HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESday, 3 APRIL 2012
u.N. AGENCIES EXPress grave concern over MALI
- United Nations agencies are expressing grave concern over the humanitarian situation in Mali, where thousands of people have been displaced by fighting and severe food shortages.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that in the past five days, more than 2,000 people have fled to Burkina Faso and Mauritania because of the recent insecurity and the political instability.
- It adds that the north of the country is becoming more and more dangerous due to the proliferation of armed groups in the region.
- The World Food Programme, WFP, says it has been forced to suspend food distribution in several regions in the east and north of the country after its offices and warehouses were ransacked and looted.
- According to UN agencies, the fighting in northern Mali between government troops and a Tuareg rebel group erupted in January and has since uprooted more than 200,000 people, who have either sought safety in neighbouring countries or in other parts of Mali.
- The situation has worsened since the Tuareg fighters captured several big towns in the north last week, preventing UNHCR and other aid agencies from reaching those in need of assistance.
- UNHCR is calling on all parties to refrain from any action that could put fleeing populations in danger or hamper their movements to safer areas.
- On Tuesday morning, the Security Council discussed the situation in Mali in closed consultations. It also adopted its programme of work for the month.
- Asked about the situation in Mali, the Spokesperson said humanitarian assistance to internally and externally displaced people would have to shift to those areas where it is possible to deliver aid. Northern Mali has proven precarious for U.N. staff. Sanctions have been imposed by the regional organisation, ECOWAS, and neighbouring states. Once the political situation is resolved then the humanitarian crisis can be addressed more readily.
Secretary-general says obstacles have prevented Israelis and Palestinians from finding common ground
- In a message to the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine on Tuesday morning in Geneva, the Secretary-General said obstacles have again prevented Israelis and Palestinians from finding sufficient common ground to continue discussions.
- Numerous topics require urgent attention, including the plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention. The Secretary-General said he had repeatedly expressed concern about this, including during his visit to the occupied Palestinian territory in February.
- Political momentum between Israelis and Palestinians in the months ahead is essential. Its absence only makes each day more uncertain.
- He said that a viable Palestinian State living side-by-side in peace with a secure Israel is long overdue. And it is crucial that Israeli and Palestinian leaders resume direct talks aimed at reaching an agreement for a two-State solution, as called for by the Quartet.
- The Secretary-General’s message was read out by Maxwell Gaylard, Deputy United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.
- Asked about the Middle East peace process, the Spokesperson said it is obvious the process is at a dangerous impasse. The Secretary-General visited the region in late January/early February, and made his concerns known to both sides. His Special Coordinator Robert Serry continues to work closely with both sides and the Quartet in pushing for negotiations to resume.
Human traffickers have no place in the world, says Ban Ki-moon
- At a General Assembly interactive dialogue on Tuesday morning, the Secretary-General said that human traffickers have no place in the world that we are striving to build. He said that we need to make sure they have no way to operate.
- The Secretary-General encouraged all countries and people to contribute to the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund on Human Trafficking, which provides crucially important legal and financial aid to victims.
- Also speaking at the event was Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). He called human trafficking a challenge of extraordinary proportions, with $32 billion being earned every year by criminals running trafficking networks.
United Nations, SA-1B15
New York, NY 10017