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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, 11 JUNE 2013

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED OVER POLITICAL AND SECURITY SITUATION IN IRAQ

  • The Secretary-General has been following with concern the unfolding political and security situation in Iraq, including the escalating political tensions and the appalling upsurge of violence that has killed a high number of civilians over the last two months.  He expressed his deepest sympathy to the victims and their families and calls upon the Iraqi Government to do its utmost to bring to justice the perpetrators of these atrocious acts. He underscored the pressing need for dialogue between political blocs in order to overcome the current crisis.
  • The Secretary-General welcomes all recent dialogue initiatives including the high-level meeting convened by Sayyed Ammar Al-Hakim, and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s visit to the Kurdistan Region. He urges all parties to redouble their efforts to ensure that the momentum of national reconciliation is not lost to those groups that strive to reignite sectarian violence in Iraq.
  • The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations, including the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), to support and assist the Government and people of Iraq in building a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country.

NEW SECRETARY-GENERAL OF U.N. CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT APPOINTED

  • Following confirmation by the General Assembly on Monday, the Secretary-General has appointed Mukhisa Kituyi of Kenya as the new Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Mr. Kituyi will replace Supachai Panitchpakdi whose term is due to end on 31 August.
  • Since 2008, Mr. Kituyi has served as Chief Executive of the Kenya Institute of Governance and a Fellow of the Brookings Institution.

YEMEN: U.N. ADVISER BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON TRANSITION AND NATIONAL DIALOGUE

  • Jamal Benomar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Yemen, informed the Security Council this morning about the progress of the transition in that country, including the National Dialogue. As part of that dialogue, he noted, men and women in Yemen are engaged in discussions and debates about the problems of their country and its possible future. People are participating in seminars, roundtables, and open tents put up in town squares.
  • At the same time, Mr. Benomar said, this transition is delicate. On Sunday, he said, a clash erupted between security forces and Ansar Allah demonstrators outside the National Security Bureau in Sana'a, resulting in the death of several individuals and injuries to dozens more.
  • Nevertheless, the Special Adviser said, Yemen is the only country in the region to emerge from the violence of 2011 with a peacefully negotiated agreement, including a clear road-map and timeline for a broad-based democratic transition. He congratulated the Government and people of Yemen for standing by their words despite the challenges and urged them to stay the course.

U.N. REPRESENTATIVE VISITS MALI TO SUPPORT TALKS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND NORTHERN GROUPS

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Mali, Bert Koenders, is in Ouagadougou supporting talks between the Government and the northern groups. DPKO says that it is important that all parties continue working in a constructive manner to reach a timely agreement that will contribute to long-term peace and stability in Mali. The United Nations stands ready to provide all appropriate support for the implementation of such an agreement.

U.N. DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE SEEKS REPLACEMENT FOR DEPARTING AUSTRIAN TROOPS

  • On Wednesday, 67 Austrian troops will leave the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) as part of a pre-scheduled troop rotation. In accordance with the decision of the Government of Austria, these troops will not be replaced by further Austrian troops.
  • The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is in continuing discussions with the Government of Austria about the timetable for withdrawing the remaining 310 troops in the Observer Force to allow for a smooth transition with replacements. The Department is also in continuing discussions with the other current troop-contributing countries for the Mission, as well as with other Member States to ensure that its troop and capability levels remain adequate.
  • In response to further questions, the Spokesperson confirmed that approximately 170 Fijian troops will be deployed later in June. They are replacing the Croatian troops.

