HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 18 JUNE 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL: EPIDEMIC OF YOUTH UNEMPLOYMENT IS A GREAT TEST OF OUR TIME
- The Secretary-General returned from Geneva to New York today. Before he left Geneva, he spoke at an International Labour Organization (ILO) event on youth employment, and he said that an epidemic of youth unemployment is a great test of our time.
- Half of the world’s young people in the labour force are either working poor or unemployed. He said that working with and for women and young people is one of the top five priorities of his second term as Secretary-General.
- The Secretary-General noted that the United Nations system is implementing a system-wide action plan on youth. And he called on governments to invest more in youth employment initiatives and promote decent work.
- While he was in Geneva, the Secretary-General met with Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States. They discussed all dimensions of the Syrian issue, including the current priorities, which include humanitarian access and bringing the fighting to a halt. They discussed the current search for a successor of Lakhdar Brahimi and agreed to continue these consultations.
- They also exchanged views on the current state of the Middle East peace process, as well as on the crises in Iraq, Libya and Somalia.
- Asked whether Mr. Brahimi’s successor would be a UN appointment or a joint UN-League of Arab States appointment, the Spokesman noted that consultations on the issue were continuing.
U.N. ENVOY FOR IRAQ REITERATES CALL FOR UNITY AND NATIONAL DIALOGUE
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, is in Jeddah today, where he represented the Secretary-General at the 41st session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Council of Foreign Ministers. He delivered a message on the Secretary-General’s behalf on the alarming deterioration of the security situation in Iraq.
- In that message, the Secretary-General says that the situation increases sectarian tensions in the region and it is imperative that acts of reprisal be avoided.
- The Secretary-General called on Iraq’s leaders to come together and agree on a set of inclusive political initiatives as well as a national security plan to address the terrorist threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. He stressed that the plan must be based on the observance of human rights standards and international humanitarian law.
- After the meeting, Mr. Mladenov will return to Baghdad where he remains in close contact with all political leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki and Prime Minister Nichervan Barazani of the Kurdistan Regional Government. He continues to call for unity and national dialogue among all political and religious leaders.
- He has repeatedly underscored the importance of an accelerated government formation process and the need for all communities to engage in the fight against terrorism. He has also offered the good offices of the United Nations in helping to facilitate dialogue among the parties.
- In Iraq's Anbar province, the security and humanitarian situation is reportedly deteriorating in Al-Qa’im, including further displacement. Syrian refugees settled in Al Qa’im are requesting the United Nations Refugee Agency to urgently facilitate their return to Syria.
- In Ninewa province, a humanitarian assessment found out that an estimated 9,620 families have been displaced, mainly to areas under Peshmerga control.
- United Nations assessments in Dohuk and Erbil reported that shelter continues to be the most pressing concern. United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme and UNICEF, continue to increase assistance to help displaced families in affected areas.
- Asked about the movement of UN personnel, the Spokesman confirmed that some staff had been relocated temporarily from Baghdad to Erbil and other places. Mr. Mladenov and other critical staff will remain in Baghdad.
UKRAINE: LATEST HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT WARNS OF BREAKDOWN OF LAW AND ORDER IN THE EAST
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights came out with its latest report on Ukraine today. The report describes the breakdown of law and order in the areas held by armed groups in the east of the country, as well as a number of worrying trends emerging in Crimea.
- The report states that during the reporting period, the human rights situation in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk has continued to deteriorate, with the number of armed people and weapons having increased in both regions.
The report says that abductions, detentions, acts of ill-treatment and torture, and killings by armed groups are affecting the broader population of the two eastern regions, which are now marked by an atmosphere of intimidation and fear.
High Commissioner Navi Pillay also urged the Government of Ukraine to exercise restraint, ensure that security operations are in line with international standards at all times, and take great care to protect civilians when engaging with armed groups.
- The report adds that the situation of all residents of Crimea has deteriorated with regard to their rights to freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, association, religion or belief.
