HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 19 MARCH 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVELING TO RUSSIAN FEDERATION, UKRAINE, IN BID TO ENSURE PEACEFUL RESOLUTION TO CRISIS
- The Secretary-General is departing New York this afternoon for a visit which will take him to the Russian Federation and to Ukraine as part of his diplomatic efforts to encourage all parties to resolve the current crisis peacefully.
- The Secretary-General has consistently called for a solution that is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter.
- His first stop will be Moscow, where tomorrow, he will meet with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials.
- The Secretary-General will travel on Friday, 21 March, to Kiev, where he will hold talks with Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other officials.
- While in the Ukrainian capital, he will also meet with members of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission and representatives of civil society.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s goals during his trip, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been pushing for direct dialogue between Moscow and Kiev aimed at agreeing on specific measures that will pave the way towards a diplomatic solution. He has also emphasized the need for de-escalation and restraint. He believes that the path towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis is still open.
- Asked about the referendum on Crimea, the Spokesperson recalled that the Secretary-General had said that he was deeply disappointed and concerned that the Crimea referendum will only exacerbate the situation on the ground. He maintains that all parties must avoid precipitate steps under the complex and tense current circumstances.
- All parties must work for a solution that is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter.
- Asked about the legitimacy of the results of the referendum, Haq said that was a matter for Member States to consider.
PEACEBUILDING CAN PREVENT RELAPSE INTO VIOLENCE, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Security Council is discussing post-conflict peacebuilding in an open meeting this morning. The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, told Council members that the recent example of Sierra Leone and of Timor Leste before it provide evidence of how post-conflict peacebuilding can prevent a relapse into violence and underpin a country’s development after conflict.
- He added that the recent upsurges of violence in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan demonstrate the unpredictable environment for peacebuilding and the great risks involved.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will also speak to the Council this afternoon, when Council members have scheduled a meeting concerning a letter dated 28 February 2014 from the Permanent Representative of Ukraine. Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic will also brief the Council.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION REPORTS CLASHES IN UPPER NILE STATE
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported fighting in Malakal in Upper Nile State between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition forces in the vicinity of the its compound this afternoon, local time. Two rounds of mortar fire also landed close to the Mission compound, where some 22,000 displaced civilians are under the UN’s protection.
- In addition, heavy shelling is reported in areas between Malakal town and the Mission’s premises. Earlier today, the Mission also witnessed troop and tank movements towards the town.
- Yesterday, fighting between SPLA and Opposition forces was reported in Akoka, which is north of Malakal.
- The Mission once again calls on both parties to fully comply with the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement, and to ensure a swift establishment of the monitoring and verification mechanism.
- Asked about complaints by the UN Mission concerning some media reports about the Mission, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission respects freedom of the press and freedom of expression. He added that it was important for the Mission to correct inaccurate reporting that had falsely portrayed the Mission as biased, given that such errant reporting could affect the safety of the Mission and of UN personnel in South Sudan.
U.N. SOMALIA ENVOY WELCOMES MILITARY PROGRESS IN REGAINING CONTROL OF KEY TOWNS
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has welcomed the military progress made by the Somali National Army (SNA) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) in south-central Somalia where they regained control of key towns and areas from Al Shabaab.
- Kay said the UN and international partners had begun addressing humanitarian needs where access is possible. He added that Somalis living in areas now under Government control should quickly receive better security and justice, services such as health and education and a decent livelihood. He also called for more international support.
U.N. MISSION CARRIES OUT SUCCESSFUL OPERATIONS AGAINST ARMED GROUPS IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) announced today during a press briefing that the Congolese Army, with the support of UN troops, had conducted several successful operations against armed groups in North Kivu.
- Operations are also ongoing against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) between Tongo and Kalengera, with little resistance so far.
U.N. AGENCY DISTRIBUTES FOOD TO BESIEGED REFUGEES IN SYRIA’S YARMOUK CAMP
- After a break of more than two weeks, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has been able to get into Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus and distribute hundreds of food parcels to besieged civilians.
- The Agency says it has distributed 465 food parcels, but adds that this is not nearly enough for some 20,000 people there, which is why it is demanding secure, substantial and sustained access.
- Meanwhile, the image of crowds of Palestinians lining up for UN Relief and Works Agency food parcels, which has emerged as an icon of the Syria conflict, is to be displayed simultaneously on the massive electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square and its Asian equivalent in Tokyo’s Shibuya district.
- Asked about recent fighting in Golan, the Spokesperson said that the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has been in touch with both the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and the Senior Syrian Arab Delegate.
- The IDF has confirmed to UNDOF that it observed an individual crossing the ceasefire line on Tuesday and that an IDF patrol was sent to the location. The IDF soldiers got out of their vehicle and crossed the technical fence when an improvised explosive device exploded, resulting in injuries.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. ENVOY URGES FULL PARTICIPATION OF WOMEN IN FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS
- The Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and acting head of the UN Mission there, Nicholas Haysom, said today that women’s full participation in the forthcoming Presidential and Provincial Councils is essential to ensure an inclusive and credible electoral process.
- Mr. Haysom met today with civil society representatives, and he said that elections can only be truly representative and credible when women fully participate and are included in all parts of the electoral process.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY CONCERNED OVER DETENTION OF DECEASED HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson noted a statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights on 14 March 2014 and expressed deep sadness at the news that Chinese human rights defender Ms. Cao Shunli died in hospital last Friday.
- He said that the Secretary-General shares the High Commissioner's deep concern that a human rights defender was detained in relation to her work and engagement with United Nations human rights mechanisms.