SYRIA FACES MATERNAL HEALTH CRISIS, SAYS U.N. POPULATION FUND

  • The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) says that Syria is facing a crisis in terms of maternal health. The agency is working as hard as it can to alleviate the situation and help maternal services inside Syria and among refugees. During the last two weeks of May, the Population Fund supported deliveries for 1,300 women in Damascus and Aleppo and has sponsored reproductive and maternal health services for thousands of women in the country.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that, although the 1.6 million refugees from Syria had placed a huge pressure on neighbouring countries, its priority is to maintain asylum in the region. It is also working with Governments, including European Governments, to examine ways in which further resettlement programmes for Syrians could be successfully used. For example, the Refugee Agency had had talks with the German Government, looking at resettlement for up to 10,000 Syrian refugees.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. REPRESENTATIVE CALLS ON ANTI-GOVERNMENT FORCES TO STOP TARGETING CIVILIANS

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubis, has called on anti-government forces in the country to stop targeting civilians.
  • Speaking at a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday, he said that 3,092 civilians have been killed or injured in the country’s conflict in the first five months of this year, and that is a 24 per cent increase from the same time period last year.
  • Children accounted for a fifth of all the civilian casualties.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY ALARMED AT FIGHTING IN JONGLEI STATE

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) voiced its alarm on Tuesday at fighting in South Sudan’s Jonglei state between Government forces and armed troops. Since clashes began in March, they have displaced tens of thousands of people.
  • The Refugee Agency says that security constraints have made it difficult to monitor the situation and to respond to humanitarian needs.

SUDAN: U.N. COORDINATOR EXPRESSES SHOCK AND SORROW AT KILLING OF HUMANITARIAN WORKER IN CENTRAL DARFUR

  • The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan on Tuesday expressed shock and sorrow at the killing of a staff member with a humanitarian organization on Sunday in Central Darfur.
  • Ali Al-Za’tari said the incident took place at a camp for displaced people, and he urged authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • He also stressed that it is the responsibility of all parties to ensure a safe and secure environment for all those living and working in the camps.”

NIGERIA: CRISIS HAS FORCED MORE THAN 6,000 PEOPLE TO SEEK SAFETY IN NIGER, SAYS U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that the crisis in northeastern Nigeria has forced more than 6,000 people, mainly women, children and elderly, to seek safety in neighbouring Niger.
  • Refugees whom the UN Agency has spoken to said they escaped for fear of being caught in the government-led crackdown on insurgents linked to the Boko Haram sect.
  • The Refugee Agency has also seen arrivals in Cameroon and Chad in the past weeks. There are 155 Nigerian asylum seekers in Chad, along with 716 Chadian nationals. In Cameroon there are 1,200 returned nationals.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPEALS FOR CALM IN TURKEY

  • Asked about protests in Turkey, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is following developments there. 
  • He said that the Secretary-General appeals for calm and stresses the importance of addressing differences through dialogue.  Protests should be peaceful and the right to assembly and the freedom of expression should be respected, as these are fundamental principles of a democratic state.

U.N. MILITARY OBSERVER IN INDIA AND PAKISTAN HAS NOT RECEIVED FORMAL COMPLAINT FROM INDIAN ARMY

  • In response to questions about a recent incident in Kashmir, the Spokesperson said that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) is aware of the media reports on the incident. It has not received a formal complaint from the Indian Army or a request to examine the facts surrounding the incident.
  • Nesirky added that UNMOGIP has completed its examination into incidents that had taken place on 10 and 15 January. The examination into the 6 January incident is awaiting finalization pending the receipt of further details from the Pakistan Army. The reports of these examinations are internal to the UN, but a summary of their findings will be communicated to both India and Pakistan.
  • The Spokesperson noted that there was also an incident on 8 January incident, but it was not examined by UNMOGIP, as no formal complaint was received from the Indian Army.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES PARTIES TO RESOLVE DIFFERENCES THROUGH DIALOGUE IN KOREAN PENINSULA: Asked about the situation on the Korean peninsula, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has consistently stated that any differences should be resolved peacefully through dialogue.

READOUT ISSUED FOLLOWING MEETING BETWEEN SECRETARY-GENERAL AND FRENTE POLISARIO CHIEF: Asked about the Secretary-General’s meeting with the Secretary-General of the Frente Polisario on Monday, the Spokesperson said that a readout was issued after that meeting.

ESCALATORS WORKING AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS: In response to a question about the escalators at UN Headquarters, the Spokesperson said that, as part of the Capital Master Plan, the escalators have all been renovated. A problem which had caused a number of service disruptions in the past days has been fixed. Now, the escalators are running reliably again.