HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY VANNINA MAESTRACCI,
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 7 MAY 2014
IN ROME, SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES UKRAINE, REFUGEES AND PEACEKEEPING WITH TOP ITALIAN OFFICIALS
- The Secretary-General met today in Rome with the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano, the President of the Council of Ministers, Matteo Renzi, as well as with Pietro Grasso, the President of the Senate.
- The Secretary-General discussed the situation in Ukraine and expressed hope that the European Union, the United States, Russia and Ukraine would soon sit down together again to de-escalate the situation and come up with a lasting solution.
- They also exchanged on the efforts to protect the lives of people trying to cross the Mediterranean to seek refuge in Italy. The Secretary-General stressed the need to respect the human rights and dignity of refugees.
- He also thanked Italy for its contribution to the UN, and particularly to peacekeeping.
- The Secretary-General also addressed the World Committee on Food Security. He said that yesterday, while he was in South Sudan, he saw a country on the brink of a food security calamity. He also said that he wanted to talk with the Committee about what they could do together anywhere that hunger needlessly stalks the human family.
- The Secretary-general said we would not eliminate extreme poverty or achieve sustainable development without adequate food and nutrition for all.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s meeting with Italian officials, the Associate Spokesperson said that the topics discussed included Italy’s contributions to the work of the United Nations, climate change and the situation in Ukraine.
SYRIA: U.N. REITERATES CALL FOR UNHINDERED HUMANITARIAN ACCESS
- Asked about the evacuation from the city of Homs in Syria, Homs, the Associate Spokesperson noted that this was an agreement brokered by the parties themselves.
- She added that the UN had consistently called for the lifting of sieges and for unhindered humanitarian access to all in need of assistance. The UN supports all efforts in this direction, she said.
THAILAND: AFTER DECISION TO REMOVE PRIME MINISTER, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR CONSTRUCTIVE DIALOGUE
- Asked about Thailand, the Associate Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had been informed of decision by the Constitutional Court of Thailand to remove Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and nine other cabinet members from office.
- She added that more than ever, the Secretary-General appeals to all sides to work together to seek a solution through constructive dialogue.
- The Secretary-General will continue to follow the situation in the country closely, with the hope that all sides will exercise utmost restraint and show full respect for democratic principles, rule of law and human rights.
SECURITY COUNCIL MARKS TEN-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF KEY NON-PROLIFERATION RESOLUTION
- The Security Council held a meeting today in which they discussed a resolution adopted ten years ago which requires Governments to prevent non-State actors or terrorists from acquiring, proliferating and using nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
- In remarks to the meeting, the Deputy Secretary-General said that in the past decade, the landmark resolution has accomplished a great deal, but that there have also been setbacks, including the recent use of chemical weapons in Syria.
- He said that for the resolution to work more effectively, it must be a global commitment and that it is critical for every country to implement this resolution.
- The Council also adopted a Presidential Statement on the issue.
UKRAINE: U.N. WELCOMES ALL EFFORTS TO DE-ESCALATE SITUATION
- Asked about a deadly fire earlier this month in the city of Odessa, the Associate Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had called for an investigation into this incident.
- Asked about reports that Russian troops have pulled back from the border with Ukraine, the Associate Spokesperson said that the United Nations welcomes all efforts aimed at de-escalating the situation.
- Asked about the travels of Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, Maestracci confirmed that he met in Ukraine today with Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.
NIGERIA: U.N. ENVOY ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT EXTREMELY WORRIED FOR ABDUCTED GIRLS
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict says she is deeply concerned over the fate of the more than 200 girls abducted from their school in Nigeria’s Borno State last month.
- Leila Zerrougui said that reports of additional abductions of girls in the country’s northeast are extremely worrying.
- Ms. Zerrougui, together with other senior UN officials, has asked the Nigerian Government to spare no effort to ensure the safe return of these young girls to their families.
- She said that all children – regardless of their gender, ethnic origin, social status, language, age, nationality or religion – has the right to education and to live free from any form of violence.
- Asked about the UN’s efforts, Maestracci said the Secretary-General had strongly encouraged the international community to exert its influence to ensure that the abducted girls are able to return to their families. She noted that the Secretary-General had expressed his alarm at the increased frequency and brutality of attacks in northern Nigeria.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF CALLS FOR URGENT SUPPORT TO CHAD
- The UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos called for urgent donor support for Chad, following her visit to the country.
- The humanitarian response plan managed by the UN in Chad is currently only 5 per cent funded.
- Since the beginning of the year, the Government of Chad and the humanitarian community have evacuated over 70,000 people from CAR and facilitated the return of over 28,950 Chadian migrants to their areas of origin. Humanitarian partners are also assisting more than 61,000 people in transit sites.
- And Chad is also facing persistent food insecurity and malnutrition affecting around two million people, mostly in the country's Sahel region. Last year, 45,000 children died due to malnutrition in the country.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS AIR QUALITY DETERIORATING
- The World Health Organization said today that air quality is deteriorating in many of the world’s cities.
- According to a new report, only 12 per cent of the urban population being monitored reside in cities that meet air quality guideline levels.
- And half of it is exposed to air pollution that is at least 2.5 times higher than the levels WHO recommends - putting those people at additional risk of serious, long-term health problems.
- WHO’s urban air quality database covers 1,600 cities across 91 countries.
- The newest report notes that individual cities can take local action to improve air quality and thus go against regional trends. It says that good air quality can go hand in hand with economic development, as indicated by some major cities in Latin America which meet, or approach, the WHO air quality guidelines.
SENIOR APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME, OFFICE FOR PROJECT SERVICES
- Three senior appointments were made by the Secretary-General.
- At the UN Development Programme, Maria Eugenia (Gina) Casar of Mexico will assume responsibilities as Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator. Ms. Casar succeeds Rebeca Grynspan, to whom the Secretary-General expresses gratitude for her leadership and advocacy on issues such as inequality, social cohesion, and the empowerment of women during her term with UNDP.
- Jessica Faieta of Ecuador will replace Chile’s Heraldo Muñoz as Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator and Director for the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean. The Secretary-General is also grateful for Mr. Muñoz’s dedication and commitment during his term with UNDP.
- Grete Faremo of Norway will take up the post of Executive Director of the UN Office for Project Services. She replaces Jan Mattsson of Sweden, to whom the Secretary-General expresses his gratitude for his outstanding contribution and commitment.
- Asked about a United States report which says that climate change was occurring now, the Associate Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General would agree with that assessment. Climate change has long been a priority of the Secretary-General and he has consistently called for action to address the phenomenon now.
- In response to a question from yesterday on the Ghanian troops in South Sudan, Maestracci said that the UN headquarters team from New York concluded its investigation, following its visit to South Sudan in mid-March and that the results of the investigation were subsequently shared with the Government of South Sudan. She also said that the Secretary-General had addressed this issue yesterday during his press stakeout with President Salva Kiir.
***The guest at today’s Noon Briefing was Gyan Chandra Acharya, the Under-Secretary-General for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States (UN-OHRLLS).