HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 23 MAY 2014
SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS NEW ATTACK ON CIVILIANS
- The Secretary-General condemns the mortar attack on an electoral rally in southern Syria that reportedly killed at least 21 people today. He reiterates his opposition to the indiscriminate use of any weapons by any party against civilians in contravention of obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.
- The Secretary-General deeply regrets the inability of the international community to unite in stopping this conflict, and in finding ways to hold accountable perpetrators of atrocities such as today's attack. The Syrian people desperately need an end to violence and a clean break from the past to move towards a new Syria, one in which their legitimate aspirations are met and all communities are protected.
UNITS OF SYRIAN ARMED FORCES BREAK THE SIEGE ON ALEPPO’S PRISON; DETAINEES AT IMMINENT RISK
- According to information received by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, units of the Syrian armed forces yesterday broke through the siege imposed for more than a year on Aleppo Central Prison by some armed groups and succeeded in entering the prison’s compound.
- The safety and physical integrity of a number of prisoners and detainees, in particular 53 political detainees whose identity is known to the High Commissioner’s Office, are at imminent risk.
- The Office has also received information that a number of prisoners have completed their sentence. Those prisoners, as well as those arbitrarily detained, should be immediately released, and all detainees and prisoners should receive medical care.
- The High Commissioner reminds the Government of Syria of its obligations to safeguard the safety and security of all detainees and prisoners.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS DIRECTOR TO TRAVEL TO TURKEY ON SUNDAY
- John Ging, the Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is expected to travel to Turkey for a three-day mission, from 25-27 May.
- He is expected to hold consultations with the Turkish authorities in Ankara and with humanitarian actors on the ground in the southern region of Turkey.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPEALS TO ALL PARTIES TO CREATE CONDITIONS FOR FREE ELECTIONS IN UKRAINE
- On Thursday evening in advance of Ukraine’s presidential elections, the Secretary-General appealed to all parties to redouble their efforts and help create the necessary conditions so that all eligible voters throughout the country may cast their ballots in a free and fair environment and without fear for their safety.
- Voters across Ukraine should see the elections as an opportunity to help move the country on to a more inclusive and stable trajectory while also determining the country’s leadership at a pivotal moment.
- Asked about UN-marked helicopters seen in Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the United Nations has made its concerns known to the Government of Ukraine about its obligations concerning the use of equipment provided to UN peacekeeping operations.
UKRAINE: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS TEAM HAS NO CONFIRMATION OF WHEREABOUTS OF RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says that its monitoring team present in Ukraine has no confirmation of the whereabouts of the two Russian correspondents of TV LifeNews who were reportedly arrested in Ukraine on 18 May.
- The monitoring team is closely following up with Ukrainian authorities on this issue, and the team is in contact with the lawyers of the two journalists.
- In the past few days, in a series of meetings with Ukrainian officials, the head of the UN Human Rights monitoring team has been calling for the lawyers to be granted access to the journalists.
THAILAND: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER CALLS FOR PROMPT RESTORATION OF RULE OF LAW
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, urged Thailand today to ensure respect for human rights and a prompt restoration of the rule of law in the country.
- She said that she is deeply concerned about the forcible replacement of an elected Government, the imposition of martial law, the suspension of the constitution and the emergency measures that are restricting the enjoyment of human rights.
- Ms. Pillay said that she is very concerned by the restrictions on fundamental freedoms imposed by the authorities. She added that freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are particularly important in resolving difficult political issues through dialogue and debate.
- She said that the military detention of senior politicians and civilians is very disturbing, and she called for their immediate release.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s views on the coup, the Spokesman recalled that, in a statement issued on Thursday, the Secretary-General expressed his concerns and called for a prompt return to constitutional, civilian, democratic rule.
IN MALI, U.N. ENVOY IN KIDAL TO PUSH FOR RESUMPTION OF POLITICAL PROCESS
- On Mali, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the country, Albert Koenders, is in Kidal today with the President of Mauritania and current chairman of the African Union, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and Pierre Buyoya, Special Representative of the African Union for Mali and the Sahel.
- They are there to hold discussions with the armed groups and urge them to agree to an immediate ceasefire. They are also meeting with traditional authorities in Kidal.
- Mr. Koenders continues to use his good offices to bring about the resumption of the political process and to ensure proper evacuation of wounded citizens and Malian soldiers.
