HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY VANNINA MAESTRACCI,
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 6 MAY 2014
IN SOUTH SUDAN, SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS PRESIDENT, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT
- The Secretary-General wrapped up a one-day visit to South Sudan, where he met with President Salva Kiir and spoke by phone with former Vice President Riek Machar.
- Speaking to reporters after his meeting with the President, the Secretary-General said he was in Juba with a heavy heart, as he remembered the hope he had witnessed three years ago when South Sudan became a country. He commended President Kiir for expressing his intention to meet shortly in Addis Ababa with Riek Machar. Before leaving, the Secretary-General told the press that Riek Machar had also informed him that he will be in Addis Ababa for meetings with President Kiir on 9 May.
- The Secretary-General added that the President had assured him that the United Nations, including the leadership of the UN Mission, have his full support.
- The Secretary-General also said that he was proud of the courage shown by the UN Mission in Sudan. By opening its gates around the country, he said, the Mission had saved tens of thousands of lives.
- While in the country, the Secretary-General visited the Tomping Protection of Civilians Site, which is currently home to some 21,000 South Sudanese civilians. He was able to see the hardship faced by the families living in the camp and pledged to them the UN’s support.
U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF VOICES DEEP CONCERN OVER STEPPED UP UKRAINE VIOLENCE
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed deep concern about the surge of violence in Ukraine.
- Navi Pillay urged all sides to make a much greater effort to find a peaceful resolution to the current crisis, especially in towns in eastern and southern Ukraine.
- She added that opposition groups must stop all illegal actions, including detentions and seizing public buildings in violation of Ukraine’s laws and constitution.
- Ms. Pillay also called on the Government to ensure that military and police operations are undertaken in line with international standards.
- She stressed the need for the authorities to carry out prompt, transparent and comprehensive investigations into the events in Odessa and Donetsk regions that led to the deaths of dozens of people recently.
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights currently has a monitoring mission of 34 staff based in five locations: Kyiv, Lviv, Odessa, Donetsk and Kharkiv. The mission is due to publish its next report on the human rights situation in Ukraine on 15 May.
- Asked about the killings in Odessa, the Spokesperson noted the calls made by both the Secretary-General and the High Commissioner for an investigation into the events.
- Asked further about political efforts in Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman was in the region and was on his way to Ukraine.
- Maestracci said that Mr. Feltman is meeting with senior officials and international partners to promote de-escalation and work toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine.
NIGERIA: TOP U.N. RIGHTS OFFICIAL SOUNDS ALARM AT CLAIMS THAT ABDUCTED SCHOOLGIRLS TO BE SOLD
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights also said she was deeply concerned about the claims made in a video believed to be by the leader of Boko Haram in Nigeria. In it, he says he will sell the abducted schoolgirls “in the market” and “marry them off,” referring to them as “slaves.”
- She warned the perpetrators that there is an absolute prohibition against slavery and sexual slavery in international law. These can, under certain circumstances, constitute crimes against humanity, she said.
- She added that the girls must be immediately returned, unharmed, to their families.
- The High Commissioner has contacted the President of Nigeria and urged the Government to spare no effort to ensure the safe return of the girls to their homes and communities.
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson reiterated the Secretary-General’s concerns about the abducted girls and the need for schools to remain safe place for children.
- Asked whether a UN force could be sent to Nigeria to save the girls, Maestracci noted that the Nigerian authorities are doing whatever they can to bring the girls to safety. The United Nations is willing to assist them.
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF VISITS REFUGEE TRANSIT SITE IN CHAD
- Today, the UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos visited today a transit site for refugees from the Central African Republic (CAR) in Gaoui, near the Chadian capital.
- More than 100,000 people displaced by the conflict in Central African Republic are in Chad and are urgently in need of more support.
- Valerie Amos said that women and children make up the majority of the displaced people from the CAR and that many are without shelter and food.
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners are working closely with the Chadian authorities to provide support, including food and vaccines.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL WRAPS UP VISIT TO AFGHANISTAN, CALLS FOR CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR VULNERABLE COMMUNITIES
- The UN Deputy Humanitarian Chief, Kyung-wha Kang, concluded her visit to Afghanistan today and called for continued support for vulnerable communities affected by conflict and natural disasters. She noted that many regions of Afghanistan are prone to recurrent natural disasters. Over the past ten days alone, a combination of melting snow and heavy rains has killed hundreds of people, and floods have displaced more than 70,000 people.
- Ms. Kang said that investing in disaster risk reduction must remain a key priority. She underscored the need to continue helping to strengthen the Government’s ability to prepare for and respond to disasters.
U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE DISAPPOINTED BY JUDGMENT ON SOLDIERS IN RAPE CASE IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said today it was disappointed by the judgment of the Operational Military Court in North Kivu against 39 Congolese military who were accused of rapes and crimes committed in Minova and its surroundings in November 2012.
- The High Commissioner’s Spokesperson, Rupert Colville, said that the judiciary did not meet the expectations of the numerous victims of rape who fully participated in the trial. He added that the outcome of the trial confirms shortcomings in the administration of justice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- The Court condemned 26 members of the Congolese Army, including two for rape, one for murder and most of the rest on more minor charges such as looting and disobedience. Fourteen officers were acquitted.
- A report issued in May 2013 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Mission in the country, MONUSCO, documented 135 cases of sexual violence perpetrated by Congolese military in and around the town of Minova, as units retreated from the front lines.
- Asked further about the convictions, the Spokesperson said that they would need to be looked at, but reiterated the disappointment about the rulings. She added that there are shortcomings in the judicial system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo but added that the United Nations was trying to support efforts to improve the judiciary.
D.R. CONGO: U.N. MISSION RESCUES 14 PASSENGERS ON CAPSIZED BOAT
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) rescued 14 passengers from the waters of Lake Kivu, after a boat capsized.
- Three MONUSCO boats and two helicopters participated in the operation. Rescued passengers were taken to a medical facility.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO MEET ON LEBANON RESOLUTION AND RECEIVE BRIEFING FROM U.N. ENVOY
- This afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on the implementation of resolution 1559, concerning Lebanon. Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy dealing with that issue, will brief the Council.
***The guest at today’s Noon Briefing was Yukio Takasu, Under-Secretary-General for Management, who briefed reporters on the financial situation of the Organization.