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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 EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 5 APRIL 2013

SPOKESMAN: U.N. STAFF REMAIN ENGAGED IN WORK IN DEMOCRATIC PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF KOREA

  • Asked about a meeting in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) today, the Spokesperson, Martin Nesirky, said that a representative of the UN country team joined other diplomatic colleagues in responding to the request of the DPRK Foreign Ministry to attend a meeting in Pyongyang on Friday afternoon. 
  • The Secretary-General is studying the message, and the UN will respond as appropriate. 
  • Nesirky said that UN staff in the DPRK remain engaged in their humanitarian and development work throughout the country.  
    The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned about escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.  He has made his views very clear on the steps the DPRK needs to take immediately to address the concerns of the region and international community.  Working in close partnership with key Member States of the United Nations, the Secretary-General remains committed to working for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula.
  • In response to further questions, the Spokesperson said that UN humanitarian staff has been providing life-saving assistance in the DPRK. He said the Secretary-General appeals once more for assistance to the people in the DPRK who need help.
  • Asked what needs to be done in the DPRK, the Spokesperson said that the volume needs to be turned down. It is incumbent on the DPRK authorities to reduce the tension. The Secretary-General hopes the parties will return to dialogue and he is prepared to help with that.
  • Asked about UN staff numbers in the country, the Spokesperson later added that there are 36 international and 21 locally recruited personnel of seven United Nations Agencies, Funds and Programmes who are present, as of today, in the DPRK, in addition to family members.

U.N. RELIEF CENTRES IN GAZA CLOSED IN RESPONSE TO ESCALATION IN DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Demonstrators stormed the compound of the Gaza Field Office of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) on Thursday, in response to a programme cut necessitated by budget shortfalls. The incident is a dramatic and disturbing escalation in a series of demonstrations that have taken place over the past week.
  • The Agency’s Gaza Director, Robert Turner, stressed that the Agency respects people's right to peaceful demonstration, but added that what happened was completely unacceptable and could have resulted in serious injuries to staff and demonstrators.
  • Demonstrations during the past week had already forced the Relief and Works Agency to close many of its facilities. With the situation further compounded by yesterday’s actions, all relief and distribution centers will consequently remain closed until guarantees are given by all relevant groups that the Agency’s operations can continue unhindered.

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN RELEASES REPORT ABOUT HUMAN RIGHTS INVESTIGATIONS ON INCIDENT IN JONGLEI STATE

  • The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) released a report on Friday on the findings of a human rights investigation into the deadly incident that occurred near Walgak in Jonglei State on 8 February.
  • The report states that at least 85 people were killed, including 69 who were identified by name. The majority of those slain were women and children. At the same time, it was difficult to get access to some parts of the area, and as many as 34 additional people are reported missing.
  • The report acknowledges the efforts that have been made by the Government of South Sudan to respond to the incident and thereby reduce the number of casualties. More should be done, however, to protect communities at risk of attack. It is crucial that an investigation takes place with a view to bringing the perpetrators to justice and seeking redress through compensation.

U.N. OFFICE IN CENTRAL AFRICA SAYS UGANDAN SOLDIERS CONTINUE FIGHT AGAINST L.R.A.

  • On Thursday, the Deputy Spokesperson was asked about the fight against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
  • In a press release issued later that day, the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) said that the 2,000 Ugandan soldiers who have been made available to the Regional Task Force (RTF) of the African Union (AU) in charge of the fight against the LRA will continue to play their role in this initiative, including those operating in the Central African Republic. It is one of the main outcomes of the meeting that took place in Kampala on 3 April between the African Union, the UN and Ugandan authorities.
  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, Abou Moussa, said we must not give any chance to Joseph Kony and his fighters to believe that there is a reprieve and that they can continue to commit atrocities with impunity.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS OUTFLOWS OF REFUGEES FROM CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC CONTINUES

