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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 MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
 
TUESDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2012
 
MALDIVES: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES HOPE THAT POWER HANDOVER LEADS TO PEACEFUL RESOLUTION OF CRISIS
  • In a statement, the Secretary-General says he has learned of the resignation of President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives and the appointment of former Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan as the new President of the country.
  • The Secretary-General expresses his strong hope that this handover of power, which has been announced as a constitutional step to avoid further violence and instability, will lead to the peaceful resolution of the political crisis that has polarized the country in recent months. He calls on all Maldivians to refrain from violence and engage constructively in addressing the challenges their country is facing and to protect and build upon the important gains the Maldives has made in recent years in establishing democracy and rule of law. The Secretary-General acknowledges the important contributions of President Nasheed, the country’s first democratically-elected president, to the establishment of democracy in the Maldives and his role in raising international awareness of the dangers of climate change and rising seas.
  • The United Nations will remain a close partner of the Maldives and will continue to extend its support in the period ahead.
RECENT ELECTIONS MARKED BY MANY PROBLEMS, SAYS U.N. ENVOY TO D.R. CONGO
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Roger Meece, briefed the Security Council on Tuesday morning.
  • He said the national presidential and legislative elections late last year were marked by numerous problems. He noted that the UN mission in the country (MONUSCO) had expressed its strong concern about reported irregularities and underlined the importance of a thorough and open review of the elections.
  • Mr. Meece also said that the Mission had been conducting investigations into all reports of election violence.
  • He added that with the recent announcement of the provisional legislative elections, the attention in the country was now turning to the new National Assembly, the consolidation of coalitions, and the formation and ratification of a new government. He said it was very important that all newly-elected officials play an active role in those discussions.
  • On the security front, Mr. Meece said he was concerned by the apparent renewed activity by the FDLR in eastern DRC. He also said there was an emergence or growth of various Congolese groups in North and South Kivu. He said the Mission was discussing with the national Congolese army ways to address these challenges and realize durable improvements in the east of the country.
HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN KILLED, INJURED IN SYRIA VIOLENCE – U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND
  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that hundreds of children have died or been injured in the nearly eleven months of violence in Syria.
  • This is in addition to reports of children being arbitrarily arrested, tortured and sexually abused while in detention.
  • While UNICEF does not have access to the affected areas of the city of Homs and cannot confirm the impacts of the attacks there, it says there are credible reports that children are caught in the violence.
  • The Fund’s Executive Director, Anthony Lake, urged Syrian authorities to allow help to all those who need it desperately.
  • Asked about access to the city of Homs, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations did not have precise figures but that it was evident that the death toll was mounting.
  • He noted that in a statement issued on Monday, the Secretary-General said he was appalled by the escalating violence in Syria, particularly at the mounting death toll and continued onslaught on the city of Homs involving the use of heavy artillery and the shelling of civilian areas. The Secretary-General has said that such violence is totally unacceptable before humanity and he strongly condemned these attacks, Nesirky added. 
  • Asked if the General Assembly should consider the situation in Syria, the Spokesperson said that was up to the Member States of that body.
  • He said that the Secretary-General had underscored that the lack of agreement in the Security Council did not give a license to the Syrian authorities to step up attacks on the Syrian population.
  • Nesirky noted that the Secretary-General had called upon all concerned in Syria and in the international community to redouble efforts aimed at stopping the violence and seeking an inclusive Syrian-led political process, in accordance with international law.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION ENGAGED ON ALL FRONTS TO STOP CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
  • In answer to a question on media reports about the Lou Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups possibly combining forces in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS) was aware of a press release by the so called “White Army" which had been reported in some media. He said the Mission did not have evidence at this stage to confirm this statement.
  • Nesirky said that the United Nations remained actively engaged on all fronts - political, security and humanitarian - in support of the government of South Sudan and the concerned communities to end the cycle of violence.
  • He added that the United Nations was urging the government of South Sudan to continue to take the necessary measures to prevent another episode of violence and ensure security in the area.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SENDS EMERGENCY TEAMS TO HELP THOSE FLEEING FIGHTING IN NORTHERN MALI
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has deployed emergency teams to countries surrounding Mali to help meet the needs of thousands of people who have been forced to flee fighting in northern Mali.
  • UNHCR says that in the past three weeks, at least 10,000 people are reported to have crossed into Niger, 9,000 have found refuge in Mauritania, and 3,000 in Burkina Faso.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that in Niger the majority of the displaced have moved into the locality of Sinegodar, which has already felt the impact of the recent drought and where food availability is very low.
  • The most urgent needs are food and shelter, as well as hygiene, water and sanitation.
  • UNHCR is preparing to send aid for 10,000 people from its stockpiles in the region. It is also strengthening its presence in both Niger and Mauritania.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONFIDENT IN U.N. ENVOY TO CYPRUS
  • Asked about a resolution approved by the Cyprus Parliament concerning the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had full confidence in Alexander Downer and in the impartiality of the UN's very considerable efforts to help facilitate a solution on Cyprus.
  • Nesirky noted that the remark by the Special Adviser was made in the context of a media encounter at the end of the first day of the Greentree summit. He said Mr. Downer was clearly referring to one of the parties in the context of those negotiations and the team that represented that party at the summit.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ITNERFAITH COMMUNITY TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST EXTREMISM
  • The Deputy Secretary-General spoke at an event on Monday marking the last day of World Interfaith Harmony Week.
  • She said that faith is the glue that often bonds communities and cultures around the world, but too often is used as an excuse to emphasize difference and deepen divisions.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General noted that the interfaith community has as opportunity and responsibility to speak out against extremism; to advance tolerance; and to stand for justice, dignity and mutual understanding.