HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 3 MARCH 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES NEED FOR DIALOGUE IN UKRAINE; OPENS HIGH-LEVEL SEGMENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
- The Secretary-General is in Geneva today where he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They discussed the crisis in Ukraine and the importance of de-escalating the situation by engaging in constructive and meaningful dialogue.
- Earlier, the Secretary-General said at a press conference that he had dispatched the Deputy-Secretary-General to Ukraine. He said he had phone conversations yesterday with the President of France, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security, the President of Switzerland, which chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe this year, and the OSCE Secretary General. He said he had underscored the shared responsibility to assist in finding a peaceful resolution. The transcript of that press conference is online.
- This morning, the Secretary-General opened the high level segment of the Human Rights Council's 25th session. He stressed the Council's role for accountability and to put an end to impunity. He also called for the promotion of international human rights norms and principles into development.
- The Secretary-General also opened an exhibition to mark the first World Wildlife Day.
- Asked about Russia’s concerns about the safety of Russian-speakers in Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has called for full respect for – and the preservation of – Ukraine's independence, unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity. It is now of utmost importance to restore calm, to de-escalate tensions immediately through a dialogue.
- He noted that the Secretary-General had met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and had urged that the Russian Federation refrain from any acts and rhetoric that could further escalate the situation and instead engage constructively and through peaceful means with Ukraine.
- The Secretary-General’s message to Russian officials has been to de-escalate the situation and to engage constructively with the officials in Kiev.
- Asked about the OSCE, Nesirky said that it was a regional organization that has a role to play in the region. He noted the coordination of the various efforts of regional and international organizations on Ukraine.
- Asked about the movement of people across the border, the Spokesperson noted conflicting report and added that he had asked the UN Refugee Agency for any information it had.
- Asked about Robert Serry’s role, Nesirky said that he is the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He took on an assignment from the Secretary-General to travel to Ukraine, because of his past expertise as a former Dutch Ambassador to Ukraine.
- Mr. Serry will continue to be able to offer advice if required.
- Asked about a contact group for Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General was briefed on that idea by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and the OSCE Secretary General.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN UKRAINE, BEGINS TALKS WITH DIPLOMATIC REPRESENTATIVES
- Speaking of Ukraine, the Deputy Secretary-General has arrived today in Kiev. He was briefed by the UN Country Team on the latest developments on the ground.
- The Deputy Secretary-General also held talks with diplomatic representatives, including the Ambassador of Switzerland, which chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year, and Astrid Thors, the Organization’s High Commissioner on National Minorities.
- He will hold further consultations tomorrow, including with the interim President and the acting Foreign Minister.
- Asked whether the Deputy Secretary-General might visit Moscow, the Spokesperson said that is being considered.
- The Spokesperson added that one of the Deputy Secretary-General’s key roles is to deal with political matters, and he noted the Secretary-General’s decision on Sunday to dispatch him swiftly to Ukraine.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET ON UKRAINE, FOLLOWING SATURDAY MEETING
- The Security Council will hold a public meeting concerning Ukraine at 3:30 this afternoon.
- The Security Council also met on Ukraine on Saturday. The Deputy Secretary-General briefed the Council and told reporters afterwards that he had underlined the importance of calm, restraint and serious dialogue, both inside and outside Ukraine. His remarks are available online.
- Luxembourg has replaced Lithuania in the rotating Presidency of the Security Council. Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg will brief you at 12:30 pm tomorrow on the Council’s programme of work for this month.
U.N. MISSION IN CONGO INTENSIFIES FIGHT AGAINST ALLIED DEMOCRATIC FORCES
- The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) intensified its fight against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) this weekend.
- Two helicopters from the Mission carried out an attack on Saturday against an ADF base in Saha Sitisa in North Kivu. This operation was conducted in support of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC).
- The Head of the UN Mission, Martin Kobler, said that these operations had one clear objective: to put an end to the recurring attacks by the ADF against the civilian population. He urged all the ADF fighters to lay down arms immediately and to enter UN-run camps. The Mission remains determined to use all means to protect the population, which continues to be threatened by armed groups.
U.N.-A.U. MISSION CONCERNED OVER LOOTINGS IN DARFUR
- The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is deeply concerned over the reported burning and looting of a number of villages and the displacement of a large number of civilians in the vicinity of Um Gunya, South Darfur, in recent days.
- Peacekeepers have attempted to gain access to the affected areas on several occasions, but have been denied passage by the authorities.
- The Mission calls upon the authorities to allow it to have unhindered and immediate access to these areas, so that it can carry out its protection of civilians mandate.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports significant displacement of civilians in South Darfur.
- Renewed fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and armed groups in the Um Gunya area has reportedly led to more than 40 villages being burned to the ground.
- An estimated 15,000 people have fled. Many of them have arrived in South Darfur’s Al Salam and Kalma displacement camps. Aid organizations are working with the people to ensure that adequate food and clean water supplies are available.
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners are negotiating access to people in areas where fighting is still ongoing, to deliver life-saving aid.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS CLOUDS OF SMOKE NEAR MALAKAL, SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that it has seen large clouds of smoke from across the River Nile in the direction of Lelo Payam, in Malakal in Upper Nile State. Large movements of Opposition troops were also seen over the weekend in Malakal town, around the airport area, and on the road leading to Nassir, with the number of people in Malakal town having been reduced significantly by today.
- The Mission reports that it assisted the South Sudan National Police Service today with a clearing and search operation in front of the main gate of the UN House in the capital, Juba. The purpose of the operation was to clear crowds involved in criminality in the area, and check for weapons, other military items, and drugs that were increasing insecurity and attracting large numbers of internally displaced persons from within the UN House site. Currently, the Mission is protecting some 16,000 civilians at the UN House base in Juba.
- Meanwhile, the Mission continues to conduct patrols in various parts of the country.
U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS ATTACK ON LIBYAN CONGRESS
- The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) strongly condemns the attack on the General National Congress and the assault against its members, as well as the vandalizing of the premises.
- The Mission stresses the importance of respecting the legitimate institutions, rejecting violence in politics and guaranteeing the right to free expression through peaceful means. All of those principles ensure the proper continuation of a political process that can achieve a democratic transfer of power and preserve the security and stability of Libya.
U.N. REPRESENTATIVE IN SOMALIA MONITORING DEVELOPMENTS IN BAIDOA
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, is closely monitoring developments in Baidoa, including the outcome of today’s conference, and has taken note of the Federal Government’s response.
- He urged all parties to observe maximum restraint and refrain from any action that could pose a threat to security. Mr. Kay said that this year is critical for consolidating a united and stable federal Somalia, and he noted that the country has overcome many recent challenges through compromise and dialogue.
HEAD OF DAMASCUS OFFICE FOR SYRIA REPRESENTATIVE HAS EXPRESSED WISH TO LEAVE POST
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson confirmed that Mokhtar Lamani has indicated that, having served some 18 months as the Head of the Joint Special Representative for Syria’s Office at Damascus, he would wish to leave his post for personal and family reasons. Mr. Lamani's request is being considered.
- Asked about the travel of Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi, Nesirky said that he was expected to speak to the Security Council next week. The Secretary-General had said today that he wants to see the Geneva talks reconvene as soon as possible.