HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 8 APRIL 2014
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL DEMANDS THAT WARRING PARTIES MUST PROTECT CIVILIANS, CONDEMNS KILLING OF PRIEST
In a statement issued last night, the Secretary-General demanded that the warring parties in Syria and their supporters ensure that civilians are protected, regardless of their religion, community or ethnic affiliation. Both the Syrian government and armed groups have the legal obligation and moral responsibility to do so. They must do everything to avoid and prevent violence against civilians, including indiscriminate shelling and air attacks on civilian areas.
The Secretary-General condemned the killing of an elderly priest, Father Frans van der Lugt, in Homs yesterday and expressed his concerns about continuing gross human rights violations.
- There is a belief by too many in Syria and beyond that this conflict can be won militarily. More violence will only bring more suffering and instability to Syria and sow chaos in the region.
- The Secretary-General again urges all Syrians and their outside supporters to put a stop to this conflict, now. For the sake of families and communities across Syria, the Secretary-General appeals to all sides to permit immediately the unfettered access of humanitarian assistance and workers.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME REACHED RECORD 4 MILLION PEOPLE IN SYRIA IN MARCH
- The World Food Programme (WFP) provided assistance to a record 4 million people in Syria last month but it says, in a special report published today, that a potential drought would strain the country’s already fragile food security situation.
- The World Food Programme’s food security analysts say that rainfall since September has been less than half the long-term average, and will have a major impact on the next cereal harvest. With three-quarters of the rainfall season gone, it is unlikely that there will be a significant recovery in this agricultural season.
- According to current rainfall data, the worst-affected governorates account for close to 50 percent of Syrian wheat production.
U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN URGES PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES TO RESPECT ELECTORAL INSTITUTIONS
- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today urged the candidates in the country’s Presidential elections, as well as their supporters, to respect the work of the two national electoral institutions as vote counting continues.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, called on the candidates and their supporters to await the release of official results. He also counselled them against making premature announcements based on unofficial counts, which could lead to confusion.
- And in a separate statement, the UN Mission in Afghanistan strongly condemned an attack in the southern province of Kandahar, which killed 15 civilians and injured another five through the use of an improvised explosive device (PP-IED). The Mission says that the use of such illegal and indiscriminate explosive devices may amount to a war crime.
U.N. GREAT LAKES ENVOY VISITS EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- Today, Mary Robinson, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes region, is visiting Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- During her visit, she was expected to meet with provincial authorities, civil society actors and women's groups, as well as UN leadership to discuss ways to further advance the implementation of the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework.
- This Framework was signed one year ago by all the countries of the Great Lakes region to address the root causes of instability in eastern DRC.
U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON SYRIA, SOUTH SUDAN
- Navi Pillay, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, is briefing the Security Council today in its closed consultations.
- The topics were expected to include Syria, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, Mali and Libya.
- Asked about unrest in eastern Ukraine, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the heightened instability in eastern Ukraine. 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 whether Iran’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations would obtain a US visa, the Spokesperson said that is a bilateral matter between those two countries. Regarding further questions about visas, he noted that the Host Country Agreement, including Article IV, sections 11-13, deals with that matter.
- Asked about elections in Egypt, the Spokesperson said he was not aware of any UN role in monitoring those elections.
- Asked about the mistakes made by the United Nations during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had said in Rwanda this week that the United Nations could and should have done better. He said that the United Nations commissioned reports to learn from the failings of Rwanda and Srebrenica so that it could ensure that it could do better in the future.