U.N. MISSION REGRETS ANNOUNCEMENT BY AFGHAN CANDIDATE OF SUSPENSION OF COOPERATION WITH ELECTORAL PROCESS
- Asked about the suspension of an Afghan candidate’s cooperation with the country’s electoral bodies, the Spokesman said that the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has said that the announcement by Dr. Abdullah Abdullah on the suspension of his cooperation in the electoral process is regrettable. At the same time, the mission will continue to work with both campaigns and commissions, consulting on a way forward. UNAMA believes that due process should continue.
- The mission needs to learn more about Dr Abdullah's idea for the creation of a commission under UN supervision. It remains ready to assist with any way forward which supports due process.
- The UN urges the candidates and their supporters to act responsibly and avoid any statements or actions that could disrupt due process and political solutions.
ISRAEL, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY WORKING TO FIND MISSING STUDENTS
- In response to questions about three Israeli youths who went missing in the West Bank, the Spokesman clarified that the United Nations does not establish or verify whether there has been an abduction and who is behind it.
- He said that Israel and the Palestinian Authority are working together in a concerted effort to find the missing students, and as part of that, they are investigating and gathering evidence.
- Haq said it is certain is that the three students are missing, and have been missing since Thursday. Both Israel and the PA are working on the assumption, based on intelligence that they have, that their disappearance is due to abduction. It is on that basis that the Secretary-General’s condemnation on Saturday was issued.
U.N. OFFICIAL CALLS SUCCESSFUL POLITICAL PROCESS THE CORNERSTONE OF LASTING STABILITY IN MALI
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in Mali.
- He noted the general insecurity in Northern Mali and said that the Government and armed groups had made little progress towards a real, substantive dialogue. He added that this lack of progress had led to the sharp deterioration of the security situation in Kidal, where armed groups had now assumed effective military -- and to an extent, administrative -- control of the town.
- Mr. Ladsous said that the cornerstone of lasting stability in Mali was a successful political process. He added that it was for the Malian parties to abide by their commitment and agree to the launch of the peace talks at once.
- The Council is now holding consultations on Mali. Later today, it will hold consultations on the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
- In response to questions about a controversy relating to a picture of the Azawad flag, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) confirmed that seven Burkinabe peacekeepers have been sent back to their country.
- Regarding the pictures, at the time of their publication, MINUSMA clearly said that it disapproved of any picture which gave the impression that the Mission was supporting the Azawad movement.
- MINUSMA continues to stand by the principle of territorial integrity and national sovereignty of Mali.
U.N. OFFICIAL HEADS TO SRI LANKA TO DISCUSS POST-WAR CHALLENGES
- Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco will begin a four-day mission to Sri Lanka on Thursday, where he will meet with senior officials of the Government, representatives of political parties and civil society groups.
- In his meetings, he will discuss the country’s post-war achievements, remaining challenges and areas for constructive collaboration in support of a lasting political solution for long-term socio-economic development.
PAKISTAN: SCORES OF PEOPLE DISPLACED BY RECENT VIOLENCE IN FATA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that military offensives in North Waziristan in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas has led to more than 62,000 people being displaced since late May. The authorities report that they expect more people to leave the area and have established a camp and a reception area, although to date no people have accessed the camp areas.
- Humanitarian agencies in Pakistan have expressed concern about the impact of the military operation on civilians and the importance of all parties ensuring the protection of civilians.
- There has been no formal request for assistance from the Government, but health agencies are providing emergency health kits and other technical support through the Ministry of Health.
- As of 18 June, 928 families have crossed from Pakistan into Afghanistan, including 818 Pakistani families and 110 undocumented Afghan families. So far the majority are being hosted by relatives and the community, but humanitarian agencies in Afghanistan, including United Nations Refugee Agency and OCHA, will undertake a mission to Khost in the coming days to get a robust picture of immediate humanitarian needs.
W.H.O REPORTS NEW CASES OF EBOLA IN WEST AFRICA
- The death toll from an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone has hit 337 since February, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO said 47 new cases and 14 deaths had been reported in the region in the last week alone.
- Guinea remains the worst affected country, with 264 Ebola-related deaths, but the toll in Sierra Leone and Liberia has recently spiked, hitting 49 and 24 respectively.
- WHO and partners continue to provide the necessary technical expertise to the Ministries of Health to stop community and health facility transmission of the virus.
- Based on current information, no travel or trade restrictions to Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone are recommended at this point.