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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 FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

MONDAY, 7 APRIL 2014

 

IN RWANDA, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS THE SHAME STILL CLINGS 20 YEARS AFTER THE GENOCIDE

  • This morning in Kigali, the Secretary-General joined the President of Rwanda at the official commemoration ceremony of the Rwandan genocide.
  • The opening of the event, known as Kwibuka 20, took place in Kigali’s Genocide Memorial Center. There, the Secretary-General and President Kagame, joined by two young people born at the time of the genocide, lit the flame of mourning. The flame will remain lit for 100 days.
  • The Secretary-General spoke about the genocide in Rwanda, which he called one of the darkest chapters in human history. He said that many United Nations personnel and others showed remarkable bravery, but added that the United Nations could and should have done much more. In Rwanda, he said, troops were withdrawn when they were most needed. He said that the shame of Rwanda and Srebrenica still clings, a generation after the events.
  • The Secretary-General noted how UN response has improved since then, from the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect to the expansion of international criminal justice to his recent call to the United Nations system and the international community to put human rights up front.
  • And the Secretary-General also spoke at an event for the UN staff who died during the genocide, saying that he honoured his fallen colleagues and offered his deepest condolences to all those they left behind.

SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC TO SHINE LIGHT ON CRISIS

  • On Saturday, the Secretary-General visited Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic, where he met with the Head of the Transitional State, Catherine Samba-Panza, and members of the Government, and also met with displaced people camped near the airport and those living in the grounds of Bangui’s main mosque. He also visited the UN office in the country, BINUCA.
  • The Secretary-General said that he was in the Central African Republic to shine a light on what was happening in the country, and he promised to do his utmost to garner the political will so that a United Nations peacekeeping mission could be approved as soon as possible and so that adequate resources can be granted to help the country return to a more stable path.
  • He emphasized that the human rights of all Central Africans must be protected, regardless of religion.
  • And the Secretary-General spoke at the National Transitional Council, and he said that he was in the country to make sure that the world does not forget the crisis there. He warned the assembly members that they need to heed the lessons of the past, telling them, “The fate your country is in your hands.”
  • Before leaving the country, the Secretary-General told reporters that his message was: “Do not look away.  Do not ignore what is happening here.” He stressed that the Central African Republic was in urgent need of peacekeepers and police officers who could help increase security for people.

W.F.P./F.A.O.: DEEPENING CRISIS IN C.A.R. IS DEVASTATING PEOPLE'S ABILITY TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) issued a report showing that widespread conflict since December 2012 has caused the destruction of livelihoods, loss of food and cash crops, livestock and crucial productive assets across the country.
  • The unprecedented crisis in the Central African Republic is devastating the economy and people’s ability to secure basic necessities, they added.
  • FAO and WFP said the country needed a long and expensive humanitarian operation over at least the next 18 months to stem the growing toll, and pave the way to rebuild livelihoods.
  • About 1.6 million people directly affected by the crisis are in need of urgent food, more than double the level estimated just over a year ago, in February 2013. As of late March, some 625,000 individuals were displaced due to conflict.

SECRETARY--GENERAL, U.N. ENVOY IN SOMALIA CONDEMNS KILLING OF TWO INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANTS ON DRUGS AND CRIME

  • The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms today’s cold-blooded killing of two colleagues working for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at Galkayo Airport in Puntland, Somalia. He expresses his deepest condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the victims. The Secretary-General urges the relevant authorities to fully investigate this outrageous crime and to bring the perpetrators to justice without delay. He expresses his appreciation to all United Nations staff in Somalia for their continued dedication under difficult circumstances. The United Nations remains determined to support the people and the Federal Government of Somalia in their efforts to strengthen peace, security and the rule of law in the country.

  • The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, condemned the murder today of two UN consultants working for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

  • The two international consultants were in Galkayo to support UNODC efforts in the region when they were shot by unknown gunmen at Galkayo Airport in Puntland.

  • Mr. Kay said that there can be no justification for such a callous attack, and he called on the authorities to conduct a full investigation immediately and bring the perpetrators to justice without delay.

  • The Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, also condemned the killings in the strongest possible terms.

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY CONCERNED BY HEIGHTENED INSTABILITY IN EASTERN UKRAINE

  • Asked about unrest in eastern Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the heightened instability in eastern Ukraine over the weekend. He urges all with responsibility and influence over the situation to defuse tensions and encourage all to express themselves peacefully to calm the situation.
  • Asked about the UN human rights presence in the country, Haq said that all international staff members on the UN’s human rights mission have been deployed. Field offices have been established in Lviv, Odessa, Donetsk and Kharkhiv. National staff members are currently being hired.

SOUTH SUDAN: 413 ADDITIONAL CIVILIANS MOVE TO U.N. HOUSE FOR SHELTER

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that some 413 civilians have voluntarily moved today from the Tomping protection of civilians site in Juba to the UN House site, also in the capital. The UN House site has been recently expanded.
  • UN Peacekeepers provided protection to the civilians, as well as to the trucks that transported their belongings to UN House.
  • Since relocation began on 12 March, more than 1,345 civilians have moved from Tomping to UN House.  
  • Special Representative Hilde Johnson told media last week that with the rainy season starting, conditions are becoming worse, with the sites in Tomping and Malakal, in particular, at imminent risk from epidemics, particularly cholera. Relocation of internally displaced people from these sites, therefore, has become a necessity.

