HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 16 JUNE 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS IRAQI LEADERS AND INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO UNITE
- The Secretary-General reiterated his condemnation of the recent upsurge of violence in Iraq at the hands of terrorist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Reports of mass summary executions by ISIL are deeply disturbing and underscore the urgency of bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice.
- The Secretary-General warned against sectarian rhetoric that could further exacerbate the conflict and carry grave implications for the entire region. In this regard, he welcomes the important clarification statement on the need for Iraqi unity of His Eminence Sayed Ali Al-Sistani, who represents a deeply influential voice of wisdom and reason.
- The Secretary-General called on all Iraqi leaders - political, military, religious and community - to ensure that their followers avoid acts of reprisal.
- The Secretary-General urged Iraqi leaders to coalesce behind an inclusive national security plan as well as political and social measures aimed at addressing, on the basis of the Constitution, the substantial threat to the country.
- The Secretary-General once again urged the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge. He calls for full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law in efforts to counter terrorism and violence in Iraq.
- The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) stands ready to assist the Government and people of Iraq in overcoming the crisis.
- Asked about security conditions in Iraq, the Spokesman noted that security conditions had changed in Baghdad in recent days.
- He said that, over the coming days, UN staff in Baghdad are being relocated temporarily to other areas as a precautionary measure.
- Today, Haq said, some 58 staff have been moved from Baghdad to Amman, Jordan. The intention is to relocate them in Erbil, in Iraq. Some other relocations may also take place in the next few days.
- He added that the UN Assistance Mission would continue to do its work in Iraq, whether political, humanitarian or otherwise.
- Asked about international efforts to deal with the situation in Iraq, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General once again urged the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge. He calls for full respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law in efforts to counter terrorism and violence in Iraq.
- Asked about Iranian involvement in the Iraq crisis, Haq recalled that the Secretary-General met with the First Vice President of Iran, Eshaq Jahangiri, on the margins of the G77 and China Summit in Bolivia. Among other things, the Secretary-General and the First Vice-President exchanged views on the current situations in Iraq and Syria, in particular the role that Iran could play in helping to restore stability in Iraq and supporting international efforts on Syria.
- Asked about the problems to the region caused by the crisis in Syria, the Spokesman said that the current crisis in Iraq should give all countries, in the region and beyond, further reason to resolve the situation in Syria peacefully. He said that recent events had shown how the unresolved Syrian crisis was creating problems outside Syria’s borders.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES MOBILIZED FOR HALF A MILLION DISPLACED IN NORTHERN IRAQ
- The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq has reported that up to half a million people have been displaced by the fighting in Mosul, including 300,000 of them who have fled to Erbil and Dohuk in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
- Over 100 families are sheltering at a camp in Erbil, where UN agencies and their partners are providing assistance, including food and water supplies. More sites and tents are being setup in Dohuk to accommodate the increasing number of displaced families.
- Inside Mosul, an estimated 25,000 displaced people have sought refuge in schools and mosques. Many have no access to drinking water as the main water station has been destroyed by bombing.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN agencies, who continue to conduct needs assessments, report food scarcity in shops and markets in areas between Mosul and Kurdistan. WFP plans to scale-up its emergency response to reach more vulnerable people displaced by the violence.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) is concerned about health risks, including the spread of measles and polio. Measles is endemic in Mosul and there have been reports of new polio cases in Iraq this year as a result of the Syria crisis.
- WHO has strengthened its disease early warning alert and response system in Mosul and Kurdistan. It is also launching emergency polio and measles vaccination activities for displaced people in Erbil and Dohuk.
SECRETARY-GENERAL: COLOMBIA CLOSER THAN EVER TO ENDING LONGEST ARMED CONFLICT IN LATIN AMERICA
- The Secretary-General commends the Colombian people on the holding of Sunday's presidential elections and looks forward to continue working with the Government of President Juan Manuel Santos in ongoing efforts to promote peace, human rights and development for all Colombians.
- Today, Colombia is closer than ever to ending the hemisphere’s longest armed conflict through negotiations. This is an historic opportunity that should not be missed. The Secretary-General encourages the parties to bring the peace talks to a successful conclusion as soon as possible, building on the important achievements to date. He encourages the parties to listen to the voices of civil society, whose input and support are key to a durable peace.
- The United Nations remains committed to supporting -- as requested by the parties -- the conclusion of the negotiations and implementation of the agreements reached.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED BY INTER-COMMUNAL VIOLENCE IN SRI LANKA
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed her deep alarm today at inter-communal violence taking place in south-western Sri Lanka yesterday, in which at least two people have reportedly been killed and scores injured. The violence happened on Sunday in the town of Aluthgama following a large rally of the Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) to protest an alleged assault a few days earlier by a Muslim youth against the visiting monk at the local temple.
- The High Commissioner said that the Government must urgently do everything it can to arrest this violence, curb the incitement and hate speech which is driving it, and protect all religious minorities.
- Ms. Pillay said that the authorities must immediately bring the perpetrators of such attacks to book and make it clear to the religious leadership on both sides, and to political parties and the general public, that there is no place for inflammatory rhetoric and incitement to violence. At the same time, the security forces must use appropriate measures to contain the situation and ensure this tragic situation is not compounded by any excessive use of force.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES AFGHAN PEOPLE FOR STRONG PARTICIPATION IN PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF
- Over the weekend, in a statement on Afghanistan, the Secretary-General congratulated the Afghan people for exercising their right to vote in the Presidential run-off. He said that their participation across the country demonstrates, once again, the commitment of the Afghan people to shape the future of their country, and to reject violence and intimidation.
