HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 3 MAY 2012
ON WORLD PRESS FREEDOM DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO FALLEN JOURNALISTS
- The Secretary-General observed World Press Freedom Day, paying a moment of silence this morning in honour of the more than 60 journalists who were killed worldwide last year.
- He also noted statistics that 179 journalists were detained in 2011, a 20 per cent rise over the year before, and the highest level since the 1990s.
- Such attacks are outrageous, the Secretary-General said, calling on all concerned to prevent and prosecute such violence. He said that defenders of a free press are safeguarding our rights and we must, in turn, ensure theirs.
- Asked about World Press Freedom Day, the Deputy Spokesperson said journalists are a main source of information all over the world. People have the right to be informed accurately, objectively about what’s going on in their city, their village, their country, their region and globally. That is a fundamental democratic right and he said the Secretary-General spoke to that on Thursday morning. His call was on all Member States to guarantee the life, freedom and safety of all journalists.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON D.R. CONGO
- On Thursday morning, the Security Council met in closed consultations to discuss the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the UN mission there, MONUSCO.
- The president of the Council, the Permanent Representative of Azerbaijan, Agshin Mehdiyev, later read out a press statement on the situation in the DRC.
- He said the Members of the Council expressed their serious concern over the recent attacks by armed groups in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular former elements of the Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP), under the leadership of Bosco Ntaganda, against the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC).
- The Council members called for an immediate end to the rebellion.
- They also expressed deep concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation in the area, and particularly the increasing number of displaced persons in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and refugees in neighbouring countries.
U.N. ENVOY VOICES CONCERN ABOUT WORSENING SITUATION IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, has said she is deeply concerned about the deteriorating security situation in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following intense fighting between government forces, dissident groups and militia.
- She said the situation is again causing immense suffering for civilians who are experiencing displacement, human rights violations, and loss of property.
- She added that a new wave of violence is being perpetrated by actors such as the Mai Mai leader Sheka Ntabo Ntaberi and Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda has been indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes.
- She said she was particularly worried about the volatile security situation in several villages in Walikale territory, North Kivu. These villages were the scenes of horrendous crimes in July and August 2010, when at least 387 men, women and children were the targets of sexual violence acts.
- The protection of civilians remains a challenge despite the concerted efforts of the DRC Government and the UN to secure vulnerable populations.
- Ms. Wallström has called on all parties to immediately refrain from any acts of violence and has urged the DRC Government to restore state authority and ensure the protection of civilians, including from sexual violence.
U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY TROUBLED BY ONGOING HUNGER STRIKES BY PALESTINIAN PRISONERS
- Robert H. Serry, United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement that the United Nations continues to follow with concern the many issues related to the question of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centres.
- The Special Coordinator is deeply troubled in particular, by reports about the critical condition of at least two Palestinian prisoners being held in administrative detention by the Israeli Authorities, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months.
- Above all, he urges all sides to find a solution before it is too late, and calls on Israel to abide by its legal obligations under international law and do everything in its power to preserve the health of the prisoners.
GLOBAL FOOD PRICES HAVE FALLEN BUT STILL RELATIVELY HIGH, U.N. BODY REPORTS
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says global food prices dropped three points or 1.4 percent from March to April 2012 but seem to have stabilized at a relatively high level of 214 points.
- According to FAO’s Food Price Index, which measures monthly price changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy, meat and sugar, the fall was the first after three consecutive months of increases and although the index is significantly down from its record level of 235 points in April 2011, it is still well above the figures of under 200 which preceded the 2008 food crisis.
The index was published in the latest FAO Food Outlook, a global market analysis which comes out twice a year. It noted that the prospects for the second half of this year and into the next indicate generally improved supplies and continuing strong demand.
More details are available online.
U.N. SOUTH SUDAN MISSION’S MANDATE REMAINS UNCHANGED: Asked about how the Security Council Resolution on Sudan and South Sudan will affect the operations of the UN mission (UNMISS), the Deputy Spokesperson said its mandate had not changed.
U.N. AGENCY REGRETS FORTHCOMING JORDAN STRIKE: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) regrets the announcement of an open strike in Jordan. The Agency remains committed to discussing terms and conditions of service with the staff unions. UNRWA has put forward an offer for discussion and reiterates its invitation to the union to work with management to find a solution. It urges the unions to refrain from further industrial action that negatively affects the refugees.
Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
United Nations, SA-1B15
New York, NY 10017