HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 6 MARCH 2014
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON UKRAINE
- The Security Council will hold consultations at 2:30 this afternoon, to receive an update on the situation in Ukraine by the Deputy Secretary-General, who will talk to the Council by video teleconference from Kyiv. That will be in closed consultations.
- The Deputy Secretary-General continued his visit to Ukraine today, ahead of his departure from the country tomorrow. He met separately with Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kyiv Patriarchate, and with Metropolitan Antony, the deputy head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate. In those talks, the Deputy Secretary-General underscored the role that churches can play in resolving the current crisis in Ukraine by enhancing inclusiveness and promoting dialogue. He also held wrap-up meetings with the authorities.
- The Deputy Secretary-General has been rejoined in Kyiv by Robert Serry. Also arriving today is Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic.
- Asked about the proposed referendum for Crimea, the Spokesperson noted that questions of legitimacy are matters for Member States.
- Asked about the forces in Crimea, Nesirky said that this was a serious matter. He noted that the Deputy Secretary-General’s main message during his Ukraine visit is that cooler heads must prevail and that all parties must work to reduce tensions.
- He added that different regional organizations, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and European Union, are involved in the effort to reduce tensions in the country, along with the UN.
- The Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is now on his way back to New York from Sierra Leone, and the Deputy Secretary-General can soon meet him in New York and brief him directly on developments in Ukraine and that they are in frequent telephone contact.
- Asked how long Mr. Serry will stay in Kyiv, the Spokesperson said that that Mr. Serry would need to return to the Middle East soon to continue his work as UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He added that Mr. Serry’s visit to Crimea was well known in advance.
- Asked about human rights violations in Ukraine, Nesirky said that was what Mr. Simonovic would look into during his visit to the country.
SECURITY COUNCIL UPDATED ON OPTIONS FOR INTERNATIONAL PRESENCE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Security Council met today to discuss the Central African Republic, and the Under-Secretaries-General for Peacekeeping Operations and Humanitarian Affairs – respectively, Hervé Ladsous and Valerie Amos – and High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres briefed Council members on recent developments there.
- Mr. Ladsous said that the establishment of a UN peacekeeping mission would take six months. He presented the Secretary-General’s recommendations for a future UN presence and said that the scale of the needs in the country is daunting and that there is no quick fix for the problems there.
- Ms. Amos and Mr. Guterres discussed their recent visits to the country. Ms. Amos said that the Central African Republic is experiencing sectarian brutality, persistent insecurity and fear, with tragic humanitarian consequences. More than 650,000 people are displaced in the country, more than 288,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries and thousands more want to leave.
- Mr. Guterres said he was shocked by what he saw in the country and that, since December, the majority of the Muslim population in the west of the country has effectively been cleansed.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS CONTINUING TENSIONS IN CAPITAL OF SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that the capital, Juba, is tense today. The Mission says that, earlier this morning, some shots were fired in the vicinity of the UN House and that firing also occurred close to the UN House on Wednesday evening. However, the situation within the compound is calm. Smalls arms and machine gun fire also took place in the vicinity of the UN Tomping compound, wounding one civilian.
- The Mission is concerned about gunfire occurring in the vicinity of its compounds, and calls on all parties to respect the work and inviolability of UN premises.
- In all, the Mission is protecting some 43,000 civilians at two of its sites in the capital. The UN Mission, meanwhile, continues to conduct military and police patrols in various parts of the country.
- On Wednesday, a UN patrol to Malakal town in Upper Nile State found much of the town empty of Opposition forces, with the Opposition forces’ headquarters abandoned.
- The Mission also went to Pibor in Jonglei State on Tuesday, following the peace agreement signed recently between the Government and David Yau Yau. Local County officials informed the Mission that the security situation in the town was calm, and that many displaced people had returned in recent days.
U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN INVESTIGATES ERROR IN TRANSPORT OF WEAPONS
- The UN Mission in South Sudan said it will investigate an error in the transport of weapons for a new peacekeeping contingent.
- It is the policy of UNMISS that all arms and ammunition for the peacekeeping contingents are flown into respective areas and not taken by road. This is an important security measure.
- In connection with the transport of cargo of general goods belonging to the Ghanaian battalion on the way to Bentiu, several containers were wrongly labelled, and contained weapons and ammunition. This is regrettable. The Ghanaian troops are part of the surge of UNMISS troops to assist South Sudan, and the goods were en route to Bentiu, passing through Rumbek.
- An investigation team will look into this matter urgently, in cooperation with the Government of South Sudan.
- Asked further about the weapons, the Spokesperson said his understanding was that they belong to the Ghanaian battalion.
SECRETARY-GENERAL LAUNCHES ‘CHILDREN, NOT SOLDIERS’ CAMPAIGN
- Today, the United Nations is launching its global campaign ‘Children, not soldiers’. In a message, the Secretary-General says that, although thousands of children have been released from armed groups, thousands more remain.
- He asks all concerned Governments, regional and non-governmental organizations to work with the United Nations to intensify efforts to meet the goal of zero use of children by any government forces by 2016.
- The Secretary-General says that progress will help to fuel further success in reaching the many non-state actors that also continue to recruit children.