HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 4 MARCH 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVELS TO SIERRA LEONE AFTER MEETING GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER
- The Secretary-General is on his way to Sierra Leone to celebrate the successful closing of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the country.
- Before he left Geneva, the Secretary-General met today with Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the foreign minister of Germany.
- The Secretary-General and the Minister discussed latest developments in Ukraine. The Secretary-General stressed the need to urgently de-escalate the current tension and facilitate dialogue for a peaceful resolution, and he pledged the United Nations' support in this regard.
- The Secretary-General and the Minister also discussed the situation in Lebanon, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the trip to Sierra Leone.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS OFFICIALS IN KYIV, ASKS ROBERT SERRY TO TRAVEL TO CRIMEA
- The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, continued his visit to Ukraine today. He met with the acting President, Prime Minister and acting Foreign Minister.
In his meetings, the Deputy Secretary-General stressed the need for calm and international unity in the pursuit of peace. He also reiterated the Secretary-General's call that Ukraine's territorial integrity should be respected and preserved.
The Deputy Secretary-General also held meetings with diplomatic representatives in Kyiv.
- As part of the mission, the Deputy Secretary-General has asked Robert Serry to travel to Crimea to take stock of and evaluate the situation there. Mr. Serry is now departing Kyiv and should arrive shortly in Crimea.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will continue his mission in Ukraine tomorrow.
- In response to earlier questions about refugee movements, the Spokesperson said that the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has not observed any irregular movements in Ukraine or on its borders. It does not have any information to support reports of substantial numbers of refugees arriving from Ukraine to the Russian Federation.
- Asked whether the UN has seen signs of political retribution in Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that the officials who are there are looking at the situation on the ground. The intention of the Deputy Secretary-General and Mr. Serry is to take stock of the situation and then report back.
- Asked about international monitors, Nesirky said that the Chair of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) had made clear that that was a proposal. The United Nations would need to be in discussion with the OSCE about that. Any UN involvement would require discussions at the United Nations.
- Asked further about monitoring, the Spokesperson said he was not aware of any monitoring activity at present.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS PROGRAMME OF WORK, HOLDS DISCUSSION ON UKRAINE
- The Security Council adopted its programme of work for March this morning. Ambassador Sylvie Lucas of Luxembourg, the Council President for this month, then briefed reports on the programme of work.
- On Monday afternoon, the Council held a formal meeting on Ukraine, on which it received a briefing by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernández-Taranco. He provided details on recent developments and reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for dialogue to de-escalate the tensions immediately.
SYRIA SUBMITS REVISED PROPOSAL ON REMOVAL OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- Syria has submitted to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) a revised proposal that aims to complete the removal of all chemicals from Syria before the end of next month.
- The OPCW-UN Joint Mission also verified that two more consignments of chemicals have left the port of Latakia, including a quantity of mustard gas - a Priority 1 chemical - which was previously reported last Wednesday. Another movement, a significant consignment of other Priority 1 chemicals, is scheduled to arrive in Latakia during this week, which will bring the total number of movements so far to six.
- The six movements represent more than 35% of all chemicals that must be removed from Syria for destruction, including 23% of Priority 1 chemicals and 63% of Priority 2 chemicals. In addition, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has verified that Syria has destroyed, inside the country, more than 93% of its stock of isopropanol. We have a press release with more details.
- Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator of the Joint Mission, briefed the OPCW Executive Council in The Hague today. She will brief the Security Council on Wednesday on Syria’s chemical weapons programme. She is expected to talk to reporters at the Council stakeout after that.
U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS GRENADE ATTACK AGAINST CONVOY IN D.R. CONGO
- The United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) condemned a grenade attack on Monday evening against one of its convoys in Beni, North Kivu. Five peacekeepers were injured in an attack by two unidentified men on a motorcycle, 10 kilometres away from the town’s airport.
- The Head of the UN Mission, Martin Kobler, said the attack was unacceptable and would not diminish the support given to the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in the fight against armed groups.
