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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 16 MAY 2014

 

U.N. REPORT SAYS HUMAN RIGHT SITUATION IS DETERIORATING ALARMINGLY IN EASTERN UKRAINE

  • The human rights situation in eastern Ukraine is deteriorating alarmingly, according to a new UN report released today.
  • High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, called on those with influence on the armed groups responsible for much of the violence in eastern Ukraine to do their utmost to rein in these men who seem bent on tearing the country apart.
  • She also noted that there are serious problems emerging in Crimea, especially in relation to the Crimean Tatars.
  • This new report, covering the period from 2 April to 6 May, is the second to be produced by the UN human rights monitoring mission, which is based in five Ukrainian cities.
  • Speaking to reporters in Kyiv today, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic said that he has discussed the report and its recommendations with Government officials, the Ombudsperson and civil society representatives.
  • He said that he has stressed that it is critical for the Government to react immediately to the recommendations in order to contribute to the de-escalation of tensions ahead of the planned presidential elections.
  • The next report is scheduled to be released in June.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s views on the report, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had been pleased by the team’s quick deployment. He added that the Secretary-General has expressed his concerns about many of the problems outlined in the report.
  • Asked about the UN monitors, Dujarric said that they will continue their work and that their next report is expected in June. There are no UN monitors in Crimea at this point.

NEW DISPLACEMENT IN CENTRE-NORTH OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • From the Central African Republic, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that the recent intensification of conflict in the centre-north has led to new displacement.
  • As of the beginning of May, more than 23,000 people were displaced in the Kaga Bandoro area, a near doubling from the level of a month earlier. With further fighting in the past week more people had to flee their homes.
  • The Refugee Agency says most of the displaced are Christians, mainly women and children who urgently need physical protection, food, non-food items, water and sanitation.
  • UNHCR, with other UN agencies, is providing shelters and non-food assistance, including tarpaulins, blankets, mats, kitchen sets, buckets and jerry cans.
  • The Agency also says that there is new displacement in the northwest of the country. The Refugee Agency has registered 2,445 displaced people in Paoua in Ouham Pendé prefecture following an attack in early May on a nearby village.

UNICEF: MORE THAN 1,000 C.A.R. CHILDREN WERE RELEASED FROM ARMED GROUPS SINCE BEGINNING OF YEAR

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), says that it has secured, with its partners, the release of more than 1,000 children detained by armed groups so far this year in the Central African Republic. That’s more than five times the total number of children released in 2013.
  • Since the violence in the country escalated in December last year, the estimated number of child soldiers in the Central African Republic has nearly doubled from 3,500 to around 6,000. 
  • Children in the Central African Republic have been used by all parties to the conflict not only as combatants, but also as cooks, porters and guards. Of the children released this year, one in five are girls.

SUDAN: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT PREGNANT WOMAN SENTENCED TO DEATH

  • From Sudan, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it is deeply concerned about the situation of Meriam Ibrahim, the 27-year-old pregnant Sudanese woman who was sentenced to 100 lashes and to death by Sudan’s Criminal Court on Thursday.
  • The Office says it is concerned about the physical and mental well-being of Ms. Ibrahim, who is in her eighth month of pregnancy; and also of her 20-month-old son, who is detained with her at the Omdurman’s Women Prison near Khartoum, reportedly in harsh conditions.
  • It urges the Sudanese Government to meet its obligations under international law to protect the right to freedom of religion, which is enshrined in Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which Sudan has ratified. That article states that “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom of worship.”

