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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

 

TUESDAY, 29 APRIL 2014

SECRETARY-GENERAL HANDS U.N. DOCUMENTS DESTROYED DURING RECENT FIGHTING TO CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC OFFICIAL

  • This afternoon, the Secretary-General will hand over UN documents to the Chargé d'Affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Central African Republic.
  • The documents will replace core documents that were destroyed, looted or lost from the Central African Republic’s Foreign Ministry during recent fighting in Bangui.
  • They include treaties, resolutions, UN publications and UN reports, stretching back as far as 1960, when the Central African Republic joined the United Nations.
  • They also include digital copies of maps which have been placed on DVD for transport to CAR, given the issues with internet access and downloading.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. CONDEMNS ATTACK ON AID CONVOY

  • The United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), as well as the Senior Humanitarian Coordinator and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), have condemned the attack yesterday on a humanitarian convoy transporting to safety members of the Muslim community which left two people dead and six injured. The convoy was hit by a grenade.
  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in CAR, Babacar Gaye, said that MINUSCA urged the Government to conduct an investigation in order to bring the perpetrators of these acts to justice. He also called on all political, religious and community leaders, as well as the media, to increase their efforts to promote peaceful coexistence among communities, and to refrain from inciting violence.
  • The UN Refugee Agency says that the 18-truck convoy was transporting 1,300 people previously trapped in the so called PK12 neighborhood of the capital, Bangui, and unable to leave due to insecurity.
  • The convoy was heading to Kabo and Moyen Sido in the north of the country, which is a 3-day journey. A UNHCR team accompanying the convoy says that three babies have so far been born.
  • The relocation was carried out on a strictly voluntary basis, at the request of the people. It was decided as a measure of last resort to save lives, in accordance with the principle of humanitarian imperative.
  • This was the second relocation operation from PK12, following the movement of 93 people, including 35 children, to Bambari on 20 April.
  • The Refugee Agency says that as of 22 April 2014, there are more than 600,000 internally displaced civilians in the Central African Republic. Among them, more than 15,000 Muslims who remain at risk, as they are surrounded and threatened by anti-Balaka groups in 15 locations across the western part of the country.
  • UNHCR and its partners are supporting mediation efforts to allow for co-existence. These efforts have already produced some positive results in areas like Bouboua, where people recently returned from the bush where they had sought shelter.

U.N. RELIEF OFFICIAL HOLDS TALKS WITH AUTHORTIES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), John Ging, in the Central African Republic today met with Government officials, including the Prime Minister of the Transitional Government, to discuss support for urgently needed humanitarian actions in the country.

SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED BY U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY, ADOPTS CÔTE D’IVOIRE SANCTIONS RESOLUTION

  • Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council this morning. He told Council members that he believes we are at a moment of truth in the Middle East Peace Process, which must be used for reflection. The way ahead can no longer be inaction or business as usual. 
  • He warned the parties that not making a choice now is the most detrimental of all, leading down the path of a one-state reality on the ground.  He called on the international community to come together in a collaborative effort to define a substantive basis for early resumption of talks and a chance to achieve the two-state solution.
  • Earlier, the Security Council adopted a resolution extending sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire until April 2015. And the Council also renewed the mandate of the UN Mission in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, by one year.
  • Later this afternoon, after the Middle East meeting, there will be another Security Council meeting on Ukraine.
  • Asked about Mr. Serry’s contacts, the Spokesman said that Mr. Serry had met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and had received assurances from him concerning the unity agreement.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General was pleased at continuing talks on Western Sahara, the Spokesman noted the need by the parties to discuss the substantive issues concerning the dispute.

TOP U.N. OFFICIALS ON HUMAN RIGHTS, GENOCIDE PREVENTION CONTINUE VISIT TO SOUTH SUDAN

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, are continuing their visit to South Sudan.
  • Today, they were both in Bor, in Jonglei State. And yesterday they met with Ministers in Juba, including the Foreign Minister. Ms. Pillay also met with President Salva Kiir.
  • On the humanitarian front, Toby Lanzer, who heads up the humanitarian efforts in South Sudan, has called on all parties to the conflict in South Sudan to observe one month of tranquility this May. He is asking the parties to stop the violence and to provide a safe environment for civilians.
  • Mr. Lanzer said that this would enable people to be safer and move freely, without fear of violence, whether to tend to their livestock or for other reasons, or even to seek asylum in neighbouring countries if they so wish.
  • He said that a month without violence will allow people to plant and cultivate, which is done at this time of the year. He added that the conflict which broke out in mid-December has put 7 million people are at risk of food insecurity across the country.
  • Mr. Lanzer also said that while the only way to reverse this crisis and its grave humanitarian consequences is to find a political resolution to the conflict, but he added that one month of tranquility this May is a tangible step that will have an immediate impact on the lives of millions of people.

U.N. PEACEKEPING CHIEF TO TRAVEL TO REPUBLIC OF CONGO, CHAD AND CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, will visit the Republic of Congo, Chad and the Central African Republic, starting tomorrow.
  • He will first hold discussions with the national authorities in Brazzaville and in N’Djamena, as part of his efforts to develop regional dialogue and to build support for the new United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
  • At the end of the week, Mr. Ladsous will be in the Central African Republic, where he will meet with local authorities and UN staff.

