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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

 

TUESDAY, 27 MAY 2014

 

AT ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS POWER OF URBANIZATION IN MEETING DEVELOPMENT TARGETS

  • The Secretary-General this morning spoke at the first-ever Integration Segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
  • This is an effort to integrate the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.
  • The Secretary-General said that harnessing the power of urbanization for sustainable development is central to achieve three interlinked UN priorities for 2015: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), shaping an ambitious long-term vision for development, and adopting adopt a meaningful new global climate agreement.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ATTEND MATERNAL, CHILD HEALTH SUMMIT IN TORONTO

  • The Secretary-General will travel to Toronto on Thursday, 29 May, to attend a Global Summit in support of the Every Woman Every Child initiative on maternal, newborn and child health.
  • The Summit will provide global leaders and experts with the opportunities to build consensus on the focus of future international efforts in maternal, newborn and child health.
  • Specifically, it will focus on the critical issues of strengthening health systems and building civil registration and vital statistics systems; reducing the burden of disease on developing countries; scaling up nutrition as a foundation for healthy lives; and building new partnerships with the private sector.
  • The Secretary-General will also meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada and other officials gathered for the Summit.
  • He will return to New York on Friday.

UKRAINE: SECRETARY-GENERAL ALARMED BY VIOLENCE IN EAST, URGES PEACEFUL RESTORATION OF STATE CONTROL OVER GOVERNMENT

  • Asked about the recent violence in Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is alarmed by continuing violence in the east, where clashes in Donetsk left dozens dead on Monday. He urged that restoration of state control over government facilities be achieved through exclusively peaceful means, including an inclusive political dialogue.
  • Asked about the treatment of journalists in Ukraine, the Spokesman said it was a concern. He noted the work of UN human rights monitors in examining the overall human rights picture in Ukraine. The treatment of media is part of their work.

SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER DEVELOPMENTS IN LIBYA, MALAWI AND BELGIUM

  • Over the weekend, a number of statements were issued including one in which the Secretary-General voiced his concern at recent developments in Libya, in particular the growing military mobilization in and around the capital Tripoli. The Secretary-General called on all parties and leaders of military formations to abide by their moral and legal obligations to safeguard and protect civilians.
  • On the elections in Malawi, the Secretary-General reiterated his call to the candidates and their supporters to respect the ongoing tallying process, follow existing legal procedures to resolve any electoral challenges or complaints, and uphold the spirit of the Lilongwe Peace Declaration of 10 May. He also urged all political leaders to call on their supporters to refrain from any violence or disruption of the electoral process, whose successful completion is essential for the consolidation of democracy in the country.
  • The Secretary-General also expressed his shock at the 24 May shooting in the Jewish Museum of Brussels, which reportedly left two Israelis and one French citizen dead. The Secretary-General noted that, while the investigation is ongoing, the location of the attack points to a possible anti-Semitic motivation behind it.
  • Statements were also issued on the attack in Somalia, the death of Diego Cordovez, the killing of a peacekeeper serving with the joint African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

U.N. LEBANON ENVOY, SUPPORT GROUP CALL FOR EFFECTIVE GOVERNANCE TO MEET COUNTRY’S CHALLENGES

  • Derek Plumbly, the UN Special Coordinator in Lebanon, met yesterday with the members of the International Support Group for Lebanon, and then issued a statement on their behalf, which, among other things, paid tribute to President Michel Sleiman’s leadership during six critical years and to his commitment to Lebanon’s unity and stability.  
    The International Support Group called on Lebanon’s leaders to ensure that the Government is able in this new circumstance to act effectively, as it has to date, to address economic, security and humanitarian challenges facing the country and to meet Lebanon’s international obligations.
  • In a statement on Sunday, the Secretary-General regretted that the Lebanese Parliament was unable to elect a new President within the timeframe set by the constitution. He called on the country's leaders to engage intensively to ensure the election of a new President without delay.

SYRIA: U.N. RELIEF CHIEF OUTRAGED AT DEADLY ATTACK ON HUMANITARIAN WAREHOUSE

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, expressed outrage at the deliberate attack on Saturday on a humanitarian warehouse in Douma, Syria. That attack happened as aid workers were preparing to distribute urgently-needed supplies from an aid convoy to hundreds of families in the besieged Syrian city.
  • Ms. Amos said that the targeting of the warehouse, which reportedly killed several people and wounded one Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) volunteer, is evidence of blatant disregard for international humanitarian law.

