HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 5 MAY 2014
IN ABU DHABI, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
- The Secretary-General is in Abu Dhabi today, where he addressed the closing plenary of the “Abu Dhabi Ascent” meeting that the United Nations is co-hosting with the United Arab Emirates. He said that the business opportunities of the low-carbon economy are great. The social and environmental benefits for countries in all regions are yet to be realized. He said that now is the time for visionaries and those who are prepared to act to step forward.
- Also today, the Secretary-General flew to Dubai to meet with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai. In that meeting, the Secretary-General thanked the United Arab Emirates for its support of UN humanitarian efforts in Syria. He also commended the country for its investments in renewable energies.
- On Sunday, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the Abu Dhabi Ascent and underscored that climate change was the defining issue of our time, with no time to lose. He encouraged leaders from around the world to lead boldly on climate solutions. The Secretary-General asserted that climate action is feasible, affordable and beneficial.
- In a press conference, held right after the opening ceremony, the Secretary-General promised that the September Climate Summit would not be a “talk shop” but rather a meeting focused on action. In response to questions, he encouraged leaders to look beyond national boundaries when fighting climate change.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS CLASHES IN VARIOUS PARTS OF SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that there was fighting in various parts of the country over the weekend.
- In Unity State’s capital, Bentiu, the Mission reports heavy fighting between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition soldiers, including in the vicinity of the UN base there, where some 23,000 displaced civilians are being protected.
- After the Mission engaged with both warring sides, forces left the area last evening. UNMISS military have also enforced the perimeter security in the camp.
- However, fighting resumed again earlier today close to the base with heavy and small arms fire. The Mission reports that a four-year-old girl seeking refuge has died after sustaining a wound from a stray bullet. Fighting has also been reported in Bor and close to Mayom Junction in Unity State.
- Heavy clashes between Sudan People’s Liberation Army and Opposition forces were also reported in Nassir in Upper Nile State yesterday. The Mission reports the use of tank and mortar fire, with some of the shells landing close to the UNMISS base there. Fighting was also reported in Renk on Sunday.
- In the capital, Juba, the Mission reports that a skirmish broke out Sunday between Nuer internally displaced persons and some Dinkas living outside the UN House protection site. Peacekeepers fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.
- On Friday, five construction workers employed as UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) contractors to build a temporary learning space for displaced children in UN House were attacked by a group of stone-pelting displaced persons. UN military and police peacekeepers were able to control the situation; however, the contractors as well as one UN police officer sustained minor injuries.
- Asked further about the actions taken by the UN peacekeepers in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said that peacekeepers in Bentiu and Bor had been focused on protecting the civilians who have sought refuge in the UN compounds there.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF VISITS SOUTH SUDAN
- Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous continues his travels in Africa. On Sunday, he left Bangui and arrived in Juba, South Sudan, for a three-day visit, his second visit to the country in three months.
- Mr. Ladsous is there to underscore the full support of UN Peacekeeping, as it helps the people of South Sudan in an impartial manner.
- During his trip, the Under-Secretary-General is expected to meet with South Sudanese Government officials and stress the need to end the violence immediately and engage in a meaningful peace process.
- Mr. Ladsous will also meet with UN staff who have shown resilience throughout this crisis, withstanding threats and harassment from the parties to the conflict, and thank them for sharing the Mission's facilities with civilians at risk, saving thousands of lives.
- During his trip, Mr. Ladsous is also expected to visit the Tomping UNMISS site in Juba, where the UN is protecting approximately 20,000 civilians.
CHAD: TOP U.N. RELIEF OFFICIAL ON FIRST VISIT TO CHAD
- The Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos has arrived in Chad for her first visit to the country, accompanied by Robert Piper, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel.
- Ms. Amos met the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Thomas Gurtner today in N'Djamena, as well as representatives of the United Nations and of non-governmental organizations. She is also expected to meet the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- On Tuesday, she is scheduled to meet the President of the Republic of Chad, Idriss Deby, and to visit the transit centre at Gaoui where people who have been evacuated from the Central African Republic are receiving assistance. Ms. Amos is also scheduled to travel to Mao in the Sahel zone.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN REPRESENTATIVES VISIT SITE OF DEADLY LANDSLIDE IN AFGHANISTAN
- Two senior UN humanitarian officials today visited the location of a deadly landslide which killed hundreds of people in north-eastern Afghanistan last Friday. The Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-wha Kang, and the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, Mark Bowden, carried out an aerial inspection of Abi-Barak village in Badakhshan province.
