HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 21 MAY 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS U.N. WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT AFGHANISTAN AS MUCH AS IT CAN
- This morning, the Secretary-General has been taking part in a NATO meeting on Afghanistan in Chicago.
- He told the meeting that he had come to the NATO Summit with one overriding message: that the United Nations will continue to support the Afghan Government to the maximum of its ability.
- He said that, although Afghanistan faces clear and difficult security and development challenges, our resources are limited. The UN cannot fill all the gaps. The Secretary-General said the enduring commitment of every leader gathered in Chicago would be critical.
- He said Afghanistan’s international partners will not withdraw their support as they draw down their military presence. Among other things, there needs to be a commitment to do more for women and children – including girls’ education and women’s participation in the country’s political life. His full remarks are online.
- This morning the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with the new French President, François Hollande. He also met on Sunday with the Presidents of Turkey and Afghanistan.
- The Secretary-General will be back in New York later today.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN YEMEN’S CAPITAL
- The Secretary-General strongly condemns the terrorist attack that took place in Sana’a today during a rehearsal for a military parade, reportedly killing at least 96 soldiers and wounding more than 300. This criminal act cannot be justified by any cause. Its perpetrators must be held accountable. The Secretary-General expresses his deep sympathy and condolences to the victims of this heinous act and their families, as well as to the people and Government of Yemen.
- The Secretary-General calls on all in Yemen to reject the use of violence in all its forms and manifestations, and expects them to play a full and constructive role in implementing Yemen’s political Transition Agreement, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2014 (2011).
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF ASSESSES PROGRESS OF U.N. MISSION IN SYRIA
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is in Damascus, where he has met with observers from the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) and is assessing the progress on the ground to date. He noted the record time in which the observers have deployed.
- During his four-day visit, Mr Ladsous met with both Government and opposition groups to enhance facilitation and cooperation for the second phase of the mission. The safety and security of the observers was also discussed.
- Today, Mr. Ladsous visited Homs and met with the governor and opposition groups. During the meeting, both sides expressed their commitment to Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan's 6-point peace plan and noted the diminishing of violence in the city since the arrival of the Military Observers. Mr. Ladsous affirmed that the focus now needs to be on building dialogue and confidence between the parties.
- The Under-Secretary-General emphasized that the end of the violence will only happen if Syrians and all parties, both internal and external, choose the path of dialogue.
- Asked about the effects of the violence in Syria on Lebanon, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has been concerned about the violence and its effects in the region.
- The Secretary-General, in his meeting with President Francois Hollande of France today, said that we are at a pivotal moment in the search for a peaceful settlement to the crisis and that he was concerned about the outbreak of related violence in Lebanon.
- Asked about the deployment of UN observers, the Spokesperson said that, as of today, 266 military observers had been deployed, along with roughly 70 civilian staff.
U.N. SPECIAL COORDINATOR CONCERNED ABOUT RECENT VIOLENCE IN LEBANON
- Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, said today that he has been very concerned at the incidents of violence in recent days, which have led to loss of life in Lebanon, and he extended his condolences to the families of those who died in these incidents.
- Mr. Plumbly said that it is important that there be no further repetition of such violence and that the incidents that have occurred be fully and thoroughly investigated.
- He said that he has been impressed by the efforts of the security authorities and political leaders to safeguard Lebanon’s calm and stability, at a time of upheaval and uncertainty in the region. And he asserted that differences must be addressed through dialogue, not resort to violence.
- Asked what the United Nations was doing to deal with the violence, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Plumbly was working with all parties on the ground in order to stabilise the situation.
- Asked whether the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) could also be involved, Haq said that the UN peacekeeping force had a mandate for the southern part of Lebanon, south of the Litani River. Any other deployments would require a revised mandate.
SECURITY COUNCIL BEGINS THREE-COUNTRY VISIT TO WEST AFRICA
- The Security Council is currently in Côte d’Ivoire, as part of its three-country mission to West Africa.
- The Council arrived in Liberia on Saturday to assess the progress made by the country towards development and to assess the mandate of UNMIL, the UN peacekeeping mission there. Council members were informed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf that in a period of two to three years, Liberia hopes to have the capacity to safeguard the country without the support of the UN peacekeepers.
- The Council arrived in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire last night. Today, it held a meeting with President Alassane Ouattara, in which they discussed reconciliation and security sector reform.
- The Security Council is also meeting today with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), during which Guinea-Bissau and Mali are expected to be discussed.
- Council members will stay in Côte d’Ivoire until Wednesday, when they will fly to Sierra Leone, the last stop on the three-nation tour.
HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR WELCOMES PROGRESS OF SUDAN-SOUTH SUDAN AIRLIFT
- The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan, Ali Al-Za’tari, today welcomed the continued progress in the airlift from Khartoum to Juba of some 12,000 people of South Sudanese origin who had been stranded for many months at a way-station in Kosti. The airlift is managed by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and supported by the Governments of Sudan and South Sudan.
- The humanitarian airlift, which began one week ago, has already transported 4,200 people to South Sudan.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator also welcomed continued progress by the two Governments to regularize the status of people of South Sudanese origin who wish to remain in Sudan. He also welcomed the decision to grant citizens of South Sudan residing in Sudan temporary identification cards.
HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES DEPLORES KILLING OF STAFF MEMBER IN EASTERN CONGO
- UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres today deplored the killing of a UNHCR staff member in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- Rocky Makabuza died on Saturday in the North Kivu provincial capital after sustaining gunshot wounds in an attack at his home by unknown assailants on Friday night.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF TIMOR-LESTE
- On Sunday, the Secretary-General congratulated the people of Timor-Leste on the tenth anniversary of the restoration of independence. In his message, delivered on his behalf by his Special Adviser, Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General said that Timor-Leste has made impressive advances over the past decade and that the people of Timor-Leste should be proud of these many achievements.
- The peaceful conduct of the presidential election is testament to the country’s progress, he added. He called on all Timorese leaders and political parties to demonstrate the same commitment to peaceful parliamentary elections in July.
- The Secretary-General said that, while the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste continues to prepare for its anticipated departure at the end of this year, the United Nations will remain steadfast in its support for many years to come.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MET MADAGASCAR PRESIDENT: Asked about the Secretary-General’s meeting with President Andry Rajeolina of Madagascar last Friday, the Spokesperson said that there was no readout of the meeting, which was partly one-on-one. He noted the UN’s continuing efforts to move forward with the roadmap to restore democracy to Madagascar.
U.N. AGENCY HEADS ATTEND G-8 SESSION ON FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA: Asked about food security in Africa, the Spokesperson said that the heads of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) had attended the Group of 8 discussion on that topic in Washington. He noted the Secretary-General’s push for countries to do all they can to promote food security in Africa, even in the current climate of financial constraint.