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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, 12 MARCH 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY DEATH OF RUSSIAN CREW MEMBERS IN A HELICOPTER CRASH IN D.R. CONGO

  • The Secretary-General has learnt with deep sorrow of the death of four Russian air crew members, following the crash of a UN-contracted cargo helicopter on 9 March, twenty kilometers west of Bukavu, in South Kivu, in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • The Secretary-General offers his sincerest condolences and sympathy to the families and friends of the victims, and to the Government of the Russian Federation.
  • The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) immediately launched a search and rescue operation. Due to severe weather conditions, the Mission could not access the crash site until 12 March. MONUSCO has launched an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash.

U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND SAYS SYRIAN CONFLICT RISKS LEAVING A GENERATION OF CHILDREN SCARRED FOR LIFE

  • UNICEF, the UN Children’s Fund, says in a report on Tuesday that the Syrian conflict risks leaving an entire generation of children scarred for life. This is because of the unrelenting violence, the massive population displacement, and the damage to infrastructure and essential services.
  • The report – marking the two-year point in the Syrian crisis – says that in areas where the fighting is most intense, access to water has fallen by two-thirds, resulting in increased skin and respiratory diseases. Meanwhile, one-fifth of Syria’s schools have been destroyed, damaged, or are being used to shelter displaced families.
  • The report adds that children are suffering the trauma of seeing family members and friends killed, while being terrified by the sounds and scenes of conflict.
  • Also, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, is in the region around Syria this week. Over the past couple of days he has been in Turkey, where he has visited urban and camp refugees in Gazantiep region and met Government officials. On Wednesday, he is travelling to Jordan, and will be visiting the Za'atri camp and a registration site in Irbid, before heading to Lebanon on Thursday and Friday.
  • The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, will also be in the region this week.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN

  • On Tuesday morning, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, briefed the Security Council in closed consultations on Sudan and South Sudan.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the two countries, Haile Menkerios, also spoke to the Council by videoconference.
  • The Council also discussed sanctions on Somalia and Eritrea.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CALLS ON MALIAN AUTHORITIES TO PROTECT COMMUNITIES AT RISK

  • The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kyung-wha Kang, said on Tuesday that the preliminary findings of the mission sent to Mali suggest that the recent military intervention in the North of the country was followed by a serious escalation of retaliatory violence by Government soldiers.
  • In her address to the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Ms. Kang said that Government soldiers appeared to be targeting members of the Peuhl, Tuareg, and Arab ethnic groups who are perceived to be supportive of the armed groups.
  • Ms. Kang acknowledged the public commitments made by the Government of Mali to fulfill its obligations under international human rights law and to fight impunity. She said that these commitments are, however, not yet sufficiently translated into concrete actions.
  • She called on the Malian authorities to protect the communities at risk and to ensure that their troops act in accordance with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
  • She said that the civilian population should be protected and the suspected rebels who have been arrested should be treated humanely and their due process rights respected. Allegations of involvement of members of the Malian army in acts of reprisals against civilians should be investigated and those responsible should be brought to justice.
  • Asked about the death of a journalist in Mali, the Spokesperson reiterated that journalists everywhere need to be able to go about their work without persecution.

U.N. FOOD AGENCY CHIEF TO VISIT BURKINA FASO TO HIGHLIGHT NEEDS IN SAHEL REGION

  • The World Food Programme Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, will travel to Burkina Faso on Wednesday to highlight the continuing needs in the Sahel region.
  • Her visit comes one year after humanitarian agencies, including the World Food Programme, increased assistance in response to the food and nutrition emergency in the Sahel.
  • During her three-day visit, Ms. Cousin will meet Government representatives and representatives from other UN agencies and non-governmental organizations.

APPOINTMENT OF NEW COMMANDER OF U.N. FORCE FOR ABYEI

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Major-General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam of Ethiopia as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).
  • Major-General Tesfamariam succeeds Lieutenant General Tadesse Werede Tesfay of Ethiopia, who completed his assignment on 24 January 2013. 

***The guests at the Noon briefing were Olav Kjørven, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of Policy at the United Nations Development Programme; Claire Melamed, Head of the Growth, Poverty and Inequality Programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI); and Corinne Woods, Director of the UN Millennium Campaign.  They briefed reporters on MY World, the United Nations global survey to engage citizens in shaping the Post-2015 agenda.