HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 9 MAY 2014
IN MEETING WITH POPE, SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER INTOLERANCE
- The Secretary-General and the members of the Chief Executives Board had an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican this morning, and during the audience, the Secretary-General made remarks, expressing his concern about recent intolerance among peoples and faiths. He noted the tensions in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Syria and Ukraine and said that, across the UN agenda, he sees the need for calm, compassion, cooperation and courage.
- The Secretary-General said that he deeply appreciated Pope Francis’s personal commitment to eradicating poverty and promoting sustainable development. He said that he counts on the Catholic Church, under the Pope’s leadership, to continue to work closely with the United Nations to promote a life of dignity for all.
- The Secretary-General also had a bilateral meeting with the Mayor of Rome, Ignazio Marino, today. During the meeting, the Secretary-General stressed the importance of cities and the leadership of mayors in adapting cities to tackle the climate change challenge.
- He will continue to chair the meetings of the Chief Executives Board in Rome and will return to New York tomorrow.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DISPATCHES ENVOY TO NIGERIA TO DISCUSS U.N. SUPPORT TO RETURN KIDNAPPED GIRLS TO THEIR FAMILIES
- Following yesterday’s telephone conversation between the Secretary-General and President Jonathan of Nigeria, the Secretary-General has asked his Special Representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, to travel to Abuja as his high-level representative to Nigeria. In his meetings with senior government officials, SRSG Djinnit will offer the help of the United Nations and discuss how we can best support the authorities' efforts to safely return the kidnapped girls to their families.
- In addition to that, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that it is alarmed at the recent wave of attacks on civilians in northeast Nigeria. The brutality and frequency of these attacks is unprecedented. The past two months have seen multiple kidnappings and deaths, creating population displacement both inside Nigeria and into neighbouring countries.
- The Agency says that refugees and internally displaced people alike are reporting acts of extreme violence, and showing clear signs of distress and fear. Some have witnessed friends or family members being randomly singled out and killed in the streets. People speak of homes and fields being burned to the ground, with villages completely razed, or grenades being launched into crowded markets killing people and livestock.
- Terrorized students who had survived attacks on their schools in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states have told the Refugee Agency how they saw friends being killed or kidnapped.
- Asked further about the Secretary-General’s views on the situation of the schoolgirls, the Spokesperson recalled the statements issued on Thursday by the Secretary-General and the anguish the Secretary-General had expressed about the girls’ plight. He said that Mr. Djinnit would now go to Nigeria to push forward with efforts to deal with the situation.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION HOPES MEETING BETWEEN PRESIDENT, OPPOLITION LEADER INVIGORATES PEACE PROCESS
- On South Sudan, the Mission in the country (UNMISS) says it hopes that the meeting between President Salva Kiir and Opposition leader Riek Machar, who have arrived in Addis Ababa, will reinvigorate the peace process, produce a political solution and put an immediate end to the violence.
- In the country itself, the Mission reports Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition troop movements in and around Bentiu, including close to the Mission base.
- Yesterday, the Mission reported sporadic gun fire in the proximity of its base there, where more than 23,000 civilians are being protected. The Mission reports that one internally displaced civilian was wounded as a result of a stray bullet, and received medical treatment within the Bentiu base. The Mission also reports it has been asked not to land flights in Bentiu during the next 72 hours.
- The Mission once again calls on all parties to the conflict not to station troops or fight in the vicinity of its compound and sites where civilians are being protected, and to respect the sanctity of UN premises.
- Also, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said today that the UN report describing gross violations of human rights in South Sudan underscores the extreme urgency of bringing the conflict to an end.
- She said that South Sudan’s leaders needed to take immediate concrete actions to halt this conflict, and stop the killing. Pillay added that in the light of what this report reveals, there can no longer be any excuse for President Salva Kiir or Riek Machar continuing to avoid identifying and arresting their force commanders and other individuals implicated in the commission of serious violations.
- The High Commissioner also continues to urge both President Kiir and Dr. Machar to publicly, loudly and unequivocally denounce such acts by their fighters and other followers, and to make it clear that anyone committing such crimes will be arrested and prosecuted.
