HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 30 APRIL 2014
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS DEADLY ACTS OF TERROR IN HOMS AND DAMASCUS
- In a statement issued this morning, the Secretary-General condemned acts of terror against innocent civilians in Syria, including a car bombing and a mortar shelling in central Homs, and mortar fire in Damascus.
- The Secretary-General appeals to all parties to this terrible conflict to at last live up to their responsibility under humanitarian law and stop targeting civilian areas, including through aerial bombing and barrel bombs.
- The heart-breaking situation in Syria falls not only on the conscience of the perpetrators of these acts, who must be brought to justice, but also on all Syrian and international actors, who must put their differences aside and exercise humility and bravery to work together to stop the violence and achieve a political solution to the Syrian conflict. The full statement is available online.
- Valerie Amos briefed the Security Council in closed consultations this morning on humanitarian access in Syria.
Asked about chemical weapons in Syria, the Spokesman noted that Sigrid Kaag, the head of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, recently discussed the remaining work that needs to be done to remove Syria’s chemical weapons. The Joint Mission has coordinated the removal or destruction in-country so far of more than 92 percent of Syria's declared chemical weapons materiel.
Dujarric also noted the creation of an OPCW mission to establish facts surrounding allegations of the use of chlorine in Syria.
Asked about the provision of humanitarian aid across borders, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was trying to do as much as it can to provide aid, despite the obstacles that it has reported in obtaining access to those in need. This was what Under-Secretary-General Amos was discussing today in the Council, he added.
U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND OUTRAGED AT LATEST WAVE OF INDISCRIMINATE ATTACKS AGAINST SCHOOLS IN SYRIA
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed its outrage today at the latest wave of indiscriminate attacks perpetrated against schools and other civilian targets across Syria, which left dozens of children killed and injured.
- UNICEF also calls on all parties to the conflict in Syria to immediately cease all attacks against civilians and to fully respect the special protection afforded to children under international humanitarian and human rights law.
TOP U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS, GENOCIDE PREVENTION OFFICIALS CONCLUDE VISIT TO SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, and the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, wrapped up their visit to South Sudan today.
- During their mission, they met with President Salva Kiir and five senior Ministers in his Government. They also met with the opposition leader Riek Machar.
- At a press conference in Juba, both Ms. Pillay and Mr. Dieng stressed that South Sudan was on a dangerous trajectory.
- Ms. Pillay said that what she had seen and heard during this mission had reinforced the view that the country’s leaders have embarked on a personal power struggle that has brought their people to the verge of catastrophe.
- They also both stressed the need for accountability. Mr. Dieng stressed that ethnicity should not be used as a reason to incite violence or demonise and exclude any community or section of the population.
- The High Commissioner added that if the people of South Sudan are to believe that there is accountability, investigations must move swiftly beyond statements of intent to action. She also said that she and Mr. Dieng had warned the country’s political leaders that current and future investigations will inevitably examine the extent to which political and military leaders either knew, should have known, or failed to take all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Both senior officials also said that they had urged the leaders to show more concern both for the 1.2 million people displaced inside South Sudan, or in neighbouring countries, and the many other South Sudanese who are now in real danger of facing famine.
- Asked about an incident involving the mislabelling of UN weapons, the Spokesman said that the findings of a UN investigation into the matter had been shared with the Government of South Sudan. He noted efforts to foster good relations between the UN Mission and the Government so that the Mission can go about its work and protect civilians in the country.
UNHELPFUL RHETORIC ESCALATING TENSIONS IN UKRAINE, U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- Yesterday afternoon, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Security Council on Ukraine, telling the Council that the spirit of compromise that had emerged two weeks ago appears to have evaporated. He said that the implementation of the Geneva Statement has stalled as parties have sought to give different interpretations of what had been agreed upon. Unhelpful rhetoric on the part of many has further escalated the already high tensions.
- Mr. Feltman said that the Secretary-General has continued his high-level engagement with world leaders and is trying to help bring a return to diplomacy and a peaceful resolution. In that spirit, the Secretary-General has asked Mr. Feltman to travel to Ukraine next week.
TOP U.N. POLITICAL OFFICIAL TO MEET TWO LEADERS IN CYPRUS NEXT WEEK
- Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will pay an official visit to Cyprus from 4 to 6 May. During his familiarization trip, he is scheduled to meet with the two leaders during separate meetings on 5 May.
- He will also hold a series of other meetings while on the island, including with the Greek Cypriot negotiator and the Turkish Cypriot negotiator.
U.N. MISSION RETURNS FIRE AFTER ATTACK IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), fighters from the Alliance et Patriotes pour un Congo Libre et Souverain, otherwise known as APCLS attacked this morning a base of the UN Mission (MONUSCO) and two army positions near Nyabiondo, in North Kivu.
- MONUSCO troops returned fire and counter-attacked using helicopters, allowing the Congolese troops to recapture their positions.
- The army suffered six killed, and three wounded, and MONUSCO had one wounded. During the fighting, 4,000 civilians sought shelter at the MONUSCO base in Nyabiondo.
- The Mission is currently supporting the Congolese Army against many different rebel groups in the eastern part of the country.
U.N. LAUNCHES BOLLYWOOD-STYLE MUSIC VIDEO TO PROMOTE L.G.B.T. EQUALITY
- The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights today launched the first-ever Bollywood-style UN music video in Mumbai, India, to promote its Free & Equal campaign for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality.
- The video stars Celina Jaitly, an actress and former Miss India who is a UN Equality Champion. The dance moves in the video were choreographed by Longi, who was also the choreographer for Slumdog Millionnaire.
- In a message to the launch, the Secretary-General said that he is a staunch advocate of the Free & Equal campaign because he refuses to stand silent in the face of prejudice against LGBT members of our human family.
- Stigma and intolerance force millions to live in fear, shame and hiding. The Secretary-General said that he appeals for an end to the discrimination, abuse and violent attacks that characterize this deplorable human tragedy.
- For her part, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said that LGBT people have historically been marginalized and subjected to discrimination and violence in India, as elsewhere, but she noted that change is coming and that as awareness grows, attitudes will change.
RESISTANCE TO ANTIBIOTICS THREATENS PUBLIC HEALTH, NEW U.N. REPORT FINDS
- In a new report released today, the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that antibiotic resistance – when bacteria change and antibiotics no longer work in people who need them – is now a major threat to public health.
With data from 114 countries, the report entitled "Antimicrobial resistance: global report on surveillance" focuses on antibiotic resistance in seven different bacteria responsible for common, serious diseases such as bloodstream infections, diarrhoea and pneumonia, among others.
The results are cause for high concern, documenting resistance to antibiotics, especially “last resort” antibiotics, in all regions of the world.
- The report is kick-starting a global effort led by WHO to address drug resistance, measure its health and economic impacts, and design targeted solutions. It also identifies several ways people can help tackle resistance, including using antibiotics only when prescribed by a doctor, and only prescribing and dispensing antibiotics when they are truly needed.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF U.N. OFFICE FOR CENTRAL AFRICA
- The Secretary-General has appointed Abdoulaye Bathily of Senegal as his Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), based in Libreville, Gabon.
- Since July 2013, Mr. Bathily has been serving as Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
- He succeeds Abou Moussa of Chad to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his leadership and important accomplishments of the Regional Office during his tenure.
- Asked about assurances given by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry, the Spokesman said that Mr. Serry is doing his job by talking to President Abbas and reporting what he has said.
- Asked about an execution that took place in the United States, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General’s views on capital punishment are guided by a 2007 General Assembly vote calling for a moratorium on the death penalty. The Secretary-General has talked about the irreversibility of taking human life.