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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 15 MAY 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ENHANCED PARTNERSHIP WITH PRIVATE SECTOR TO CURB DISASTER RISK

  • At the launch of the Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction this morning, the Secretary-General said that trillions of dollars will be invested by the private sector in hazard-exposed regions in the years ahead, and such spending must address risk factors.
  • The report, which was released today, has reviewed disaster losses in 56 countries. It estimates that direct losses from disasters are in the range of $2.5 trillion and that average losses from earthquakes and wind damage from cyclones will be $189 billion per year.
  • The Secretary-General said that direct losses from floods, earthquakes and drought have been underestimated by at least 50 per cent. He also called for strong partnership with the private sector, including investment banks and insurance companies, in reducing disaster risks.
  • The Secretary-General has just participated in a meeting of the High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on Post-2015 Development, which seeks a new framework to succeed the one provided by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
  • The Secretary-General will be leaving for Russia today. On Friday, he will hold talks with President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

POLITICAL, SOCIAL AND DEVELOPMENT CHALLENGES MUST BE ADDRESSED IN MALI – BAN KI-MOON

  • The Secretary-General sent a message to the High-Level Conference on the support and development of Mali, which took place in Brussels today.
  • In the message, delivered by Rebeca Grynspan, the Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Secretary-General said that addressing the crisis in Mali goes beyond addressing security threats.  He added that it means tackling deep-rooted political, social and development challenges. 
  • He called on Mali’s leaders to work together in the framework of an inclusive national dialogue.
  • The Secretary-General also said the forthcoming establishment of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission demonstrates the commitment of the international community to help Mali lay the foundations for durable peace and security. 
  • He said Malian partners should use this opportunity to promote a sustainable and inclusive political process that will lead to improved governance, including elections -- for which resources need to be mobilized -- national cohesion and reconciliation, and long-term development.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, also attended the Conference.

U.N. ENVOY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON CHALLENGES FACING CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic, Margaret Vogt, briefed the Security Council on the report of the Secretary-General on the situation in the country.
  • In the report, the Secretary-General says that the situation is horrifying and intolerable and that the international community needs to send a strong message to Séléka leaders that there is no impunity for murder, looting, and unconstitutional changes of government.
  • The Secretary-General also calls upon the Security Council to consider sanctions and other steps against those who have committed gross human rights violations, including sexual violence against women and children.
  • Asked about African Union representation on the Security Council, the Spokesperson noted that it is for Member States to determine the composition of the Security Council.

U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF LABELS VIDEOTAPED ACTION OF SYRIAN REBEL AS ‘TRULY ATROCIOUS’

  • Asked about a video seemingly showing a Syrian rebel eating the heart of another fighter, the Spokesperson said that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has said that the video that has emerged from Syria depicts a truly atrocious act.
  • In comments made on Tuesday, she said that mutilating or desecrating corpses during a conflict is a war crime. She said it is not possible to fully authenticate the video, but she urged the armed opposition groups in Syria to do everything in their power to halt such gross crimes. They must investigate this incident along with other alleged very serious violations by opposition fighters, including acts of torture and a succession of apparent summary executions and extra-judicial killings.
  • The Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is aware of Ms. Pillay’s comments and shares her revulsion.

MYANMAR: U.N. AGENCIES MONITORING RELOCATION OF DISPLACED AHEAD OF CYCLONE’S LANDFALL

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, according to the Government of Myanmar’s Rakhine State, some 36,000 displaced people have relocated as Cyclone Mahasen approaches.
  • Humanitarian agencies report some reluctance by the uprooted to move due to a lack of understanding and fear that they will not be relocated back to the locations where they are currently living. 
  • Aid organizations in Rakhine, including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and OCHA, are monitoring as many of the relocations as possible. They are providing the uprooted with information on the storm, on the need to move to safe places and on the Government’s preparedness plan.
  • The Government in Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine, today asked community leaders of both the Rakhine and Rohingya communities to help with the relocations by explaining to the communities the need to move to safe areas.
  • UN agencies and their partners have stressed with both communities and the Government the importance of ensuring safety and the protection of people at risk.
  • For its part, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has sent additional staff to Sittwe in the past two days.
  • It is also looking to increase its preparedness in other parts of the country, such as Chin State, Mandalay region and Kachin, where strong winds and heavy rainfalls may further worsen the situation of vulnerable communities.

U.N., PARTNERS ANNOUNCE TETANUS LANDMARK

  • United Nations agencies and partners said today that a landmark has been reached in the fight against tetanus, because this disease has been eliminated in more than half of 59 priority countries.
  • The announcement came today during an annual meeting on the Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus Elimination Initiative in New York.
  • Despite the progress, more than 28 priority countries have still not reached the elimination goal.
  • Tetanus kills one newborn baby every nine minutes and almost all of these babies are born in poor families living in the most disadvantaged areas and communities. 

DESPITE FLIGHT BAN IN SOMALILAND, U.N. SEEKS TO ENSURE ITS ACTIVITIES CONTINUE UNINTERRUPTED

  • In response to a question on Somaliland, the Spokesperson said that, following notification by authorities there, all UN flights to and from Somaliland have been suspended with effect from yesterday.
  • The UN and its agencies take this development seriously and are in discussions with the relevant authorities to bring about a resolution as quickly as possible.
  • There has been no impact on UN programmes and it is our priority to ensure no interruption of support or activities. The UN welcomes the efforts to resolve this quickly.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that around 413,000 people in Somaliland need humanitarian aid, including 39,000 children who suffer from malnutrition. More than 85,000 people remain displaced due to recurrent drought and conflict. Humanitarian organizations are providing food, nutrition, shelter, water and sanitation, among other support.