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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

 

WEDNESDAY, 28 MAY 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGED BY NEW UKRAINE LEADER’S COMMITMENT TO DE-ESCALATION, DIALOGUE

  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning by telephone with Mr. Petro Poroschenko, the President-elect of Ukraine. 
  • The Secretary-General congratulated Mr. Poroschenko on having received a strong mandate from the people, who expect him to move quickly to steer the country away from political, economic and social instability and towards security, greater prosperity and genuine democratic governance.
  • The Secretary-General said that he was encouraged by Mr. Poroschenko’s commitment to de-escalation and dialogue, which will be critical within Ukraine as well as with its neighbours.
  • Asked about the violence in eastern Ukraine, the Spokesman reiterated that the Secretary-General has said that the disputes in the east should be resolved through peaceful means.

SECURITY COUNCIL TO BE BRIEFED ON UKRAINE BY U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF

  • The Security Council was briefed by the chairs of its subsidiary bodies in an open meeting this morning.
  • This afternoon, the Council will hold an open meeting on Ukraine, with Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman is expected to brief the Council.
  • After that, the Security Council is expected to hold closed consultations on Mali.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES NEW MANDATE OF SOUTH SUDAN PEACEKEEPING MISSION

  • Yesterday afternoon, the Security Council adopted Resolution 2155 (2014) on South Sudan, which reprioritises the mandate of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) towards the protection of civilians, human rights monitoring and support for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The resolution also increases the Mission's troop strength to 12,500 as requested in his last report on South Sudan.
  • In a statement issued afterwards, the Secretary-General welcomed the adoption of the resolution. He underlined the importance of this new mandate to peace and security in South Sudan. And he reiterated that every effort be made by potential contributors to deploy all troops, police and enablers to the Mission, as soon as possible.
  • The Secretary-General reminds the parties of their primary responsibility to protect civilians from violence and end impunity. He urges the parties to implement the Agreements signed by both parties without further delay, show the political will necessary to advance the political process and provide their full cooperation to the UN Mission as it carries out its mandate.
  • Also from South Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, says that the number of cholera cases in the country is approaching 800, with nearly 30 people having died as of yesterday, mostly in the capital, Juba.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are appealing for $26 million to respond to cholera until the end of this year.
  • Toby Lanzer, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, said that limited cholera vaccines and water purification tablets are complicating prevention of the disease, as well as the response to it.
  • Some 200,000 people who have been displaced have been vaccinated orally.
  • Also on South Sudan, more than 90,000 people are seeking shelter in the UN Mission’s protection sites.
  • A new site – capable of hosting 13,000 people – was inaugurated in the capital, Juba, today.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS HOW ENDING OPEN DEFECATION COULD BOOST SANITATION

  • The Deputy Secretary-General this morning participated in the launch of a Call to Action on Sanitation. He highlighted the challenge of open defecation, which 1 billion people are forced to do every day.
  • Mr. Eliasson said that if the practice of open defecation could be ended, we would see a direct reduction of 36% in death due to diarrhoea for children under five, with the consequences of improved sanitation reaching even farther. That, in turn, would help attain the Millennium Development Goals and we know that the goal related to sanitation is one that needs to make the most progress.

SYRIA’S ECONOMIC LOSSES STEMMING FROM WAR NEARLY TRIPLE ITS 2010 G.D.P.

  • By the end of 2013, total economic losses in Syria resulting from the war amounted to $144 billion, which equals 276% of the gross domestic product in 2010, according to the latest quarterly report on the socio-economic situation in Syria, done by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Syrian Centre for Policy Research.
  • The report says that damaged capital stock (amounting to $65 billion) accounted for 45% of the total economic losses.  Also, agriculture and government services accounted for half of GDP in 2013.
  • The report adds that 54% of the labour force is unemployed and 75% of Syrians now live in poverty.
  • Asked about remarks made by US President Barack Obama on arming the Syrian opposition, the Spokesman recalled that the Secretary-General's long standing position has been that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. He has repeatedly called for nations not to supply arms to to the Syrian parties.
  • Asked about reports that a synagogue was destroyed in Syria, Dujarric said that the Secretary-General has drawn attention to the need to protect the cultural heritage of Syria and has repeatedly discussed the damage done to religious sites in the country.

SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES SOLIDARITY FOLLWING ATTACK ON U.N.-BACKED CHEMICAL WEAPONS FACT-FINDING TEAM IN SYRIA

  • Earlier today, the Secretary-General spoke by phone to the Director-General of the Organization Prohibition of Chemical Weapon (OPCW), Ahmet Üzümcü, to express his solidarity following the attack on the organization’s fact-finding team in Syria.
  • The Secretary-General condemned these attacks and voiced his relief that no one was seriously injured in the attack.
  • He told the Director-General that the UN would continue to support the vital work of the OPCW in Syria.

