HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 1 MAY 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP ASIA TRIP AFTER MEETING WITH AUNG SAN SUU KYI
- On Tuesday, the Secretary-General travelled from Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw to the city of Yangon in the morning.
- His first stop in Yangon was at the home of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
- Following their meeting, the Secretary-General spoke to the press. The Secretary-General congratulated her on her election to parliament and on the great success of her party.
- He stressed the importance of compromise and reconciliation. He noted that working together, they have already come far.
- The Secretary-General said that the government of Myanmar and its people have embarked on a path of reform, democratization and development to build a better future for all. They deserve our full support.
- The Secretary-General also met with civil society and ethnic groups, and also attended the launch of a Global Compact network for Myanmar on the theme, “Promoting Responsible Business – Toward Job Creation and Sustainable Development.”
- Asked about a speech given to parliamentarians in Myanmar, the Deputy Spokesperson said each country has its own national context, history and perspective. Myanmar is coming out of a long dictatorship, and is working towards democratisation.
- The Secretary-General thought it was interesting to share some of his ideas with the legislators in the Myanmar parliament. Del Buey added that the Secretary-General was the first foreign dignitary to address the Parliament and that his speech was well received.
U.N. ENVOY URGES PROTECTION OF CHILDREN FROM VIOLENCE IN SYRIA
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, is alarmed by yet another wave of extreme violence killing and injuring children across Syria.
- Since a truce was agreed on 12 April between the Syrian Government and the opposition, and despite the deployment of United Nations ceasefire monitors, more than 34 children have allegedly been killed.
- In addition, a series of suicide attacks which rocked Damascus and Idlib resulted in further child causalities. The bombings have exacerbated the security situation in Syria and exposed children to an even greater risk.
- She urged all parties in Syria to refrain from indiscriminate tactics resulting in the killing and wounding of children. She reminded us that it is the responsibility and humanitarian imperative of all parties to protect and prevent unnecessary suffering of girls and boys.
U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT SOMALIA PEACE PROCESS
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, along with the Special representative of the African Union Commission for Somalia and the Facilitator for Somalia of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have addressed a letter to the parties in the country.
- In it, the AU, the UN, and the IGAD express their great concern that the Roadmap continues to be jeopardized by the actions of individuals and groups in and out of Somalia.
- They also warn that non compliance with the Roadmap or active obstruction of it will be referred to the IGAD Council of Ministers with recommendations for the immediate imposition of specific measures.
- And also on Somalia, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said on Tuesday that while famine conditions no longer existed, almost one third of Somalis were still unable to meet their essential food and non-food needs, including 325,000 acutely malnourished children.
- UNICEF says that working in parts of Somalia and reaching children remained challenging. The agency also says that its $289 million dollars appeal for 2012 is just 12 per cent funded and that if the money is not found urgently, programmes in sectors such as water, health, nutrition, education and protection will have to be cut.
U.N. URGES CAMBODIA TO INVESTIGATE KILLING OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS
- On Tuesday, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that it was saddened by the news that two human rights defenders had been shot and killed in south-western Cambodia.
- Mr. Chut Wutty was an outspoken environmental activist who worked fearlessly to expose illegal logging and corruption in Cambodia; and Mr. In Rattana had been a member of the Royal Cambodian Gendarmerie.
- The exact circumstances of the shootings remained unclear. The OHCHR office in Phnom Penh was investigating the incident, having dispatched a team two hours after the killing had taken place.
- OHCHR was very concerned that the killing of Mr. Wutty marked the latest and most lethal in a series of gun attacks on human rights defenders in Cambodia. Since the start of 2012, the OHCHR office in Cambodia had investigated four other cases, involving the use of live ammunition against communities and human rights defenders which had resulted in a number of injuries.
- OHCHR urged the Royal Government of Cambodia to ensure that a full civilian judicial investigation proceeded speedily and with the utmost probity and independence. OHCHR would continue to monitor the process.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES SEND EMERGENCY SUPPORT TO THE COMOROS ISLANDS
- United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have sent emergency support to the Comoros Islands, where the Government has declared a State of Emergency following torrential rains and flash flooding.
- The islands, which lie between Madagascar and Mozambique, have been battered by torrential rains since 20 April, causing heavy floods, landslides and rockslides. Nearly 50,000 people have been affected; Over 9,000 people have been displaced.
- According to OCHA, local electricity supplies and telephone lines have been cut and communications have been severely affected. Also, delivery of humanitarian aid has been seriously hindered due to lack of access to the affected areas.
- A seven-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team from OCHA has arrived in Comoros. They will support UN agencies, national authorities and other responders in finding out what is needed to help people in the disaster-stricken areas of the three islands.
U.N. CLARIFIES MISSION’S ROLE IN SEIZING A SHIP WITH ILLEGAL WEAPONS REPORTEDLY HEADING TO SYRIA
- In response to a question about the role of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in the seizure of a ship with illegal weapons reportedly heading to Syria, the Deputy Spokesperson stressed that UNIFIL operates only in the framework of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701.
- Under its mandate and as per the request of the Lebanese government, the mission assists the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Navy in preventing the unauthorized entry of arms or related material by sea into Lebanon. In providing such assistance, UNIFIL’s role is limited to monitoring the maritime traffic and hailing all vessels within the Area of Maritime Operations.
- Any suspicious vessel identified by UNIFIL is referred to LAF Navy for further action. UNIFIL does not have the authority to board or inspect any vessel, or to investigate any such cases, which remains the sole prerogative of the Lebanese authorities.
- This is exactly how UNIFIL acted in this particular case. The ship in question was hailed by UNIFIL and all relevant information relating to it was provided to the Lebanese Navy.
U.N.: THOUSANDS OF SOUTHERNERS STRANDED IN SUDAN
- In response to a question about the South Sudanese waiting for transport to South Sudan in Kosti, the Deputy Spokesperson quoted the International Organization for Migration and said that 12,000-15,000 South Sudanese were currently stranded at the Kosti way station, 200 kilometers south of Khartoum, many of whom had been waiting many months for transport to South Sudan.
- The IOM was very concerned following an announcement by the Governor of Sudan’s White Nile State that these persons must leave by 5 May.
- These people were dependent on assistance from the international community for food, health care and other essential services, and it was impossible to provide them with transport within this timeframe.
- The IOM has urged the Government of Sudan to grant more time for the international community to work with Federal and State-level authorities to help the South Sudanese in Kosti, who have clearly manifested their wish to leave Sudan, to move to South Sudan in safety and dignity.
- Asked whether the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) would like to have anti-aircraft missiles, del Buey said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, said she did not have the tools to stop aerial bombardments. She mentioned the fact specifically that they had no ground-to-air missiles to stop planes on bombing raids. It was a statement of fact, he added, not a request.
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