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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

FRIDAY, 26 APRIL 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS HEAD OF SYRIAN CHEMICAL WEAPONS TEAM TO VISIT NEW YORK

  • The Secretary-General has asked the head of the Syrian chemical weapons investigation team, Ake Sellstrom, to visit New York for consultations on Monday. The Secretary-General may speak to reporters also on Monday.
  • The United Nations remains in close contact with the Syrian authorities, most recently through another letter from Angela Kane, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, on Thursday, urging the Syrian Government to grant access without conditions to the mission. 
  • The Secretary-General strongly urges the Syrian Government to respond swiftly and favourably so that this mission can carry out its work in Syria.
  • It is precisely because of such serious allegations about possible chemical weapons use that the mission must be allowed immediate and unfettered access.
  • Asked about a follow-up letter to the Secretary-General by the UK Government, the Spokesperson said that he would not characterize the contents of any of the letters that have been received regarding the work of the mission.
  • Asked about the allegations concerning Homs, he said that there have been requests in writing from three Member States, after which the United Nations, through Under-Secretary-General Angela Kane, asked for further information. More information was then gathered, including about an incident in Homs.
  • The Secretary-General has said that there needs to be unconditional access. Wherever there are allegations of the use of chemical weapons, the United Nations needs to be able to verify that.
  • Asked further about the investigation, the Spokesperson said that the team has already been doing work outside of Syria and has been gathering and collating evidence. However, he emphasized, there is a need to be able to have access to the country. In the meantime, the team will continue with off-site activities that may include the visits to capitals.
  • Asked about the amount of time that has passed, Nesirky said that there was concern about the degradation of evidence, which is one reason that swift access to the sites on the ground is needed.
  • Asked about New Zealand observers, the Spokesperson said that there are military observers from the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) who are deployed at an observer position in Golan. They remain there.

SYRIA REFUGEE CRISIS STRAINS HEALTH SERVICES IN SURROUNDING COUNTRIES – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY

  • A report by the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has found that the Syria refugee crisis is increasingly straining health services in surrounding countries. Meanwhile, refugees are themselves facing increasing difficulties in getting access to the quality treatment they need, particularly those who have chronic and other costly health conditions.
  • The Refugee Agency says there are now more than 1.4 million refugees around the region so far. They suffer from problems in having access to quality healthcare, particularly for people living outside of camps. Also, the increasing numbers of people needing medical help is straining existing health services in the affected countries where they live.
  • The Refugee Agency is continuing, with its partners, to provide medical care for refugees in the camps in Jordan and Iraq. But for those refugees who live outside of camps, often in urban settings, the situation is more difficult.

U.N. REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ CALLS FOR RESTRAINT AND DIALOGUE FOLLOWING CLASHES

  • Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, has called for restraint and serious dialogue following the recent clashes that killed and wounded hundreds across Iraq. He expressed his fear that the country could head towards the unknown if decisive measures are not taken immediately and effectively to stop the spiral of violence from unfolding further.
  • Mr. Kobler called on all religious and political leaders not to let anger win over peace, and to use their wisdom. It is the responsibility of all Iraqi leaders to assume leadership and take bold initiatives, such as sitting together and calling in one voice for the immediate restoration of calm and for a broad-based national dialogue.
  • He appealed to the Iraqi Government to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the Hawija incidents, in which clashes erupted between demonstrators and the Iraqi Security Forces. He also reiterates his call for the release of the prisoners detained in the aftermath of the crackdown.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY VICTIMS OF COLLAPSE IN BANGLADESH

  • The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the loss of life and injuries caused by the collapse of a garment factory in the outskirts of the capital, Dhaka, earlier this week.
  • He extends his sincere condolences to the Government and people of Bangladesh.  He expresses his deepest sympathies to those who have lost loved ones or have been otherwise affected by this tragedy.
  • The United Nations stands ready to provide any assistance that may be needed.

YEMEN: U.N. RECORDS ARRIVAL OF MORE THAN 30,000 REFUGEES SO FAR THIS YEAR

  • In Yemen, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has recorded the arrival of more than 30,000 refugees and migrants so far this year. Most are Ethiopian nationals, with the rest coming from Somalia and a small number from other African countries.
  • Since 2006, when the Refugee Agency began gathering data, close to half a million people have arrived in Yemen by taking the perilous boat journey from the Horn of Africa.
  • Many of the new arrivals are abducted or abandoned at the coast. They make their way, generally by foot, to Haradh district in the north, where they often find they are unable to continue on to Saudi Arabia. Many suffer from hunger and exposure.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT THAILAND AND SINGAPORE

  • The Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Bangkok this weekend to participate in the Sixty-ninth Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, ESCAP.
  • He will chair the Meeting of the Regional Coordination Mechanism (RCM), which was established to improve coordination among the work programmes of United Nations entities regionally.  He will also participate in partnership meeting involving the UN and ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
  • During his visit he will hold bilateral meetings with the Thai Government as well as Heads of State and high-level government officials from Asia and the Pacific.  He will also make two field visits to the Klong Bang Bua urban resettlement project in Bangkok and to the city of Ayutthaya, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. He will also hold a town hall meeting with UN staff. 
  • Then on 1 May, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Singapore at the invitation of the Government and will hold bilateral meetings with senior Singapore Government officials.  He will tour the NEWater visitor centre to view firsthand innovative technologies for reclaiming water. He will also give a public lecture at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on 4 May.

