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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 11 APRIL 2014

IN WASHINGTON, SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY, SPEAKS AT CLIMATE LEADERS’ SUMMIT

·         The Secretary-General visited the Pentagon this morning, where he met with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

·         They discussed the US contribution to UN peacekeeping, UN peacekeeping reform and new technology and innovation. They also discussed the international commitment to Afghanistan and the Central African Republic.

·         The Secretary-General and World Bank President Jim Yong Kim will speak at the Climate Leaders' Summit this afternoon, and the Secretary-General will call on Governments to reach a universal legal climate agreement by next year that is both ambitious and achievable. He will stress the need for both political and financial investment to deal with climate change, the single greatest threat to a sustainable future.

·         The Secretary-General will return to New York tonight.

·         Asked if the issue of budget cuts in peacekeeping had been discussed during the Secretary-General’s meetings, the Spokesman said that this subject was raised regularly. He added that there was an increasing number of needs for peacekeeping and that the United Nations hoped that Member States which had the capacity to do so would contribute as much as they could. 

IN BURUNDI, U.N. SPECIAL ADVISER ON GENOCIDE PREVENTION CALLS FOR MEASURES TO DE-ESCALATE TENSIONS

·         The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, wrapped up a two-day visit to Burundi yesterday. The visit aimed to assess the situation in the country and hold consultations with various actors.

·         Mr. Dieng met with the President, the First vice-President, the President of the National Human Rights Commission as well as other senior government officials. He also met with political party leaders, civil society and media organizations representatives, religious leaders, the diplomatic corps in Bujumbura as well as with United Nations staff.

·         ?From his consultations, the Special Adviser said it is clear that there is increasing political tensions in the country ahead of the general elections next year. He received reports of shrinking political space for the opposition, harassment and intimidation of the civil society, human rights defenders and the media.

·         During his visit, Mr. Dieng called on various actors to take measures to deescalate tensions in the country ahead of the 2015 elections.

·         He also raised with the President of Burundi the concerns regarding the alleged arming of youth groups allied with political parties. He emphasized the need for the government to take all measures to prevent the country from sliding into violence or incitement to commit violence. He also encouraged the president to commission an independent investigation into these allegations.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT REFUGEES TRYING TO REACH CAMEROON

·         The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says it is extremely concerned about reports of anti-Balaka militiamen preventing civilians from leaving the Central African Republic and attacking them along the way.

·         Over the past two weeks, the Agency’s staff in Cameroon has been seeing refugees arrive with wounds from machetes or gunshots. New arrivals say that anti-Balaka militias have blocked main roads to Cameroon, forcing them to wade through the bush for two to three months before reaching the border.

·         UNHCR says that an average of 10,000 people now cross weekly from the Central African Republic into eastern Cameroon.

·         The main entry points into Cameroon are no longer accessible due to anti-Balaka activities, forcing people to use alternative routes. This has caused the number of entry points into Cameroon to grow from 12 to 27 over last three weeks, making it more challenging for UNHCR to monitor the border.

·         The Agency has, with its partners, increased the number of mobile clinics at entry points to provide emergency care as refugees arrive. It is also supporting public health centers overwhelmed both by the number of refugees and their condition.

·         Asked about troops for the new peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, Dujarric said that part of the peacekeepers would come from a re-hatting of African forces already the ground and from new troops from troop contributing countries.

·         Dujarric noted that setting up this mission in the Central African Republic would represent a logistical challenge. He said it was critical for Member States to provide troops but also logistical assistance such as means of transport so that the mission could take over in mid-September.

SOUTH SUDAN: HUMANITARIANS WARN OF SERIOUS FOOD CRISIS

·         In South Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian organizations are warning of a serious food crisis later in the year as violence, displacement and general insecurity continue to hamper people’s ability to produce food.

·         The looming rainy season could also make roads impassable, limiting aid organizations ability to reach people. 

·         An estimated 7 million people in South Sudan are considered to be at risk of food insecurity, including 3.7 million people at high risk.

·         Humanitarian organizations plan to reach some 3.2 million of the most vulnerable people with assistance by June. They have so far assisted over 1 million people across the country, including many people directly affected by the conflict.

·         Tomorrow in Washington DC, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, will co-chair a Humanitarian Ministerial Stakeholder Meeting with USAID’s Administrator, Rajiv Shah, and ECHO’s Director General, Kristalina Georgieva.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF CONDEMNS BOMB ATTACKS IN HOMS, SYRIA

·         On Syria, Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, condemned yesterday’s car bomb attacks on a shopping street in Homs – which killed more than 20 people and injured more than 100.

