HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 16 MAY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET WITH RUSSIAN PRESIDENT PUTIN AND FOREIGN MINISTER LAVROV BEFORE VISITING MOZAMBIQUE
- The Secretary-General arrived in the Russian Federation earlier on Thursday.
- He is now in Sochi on Russia's Black Sea coast, and on Friday he is scheduled to meet President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov there.
- After his visit to Russia ends on 19 May, the Secretary-General will travel to Mozambique.
- During his stay in the capital Maputo, the Secretary-General will hold talks with Mozambican Government officials, including President Armando Guebuza and Foreign Minister Oldemiro Baloi.
- He will also participate in a roundtable event on “The Future we Want – Millennium Development Goals’ Post 2015 and Agenda 2025” and will visit a school on the theme of UNiTE to end Violence Against Women and Girls Campaign, Education and Youth.
- The Secretary-General will conclude his visit to Mozambique on 22 May.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS WITH PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU AND PRESIDENT ABBAS
- In the past two days, the Secretary-General had phone conversations with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas. They discussed the Middle East Peace Process and the situation on the ground, including in East Jerusalem. The Secretary-General strongly encouraged the ongoing efforts toward the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and expressed his hope that they will lead to a substantial peace initiative soon. He stressed the importance for the parties to create the conditions conducive to a resumption of meaningful negotiations.
- Regarding recent tensions in East Jerusalem, and more particularly restrictions of access to Muslim and Christian holy sites, the Secretary-General conveyed his concerns to the Israeli authorities, urging Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law. The Secretary-General stressed to both leaders the importance of respect for the religious freedom of all, and that worshippers of all faiths should have access to their holy sites.
- With regard to the regional situation, the Secretary-General reiterated that all should act responsibly and abide by international law to prevent escalation.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REMAINS CONCERNED OVER CONTINUED VIOLENCE IN NORTH-EASTERN NIGERIA
- In response to questions on Wednesday about the declaration of a State of Emergency in parts of Nigeria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is aware of the decision by the Nigerian Government to declare a State of Emergency in three north-eastern States of Nigeria.
- The Secretary-General has been and remains very concerned about the continued violence and the deteriorating security situation in north-eastern Nigeria, which poses a threat to national peace and security. He calls on all extremist groups to cease their attacks.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his firm conviction that no objective can ever justify such use of violence. He underscores the need for all concerned to fully respect human rights and to safeguard the lives of all Nigerians.
U.N. REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ WELCOMES RELOCATION OF CAMP LIBERTY RESIDENTS TO ALBANIA
- Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, welcomed the relocation of a first group of 14 Camp Liberty residents to Albania. He said the arrival on Wednesday night of the residents was an encouraging first step in the relocation of the group of 210 residents that the Albanian Government has agreed to receive.
- He thanked the Government of Albania and encouraged other Member States to come forward and to receive residents in their countries, as well.
U.N. COORDINATOR FOR YEMEN SAYS STABILITY MAY COLLAPSE IF HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IS NOT ADDRESSED
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, said on Thursday at a press conference in Geneva that stability in Yemen may collapse if the humanitarian crisis in the country is not properly addressed.
- Over half of the population of Yemen needs humanitarian assistance, including 10 million people who do not have enough to eat and 6 million who do not have access to basic health care. There are also more than 340,000 internally displaced people in Yemen.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator said that 1 million children suffer from acute malnutrition and that more than 15,000 of them are so malnourished that they may die if they don't receive immediate assistance.
- Eighty-nine humanitarian organizations are working in Yemen to help 7.7 million vulnerable people across the country. However, the humanitarian appeal for this year, which requires $716 million, is only 28 per cent funded.
CYCLONE MAHASEN DOWNGRADED TO TROPICAL STORM, U.N. RELIEF AGENCY SAYS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that Tropical Cyclone Mahasen has been downgraded to a tropical storm, as it has weakened in the past 24 hours.
- In Bangladesh, an estimated 1 million people were evacuated on Wednesday night and Thursday morning ahead of the storm, which made landfall north of Chittagong. The UN is committed to working with the Government to provide support.
- In Myanmar, while the storm has moved further away from the country, rain is still expected.
- Aid organizations have some 250 staff on standby to respond.
- The Government estimates that nearly 78,000 people in Rakhine State have been relocated.
- Assessment teams are expected to visit affected areas as soon as possible after the storm subsides. Monitoring continued on Thursday at various camps, and community leaders, religious leaders and international aid organizations are working together to help alleviate the concerns of people who have been resistant to moving to safer areas.
U.N. HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CONTINUES TO GATHER INFORMATION ON DEATH TOLL IN SYRIA
- Asked about the death toll in Syria, the Spokesperson noted that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights continues to gather information on the mounting death toll and that its figures might rise.
- Asked about the progress in getting the chemical weapons team into Syria, the Spokesperson said that discussions continue on getting approval for the team to work in Syria.
SOUTH SUDAN: SITUATION IN PIBOR REMAINS TENSE
- Asked about the situation in Pibor, in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that it remains tense.
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has a full time presence in Pibor and is continuously monitoring the security situation, particularly in respect to the few remaining residents.
- The mission is prepared to assist and protect civilians under threat in the current period as well preparing to assist and protect should residents decide to return to their homes.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON SANCTIONS COMMITTEES: The Security Council held consultations this morning on the work of its sanctions committee dealing with resolution 1718, concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the one dealing with sanctions in Sudan.
ELECTED GOVERNMENT NEEDED IN MALI FOR CHANGES IN PROGRESS: Asked about elections in Mali, the Spokesperson noted the need for an elected government there in order to accommodate the changes that are under way and added the need to preserve the country’s territorial integrity.