SYRIA: U.N. AGENCIES UNDERSCORE CHALLENGING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) drew attention today to the challenging humanitarian situation in Syria, where aid agencies are continuing to try to deliver urgently-needed aid to the 240,000 people living under siege. There are about 3.5 million people who need help in some 262 locations that aid agencies cannot reach.
- Humanitarian workers need more support and facilitation to move around Syria, first and foremost from the Syrian Government and then from the opposition armed groups.
- Asked about the UN role in the movement of people out of Homs in recent days, the Spokesperson said that the agreement concerning Homs had been brokered by the parties themselves and that it was up to the parties to follow through on their understandings.
- He said that the UN role consisted of general observations for the evacuation process. It also provided contacts and facilitated communication among the parties regarding the whole operation.
- He added that the Damascus Office of the Joint Special Representative for Syria participated with two vehicles.
MURDER OF LAWYER SPOTLIGHTS CLIMATE OF INTIMIDATION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN PAKISTAN – U.N. OFFICE
- The UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said that the murder this week of prominent human rights lawyer Rashid Khan Rehman in Pakistan brings into stark focus the climate of intimidation and threats which permeate the work of rights defenders and journalists in the country.
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, had expressed concern when she visited Pakistan in 2012 about the many journalists, rights advocates and public officials who were receiving death threats for opposing the blasphemy laws. She had urged the Government to take security measures to ensure their security and work were not compromised.
- Her Office condemned the killing of Mr. Rehman and urged the Government to carry out a prompt investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
- It also urged the Government to redouble its efforts to prevent and investigate such attacks, whether committed by State or non-State actors, and to send a strong message that perpetrators will be held accountable.
U.N. ENVOY DISAPPOINTED AT LOW NUMBERS OF CONVICTIONS FOR RAPE CASE IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO
- The Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, reacted yesterday to the conclusion of the Minova trials, expressing disappointment that only two persons were convicted of rape.
She said that the verdict did not reflect the magnitude of the crimes of sexual violence that were committed and failed to do justice to all victims who had the courage to bring this case to court.
Ms. Bangura urged authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo to pay reparations and take immediate measures to protect survivors, witnesses, legal counsels and human rights defenders who advocated for accountability.
- Both the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the UN Mission in the country also expressed disappointment at the military Court’s judgment, pronounced earlier this week.
- Asked further about the disappointment expressed by UN officials and UN cooperation with Congolese Army units, the Spokesperson noted that the United Nations would continue to analyse the way in which the process was conducted to determine if any further steps are needed.
U.N. OFFICIAL WARNS OF WORSENING FOOD INSECURITY IN SOMALIA
- The UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, warned today that without immediate action, the country’s fragile food security situation could worsen in the coming months.
- In a press briefing in Geneva, he said that a combination of delayed rains, rising food prices and continued conflict is further worsening the humanitarian situation in Somalia and that resources for aid remain critically low.
- He added that some agencies and non-governmental organizations have so few resources that essential life-saving projects are facing closure.
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners appealed for US$933 million in 2014 to carry out life-saving work but have only received 15 per cent of the funding so far.
U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED AT RENEWED VENEZUELA VIOLENCE
- The Office of the High-Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) expressed concern today at renewed violence in Venezuela.
- On Wednesday night and early Thursday, Venezuelan troops rounded up more than 200 youth movement protesters who had been camping peacefully outside the UNDP offices in Caracas and other parts of the city. According to official figures, a total of 243 people were arrested.
The majority of those detained, who include 18 minors and one pregnant woman, have reportedly been taken to Tiuna military premises. Lawyers and families have complained about lack of information about the whereabouts of those detained.
Hundreds of other demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the arrests of the youth and the dismantling of the camps. A policeman was shot dead and three others reportedly injured during clashes.
The Office of the High-Commissioner also expressed her concern at reports of violence and attacks in and around Venezuelan universities. The Office reiterated her call to the Government to ensure that people are not penalised for exercising their rights to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression and for sustained and inclusive, peaceful dialogue based on Venezuela's human rights obligations.
SOUTH CHINA SEA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED BY ESCALATING TENSIONS, URGES RESTRAIT AND DIALGOUE
- In response to a question on the situation in the South China Sea, the Deputy Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has noted with concern the escalating tensions in the South China Sea, in particular between China and Viet Nam in the last few days.
