HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
ACTING DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
FRIDAY, 7 FEBRUARY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL ATTENDS WINTER OLYMPICS OPENING CEREMONY IN SOCHI
- The Secretary-General attended the opening ceremony of the Sochi Winter Games in Russia, along with President Putin and the President of the International Olympic Committee.
- In a video message aired at the ceremony, the Secretary-General said that the Olympic spirit of fair play, mutual respect and friendly competition prevails. He called for us all to take that spirit and spread it around the world – for peace and a truce between all warring parties around the world; for human rights and an end to discrimination; and for a life of dignity for all.
- Earlier in the day, the Secretary-General had separate meetings with the Presidents of China and Ukraine and also with the President of International Paralympic Committee. We've issued readouts on all of those meetings.
- The Secretary-General will return to New York tomorrow and will be back in the office on Monday.
SYRIA: PEOPLE START TO BE EVACUATED FROM OLD CITY OF HOMS
- In response to earlier questions on whether civilians could leave the Old City of Homs in Syria, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the United Nations could confirm that 83 people were evacuated from Old Homs City today, during a three-day humanitarian pause agreed between the parties to the conflict.
- The people - women, children and the elderly - were then delivered to places of their choice, escorted by United Nations and Syrian Arab Red Crescent staff.
- Also, in a statement issued on Thursday night, the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern at the continued armed escalation in Syria, most deplorably the ongoing aerial attacks and the use of “barrel bombs” to brutal, devastating effect in populated areas.
- He condemns once again the indiscriminate use of any weapon against civilians, in contravention of obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. All civilians must be protected in any situation.
- The Secretary-General reiterates that further violence serves the agendas of those who see military means as the only way forward, at the expense of the Syrian people. He appeals to all Syrian sides to work immediately on reducing the levels of violence and focusing on a peaceful solution to the conflict.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos welcomed the news that the three-day humanitarian pause agreed between the conflict parties allowed more than 80 people to be safely evacuated from Old Homs City today.
- While today's operation is indeed a breakthrough, and a small but important step towards compliance with international humanitarian law, she said she understood that many civilians, sick and wounded remain in the Old City of Homs.
- Ms. Amos continues to call for the safe and voluntary evacuation of all civilians and for full access for humanitarian workers to help people caught in similar situations across Syria.
- She remains in close contact with the humanitarian teams on the ground, who are working with the local authorities, representatives of the parties and community leaders to evacuate more civilians and deliver aid in the next few days.
- Asked about today’s activities, the Spokesperson said that for the most part the operation went smoothly, but there were isolated reports of gunfire heard during the day.
- He noted that efforts to bring in aid and to get more civilians out would continue in the next days.
- Asked about the situation in Yarmouk, Haq said that in recent days, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) had been able to provide humanitarian aid to people in need. He emphasized the importance of allowing access to all of the people in need throughout Syria.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION CONTINUES PATROLS, HUMANITARIANS REACH DISPLACED
- The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS continues its military and police patrols in parts of the country, including in the capital Juba, as well as in Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity States.
- On Thursday, a Mission patrol in Bor, Jonglei State, observed that looting in most areas appears to have been widespread. The Mission also noted population movements in the centre of the town -- however residential areas were largely empty. At its site in Bor, the Mission is protecting some 6,000 civilians.
- And in Malakal, in Upper Nile State, the Mission says the town is deserted and generally quiet. Currently, the Mission is protecting approximately 22,000 civilians at its site in Malakal.
- On the humanitarian front, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that an estimated 738,000 people remain displaced inside South Sudan and another 130,400 people have fled to neighbouring countries including Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan and Kenya.
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners have reached some 300,000 people across 44 displacement sites in the country with assistance, including food, shelter and water. Agencies are also working on ways to address longer-term needs, and ensure food production and availability.
- Health partners continue to provide emergency medical care. Nearly all children at the UN Tomping base in Juba have received vaccination for measles, and vaccination and health awareness campaigns continue in parts of the country.
- And the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says it began distributing this week basic relief supplies to an estimated 10,000 people displaced in and around Malakal. It adds that this is the first aid to reach the displaced people outside of the UN base in Malakal. Insecurity and wide-spread looting of humanitarian assets meant that agencies were unable to deliver aid outside of the UN base in Malakal until now.
- The aid items include plastic sheeting, jerry cans, buckets, kitchen sets, mosquito nets, sleeping mats and blankets which were airlifted into Malakal airport from UNHCR’s regional stockpile in Nairobi.
HEAD OF U.N. OFFICE MEETS WITH HEAD OF STATE OF TRANSITION OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye, met on Friday with the Head of State of the Transition in the Central African Republic, Mrs. Catherine Samba- Panza. This was their first official meeting since her election.
- During the meeting, the Head of State of the transition said that the lynching of an alleged ex-Seleka combatant by soldiers of the national army, last Wednesday in Bangui, was unacceptable.
- The Special Representative noted with satisfaction the determination of the Head of State of the Transition to bring the perpetrators of this act to justice as soon as possible. Mr. Gaye also encouraged the Head of State of the Transition to prioritise justice, reconciliation and political dialogue.
- The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that almost 9,000 people have fled to Cameroon in the past 10 days to escape violence in the Central African Republic. This brings the number of CAR refugees in Cameroon to more than 20,000 since the current crisis began.
- Almost 840,000 people also remain displaced inside the Central African Republic. With no immediate prospect for their return home as the rainy season begins, UNHCR fears a worsening humanitarian crisis. The agency warned that there is a high risk of cholera and other public health issues, particularly in Bangui, where more than 413,000 people still live in makeshift sites.
