HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 15 MAY 2014
U.N. MISSION WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF ELECTION RESULTS IN AFGHANISTAN
- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed today’s announcement of the final results of the 5 April Presidential elections.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, commended all the candidates on a hard-fought but positive campaign. With no outright winner declared by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the first round, Mr. Kubiš called upon the candidates to display respect for the results and statesmanship as the process moves on to a second round run-off.
- The UN Mission notes that the process leading up to the elections represented an improvement over past votes. It also acknowledges the efforts made by Afghanistan’s two electoral institutions to increase transparency in polling, the counting of votes and the handling of complaints.
- The Mission now stresses the importance of cooperation between electoral institutions and candidates in the run-up to the second round of polling, in order to safeguard national unity and stability.
HIGH-LEVEL REPRESENTATIVE WRAPS UP VISIT TO NIGERIA
- Said Djinnit, who was sent as a High-Level Representative by the Secretary-General to Nigeria, concluded a four-day visit to the country today.
- During that visit, he met with President Goodluck Jonathan and other senior Government officials including the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Defense and the Minister of Justice as well as the Attorney General.
- He reiterated the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation of the abduction last month of innocent girls in Chibok, and added that the United Nations is committed to do its utmost within its capacity to assist the authorities of Nigeria in their efforts towards the release of the school girls. As part of its assistance, the United Nations has initiated the preparation of an Integrated Support Package that includes immediate support to the affected families, the population and the girls after their release.
- Mr. Djinnit also expressed the United Nation’s deep concern at the lingering insecurity in the North East part of Nigeria and the UN’s support to Nigeria’s efforts to restore security in the affected areas while stressing the importance of due respect for human rights.
COMMISSIONER GENERAL EXPRESSES CONCERN FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES IN SYRIA
- The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, said that Palestine refugees in Syria face extreme hardship as a result of the ongoing armed conflict.
- His comments came on his first visit to Syria as Commissioner-General, to see for himself the suffering of the Palestine refugees and call advocate for expanded humanitarian access.
- The Commissioner-General said that, as another generation of Palestinians experiences the trauma of displacement, their situation has become, in human terms, nothing short of catastrophic and yet is often being overlooked.
- In response to questions, the Spokesman reiterated the UN’s concerns about the use of barrel bombs in Syria and other armaments that disproportionately harm civilians.
SECRETARY-GENERAL RETURNS TO NEW YORK FROM SWEDEN TRIP
- The Secretary-General returned to New York today after participating in the opening ceremony of the Global Forum on Migration and Development in Stockholm.
- Following the ceremony, he met with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and with the US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Anne Richard.
HALF OF YEMEN’S POPULATION NEEDS HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
- In Yemen, 14.7 million people - over half the population - need some form of humanitarian aid this year. Ten and a half million Yemenis are food insecure, 13 million have no access to clean water or adequate sanitation and 8.6 million have no health assistance, including reproductive health services.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, said today that the international community needs to come forward with substantial funding to implement the 2014 response plan for Yemen, which remains alarmingly under-funded. Only 18 percent of the US$591.6 million needed for 2014 has so far been secured.
W.H.O. SAYS PEOPLE ARE LIVING LONGER ON AVERAGE
- The World Health Organization (WHO) says in a report that people everywhere are living longer.
- On average, a child born in 2012 will live six years longer than a child born in 1990.
- WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said that a key reason why global life expectancy has improved so much is that fewer children are dying before their fifth birthday.
- But she noted that there is still a major rich-poor divide, with people in high-income countries continuing to have a much better chance of living longer than people in low-income countries.
- Wherever they live in the world, women live longer than men. Women in Japan have the longest life expectancy in the world, while men in Iceland live the longest.
HIGH COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF PEOPLE WITH ALBINISM
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called today for increased protection for people with albinism, after the murder of a 40-year-old woman in north-western Tanzania on 12 May.
- According to police reports, Munghu Lugata was brutally murdered Monday night at her home in north-western Tanzania. Her attackers chopped off her left leg above the knee, two of her fingers and the upper part of her left thumb, apparently while she was still alive.
- These attacks, which are often motivated by the use of body parts for ritual purposes, have claimed the lives of at least 73 people with albinism in Tanzania since 2000.
- Pillay said the killing sadly demonstrated that the human rights situation of people with albinism in Tanzania and other countries remains dire.
- She said that all over the world, people with albinism continue to face attacks or suffer terrible discrimination, stigma and social exclusion. The UN Human Rights Office has received reports of more than 200 cases of attacks against people with albinism in 15 countries between 2000 and 2013, but it is believed the actual number could be much higher.
- The Security Council is holding an open debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) today. The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Valentin Inzko, presented his latest report on the implementation of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement.
- Asked about South Sudan, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had called on the leaders there to live up to their commitments. He noted the problems caused by the recent fighting there in allowing UN peacekeepers and humanitarian workers to obtain access to some parts of the country.
- Asked about human rights in Bahrain, the Spokesman said that the United Nations would expect the authorities in Bahrain to live up to the country’s commitments on human rights and freedom of religion.
- Asked about UN-marked helicopters seen in Ukraine, the Spokesman reiterated that the United Nations has contacted the Ukrainian authorities and relayed its concerns about making sure that contingent-owned equipment provided by troop contributing countries are used in accordance with the Letters of Assist agreed to with those countries.
- Asked about Thailand, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has noted the violence of the past days and was monitoring events with concern. He said that the United Nations hopes that all sides will show utmost restraint and respect for democracy, the rule of law and human rights.