- Ms. Kang, who wrapped up her three-day visit to Afghanistan today, also met with the Governor of Badakhshan and the various non-governmental organizations providing assistance. She said that the tragedy highlights the need for greater attention to the larger issue of the natural disasters that are so frequent in the northern part of the country.
- In a statement issued over the weekend, the Secretary-General extended his sincere condolences to the people and Government of Afghanistan, especially those who have lost family members, friends, homes and livelihoods in this disaster.
- United Nations agencies and humanitarian partners are supporting the Government of Afghanistan in providing assistance to those who have been displaced.
- As of Sunday, the World Food Programme (WFP) had distributed over 80 metric tonnes of food. Humanitarian partners are providing emergency health care and UNICEF has mobilized urgent psychosocial support for children. Aid organizations continue to liaise with the Government to find ways to support children who have lost their parents.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY IN SEIZURE OF O.S.C.E. MONITORS IN UKRAINE
- The Spokesperson, in response to questions about the monitors for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), recalled that the Secretary-General, in a statement on Saturday, had welcomed their release but underscored that those responsible for the capture and detention of the unarmed monitors should be held accountable for their actions, as well as those who continue such unlawful acts in the country.
- The Secretary-General reiterates that international missions and their counterparts working in Ukraine must be allowed to perform their duties unimpeded and called on all actors to respect the freedom of movement, safety and security of the personnel of various missions working in Ukraine.
- Asked about recent violence in Odessa, Haq noted that the Secretary-General had called for swift and conclusive investigations into this tragic incident. He also noted the work being done by the UN human rights monitors deployed throughout Ukraine.
- Asked about Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman’s travels, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Feltman had been in Cyprus today, but from there would travel onward to Russia and then Ukraine.
U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF WRAPS UP VISIT TO CYPRUS, STRESSES NEED TO MAINTAIN MOMENTUM IN TALKS
- The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, today wrapped up a visit to Cyprus, where he met with the two leaders, as well as with the Greek Cypriot negotiator and the Turkish Cypriot negotiator.
- Mr. Feltman held discussions on the next steps in the negotiations.
- He conveyed to the two leaders the Secretary-General’s continued personal focus on the process, recognizing the historic importance of the Joint Declaration and underlining the need to maintain momentum in the talks.
- Mr. Feltman also reiterated the United Nations’ readiness to continue to support the two sides in their efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement.
U.N. NEGOTIATOR ON “NAME” TALKS TO MEET WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF TWO SIDES
- Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has invited the Representatives of the two countries, to meet with him at UN Headquarters on Tuesday. Both sides have accepted the invitation.
- Ambassador Nimetz will meet with the two Representatives separately and then jointly, with the purpose of continuing the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" issue.
U.N. AGENCY DECLARES POLIOVIRUS SPREAD GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY
- In a statement issued today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the international spread of wild poliovirus in 2014 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. WHO said that the international spread of polio to date in 2014 constitutes an extraordinary event and a public health risk to other States for which a coordinated international response is essential.
- The World Health Organization added that the current situation stands in stark contrast to the near-cessation of international spread of wild poliovirus in previous years and could result in failure to eradicate globally one of the world’s most serious vaccine preventable diseases.
- Pakistan, Cameroon and Syria have been identified as States exporting wild poliovirus, according to the Emergency Committee convened last week in Geneva.
LAKHDAR BRAHIMI CONTINUES WORK AS JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR SYRIA
- Asked about Joint Special Representative for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Brahimi was continuing his work and had met with the Secretary-General on Friday. Mr. Brahimi will brief the Security Council on 13 May.
***The guests at the Noon Briefing were UN Free and Equal Equality Champion and actress Celina Jaitly and Charles Radcliffe, the Chief of Global issues of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in New York. They briefed reporters on the UN Free and Equal campaign for LGBT rights.