission’s work in Syria.
  • She also spoke to reporters at the stakeout at the end of the Council’s consultations.
  • Asked whether the deadlines for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons were being met, the Spokesperson noted that, in his recent report to the Security Council, the Secretary-General had noted recent delays and had said that the Syrian authorities need to ensure that they live up to their commitments. The Secretary-General had added that the delays are not insurmountable.
  • Sigrid Kaag told the press today that the June deadline for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons can be met. She noted the support of the Security Council in reaching that goal.

IN SOCHI, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS OLYMPICS ARE OPPORTUNITY TO CELEBRATE EVERYONE’S RIGHTS

  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at the International Olympic Committee session in Sochi, Russia, the first Secretary-General to do so.
  • He told the Committee that the Olympics show the power of sport to bring together individuals regardless of age, race, class, religion, ability, sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. He said that different groups are meeting on the playing field, not the battlefield.
  • The Secretary-General repeated his call for all warring parties to lay down their weapons during the Games – and to lift their sights to the promise of peace. He again urged all warring parties to respect the Olympic Truce, especially in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
  • He added that we must all raise our voices against attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex people, saying that hatred of any kind must have no place in the 21st century. 
  • The Secretary-General and IOC President Thomas Bach later spoke to the press, and the Secretary-General said that the Olympics give us an opportunity to celebrate everyone’s right to compete on equal terms, no matter what they look like, where they come from or whom they love.

U.N. AGENCIES CONTINUE TO ASSIST DISPLACED IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC BUT INSECURITY HINDERS OPERATIONS

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that there are now an estimated 838,000 internally displaced people in the country, including 413,000 in Bangui in the Central African Republic.
  • It also says that insecurity continues to hinder humanitarian operations. Since 28 January, four violent incidents have been recorded against humanitarian partners, including carjacking and the looting of international non-governmental organizations.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) provided food to nearly 280,700 people in January. This represents an increase of 9 per cent in beneficiaries and 4 per cent in tonnage compared with December.
  • However, due to the security situation and the depletion of its stocks, the World Food Programme will only be able to serve the most vulnerable people with half the normal amount of food rations in February.
  • Meanwhile, a measles vaccination campaign launched on at the beginning of the year in 70 sites for internally displace persons in Bangui has reached almost 140,000 children out of 150,000 targeted.

PHILIPPINES: U.N. CALLS FOR DONORS’ SUPPORT TO MEET URGENT SHELTER NEEDS ON BOHOL ISLAND

  • The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines, Luiza Carvalho, is calling on donors to provide an additional $19 million for urgent shelter needs as well as health, education and early recovery efforts, nearly four months after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated parts of Bohol Island.
  • Donors have provided $15.1 million towards a six-month action plan for Bohol. The Humanitarian Country team released a revised action plan today. The funding requested has been reduced from $46.8 million in the original plan to $33.8 million now.
  • The Philippines authorities and humanitarian partners have contended with a series of disasters, including Super Typhoon Haiyan, since the 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Bohol on 15 October last year. The United Nations is continuing to support the authorities’ efforts on many fronts and will not forget the plight of people affected in Bohol.

NO DEVELOPMENTAL, RELIGIOUS OR HEALTH REASON FOR FEMALE GENITAL MUTILISATION, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL

  • Today is the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation, or FGM. In a message to mark the day, the Secretary-General said that there is no developmental, religious or health reason to cut or mutilate any girl or woman. 
  • Just because a harmful practice has long existed does not justify its continuation, he said, adding that all “traditions” that demean, dehumanize and injure are human rights violations that must be actively opposed until they are ended.
  • According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), more than 125 million girls and women have been cut in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where the practice is concentrated.
  • A further 86 million young girls worldwide are likely to experience some form of the practice by 2030, if current trends continue.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL HAS CALLED FOR ACCOUNTABILITY REGARDING SRI LANKA: Asked about reports of atrocities in the final phases of Sri Lanka’s war, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for accountability. Asked about an international accountability process, he said that would be a matter for the Member States to consider.

U.N. GOOD OFFICES ARE AVAILABLE FOR DISPUTES: Asked about diplomacy in Kashmir, the Spokesperson reiterated that, as in other disputes, the good offices of the United Nations are available if both sides agree.