HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 30 MAY 2014
DRAWING ON HIS PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS NEED TO ENHANCE HEALTH OF WOMEN, CHILDREN
- The Secretary-General was in Toronto, Canada, where he spoke at the closing plenary session of the Global Summit in Support of the Every Woman Every Child initiative today.
- He said that improving the health and well-being of women and children is an issue close to his heart.
- The Secretary-General revealed that he has been known as the eldest child in his family his entire life, but that, in fact, he should have been the third child in his family. He had an elder sister and an elder brother, but was never able to meet them.
- He said that today, too many people still live that reality around the world, adding that we cannot accept that it is “normal” to lose any woman, any child, anywhere.
- He praised Canada for yesterday’s announcement of an additional $3.5 billion for maternal and child health between 2015 and 2020, calling on others to follow Canada’s example.
- The Secretary-General noted progress in recent decades in reducing maternal and under-5 mortality, but he warned that, despite such progress, some 289,000 women die each year while giving life, while an estimated 18,000 children die each day, mostly from preventable causes. His remarks are available online.
- The Secretary-General gave a joint press conference with the Prime Minister of Canada and the President of Tanzania before returning to New York. Yesterday, he met separately with those two leaders.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO LONDON, STOCKHOLM
- The Deputy Secretary-General will depart New York for London on 1 June.
- During his visit there, he will meet with Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Mr. William Hague, as well as other senior Government officials and give remarks at a town hall to staff of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.
- While there, the Deputy Secretary-General will also speak at a Conference on Globalization and the World Order at the Chatham House Royal Institute of International Affairs. On 4 June he will travel to Oxford to give a lecture at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.
- On 5 June, he will then travel to Stockholm where he will be the keynote speaker at Sweden’s National Day celebration June 6. During his visit, he will also hold bilateral meetings with Swedish Government officials.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on 8 June.
UKRAINE: SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY CONCERNED THAT INTERNATIONAL MONITORS IN GRAVE DANGER
- Asked about reports that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has not been able to establish contact with its monitors in Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the UN is not directly involved in obtaining their release. The UN is monitoring the situation very closely and the Secretary-General is deeply concerned that international monitors who are involved in international efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis in Ukraine continue to be put in grave danger, a situation that has arisen several times in recent days. Dujarric said that the UN stresses that it is the responsibility of all involved to ensure the security of the monitors so that they may carry out their mandated functions. This abduction is to be deplored and anyone who has influence should use it to ensure their release.
- On recent violence in Odessa, the Spokesman noted that there are ongoing concurrent investigations and that the events in Odessa will be covered in the next UN human rights report scheduled for release in mid-June. On the alleged use of chemical weapons in the city, the UN is in touch with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which would be in the lead on such an investigation. On the overall situation in Ukraine, the Secretary-General is very distressed by reports of violence and reiterates his call for dialogue as the only means for a peaceful solution to the crisis. He reminds all parties with influence to exercise utmost restraint.
MORE THAN 100 REBELS SURRENDER IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO, U.N. MISSION REPORTS
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced that, so far, more than 100 rebels from the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda, known by the acronym FDLR, have surrendered in North Kivu.
- The Mission has also received reports that the group has expressed its intention to begin the surrender process in South Kivu in 72 hours.
- The Mission welcomes this development and calls on FDLR commanders as well as rank and file to surrender.
- It reports that all resources have been mobilised, on a priority basis, for a swift and well-organised transfer of ex-combatants to transit camps and later on to their final destination.
U.N. SOUTH SUDAN ENVOY TO LEAVE FOLLOWING CONCLUSION OF THREE-YEAR TERM
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, said today that she will be departing the country when she completes her three-year term in July.
- She noted that it has been an honour to serve in this position.
- Ms. Johnson made the announcement after having what she called a very constructive and good meeting with President Salva Kiir, during which they also discussed the new mandate for the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), passed in a Security Council resolution earlier this week.
U.N. VOICES CONCERN OVER CASE OF DETAINED BURUNDIAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
- Regarding prominent Burundian human rights activist Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was concerned about his case. He is currently in pre-trial detention for allegations he made on a Burundian radio station.
- The UN has no information to substantiate the claims made by Mr. Mbonimpa. It calls on Burundian authorities to observe the right to due process in accordance with the international human rights standards that Burundi has committed to uphold.
- The UN continues to follow closely the political situation in Burundi and is concerned over the continued restrictions on civil liberties, for members of opposition political parties, and for media and civil society organizations, especially in the run-up to the 2015 elections.
