HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 17 MARCH 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED, CONCERNED CRIMEA REFERENDUM TO EXACERBATE TENSIONS IN UKRAINE
- In a statement, the Secretary-General says that he continues to closely follow the situation in Ukraine. Since the beginning of this crisis, the Secretary-General has urged all parties to avoid hasty steps in this already complex and tense situation.
- The Secretary-General is deeply disappointed and concerned that the Crimea referendum will only exacerbate this situation.
- He encourages all parties to work for a solution that is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter, including respecting Ukraine's unity and sovereignty.
- He condemns the violence which occurred over the weekend in Eastern Ukraine and which resulted in injuries and loss of life on all sides. The Secretary-General once again urges all parties to refrain from violence and to commit themselves to de-escalation and inclusive national dialogue in the pursuit of a political and diplomatic solution. A deterioration of the situation will have serious repercussions for the people of Ukraine, the region and beyond.
- He urges all parties in Ukraine and those with influence to avoid any steps that could further increase tensions.
- Above all, the Secretary-General urges all concerned to intensify their efforts and engage constructively toward a peaceful solution to this crisis, with the aspirations of all people of Ukraine foremost in mind. The Secretary-General remains ready to work with all parties to resolve this situation. And the statement will be available shortly in my office.
- Also on Ukraine, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic continued his mission there today.
- Mr. Simonovic met with the Deputy Foreign Ministers and the Deputy Minister of Justice, as well as with civil society representatives.
- Mr. Simonovic is returning to New York tomorrow.
- Asked further about the Secretary-General’s views, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had clearly expressed his desire for all parties to avoid any hasty steps. He highlighted the imperative that all parties pursue an inclusive national dialogue.
- Asked about the situation of Crimean Tatars, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had not seen any direct relocation of Tatars so far. He said that the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General and Mr. Simonovic had repeatedly underscored the need to protect the rights of all communities.
- Asked about Mr. Simonovic’s work, Dujarric said that he has expressed concern about the treatment of all minorities in Ukraine. He is expected to return to New York shortly and brief the Secretary-General and others on his travels.
SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF AFGHANISTAN MISSION
- At the Security Council, Jan Kubis, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, briefed the Security Council in its formal meeting on that country this morning. He noted that in less than three weeks' time, Afghanistan intends to hold Presidential and Provincial Council elections which will see the country's first democratic transfer of power. He said that the elections are a defining moment that will earn President Hamid Karzai a place in history.
- Mr. Kubis urged all eligible Afghan citizens- men and women- to exercise their franchise on 5 April. He said that they should not let spoilers and terrorists deprive them of their choice and their future. He also urged candidates to come to understandings in ensuring acceptance of results, adding that any resort to civil disruption or conflict is not in the national interest.
- The Security Council also extended the Mission’s mandate until 17 March 2015.
SYRIA ENVOY HOLDS TALKS WITH SENIOR OFFICIALS IN IRAN
- The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, arrived in Tehran yesterday. Today, he had meetings with the Secretary of the Supreme Nation Security Council of Iran, Ali Shamkhani, and the Foreign Minister, Jawad Zarif.
- Over the weekend, the Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations, Valerie Amos, issued a statement on Syria, saying that three years after the conflict began, more than 9 million people need aid and protection inside Syria, and another 2.5 million have fled the country. An estimated 3.5 million people are living in 'hard-to-reach' areas and have received very little aid. Some 220,000 people have been besieged for months, 175,000 in areas controlled by the government and 45,000 in areas controlled by opposition groups.
- She said that the international community needs to show courage and determination to do all that is necessary to reach a political solution. Without that, the Syrian people will see more years of destruction and continued brutality.
- Asked about compliance with the Security Council resolution on humanitarian access to Syria, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General would report soon to the Security Council on that topic.
U.N. ENVOY VOICES CONCERN OVER VIOLENCE IN NORTHERN LEBANON
- On Lebanon, the UN Special Coordinator, Derek Plumbly, expressed concern today at incidents of violence in Tripoli, northern Lebanon, and in areas of eastern Lebanon during the past few days, which have led to a tragic loss of life.
- He also condemned yesterday’s suicide car bombing in the area of Nabi Othman in east Lebanon that killed and wounded a number of people. He extends his condolences to the families of the victims of all these incidents.
U.N. HELPS LAUNCH PALESTINE HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE PLAN
- Today, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley helped to launch the Strategic Humanitarian Response Plan for the State of Palestine, for the period 2014 to 2016.
- The Humanitarian Response Plan targets 1.9 million Palestinians, who are to be assisted by 65 UN agencies and international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Together, they are appealing for $390 million to implement 151 projects.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION RELOCATING UPROOTED AHEAD OF RAINY SEASON
- In Juba, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says it is in the process of relocating displaced civilians from the Tomping Compound to the UN House as the rainy season draws closer. The Mission will be providing protection by escorting buses, transporting internally displaced people between both locations.
- The Mission says that the congestion of sites, compounded by the coming rains, remains a major challenge. The Mission is seeking to expand sites in Malakal, Bentiu, Bor and Juba. It is also creating new areas for civilians to seek safety in Juba and Bor.
- In Bor, in Jonglei state, the Mission notes that civilians have been seen rebuilding their homes and that trading activity in the town has increased and basic foods are available.
- Asked about the investigation into labelling of items that travelled through Rumbek, the Spokesman said that the investigation is ongoing.
U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF TO VISIT CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- Starting tomorrow, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, will visit the Central African Republic. She will be in the country until Thursday to discuss the dire human rights situation there with the interim Government and key international institutions and peace-keeping forces.
- During her visit, Ms Pillay plans to meet, among others, with the Head of State of the Transition, Catherine Samba-Panza. She will also meet representatives of the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States and the European Union, as well as the Head of the African Union peace-keeping forces MISCA, and the Force Commanders of both MISCA and the French military forces Sangaris.
- While in Bangui, the High Commissioner will also meet UN agencies working on the ground, visit sites of destruction and displacement, and meet some internally displaced people.
U.N. AGENCY CONFIRMS NO EXPLOSION DETECTED FOR MISSING MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT
Regarding the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), based in Vienna, confirmed over the weekend that neither an explosion nor a plane crash on land or on water had been detected so far.
Airplane accidents may be detected, depending on individual circumstances, by three of the four technologies used by the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System. This verification system has been put in place to detect nuclear explosions but is also able to detect the explosion of a larger aircraft, as well as its impact on the ground or on water.
- The Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Lassina Zerbo, had mentioned this possibility, saying that he will put the sensors of the Organization at work. He also encouraged all scientists from Member States to carefully study the available data.
SRI LANKA: U.N. UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTION, PROMOTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
- Asked about the reported arrest of two human rights activists in Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is are aware of the reports.
- He recalled that the Secretary-General and the President of Sri Lanka in their 2009 joint statement emphasized the importance of protection and promotion of human rights in keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka's international obligation.