HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 8 APRIL 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL VISITS THE HAGUE, NOTES U.N. CHEMICAL WEAPONS INVESTIGATION TEAM READY TO DEPLOY TO SYRIA
- The Secretary-General was in The Hague today, where he met with Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands. The Secretary-General and the Prime Minister exchanged views on Syria, Mali, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and successful efforts to combat piracy.
- He also met with the Dutch Foreign Minister and spoke to the press afterwards. In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) cannot continue to confront and challenge the authority of the Security Council and directly challenge the whole international community. He sincerely hoped that they will comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions.
- This morning, the Secretary-General opened the Third Review Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. He spoke to the press afterward and discussed, among other things, his meeting on Sunday with Ake Sellstrom, the head of the technical mission he has named for Syria. The Secretary-General announced today that an advance team is now on the ground in Cyprus, the final staging point to undertake the mission in Syria. He added that the UN investigation mission is now in position to deploy in Syria and that, in less than 24 hours, all technical and logistical arrangements will be in place. The United Nations is still in the process of discussing the matter with the Syrian government.
- The Secretary-General will soon be travelling to Rome, where he will meet with Pope Francis tomorrow.
SECRETARY-GENERAL EXTENDS CONDOLENCES ON DEATH OF FORMER U.K. PRIME MINISTER MARGARET THATCHER
- Speaking to reporters in The Hague, the Secretary-General called the late Margaret Thatcher a pioneering leader for her contribution to peace and security, particularly at the height of the Cold War.
- He added that she was also a great model as the first woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and he expressed his deepest condolences to the Government of the United Kingdom and to her family members.
U.N. AGENCY IN PALESTINE TO REOPEN IN GAZA STRIP
- Based on the assurances it has received from different local parties, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) will reopen its installations across the Gaza Strip effective tomorrow, Tuesday, 9 April.
- The Relief and Works Agency was forced to close its distribution and relief offices last week due to ongoing demonstrations that affected its operations, which hindered the Agency’s ability to provide much-needed services and relief supplies to Palestine refugees in Gaza.
- While the Agency understands the frustration of the population, heightened by the tightened blockade on the Gaza Strip, and it respects the right to peaceful demonstrations, the Relief and Works Agency must ensure the safety and security of its staff. It reaffirms that while it is re-opening these facilities now, if its staff or facilities are threatened or its operations are hindered by demonstrations in the future, it will again be forced to close those installations.
IRAQ: MORE THAN 200 PEOPLE KILLED IN MARCH 2013, U.N. MISSION REPORTS
- At least 229 civilians were killed and a further 853 were wounded in acts of terrorism and armed violence in Iraq during March 2013, according to the UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI). In addition, 227 members of the Iraqi security forces were killed and 300 were wounded as a result of such attacks.
- The Mission remains concerned at the rise in violence in Iraq and the increasing toll on Iraqi civilians and its detrimental impact on civilian infrastructure. Iraqis continue to suffer from attacks perpetrated by a number of terrorist groups, among them Al-Qaeda in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq.
U.N. ENVOY SAYS TENSIONS EASING BETWEEN SUDAN, SOUTH SUDAN
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan said today that the tension between Sudan and South Sudan seems to be easing.
- Hilde Johnson congratulated both countries with their agreement on the expected cross-border opening of the transfer of oil later this week. She voiced hope that this will open up a new chapter for the two countries.
- The Special Representative noted that South Sudan faces considerable security challenges. In Jonglei State, the two biggest threats to stability and security of civilians are intercommunal violence and insurgency by armed groups. She called for restraint and said that it is critical that all levels of government take measures to stop the ongoing attacks.
- Ms. Johnson said that the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has and will continue to maintain a significant military and civilian presence across Jonglei, acting with impartiality to assist the Government in protecting all communities. In accordance with its mandate, the mission will also continue to follow up on any reports of incidences where civilians are impacted or their rights violated.
- Asked about the case of James Wasserstrom, the Spokesperson said that this matter is under consideration for appeal to the United Nations Appeals Tribunal, and so he could not comment on it because it is still in litigation.
- The tenth session of the United Nations Forum on Forests is taking place today in Istanbul, Turkey, until 19 April, to consider a range of measures to improve sustainable forest management. As the only international body that addresses all forest and tree policy issues, the Forum is meeting to catalyze actions by all countries to reduce deforestation. The Secretary-General said in his message for the recently-marked International Day of Forests that forests are “vital for our well-being,” and yet, they are often at the frontlines of competing demands.