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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

TUESDAY, 5 MARCH 2013 

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES DRAFT RESOLUTION ON D.P.R.K.; BAN KI-MOON TO BRIEF COUNCIL ON CONGO

  • The Security Council held consultations on Tuesday morning concerning a draft resolution on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
  • In the afternoon, the Secretary-General was due to brief the Security Council in an open meeting, followed by consultations, on his new report about the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He was due to speak to reporters at the Council stakeout after the consultations.
  • Asked about sanctions on the DPRK, the Spokesperson said that sanctions are a question to be determined by Security Council members.

SYRIA: FUEL AND WATER SHORTAGES CONTINUE TO AFFECT MANY COMMUNITIES, U.N. SAYS

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that fuel and water shortages continue to affect many communities in Syria, and contaminated water has become a major public health risk in some areas. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported cases of water-borne and sanitation-related diseases, including over 80 suspected cases of Hepatitis A and more than 100 new cases of a skin disease, Leishmaniasis, a skin disease. 
  • Despite the security constraints, aid organizations continue to increase deliveries of much-needed assistance. UNICEF began a major increase of mobile health services to support 50 medical teams in 12 governorates. The World Food Programme (WFP) aims to reach 2.5 million people in March with food. In February, it reached about 1.1 million people throughout the country.
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners are working to support nearly 1 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. The number of Syrian refugees in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon has exceeded UNHCR’s estimates for the January-June 2013 period.
  • Asked about the arms going into Syria, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General said that the militarization of the conflict is unhelpful.
  • Asked about aid pledges made in Kuwait, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General hopes that the $1.5 billion in pledges will be turned into cash.

U.N. FORCE DEPLOYS TEAM TO MONITOR CONSTRUCTION OF PATROL ROAD BY ISRAEL SOUTH OF THE BLUE LINE

  • On Monday, the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) began construction of a patrol road south of the Blue Line in the area of the Wazzani River. The Israeli Defence Force gave the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) prior notification about the works and shared relevant details, including the shape and route it will take. UNIFIL shared this information with the Lebanese Armed Forces.
  • UNIFIL deployed a team and a patrol in the area in order to monitor the works, to ensure that the Blue Line is fully respected and there is no violation. 

YEMEN: SAFE RETURN OF DISPLACED PEOPLE AT RISK DUE TO LANDMINES, U.N. SAYS

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the safe return of displaced people in Yemen is at risk due to landmines and other explosive remnants of war.
  • The Humanitarian Office estimates that 140,000 formerly displaced people have returned to Abyan Governorate in southern Yemen. More than three out of four depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, so clearing agricultural land is critical. But while most urban areas, roads and public areas have been cleared, large areas of agricultural land are still affected by the explosive remnants of war.
  • Meanwhile, the Yemen Mine Action Programme, which is working with the Government to clear mines, is facing a budget shortfall of some $7.9 million, nearly 80 per cent of the required funding.

MALI: TWO-THIRDS OF VICTIMS OF LEFTOVER MUNITIONS ARE CHILDREN, U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND SAYS

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that 60 victims of explosive remnants of war have been reported in Mali since April 2012, with children making up two thirds of the total.
  • Approximately 200,000 children from conflict-affected areas in Central and Northern Mali are at risk of injury or death due to left-over munitions, according to the UN agency. 
  • The high level of risk is likely to further increase when displaced families start returning home to areas that have seen the worst of the conflict.
  • In order to raise awareness in conflict-affected areas, UNICEF and its partners are planning to increase mine-risk education activities and radio sensitization campaigns this year, especially in Northern regions.

ALL-FEMALE TEAM REACHES KILIMANJARO SUMMIT TO HIGHLIGHT IMPORTANCE OF GIRLS’ EDUCATION

  • On Tuesday, an all-female climbing team supported by the World Food Programme in Tanzania reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest mountain.
  • The UN agency said that the ten women made the ascent to highlight the importance of girls’ education and of school meals.
  • The expedition, which includes seven Nepalese and three African women, timed the climb to mark the week of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

TANZANIA: U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF APPALLED BY ATTACKS AGAINST PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said on Tuesday that she was appalled by reports of increased attacks against people with albinism in Tanzania.
  • She called on authorities in the country to take stronger measures to halt what she called “abhorrent” crimes and tackle the underlying discrimination.
  • Ms. Pillay stressed that people with albinism have the right to start living, like anyone else, without fear of being killed or dismembered.

U.N. ANTI-NARCOTICS PANEL WARNS OF WIDESPREAD INCREASE OF NEW SUBSTANCES

  • The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which is the independent organ for the implementation of the United Nations drug conventions, is warning of the dangers to public health of new psychoactive substances, in its Annual Report launched on Tuesday.
  • These substances, known as ‘legal highs’ and ‘designer drugs’, are proliferating rapidly. In Europe alone almost one new substance appears every week.
  • The Board is calling for concerted action by Governments to prevent the manufacture, trafficking and abuse of these substances.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON ALL TO STOP VIOLENCE IN BANGLADESH

  • Asked about recent violence in Bangladesh, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is monitoring the situation with concern and is saddened by the loss of life.
  • While recognising that the war crime tribunal is a national process, the Secretary-General calls on all concerned to act with respect for the rule of law, to stop the violence and to express their views peacefully.