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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,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 14 MARCH 2014

[Because of a press encounter by the Secretary-General and a press appearance by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic, there was no noon briefing on Friday. The following are the highlights from the UN system:]

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL MAKES APPEAL FOR RE-ENERGISED PEACE PROCESS FOR SYRIA

  • Speaking at an informal plenary of the General Assembly, the Secretary-General said that hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost or destroyed in Syria.
  • He said that millions in Syria have been forced to flee violence and deprivation. Cities and villages have been reduced to rubble. The world’s cultural heritage is under grave threat. And it is only getting worse. Extremists are imposing their radical ideologies, introducing discriminatory practices and limiting people’s freedoms.
  • The Secretary-General deeply regretted the failure of the international community, the region and the Syrians themselves to put a stop to this appalling conflict.
  • He appealed once again to the region and the international community to take clear steps to reenergize the Geneva process. He also sent a message to the Syrian Government and opposition forces:  exercise responsibility, leadership, vision and flexibility to rise to the challenge.
  • The Secretary-General later was to speak to the media following the meeting on Syria.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH PRIME MINISTER, ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER OF UKRAINE

  • The Secretary-General met on Thursday with the Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, as well as Ukraine’s acting Foreign Minister, Mr. Andrii Deshchytsia. The Secretary-General expressed his increasing concern about developments in Ukraine, including his particular alarm at the rapidly evolving crisis in Crimea and reports of rising tensions in eastern Ukraine.
  • The Secretary-General underscored that he had intensified diplomatic efforts over the past days and weeks but that all parties must de-escalate the situation, tame the rhetoric and find a peaceful solution to the crisis. He urged the Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister not to relent on their efforts to engage in direct dialogue with Russia and commended their restraint thus far during this difficult time in Ukraine’s history. He also stressed the need for the Prime Minister to govern Ukraine in a spirit of inclusivity and to promote a country of unity and opportunity for all, including minorities. 
  • The Secretary-General and his interlocutors also discussed the ongoing mission of Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Šimonovic, in Ukraine.
  • The Secretary-General underscored that the United Nations Charter has to be the guiding instrument for collective efforts toward a peaceful solution to the crisis in Ukraine. The Charter’s principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes and full respect for human rights, must prevail.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLENT CONFRONTATIONS IN BURUNDI

  • In a statement issued on Thursday, the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern about recent developments in Burundi, in particular the violent confrontations between the police and members of opposition parties last week. 
  • He encouraged the Burundian authorities, political leaders and civil society representatives to work together to de-escalate tension. He said respecting freedom of expression, association and assembly, as well as other human rights, is a precondition for free and fair elections in 2015.

FIRST VISIT BY U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF TO NIGERIA CONCLUDES

  • High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay wrapped up a visit to Nigeria today, the first by someone of holding her position.
  • She said that the country can and should play an even more significant role on the international stage in the years to come, and that its embrace of human rights will be a major element in deciding its future course both internally and internationally.
  • Ms. Pillay noted that since Nigeria’s transition to democracy, much has been achieved on the human rights front. Simultaneously, however, she said that with a fourfold increase in the size of the population in the past 50 years, widespread poverty, an increasingly brutal conflict in the north-east, sporadic violence in the middle belt and rising crime in other parts of the country, Nigeria is currently facing its most daunting set of challenges for decades.
  • The High Commissioner noted that the country has ratified all 9 of the core international human rights treaties, but that in order to have a real impact on the lives of ordinary people, international treaties must also be fully reflected in national legislation, and the national legislation must then be fully observed and implemented by the authorities at all levels.
  • On Boko Haram, she said that the actions taken by Government forces must not exacerbate the problem by taking actions that displace, endanger or kill civilians.

HUMANITARIAN WORKERS CONCERNED ABOUT MILITARY OPERATIONS IN SOMALIA

  • Military offensives by the Somali National Armed Forces (SNAF) and the African Union Mission (AMISOM) began in southern and central Somalia in early March, and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian agencies in-country are concerned that more than 20 districts across the area, where some 3 million people live, could be affected.
  • It is also feared that the military operations could disrupt the early start of the planting season, which could in turn have a negative impact on the annual harvest in August/September.
  • Displacement has already been reported, with an estimated 6,800 people arriving in Baidoa in Bay region as of 14 March, which seems to be the main location that people are moving to for safety. People report that they have left their homes due to fear of attacks or to avoid being caught in cross-fire.
  • Humanitarian access remains a major challenge due to the volatile security situation, and the UN and partners are working to determine urgent needs, mapping supplies in the various hubs and how to best respond when access improves and needs assessment become possible.  Water, food and health services remain the immediate needs for the displaced in Baidoa and those fleeing towns in Bakool region to surrounding villages, as well as those returning to newly accessible towns in Bakool. Shelter kits have been distributed to those displaced in Baidoa.
  • All parties engaged in conflict are reminded to refrain from activity that can harm or affect civilians or civilian infrastructure and property and to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. Humanitarian assistance is based on need only.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY STEPS UP ASSISTANCE TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REFUGEES ARRIVING IN CAMEROON