  • The UN Refugee Agency said on Friday that it continues to see outflows of refugees from the Central African Republic, with fresh arrivals reported into Chad, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the past two weeks.
  • In all, and since the conflict began last December, there are now 37,000 refugees from the Central African Republic in the region.
  • The UN Refugee Agency said that it is working with the authorities in all three receiving countries to provide protection and assistance.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS MORE THAN 5,500 MALIAN REFUGEES CROSSED INTO NIGER LAST WEEK

  • The UN Refugee Agency said on Friday that more than 5,500 Malian refugees, from the regions of Kidal and Menaka, crossed into Niger last week.
  • These refugees, who are mainly women and children, said they fled because of the ongoing war in northern Mali, and for fear of possible reprisals by the Malian army. They also said that more people are on their way to Niger.
  • The UN Refugee Agency said that joint and separate missions with local authorities and the World Food Programme have been organized to register new arrivals and distribute food and non-food items.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES CLOSURE OF GUANTANAMO DETENTION CENTRE

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged all branches of the United States Government on Friday to work together to close the Guantanamo detention centre. She said that the continuing indefinite incarceration of many of the detainees amounts to arbitrary detention and is in clear breach of international law.
  • She noted the current hunger strike by Guantanamo detainees, and said that it is scarcely surprising that people’s frustrations boil over and they resort to such desperate measures.
  • As a first step, Ms. Pillay said, those who have been cleared for release must be released.
  • The High Commissioner also called on the United States Government to extend an invitation which would allow full and unfettered access to the United Nations Human Rights Council experts, including the opportunity to meet privately with detainees.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED OVER RESUMPTION OF EXECUTIONS IN MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said it was deeply concerned that a number of countries in the Middle East and Asia have recently started reapplying the death penalty after several years of moratorium, despite the overwhelming global trend towards abolishing the death penalty.
  • The Human Rights Office appeals to all Governments concerned to take necessary measures and establish an official moratorium on all executions, with the aim of abolishing the death penalty in accordance with recent General Assembly resolutions.

FOR WORLD HEALTH DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL FOCUSES ON HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

  • World Health Day will be celebrated Sunday, 7 April, to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), with the theme ‘high blood pressure’.
  • On this occasion, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations encourages all adults to have their blood pressure regularly checked at health care facilities.
  • Emphasizing the importance of addressing high blood pressure, the Secretary-General added that he welcomes the global momentum to address non-communicable diseases.

SECURITY COUNCIL STRONGLY CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN AFGHANISTAN

  • In a press statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the terrorist attack on 3 April in the province of Farah in Afghanistan, causing numerous deaths and injuries of mostly civilians.
  • Council members underlined the need to bring perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice.

U.N. ADVISOR ON MYANMAR LEADS WORKSHOP ON CONFLICT PREVENTION IN INDONESIA

  • Vijay Nambiar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar, today led the United Nations' participation today in a workshop on “Lessons Learned and Best Practices in Conflict Prevention and Preventive Diplomacy” in Jakarta. 
  • The workshop is organized jointly by the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  Officials of the Department of Political Affairs are also in attendance.  The workshop aims to review the experiences in conflict prevention in Southeast Asia and beyond, with a view to identifying follow-up activities between ASEAN and the United Nations.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

U.N. SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR FOR HAITI EXPLAINS HIS RESIGNATION IN OP-ED: The Deputy Spokesperson was asked on Thursday about whether the Special Rapporteur for Haiti, Michel Forst, was forced out. He referred journalists to the op-ed Mr. Forst wrote last week, where he explains why he resigned and denies being forced out.

U.N. CONTINUES TO DISCUSS CONTENT OF LETTERS WITH SYRIAN GOVERNMENT: Asked about letters concerning the work of the technical mission to Syria, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the United Nations is continuing to discuss the content of the exchange of letters with the Government of Syria and is hopeful that a mutual understanding on the text will be reached soon.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS VIOLENCE NEEDS TO END IN SYRIA: Asked about the exodus of Syrian refugees, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been saying that the violence needs to end and that people in Syria need to be able to live in their country. He reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for a negotiated solution.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO MALALA ON GIRLS’ EDUCATION: The Secretary-General spoke to Malala Yousafzai via Skype on girls’ education and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), as today marks 1,000 days leading to the target date for achieving MDGs in 2015.
 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
6 – 12 APRIL 2013

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 6 April

There are no major events scheduled for today.