SYRIA: U.N. DELIVERS FOOD AID FOR 30,000 PEOPLE IN OPPOSITION-HELD AREAS IN ALEPPO
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that a 15-truck UN convoy delivered food aid to Syrian Arab Red Crescent warehouses for 30,000 people in opposition-held areas in the rural western parts of the Governorate of Aleppo.
- The convoy also delivered medicine for 15,000 people and essential household items for 10,000 people.
- This aid is part of the plan, approved last week by the Governor of Aleppo, to help some half a million people, both in opposition- and Government-held areas.
- On the delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria, the Spokesman noted that in his most recent report on the issue, the Secretary-General made it very clear that not enough urgently-needed assistance is reaching those in need.
AID AGENCIES NOTE PRESSURE ON PALESTIAN BEDOUIN COMMUNITIES TO RELOCATE FROM WEST BANK – U.N.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that aid agencies in the occupied Palestinian territory have voiced concern over pressure being placed by Israeli authorities on Palestinian Bedouin communities to relocate.
- This comes on the heels of a wave of demolitions of Bedouin residences.
- OCHA says that since the beginning of the year, more than 300 structures owned by Palestinians have been demolished in the West Bank, displacing more than 600 people.
- Humanitarian organizations continue to provide emergency assistance, including temporary shelter, but that this aid has increasingly been seized.
- These organizations are calling for a halt in demolitions until a fair, participatory and non-discriminatory planning and zoning regime is in place.
U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE WELCOMES NEW STRUCTURE TO BOLSTER MONITORING, DOCUMENTATION CONCERNING D.P.R. KOREA
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said today that the Republic of Korea will host a structure to strengthen rights monitoring and documentation concerning the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
- This comes following a Human Rights Council resolution in March requesting that Office to urgently follow up on the recommendations made by the Commission of Inquiry on the DPRK.
- The Office said that it is pleased that the Republic of Korea has agreed to host this new structure, which will provide it with a greatly strengthened capacity to work on human rights issues in the DPRK.
- Asked about a reported agreement between the DPRK and Japan on abductions, the Spokesman said that this issue has been a major issue and that the UN hopes that the talks between the countries will lead to a positive outcome.
SENIOR U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL TO EMBARK ON MISSION TO COLOMBIA, PANAMA
- Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang will begin a four-day visit on Sunday to Colombia and Panama.
- In Colombia, Ms Kang is scheduled to visit areas affected by conflict, and meet local indigenous communities and rural farmers.
U.N. WEST AFRICA ENVOY TO VISIT NIGERIA ON ISSUE OF ABDUCTED SCHOOLGIRLS
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Said Djinnit, is scheduled to be in Abuja, Nigeria, on Monday, 2 June, to follow up on the implementation of the Integrated Support Package for the North-East and Chibok girls' abduction.
MARKING WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY, U.N. URGES INCREASED TAXES TO ROLL BACK NUMBER OF SMOKERS
- Tomorrow is World No Tobacco Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls on countries to raise taxes on tobacco to encourage users to stop smoking, and prevent people from becoming addicted to tobacco.
- The Secretary-General also said that increasing taxes on tobacco products discourages young people from taking up smoking and encourages current smokers to reduce use or quit altogether. Tobacco taxes were a direct route to preventing cancer, stroke and disease, as well as to saving lives.
- In response to a question on water supplies being withheld from Syria by Turkey, the United Nations is aware of the reports and is seeking further information on this claim from its partners, as well as what impact this may be having on people in Syria. On the issue of water in general, the Spokesman said that the United Nations had consistently spoken out against the intentional withholding of water.
- Asked about the recent violence in the Central African Republic, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was watching the deteriorating situation in the country with great concern. The UN Mission there is in close contact with MISCA, who is taking the lead in security matters, to coordinate the best response to incidents of violence.
- Asked about the elections in Egypt, the Spokesman clarified that the United Nations was not involved in the monitoring of polls in the country.
- In response to questions regarding the recent rapes of two teenage girls in India, the Spokesman called this a horrific crime which serves to underscore the wave gender-based violence around the world, including recently in India, Pakistan and California. The Secretary-General had spoken out forcefully against violence against women and has encouraged all, including men, to take a stand against the practice. Asked about the caste-based nature of the crime, Dujarric said that everyone deserved to be protected by the law, taking note of how traditional practices can sometimes be harmful to women.