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that in eastern Cameroon, an increasing number of people fleeing violence in the Central African Republic are arriving ill, due to hunger and exhaustion during their flight.
  • Some 80 percent of the latest arrivals suffer ailments such as malaria, diarrhoea and respiratory infections. More than 20 percent of the children are severely malnourished.
  • UNHCR has stepped up assistance in border areas and deployed emergency staff, including nutrition specialists and site planners.
  • The Agency has also moved nearly 10,000 refugees who were sleeping out in the open to settlements established close to the villages of Lolo, Mborguene, Borgop and Gado. There, they receive food, clean drinking water, family shelters and basic relief items.

AFRICAN UNION- U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR CONCERN OVER INCREASED VIOLENCE, DISPLACEMENT

  • The Joint African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reported that on 12 March, following a meeting between their representatives, the Abballa and Gimir tribes agreed on a peace agreement to end fighting between their respective tribes, which intensified in the last few days in Saraf Umra, North Darfur. UNAMID welcomes the agreement and will continue, in close contact with relevant authorities, to support and follow-up on reconciliation efforts among tribes in Darfur.
  • With regards to the situation in Mellit in North Darfur, the Mission received reports of an attack on a Sudan’s Armed Forces base and reports of a number of military and civilian fatalities, and is seeking further information. UNAMID troops at the Mellit temporary base are closely monitoring the situation. 
  • UNAMID is deeply concerned over this development, as well as increased violence and mass displacement in Darfur.The Mission continues to call upon the Government of Sudan to allow unhindered and immediate access to areas, in particular in South and East Darfur, so that it can carry out its core activity of the protection of civilians.

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLATIONS OF STATUS OF FORCES AGREEMENT

  • In South Sudan, the UN Mission says today that it is concerned about recurring and numerous violations of the Status of Forces Agreement signed between the UN and the Government of South Sudan, including restrictions of movement of UN personnel as well as the checking of its car and threats to UN staff.
  • The Mission once again calls on all parties to respect the life-saving work of the UN in South Sudan and to ensure unhindered freedom of movement of UNMISS and humanitarian workers.

ACHIM STEINER’S TERM AS HEAD OF U.N. ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME EXTENDED FOR TWO YEARS

  • Following the recommendation of the Secretary-General, the General Assembly extended for two years the appointment of Achim Steiner as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), beginning on 15 June 2014. 
  • Nominated by the Secretary-General, Mr. Steiner was first elected to a four-year term in 2006, winning re-election in 2010.

 

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
15 – 21 MARCH 2014

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 15 March

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Sunday, 16 March

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 17 March

This morning, the Security Council will hold a debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

In Geneva, at 1.30 p.m., members of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) will present their report. Speakers are Michael Kirby, Chair of the Commission of Inquiry; Marzuki Darusman, Member of the Commission of Inquiry and Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the DPRK; and Sonja Biserko, Member of the Commission of Inquiry.

Tuesday, 18 March

This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the Middle East, followed in the afternoon by consultations on the same subject.

In Geneva at 10 a.m., there will be a press conference by Ross Mountain, Deputy Special Coordinator and UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim (DSC/RC/HC a.i.) in Lebanon, on the current humanitarian situation and challenges in Lebanon in light of the conflict in Syria.

In Geneva at 1:30 p.m., members of the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic will present their latest report. Speakers will be Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry, and other members of the Commission Karen Abuzayd, Carla del Ponte and Vitit Muntarbhorn.

Wednesday, 19 March

This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on Post-conflict peacebuilding.

Thursday, 20 March

Today is International Day of Happiness.

This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing, followed by consultations, on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).

In Geneva, on the occasion of World TB Day, there will be a press conference at 11 a.m. with Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of the Global TB Programme at the World Health Organization; Dr Catharina Boehme, Chief Executive Officer of FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics); Dr Joel Keravec, Global Drug Facility Special Advisor at the Stop TB Partnership; Ambassador Philippe Meunier, from French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France; and Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director a.i. of UNITAID.

Friday, 21 March

Today is the International Day of Forests.  A special event on this occasion is being held from 10:00 to 13:00, in the Economic and Social Council Chamber. The theme of the event is “Celebrating Forests for Sustainable Development”.

In Geneva at 11.30, there will be a press conference by Richard Falk, on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.

Also in Geneva, at 12.30 p.m., the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Food and Agriculture Organization will launch the “Forests for Fashion-Fashion for Forests” initiative to promote sustainable fashion. Speakers will be Michelangelo Pistoletto, Artist and President of Cittadellarte; Mario Boselli, President of the Italian National Chamber of Fashion; Andrea Bellini, Director of the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva; and Paola Deda, Chief of the UNECE/FAO Joint Forestry and Timber Section.