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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 25 APRIL 2013

SECURITY COUNCIL ESTABLISHES NEW MISSION IN MALI, ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON WESTERN SAHARA, COTE D’IVOIRE

  • The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday morning to establish the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The Council decided that the Mission will comprise up to 11,200 military personnel, including reserve battalions capable of deploying rapidly within the country as and when required, and 1,440 police personnel. Authority is to be transferred from the existing African force, AFISMA, to MINUSMA on 1 July.
  • Supporting the political process is a core task of the new mission, in close coordination with the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
  • The Council also decided to extend the mandate of the UN Mission in Western Sahara, MINURSO, until 30 April next year. And it also adopted a resolution maintaining arms sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire for a period ending on 30 April next year.
  • In addition, Council members heard a report on Thursday morning on the work of the Peace-building Commission. On Thursday afternoon, the Security Council will discuss Somalia.
  • In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the mandate of MINUSMA does not include counter-terrorism responsibilities.
  • Asked about the composition of the mission, the Spokesperson said that is still being worked out.

SECRETARY-GENERAL HOPES FOR NOMALIZATION OF KAESONG INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX AND INTER-KOREAN COOPERATION

  • The Secretary-General has been closely following the situation on the Korean peninsula, and has sought to encourage dialogue between the two Koreas. He also appreciates the efforts of other concerned parties, including China, to this end.
  • The Secretary-General remains seriously concerned about the suspension of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. He is particularly concerned about the economic and humanitarian implications of this suspension.
  • The Secretary-General has described the Kaesong Industrial Complex as a successful example of inter-Korean cooperation which has promoted economic growth and served as a bridge between the two Koreas. He believes that this project should not be affected by political and security considerations.
  • The Secretary-General has taken note of the proposal of the Government of the Republic of Korea, dated 25 April, for working-level talks with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. He sincerely hopes the operation of the Complex can return to normal as soon as possible through dialogue.

U.N. COORDINATOR IN SUDAN WELCOMES DIRECT TALKS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND S.P.L.M.-NORTH

  • United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan has welcomed the beginning of direct talks between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North.
  • Ali Al-Za’tari said he is encouraged by the commitment expressed by both parties to address urgent humanitarian needs.
  • More than one million people have been affected by the nearly two-year conflict in South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Mr. Al-Za’tari said that the United Nations and its humanitarian partners remain ready to provide assistance once they have access.
  • The Secretary-General also welcomed the start of these direct talks in a statement issued on Wednesday. He urged the parties to agree on an immediate cessation of hostilities in order to allow for humanitarian access to the civilian population in the affected areas and to create an atmosphere conducive to a durable political solution of the conflict.  

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. ENVOY CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLATIONS AGAINST CHILDREN

  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, said on Thursday that she is deeply concerned about reports of widespread violations committed by armed factions of the Séléka coalition against children in the Central African Republic.
  • Ms. Zerrougui said that the presence of children in the Séléka coalition has been reported in nearly every town under control of the coalition.
  • She called on all military commanders in charge of the different armed groups in the Séléka coalition to immediately release children within their ranks and to issue orders to refrain from further recruitment and use of children.

SYRIA: U.N. DISTRESSED OVER REPORTS OF SEVERE DAMAGES DONE TO ALEPPO

  • The Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, has expressed her deep distress over reports of the continuing destruction which has severely damaged the ancient Syrian city of Aleppo, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1986.
  • On Wednesday, the minaret of one of Syria's most famous mosques was destroyed during clashes in Aleppo. The mosque, which is located within the World Heritage site, has been devastated during the clashes and its minaret was reduced to debris.
  • Asked about kidnapping in Syria, the Spokesperson said that kidnappings are reprehensible and the United Nations calls for the release of all who have been held.

U.N. AGENCIES, PARTNERS PRESENT SIX-YEAR PLAN FOR POLIO ERADICATION

  • A six-year plan to eradicate all types of polio simultaneously was presented on Thursday by the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), which is spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other partners.
  • The plan, the first of its kind, is expected to cost $5.5 billion, and nearly three-quarters of this amount has already been pledged.
  • Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, said that this plan puts us within sight of the endgame. 
  • For his part, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that ending polio will not only be an historic feat for humanity, but also a huge part of our efforts to reach every hard-to-reach child with a range of life saving vaccines.

U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND SAYS UNIVERSAL COVERAGE OF BED NETS IS KEY IN FIGHT AGAINST MALARIA

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund said on Thursday that universal coverage of insecticide-treated bed nets is key in making gains against malaria, one of the largest killers of children in the world.
  • In a press release issued on the occasion of World Malaria Day, the UN Agency said that the disease still kills 660,000 people every year, most of them African children.
  • The Fund said that it supports governments to undertake the free distribution of insecticide-treated nets, especially long-lasting ones and that universal coverage can reduce child mortality by up to 20 per cent.
  • Also, in a message issued on Thursday, the Secretary-General said that global funding for malaria control has plateaued recently. He said that to prevent malaria from resurging, and to continue to alleviate suffering, the international community needs to provide the necessary funding to protect all at-risk groups and support research and innovation to develop new tools.

U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR DELIVERS CRITICAL AID TO EAST DARFUR DISPLACED

  • The United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) and its humanitarian partners has delivered nearly 80,000 kilograms of critical humanitarian aid to thousands of displaced civilians in Labado and Muhajeria, East Darfur.
  • The first phase of the operation, conducted on 23 April, consisted primarily of delivering food rations, bottled water and medical supplies. UNAMID delivered the humanitarian aid, provided by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the World Health Organization (WHO), by road under the protection of UNAMID peacekeepers. The second phase of the operation is in the planning stages.  

HUMAN RIGHTS RAPPORTEURS ARE APPOINTED BY HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

  • Asked whether the Secretary-General believes special rapporteur Richard Falk should resign, the Spokesperson noted that the human rights rapporteurs are appointed by the member states of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, not the Secretary-General.
  • He added that the Secretary-General is hopeful that Special Rapporteurs such as Mr. Falk understand that - while they have an independent status - their public comments can undermine the credibility and the work of the United Nations.
  • The Secretary-General believes it was not appropriate to publish such a provocative piece at this time. 

*** The guests at the Noon Briefing were Ray Chambers, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Malaria and for the Financing of the Health-related Millennium Development Goals and Joy Phumaphi, the Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance.  They briefed reporters on the progress in the fight against Malaria on the occasion of World Malaria Day.