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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

MONDAY, 29 APRIL 2013

SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH HEAD OF FACT-FINDING MISSION ON USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS

  • The Secretary-General met on Monday morning with Dr. Åke Sellström, the leader of the UN fact-finding mission looking into allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
  • The Secretary-General spoke to reporters before the meeting and he said that a credible and comprehensive inquiry requires full access to the sites where chemical weapons are alleged to have been used. He once again urged the Syrian authorities to allow the investigation to proceed without delay and without any conditions.  
  • Asked about the meeting, the Spokesperson said that Dr. Sellström discussed the steps that have been taken so far in the investigation. The Secretary-General thanked him and his team for the work that has been done so far in gathering information from a range of sources.
  • They both agree that there is no substitute for on-site activities to determine if chemical weapons have been used.
  • Asked about the advance team, the Spokesperson said that two people from the team have regularly been deployed in Cyprus, although not always the same two people. The entire team is ready to be deployed in Syria, once there is agreement with the Syrian Government on the modalities for their work.
  • There are members of the team based in The Hague and in Geneva, he said, who are working on the information that they have at hand now.
  • Asked how long the team can wait, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has said that we need approval from the Syrian authorities, with no delays, no conditions and no exceptions. On-site activities will be essential, he reiterated.
  • Asked about the reliability of the information being received, Nesirky noted that the Secretary-General had once more declared his complete confidence in the integrity and professionalism of Dr. Sellström and the team.
  • Asked about the incident at Khan Asel, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General takes seriously all allegations about the use of chemical weapons in Syria and believes there should be no conditions and no exceptions to the work of the team.
  • Asked about the communications with the Syrian Government, the Spokesperson said that there remain differences in views into what needs to be carried out. Communications between the United Nations and the Syrian Government are continuing.
  • Asked about the chain of custody, he noted the standard procedure to be followed for a technical investigation.
  • He added that the mission itself does not have a mandate to determine who used chemical weapons; it intends to establish whether chemical weapons were used.

DARFUR: U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF SAYS FULLY INCLUSIVE POLITICAL SETTLEMENT HAS YET TO BE REACHED

  • The Security Council met on Monday morning to discuss the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID).
  • Briefing the Council in an open meeting, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, said that while there have been mildly encouraging developments regarding the peace process, a fully inclusive political settlement is yet to be reached.
  • He said that resolving the conflict continues to require a combined effort by the Security Council, the African Union and the wider international community to persuade the parties that there is no military solution to the crisis.
  • Mr. Ladsous added that maintaining attention on the situation in Darfur amid a series of newer crises remains as important as ever.
  • On Monday afternoon, the Council is scheduled to hold consultations on Sudan and South Sudan as well as on the Central African Republic.
  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson noted the difficulties that the Darfur mission, UNAMID, has in obtaining access to particular sites.

U.N. COORDINATOR FOR SUDAN SHOCKED BY RECENT ATTACKS

  • The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan said on Monday that he was shocked by the recent attack on Um Rawabah and other areas in North Kordofan, as well as the renewed shelling of Kadugli by anti-Government forces.
  • Ali Al-Za’tari said he is concerned that the cycle of violence between Government forces and rebel groups is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in Blue Nile and South Kordofan and hindering development assistance efforts.
  • He said that the clashes are particularly disappointing given the direct talks between the Government and the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement-North which began in Addis Ababa last week.
  • The Coordinator noted that after nearly two years of fighting, all parties need to give these talks a chance to succeed.
  • He added that the United Nations is ready to deliver humanitarian aid, but it has to do so under a situation where the fighting will not endanger humanitarian workers and partners.

U.N. COORDINATOR FOR LEBANON VISITS SYRIAN REFUGEES AND LEBANESE COMMUNITIES HOSTING THEM

  • Robert Watkins, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, visited Shebaa, in southern Lebanon, on Monday and saw firsthand the conditions of the Syrian refugees there and of the Lebanese communities hosting them.
  • He said afterwards that the situation is clearly very difficult and the humanitarian needs are growing for both the refugees and the communities hosting them, particularly as the number of refugees continues to rise. 
  • Mr. Watkins said that the United Nations has appealed to the international community to come forward with more badly needed assistance.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ACTION TO END HUNGER AT LAUNCH OF ZERO HUNGER CHALLENGE IN ASIA

  • The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, is in Bangkok on Monday, where he attended the launch of the Zero Hunger Challenge in Asia and the Pacific, in which the United Nations system calls on governments and people to join hands to end hunger in the region where the majority of the world’s undernourished people live. The Deputy Secretary-General told the launch ceremony that we cannot rest while so many people go hungry in a world where there is enough food for all.
  • He also addressed the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP), saying that the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been the most successful global anti-poverty drive in history.  But there are still many gaps.
  • Two-and-a-half billion people, mostly in rural areas but also increasingly in urban areas, do not have sanitation, a threat to health and an affront to human dignity. And far too many women and children still lack access to the health services they need.

U.N. AGENCIES IN D.P.R.K. URGENTLY REQUIRE NEARLY $30 MILLION FOR LIFE-SAVING NEEDS

  • UN agencies in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea urgently require nearly $30 million to respond to critical and life-saving needs. Despite a slight improvement of the overall humanitarian situation over the last 12 months, urgent funding is still needed in the areas of health and nutrition up to the end of the year.
  • The five UN agencies in the DPRK said that overall a total of $147 million is needed this year to respond to key humanitarian priorities, of which just over a quarter have been received so far.
  • The UN agencies said that external assistance continues to play a vital role in safeguarding and promoting the well-being of millions.

U.N. ENVOY FOR GREAT LAKES REGION OF AFRICA STARTS REGIONAL TOUR

  • Mary Robinson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, is in Kinshasa on Monday at the start of a week-long regional tour, her first in this capacity. 
  • She has met with President Kabila and other senior officials, as well as with the leadership of the UN Mission, MONUSCO.
  • Her program also includes meetings with civil society groups, including women's organizations and religious groups.
  • On Tuesday, Mrs. Robinson visits the eastern city of Goma, her last stop in the Democratic Republic of the Congo before continuing on her regional tour to Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, South Africa and to the African Union in Addis Ababa. 

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS REPRESENTATIVE FOR SOMALIA AND SPECIAL ADVISOR TO ENVOY TO GREAT LAKES

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Nicholas Kay of the United Kingdom as his Special Representative for Somalia. Mr. Kay succeeds Augustine Mahiga, who will complete his assignment on 3 June this year.
  • Mr. Kay is currently the Africa Director at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) of the United Kingdom, a position he has held since 2012.
  • The Secretary-General has also appointed Modibo Touré of Mali as Special Advisor to Mary Robinson, who is his Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region.  The appointment is at the level of Assistant Secretary-General.
  • Since January of this year, Mr. Touré has been serving as the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative ad interim of the United Nations Development Program, in Nairobi, Kenya.