U.N. HELPING TO RESPOND TO CHOLERA OUTBREAK IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a press briefing today that since it opened its gates last 15 December, between 75,000 and 80,000 civilians have sought safety in 9 of the missions main protection sites.
  • The Mission has always been clear that the space provided to civilians was not meant to be a durable solution.
  • With the rains now well under way, stagnant waters, clogged drains and congestion have turned these sites into breeding grounds for water-borne diseases, including cholera.
  • On 15 May, South Sudan’s Ministry of Health declared a cholera outbreak after a lab confirmed one case in the capital, Juba. More than 514 cases have been reported so far.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners are working closely with the Ministry to respond to the outbreak and prevent further spread of the disease.
  • For its part, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, spotlighted the need for the participation of all members of communities, as well as additional funding, to address cholera.
  • Three weeks after a truce was reached in South Sudan, continuing fighting has forced nearly 70,000 people to flee their homes and seek shelter elsewhere in the country, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
  • The number of people uprooted within the country has topped one million, the Agency said.
  • With the conflict in South Sudan having put 4 million people at risk of acute food insecurity, the Agency is concerned at the potential for further displacement, both internally and into neighbouring countries, over the coming weeks.

MALI: FOLLOWING U.N.-ASSISTED MEDIATION, CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT REACHED

  • On Mali, where the ceasefire is holding in the north, a ceasefire agreement was signed last Friday between the Malian authorities and three groups involved in fighting in Kidal – MNLA, HCUA and MAA – after a mediation led by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Mali, Albert Koenders, and the President of Mauritania and current chairman of the African Union, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
  • By this agreement, the signing parties accepted to return to the Preliminary Agreement of Ouagadougou and to start negotiations as soon as possible.
  • The ceasefire also includes important components such as the liberation of prisoners, the facilitation of humanitarian access and the launch of an international commission of inquiry on the incidents in Kidal.
  • Over the last few days, the UN Mission in the country, MINUSMA, has significantly increased the number of police and military patrols.
  • On the humanitarian side, organizations have started redeploying their staff and aid supplies to northern Mali.
  • Kidal airport has now reopened, with nine WFP trucks carrying 194 tons of food also on their way.
  • Recent fighting has left an estimated 4,000 people displaced in the northern regions of Kidal and Gao, and people in Kidal are urgently in need of access to food, water and electricity.
  • U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND MUST HALT HEALTH SERVICES WITHIN ONE MONTH IN SOMALIA WITHOUT URGENT FUNDING
  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today that without urgent funding, it will have to suspend essential life-saving health services for three million people in central and southern Somalia within one month.
  • UNICEF provides 70 per cent of health services in the country, including drugs, vaccinations, and training for health workers.
  • It vaccinates 620,000 children under the age of five for free and provides antenatal checkups for nearly 280,000 pregnant women.
  • There are also 200,000 children in Somalia under the age of 5 at risk of death until the end of this year from severe malnutrition if they do not receive life-saving assistance.
    UNICEF’s budget for this year is only 10 per cent funded for the Somalia operation, and it needs $12.5 million to continue very basic services until the end of 2014.

U.N. URGES R.O. CONGO TO STOP EXPELLING CITIZENS FROM D.R. CONGO

  • Over the weekend, several UN officials urged the Government of the Republic of the Congo to immediately stop expelling citizens from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  • According to the UN Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) since April, more than 130,000 DRC nationals have been expelled from Brazzaville to Kinshasa, directly across the river.
  • The head of the UN Mission in DRC, Martin Kobler, said he was shocked after visiting the transit camp in Maluku and hearing testimonies of victims of gross human rights abuses and cruel treatments.
  • Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on sexual violence in armed conflict, also called for an investigation into allegations of sexual violence and other human rights violations.

INVESTING IN QUALITY JOBS RESULTS IN HIGHER ECONOMIC GROWTH, LOWER INCOME INEQUALITIES – U.N. REPORT

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) issued its flagship report today, called World of Work 2014: developing with jobs.
  • The report provides an in-depth analysis for 140 developing and emerging nations.
  • It shows for the first time that investing in quality jobs, reducing vulnerable employment and tackling working poverty leads to higher economic growth and lower income inequalities.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about the meeting the Secretary-General had today with Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic, the Spokesman said it was previously scheduled, in relation to the regular briefing on Kosovo.
  • Asked about the South China Sea, the Spokesman said that was an issue that the Secretary-General had dealt with in his meetings in China. He urged the parties concerned to exercise the utmost restraint and resolve their dispute in a peaceful manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law, including the UN Charter.