U.N. RELIEF WING REPORTS FIGHTING UPROOTES 8,000 PEOPLE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC’S BAMBARI

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report that some 8,000 displaced people are sheltering at churches, in a school and at a MISCA military base in the Central African Republic’s Bambari, after clashes over the past week between ex-Seleka elements and the French Sangaris forces.
  • In the past two days, the situation has been relatively calm and a UN team was able to visit displacement sites. Water, health and sanitation are priority concerns.
  • In one site, there are only ten toilets for up to 5,000 people and with almost daily rains, the displaced are exposed to malaria and water-borne diseases.
  • The humanitarian response will require chlorination of wells, construction of latrines and hygiene information support.
  • Yesterday, UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, issued a joint press statement following a three-day visit to the Central African Republic with the Special Envoy of the African Union for Women, Peace and Security, Bineta Diop, as well as the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) Special Representative in the CAR.
  • In that statement, they said that extremely high rates of violence against women continue to pose a serious threat to health, development and peace in the country.
  • They also said that the women leaders of both Christian and Muslim faiths and from diverse socio-economic backgrounds that they met were clear in their desire to bridge differences to build a better future for all the people of the Central African Republic.
  • They therefore called for increased funding for the safety and protection of women and girls, encouraging all international partners to adhere to the UN’s policies on earmarking 15 percent or more of funding for women’s empowerment and gender equality.

JOINT U.N., HAITIAN COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF CHOLERA HOLDS FIRST MEETING

  • The High-level committee for the elimination of cholera in Haiti, a joint effort of the Government of Haiti and the United Nations, met for the first time yesterday, in Port-au-Prince.
  • Participants included Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country, Sandra Honoré, as well as the Special Coordinator for the cholera response, Pedro Medrano, and other government and UN officials.
  • They discussed the current efforts against cholera in Haiti, from operational strategies to sensitization campaigns.
  • According to the latest figures from April of this year, concerted Haitian and international efforts have succeeded in significantly reducing the toll of the epidemic.
  • The number of cases has been reduced by 75% in the first trimester of 2014 compared to the same period last year, and fatality rates are below the 1% target set by the World Health Organization.
  • However, cholera in Haiti is still an emergency as the structural issues enabling cholera, acute diarrhoea or other waterborne diseases persist, with weak water, sanitation and health systems. Haiti has fallen further behind the rest of the region in sanitation coverage since 1990, with the most excluded population in rural areas. More than one third of the population, 38 per cent, lacks safe access to water.

PAKISTAN: TOP U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIALS SPEAKS OUT AGAINST STONING DEATH OF WOMAN

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, strongly condemned yesterday’s killing of a pregnant 25-year-old woman who was stoned to death by her family as she approached a Pakistani court in Lahore.
  • Ms. Pillay said that she is deeply shocked by the death of Farzana Parveen, who was brutally murdered by members of her own family simply because she married a man of her own choice.
  • The High Commissioner said that every year, hundreds of women are killed in Pakistan as punishment for marrying men their families have not chosen or for refusing arranged marriages.
  • She urged the Pakistani Government to take urgent and strong measures to end these so-called ‘honour killings’ and other forms of violence against women.
  • She added that the fact that Ms. Parveen was killed on her way to court shows a serious failure by the State to provide security for someone who was obviously at risk.

SECRETARY-GENERAL UNDERSCORES IMPORTANCE OF LEBANON TRIBUNAL’S WORK IN TACKLING IMPUNITY

  • Yesterday, the Secretary-General met with M. François Roux, Head of the Defence Office of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The Secretary-General noted the vital role of the Defence Office in ensuring that the proceedings before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon are fair and credible.
  • The Secretary-General highlighted the importance of the work of the Special Tribunal in tackling impunity for the crimes within its jurisdiction. He expressed his hope that the proceedings would move smoothly and expeditiously.

U.N. BODY LAUNCHES NEW DEEP-SEA SHARK IDENTIFICATION GUIDE

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched today a new identification guide series on deep-sea sharks, aimed at helping fishers improve reporting on by-catch.
  • Although they are not usually targeted, sharks and certain groups of sponges and cold-water corals can be impacted by boats trawling for fish at depths of between 200 and 2 000 metres.
    In most cases, their survival rate after being released back into the sea is very low.

U.N. TO MARK INTERNATIONAL PEACEKEEPERS DAY

  • Tomorrow is International Day of UN Peacekeepers.
  • Several events are planned for that day, including a wreath-laying ceremony in honour of all fallen peacekeepers at the Peacekeepers Memorial in the North Lawn, with the participation of the Secretary-General.
  • Following that, 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.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In response to a question on voter turnout in Egypt, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was following the elections underway there.
  • Asked about the discussions between the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan, the Spokesman said that the United Nations is supportive of all efforts towards constructive dialogue.