HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 20 MARCH 2014
IN MOSCOW, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS HE WILL DO ALL TO RESTORE GOOD RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RUSSIA, UKRAINE
- The Secretary-General is in Moscow, Russia, today.
- He said he had a very productive and constructive meeting with President Vladimir Putin. Earlier, the Secretary-General met as well with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
- In his remarks to the press, the Secretary-General mentioned the discussions in his meetings concerning Ukraine, and said that he has emphasized that all parties refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that could further exacerbate an already very tense and very volatile situation. Inflammatory rhetoric can lead to further tensions and possible miscalculations, as well as dangerous counter-reactions. Intimidation by radical elements must be prevented at all costs.
- He said that he will do whatever he can to help restore good relations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine – two brotherly countries and two founding members of the United Nations.
- Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric, addressing the press from Moscow, said that the main message that the Secretary-General conveyed in his meetings today was the need for real and open dialogue between Kiev and Moscow. He was also concerned about steps to de-escalate tensions.
- Dujarric said that the Secretary-General had emphasized that all parties refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that could further exacerbate an already very tense and very volatile situation. Inflammatory rhetoric can lead to further tensions and possible miscalculations, as well as dangerous counter-reactions.
- Asked about the legality of the annexation of Crimea, Haq noted that the Secretary-General has expressed his deep disappointment and concern over the referendum in Crimea. He will continue to urge all parties in Ukraine and those with influence to avoid any steps that could further increase tensions.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO THE HAGUE, GREENLAND
- The Secretary-General will travel over the weekend to The Hague to attend the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit.
- This will be the third such Summit, and is being hosted this year by the Netherlands.
- The Secretary-General will speak at the opening session of the two-day event on Monday, 24 March.
- He will also hold bilateral meetings with leaders attending the Summit.
- On the afternoon of Tuesday, 25 March, the Secretary-General will travel to Greenland, where the melting of ice sheets is accelerating, to witness first-hand the impacts of climate change there.
- On Wednesday, 26 March, together with the Prime Minister of Denmark and the Prime Minister of Greenland, the Secretary-General will meet with the indigenous people in the town of Uummannaq.
- He will also view the Ilulissat Icefjord by boat. This fjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the mouth of a glacier which has been studied for more than 250 years and has contributed to our understanding of climate change.
- The Secretary-General will also be briefed on solutions that are available and innovations that are under way to address climate change.
- This portion of his trip aims to build momentum ahead of the Climate Summit which he is convening in September and will be attended by world leaders.
- The Secretary-General will return to New York on Thursday, 27 March.
SYRIA: U.N. CARRIES AID ACROSS TURKISH BORDER FOR FIRST TIME IN 3 YEARS
- A convoy carrying vital aid supplies for hundreds of thousands of people desperately in need in the north of Syria is leaving the Turkish border crossing at Nusaybin today, bound for the city of Qamishli.
- The convoy contains food supplies, blankets and mattresses, family kits, hygiene kits, medicines and medical supplies from the World Food Programme (WFP), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It is the first time in three years of this brutal conflict that the UN has been able to carry aid across into Syria from Turkey.
- Meanwhile, the Special Coordinator of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, Sigrid Kaag, said that as of today, 53.6% of Syria’s chemical weapons material has been removed from or destroyed in Syria. This represents important progress. The Joint Mission welcomes the momentum attained, and encourages the Syrian Arab Republic to sustain the current pace.
- Asked about the use of the Nusaybin-Qamishly crossing point, the Deputy Spokesman said that it is just one of a number of crossings that the United Nations is negotiating with the Syrian Government to open, to allow the regular, fast and efficient flow of aid to people who cannot be reached via other routes.
- He added that the United Nations has a regular presence in Qamishly with international and national humanitarian workers, who would be able to receive these supplies and move them onto the communities in Hassakeh.
- In response to further questions, Haq noted the effort to bring supplies of food, shelter materials, winter and household items across from Turkey, which would be able to swiftly be delivered to help the 500,000 people who need aid in the Hassakeh area, both local families and those displaced from other parts of Syria.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CALLS FOR QUICKER INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said today that inter-communal hatred remains at a terrifying level in the Central Africa Republic.
- She said at a press conference in Bangui that although large-scale killings of the type that took place in December and January appear to have halted for the time being, people continue to be killed on a daily basis. She also said that two districts of the capital – PK 5 and PK 12 – remained no-go zones, with trapped Muslim populations.
- Ms. Pillay stressed the need to restore law and order. She also said that there should be more visible efforts by national and local politicians and officials to ram home the message that human rights violations and rampant crime will no longer be tolerated; and that reconciliation is vital for everyone if the country is to recover.
- The High Commissioner added that she was deeply concerned by the slow response of the international community, including the underfunded aid effort.
HEAD OF WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME WARNS OF PRECARIOUS FOOD SITUATION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin wrapped up a visit to the Central African Republic (CAR) and said that she had witnessed alarming food insecurity and malnutrition amid a deadly combination of violence and insufficient funding for the humanitarian response.
- She said that the entire population, not only the displaced, was affected and lived in a precarious food situation. She added that action was needed before the rains exacerbated the tragic situation.
- So far this year, despite immense logistical and security challenges, WFP has provided food to more than 250,000 people per month in CAR, including specialized nutritious foods to help prevent malnutrition among children.
- But the Programme says that the scale of the disaster requires deeper engagement from the international community. In the coming weeks most roads will become impassable with the rainy season. The rains will also increase the risk of diarrhoea and illness for tens of thousands of displaced people in unsanitary, makeshift camps.
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON CONTINUED PROGRESS IN LIBERIA
- Karin Landgren, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Liberia, told the Security Council today that the political and security environment in the country remains relatively stable. She added that progress continues in a number of areas, but as Liberia enters its second post-conflict decade, it faces great challenges to institutionalizing reforms in critical sectors, and building capacity for effective governance. She noted recent protests and demonstrations, saying that voices across a wide spectrum continued to express dissatisfaction with national authorities and policies.
- Ms. Landgren said that in June, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) will complete the second phase of its three-phase military drawdown endorsed by this Council. She said that UN troops are withdrawing from counties along the Sierra Leone border to cover other areas, and another battalion is being repatriated. She added that the coming phases will need careful management. We have her remarks in our office.
- This afternoon, the Council will hear a briefing by the Chairman of the Sanctions Committee dealing with Resolution 1737, concerning Iran.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION SAYS NO REPORTS OF FIGHTING TODAY IN MALAKAL
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has received reports that the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has established a strong presence north of Malakal, in Upper Nile State, after its troops launched an attack on Opposition forces yesterday. A large number of SPLA troops were seen heading towards Malakal town. The Mission has received no reports of fighting in Malakal town today where it continues to protect some 21,500 displaced civilians at its site there.
- The Mission, however, has received reports of fighting between SPLA and Opposition forces yesterday in areas between Adar and Guelguk in Upper Nile State.
- Asked about talks between the parties that are being mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD), the Deputy Spokesman expressed the hope that talks would commence soon.
U.N. ENVOY TO MEET WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF GREECE, FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
- Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, will meet with the Representatives of the two countries next Wednesday, 26 March, at UN Headquarters in New York.
- Mr. Nimetz will meet the two Representatives separately and then jointly, with the purpose of continuing the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" issue.