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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

 

MONDAY, 10 MARCH 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES ALARM ON UKRAINE DEVELOPMENTS, REITERATES CALL FOR DIALOGUE

  • The Secretary-General has made the following statement on Ukraine:
  • “I am increasingly alarmed by the developments in Ukraine. Since the beginning of this crisis, I have appealed to all parties to de-escalate tensions and to engage in direct and constructive dialogue in order to forge a peaceful way forward.
  • Recent events in Crimea in particular have only served to deepen the crisis.  As tensions and mistrust are growing, I urge all sides to refrain from hasty actions and provocative rhetoric. 
  • The international community must help the key actors to calm the situation and work toward a durable and fair political solution. A further deterioration of the situation would have serious repercussions for the people of Ukraine, the region and the global community.
  • I also continue to urge the relevant authorities to ensure that the human rights of all in Ukraine are respected, with particular attention to the rights and protection of minorities.
  • At this crucial juncture, we cannot afford either miscalculations or inaction. Above all, a resolution of the crisis must be found on the basis of the United Nations Charter principles, including the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
  • Asked about diplomatic efforts, Dujarric said that discussions and negotiations are going on for a peaceful resolution of the situation, in line with the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.
  • The Secretary-General remains concerned about the need to avoid a deterioration of the situation. He and his advisers have had a number of contacts in recent days with all concerned parties.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY CONTINUES UKRAINE MISSION, WILL TRAVEL TO CRIMEA

  • Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic continues his mission to Ukraine.
  • The Secretary-General had asked him to travel to the Ukraine urgently to mark the continued high level engagement of the United Nations with Ukraine, to assess the human rights situation, and to develop recommendations for further action.
  • Mr. Šimonovic has held numerous meetings, including with the acting Foreign Minister, the Ombudsperson, the diplomatic community in Kyiv, international organizations and civil society representatives.
  • He will travel to Kharkiv this evening, and plans to go to Crimea and Lviv after that.
  • Mr. Šimonovic and his delegation intend to stay in Ukraine until 15 March.

AT START OF COMMISSION ON THE STATUS OF WOMEN, BAN URGES CONTINUED EFFORTS TO BOLSTER WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT

  • Earlier today, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the new session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), saying that we have come a long way but there is much still to do for women’s empowerment and little time to do it. He said that more girls are in school, but we are far from ending gender disparity at all levels of education.
  • He said that the United Nations is committed to helping Governments provide the education, as well as quality sexual and reproductive health services that too many women and adolescent girls lack. He added that their reproductive rights must also be ensured.
  • He also spoke about the campaign to end female genital mutilation, adding that, last week, he met a young woman in London, Fahma Mohammad, who is leading a global campaign against that practice. He said he was deeply moved by her strong voice and clear message and will continue to speak out against female genital mutilation.

U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER INTER-COMMUNAL CLASHES

  • The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is deeply concerned over an outbreak of inter-communal violence in Saraf Omra, North Darfur, which led to mass displacement of civilians and a number of casualties over the course of the past few days.
  • Thousands of displaced civilians have sought refuge in the vicinity of the Mission’s base. Peacekeepers have taken up station around the displaced to provide protection. Additional troops and police have been deployed to the base to bolster security. In addition, the Mission has provided water and evacuated 38 casualties, 24 of which were in a critical condition, for medical treatment.
  • While the fighting has subsided, the Mission says that the situation in the area remains tense. It adds that it is working with the humanitarian to provide further assistance, including food and sanitation support.
  • The Mission is supporting reconciliation efforts between the conflicting parties, which commenced yesterday, and has called the parties to cease hostilities and resolve their differences peacefully.

SOUTH DARFUR: ATTACKS DRIVE 45,000 PEOPLE FROM HOMES – U.N. RELIEF WING

  • In South Darfur, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 45,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the Um Gunya area reportedly as a result of attacks on villages by Government forces. Many people have fled to camps surrounding Nyala, the state capital.
  • Humanitarian agencies are ensuring that adequate water and food supplies are made available to those affected.
  • The United Nations has also assessed humanitarian needs in some of the villages to which people have fled. OCHA says that some targeted assistance is being provided in those places but that many people have expressed the wish to continue onward to the Nyala camps as they fear the continuing insecurity.  

