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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 7 MAY 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS DETENTION OF PEACEKEEPERS IN GOLAN

  • The Secretary-General strongly condemns the detention of four UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) peacekeepers by armed elements in the vicinity of Al Jamla, in the area of limitation and calls for their immediate release.
  • The Secretary-General reminds all actors in Syria that UNDOF is mandated to monitor the Disengagement of Forces Agreement between Israel and Syria. The Secretary-General calls on all parties to respect UNDOF’s freedom of movement and safety and security.
  • The Spokesperson said that the four peacekeepers were detained on Tuesday while they were patrolling in the Area of Separation close to Position 86, near Al Jamlah. The four are from the Philippine Battalion. Efforts are under way to secure their release.
  • Asked about reports concerning the group responsible for the seizure, the Spokesperson confirmed that the group who has taken responsibility calls itself the Brigades of Yarmuk. This is the same group responsible for the last incident of this nature.
  • He added that the United Nations has limited details at this stage.

U.N. RELIEF OFFICE SAYS NUMBER OF DISPLACED PEOPLE IN SYRIA HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that over the last few months, the number of displaced people in Syria has more than doubled, from an estimated 2 million in December of last year to 4.25 million people today. Large numbers of displaced people are concentrated in Aleppo and Rural Damascus.
  • According to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), almost half of the Palestinian refugee community in Syria has been displaced by the ongoing conflict. About 42,000 of them have fled to Lebanon and Jordan. Recent violence in Aleppo has led to the displacement of the entire population of Palestinian refugees in the area. The Relief and Works Agency has provided emergency food and cash assistance to about 3,000 of them.
  • An estimated 6.8 million Syrians, or almost one-third of the entire population, require urgent humanitarian assistance. Nearly half of them are children.
  • From January to April, UN-led relief convoys reached three quarters of a million people in hard-to-access areas. Half of the ten convoys sent during that period crossed conflict lines, reaching people in need in opposition-controlled areas.
  • Asked about reports concerning alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the team led by Ake Sellström will look at all information that it receives.
  • Nesirky noted that the Commission of Inquiry looking into human rights said it had no conclusive information about the use of chemical weapons.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES U.N. SUPPORT FOR SOMALIA

  • The Deputy Secretary-General is in the United Kingdom on Tuesday, where he attended the Second London Conference on Somalia.
  • He noted that at the first London Conference last year, the focus was on political transition that had for long seemed disappointingly distant.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General said today’s conference was to support the Federal Government of Somalia and its agenda of peace, unity and state-building, and to help take the country to a new beginning.
  • He said that while Somalia is building peace, it is still in the midst of conflict.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General said that the United Nations is committed to assist and welcomes the Security Council’s decision last week to establish a new Assistance Mission for Somalia, which is to be deployed next month.
  • Asked about Somaliland, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General’s recent reports refer to Somaliland.

U.N. INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON OBSERVES HIGHER NUMBER OF ISRAELI AIR VIOLATIONS

  • The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) says that, in the course of the past week, it has observed a higher number of Israeli air violations over Lebanese airspace.
  • Israeli overflights are in violation of Lebanese sovereignty and of Security Council resolution 1701. The UN Mission is aware of the concerns raised by the Lebanese Government in this regard.
  • The UN Interim Force has lodged firm protests with the Israeli Defence Force on this matter, asking them to cease the overflights.


OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 SECRETARY-GENERAL VIEWS POSITIVELY ANY MEASURES TO RESUME TALKS ON MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS: Asked about the Middle East peace process, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General views positively any measures that create a conducive environment in support of a resumption of talks.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES REPORTS ON REMOVAL OF MISSILES IN D.P.R.K.: Asked about reports about the removal of ballistic missiles from their launch pads in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Spokesperson said that, if the reports are correct, it would be welcomed as a step in the right direction.  The Secretary-General has been consistent in urging the DPRK authorities to refrain from threats and other provocative actions, and re-engage in dialogue with the parties concerned.

U.N. MISSION IN ABYEI UNAWARE OF CASUALTIES ON MISSERIYA SIDE: Asked about a weekend incident in Abyei, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission there was not aware of any casualties on the Misseriya side.