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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,
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

 TUESDAY, 28 AUGUST 2012

SECRETARY-GENERAL LEAVES FOR TEHRAN TO ATTEND THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT SUMMIT

  • The Secretary-General is on his way to Tehran, where he will be attending the Sixteenth Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.
  • The Secretary-General looks forward to the Summit as an opportunity to work with the participating Heads of State and Government, including the host country, towards solutions on issues that are central to the global agenda, including follow-up to the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development, disarmament, conflict prevention, and support for countries in transition.
  • The Secretary-General also takes seriously his responsibility and that of the United Nations to pursue diplomatic engagement with all of its Member States in the interest of peacefully addressing vital matters of peace and security.
  • With respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Secretary-General will use the opportunity to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on the issues for which cooperation and progress are urgent for both regional stability and the welfare of the Iranian people.  These include Iran’s nuclear programme, terrorism, human rights and the crisis in Syria.
  • The Secretary-General will have a range of meetings with Iranian officials, and is expected to meet the Supreme Leader and the President.
  • He will return to New York on Saturday.
  • Asked what the Secretary-General would do to prevent any threat of attack on Iran, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General will underscore, as he has on many occasions that it is in Iran’s interest to take concrete steps to build international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.
  • That includes Iran’s full compliance with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors.
  • At the same time, the Secretary-General continues to emphasize that the Iranian nuclear issue can be resolved only by diplomatic and peaceful means.
  • Asked about concerns regarding human rights in Iran, Haq said that the Secretary-General will reiterate his concern that the overall human rights situation in Iran remains critical.
  • Iran has an obligation under international law to respect freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression, and allow greater space for media activists, human rights defenders and political activists, the Spokesperson said.
    Asked about the Secretary-General’s meetings in Tehran, the Spokesperson said that he will be directing his message to all segments of Iranian society and the political spectrum.

RISING NUMBER OF REFUGEES FROM SYRIA IN JORDAN, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS

  • The UN Refugee Agency says that the pace of arrivals from the Syrian border to the Za'atri camp in the north of Jordan has doubled in the past week, from 4,500 a week ago to 10,200 people arriving in the seven days between 21-27 August. More than 22,000 people have been received at Za'atri since it opened on 30 July.
  • Refugees say that many thousands more people are waiting to cross, following violence around Daraa, and the Refugee Agency says that this could be the start of a much larger influx. Some of those who have crossed in recent days report being bombed by aircraft. There are also reports of shelling, mortars and other weapons-fire.
  • The Refugee Agency has received in the camp over the past week an increased number of unaccompanied children. Some children report that their parents have died, or are staying behind in Syria to look after relatives, while others said they were sent ahead of their parents, who will follow later.
  • UN Refugee Agency operations in Lebanon are returning to normal, with some improvements in the security situation over recent days. In Turkey, meanwhile, the number of Syrians arriving at the border has increased dramatically. Compared to previous weeks, which saw around 400 to 500 people arriving daily, up to 5,000 people have been arriving at the borders every day over the past two weeks.

U.N. MISSION CONFIRMS INCIDENT LED TO SOME LIGHT INJURIES AT CAMP ASHRAF IN IRAQ

  • Asked about reports of violence on Monday at Camp Ashraf/New Liberty in Iraq, the Spokesperson said that preliminary reports from the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) confirmed that an incident between residents and Iraqi Police led to some light injuries on both sides. However, the situation returned to normal.
  • The Spokesperson said that preparations for the relocation of the next group of 400 residents to Camp Hurriya are continuing and the United Nations hopes the move will soon be completed.
  • He said that the United Nations is calling upon the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf to also start preparations for additional convoys to Camp Hurriya, in order to peacefully complete the relocation process.

U.N. CONDEMNS THE KILLING OF AID WORKER IN SOMALIA

  • The United Nations in Somalia condemned the killing of an aid worker for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the south of the country on Monday.
  • Since last August, 20 humanitarian workers have been killed in Somalia.
  • The number of Somalis receiving aid has more than doubled since famine was declared in July 2011. Today, more than 1.6 million Somalis are receiving food assistance and 1.7 million people have access to clean water.
  • Attacks on aid workers compromise the UN’s ability to maintain large-scale humanitarian operations and affect the lives of vulnerable Somalis.
  • The UN reminds all in Somalia of the neutral and impartial nature of humanitarian action and appeals to all parties to permit aid workers to continue to safely serve all those in need in the country, wherever they are.
  • Also, the Security Council held consultations on Somalia this morning.

U.N. CONCERNED OVER DESTRUCTION OF SUFI SHRINES, LIBRARIES IN LIBYA

  • The Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, expressed her grave concern on Tuesday over the destruction and desecration of Sufi shrines and libraries in the Libyan cities of Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli.
  • Ms. Bokova called on the perpetrators to cease such destruction immediately.
  • She urged the Libyan authorities and people to exercise their responsibility to protect cultural heritage and sites of religious significance for future generations.
  • Ms. Bokova also welcomed the Libyan Government’s clear condemnation of the destruction of the sites and said that UNESCO stands ready to provide assistance to protect and rehabilitate them.

UNIDENTIFIED ARMED MEN OPENED FIRE AT AN IVOIRIAN ARMED FORCES CHECKPOINT, U.N. MISSION SAYS

  • Asked Monday about recent violent incidents in Côte d’Ivoire, the Spokesperson said he could confirm that on Saturday, 25 August, unidentified armed men in a vehicle opened fire at an Ivorian armed forces checkpoint at Iribo village, 90km from Abidjan. One Ivorian soldier, two attackers, and one civilian were killed in the ensuing exchange of fire.
  • The UN peacekeeping mission, UNOCI, reinforced its presence in the area, and continues to monitor the situation.
  • This incident follows a series of attacks against national security forces and installations, which started on 5 August. In response, UNOCI has reinforced its coordination and information-sharing mechanisms with national security forces, and is conducting enhanced patrols in sensitive areas.
  • The UN Mission was requested in Security Council resolution 2062 to reduce its military strength by the equivalent of one battalion, as soon as is practical.
  • In the light of the current deteriorating security situation in parts of the country, UNOCI and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are carefully re-assessing current threats and risks and operational requirements.
  • Based on this assessment, the UN Mission will develop a plan for the responsible reduction of its uniformed personnel to ensure that it can respond to the evolving situation and effectively implement its mandate. 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. WELCOMES THE RELEASE OF TWO U.N. STAFF IN MYANMAR: Asked about the reported release of two UN staff in Myanmar, the Spokesperson welcomed the release and expressed the hope that the one person remaining in detention will be released. 

U.N.’S POSITION ON ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS IN OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY HAS NOT CHANGED: In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the UN’s position on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory had not changed, and that settlement activity has been deemed illegal and unhelpful.