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN REITERATES CALLS TO ALL PARTIES FOR UNHINDERED FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that its patrol was stopped in Bentiu on Thursday by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and asked to return to its base despite receiving clearances earlier. Similarly, another patrol was stopped on the road to Mayom town.
  • The Mission is concerned over these violations of the Status of Forces Agreement, as signed between the Mission and the Government, and calls on all parties to ensure unhindered freedom of movement of UN and humanitarian workers so they can continue to undertake their work.
  • The Mission is also concerned over rising tensions in and around the protection of civilians’ site in Bentiu as well as over reports of violence within the site. The UN continues to protect some 23,000 civilians at that site.
  • In Upper Nile State, the Mission on Thursday heard signs of gunfire and mortars in Abukhadra, close to Renk but it says the situation there remains calm today.
  • UNMISS once again urges both sides to implement immediately the "Agreement to Resolve the Crisis in South", including ceasing all hostilities and provocative actions.
  • The Spokesman said that despite the commitment from the authorities to release all equipment belonging to Ghanaian peacekeepers, there was a delay in receiving clearances from the Government on their movement.
  • The issue has now been resolved, clearances secured and the movement will take place shortly.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO CO-CHAIR DONOR CONFERENCE FOR SOUTH SUDAN IN OSLO

  • The U.N. Humanitarian Chief, Valerie Amos, is scheduled to co-chair a high-level humanitarian pledging conference for South Sudan, taking place in Oslo, Norway, on 20 May. That’s next Tuesday.
  • Norway is hosting the conference in cooperation with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The other co-chair is the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Børge Brende.
  • Increased international support is urgently needed now to scale up humanitarian action. More than four million people - out of a total population of 11.5 million - are facing acute food insecurity as people have not been able to cultivate their crops because of the conflict. Experts warn that some areas of South Sudan could risk famine unless adequate humanitarian assistance is delivered.

MYANMAR: U.N. CONCERNED BY INCREASED INSECURITY AND DIFFICULTIES IN ACCESS TO POPULATION IN NEED

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that relief organizations remain seriously concerned by increased insecurity and the displacement of thousands of people in recent weeks in Myanmar’s southern Kachin State and northern Shan State.
  • Fighting between the Myanmar Army and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) broke out last month in southern Kachin State. Humanitarian access has become increasingly difficult and there are concerns about the protection of civilians trapped along the borders of China, Kachin State and Shan State.
  • Aid agencies are urging all parties to cease all hostilities close to villages as well as camps for the internally displaced.
  • The head of OCHA in Myanmar, Mark Cutts, said he is pleased that international organizations have been able to conduct periodic joint missions across frontlines more regularly since September 2013. But he said that in the long run, we need full and sustained access by international actors to all affected communities to adequately support the response of local relief workers.

SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENDS INDIA FOR PEACEFUL CONDUCT OF ELECTION

  • Asked about India’s elections, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General commends the Indian Government, people and political parties for the peaceful conduct of the general election. 
  • The Secretary-General believes that, although final results are still pending, the conclusion of the exercise today demonstrates once again that India’s popular designation as the world’s largest democracy is well deserved.

UNICEF DIRECTOR WRAPS UP FIVE-DAY VISIT IN CHINA

  • UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake ended a five-day trip to China today, and he commended the Government of China for its commitment to address socio-economic disparities facing the country. He also discussed with the Government the continued need to place a priority on reducing inequity, especially for children in the remotest corners of the country. 
  • Mr. Lake’s visit included meetings with senior Government officials, as well as to schools in Yunnan Province to understand the dramatic progress the country has made for its 279 million children, which make up 15 percent of the world’s child population. 
  • In the last two decades China has witnessed massive reduction in poverty, a 75 percent reduction in under-five child mortality and primary school enrolment rates of almost 100 per cent.

SECRETARY-GENERAL AND SECURITY COUNCIL WELCOME RESULTS OF AFGHANISTAN’S PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

  • In separate statements on Thursday, the Secretary-General and the members of the Security Council welcomed the announcement of the certified final results of the 5 April Afghan Presidential elections.
  • The Secretary-General said that the Afghan-led elections mark an important step towards peaceful political transition in the country.
  • The members of the Security Council said that they look forward to the next steps of the electoral process and the continued orderly transition to a new administration.