- The UN Mission in the country, MINUSMA, says that reports that 59 injured Malian soldiers, four of them seriously wounded, are being treated at its Camp in Kidal.
- MINUSMA also retrieved wounded Malian, MNLA and civilians from the Kidal hospital and evacuated them by air from Kidal to Bamako yesterday for medical treatment.
- And on the humanitarian front, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that population movements have been recorded in all regions of the North as well as in the Mopti region, in connection with rumours of attacks by armed groups and fears of inter-communal reprisals. Some 3,400 people have fled from Kidal.
- Humanitarian agencies supported by MINUSMA are pre-positioning contingency stocks in Gao town, such as food, water, wash kits, shelter, household items, health kits. They are consolidating stocks in Gao for onward shipment to Kidal.
- Today, MINUSMA is planning to airlift the equivalent of 14 days of supplies including water, food, tents and beds to Kidal, and to repatriate the remaining wounded.
GROWING NUMBERS OF REFUGEES ARRIVE IN CAMEROON FROM CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- In Cameroon, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that it is battling to help growing numbers of refugees from the Central African Republic. Many are arriving malnourished and ill after walking and hiding in the bush for weeks before reaching the border.
- UNHCR adds that since mid-April, the rate of deaths among refugee children has been particularly high, with 29 children dying mostly at therapeutic feeding centers, where they had arrived already gravely ill.
- Refugees from the Central African Republic have been arriving in Cameroon through some 30 border points across an area over hundreds of kilometres. At present there are 85,000 refugees in some 300 villages, making it extremely challenging for humanitarian agencies to meet their needs.
- The Refugee Agency is relocating refugees away from the border to six sites it has set up, as well as to several villages.
- UNHCR is working with UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and five medical aid agencies to reduce malnutrition rates and deaths. This includes the provision of therapeutic and supplementary feeding for the malnourished, general food distribution, vaccination campaigns, and the supply of clean water, sanitation and shelter.
U.N. WOMEN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR TO ARRIVE IN BANGUI ON SATURDAY
- The head of UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, will visit Bangui starting Saturday as part of a joint mission of the African Union, the United Nations and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to highlight the situation of women and girls in the Central African Republic.
- The joint mission will hold meeting s with the Transitional Authorities, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, religious leaders, a broad range of civil society organizations and of course especially women leaders.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES PROMPT AND TRANSPARENT INVESTIGATION ON KILLED PALESTINIAN TEENAGERS
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights has written to the Israeli Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva to express her very serious concerns about a recent incident involving the killing of two Palestinian teenagers on 15 May in the occupied West Bank.
- The initial findings of the High Commissioner’s team on the ground indicate that the two minors, aged 16 and 17, presented no direct threat at the time that they were killed. The killings may amount to extrajudicial executions under human rights law as well as wilful killings under international humanitarian law.
- Ms. Pillay’s office welcomes reports that an investigation into the incident has been opened. But it calls for this investigation to be prompt, thorough, effective, independent, impartial and transparent. It also urges Israel to make public the findings of this investigation and any steps regarding accountability that are taken.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL: U.N. READY TO PROVIDE FURTHER ASSISTANCE TO FLOODED BALKAN COUNTRIES
- On behalf of the Secretary-General, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson spoke by telephone on Thursday with Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, and on Wednesday with Bakir Izetbegovic, Chairman of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Ivo Josipovic, President of the Republic of Croatia, regarding the tragic flooding in all three countries.
- During the calls, the Deputy Secretary-General expressed the United Nations' deepest sympathies and solidarity with the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia, who are suffering from the devastating impact of the unprecedented floods affecting the Balkans region. He commended the countries' efforts and mutual cooperation to address the consequences of the floods and underscored the United Nations' readiness to provide further assistance as needed.
- Asked about aid given to the region, the Spokesman said that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have delivered three flights of relief supplies with a total value of $780,000 to Serbia and to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has provided US$300,000 in cash and $200,000 in emergency funding to Bosnia and Herzegovina and $100,000 to Serbia. OCHA has allocated an emergency cash grant of $50,000 to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Dujarric added that UNHCR has provided hygiene materials to Bosnia and Herzegovina worth $35,000. In Serbia, UNICEF has mobilized 120 psycho-social volunteers, and distributed recreational kits for 17 child-friendly spaces. It has also provided hygiene kits and blankets for 2,000 families, which are being distributed through the Serbian Red Cross.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided water and sanitation equipment worth $42,000 and medicines worth $35,000. And UNICEF has deployed two water and sanitation specialists and donated sanitation material worth $20,000
U.N. TO LAUNCH GLOBAL CAMPAIGN ON SANITATION AND ACCESS TO LATRINES
- The United Nations and its partners will hold a press briefing and campaign launch at UN Headquarters on 28 May to help end the practice of open defecation and improve access to toilets and latrines for the 2.5 billion people without basic level sanitation.