IN ONE WEEK, MORE THAN 2,000 NEWLY DISPLACED ARRIVED IN THE U.N. MISSION’S BASE IN MELLIT, NORTH DARFUR

  • The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur, UNAMID, is protecting newly internally displaced people who gathered near the Mission’s base in Mellit, North Darfur.
  • The Mission is also assisting humanitarian agencies in delivering aid to them.
  • Since 1 April, more than 2,000 people – mostly women and children – arrived at the base in Mellit. They reported that their villages were attacked by armed groups suspected to be members of Rapid Support Forces and militia elements at the end of March.
  • Meanwhile, in Khor Abeche, South Darfur, some 3,000 displaced are continuing to take refuge inside the Mission’s compound, where they have received food and other aid from the humanitarian community.
  • A team of engineers from the Mission are working in securing the camp located next to the Mission’s base. When completed, it will have a secure perimeter covering an area of 70,000 square metres. The displaced currently inside UNAMID’s base will be able to settle in the near future in this secure area.
  • Asked about leaked memos indicating problems with the UN Mission’s reporting, the Spokesperson declined to comment on leaked documents but noted that, in the case of UNAMID, just as with every other mission, there is tension between the necessity to preserve the consent and good will of the host government required to allow peacekeepers to do their jobs and the sometimes contradictory imperative to report accurately and candidly on any and all incidents of violence.
  • He said that UN Peacekeeping is aware of the issues raised in recent articles and takes them very seriously.
  • Haq said that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) launched a Strategic Review to assess UNAMID’s performance in an environment in which new conflict dynamics have emerged and old ones remain unaddressed.
  • He noted the special report of the Secretary-General on the Strategic Review of UNAMID (S/2014/138), which identifies three main challenges faced by the Mission in implementing its mandate: the cooperation of the Government; internal managerial and coordination issues, especially with the UN Country Team; and the capabilities of UN troops and police contributors.

AFGHANISTAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES MOMENTOUS ELECTIONS

  • In a statement on Sunday night, the Secretary-General congratulated the people of Afghanistan on Saturday’s historic Presidential and Provincial Council elections. He said that the elections mark an important step forward in Afghanistan’s first democratic transition of power.
  • The millions of women and men who cast their ballots are a testament to the courage and the commitment of Afghans to exercise their rights and shape their future.
  • The Secretary-General welcomes their momentous achievement. Afghans braved threats and intimidation to exercise their right to vote, and in doing so, they have sent a powerful message that the perpetrators of violence cannot win.
  • Also over the weekend, the members of the Security Council put out a press statement welcoming the holding of the elections in Afghanistan. The members of the Council reiterated the importance of these historic elections to Afghanistan’s transition and democratic development.

SOME 50,000 PEOPLE AFFECTED BY FLOODING IN SOLOMON ISLANDS

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 20 people have been confirmed dead in the Solomon Islands due to heavy rains which have caused flash flooding.
  • Many people are missing and more than 50,000 people have been affected.
  • The Government is leading the response with the support of the Red Cross, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and donors.
  • They are working together to help 10,000 people in evacuation centres around the capital, Honiara.
  • Aid agencies, including the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), are sending shelter, health and food supplies.

AS HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES LOOK FOR MORE FUNDS FOR SYRIA, KUWAIT GIVES $204.5 MILLION

  • Asked about decreased humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations was seeking more funds from donors for its humanitarian activities concerning Syria. But there have been some signs of more funds coming in, he added.
  • He said that Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Director Rashid Khalikov thanked the Government and people of Kuwait at a ceremony in Geneva today for their sustained and generous support to humanitarian operations to support the Syrian people. Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang will address a second ceremony in New York this afternoon.
  • At the two ceremonies, Haq said, seven United Nations humanitarian agencies and the International Organization for Migration will receive cheques totalling $204.5 million from the Government of Kuwait to support the humanitarian response to the Syria crisis.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WILL BE IN WASHINGTON FOR WORLD BANK-I.M.F. SPRING MEETING

  • The Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Washington, D.C. at the end of this week to participate in a series of events taking place in line with the spring meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • On Thursday, 10 April, the Secretary-General and his Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, will speak at the 2015 Countdown Summit for Global Education. That event will take place at New York University’s Global Academic Center, which is in Washington.
  • That afternoon, the Secretary-General will join World Bank President Jim Yong Kim in events on anti-poverty measures and education. The first of those is called “End Poverty Call to Action,” and the second one, which again includes Gordon Brown, is called “Learning for All”. The Secretary-General will also visit the Inter-American Development Bank later in the day and meet with its President, Luis Alberto Moreno.
  • On Friday, 11 April, the Secretary-General will visit the Pentagon, where he will meet with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey.
  • In the afternoon, the Secretary-General and President Kim will participate in a number of events, including on moving towards universal health coverage by 2030, on climate change, on providing sanitation and water for all, and on inequality and shared prosperity. They also expect to meet with the heads of the multilateral development banks. The Secretary-General will return to New York later that day. 

***The guest at today’s noon briefing was Dr. Jacob Kumaresan, Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) in New York, on the occasion of World Health Day 2014.