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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 FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 17 JUNE 2014

 

IN GENEVA, SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN FOR IRAQ, CONDEMNS GROWING VIOLENCE IN UKRAINE

  • The Secretary-General, who is in Geneva, took part in a special session of the Board of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the organization. He held a press conference at the Palais des Nations following the special session.
  • In his remarks, he expressed his deep concern at the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, including the reports of mass summary execution by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He said there was a real risk of further sectarian violence on a massive scale, within Iraq and beyond its borders.
  • The Secretary-General also called for inclusive dialogue and said it was a key of good governance and leadership in any country.
  • The Secretary-General condemned the growing violence in Ukraine, including the downing of a Ukrainian military airplane. The Secretary-General also decried acts such as the attack on the Russian embassy in Kiev, which only increase tension. The Secretary-General has also condemned that attack and urged the Ukrainian authorities to abide by their international commitments to ensure the inviolability of all diplomatic missions and personnel.
  • The Secretary-General also highlighted the situation in South Sudan and the Central African Republic, saying that both demanded our attention but were at risk of falling from the radar.
  • This afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.
  • He will be back in New York on Wednesday.

U.N. ENVOY IN IRAQ CALLS ON POLITICAL LEADERS TO AGREE ON NATIONAL SECURITY PLAN

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative Nickolay Mladenov for Iraq continues to encourage the political leaders of Iraq to swiftly come together and agree on a national security plan to address the terrorist threat.
  • Mr. Mladenov said that agreement on a set of inclusive political and social initiatives that must be supported by all communities in the country.
  • He added that the newly elected Council of Representatives must meet and ensure the continuity of the political process. And the United Nations stands ready to facilitate this. 
  • The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq reported that thousands of families have reportedly fled violence in the north-western town of Tal Afar.
  • Many displaced families are currently homeless and require urgent assistance, including access to food, water and shelter. UNICEF is conducting assessments to ensure the immediate provision of water, sanitation and health care.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that the number of displaced people arriving in the Kurdish region of Iraq continues to increase, with some 3,000 families arriving overnight. In total, 325,000 displaced people, out of the 500,000 displaced from Mosul, have arrived in the Kurdistan Region since 6 June.
  • UN agencies continue to scale-up assistance to respond to the growing number of displaced people. UNICEF and its partners are carrying out emergency immunization campaigns against measles and polio to address low immunity levels among displaced families.
  • UNICEF is also calling for safe humanitarian corridors, where local authorities and the UN can work to facilitate more access to people in need in Mosul and other areas especially along the border. 
  • The World Health Organization is very concerned about the health care situation. It has warned that damage to the health infrastructure and health facilities in the affected areas could lead to a bigger health care crisis and severely hamper people’s access to life-saving treatment.
  • Also, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, Irina Bokova, has expressed the fear that Iraq’s cultural heritage will be looted and destroyed due to the violence there.
  • Ms. Bokova called on all Iraqis to stand united for the protection of their country’s cultural heritage. She urged all parties to the conflict to refrain from any form of destruction of cultural property, including religious sites.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s views on Iraq’s political situation, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General, in his press remarks today, encouraged all Iraqi leaders – political, military, religious and community – to ensure that their followers avoid acts of reprisal and come together in an inclusive spirit to address this serious threat to the country.
  • Haq added that Mr. Mladenov was in touch with leaders in Iraq to encourage their unified response to the threat posed by ISIL.
  • Asked about the movement of UN staff, the Spokesman said that some UN staff are being temporarily relocated outside of Baghdad. He added that Mr. Mladenov continues to be based in Baghdad, while adding that he would travel in the region for meetings this week.