- Asked about UN priorities in the Central African Republic, the Spokesperson said that the parties need to cease fighting, and the United Nations has made clear its concerns about the insecurity and fear that people in the country have been suffering.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TO ENCOURAGE PEACE RESOLUTION OF UKRAINE CRISIS
- Asked about leaked comments attributed to US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, the Spokesperson declined to comment on purported leaks of the private conversations of others.
- Asked about the UN's efforts in relation to the crisis in Ukraine, he said that the Secretary-General has been trying through his personal contacts and in other ways to encourage a peaceful resolution.
- After speaking by phone recently to President Viktor Yanukovich, the Secretary-General did send Robert Serry to Kiev from 28 to 30 January to convey the United Nations' solidarity with Ukraine and to encourage dialogue.
- In the conversations that UN officials have had with Ukrainians inside and outside the government, as well as with various international actors who have sought to help resolve the crisis, the UN has been clear in advocating that any solution should be arrived at by Ukrainians, peacefully and through dialogue.
- The Spokesperson added that it had been the Secretary-General’s decision to send Robert Serry, who had experience in dealing with Ukraine as a Dutch diplomat prior to becoming UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
- Asked about conversations attributed to Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, Haq said that Mr. Feltman is an international civil servant who serves the Secretary-General.
- Asked about conversations that UN officials had with US officials on Ukraine, he said that it is standard practice for UN officials to consult widely with Member States in trying to resolve crises.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME HAS HELPED 2.8 MILLION PEOPLE IN PHILIPPINES 3 MONTHS AFTER TYPHOON
- The World Food Programme (WFP) has helped more than 2.8 million people receive emergency food and nutrition support in the three months since Super Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines. The agency has done that while working in partnership with the Government of the Philippines, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies.
- In the coming weeks and months, the World Food Programme will help families rebuild their livelihoods while continuing to meet the immediate needs of the most vulnerable.
- Much work is still needed to clear debris, rehabilitate community infrastructures and recover agricultural land to allow long-term recovery and development activities to take effect. The World Food Programme plans to implement cash- and food-for-work activities for some 500,000 people to support this process.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SIGN SENIOR MANAGERS’ COMPACT
- The Secretary-General will sign his senior managers’ compacts for the year 2014 at a signing ceremony on Thursday, 13 February 2014, at 9:45 am in his Conference Room, 38th Floor, main Secretariat building. The press is cordially invited to attend. Senior managers at Headquarters will be physically present, while those away from Headquarters will participate via videoconference.
- The Compacts set specific programme objectives and managerial targets for a given year. But they also help set the tone at the top for improving performance and accountability across the entire Organization. Their collective signing in public reinforces the commitment of the Secretary-General and his senior leadership team to a culture of results, transparency and accountability.
- The signed Compacts will be published on the “Accountability A to Z” website on iSeek on the day of the ceremony. As is the practice, once completed, the end-of-year performance assessments, which measure performance against the programmatic and managerial targets set in the Compacts, will also be published.
- The Spokesperson, in response to questions, confirmed that the Deputy Secretary-General had met recently with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and cited the operational necessity for such a meeting, given the UN’s work in Sudan and South Sudan.
- Asked about security arrangements at the UN Headquarters complex in New York City, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was in discussions with the City of New York about how adequate security could be ensured.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
8 – 14 FEBRUARY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 8 February
The Secretary-General returns to New York following his travel to Russia.
Sunday, 9 February
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 10 February
From 11:30 am to 12:30 p.m., in Conference Room C, the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the Club de Madrid will co-organize a side event on “Social Inclusion & Migration : Developments for the post-2015 Agenda”. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, the UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations and Mr. Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, Former President of the Government of Spain, will give keynote speeches. At 12:30 p.m., Mr. Zapatero will hold a press encounter in the same room.
This afternoon, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Tuesday, 11 February
This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Sudan/South Sudan and on the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). This afternoon, the Council will hold consultations on Sudan sanctions.
At 11:00 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by Mr. Filippo Grandi, Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
Wednesday, 12 February
Today, the Security Council will hold an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
At 10:00 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference to release the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Beyond 2014 Global Report. Speakers will include Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
At 11:00 a.m., in the Press briefing room, there will be a press conference by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) to present their annual report “Attacks on the Press – 2014 edition”. This press conference is sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
Thursday, 13 February
At 9:45 a.m., in the Secretary-General’s conference room, the Secretary-General will sign his senior managers’ compacts for the year 2014. The Compacts set specific programme objectives and managerial targets for a given year. But they also help set the tone at the top for improving performance and accountability across the entire Organization.
This morning, the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) and on Sudan sanctions. It will also hear a briefing on the Security Council mission to Mali. In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on the situation in the Middle East (Syria).
At 11:00 a.m., there will be a press conference sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Spain to the United Nations on the launch of the “Peace and Cooperation” award.
On the occasion of World Radio Day, UNESCO and the UN Department of Public Information will organize an event entitled “Harnessing the Enduring Power of radio to Promote Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment” from 1:00 to 2:45 p.m. in Conference Room 2.
Friday, 14 February
At 11:00 a.m., the Security Council will hear a briefing on the cooperation between the United Nations and regional and sub-regional organizations.
At 1 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, the UN's World Youth Report with the theme of Youth and Migration will be launched. The event will depict the lives of young migrants through different art forms, including poetry, dance, acting, films and music. [A limited number of seats are available for the media. To RSVP, contact firstname.lastname@example.org]