HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 22 APRIL 2014
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION PROTECTING 22,000 DISPLACED AT BENTIU BASE
- The UN Mission in South Sudan says that as a result of the violence over the past few days, it is now protecting some 22,000 displaced persons at its base in Bentiu, in Unity State. This is up from 4,500 people at the start of April.
- The Mission also reports that many dead bodies remain by the side of the main road between Bentiu and Rubkona, and that the Rubkona market has been repeatedly looted.
- The Mission also says that on Thursday, four rockets were directed at the Mission’s base in Bentiu including two that exploded within the compound and one just outside. Two civilians that had been seeking shelter inside were injured.
- Elsewhere in Unity State, the Mission has received reports that after fighting over the weekend, Opposition forces are in control of Mayom town, which is some 70 km east of Bentiu.
- In Jonglei State, the Mission reports that the situation in Bor is tense. Yesterday, UN staff met with community leaders from the protection site to discuss security in light of Thursday’s attack, and explained measures taken, including enhancements to the berm wall.
- In Upper Nile State, the Mission also reports artillery explosions in Renk yesterday. Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition forces clashed in Renk over the weekend, and shells landed close to the base, wounding two UN contractors on Saturday. The UN Mission in South Sudan says that indirect fire also impacted the Mission premises on a number of occasions.
- The Mission strongly condemns the fighting close to its premises where it continues to protect tens of thousands of civilians. The UN once again reiterates the necessity for all parties to respect the inviolability of UN premises and assets, and to respect the life-saving work done by the United Nations in South Sudan.
- Asked about the protection of civilians in the Bentiu compound, the Spokesman said that there were some 500 peacekeepers in Bentiu who are doing their utmost to protect the people who are there. He added that all the armed forces have a responsibility to avoid civilian casualties.
- Asked about the peacekeepers injured in Bor, Dujarric reiterated that UN premises need to be protected, for the safety first and foremost of the civilians sheltering there as well as of the peacekeepers. He expressed appreciation for the work of the peacekeepers, who may have saved the lives of tens of thousands of people by protecting them at UN compounds.
U.N. SOMALIA ENVOY CONDEMNS KILLING OF SECOND POLITICIAN IN TWO DAYS
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, condemned the killing today of a Member of the country’s Federal Parliament.
- He is the second MP to be killed in less than 48 hours in Mogadishu. Mr. Abdiaziz Isaaq Mursal was the one killed today. Both attacks have been claimed by Al-Shabaab.
- Mr. Kay also condemned the killing of a media worker from radio Dalsan in Mogadishu last night. The media must be allowed to carry out their work without fear of attack, Nicholas Kay said.
- He said he was concerned by the recent attacks seen in Mogadishu and called on the authorities to investigate them and bring the perpetrators to justice as quickly as possible.
- In response to questions on whether the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) pays taxes in Puntland, according to the Status of Mission Agreement between the Federal Government of Somalia and the UN Mission, UNSOM is exempt from payment of local taxes.
IN MEETING WITH TURKISH CYPRIOT LEADER, SECRETARY-GENERAL REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT ON CYPRUS ISSUE
- The Secretary-General meet with Dervis Eroglu in his capacity as the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community yesterday afternoon.
- They exchanged views on the negotiations and had a productive discussion about the way forward in light of the resumption of the talks on 11 February.
- The Secretary-General reaffirmed his continued personal attention and the United Nations’ commitment to assisting the sides in reaching a comprehensive settlement on the Cyprus issue.
- Asked about the departure of Alexander Downer as Special Adviser on Cyprus, the Spokesman said that Lisa Buttenheim, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, will act as Special Adviser for the time being.
MYANMAR: FOLLOWING ATTACKS, AID WORKERS BEING ALLOWED BACK INTO RAKHINE – U.N.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that nearly 40 aid workers from UN agencies and international non-governmental organizations are being allowed to return to Rakhine State in Myanmar.