Sunday, 7 April

Today is the Day of Remembrance of the Victims of the Rwanda Genocide.

Today is World Health Day.

There will be a health fair on the occasion of World Health Day 2013 on the theme “Control your blood pressure ––Cut your risk of heart attack and stroke”, co-organized by the Medical Service Division, Office of Human Resources Management, and the World Health Organization (WHO) Office at the United Nations.

Monday, 8 April

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 3 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be an opening meeting of the sixteenth session of the Ad Hoc Committee established by General Assembly resolution 51/210 of 17 December 1996 (Measures to eliminate international terrorism). The session will end on 12 April 2013.

At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 7 (NLB), there will be a round table on “Measuring effectiveness of support to the rule of law”, with a keynote address by the

Deputy Secretary-General.

At 10:00 a.m., in Istanbul, Turkey, the United Nations Forum on Forests will hold its tenth session. The session will end on 19 April.

In Geneva, there will be a Meeting of Experts on Amended Protocol II of the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW). The Meeting will end on 9 April.

In Geneva, the Group of Governmental Experts will review the continuing operation of the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. The review will end on 12 April.

In Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) will hold the fourth session of the Committee on Enforced Disappearances. The session will end on 19 April.

Tuesday, 9 April

This morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA)

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 4 (NLB), there will be a round table on “Civil society and its environment: Driving sustainable development? –– Findings from the CIVICUS State of Civil Society 2013 Report” co-organized by the CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation, the United Nations Development Programme and the Permanent Mission of Sweden.

At 1:15 p.m., Conference Room 5 (NLB), there will be a panel discussion on “Applying a disarmament lens to gender, human rights, development, security, education and communication: Six essays”, organized by the Office for Disarmament Affairs (ODA), in cooperation with Global Action to Prevent War.

At 6:15 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, there will be a special event in commemoration of the Rwanda genocide, featuring the documentary film "Duhozanye: A community of resilience, hope and dignity", organized by the Department of Public Information, with support from UN Women.

In Geneva, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) will hold an embargoed press briefing on the release of ‘Child well-being in rich countries – A comparative overview’ by Chris de Neubourg, Chief of Social and Economic Policy, UNICEF Office of Research (Under embargo until 0001 GMT 10 April 2013). 

Wednesday, 10 April

At 1:15 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber (NLB), there will be a high-level special event on “A commemoration of 60 years since Dag Hammarskjöld

took office as Secretary-General”, organized by the Department of Public Information.  

At 3:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library (DHL) auditorium, there will be a press conference by Amnesty International on its annual report on death penalty, sponsored by the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations.

In Geneva, there will be a Meeting of Experts on Protocol V of the CCW. The Meeting will end on 12 April.

In Dublin, Ireland, the Innocenti Research Centre (UNICEF Office of Research) will launch its annual report card on child well-being in rich countries. The study, ‘Child well-being in rich countries – A comparative overview’, ranks the rich countries and the poor countries and measures development according to five dimensions of children’s lives – material well-being, health and safety, education, behaviour and risks, and housing and environment.

Thursday, 11 April

This morning, there will be a Troop-Contributing Countries’ meeting on the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

At 10:45 a.m., the Security Council will hold consultations on United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and Sudan/South Sudan.

In Geneva, WHO and UNICEF will hold a press conference on the strategy to prevent millions of child deaths from pneumonia and diarrhea by 2025, by Elizabeth Mason, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health, WHO, and Marilena Viviani, Associate Director of Programme Partnerships, UNICEF.

Friday, 12 April

Today is International Day of Human Space Flight.

At 3:30 p.m., in the UN Secretariat Lobby (North End), the UN Headquarters will hold observance of "MDG Momentum -- 1000 Days of Action", marking 1000 days to the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; H.E. Mr. Gary Quinlan, Permanent Representative of Australia to the UN and H.E. Mr. Eugene-Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the UN, as co-chairs of the MDG Advocacy Group;  and Jeffrey Sachs, Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for the MDGs.