·         She said that these attacks remind us again of the contempt the parties to this conflict show for human life.

·         She added that attacks on civilians are war crimes and may also amount to crimes against humanity. The use of car bombs, barrel bombs, aerial bombardment and mortars in residential areas, with no distinction between military targets and civilians, are violations of International Humanitarian Law.

·         She called on all parties to the conflict need to commit now to upholding International Humanitarian Law.

·         Asked further about the attacks in Homs, the Spokesman noted the repeated calls by the Secretary-General to stop the flow of arms into Syria and for countries with influence over the parties to apply positive pressure where they could.

·         Dujarric added that the United Nations and the Secretary-General condemned in no uncertain terms attacks against civilians.

·         Asked about threats against the Aleppo Castle, the Spokesman said that the need to protect Syria’s cultural heritage had been stressed by the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and by the head of UNESCO, Irina Bokova. He added that the destruction of cultural heritage was a destruction of a part of history and made reconciliation harder.

NEW U.N. REPORT LOOKS AT AFRICA’S INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE

·         A new report by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Union Commission stresses the need for the industrialization in the continent, stating it is a precondition for Africa to achieve inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

·         At the launch today, Maged Abdelaziz, the Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on Africa, noted that Africa decade-long growth record had not translated into sufficient job creation and said structural transformation was needed.

·         The report, entitled “Dynamic industrial policy in Africa: innovative institutions, effective processes and flexible mechanisms,” analyses why Africa failed to transform its industrial landscape.

·         It says that weak institutional structures and poor policy design have been at the root of Africa’s industrial policy problem throughout its post-independence history.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HUMAN SPACE FLIGHT CELEBRATED TOMORROW

·         On 12 April 1961, the first human space flight was carried out by Yuri Gagarin, opening the way for exploration that has generated important benefits for humanity.

·         Tomorrow, the International Day of Human Space Flight celebrates the beginning of the era for space exploration, reaffirms the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals, and the aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.

·         The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (OSAA) is arranging a Twitter chat tomorrow with Japanese astronaut Takao Doi, a veteran of two NASA space shuttle missions and the first Japanese to go on a spacewalk in 1997.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

·         Asked about the violence in Pakistan, Dujarric said that the Secretary-General was very concerned about the violence and had condemned it. He added that the United Nations continued to monitor the situation there.

·         Asked about the exchange between Iran and the United States concerning Iran’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dujarric said that this was a bilateral issue between the two countries and that the United Nations hoped it would be resolved bilaterally. He added that the United Nations had not been officially approached concerning this. He also noted that the Host Country Agreement was a public document which clearly laid out responsibilities.

·         Asked about Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-general and the United Nations were engaged in finding a political solution to the situation there through contacts at various levels.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
12 APRIL – 18 APRIL 201
4

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 12 April

Today is International Day of Human Space Flight.

Sunday, 13 April

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 14 April

In New York, there will be an event on “Universal health coverage: How to implement and measure it – Country case studies and lessons”, co-organized by the Permanent Missions of France and Japan, from 10:00 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Conference Room 1.

In Geneva, at 2 p.m., there will be a presentation of the study Current status and perspectives for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), completed by a team of international experts working under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE).  Speakers will include Scott Foster, Director of UNECE’s Sustainable Energy Division; Francisco P. de la Flor Garcia, Director of Regulation from ENAGAS S.A. (Spain) and team leader of the study; and Pedro Moraleda, Principal at Energy Markets Advice (Spain).

Tuesday, 15 April

In New York, there will be a special event with UN Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas to launch a book entitled “Action for Disarmament: 10 Things You Can Do!”.  Co-organized by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs and the Department of Public Information, it will take place at 11:00 a.m., in Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium. 

In Geneva, H.E. Mr. Yurii Klymenko, Permanent Representative of Ukraine, will give a press conference at 12.30 p.m. on the current situation in the country.

Wednesday, 16 April

Today the Security Council will meet in the morning on “Threats to international peace and security: prevention and fight against genocide.”

There will also be a High-level briefing on “The Third World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction”, organized by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Conference Room 3.

In the ECOSOC Room, between 6:15 and 7:15 p.m., there will be the annual commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, organized by the Department of Public Information, in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations. The ceremony will be immediately followed by the opening of an exhibit, organized by Kwibuka and the Government of Rwanda, in the Visitor Centre, between 7:15 and 8:30 p.m.

Thursday, 17 April

Today in the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on Western Sahara.

Friday, 18 April

Today is Good Friday. United Nations Headquarters will be closed.