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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 EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

MONDAY, 18 MARCH 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ROBUST ARMS TRADE TREATY

  • The Secretary-General spoke on Monday morning at the Opening Session of the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.
  • He said that after a very long journey, our final destination is in sight: a robust Arms Trade Treaty.
  • The Secretary-General said that poorly regulated international arms deals directly affect every dimension of the UN’s work, undermining sustainable development, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and humanitarian efforts.
  • He told Member States that now is the time to overcome past setbacks in the Arms Trade Treaty process and deliver. He added that we owe this landmark UN treaty to those who have fallen victim to armed conflict and violence, to all the children deprived of a better future, and to all those risking their lives to build peace and make this a better world.

D.R.CONGO: U.N. MISSION REPORTS CLASHES BETWEEN M23 FACTIONS OVER THE WEEKEND

  • The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports that, following clashes over the weekend between rival factions of the M23 in North Kivu, the faction led by Sultani Makenga routed the Bosco Ntaganda faction out of its stronghold of Kibumba, which led between 200 and 600 individuals – combatants and civilians – to cross into Rwanda, where they were reportedly disarmed and detained.
  • On Friday, 15 March, following the clashes opposing the two M23 factions in Rugari, 35km northeast of Goma, 15 civilians were killed, 23 injured and 70 houses burnt. More than 2,000 families were displaced in that same area.
  • MONUSCO is closely monitoring the situation and has reinforced its positions around Goma.

MALI: U.N. FOOD AGENCY CHIEF URGES HUMANITARIAN HELP

  • The Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Ertharin Cousin, said on Monday that the people of Mali continue to suffer the impact of mass displacement and that they urgently need food and other humanitarian assistance.
  • Cousin made these comments upon her return from a five-day trip to Mali and Burkina Faso. 
  • She said that the international community must intensify its efforts to help vulnerable and displaced Malians and that continued support is needed for communities still feeling the effects of last year’s emergency caused by drought in the Sahel – the third major drought in seven years.
  • The World Food Programme plans to reach more than one million people in Mali this year and a further one million in Burkina Faso, with a variety of programmes, including assistance to displaced people, school feeding, training, cash and voucher programmes that help people buy locally-produced food and nutrition for mothers and young children.
  • The Security Council held consultations on Monday morning on Mali and was briefed by Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

SOMALIA: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE SADDENED BY CAR BOMBING IN CAPITAL

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia has expressed his shock and sadness at Monday’s car bombing in the capital, Mogadishu, calling the attack unacceptable.
  • Initial reports indicate several people have been killed and many more wounded.
  • Augustine Mahiga said that Somalia has made great strides forward on the path of progress and stabilization and these terrorist attacks will only reinforce the determination of the Somali people to persevere.

KOSOVO: SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO REACH AGREEMENT

  • The Secretary-General is encouraged by the commitment and determination of the leaderships in Belgrade and Pristina to achieve substantial progress in the context of the dialogue facilitated by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton. 
  • The Secretary-General calls upon both parties to remain committed to reaching agreements through mutually acceptable solutions. He stresses the importance of a successful outcome to achieve a stable and prosperous European future for the Western Balkans.  He also urges both parties to conduct the remaining stage of the negotiations with the courage to compromise and the determination to bring about lasting stability in the region.
  • The Secretary-General looks forward to discussing the progress with the parties in New York in the margins of the Security Council discussion on Kosovo, following the important next round of talks in Brussels on 20 March.

U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF TO TRAVEL TO SOUTH ASIA

  • Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs, departs on Monday for a week-long visit to South Asia, including stops in Nepal, India and Pakistan at the invitation of the respective Governments.
  • He will be in Nepal from 19-21 March, where he will meet with senior officials of the Government and political parties, representatives of the diplomatic corps and civil society to discuss the peace process.
  • In India (21-23 March) and Pakistan (24-25 March), he will meet with senior Government officials and other interlocutors to discuss the countries' wide-ranging cooperation with the United Nations and issues of international concern.
  • Under-Secretary-General Feltman will then travel to Doha, Qatar on 26-27 March to lead the United Nations delegation to the Summit of the League of Arab States.

U.N. REGIONAL HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR SAYS SYRIA IS BEING DESTROYED

  • At a press conference on Monday in Damascus, Radhouane Nouicer, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator, said that Syria is being destroyed. Homes, industries, phone networks, roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, the electricity and oil sectors, and agriculture have all been damaged.
  • Despite efforts to improve the situation, he said, the humanitarian situation is worsening by the day. In addition to the challenges posed by serious insecurity, he highlighted the significant shortage in funding for humanitarian operations. Because of funding shortages, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator said, relief programmes fail to feed all those who require food and to treat all the sick and wounded.

PROGRESS IN MATERNAL HEALTH MADE IN IRAQ, SAYS WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION

  • Over the last two decades, slow but sustained progress has been made in improving maternal health in Iraq, the World Health Organization (WHO) says.
  • WHO says that Iraq’s maternal mortality ratio fell by 29% between 1990 and 2010.  The proportion of deliveries attended by skilled health personnel rose considerably, from 50% in 1990 to 88.5% in 2011. Meanwhile, institutional deliveries increased from 62% in 2006 to 75% in 2011.
  • However, this progress will still not be enough for Iraq to meet the planned Millennium Development Goal target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75% by 2015.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS ENVOY FOR GREAT LAKES AND DEPUTY RELIEF COORDINATOR

  • The Secretary-General announced on Monday the appointment of Mary Robinson of Ireland as his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region of Africa. 
  • Mrs. Robinson will play a key role in supporting the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa, by the signatories.
  • The Secretary-General has also appointed Ms. Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). She will replace Ms. Catherine Bragg of Canada.
  • Since 2007, Ms. Kang has served as Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ATTEND CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL MEETING FOR FORMER YUGOSLAVIA IF AVAILABLE: Asked whether the Secretary-General will attend a General Assembly meeting on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, the Spokesperson said that he would attend if he is in New York at that time.

SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPECTS ITALY AND INDIA TO RESOLVE DISPUTE CONSTRUCTIVELY: Asked about a diplomatic dispute between Italy and India, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General hopes and expects that Italy and India will resolve this matter constructively and in compliance with their international obligations.