- The Secretary-General commended on the work of the Afghan security forces and everyone involved in supporting the electoral process, including the Independent Electoral Commission.
- He added that moving forward, it is critical that Afghanistan preserves the unity, optimism and spirit of inclusiveness reflected in Saturday’s vote.
- Also on Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission there strongly condemned the mutilation of civilians in Herat as a punishment for having voted.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan called such abhorrent acts against civilians a manifestation of weakness and desperation.
- The mission reiterated that attacks directed against civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF: CONTINUED SUPPORT NEEDED FOR FUNDING AND ACCESS TO POPULATIONS
- In Geneva today, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, gave a press conference, highlighting the main current humanitarian challenges.
- She said there was no let-up in the number of crises or their severity, as shown by recent developments in Iraq and Ukraine.
- Regarding Syria, she said 9.3 million were still in need, and 2.8 refugees in neighbouring countries, amid unabated violations of humanitarian and human rights law by all parties.
- In the Central African Republic, Ms Amos stressed that violence and insecurity were cutting off entire communities, with over half the population - 2.5 million women, children and men – urgently needing protection and relief to meet their most basic needs.
- In South Sudan, she stressed that the situation continued to deteriorate due to violence, cholera outbreaks and malaria. She said there was no time to waste if we are to avoid a famine later in the year.
- Valerie Amos also highlighted challenges in Yemen, Somalia and Sudan.
- This year, OCHA is asking for a record US$16.9 billion, the highest amount ever requested in a single year. As of today, 30 per cent of that funding is available.
- Ms Amos asked for continued support of the international community, not only in terms of funding but also in terms of access to those in need.
VALERIE AMOS TO TRAVEL TO C?TE D’IVOIRE ON WEDNESDAY
- Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, will visit Côte d’Ivoire starting Wednesday.
- During her mission she is expected to visit Grabo in western Côte d’Ivoire to meet displaced people and the communities hosting them, as well as Government officials and humanitarian representatives.
- Ms. Amos is also scheduled to participate in the first of the regional consultations in preparation for the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, where community groups, governments, regional organizations, humanitarian and development organizations, academics and businesses from the region will discuss the future of aid, focusing on humanitarian effectiveness; reducing vulnerability and managing risks; innovation; and serving the needs of people in conflict.
U.N. ENVOY TO SECURITY COUNCIL: COTE D’IVOIRE ON THE ROAD TO LONG-TERM STABILITY
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, Aichatou Mindaoudou, briefed the Security Council this morning, on the situation in the country.
- She said that Côte d’Ivoire was on the road to long-term stability and highlighted the ongoing efforts to strengthen reconciliation and national cohesion.
- Ms. Mindaoudou said that the progress achieved had allowed for the withdrawal of 1,700 troops, as requested by the Security Council. She added that the next reduction of troops should be done with caution, keeping in mind the forthcoming elections in 2015.
- The Security Council held consultations on Côte d’Ivoire as well as on Liberia sanctions, before turning to consultations on Ukraine.
UKRAINE: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS DOWNING OF MILITARY PLANE
- In a statement issued over the weekend, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the downing of a Ukrainian military airplane on Saturday in Luhansk, killing 49 people.
- The Secretary-General believes the continuing violence in eastern Ukraine -- characterized by growing loss of life and a deteriorating humanitarian situation -- highlights the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a resolution of the crisis through negotiation and dialogue. He is concerned that recent diplomatic efforts in that direction have not borne fruit and appeals to all sides to implement urgently the 17 April Geneva Agreement, which offered a clear path to a peaceful solution.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his support for newly-elected President Poroshenko and the people of Ukraine and stands in solidarity with them during this difficult time. He once again emphasizes everyone must do their part to bring Ukraine back from the brink and ensure its unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- Asked about problems outside the Russian embassy in Kyiv, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has repeatedly called on all sides to avoid any rhetoric that could inflame the situation and has urged that all leaders work to de-escalate tensions.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN GENEVA FOR U.N. CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT 50th ANNIVERSARY
- The Secretary-General will be arriving today in Geneva, where he will attend a special session on Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). He is also expected to speak to media in Geneva tomorrow.
- He has been traveling to Geneva from Bolivia, where over the weekend he attended the Summit of the Group of 77 and China that took place in Santa Cruz. He told the gathered leaders that the next year and half will be especially crucial for future development and global stability.
- He cited the three priorities for the United Nations until the end of 2015: first, to accelerate the Millennium Development Goals; second, to continue progress towards a meaningful global legal agreement on climate change; and third, to carry over any unfulfilled Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals after 2015.
- Asked about the abduction of Israeli youths in the West Bank, the Spokesman noted that, in a recent statement, the Secretary-General urged all to exercise restraint and lend their urgent support for the release and safe return of the three youths.
- Asked about trials looking into rape allegations against Congolese troops in Minova, the Spokesman recalled that pressure by the Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN Mission on the ground (MONUSCO) had pushed for accountability in that case. He reiterated the UN system’s disappointment at the verdicts that resulted.