HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 19 JUNE 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL OUTRAGED BY ATTACK AGAINST THE U.N. IN SOMALIA
· The Secretary-General spoke by telephone with the President of Somalia regarding Wednesday’s attack in the capital, Mogadishu.
· The Secretary-General said he was deeply concerned and outraged by the despicable attack against the United Nations and added his own personal condolences to the families of the deceased.
· He urged the President to ensure UN staff are protected and to coordinate closely with the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and his Special Representative.
· The Secretary-General said the United Nations would not be deterred from delivering its mandate.
· The Deputy Secretary-General began his remarks to the Security Council by saying that he was greatly saddened and shocked by the outrageous attack in Mogadishu. The full details are still emerging, but we know that several people have died.
· For his part, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nicholas Kay, called the attack an act of blatant terrorism and a desperate attack to knock Somalia off its path of recovery and peacebuilding, adding that reports of casualties are still being verified.
· The Special Representative said that while colleagues in Mogadishu are shaken, the United Nations remains determined to stand by the people of Somalia.
· Asked about security measures, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations always reviews security arrangements and takes the security of staff seriously. He noted the quick response by the Somalia authorities and the African Union Mission, AMISOM, to today’s attack.
SECRETARY-GENERAL EMPHASIZES ROLE OF CHINA IN PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS WHILE IN BEIJING
· The Secretary-General had a series of meetings with the new Chinese leadership in Beijing on Wednesday, including with President Xi Jinping. There was a readout issued with details on that meeting, as well as his meetings with the Foreign Minister Wang Yi and the Chief of General Staff General Fang Fenghui.
· In his meetings, the Secretary-General emphasized the important role of China in the United Nations, notably in peacekeeping operations. He also discussed a wide range of topics, particularly developments in Syria and on the Korean Peninsula.
· Earlier in the day the Secretary-General visited China's peacekeeping training centre near Beijing and spoke by video link with Chinese peacekeepers based in South Sudan.
· The Secretary-General also met UN staff and the UN Country Team and held talks with the President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Wang Weiguang.
· On Thursday, the Secretary-General has further meetings with Chinese leaders, including Premier Le Keqiang. He will also have meetings related to energy and climate change.
· Asked whether the Secretary-General attended a conference on the Palestinians while in Beijing, the Spokesperson said that he was represented by Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CONFLICT PREVENTION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
· The Deputy Secretary-General addressed the Security Council’s open meeting on conflict prevention and natural resources. He told the Council that, in too many countries, a wealth of resources fails to translate into equivalent wealth for the people. The result of this injustice is bitterness, mistrust and alienation.
· He said that the primary responsibility for preventing conflict, and transparently and equitably managing resources, lies with governments. Ultimately, all parties need to recognize – and act upon – the links between poverty, inequality, conflict and sustainable development.
· The Council also heard from Kofi Annan, in his capacity as Chair of the Africa Progress Panel, and from senior World Bank and UN Development Programme officials.
U.N. TEAM OBSERVES LARGE-SCALE DESTRUCTION IN AL QUSAYR, SYRIA
· A UN inter-agency team visited Al Qusayr in Syria on 15 June to assess the humanitarian situation there. The mission observed large-scale destruction, including to health facilities, housing and schools. There was also no water or power supply. Most civilians have fled to neighbouring areas, as well as to Homs and Damascus.
· The humanitarian team noted that restoring basic services and rehabilitating damaged infrastructure would likely be a long-term undertaking.
· Meanwhile, in the last two weeks, the World Food Programme has dispatched food rations to help 900,000 Syrians, including many who were displaced by the situation in Al-Qusayr and Quneitra.
· The World Health Organization has provided emergency health kits for over 40,000 people in Homs; while generators and water cleaning materials have been provided to allow for a safe water supply for 1.6 million people in Homs, Hama, Tartous and Damascus.
U.N. SAYS THAT LONG TERM PEACE IN AFGHANISTAN CAN ONLY BE ACHIEVED THROUGH A POLITICAL PROCESS
· Asked about UN support for peace talks in Afghanistan, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations maintains that long term peace in Afghanistan can only be achieved through a political process.
· The UN remains committed to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process, in accordance with the UN mandate.
· Del Buey added that the UN Mission, UNAMA, stands ready to support Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation efforts, in full accordance with its mandate.
U.N. TO PUT IN PLACE MECHANISMS TO ENSURE THAT THERE ARE NO CHILDEN IN CHADIAN CONTINGENT TO MISSION IN MALI
· Asked about allegations concerning the use of children by Chad’s armed forces, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict visited Chad in May 2013 followed by a visit of the Military Advisor in June, together with a UNICEF representative.
· They discussed with the Chadian authorities, among other things, short-term measures to be implemented by 31 October 2013, within the grace period for AFISMA troop contributors to comply with United Nations standards.
· Chadian authorities expressed their commitment to ensure that no children are present among the troops to be contributed to the UN Mission, MINUSMA, and are undertaking a number of measures to that effect. In particular, steps are underway to systematize training on the issue of child recruitment, to establish a network of focal points in each military region and to organize an age verification workshop.
· The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is working closely with the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF, and in close consultation with the Chadian authorities, to put in place immediate mechanisms to ensure that there are no children in the contingent it contributes to MINUSMA and that their troops are trained in child protection.
· AFISMA troops, including the Chadians, will be re-hatted as MINUSMA blue helmets on 1 July. But they will be subject to a grace period of 4 months, during which they will be expected to meet UN standards, both on technical issues and on this question of child recruitment.
· Chad is listed in the Secretary-General's Children and Armed Conflict report for recruitment and use, and signed an Action Plan in June 2011 with the UN, which will put in place long-term measures to end this violation and enable Chad to be de-listed.
· The Spokesperson said that the United Nations stands ready to work closely with the Government of Chad to ensure a full implementation of the Action Plan beyond the short-term measures and after the four-month grace period.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES MYANMAR TO TACKLE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST MINORITIES
· On Wednesday, the High Commissioner for Human Rights urged the Government of Myanmar to devote urgent attention to tackling the continuing discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities in the country, warning that failure to act could undermine the reform process.
· Navi Pillay said that Myanmar today can act as a source of inspiration by showing how governments can be transformed by a renewed commitment to human rights.
· However, the High Commissioner said, the ongoing human rights violations against the Rohingya community in Rakhine State, and the spread of anti-Muslim sentiment across the State and beyond, is threatening the reform process and requires focused attention from the Government.
· The President of Myanmar has made some important statements on the need to end discrimination and violence and foster mutual respect and tolerance between people of different faiths and ethnicities, and Ms. Pillay encouraged the Government to translate political will into concrete actions.
MORE REFUGEES AND DISPLACED PEOPLE THAN AT ANY TIME SINCE 1994, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS
· In a report released on Wednesday, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that more people are refugees or internally displaced than at any time since 1994, with the crisis in Syria having emerged as a major new factor in global displacement.
· The Agency’s annual Global Trends report shows that as of the end of last year, more than 45.2 million people were in situations of displacement compared to 42.5 million at the end of 2011. This includes 15.4 million refugees, 937,000 asylum seekers, and 28.8 million people forced to flee within the borders of their own countries.
· About 55 percent of all refugees come from five war-affected countries: Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan.
· The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, said that these numbers are alarming and reflect the difficulties of the international community in preventing conflicts and promoting timely solutions for them.