U.N. IRAQ ENVOY CONGRATULATES NEWLY-ELECTED OFFICIALS IN KURDISTAN REGION PARLIAMENT

  • Iraq is holding nationwide Council of Representatives' elections and Governorate Council elections in the Kurdistan region tomorrow.
  • Today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, congratulated both the newly elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan Region Parliament. Mr. Mladenov expressed his hope that the same spirit of compromise and mutual understanding which led to the election of the Speakership will continue to prevail during the government formation process. 
  • In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the wave of violence and terrorist attacks that has targeted political leaders, candidates and electoral staff ahead of the elections. He urges all political leaders and personalities to create the conditions necessary to enable all Iraqi men and women to participate in the electoral process and to have their say on the future of their country.

SYRIA: U.N.-BACKED MISSION TO LOOK INTO CHOLRINE ALLEGATIONS

  • The Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Ahmet Uzumcu, announced today the creation of an OPCW mission to establish facts surrounding the allegations of the use of chlorine in Syria.
  • The Syrian Government, which has agreed to accept this mission, has undertaken to provide security in areas under its control.
  • The Secretary-General has expressed his support and assured the assistance of the United Nations in meeting the significant security and logistical demands of this mission.
  • The team is expected to depart for Syria soon.
  • Asked about complaints by humanitarian groups about UN humanitarian work in Syria, the Spokesman said that the humanitarian agencies are focused on providing aid to people in need, which has been a challenging task in both Government-held and opposition-held areas. The primary responsibility for the dire humanitarian situation in Syria lies with the parties to the conflict.
  • Dujarric said that the United Nations is doing as much as it can to help those in need, including refugees. Ultimately, a political solution will be needed to resolve the crisis.
  • He said that in Resolution 2139 (2014), the Security Council has demanded that all parties allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including across borders. The Secretary-General reported back to the Council last week on the implementation of that resolution and Valerie Amos is expected to brief the Security Council on Wednesday.
  • The Spokesman said that it is the longstanding and consistent position of the United Nations that, consistent with its Charter and the decisions of its competent intergovernmental bodies, the Organization can engage in activities within the territory of a Member State only with the consent of the Government of that State.
  • The only exception is where the Security Council has adopted a binding resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter authorizing the Organization to act without the Government's consent.

EGYPT: SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED AT MASS DEATH SENTENCE

  • On Egypt, in a statement, the Secretary-General expressed his alarm at the preliminary mass death sentence, as well as his concern about a court case which banned the activities of the April 6 Youth Movement. The Secretary-General intends to discuss these concerns and others with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Nabil Fahmy, later this week.
  • For her part, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, strongly condemned the shocking imposition of the death penalty.

U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED BY RE-INSTITUTION OF DEATH PENALTY IN MALDIVES

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its deep concern about a new regulation in the Maldives implementing the death penalty, effectively overturning a six-decade moratorium on the use of capital punishment in the country.
  • The new regulation adopted by the Government over the weekend provides for the use of the death penalty for the offense of intentional murder, including when committed by individuals under the age of 18. For some offences, children as young as seven can be held responsible.
  • The High-Commissioner urges the Government to retain its moratorium on the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS AUSTRALIAN AS NEW HEAD OF U.N. SECURITY OFFICE

  • The Secretary-General today appointed Peter Thomas Drennan of Australia as the new Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, replacing Kevin Kennedy of the United States.
  • Mr. Drennan has been serving as Deputy Commissioner National Security with the Australian Federal Police since 2009. He brings to the position an extensive career in policing and law enforcement at the community, national and international levels.
  • The Secretary-General thanks Mr. Kennedy for his service in that post since the departure of Gregory Starr.

U.N. CAMBODIA OFFICE CONFIRMS KILLING OF FORMER CONSULTANT, EXTENDS CONDOLENCES

  • In response to a question about the killing of a Dutch UN-related person in Cambodia, the Spokesman said that the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office in Cambodia confirms the death of Ms. Daphna Beerdsen, who worked for UN-Habitat as a consultant in the past.
  • Ms. Beerdsen’s partner is currently an international consultant for UN-Habitat.
  • Their child was medically evacuated to Thailand where she is being treated.
  • The Resident Coordinator cannot give any further comment on this case as it is under police investigation and very much appreciates the cooperation from the media to respect the privacy of the victims and their family.
  • Our heartfelt condolences go to their family and friends at this extremely difficult time.

U.N. SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACKS AGAINST JOURANLISTS WORLDWIDE

  • Asked about threats against journalists in the Arab world, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has regularly condemned attacks against journalists around the world.
  • He noted, regarding Egypt, that the Secretary-General had raised the question of detentions of journalists recently with the Egyptian Foreign Minister.
  • Asked about contempt cases against journalists at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Spokesman noted that the Special Tribunal is an independent body.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • The Secretary-General this afternoon will visit the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea to sign a condolence book in relation to the ferry disaster that struck that country.
  • In response to questions, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General had strongly condemned the recent capture and detention of OSCE military monitors as well as a number of accompanying Ukrainian staff. He added that the Secretary-General urges all parties concerned to take immediate steps to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.
  • Asked about a leaked document concerning Burundi, the Spokesman declined to comment on the memo’s authenticity but said that the United Nations has repeatedly voiced its concerns about the arming of a youth wing in the country.
  • Asked about the languages used at the United Nations, the Spokesman said that the Department of Public Information (DPI) is putting out Webcasts in the six working languages of the United Nations.