HAITI: U.N. STILL WORKING HARD AGAINST CHOLERA

  • Asked about cholera in Haiti, the Spokesman said that the United Nations is working hard to address the situation, including through efforts to improve access to clean water and to health clinic

WORLD TELECOMMUNICATION AND INFORMATION SOCIETY DAY: SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS TO BRIDGE DIGITAL DIVIDE

  • Saturday is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.
  • In his message for the Day, the Secretary-General notes that, as the ITU approaches its 150th anniversary next year, we should work together to bridge the digital divide and harness the power of technology to create a better and more sustainable future for all. 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
17 MAY
- 23 MAY 2014


(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 17 May

Today is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.

The Secretary-General will depart New York for a visit to Beijing and Shanghai, China.

Monday, 19 May

In New York, the Security Council will hear a briefing on Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS).

The General Assembly will meet in the Trusteeship Council Chamber at 10 a.m. on “Interactions between the UN, national parliaments and the Inter-Parliamentary Union”.

The 18th session of the High-level Committee on South-South Cooperation will begin in Conference Room 3 and the Committee on NGO will resume in Conference Room 1.

At 1:30 p.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on the World Conference and Human Rights.

The Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) will launch the R!SE Initiative in the Library Auditorium from 03 p.m. to 04.45 p.m.

In Geneva, the World Health Organization will hold its 67th World Health Assembly.
At 10 a.m., there will be a press conference of Corinne Vargha, ILO's Chief of the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work Branch, and Beate Andrees, Head of the ILO Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour, to launch a report on "Profits and Poverty: The Economics of Forced Labour".

Tuesday, 20 May

In New York, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the Middle East.

At the Noon Briefing, in the press briefing room, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly will outline the upcoming High-level event of the General Assembly (see programme for Wednesday).

This will be followed by a briefing on newborn survival from Lancet’s ‘Every Newborn Series’, with Dr. Kim Eva Dickson, UNICEF Senior Adviser of Maternal and Newborn Health and co-author, and Professor Joy Lawn of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, lead author of the series.

In Shanghai, the Secretary-General will participate in the opening ceremony of the Fourth Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).

In Geneva, UNITAID will launch its 2013 Annual Report at 9.30 a.m. Speakers will be Dr Arthur Chioro, Minister of Health of Brazil; Dr Philippe Douste-Blazy, Chairman of UNITAID Executive Board and UN Under Secretary-General in charge of Innovative Financing for Development, and Dr Philippe Duneton, Executive Director a.i. of UNITAID.

Still in Geneva, at 11.30 a.m., the 2013 UNRWA Annual Health Report will be launched with a press conference by Dr Akihiro Seita, UNRWA Director of Health.

Wednesday, 21 May

Today is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.

In New York, the General Assembly will hold a two-day High-level event on “Contributions of South-South, North-South and Triangular Cooperation and information and communication technologies for development to the post-2015 development agenda”.

At 11:00 a.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) on the mid-year update of the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP).

At 11 a.m., in Conference Room 2, a panel discussion on a “Guidance Note on Attacks against Schools and Hospitals” will be organized by the Office for Children and Armed Conflict.

In Conference Room B, from 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m., there will be a lecture organized by the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein on “Invest in Women for Peace: Conflict Prevention and Women’s Participation in Ukraine”.

Thursday, 22 May

Today is International Day for Biological Diversity.

In New York, the Security Council will meet on the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA) and hear a briefing on the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM).

From 10 a.m. to 01 p.m., in Conference Room 2, there will be a High-Level Donor Conference to Support Transnational Organized Crime Units under the West Africa Coast Initiative (WACI), followed by a press conference, at 1:00 p.m., of Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC and Said Djinnit, SRSG and Head of the UN Office for West Africa.

At 2:00 p.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference by the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues on the Closing of its 13th Session.

Friday, 23 May

Today is International Day to End Obstetric Fistula.

In New York, the General Assembly will hold a High-level meeting on “Achieving poverty eradication through full employment and decent work for all in the post-2015 development agenda”.