HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 16 APRIL 2013
U.N. RELIEF OFFICE MONITORS SITUATION IN IRAN AND PAKISTAN AFTER 7.8 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE
- An earthquake of 7.8 magnitude occurred in the moderately populated region of Sistan va Baluchestan in Iran earlier on Tuesday. There are reports of deaths and injuries, both in Iran and across the border in Pakistan.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is in contact with the authorities in Iran and Pakistan and is monitoring the situation and stands ready to assist upon request.
- The earthquake has struck less than a week after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake hit near Bushehr, on Iran's Persian Gulf coast. At least 37 people died in that earthquake.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED BY DETERIORATING SECURITY SITUATION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- Earlier on Tuesday, a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General was issued on the situation in the Central African Republic.
- The Secretary-General is alarmed by the rapidly deteriorating security situation in the country. He strongly condemns the Séléka movement’s acts of violence against the civilian population and urges the de facto authorities to restore law and order throughout the country and to ensure the protection of civilians.
- The Secretary-General is greatly concerned by the deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the continued grave violations of human rights across the country, including killings, rapes, looting, indiscriminate shelling and recruitment of child soldiers. He emphasises that perpetrators must be held individually accountable for their actions.
- The Secretary-General further calls on the Economic Community of Central African States and the African Union to take immediate and urgent measures to address the gravity of the security situation with the assistance of the international community.
- Also, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed alarm on Tuesday about continuing reports of widespread human rights violations in the Central African Republic.
- And the UN Refugee Agency said on Tuesday that fighting this past weekend in Bangui resulted in further outflows of refugees into surrounding countries. There are now more than 30,000 Central African Republic refugees in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, about 1,000 new refugees in Cameroon, and nearly 7,000 in Chad.
- Asked about the UN presence in the country, the Spokesperson noted the work of the UN Peace-building Office, headed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Margaret Vogt.
- Nesirky said that individuals culpable of gross violations of human rights will be held accountable.
COTE D’IVOIRE: SENIOR OFFICIAL SAYS SECURITY SITUATION REMAINS FRAGILE
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Edmond Mulet, briefed the Security Council on Côte d’Ivoire on Tuesday morning, saying that the country still faces challenges and threats and that the presence of the UN Mission remains necessary.
- Mr. Mulet said that there is overall progress but the recent instability in the western part of the country along the border with Liberia shows that the security situation remains fragile.
- He said that the country continues to face significant threats to peace and security, including the continued existence of networks affiliated with the former regime aimed at destabilizing the Government; the reported presence of mercenaries, former combatants and other armed elements along the border with Liberia; and the uncontrolled circulation of weapons.
- Mr. Mulet said that the Secretary-General recommended reducing the authorized military strength of the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire through the repatriation of one battalion by 31 July. The Secretary-General also recommended a further progressive reduction of two additional battalions by mid-2015.
SYRIA: HEADS OF U.N. HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES APPEAL FOR END TO VIOLENCE IN JOINT STATEMENT
- The leaders of the UN humanitarian agencies have issued a joint statement, in which they appeal to political leaders involved to meet their responsibility to the people of Syria and to the future of the region. They say that this comes following more than two years of conflict and more than 70,000 deaths, including thousands of children.
- They say that UN agencies and their humanitarian partners have been doing all that they can. They have helped shelter more than a million refugees, provided access to food and other basic necessities for millions displaced by the conflict, given access to water and sanitation to more than 5.5 million affected people in Syria and in neighbouring countries, and they have also provided basic health services for millions of Syrians. But it has not nearly been enough. The agencies are precariously close, perhaps within weeks, to suspending some humanitarian support.
- The Spokesperson said, in response to questions, that the heads of the five UN humanitarian bodies were concerned about access, the lack of funding and the continued fighting. Although neighbouring countries have responded generously to allow in and care for refugees, those countries are clearly being over-burdened.
- He said that the simple fact that the heads of the five UN humanitarian agencies have spoken out jointly on the crisis at this time attests to how seriously they regard the matter.
- Asked about pledges for aid, Nesirky said that the pledges made in Kuwait earlier this year need to be turned into cash as soon as possible.
- Asked about chemical weapons allegations in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is focused on the work of a technical mission to Syria. The United Nations is in dialogue with the Syrian Government on unfettered access for that team to do the work it needs to do.
- Asked whether the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, can continue in his job, the Spokesperson noted that Mr. Brahimi would brief the Security Council on Friday in his capacity as UN-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative.
U.N. COORDINATOR IN YEMEN ALARMED OVER WORSENING PLIGHT OF MIGRANTS FROM HORN OF AFRICA
- The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen has expressed alarm about the worsening plight of thousands of migrants from the Horn of Africa who are stranded in northern Yemen, and he said that situation needs urgent attention.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said that many migrants have suffered gross physical abuse and severe economic and sexual exploitation. Many of them, including children, are stranded under extremely difficult circumstances. Their plight must be urgently addressed.
U.N. COORDINATOR IN SUDAN CONCERNED OVER SAFETY OF CIVILIANS CAUGHT UP IN FIGHTING IN DARFUR
- The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari, expressed his serious concern on Tuesday about the safety and well-being of civilians caught up in fighting between Government forces and the Sudan Liberation Army Mini Minawi faction in Eastern Darfur state.
- Mr. Al-Za’tari called for immediate access to provide relief to those who need it. He also urged Government forces and the faction to uphold their humanitarian responsibilities to protect civilians.
- Also on Darfur, representatives of the Government of Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations met on Monday in Addis Ababa.
- Their talks focused on the increase in the number of security incidents in Darfur and access for peacekeepers from the joint African Union-United Nations mission to the areas most affected by conflict.
U.N. FOOD AGENCY AND PARTNERS WORK TO REACH FAMILIES IN CONFLICT-STRICKEN NORTHERN MALI
- The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that it is working with partner organizations to reach families in northern Mali whose access to food has been reduced by conflict and is expected to worsen with the lean season, which is from April to June.
- The World Food Programme said that it is stepping up the transport of food by road and boat, and that it recently launched a logistics operation to bring in food from Niger.
- The UN Agency plans to support more than half a million people in Mali each month, including about 360,000 in the North. It also plans to assist 163,000 Malian refugees in Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.
SENIOR U.N. PEACEKEEPING OFFICIAL VISITS SOUTH SUDAN
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions, Dmitry Titov, is currently in South Sudan, where he is meeting with representatives of the Government of South Sudan, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and bilateral partners.
- In his meetings, Mr. Titov is discussing challenges in areas including justice, security sector reform and mine action, as well as how UNMISS can support the Government’s work in protecting civilians and national reconciliation.
- While in South Sudan, Mr. Titov held talks with Vice President Riek Machar Teny and the Minister of National Security, General Oyay Deng.
- On behalf of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Mr. Titov also expressed heartfelt condolences to the Governments of India, South Sudan and Kenya, for the loss of five peacekeepers and seven civilians who made the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of peace in South Sudan.