- He urges the parties concerned to exercise the utmost restraint and resolve their dispute in a peaceful manner, through dialogue and in conformity with international law, including the UN Charter.
- Asked about a blogger in Saudi Arabia who has been sentenced to imprisonment and 1,000 lashes, the Spokesperson noted concerns about his conviction and sentencing. He said that this is the latest in a string of arrests and rulings recently that are indicative of an increasing trend of repression of freedom of expression and freedom of religion and belief in Saudi Arabia.
- Asked about events in Ukraine, the Spokesperson said that Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman was wrapping up a visit to Ukraine and would afterwards brief the Secretary-General on his discussions there.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
10 MAY - 16 MAY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 10 May/Sunday, 11 May
Today and tomorrow is World Migratory Bird Day.
Monday, 12 May
In New York, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Following this briefing, Abou Moussa, Head of UNOCA, will address the press at the Security Council Stakeout.
In the Economic and Social Council Chamber, the General Assembly will have a High-level Thematic Debate on the Promotion of Investment in Africa and its Catalytic Role in Achieving Africa’s Development Objectives, including those of NEPAD.
The Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues will begin its thirteenth session in the General Assembly Hall (NLB). The ceremonial opening meeting of the Forum will be held at 11 a.m., followed by a press conference on good governance at 1:30 p.m. in the press briefing room.
In Vienna, the 23rd Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) will open. The main theme of this year’s Crime Commission, to conclude on 16 May, is International Cooperation on Criminal matters.
In Geneva, at 10 a.m., the International Labour Organization will launch the study on “Maternity and paternity at work: Law and practice across the world,” with Laura Addati, ILO’s Maternity Protection and Work-family Specialist, and Shauna Olney, Chief of the ILO Gender, Equality and Diversity Branch.
At 1.30 p.m., still in Geneva, the World Health Organization will present the “Global status report on alcohol and health 2014”. Speakers will be Dr Shekhar Saxena, Director of WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, Coordinator Management of Substance Abuse.
Tuesday, 13 May
In New York, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Libya.
At 12:45 p.m., in the press briefing room, Souleymane Diabaté, UNICEF Representative in the Central African Republic (CAR) will give a press conference.
In Geneva, at 1 p.m., there will be a press conference on “The right paths to integration and success for young African athletes” with Samuel Eto’o, football player; Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace; William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration (IOM); and Francesco Ghirelli, Director General of the Italian Professional Football League.
Wednesday, 14 May
The Secretary-General will be in Stockholm, Sweden, for the opening ceremony of the Global Forum for Migration and Development.
In New York, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB) in the morning, and one on the 2140 Sanctions Committee (on Yemen) in the afternoon.
At 12:30 p.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference following the Plenary Meeting of the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia (CGPCS).
In Geneva, at 11.30 a.m., there will be a joint press conference by António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, on the record numbers of IDPs worldwide.
Cine-ONU/Geneva will also be launched with the screening of “12 Years a Slave” at the Maison de la Paix, followed by a debate on the theme of slavery.
Thursday, 15 May
Today is International Day of Families.
In New York, the Security Council will have a debate on Bosnia and Herzegovina.
At 1:30 p.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference of Raja Devashish Roy, Chief of the Chakma Administrative Circle and the traditional raja of the Chakma peoples, and Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, an Igorot from the Cordillera region in the Philippines.
In Geneva, at 11 a.m., the World Health Organization will launch its “World Health Statistics 2014,” with Dr Ties Boerma, Director of WHO’s Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems, and Dr Colin Mathers, WHO’s Coordinator of Mortality & Burden of Disease.
At noon, still in Geneva, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, will brief the press on the humanitarian situation and challenges in the country.
Friday, 16 May
In New York, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Conference Room 6, there will be a Panel discussion on “Thirty Years of Democracy in Latin America: Institutions, Rights and Human Welfare”, organized by the Permanent Missions of Argentina and Sweden, and the Observatory on Latin America (OLA) of The New School and the Latin American Council on the Social Sciences (CLACSO).
In Geneva, at 9.15 a.m., Ambassador Jean-Hugues Simon-Michel of France, Chair of the Meeting of Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons, will brief the press.