HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 28 MARCH 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON TRIP TO RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
- The Secretary-General will brief the Security Council on his recent travels and work concerning Ukraine, in closed consultations at 3:00 p.m. Once those consultations have ended, he expects to speak to reporters at the Security Council stakeout, at approximately 4:40 p.m.
- Asked about the Thursday vote of the General Assembly on Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that the UN Secretariat would study the resolution and determine appropriate follow-up. He said that all Member States were encouraged to abide by the Assembly’s resolutions.
- Asked about reported troop movements in areas near Ukraine’s borders, Haq said that the Secretary-General had made clear the need for the parties to avoid any hasty actions, and he had urged a de-escalation of the situation.
- Asked about reported human rights violations, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations had tried to deploy human rights monitors throughout Ukraine, in order to determine the facts behind allegations of rights violations.
- On Friday morning, the Council received a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Syria from the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos.
- Earlier Friday morning, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO, by one year.
ONE YEAR ON, VIOLENCE, DISPLACEMENT CONTINUES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- This week has marked a year since rebels, known as the Seleka coalition, seized power in the Central African Republic (CAR).
- According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), violence and displacement continue, with fighting ongoing in the capital, Bangui, in the past week. The CAR Red Cross reports that at least 18 people were killed.
- The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Bangui has also risen again, from 177,000 to approximately 200,000.
- Humanitarian agencies are concerned that thousands of the displaced may stay behind in overcrowded sites. Some 70,000 IDPs are still living at the M’Poko airport site in extremely difficult conditions, made worse as the rainy season gets underway.
- Lack of funding is also still of major concern, as only 22 % of the 551 million dollars requested for CAR has been committed or disbursed.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME, CHILDREN’S FUND TEAM UP TO DELIVER AID IN REMOTED AREAS OF SOUTH SUDAN
- The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) started today a joint operation to deliver food, vaccines, nutrition supplements and other vital relief supplies to Akobo, in Jonglei State -- one of the most isolated areas of South Sudan.
- The two agencies are using helicopters and air drops to assist 30,000 people in urgent need and have set up emergency distribution points for food, health, protection, education and sanitation.
- Akobo is the first location the two agencies are reaching under a new joint strategy. Fourteen such missions are planned over the next month, seeking to support as many as 250,000 people in remote, conflict-affected communities in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity states. Other agencies are expected to join the partnership.
HEAD OF PEACEKEEPING WRAPS UP THREE-DAY VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, wrapped up a three-day visit to Afghanistan today, telling reporters that the United Nations is committed to transparent elections in the country.
- In the aftermath of Tuesday’s deadly suicide attack and armed assault against a Kabul office of the Independent Election Commission of Afghanistan (IEC), Mr. Ladsous met with key officials of that agency. He said that the targeting of the Election Commission’s premises and its staff by enemies of democracy is repugnant.
- Mr. Ladsous added that every eligible voter should exercise the right to vote and have a say in shaping the country’s future.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR CONCERNED OVER EAST JERUSALEM BUILDING DEMOLITION
- UN Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley expressed concern today over the Israeli authorities’ demolition of a two-story building in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of At Tur on 26 March. The building included two apartments, a mosque, and a medical centre.
- Mr. Rawley said that he is deeply concerned about the displacement of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and destruction of their private property. He said that these actions cause unnecessary humanitarian suffering and increase tension and also run counter to Israel’s obligations under international law.
- Displacement rose significantly in East Jerusalem in 2013, with 298 Palestinians forcibly displaced from demolitions compared to 71 in 2012.
MYANMAR: CONCERNS REMAIN ABOUT SAFETY AND SECURITY OF AID WORKERS
- Asked about attacks reported earlier this week on UN and NGO premises in Sittwe, in Myanmar's Rakhine State, the Spokesperson said that initial assessments show substantial damage to UN and NGO property and vehicles.
- Haq said that the humanitarian community in Myanmar remains concerned about the safety and security of aid workers as well as constraints on access to communities in need.
- Despite the insecurity, the UN and its humanitarian partners are determined to resume aid operations, and continue to consult with the Government and local authorities.
U.N. RESIDENT COORDINATOR CONSULTING ON NEXT STEPS IN VENEZUELA: Asked about students in Venezuela who have been protesting and asking for UN human rights monitors in the country, the Spokesperson said that the Resident Coordinator in the country was consulting with officials there on next steps. He added that the Secretary-General had met earlier this month with Venezuela’s foreign minister and discussed the situation there.
HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED ABOUT DEATH PENALTY IMPOSITION IN EGYPT: Asked about the death sentences imposed in Egypt, the Spokesperson recalled that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its concerns about the imposition of the death penalty and said that the Secretary-General shared the Office’s concerns.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
29 MARCH – 4 APRIL 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Monday, 31 March
In New York, at 12:30 pm, there will be a press briefing by Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg concerning the end of Luxembourg’s Presidency of the Security Council.
In Geneva, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a press conference on Global Value Chains, Transparency and Development, in preparation for the 5th Global Commodities Forum (7-8 April). Speakers from UNCTAD Special Unit on Commodities will be Mrs. Yanchun Zhang, Chief of Commodity Policy Implementation and Outreach Section, from, and Mr. Kris Terauds, Economist.
Tuesday, 1 April
Today, Nigeria will assume the rotating presidency of the Security Council for the month of April.
The Secretary-General will be in Brussels for the International Conference for the Prevention of Genocide.
Wednesday, 2 April
Today is World Autism Awareness Day.
In Brussels, the Secretary-General will attend the European Union-Africa Summit, as well as a High-Level meeting on the Central African Republic.
In New York, at 11am, there will be a press conference with American actress Connie Britton and UNDP Assistant Administrator Michael O’Neill to announce the appointment of Ms. Britton as UNDP Goodwill Ambassador for poverty eradication and women’s empowerment. It will take place at 1 United Nations Plaza (1st Avenue between 44th and 45th str.), 21st floor – Hank Shannon Conference Room.
In Geneva, at 12.30 p.m., there will be a press briefing for the pre-launch of the Advocacy report on ‘Dengue: Turning up the volume on a silent disaster’, with speakers from IFRC Walter Cotte, Under Secretary General of the Programme Services Division, and Amanda McClelland, Senior Officer for Emergency Health.
Thursday, 3 April
The Secretary-General will leave Brussels for Prague.
In Geneva at 9.30 a.m., there will be a press conference by demining veteran Paul Heslop, Chief of Programmes at the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), on ‘The State of Mine Action Around the Globe’ in preparation for tomorrow’s International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
Friday, 4 April
In Prague, the Secretary-General will give a lecture at Charles University on the topic “The Czech Republic and the UN: Peace, Development and Human Rights in a Changing World.”
In Geneva, UNOG, UNOSDP and the Permanent Mission in Geneva of Costa Rica and Qatar will be organizing an event to mark the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (6 April). The commemoration will start with a high-level panel discussion and will end with a symbolic walk/run through the park surrounding the Palais des Nations.