HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 23 APRIL 2014
APPEAL FOR ACCESS TO SYRIANS IN NEED LARGELY UNANSWERED – HEADS OF U.N. HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES
- In a joint statement, the heads of five UN humanitarian agencies said that their year-old appeal for access to people in need in Syria has gone largely unanswered. The humanitarian situation, they say, deteriorates day after day. And for the civilians remaining in the cities of Aleppo and the Old City of Homs, which are experiencing heavy fighting, the worst days seem yet to come.
- The agency Heads called on all parties to enable unconditional humanitarian access to all people in need, using all available routes either across lines inside Syria or across its borders. They also called on the parties to lift the sieges on civilians currently being imposed by all sides, and to end indiscriminate bombing and shelling of civilians by the Government and opposition groups.
- The statement was signed by the heads of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Asked about the next report concerning the implementation of Resolution 2139, the Spokesman said he expected that the sort of concerns expressed by the humanitarian agency heads would be reflected in that update.
MALI: INCLUSIVE POLITICAL DIALOGUE REMAINS TOP PRIORITY, U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Mali, Bert Koenders, told the Security Council this morning that Mali had made significant strides and that the support of the international community had been critical in this regard.
- He added that the risks and difficulties of the road ahead should not be underestimated. He said that an inclusive political dialogue remained the first priority and had to start as soon as possible.
- Mr. Koenders called for a sustained commitment by all stakeholders to consolidate peace and stability in Mali. He added that this was all the more important as the security situation in the northern regions remains very fragile. His full statement is available in our office.
- Following its open meeting, the Security Council held consultations on Mali and is now holding consultations on the situation in Syria. This afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on the situation in South Sudan and will be briefed by the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous.
AID ORGANIZATIONS STEP UP EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE IN SOUTH SUDAN – U.N. RELIEF WING
- The Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian organizations have scaled up emergency assistance to communities affected by the recent violence in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan’s Unity State.
- UN agencies and partners are providing assistance, including food and medical supplies, to tens of thousands of people sheltering in the UN peacekeeping base.
- Our humanitarian colleagues at OCHA also add that water and sanitation conditions at the base remain critical, with people receiving between 1 and 3 litres per person per day. Aid agencies are working to improve the quantity of clean water in the area; they have constructed a water bore hole and continue to set up water stations for treatment.
- Humanitarian organizations are also extremely concerned for the safety of close to 5,000 people sheltering in the peacekeeping base in Bor, Jonglei State, where the situation remains tense.
- Asked about comments made by Uganda’s military spokesperson about the protection of civilians in South Sudan, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission in South Sudan has been doing its best to protect civilians in the country, even as it faces challenges in terms of the fighting and the rainy season. He said that at times, the peacekeepers have had to fire warning shots in order to deal with threats from armed groups.
- Asked about the conditions at the protection of civilians camp, Dujarric said they were challenging. The camps, he said, are not designed to house thousands of people for many months. At the same time, the security situation in the country makes it hard for the civilians to return to their homes, which is why it is imperative for the parties to create conditions by which they can return.
U.N. ENVOY FOR D.R. CONGO PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR FORTHCOMING POLLS
- The head of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) pledged its support for the upcoming elections in the country.
- During a visit at the Independent National Electoral Commission, Martin Kobler said that the UN support will focus on technical and logistic assistance. He also stressed the need for elections to be properly funded and planned.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION WELCOMES STEPS TAKEN TO BOLSTER TRANSPARENCY IN VOTE COUNTING
- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) encourages steps taken by Afghan electoral institutions to increase transparency around the counting of votes from the country’s Presidential elections.
- Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said that the Afghan electoral institutions should be commended for their efforts to make the electoral process more transparent than ever before and should be encouraged to take further steps in this direction. He added that openness and a willingness to have observers, candidate agents and other parties scrutinize the process at every step is of critical importance.
IRAQ ENVOY CHAIRS MEETING ON HOW U.N. CAN ASSIST WITH DEVASTATING FLOODS
- Nickolay Mladenov, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, today chaired a meeting with Iraqi officials to determine how the UN can assist in dealing with the devastating effects of the flooding in Abu-Ghraib and Fallujah that now endangers other areas.
- Mr. Mladenov said that the UN is ready to provide assistance, in coordination with the Government of Iraq and the local authorities, to address the immediate needs of the thousands of families affected by the flooding. He has requested the UN Country Team to work together with the Iraqi authorities to identify needs, including shelter, food, water and sanitation, relief Items, as well as medical assistance, to prevent any disease due to water stagnation.
MOBILE PHONES HELP COMBAT ILLITERACY, NEW U.N. REPORT FINDS
- A report issued today by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) finds that mobile technology helps fighting illiteracy, even in areas of extreme poverty.
- The study conducted in seven developing countries found that large numbers of people read stories to children from mobile phones, and that many neo- and semi-literate people use their mobile phones to search for text that is appropriate to their reading ability.
- Worldwide, 774 million people cannot read or write, and illiteracy can often be traced to the lack of books. At the same time, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimates that of the 7 billion people on Earth, 6 billion have now access to mobile phones.
- The report, published on the occasion of World Book and Copyright Day, recommends improving the diversity of mobile reading content; initiating outreach and trainings to help people transform mobile phones into portals to reading material; and lowering costs and technology barriers to mobile reading.
HOST COUNTRY COMMITTEE DISCUSSES VISA DISPUTE CONCERNING IRAN
- Asked about the visa dispute concerning Iran, the Spokesman noted that the Host Country Committee had discussed the matter on Tuesday and that its chairman said afterwards that the Committee remains seized of the matter. There has been no formal request from the Committee to the Office of Legal Affairs about the matter.
***The guests at the Noon Briefing were Nicholas Kay, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), and Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Somalia and Head of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).