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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

TUESDAY, 9 APRIL 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH POPE FRANCIS, URGES D.P.R.K. TO REFRAIN FROM PROVOCATIVE RHETORIC

  • The Secretary-General met in the Vatican with His Holiness Pope Francis on Tuesday. He said afterwards that they had discussed the need to advance social justice and accelerate work to meet the Millennium Development Goals.  The Secretary-General added that he was very heartened by the commitment of Pope Francis to build bridges among communities of faith.
  • The Secretary-General also held meetings in Rome on Tuesday with the Italian President and Prime Minister and the speakers of both houses.
  • In a press encounter in Rome, the Secretary-General was asked about the situation in the Korean Peninsula.  He said that, if any small incident were to occur, it may create an uncontrollable situation. 
  • He has urged the authorities in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to refrain from provocative rhetoric and has urged the countries concerned with the Korean Peninsula to exercise their influence.
  • Asked about Syria, the Secretary-General noted the report that the Syrian Government does not agree to his proposed investigation on the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General has not received any official communication on this matter from the Syrian Government.
  • He regretted that the Government of Syria has not yet agreed to the modalities he has proposed for the Mission to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons at locations within Syria. The Secretary-General appealed to the Government of Syria to extend its fullest cooperation, and to allow the investigation to proceed.
  • Asked about Syria’s position on the technical mission, the Spokesperson reaffirmed that the United Nations was awaiting an official notification from Syria.

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS KILLING OF U.N. STAFF IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Secretary-General is appalled by the attack on an UNMISS convoy on Tuesday morning. He condemns in the strongest terms the killing of five Indian peacekeepers, two UNMISS national staff and five civilian staff contractors in Gumuruk, Jonglei state, South Sudan. Nine other colleagues were also injured in the attack, and some are in critical condition.
  • He calls on the Government of South Sudan to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice. He recalls that the killing of peacekeepers is a war crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
  • The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the Governments of India and South Sudan and to the families of the peacekeepers, staff members and contractors killed in the attack.
  • The Security Council also issued a press statement condemning the attack.

U.N. CONTINUES TO DELIVER AID TO MILLIONS IN SYRIA DESPITE ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE

  • UN agencies and partners continue to deliver aid to millions of people despite the escalation of violence in Syria. The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that some 1.2 million houses have been damaged or destroyed, representing around one third of the housing stock in Syria. Nearly 20 per cent of all schools across Syria have been damaged, destroyed or are being used as shelters for internally displaced people.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) reached about 2 million people with food assistance in March, up from some 1.7 million in February. Meanwhile, a UN inter-agency convoy led by UNICEF delivered measles, mumps and rubella vaccines for about half a million children in Aleppo. The convoy also delivered health supplies to over 30,000 people.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) provided emergency medical supplies and medicine, covering the basic primary health care needs of 80,000 people in northern Syria. And the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) provided essential items such as blankets, quilts, mattresses, diapers, jerry cans, winter clothes and plastic sheeting to cover the needs of 37,000 people in Homs, Damascus and Rural Damascus.

U.N. OFFICIALS VISITS NEWLY-OPENED CENTRE FOR REGISTRATION OF SYRIAN REFUGEES

  • Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon and Ninette Kelley, the Representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Lebanon, visited a newly-opened UNHCR centre in Tyre on Tuesday for the registration of Syrian refugees. The centre is intended to help accelerate registration in south Lebanon, where over 60,000 people are currently registered or seeking registration.  The Refugee Agency already runs registration centres in north Lebanon, the Bekaa and Beirut.
  • At a meeting with the press at the end of their visit, Mr. Plumbly and Ms. Kelley praised the hospitality shown by the people of the south to the refugees. They also said that, with more than 400,000 Syrian refugees already registered or seeking registration in Lebanon, such assistance was heavily dependent on the urgent disbursement of donor funds.

U.N. ENVOY SAYS WOMEN IN SAHEL WERE INTRUMENTAL IN STABILIZING THE REGION

  • The Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, has convened a conference on women's leadership in the Sahel on Tuesday in Brussels, along with the Acting Head of UN Women, Lakshmi Puri, and the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.
  • More than 40 participants from the region underlined the crucial contributions of women to economic recovery, political stability and conflict prevention. They also looked at ways to enhance their role in these areas.
  • Mr. Prodi said that the women of the Sahel were instrumental in putting the region on a path to stability. He said he wanted to tap into women's potential to accelerate progress in the Sahel.
  • While in Brussels, Mr. Prodi also met with the European Union Special Envoy for the Sahel, Michel Reveyrand-De Menthon, and on Monday he met with the Foreign Affairs Commission of the EU Parliament.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS THERE HAVE BEEN 24 CONFIRMED CASES OF INFLUENZA H7N9 IN CHINA

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) said that there have now been notifications of 24 confirmed cases of influenza H7N9 in China, including seven deaths.
  • Close contacts of the infected are being monitored, although there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transition.
  • The source of the investigation is being investigated, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has teams on the ground carrying out extensive testing of animal species.

ENVOY FOR TALKS BETWEEN GREECE AND FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA HOLDS MEETINGS ON “NAME” ISSUE

  • Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, spoke to reporters on Tuesday after meeting with Representatives of both sides here at UN Headquarters.
  • Ambassador Nimetz held meetings with the Representatives – separately and jointly – on Monday and Tuesday with the purpose of continuing the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" issue.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND REPORTS ARRIVAL OF RELIEF SUPPLIES IN BANGUI

  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that a special chartered flight carrying over 23 tonnes of essential drugs, obstetric supplies and water tanks arrived yesterday in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.  
  • The consignment represents one of the first significant deliveries of relief supplies to the country following recent weeks of insecurity and looting in which hospitals and health facilities incurred serious losses of medical supplies, equipment and furnishings. 
  • The UN Children’s Fund said that the emergency medical kits carried on this flight will be used to treat about 200,000 people affected by the conflict for the next three months.

SPOKESPERSON NOTES U.N. ETHICS OFFICE’S CLEAR PROCEDURES FOR RETALIATION CASE FOR WHISTLEBLOWERS

  • In response to questions concerning the UN treatment of whistleblowers, the Spokesperson noted that in 2011, the UN Ethics Office assessed its retaliation case review procedures to ensure clear and structured case review practices.  Based on that assessment, the Ethics Office has established clear procedures for each step of a retaliation case, from the initial complaint stage to final case determination. 
  • Del Buey said that for those retaliation cases referred by the Ethics Office to the Office of Independent Oversight Services (OIOS) for formal investigation, the Ethics Office independently reviews the completed OIOS investigation report.  The Ethics Office reviews the evidence OIOS obtained, including relevant witness statements, as necessary.  The Ethics Office may return investigation reports to OIOS for additional clarification to ensure the evidentiary standards under ST/SGB/2005/21 are met.
  • Once the Ethics Office is satisfied that a full investigation has been completed, it makes an independent and final determination as to whether retaliation has been established.
  • If retaliation has been established, the Spokesperson added, the Ethics Office makes final recommendations for corrective action to the relevant head of office and the Under-Secretary General for Management.   

**The guest at the Noon Briefing was Ms. Margaret Vogt, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA) via teleconference. She briefed reporters on developments in the Central African Republic, following consultations in the Security Council.