HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 18 MAY 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED ABOUT SLOW RECOVERY OF GLOBAL ECONOMY
- The Secretary-General has been addressing the closing session of the General Assembly’s high-level thematic debate on the world economy.
- He told the Member States of his concern about the slow recovery of the global economy and the possibility of another worldwide recession. He said that if that happens, it may be even more devastating since we have less resources and fiscal capacity to respond.
- At the same time, the Secretary-General was due to say that these difficulties are a reason to recommit to sustainable development, not to shrink from it.
- And he believes that next month’s Rio + 20 Conference is not an end but a beginning. It is our chance, he says, to set in motion a revolution in how we think about creating balanced, dynamic growth for future generations.
- The Spokesperson added that the Secretary-General expects to bring up the Rio + 20 Conference in his discussions with leaders attending the NATO Summit that begins in Chicago this weekend.
U.N. SYRIA MISSION SOON TO REACH FULL OPERATIONAL CAPACITY
- Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), said at a press conference on Friday that the Mission is on its way to achieving a successful surged deployment. He said that he expects it can reach the final phase of full operational capacity soon.
- He noted that the Mission now comprises nearly 260 military observers on the ground, from approximately 60 Member States.
- General Mood said that no amount of observers can achieve a permanent end to the violence if the commitment by all sides to give dialogue a chance is not genuine.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s comments on Thursday evening about who bore responsibility for last week’s Damascus attacks, the Spokesperson said the attacks were clearly carried out by a group with organization and intent.
- Some of the attacks we’ve seen certainly bear some terrorist hallmarks with which we are familiar from elsewhere, Nesirky said.
- There is a genuine concern, shared by the Secretary-General, that terrorist groups are already taking advantage of the continued violence and insecurity in Syria.
- The Spokesperson added that this means there is all the more reason for the violence to stop so the political process has a chance to begin.
- Asked whether there is hard, conclusive evidence at this point on who carried out the attacks, the Spokesperson said the United Nations does not have that.
- The Spokesperson noted that General Mood and the Joint Special Envoy had also expressed concerns at the possibility that a third force was behind some of the violence in Syria.
- Asked whether the United Nations can confirm whether its military observers were targeted in attacks earlier this week, the Spokesperson said that the UN observers had narrow escapes from attacks by improvised explosive devices. He added that he could not confirm whether the UN forces had been targeted.
U.N. ENVOY TO ATTEND SUMMIT ON GUINEA-BISSAU, MALI IN ABIDJAN
- Said Djinnit, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for West Africa, will participate in the Mediation and Security Council meeting of the Economic Community of West African States, which will take place on Saturday in Abidjan.
- A statement was issued on Thursday expressing the Secretary-General’s belief that it is critical to ensure that the decisions emanating from the mediation processes in Mali and Guinea-Bissau ensure a full and speedy return to constitutional order and send a clear and principled message against unconstitutional seizures of power.
- The United Nations calls again for strict adherence to democratic principles and for the military in both countries to return to their barracks, refrain from any political involvement and to respect civilian authority and the rule of law.
- The Security Council was scheduled to have a formal meeting on Guinea-Bissau, on Friday afternoon.
RECORD NUMBERS OF AFRICAN REFUGEES AND MIGRANTS ARRIVE IN YEMEN SAYS U.N. AGENCY
- The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday that a record number of African refugees and migrants are arriving in Yemen this year.
- More than 43,000 people reached Yemen’s shores in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea in the first four months of this year alone. Should the current trend continue, 2012 would become another record year.
- The Refugee Agency noted that the striking increase in the overall number of the new arrivals in Yemen reflects the growing Ethiopian population on the move. Three out of four people making the crossing to Yemen are Ethiopian nationals.
- This year, UNHCR is seeking US$60 million dollars to address the protection and humanitarian needs of some 220,000 refugees and almost half a million internally displaced people in Yemen. But so far, only a third of the funds have been received. UNHCR is calling on both government and private donors to respond adequately and in timely manner.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN AGENCY SAYS DISPLACED PEOPLE CONTINUE TO ARRIVE AT CAMP IN PAKISTAN
- According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), some 3,000 displaced people from Khyber Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) are continuing to arrive at Jalozai camp every day, due to the ongoing security operations.