- Attacks on UN and other premises in Rakhine’s capital, temporarily interrupted relief efforts and led to the relocation of more than 170 aid workers.
- Also on Myanmar, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that recent clashes in southern Kachin state have forced thousands of people – including 1,000 children – to leave their homes. For many, this will be the second or third time they have been forced to flee in the past year.
- UNICEF’s Representative to the country, Bertrand Bainvel, said that the fighting and resulting displacement of people has increased the dangers to children’s health, including curbing their access to safe drinking water, as well as sanitation facilities.
- The Representative said that though urgent help is necessary, it is not enough because children need peace and stability in order to grow and develop.
- He said that for the sake of Myanmar's children, all parties must immediately commit to do all they can to end the violence and to protect children from exposure to landmines, as well as recruitment into armed forces; and be committed to peace.
ON INTERNATIONAL MOTHER EARTH DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SOUNDS ALARM ON UNSUSTAINABLE RESOURCE CONSUMPTION
- Marking International Mother Earth Day, the Secretary-General appeals to all people everywhere to raise their voices and speak out on behalf of this planet.
- He says that we must recognize that, as the world population grows, the consumption of the planet’s resources is unsustainable.
- The Secretary-General calls for a global transformation of attitude and practice, adding that is particularly urgent to address the way we generate energy that drives our progress.
- Burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of climate change, which increasingly threatens prosperity and stability of all regions. He notes that this is why world leaders have pledged to reach a global legal climate agreement in 2015.
- The Secretary-General is convening the Climate Summit in New York on 23 September to generate ambitious action on the ground and to raise momentum for this new climate treaty.
SYRIA ENVOY, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SPEAK OVER TELEPHONE
- The Spokesman confirmed a telephone call between Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
- In response to questions about the recent work by Moktar Lamani, who had been heading the Damascus Office of the Joint Special Representative for Syria, the Spokesman confirmed that Mr. Lamani is leaving that Office. He will come to New York in the next few weeks for consultations at Headquarters as he wraps up his work at that post.
- Asked whether Mr. Brahimi will resign, the Spokesman said that he continues to be on the job as Joint Special Representative.
- Asked about Mokhtar Lamani’s replacement, Dujarric said that Martin Griffiths has replaced him. Asked about Mr. Lamani’s consultations at Headquarters, he said it was a normal end-of-term set of briefings following his service in Damascus.
- Asked about the reported allegations that chemical weapons have been used in Aleppo and other areas, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was aware of the reports. He said that any reported use of chemical weapons is troubling and noted the work of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in following up on such allegations.
- Asked whether the chemical weapons team lead by Ake Sellström still exists, the Spokesman said that the team has completed its mandated tasks.
- He noted the current focus on the work of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission to remove or destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. He added that some 88 percent of Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal has been removed or destroyed as of today.
COMMITTEE ON RELATIONS WITH THE HOST COUNTRY TO MEET
- The Committee on Relations with the Host Country, chaired by the Permanent Representative of Cyprus, will hold a meeting this afternoon and the issue of the Iranian Permanent Representative will be discussed.
- Asked about precedents, the Spokesman said that the case being discussed was a unique one, as far as he was aware. He declined to answer further questions about the visa issue until the Host Country Committee has discussed the matter.
- He added that the issue of credentials was one that was left to Member States and not in the hands of the Secretariat.
- In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has spoken out regularly and forcefully on the Central African Republic and appreciated the comments made by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in that regard. The Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General spoke to the people of the Central African Republic in Songo, in a message aired over the weekend, and has called for an end to all sectarian violence.
- Asked about UN human rights observers in Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was trying to deploy some 35 monitors in different parts of the country, and their next report would be expected in May.
- Asked about kidnappings of schoolgirls in Nigeria, the Spokesman expressed the United Nations’ concerns but added that the United Nations does not have an investigative presence or mandate on the ground to confirm the numbers of girls who have been kidnapped.