HEAVY RAINS AFFECT THOUSANDS OF UPROOTED PEOPLE IN SOUTH SUDAN, U.N. MISSION REPORTS

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that a heavy rainstorm in the capital, Juba, on Friday damaged tents, temporarily affecting nearly 8,000 internally displaced people in the protection area at the Tomping compound. The Mission says the tents have been fixed, and there are no reports of civilians being injured. It is also in the process of moving some of the affected displaced people from Tomping to the UN House in the next few days.
  • Over the weekend, a Mission patrol to Malakal in Upper Nile State observed the presence of armed Opposition forces in and around the town, including at premises being used as the headquarters for the Opposition.
  • Still in the Upper Nile State, a Mission delegation that visited Melut yesterday was informed by local officials that the town is filled with displaced civilians, many of whom have arrived from parts of Upper Nile and Jonglei State. Local officials also highlighted food shortages in the area that are causing tensions with local communities.
  • Also on South Sudan, in response to questions on the Ghanaian contingent's equipment, the Mission reports that a joint mission comprising Government officials and the Mission travelled to Rumbek today in preparation for the arrival of a New York delegation which will travel to South Sudan midweek.
  • An investigation will be launched immediately after the arrival of this delegation to understand the circumstances behind this incident. In the meantime, the Mission says that it is important to wait for the facts to come out and respect all provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement signed between the UN and the Government of South Sudan.
  • Asked about the investigation, the Spokesperson said that a senior delegation from New York would travel to the area for the investigation.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: DELIVERING FOOD TO THOSE IN DESPERATE NEED IN SYRIA REMAINS A CHALLENGE

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) has succeeded in reaching many areas of Syria that were inaccessible for months, but says that delivering food to people in desperate need remains a challenge.
  • Over the last few days, the Programme reached Al-Houle in rural Homs for the first time since May 2013 and delivered food for 20,000 people. Trucks carrying food rations for another 20,000 people arrived in Ar-Raqqa Governorate for the first time in six months.
  • Locally-negotiated ceasefires allowed convoys into areas of Rural Damascus and rural Dara’a. Five trucks delivered food for 17,500 people in camps for displaced people north of Idlib. Among the camps were some that had not been reached directly by the World Food Programme since the start of the conflict in 2011.
  • Asked about the amount of aid deliveries, the Spokesperson noted the significance of getting aid to people in need, especially to those who had not received humanitarian assistance for a long time.
  • Asked about the diplomatic process, the Spokesperson said that the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, is in New York and continuing his diplomatic efforts. He met the Secretary-General today and will brief the Security Council on Thursday.
  • Asked about the safe transport of Syria’s chemical weapons, Dujarric said it is incumbent on all parties to ensure the safety of the convoys that are transporting the chemical weapons stocks to the OPCW-UN Joint Mission.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON LIBYA, TO MEET ON UKRAINE

  • Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, briefed the Security Council this morning on the work of the UN Support Mission in that country. He noted the recent polarization in the country, including the storming of the Parliamentary premises last week. He said that the use of force to achieve political objectives is to be unequivocally rejected.
  • Mr. Mitri said that there has been a dramatic increase in violence in Libya in recent months. And he noted the recent alarming attacks on media outlets and abductions of media personnel, which he said must be condemned.
  • The Security Council followed up its meeting on Libya with consultations on the same topic.
  • This afternoon, the Council has scheduled a closed meeting on Ukraine.
  • Asked about threats concerning an oil tanker off the coast of Libya, the Spokesperson said that the hope was that there would be no action taken that would cause environmental damage.

U.N. AWARE OF UNITED STATES SUBMISSION HAITI CASE

  • In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is aware that the United States authorities have filed a submission requesting the Court to recognize the immunity of the Organization and its officials in this case.
  • As this is an ongoing matter, he said, the Organization is not in a position to comment any further on this.
  • In any event, this is a filing by the United States Government; the Organization has no comment to make on it, except to note that it is standard practice for the Organization to assert its immunity in cases filed against it in national courts.
  • The Spokesperson added that the United Nations and Senior Coordinator Pedro Medrano Rojas are working closely with the Government of Haiti in the fight against the cholera epidemic.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about the current employment of Augustin Mahiga and Margaret Vogt, the Spokesperson said that the Department of Political Affairs (DPA) has for several years welcomed some departing Special Representatives to come to headquarters for brief stints following their field assignments in order to develop and share lessons learned that can prove valuable for other mediators and mission chiefs who may face similar challenges in the field.  This is the purpose of DPA's Mediators in Residence Program, which has hosted a number of former officials, including Ian Martin, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, Augustin Mahiga, and Margaret Vogt. 
  • Asked about a recent UN event involving fashion models, the Spokesperson noted an outreach programme involving the creative community that is designed to bring the United Nations to the attention of a wider public.