SYRIA: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT SAYS VIOLENCE HAS ESCALATED TO UNPRECEDENTED LEVELS

  • The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented its report to the Human Rights Council today, saying violence escalated to an unprecedented level in the country.
  • The Chairman of the Commission, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, said that perpetrators of crimes have no fear or thought of consequence and that impunity had made its home inside Syria.
  • He said that through the inaction of the international community and specifically the Security Council, a space has been created for the worst of humanity to express itself.  The report collects detailed narratives of a massive number of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • Mr. Pinheiro said that Government forces in Syria had been making slow but significant gains, a result of indiscriminate attacks and prolonged sieges. Meanwhile, non-state armed groups have been losing ground.
  • The report describes the abusive treatment of civilian populations, corrupt management of resources under their control and growing numbers of foreign fighters.
  • Mr. Pinheiro said to the Security Council that we are now closer than ever to a regional war in the Middle East. He added that Syria was on its way to becoming a failed state and that the international community was complicit in this, through its acts and its omissions.

I.C.C. PROSECUTOR CALLS ON SECURITY COUNCIL FOR MORE ACTION ON DARFUR

  • At the Security Council, Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said that the time had come to take a critical look at efforts vis-à-vis Darfur. She called on the Security Council to take decisive action when it comes to the Government of Sudan’s defiance of its resolutions.
  • Asked about Ms. Bensouda’s remarks about problems with the reporting coming from UNAMID, the Spokesman said that the United Nations would study her call for a thorough, independent and public inquiry.
  • Regard the problems reported with the Mission, he noted that, earlier in the year, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) launched a Strategic Review, which was endorsed by the Security Council, to assess UNAMID's performance in an environment in which new conflict dynamics have emerged and old ones remain unaddressed.
  • The Review provides for a period of 12 months to address the challenges and to achieve adequate impact on the ground. At the end of this period of 12 months, the effectiveness of the Mission will be re-evaluated and, depending on the results, adjustments will be made to the mandate and the Mission's authorized strength.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION STRONGLY CONDEMNS ATTACKS AGAINST ELECTION WORKERS

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemned the continued and targeted killing of Afghan election workers in the wake of the second round of the country’s Presidential election last Saturday.
  • Victims include two employees of the Independent Election Commission (IEC) in the southern province of Helmand on Monday. Eight IEC workers – along with another two civilians, including a child – were also killed by a remote-controlled improvised explosive device planted on a road in the northern province of Samangan on Saturday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for this attack.
  • On Election Day, a total of 53 civilians were also killed and another 161 injured, including 20 children and at least ten women.
  • The Mission reiterates that attacks directed against civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law which parties to the armed conflict – including all anti-Government elements – must uphold.

AFTER GENERAL ASSEMBLY APPROVAL, SECRETARY-GENERAL FORMALLY APPOINTS NEW HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER

  • Following approval by the General Assembly, the Secretary-General has formally appointed Prince Zeid Ra'ad Zeid Al-Hussein of Jordan as the next High Commissioner for Human Rights.
  • Prince Zeid will succeed Navi Pillay of South Africa, to whom the Secretary-General is deeply grateful for her tireless efforts and dedication in championing the centrality of human rights in the pursuit of sustainable peace and development. 
  • Prince Zeid’s nomination comes at the end of an extensive selection process which includes consultations with Member States and human rights non-governmental organizations.  He brings to the position an extensive career in multilateral diplomacy.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW FORCE COMMANDERS FOR MISSIONS IN SOUTH SUDAN AND LEBANON

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Lieutenant-General Yohannes Gebremeskel Tesfamariam of Ethiopia as the Force Commander for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
  • Lieutenant-General Tesfamariam succeeds Major-General Delali Johnson Sakyi of Ghana who completed his assignment on 9 June 2014.  The Secretary-General is grateful for Major-General Sakyi’s dedication and leadership in UNMISS. 
  • Most recently, Lieutenant-General Tesfamariam served as the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei.
  • The Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has also appointed Major General Luciano Portolano of Italy as Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
  • Major General Portolano has had a long and distinguished military career since joining the Italian army in September 1981. Most recently, since September 2012, he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Joint Operations in the Italian Armed Forces.

***Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Kyung-wha Kang briefed the media on Myanmar as the guest at the noon briefing.