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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

MONDAY, 19 MAY 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES CHINA’S CONTRIBUTION TO THE U.N. ON VISIT TO THE COUNTRY

  • The Secretary-General met today with President Xi Jinping of China. The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to China for its strong support and contribution to the work of the United Nations to promote peace and security, sustainable development and human rights.
  • Before flying to Beijing in the afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, where he underscored the importance of taking action on sustainable development and climate change.
  • In Beijing, he met with Mr. Wu Xinxiong, the Vice Chair of the National Development and Reform Commission. The Secretary-General also met with Mr. Li Keqiang, the Premier of the State Council.
  • On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will travel back to Shanghai, where he will attend the fourth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA).
  • Asked about discussions regarding the South China Sea, the Spokesman said that the issue had come up in the Secretary-General’s discussions and he had once more expressed his view that all sides must exercise the utmost restraint and resolve their disputes in a peaceful manner.

IRAQ: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PRELIMINARY ELECTION RESULTS

  • The Secretary-General welcomes the announcement of the preliminary results of the Council of Representatives election in Iraq of 30 April 2014. He looks forward to the certification of the final results after all procedures have been completed, including the adjudication of possible appeals. The Secretary-General urges all political parties to engage constructively and in a timely manner in the process of government formation.
  • The Secretary-General is concerned about the security situation in Anbar province and urges the government of Iraq to ensure that military operations against terrorism are conducted in accordance with Iraq’s international and constitutional human rights obligations.
  • The Secretary-General condemns the deliberate flooding of the Abu Ghraib area and urges all sides to refrain from actions that result in displacement of populations or cause environmental disasters. He reiterates his appeal regarding the need to address the humanitarian needs of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by the ongoing fighting in Anbar Province.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for From Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, also welcomed the announcement by the Independent High Electoral Commission of the preliminary results of the elections held on 30 April.
  • He said that the people of Iraq have now spoken and he called upon all elected representatives to work together for the future of Iraq.
  • Mr. Mladenov reaffirmed the United Nations’ readiness to continue working closely with the newly elected Members of Parliament in pursuing the necessary reforms aimed at further enhancing the democratic process and addressing the country’s priorities.

D.P.R.K.: SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY LOSS OF LIFE, INJURIES IN BUILDING COLLAPSE

  • The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the lives lost and injuries caused by the recent tragic collapse of a building in Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
  • His thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families, and the people of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The Secretary-General assures the Government of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea of his and the United Nations' solidarity and offer of assistance.

MALI: DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS TO PRESIDENT, SAYS EXTREMELY CONCERNED OVER RECENT VIOLENCE

  • The Deputy Secretary-General spoke this morning by phone with Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, the President of Mali.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General expressed his extreme concern at the recent violence over the weekend which included the killing of eight civilians in Kidal. Mr. Eliasson said the United Nations condemned these atrocities. He also conveyed, on behalf of the Secretary-General his sincere condolences to the aggrieved families and to the entire Malian people.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General stressed the importance of following a political path to solve the current crisis in Mali.
  • Mr. Eliasson added that he understood that these recent attacks had unleashed a strong emotional reaction in large parts of the population. He appealed for calm and stressed the need to de-escalate tensions.
  • Over the weekend, the Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) also issued a number of statements condemning the attacks and calling them a gross violation of the Ouagadougou accords.

U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND EXPANDING MEASURES TO HALT CHOLERA SPREAD IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that the caseload of cholera is rapidly increasing in South Sudan and the highly contagious disease appears to be spreading.
  • Since the outbreak of cholera in the capital Juba late last week, the reported cholera caseload has doubled every day; now with new reported cases in two additional states, Jonglei and Upper Nile. 
  • UNICEF says that after the first case was confirmed in Juba four days ago, more than 130 additional cases are now being treated. There are three confirmed deaths. Dozens of children are among the affected.
  • In response to the cholera outbreak, UNICEF has helped establish a Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC) at the Juba Teaching Hospital. It also provided life-saving supplies, including medicines, protective gear and equipment, and is expanding preventive measures to halt further spread across the country.
  • UNICEF says it urgently needs US$10 million to continue current life-saving operations and increase its cholera prevention work.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that the overall situation in the country is relatively calm for the time being.
  • However, the Mission did received reports of gunfire last night north of Wau town in Western Bahr el Ghazal State. It also reports sporadic firing on Saturday night from the western bank of the River Nile across Renk in Upper Nile State. 
  • Movement restrictions and harassments of UN staff continue.
  • Overall, nearly 85,000 displaced civilians are being protected by the Mission across the country.