- The Deputy Secretary-General and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, the Executive Director of UN Women, will participate in that briefing, at 10 am in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium.
- The campaign aims to break the silence on talking about open defecation and the silence on the deaths and diseases, particularly among children, that have occurred as a result of open defecation practices and lack of decent toilets or latrines. The campaign will run to the end of 2015.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME DIRECTOR LAUNCHES ZERO HUNGER CHALLENGE ON LAST DAY IN REPUBLIC OF KOREA
- The Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, concluded a two-day mission to the Republic of Korea today with a formal launch of the Zero Hunger Challenge in Seoul.
- Ms. Cousin said that the example of the Republic of Korea is proof that we can achieve Zero Hunger in our lifetime. She added that the world can learn a lot from the Republic of Korea’s experience as country that has moved rapidly from a recipient of international aid to becoming a donor to other countries in need of assistance.
- Asked about an attack on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan, the Spokesman reiterated the UN’s opposition to all such attacks. He said that the attacks on civilians and diplomatic missions in Afghanistan are to be condemned.
- Asked about the detention of journalists in Egypt, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has raised his concerns about such detentions with the Government of Egypt a number of times.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
24 MAY - 30 MAY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 24 May - Sunday 25 May
There are no major events scheduled for the weekend.
Monday, 26 May
Today is Memorial Day in the United States. New York Headquarters will be closed.
In Geneva, the 66th session of Committee on the Rights of the Child will open.
At 10 a.m., still in Geneva, the International Labour Organization will launch the report “World of Work 2014: developing with jobs”, with Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General and Raymond Torres, Director of the ILO Research Department.
Tuesday, 27 May
In New York, at 10 a.m., the first-ever Integration Segment of the Economic and Social Council will open for three days on the sustainable future of cities. Participants will include Heads of Government, ministers and mayors, UN officials and civil society actors, including the private sector.
Also at 10 a.m., in Conference Room 2, a three-day meeting of the UN Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea will begin on “the role of seafood in global food security.”
From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS) will hold an event on “the vulnerability of Landlocked Developing Countries to external shocks”, in Conference Room 6.
In the afternoon, the Security Council will have a debate on the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Wednesday, 28 May
In New York, the Security Council will meet in the morning about the United Nations Integrated Peace-Building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS) and the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM). It will also hear a briefing on its subsidiary bodies.
At 10 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be the official launch of a campaign to help end the practice of open defecation and improve access to toilets and latrines for the 2.5 billion people without basic level sanitation, with the participation of UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka.
At 3 p.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a briefing on “High level review of United Nations sanctions”, co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Australia, Finland, Greece and Sweden, and the Watson Institute of Brown University and Compliance and Capacity International.
Thursday, 29 May
Today is Ascension Day. Geneva Headquarters will be closed.
In New York, the Security Council will hold consultations on the Middle East (Syria).
At 11 a.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference on cities and climate change with Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris, and Angela Brown-Burke, Mayor of Kingston.
Today is also International Day of UN Peacekeepers: On that occasion, in New York, at 10 a.m., there will be a solemn wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all fallen peacekeepers at the Peacekeepers Memorial in the North Lawn, with the participation of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
At 10:30 a.m., 106 military, police and civilian personnel who lost their lives while serving in peacekeeping operations in 2013 will be awarded posthumously the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal.
At 12 p.m., the Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, and the Under Secretary-General for Field Support, Ameerah Haq will be the guests at the noon briefing.
At 2 p.m., Hervé Ladsous and Ameerah Haq will award medals to the military and police officers currently serving in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations at Headquarters in New York.
Friday, 30 May
At 11 a.m., in the press briefing room, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will present a new partnership between its Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona, FNOB (Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing).
From 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m., in Conference Room 6, there will be an event on “Engaging the Public in Sustainable Development”, co-organized by the Permanent Mission of France and the World Council of Peoples for the United Nations (WCPUN).