- More than 90 per cent of the new arrivals are opting to stay outside the camp, which currently houses more than 50,000 people.
- As of 15 May, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had registered over 230,000 people displaced since January when the security operations began.
- Shelter and food are the top needs for the displaced families living outside the camp. And funding is critical. Without greater support, key organizations are in fact due to run out of funds at the end of May, putting critical humanitarian assistance seriously at risk.
- The Spokesperson added that OCHA says humanitarian agencies need US$169 million dollars to meet the needs of displaced people until the end of the year. Without greater support, key organizations are due to run out of funds at the end of May, putting critical humanitarian assistance seriously at risk.
CALLS BY U.N. FOOD AGENCY FOR FOOD LOSSES TO BE REDUCED BY HALF
- The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) 31st Regional Conference for the Near East on Friday called for a 50 percent reduction of food losses and food waste in the region in order to improve regional food security.
- Concluding a week-long session in Rome, the Conference called on the FAO to assist its Member Countries in drawing up a plan to halve the amount food they lose or waste in the next ten years.
- Annual losses in grains are estimated at more than 16 million tonnes across the region.
UNIFIL “NO MANDATE” TO INTERCEPT SHIPS: Asked about UNIFIL’s Maritime Task Force, the Spokesperson said that the Force does not have the mandate to intercept ships but it can monitor maritime traffic and hail vessels.
U.N. LEGAL AFFAIRS COUNSEL ADDRESSES UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: Patricia O’Brien, the UN Legal Counsel, was due to give the convocation address at the New York University School of Law on Friday.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
19 - 25 MAY 2012
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 19 May
Security Council Mission to West Africa begins today. A delegation of 15 Ambassadors will travel to Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone, and due back to New York on Thursday, 24th May.
Sunday, 20 May
This afternoon, the Secretary-General will depart New York for Chicago to attend the 25th Summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Monday, 21 May
This morning in Paris, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural organization (UNESCO) and the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), in commemoration of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, will launch a book entitled “Policies for Creativity: A Guide for the development of cultural and creative industries.”
Today, the Sixty-fifth session of the World Health Assembly begins in Geneva. At this session, the Health Assembly will discuss a number of public health issues such as universal health coverage, Millennium Development Goals, non-communicable diseases, mental disorders, nutrition and adolescent pregnancy. The nomination of Dr. Margaret Chan to be WHO Director-General for a second term will be submitted for approval.
Tuesday, 22 May
Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity.
Wednesday, 23 May
At 10 a.m., there will be an informal High-level Meeting of the General Assembly (GA) on “the Role of member States in Mediation”, in the GA Hall. The Secretary-General is schedule to speak at the Opening Session.
This morning, there will be a stakeout on the 2nd floor in the North Lawn Building (NLB) for the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Spain, Mr. Gonzalo de Benito.
At 1 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will hold a press conference to launch a new online initiative to support South-South cooperation for the sustainable management of natural resources and the environment.
At 2 p.m. local time in Paris, the first edition of the International Arts Education Week (21-27 May) will be celebrated at the UNESCO Headquarters with various activities co-organized by UNESCO’s Culture Sector and the Government of the Republic of Korea.
At 4:30 p.m. in Paris, there will be a special event to mark the first anniversary of “Better Life, Better Future”, UNESCO Global Partnership for Girls' and Women's Education, at the UNESCO Headquarters. The programme includes: Key note address by Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, and by Ms. Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women; Moderated discussion with members of the High-Level Panel on Girls’ and Women’s Education for Empowerment and Gender Equality.
Thursday, 24 May
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Friday, 25 May
At 10 a.m., there will be a panel discussion on “Impact of public-private partnerships in education: An evidence-based approach”, co-organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United
Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP) and the IDP Foundation, in Conference Room 6 of the North Lawn Building (NLB).