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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, 4 MARCH 2013

SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL AND SYRIA ENVOY CALL FOR UNIFIED ACTION TO END VIOLENCE

  • The Secretary-General met over the weekend with the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, to discuss the ongoing situation in Syria and Brahimi’s continuing efforts to encourage a political solution. 
  • Both expressed deep frustration at the failure of the international community to act with unity to end the conflict which has left over 70,000 dead and resulted in a massive human displacement within and outside of the Syrian borders. In this context, the Secretary-General and Brahimi stressed the necessity of the unity of the international community.
  • The Secretary-General and Brahimi also spoke about recent statements by the Syrian Government and the opposition indicating their willingness to engage in dialogue.  The United Nations would welcome and be prepared to facilitate a dialogue between a strong and representative delegation from the opposition and a credible and empowered delegation from the Syrian Government, which can take place according to an agreed agenda.
  • Asked about the arming of “moderate” elements in Syria, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s position that further militarization of the conflict is not helpful.
  • Asked whether Croatia will withdraw its troops from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has not received any formal notification of a withdrawal.

D.R.CONGO: SITUATION IN NORTH KIVU REMAINS HIGHLY VOLATILE

  • The UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports that situation in North Kivu remains highly volatile.
  • A split within the M23 armed group and attacks by APCLS elements, another armed group, have displaced thousands in recent days.
  • In Kitchanga the situation remains very tense. On Sunday, the APCLS armed group attacked the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) there and recaptured the town.
  • At least 80 people have died and approximately 100 people have been injured in the fighting so far. There are still 3,000 internally displaced people around the MONUSCO base in Kitchanga.
  • Also on Sunday, following the withdrawal of the FARDC from Kiwanja and Rutshuru, the M23 moved back into the two towns.
  • MONUSCO's attack helicopters are monitoring the Munigi-Kibumba-Kibati area.

U.N. NUCLEAR CHIEF CALLS FOR CONTINUED HELP FOR JAPAN AND SPEAKS ON SITUATIONS IN NORTH KOREA AND IRAN

  • The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, addressed the organization’s Board of Governors, which began its first meeting of the year on Monday.
  • Yukiya Amano said that next Monday marks the second anniversary of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The Agency, he noted, continues to help Japan deal with the accident’s consequences and Member States are also making serious efforts to implement lessons learned.
  • The Director General said the IAEA remains ready to contribute to the peaceful resolution of the issue regarding the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by resuming its nuclear verification activities once political agreement is reached among the countries concerned.
  • The Director General’s remarks also touched on Iran, which he said is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities. The Agency therefore cannot conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is used in peaceful activities, he said.
  • He urged Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of its Safeguards Agreement and its other obligations, and to engage with the IAEA to achieve concrete results on all outstanding issues.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ACTION TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

  • The Deputy Secretary-General spoke on Monday at the opening of the session of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations Headquarters, saying that we need to do more together in confronting violence against women.
  • In his remarks, he said that we must bring an end to this blatant manifestation of brutality, inequality and abuse of human rights. He also said that we have to provide concrete help for those affected and to empower victims. For this, we need to mobilize all good forces and create a culture where shame around these crimes is solely directed at the perpetrators.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General said that we have to respond everywhere and on every level. This means encouraging men and boys to also stand up and say “No” to Violence against Women.
  • He said that ending violence against women is also critical to reaching the Millennium Development Goals.

U.N. WELCOMES NEWS OF BABY WITH H.I.V. WHO IS DEEMED CURED

  • The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed news of a baby born with HIV who now as a toddler appears “functionally cured” through treatment.
  • The UN Agencies said that if the findings are confirmed, this would be the first well-documented case of an HIV-positive child who appears to have no detectable levels of the virus despite stopping HIV treatment.
  • UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said that this news gives us great hope that a cure for HIV in children is possible and could bring us one step closer to an AIDS-free generation. He said that this also underscores the need for research and innovation, especially in the area of early diagnostics.
  • The UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said that this case demonstrates what we already know: it is vital to test newborn babies at risk as soon as possible.
  • UNAIDS and UNICEF said that they looks forward to further studies to see if findings can be replicated. 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECURITY COUNCIL AGREES ON PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR THE MONTH: The Security Council met on Monday morning and agreed on its programme of work for March. 

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES CHINA TO TAKE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION OF TIBETANS: Asked about the self-immolation of protestors in Tibet, the Secretary-General urges China's authorities to take seriously the observations and recommendations made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in relation to certain human rights concerns of the Tibetans and constructively cooperate with UN mechanisms in that regard. 

SRI LANKA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY: Asked about Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has consistently called for full accountability concerning the events in that country.