- The Mission strongly reaffirms its commitment and determination to protect the civilian population, as well as to contribute to the restoration of the authority of the state, and of peace and security in the country.
U.N. WEST AFRICA ENVOY CONDEMNS KILLINGS IN NIGERIA
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, strongly condemned the killings over the weekend by unidentified armed groups in Nigeria in the localities of Maiduguri, Mainok and Mafa, in Borno State.
- Mr. Djinnit expressed condolences to the bereaved families and to the people and the Government of Nigeria.
- He added that this unprecedented cycle of violence must stop.
U.N. PATROL IN SOUTH SUDAN SEES MOVEMENT OF CIVILIANS ACROSS NILE RIVER
- A patrol from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in Malakal County in Upper Nile State observed large movements of civilians on Sunday across the River Nile, reportedly due to fighting in Lelo. The Mission has received reports that Wau Shilluk in Upper Nile State has been re-taken by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
- The Mission continues to protect some 75,000 civilians at various sites across the country.
REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED ABOUT CIVILIANS FLEEING CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is increasingly concerned about the needs of refugees who have been fleeing the Central African Republic and South Sudan and traveling to neighbouring countries, in particular Chad, Cameroon, and Ethiopia. The Agency appeals to its partners and the governments in these countries to provide urgent support to these populations.
- The crises in South Sudan and the Central African Republic have together caused one of the biggest refugee and internally displaced persons (IDP) situations that Africa has seen in recent years. The two crises have forcibly displaced some 1.8 million people across a region with very sparse support capacities.
- Within South Sudan, there are currently nearly 740,000 people who are internally displaced and nearly 200,000 sheltering in neighbouring countries. The UN estimates that, by June, as many as 3.2 million people could be in need of humanitarian help. Already, food security is a problem.
- With Central African Republic there are currently more than 700,000 people internally displaced and more than 290,000 who have fled as refugees. More than half the country's 4.6 million people are in need of humanitarian help.
- One of the countries that tens of thousands of people fleeing the violence in the Central African Republic (CAR) have arrived at is Chad, where they are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.
- Since the start of the crisis in December 2013, UN agencies and humanitarian partners have registered 80,000 people who have arrived in Chad. The majority of them are Chadian families who have returned and an estimated 8,000 have been identified as refugees from the Central African Republic.
- The UN and its humanitarian partners have developed a six-month Emergency Response Plan appealing for US$33 million to respond to the immediate needs of an estimated 150,000 people in Chad. To date, only $6 million has been mobilized, including $4.3 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s recommendations on a peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic, the Spokesperson said that the report on that topic has gone to the Security Council.
- The Secretary-General, in his previous appearance in the Security Council, had emphasized the need to speed up the arrival of forces to the country.
NARCOTICS BOARD ISSUES REPORT FOR 2013
- The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) issued its 2013 Annual Report today. The report says that only one in six problem drug users worldwide – some 4.5 million people – receives the treatment he or she needs, at a global cost of about US$35 billion per year.
- The report also says that heroin, cannabis and cocaine are the drugs most frequently used by people entering treatment worldwide. Prescription drug abuse is also a major threat to public health, outpacing the rates for illegal drugs in some countries.
- Asked about recent missile firings and shelling by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Spokesperson underscored the importance of keeping tensions low on the Korean peninsula.
- Asked about Venezuela, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Venezuela in Geneva on Monday. In that meeting, the Secretary-General reiterated his hope to see reduced tensions and the necessary conditions to engage in meaningful dialogue.
- Asked about the situation in Lebanon, the Spokesperson said that, with the Deputy Secretary-General travelling in Ukraine, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, would participate in the International Support Group meeting for Lebanon in Paris on Wednesday.
- Asked about the treatment of reporters in Egypt, the Spokesperson reiterated the hope that the journalists who have been detained will be released and emphasized that journalists need to be able to go about their work without hindrance.