U.N. RELIEF OFFICE FUND PROVIDES NEARLY $5 MILLION FOR HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCY IN CHAD

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Friday that the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated nearly $5 million to UN agencies and partners to address the humanitarian emergency in Chad.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator in Chad, Thomas Gurtner, said that this money comes at a time when humanitarian agencies face a significant lack of funding, and that it will meet, among others, the urgent needs of more than 30,000 Sudanese and Central African Republic refugees and more than 19,000 Chadians returnees from Sudan.
  • The money will be allocated to the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Organization for Migration.

MYANMAR: U.N. RELIEF FUND PROVIDES $5 MILLION FOR PEOPLE UPROOTED BY VIOLENCE

  • The Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has provided $5 million in additional funding to provide assistance to some 69,000 people uprooted by the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
  • This brings the total amount allocated by the Fund to the humanitarian situation in Rakhine since June of last year to $15 million.
  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar said that thanks to the Fund’s immediate support, aid agencies are able to respond decisively to provide urgent relief. But he cautioned that additional funding is still needed to meet all of the needs.

SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES U.N.’S SUPPORT FOR VICTIMS OF CHERNOBYL DISASTER

  • In a statement issued on Friday, the Secretary-General marked 27 years after the Chernobyl tragedy, reiterating the commitment of the UN system to stand by those affected by the disaster and to work for greater nuclear safety and sustainable energy worldwide.
  • He honoured the emergency workers who risked their lives in responding to the accident, the more than 330,000 people uprooted from their homes and the millions of people living in contaminated areas who have long been traumatized by lingering fears about their health and livelihoods.
  • The Secretary-General said the countless women, men and children affected by radioactive contamination must never be forgotten.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE DISCUSSES GOVERNANCE, RULE OF LAW AND MEDIA ISSUES WITH LOCAL LEADERS

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, for South Sudan Hilde Johnson, travelled on Friday to Lakes State, where she met with the new Governor and the State Council of Ministers. While the security situation has improved recently, the Special Representative raised several issues with the new Governor, including governance issues, the rule of law and the media.
  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is not aware of any direct threat against individual journalists in Lakes State, though concerns regarding the issue were raised with the authorities.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT: Asked whether former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will see the Secretary-General, the Spokesperson confirmed that a private meeting will take place on Friday.

NEW FORCE COMMANDER FOR U.N. MISSION IN D.R.C. YET TO BE APPOINTED: Asked about the Force Commander for the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), the Spokesperson said that no new Force Commander has yet been appointed.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
27 APRIL – 3 MAY 2013


(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Saturday, 27 April

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Sunday, 28 April

Today is World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

Monday, 29 April

Today is Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare.

In the morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing by the African Union - United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), followed by consultations.

In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on Sudan and South Sudan.

At 10:00 a.m., in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Chamber in the Conference Building (CB), there will be a briefing for Member States and Permanent Observers on “The Secretary-General’s Five-year Action Agenda pursuant to resolution 51/1 of the Commission for Social Development, entitled ‘Policies and programmes involving youth’”, co-organized by the Department for Social and Economic Affairs (DESA), the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme and the Office of the Envoy of the Secretary-General on Youth.

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room A (CB), there will be a seminar on “Repression of piracy on the oceans and seas: An international legal framework”, co-organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the Division for Ocean Affairs and Law of the Sea, Office of Legal Affairs (OLA).

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 6 in the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will a briefing on “The present and future of renewable energy” by the secretariat of the Renewable Energy Policy Network for the Twenty-First Century (REN21), organized by the Permanent Mission of Germany, in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In Geneva, the 66th session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will begin today. The session will end on 3 May.

In Geneva, the 50th session of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will begin today. The session will end on 17 May.

Tuesday, 30 April

Today is International Jazz Day.

In the morning, the Security Council will hold a wrap-up session.

Wednesday, 1 May

Today, Togo will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for May.

At 11:00 a.m., in Conference Room 1 (NLB), there will be a meeting of Friends of the International Criminal Court, organized by the Permanent Mission of Germany.

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be a briefing on “The international nuclear liability regime” organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Thursday, 2 May

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 3 (CB), there will be a briefing on “Safe to Speak: Ensuring the Safety of Journalists and Media Workers” in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day 2013 (3 May), organized by The United Nations Department of Public Information (DPI) and the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 3 (NLB), there will be two intersessional workshops on issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction.

Friday, 3 May

Today is World Press Freedom Day.