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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 EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 28 MAY 2013
 

SYRIA: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY FOCUSES AID ON HOMS

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that its aid deliveries have focused over the past week on people affected by the recent fighting in the Al Wa’er suburb of Homs. The fighting has displaced around 5,000 people.
  • UNHCR has already distributed blankets, mattresses and other household items to 200 displaced families. Yesterday, a UNHCR truck carrying humanitarian relief items for 10,000 persons also arrived in Al Wa’er itself. 
  • UNHCR also says that during the fighting in Al Wa’er at least five buildings hosting hundreds of internally displaced persons have been seriously damaged.  The Agency once again calls on all parties to safeguard the safety and security of the civilian population affected by the conflict. It also reiterates its call for all parties to the conflict to guarantee unhindered access for all humanitarian actors.
  • The UN Refugee Agency also says that it continues to be concerned about reported impediments for people seeking to cross borders as refugees. The number of people crossing into Jordan is significantly lower than it was 2 weeks ago and recent problems with crossings have been reported along the Syria-Iraq border.  The Agency is not in a position to determine the full reasons but says it stresses that it is essential that civilians seeking to flee insecurity have passage to areas that were outside of harm’s way.
  • Asked about the work of the Joint Special Representative for Syria, del Buey said that Lakhdar Brahimi continued to actively work on assisting in the organization of a conference on Syria, initiated by the US and Russia. He added that he also continued his discussions with leaders around the region.
  • Regarding the lifting of sanctions against Syria by the European Union, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the position of the United Nations had been principled and consistent throughout this conflict and that the Organization believes that a military solution is not the answer to the conflict in Syria. He said that the United Nations took note of the passing of the EU decision and the explicit reference to consult the Secretary-General, and that nothing would be delivered prior to the US-Russia initiative.
  • In response to a question on incidents in Lebanon linked to the situation in Syria, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, had noted the dangers of a spillover. He added that the Secretary-General had also underlined the dangers of a spillover and that was why he had asked all parties to refrain from violence and find a political solution to the conflict in Syria.
  • Asked about the death of a journalist in Syria, the Deputy Spokesperson said that journalists must have the right to carry out their craft free of threat.

 

U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL VISITS EASTERN D.R. CONGO

  • The Assistant-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang, began a four-day mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo yesterday.
  • She has held meetings with representatives from the Government and humanitarian partners.
  • In her meeting with Government officials, she raised the importance of supporting the work of the humanitarian community.
  • Today, Ms. Kang travelled to Goma in North Kivu to see for herself the impact of the humanitarian crisis in eastern DRC. She visited the Sotraki camp for displaced people where an additional 3,000 people have sought refuge following last week’s fighting.
  • Fighting in North and South Kivu in eastern DRC has led to the displacement of some 140,000 people in 2013. Providing relief and protection to civilians is a priority for the humanitarian community but the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that insecurity and poor infrastructure makes it challenging to reach affected communities.

 

MALI: U.N. HUMANITARIAN ARM WARNS OF SEVERE NEEDS

  • The Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says there are severe humanitarian needs in Gao, in eastern Mali, where the amount of drinking water available to people has declined by 60 per cent over the past weeks.
  • Some neighbourhoods in Gao do not have water at all due to dysfunctional pumps and lack of electricity.  Outside of the city, the Niger River is the only source of water and there are concerns about cholera outbreaks. 
  • Between 8 and 22 May, 22 cases of cholera were reported in Ansongo district, southeast of Gao, including two deaths. Although no new cases have been reported in the past five days, the risk of cholera remains high. Humanitarian organizations are carrying out prevention and treatment programmes.

 

U.N. IRAQ ENVOY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST BAGHDAD ATTACKS

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Martin Kobler, strongly condemns yesterday’s wave of bomb attacks that killed and injured dozens of people in Baghdad.
  • He reiterates his call to all Iraqi leaders to do everything possible to protect Iraqi civilians.
  • Mr. Kobler says that it is the leaders’ responsibility to stop the bloodshed now and to engage in dialogue to resolve the political impasse.
  • He reminds the leaders of Iraq that the country will slide into a dangerous unknown if they do not take immediate action.
  • The United Nations is deeply concerned at the recent upsurge in violence in Iraq and has consistently called upon the Iraqi Government to do its utmost to protect its people and bring the perpetrators to justice.

 

SITUATION OF BEDOUIN COMMUNITIES RELOCATED BY ISRAEL UNSUSTAINABLE – NEW U.N.-BACKED REPORT

  • In a joint study released today with a non-governmental organization, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) says that the situation of Bedouin communities relocated by Israel in 1997 has become unsustainable.
  • The study highlights the deterioration of the social and economic conditions of the Bedouin refugees transferred to Al Jabal village. 
  • The agency says that the Israeli authorities are currently considering plans to create a second centralised Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank, but the stark conclusions of this report may lead to a reassessment of this policy.
  • UNRWA says it remains concerned that more than six decades after they were first displaced from their homes, Palestine refugees continue to face the threat of displacement and loss of livelihood.

 

U.N. GREAT LAKES ENVOY’S BASED IN NAIROBI

  • In response to a question about the location of the Office of the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, the Deputy Spokesperson said the office is in Nairobi. 
  • Special Envoy Mary Robinson is on a When-Actually-Employed contract: while her office will be in Nairobi, she will be based in Dublin with regular visits to the region.
  • Regarding the Office of the Special Envoy for the Sahel, the General Assembly is currently considering the Secretary-General's report and the report by the Advisory Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Questions (ACABQ).

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about the presence of Chadians soldiers in Darfur, the Deputy Spokesperson said that patrol from the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) had conducted an assessment mission in North Darfur and that no military or armed elements were observed.

 

  • In response to a question on Myanmar, del Buey said that the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General for Myanmar, Vijay Nambiar, had travelled to the country this weekend.