BALKANS: U.N. DISPATCHES ASSESSMENT TEAM AND ASSISTANCE AFTER FLOODS

  • On the floods in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia, which according to the latest reports have caused the death of 36 people and forced tens of thousands to be evacuated, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, said last night that she is was concerned by the impact on people, many of whom remain without electricity or clean water and face health issues.
  • Our humanitarian colleagues says that the rains have eased and water levels of most rivers are slowly reducing - except for the river Sava which continues to pose a threat – but many areas are still physically cut off and only reachable by helicopter or boat.
  • In all three countries, the Government is leading the flood response, distributing food and other relief supplies, and providing emergency shelter. The United Nations and humanitarian partners have offered assistance to the authorities.
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has dispatched a UN Disaster Coordination and Assessment team to Serbia and life-saving supplies are on their way from Brindisi.
  • Teams from the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Organization for Migration are working with the authorities to help assess people’s needs and provide food, clean water and sanitation support and debris removal.
  • WFP has also sent a second batch of emergency relief items to Serbia today. A first charter flight arrived in Belgrade last night.
  • Another flight is scheduled today to Tuzla, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where WFP is planning to send life-saving food assistance to 150,000 of the most vulnerable flood-affected people.

LEBANON NEEDS INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT TO COPE WITH SYRIAN REFUGEES INFLUX

  • From Lebanon, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, Ross Mountain, says that the country urgently needs the international community’s support to cope with the growing influx of Syria refugees.
  • Over 1 million Syrian refugees have been registered in Lebanon and some 50,000 new refugees continue to be registered by UNHCR each month. At this rate, it is projected that Lebanon will have 1.5 million refugees by the end of the year.
  • The humanitarian appeal for Lebanon seeks US$1.7 billion but it is only 17 per cent funded so far. Mr. Mountain asserted that Lebanon cannot be expected to continue to manage without greater external assistance.

HEAD OF U.N. WOMEN TRAVELS TO NIGERIA IN SOLIDARITY WITH ABDUCTED SCHOOLGIRLS

  • The Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, met with the UN Country Team in Abuja, Nigeria today during her visit to the country to show solidarity with the schoolgirls and families affected by the abductions in Chibok.
  • She said she had met with members of Nigeria’s civil society and discussed their chief concerns, including anxiety about the potential collapse of the education system, and the fear that some parents have of sending their children to school. She assured them that the UN would work with them to ensure that there is no setback for girl’s education in Nigeria. And she mentioned the need to deal with trauma and to provide safe schools in the country.
  • Also relating to Nigeria, Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin, the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), said today that the UNFPA will be leading a coalition of partners to provide psychosocial therapy to stabilize the parents of the victims in Nigeria and prepare them to offer the necessary assistance to their children, when they are released.

JOSE MOURINHO BECOMES AMBASSADOR AGAINST HUNGER

  • The World Food Programme announced today the nomination of Jose Mourinho, manager of Chelsea Football Club in the English Premier League, as their Ambassador against Hunger.
  • He will use his status to raise awareness about WFP’s life-saving work and champion the Zero Hunger Challenge which aims to eliminate hunger in our lifetimes.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATIONS’ ASSEMBLY OPENS IN GENEVA

  • The World Health Organization’s annual assembly opened this morning in Geneva.
  • In her opening remarks, WHO’s Executive Director Margaret Chan stressed the main health challenges in the world right now, including the international spread of wild poliovirus, the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and the remaining challenges of non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and obesity.
  • Dr Chan said health has an obligatory place on any post-2015 development agenda.

PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IS CRITICAL PART OF U.N. PEACEKEEPING

  • Asked about an internal report criticising the performance of UN peacekeeping in protecting civilians, the Spokesman said that the protection of civilians is a critical part of UN Peacekeeping.
  • He said that the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) had published a report and the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support have published their own responses, challenging some of the points made in the OIOS report. All those documents will be studied.
  • Asked about the willingness of peacekeepers to use force, Dujarric said that peacekeepers would be expected to use force as needed to protect civilians, as per each mission’s mandate.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW FORCE COMMANDER FOR U.N. MISSION IN COTE D’IVOIRE

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Major General Hafiz Masroor Ahmed of Pakistan as his new Force Commander for the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).
  • Major General Ahmed will replace Major General Muhammad Iqbal Asi also of Pakistan who completed his tour of duty earlier last month.  The Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated and exemplary service during his two-year tenure as a Force Commander in UNOCI.
  • Major General Ahmed is currently commanding of an infantry division in Pakistan and brings with him 30 years of national and international military experience.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about a Ugandan guard unit near the airport in Somalia, the Spokesman said that it is a static guard unit designed to protect UN staff at the airport. He said the contribution from Uganda was the first to a UN field mission and was appreciated.
  • Asked about recent developments in Libya, the Spokesman described the situation in the country as worrying. In a statement issued later on Monday, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed its deep concern over the various acts of violence, including the assaults on official institutions and the terrorizing of civilians.
  • Asked about membership in the United Nations, the Spokesman noted that the procedure for membership is outlined in the UN Charter and is a matter for UN Member States.
  • Asked about migration in the Mediterranean, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has monitored developments closely and raised his concerns about the situation facing migrants with Italian and EU officials during his recent travels. The Secretary-General has made the point that migrants’ basic rights need to be respected, and the UN Refugee Agency has said the issue is too large for individual countries to deal with it alone and must be resolved internationally.
  • Asked about the situation of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the Spokesman said that the Agency provides life-saving support to the refugees whom it is mandated to support throughout the Middle East. The refugee question is to be resolved through a negotiated solution.
  • Asked about Iran’s role regarding Syria, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has always believed that Iran has an important role to play in resolving the Syrian conflict.