HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 15 APRIL 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP VISIT TO MEXICO
- The Secretary- General is in Mexico today where he will address the high level meeting of the global partnership on development cooperation early in the afternoon.
- Since his arrival yesterday, he held several bilateral meetings, including with Mexico's Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade Kuribrena.
- The Secretary-General will also meet for the first time with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto later today, before heading back to New York in the evening.
UKRAINE: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT CALLS TO COUNTER MISINFORMATION, PROPAGANDA AND INCITEMENT TO HATRED
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued its report on Ukraine today. It says that misinformation, propaganda and incitement to hatred need to be urgently countered in the country to avoid the further escalation of tension.
- The report is based on information collected during two missions to Ukraine in March by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic and a team of UN human rights monitors on the ground since 15 March. It looks at the root causes of the protests that have taken place since November 2013 as well as the lack of accountability for human rights violations by the security forces and weak rule of law institutions. It also assesses the human rights situation in Crimea and makes recommendations for the way forward.
- The political aspects of recent developments in Crimea, which Mr Šimonovic visited on 21 and 22 March, are beyond the report’s scope. However, the report notes that the situation created before and after the referendum of 16 March raised a number of human rights concerns pertaining to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and other civil and political rights.
- The report also says that it is widely assessed that while there were some attacks against the ethnic Russian community, these were neither systematic nor widespread.
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that it is critical for the Government to prioritise respect for diversity, inclusivity and equal participation of all – including minorities – in political life. She also called for immediate measures to build confidence between the Government and the people, and among the various communities, and reassure all people throughout Ukraine that their main concerns will be addressed.
- Asked about an attack on a political figure in Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General strongly condemns these types of attacks.
- He said the Secretary-General consistently called for inclusiveness in the political dialogue and believed all people of Ukraine must be able to freely voice their opinions and express themselves without the threat of violence.
- In response to questions, Dujarric also said that the Secretary-General wanted all parties to play a role in helping to find a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine.
- He noted that the Secretary-General was gravely concerned by developments in eastern Ukraine and was asking all parties to do their utmost to de-escalate the situation and avoid further violence.
- Asked about a possible peacekeeping presence in Ukraine, the Spokesman said again that such an operation would need to be authorized by the Security Council.
HOST COUNTRY COMMITTEE RECEIVED LETTER FROM IRANIAN MISSION, TO MEET ON 22 APRIL
- In response to question about the Iranian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dujarric said that the Under Secretary-General for Legal Affairs would be meeting this afternoon with representatives from the Permanent Mission of Iran.
- He added that he had been informed that the Host Country Committee would be holding a meeting on this issue on 22 April. He noted that the Committee’s head, the Permanent Representative of Cyprus, had received a letter from the Mission.
- The Spokesman also said that Committee would be hearing from the Iranian Mission during that meeting. He added that the Host Country Committee was made up of Member States, including the United States, and that it was a committee of the General Assembly.
SOUTH SUDAN: THOUSANDS MORE SEEK REFUGE IN U.N. BASE AS FIGHTING CONTINUES IN UNITY STATE
- On South Sudan, the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS) has received reports that Bentiu, the capital of Unity State as well as Unity oil fields north to the town, are under the control of Opposition forces today.
- The Mission says that there are reports of civilians among those killed during the fighting in the early hours of this morning, but the number of casualties is yet to be determined. Many civilian bodies were also seen during the extrication by the UNMISS Mongolian Battalion of civilians from the oil refinery yesterday.
- The Mission reports that stray rounds of small arms fire impacted some tents and containers inside the compound. One civilian within the protection site has been wounded as a result of a stray bullet, and is currently being treated at the UN hospital at the base.
- The Mission is also making efforts to extract civilians around Bentiu, including civilians sheltering at the former World Food Programme (WFP) compound and at the Bentiu hospital. Yesterday UNMISS relocated some 75 civilians from the Rubkona airstrip to the UNMISS protection site in Bentiu and another 90 today.
- Several thousand additional internally displaced persons have also arrived at the Mission protections site in Bentiu.
- The Mission has also received reports of fighting in Guit County near Bentiu.
- Asked about the effect of the fighting on the oil resources in Unity State, the Spokesman said that the violence and insecurity was harmful to the overall economy and the future of South Sudan.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY IMPROVES CONDITIONS FOR SOUTH SUDANESE WHO FLED IN ETHIOPIA
- Concerning those who have fled the conflict in South Sudan, the UN Refugee Agency – UNHCR-- says that it is working to improve conditions of South Sudanese refugees in Ethiopia and also moving them to higher ground as the rainy season approaches.
- Yesterday, UNHCR airlifted the first batch of 4,000 emergency tents to the Gambella region of Ethiopia. The remaining tents will arrive on six more flights over the coming days.
- The Agency also relocated refugees that were living in low-lying water-prone areas in Kule camp to higher ground and is starting a similar relocation at Leitchuor camp today.
- Meanwhile, UNHCR and its partners have started preparations on a new camp that will accommodate up to 30,000 refugees on high ground. That camp is expected to be ready to receive refugees by the end of April.
- Ethiopia currently host to some 95,000 South Sudanese refugees and refugees continue to arrive from South Sudan into the Gambella region at a rate of 800 to 1,000 people per day.
MALI: HUMANITARIANS WARN OF WORSENING FOOD INSECURITY
- On Mali, humanitarian organizations are warning that more than 1.5 million people need immediate food assistance in the country. Food insecurity continues to worsen this year due to instability in the north and poor food production.
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners have reached some 600,000 with food assistance since the beginning of the year. They are also distributing agricultural supplies and tools to farmers who need support.
- But insecurity and a funding gap of over $500 million continue to hamper aid efforts.
SUPREME COURT RULING IN INDIA LEGALLY UPHOLDS RIGHTS OF TRANSGENDER PEOPLE
- In answer to questions, the Spokesman said that the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights had welcomed the historic ruling of India's Supreme Court legally upholding the rights of transgender people across India. The decision officially recognizes a third gender in law and confirms that discrimination on grounds of gender identity is impermissible under the Indian constitution. It should pave the way for reforms that make it easier for transgender persons in India to obtain legal recognition of their gender identity, as well as access employment and public services.
- The decision also raises hopes that the Court will now review its earlier decision upholding a 160 year-old provision of the penal code criminalizing consensual, same sex relationships in violation of rights to privacy and nondiscrimination guarantees written into international human rights treaties, as well as the Indian constitution.
- The Secretary-General has repeatedly spoken out against laws that criminalize homosexuality and other measures that discriminate against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Asked about the death of a Congolese warlord while being detained by the Congolese army, the Spokesman said that the UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, had airlifted the body of warlord Paul Sadala alias Morgan from Komanda until Bunia. He added that the Mission had confirmed his death and was trying to figure out the exact circumstance. He noted that MONUSCO’s involvement was solely to have receive the convoy and the body and that the Mission’s doctors tried to resuscitate him upon his arrival. Dujarric said that there was a now a fact-finding mission on the ground.
- Asked about Syrian refugees in Lebanon, the Spokesman said that the country was carrying an immense burden and that the Lebanese government and people had gone out of their way to help these refugees. He said that the UN refugee Agency, UNHCR, was in contact with the Lebanese authorities to see how it could best help the country cope with the number of refugees.
- Asked about the head of the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, Rima Khalaf, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had full confidence in her and her ability to do her work.
- Asked about the kidnapping of the Jordanian ambassador in Libya, Dujarric said that this abduction was very very troubling and that the United Nations was following this situation.