HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 27 AUGUST 2012
CIVILIANS SUFFER MOST FROM SMALL ARMS, LIGHT WEAPONS, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
- The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, delivered a message on the Secretary-General’s behalf at the Second Review Conference on the Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons, which began at UN Headquarters on Monday morning.
- He said that more than half a million people are killed by small arms and light weapons each year. Civilians suffer most – particularly the poor.
- Mr. Eliasson said that, since the adoption of the Programme of Action in 2001, some progress has been made in tackling the illegal trade in small arms and light weapons. But, he said, many States still lack the capacity to exercise effective control over small arms and light weapons and to stem the flow of illicit weapons across their borders.
U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND CALLS FOR URGENT FUNDS TO ASSIST SYRIAN REFUGEES FLEEING TO JORDAN
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) issued an urgent appeal on Monday for more than $50 million to help the growing number of Syrian refugee children and their families arriving in Jordan.
- Some 17,000 people – half of them children – are sheltering at the Za’atari refugee camp in northern Jordan, but these numbers are on the rise as hundreds of new refugees arrive each day from Syria.
- Over the weekend, more than 2,000 people crossed the border into Jordan in a single night.
- The Fund said that it expects that, by the end of the year, there will be 70,000 people at the Za’atari camp, where conditions are harsh.
- Asked about the Christian community in Syria, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General was concerned about the suffering faced by all civilians in Syria.
- He said that the Secretary-General is shocked by reports of the discovery of hundreds of civilians killed over the past week in the town of Daraya. The Secretary-General strongly condemns this appalling and brutal crime.
- The Spokesperson said the situation in Daraya must be investigated immediately in an independent and impartial manner, and those responsible for perpetrating this crime must be held accountable. He noted that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was looking into the matter.
- Asked about President Bashar al-Assad’s fate, Nesirky stressed once more the need for a political solution led by the Syrian people, so that the aspirations of the Syrian people can be met.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION SPEAKS OUT AGAINST MURDER OF CIVILIANS
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has strongly condemned the murder of 17 Afghan civilians, including two women who were reportedly beheaded, in Kajaki district in the southern province of Helmand on Monday.
- The Mission said that this criminal act is unjustifiable and totally disregards the sanctity of human life. The UN Mission has repeatedly stated that the killing of civilians is a clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws and has called for the perpetrators of such reprehensible acts to be brought to justice.
U.N. RELIEF ARM CONCERNED BY CLASHES IN SUDAN
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has expressed its deep concern at reports that fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in the north-eastern Al Abasia area of South Kordofan State is causing significant civilian displacement.
- The United Nations is working with the government's Humanitarian Aid Commission and humanitarian workers on the ground to determine how many people have been affected, and the locations to which these people have fled.
- Insecurity and impassable roads have made access to this area difficult; however food assistance, health supplies and household items have been delivered to some affected people. Additional assistance is being mobilized.
U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS ATTACK ON SOUTH SUDANESE TROOPS
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned an attack by armed insurgents against South Sudanese troops in Jonglei State.
- The incident is reported to have taken place last Thursday and to have claimed the lives of 24 soldiers, with many more missing and wounded. The Mission says it believes the attack was deliberately intended to undermine progress made in improving the security environment and in forging reconciliation among the communities in Jonglei State.
- The UN Mission provided support to the South Sudanese armed forces (SPLA) to help evacuate the wounded. And it is also providing aerial transport to local Government officials so they may visit communities in the area. UN human rights teams are also investigating the course of events.
HAITI STILL AT RISK OF FLOODS, LANDSLIDES IN WAKE OF TROPICAL STORM ISAAC, SAYS U.N. RELIEF WING
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the number of deaths in Haiti caused by Tropical Storm Isaac stands at 13 with 27 people injured.
The situation in Haiti in the aftermath of the storm, which hit the country early on Friday morning, is gradually normalizing, but there is still a risk of floods and landslides.
- People in temporary evacuation shelters have started returning home, and distribution of food and household items has also started.
- In the longer term, concerns remain over food security associated with crop losses due to the recent drought and now Tropical Storm Isaac.
URGENT ACTION NEEDED TO PREVENT WORSENING OF PROBLEMS IN GAZA, SAYS U.N. OFFICIAL
- Maxwell Gaylard, the senior UN humanitarian official in the occupied Palestinian territory, said in a report today that Gaza's problems in water and electricity, education and health will only get worse over the coming years, unless remedial action is taken now.
- He says that Gaza will have half a million more people by 2020 while its economy will grow only slowly. As a result, the people of Gaza will have an even harder time getting enough drinking water and electricity, or sending their children to school.
U.N. SOMALIA ENVOY: DELAYS IN FINALIZING PARLIAMENT COULD THREATEN ELECTORAL CALENDAR
- Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, has expressed his concern over the continuing delays in finalizing the list of the Members of Somalia’s Parliament. Mr. Mahiga said over the weekend that the delays might threaten the electoral calendar.
- He said that Somalia is just a few critical steps away from fully ending the transitional period. Mr. Mahiga added that the international community must support this effort to ensure that the complete number of the new Somali lawmakers begin their vital work immediately.
U.N. YET TO BE FORMALLY NOTIFIED REGARDING SENTENCING OF STAFFERS IN MYANMAR
- In response to questions about court sentences against UN employees in Myanmar, the Spokesperson said that the UN Country Team in Yangon has received information that a court in Maungdaw has sentenced three persons – one employee of UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), one of the World Food Programme (WFP) and an employee of the Refugee Agency’s partner organization – in connection with the violent incidents in Rakhine state during June 2012.
- However, he added, no formal information has so far been given to UN’s Yangon office to this effect. Meanwhile, the UN has consistently held that formal and precise charges would need to be provided before action is taken by the Myanmar authorities.
- Nesirky added that the detained staff should be treated in accordance with all the applicable international conventions and immunities to which they may be entitled.
MORE THAN 1.6 MILLION WILL NEED FOOD AID – U.N. AGENCY
- The World Food Programme (WFP) says that more than 1.6 million people will need food aid in Zimbabwe during the peak hunger season, which begins in January.
- It follows a 33 per cent decrease in the national cereal harvest this year.
- The decrease is due to late and erratic rains and poor agricultural practices.
- The UN food agency, in collaboration with the government, will intensify operations to meet the growing need.
- Food will be distributed and cash transfers will be provided to vulnerable people.
NO PLANS FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT IRAN NUCLEAR SITES: Asked about media reports that the Secretary-General might visit nuclear sites in Iran, the Spokesperson said that there are no plans for any such visits while the Secretary-General is in Iran. He added it would be welcome if Iran were to grant access to its nuclear sites to officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON D.R. CONGO: The Security Council held closed consultations on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.