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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

TUESDAY, 30 APRIL 2013

U.N. AGENCY SAYS PALESTINE REFUGEES IN SYRIA ARE BEING KILLED, INJURED AND DISPLACED

  • Palestine refugees in Syria are being killed, injured and displaced in greater numbers than ever before, as the armed conflict continues to overwhelm refugee camps across the country.  The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, UNRWA, estimates that approximately 235,000 Palestine refugees have been displaced inside Syria. The Agency is particularly concerned about news that was confirmed on Tuesday on the displacement of some 6,000 Palestinians from Ein El Tal on 26 April, that’s a Palestine refugee camp some 12 kilometres from Aleppo.
  • The Relief and Works Agency responded quickly to the need of the displaced refugees and arranged to provide food and cash assistance to the displaced, many of whom are still seeking temporary accommodation in Aleppo city.
  • The Agency has received reports that significant numbers of the displaced refugees may be trapped without adequate shelter in rural areas around Aleppo, where intense armed conflict continues to rage. The Relief and Works Agency is urgently appealing to all sides to halt the human suffering caused by the conflict in Syria, and to resolve their differences through dialogue and political negotiations.

SPOKESPERSON: UNITED NATIONS STILL LACKS AGREEMENT FOR CHEMICAL WEAPONS TEAM TO WORK IN SYRIA

  • Asked about comments made by Syrian Ambassador Bashar al-Jafaari about the work of the chemical weapons team, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General established the team in March to investigate the allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Syria. To date, the United Nations does not have the agreement it needs for the team to do its work in Syria. As the Secretary-General has said, the team is ready to deploy quickly once there is agreement.
  • Nesirky said that the Syrian Government's efforts to expedite the deployment of the UN Mission to investigate Syria's allegations of the use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal (Aleppo) and Syria's confirmation of its support and cooperation in respect of that initial deployment are welcome; however, such cooperation should be also extended to Homs, the site of the other allegation.
  • The Spokesperson said that the United Nations received a letter from the Syrian Government on Monday, 29 April, reiterating its position to investigate only the incident in Khan al-Assal.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General’s views had changed on the team’s work, the Spokesperson said that, in the Secretary-General's and Ms. Kane's letters of 21 and 28 March, as well as of 3 and 5 April 2013, the UN consistently conveyed that the Secretary-General has received additional allegations of the use of chemical weapons within Syria and that, in this connection, information would be presented to him.
  • The Secretary-General has concluded that the Mission should also investigate the facts related to the reported incident on 23 December 2012 in Homs, not only the incident in Khan al-Assal.
  • Further information has been provided and sought, including through the work of the head of the team, Ake Sellstrom.
  • Asked further about the work of the team, the Spokesperson said that the team would work to look into the requests made by three Member States: Syria, France and the United Kingdom. The Secretary-General is duty bound to take seriously all allegations made by Member States. The Spokesperson noted that the need to investigate Khan al-Assal was common to the requests from all three States.
  • At the same time, he added, the Secretary-General cannot accept engaging in a partial investigation. He would need to look into all requests, which the Spokesperson said he would do in the order that they were received.
  • Asked about allegations made by Qatar, the Spokesperson said the United Nations does not have a formal request for an investigation by Qatar.
  • Nesirky stressed the need for on-site investigations and reaffirmed the professionalism and integrity of the team.
  • Asked about the situation in Syria overall, the Spokesperson characterised it as an extremely bloody conflict which needs to end soon through a negotiated solution.

U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND STEPS UP VACCINATION CAMPAIGNS AMID MEASLES OUTBREAKS IN SYRIA, NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, and partners are stepping up vaccination campaigns in Syria, as well as in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey, amid measles outbreaks in the region.
  • In Turkey alone, there have been some 3,000 to 4,000 measles cases reported across the country, including 300 among Syrian refugees.
  • UNICEF has said that nearly half of the displaced and refugee populations are children, the vast majority of whom are now living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions where diseases could spread rapidly.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY ADVISES AGAINST FORCIBLE RETURNS TO C.ENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that it has advised governments worldwide against forcible returns to the Central African Republic, where the security and humanitarian situation is worsening.
  • The UN Agency said humanitarian and asylum principles should be upheld until conditions in the Central African Republic allow for safe and dignified returns.
  • The violence of recent months has seen some 173,000 people displaced internally, and almost 50,000 people made refugees, fleeing to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and Cameroon.
  • The Security Council issued a press statement on the Central African Republic on Monday, expressing strong concern about the worsening humanitarian and security situation.

U.N. MISSION IN LIBYA URGES PEACEFUL MEASURES IN EXPRESSING DEMANDS

  • The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is closely following the recent developments in the country, including the siege of Ministries and other State institutions in the capital, Tripoli.
  • The Mission said that it recognizes the basic right of all Libyans to express their demands by peaceful means, but the UN Mission urges all Libyans to adhere to constructive dialogue to resolve their differences, in accordance with the principles of democracy.
  • Asked about security threats in Libya, the Spokesperson said that the Mission continues to operate. He noted the UN Mission’s clear concern about the activities in recent days in central Tripoli.

U.N. MISSION IN IRAQ URGES COMMISSION TO RECONSIDER SUSPENSION OF LICENSES OF SEVERAL TV STATIONS

  • The UN Mission in Iraq urged the national Communication and Media Commission (CMC) on Tuesday to reconsider its decision to suspend the licenses of several TV stations in Iraq.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, said that press freedom is a fundamental pillar of democracy, one that the United Nations takes very seriously. He urged the Commission to fully respect its commitment to press freedom and also urged all media to exercise integrity and professional ethics in their daily work.
  • The Director of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Office in Iraq, Louise Haxthausen, requested the Iraqi authorities to revise the decision carefully and quickly.

SOMALIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS KILLING OF DEPUTY STATE ATTORNEY

  • On Monday, a statement was issued on Somalia, in which the Secretary-General condemns the killing of the country’s Deputy State Attorney on the 26th of April in the capital, Mogadishu.
  • The Secretary-General is deeply concerned that recent attacks in Mogadishu appear to target the judicial officials and the legal system as a whole. He remains confident that such criminal acts will not undermine efforts to strengthen the rule of law in the country.

TOGO TO TAKE ROTATING PRESIDENCY OF SECURITY COUNCIL

  • The Security Council is wrapping up its work for April in a private meeting that was held on Tuesday morning.
  • It also held a private meeting concerning the situation of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.
  • On Wednesday, Togo will replace Rwanda in the rotating Presidency of the Security Council.