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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 19 JUNE 2014

IRAQ: U.N. AGENCIES SET UP NEW SITES, STEP UP ASSISTANCE AFTER FURTHER DISPLACEMENTS

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq reports that the deteriorating security situation in Mosul and surrounding areas, including Tal Afar and Diyala, continues to cause more displacement. UN agencies and their partners are setting up new sites and tents in Erbil, Dohuk and Suleimaniya in Kurdistan to accommodate the growing influx of displaced families.   
  • UNICEF reports at least half of the people displaced, an estimated 250,000 of them, are children. Many need water and sanitation support, immunization against polio and measles, and protection services. The agency has also warned that increasing risks of ethnic violence and threat to Baghdad can also further exacerbate the scale of needs and complexity of the crisis.
  • Cargo planes carrying emergency supplies from UNICEF, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) arrived in Erbil this week. More than 35,000 children will benefit from the new supplies, including tents, blankets and school-in-a-box kits.
  • WFP has started its emergency food distribution to 43,500 of the most vulnerable displaced people.
  • UNICEF and WHO are also working with the Kurdish health authorities to carry out a mass vaccination campaign to prevent the spread of polio and other diseases among displaced children and host communities.
  • Asked about the possibility of a US military attack in Iraq, the Spokesman declined to speculate and noted that a statement from the US Government was expected later in the day on that specific issue. He noted that the Secretary-General has called for an inclusive political dialogue and an inclusive solution in Iraq.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY EXPANDS PRESENCE IN SYRIA TO DELIVER MORE AID TO DISPLACED

  • The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has opened a field office and warehouse in the southern Syrian city of Sweida and stocked it with aid items for onward delivery to thousands of internally displaced civilians.
  • A UNHCR convoy on Wednesday crossed the border from Jordan and made its way to nearby Sweida with 25,000 blankets, 10,000 sleeping mats, 2,500 kitchen sets, 2,000 plastic sheets and 5,000 jerry cans from warehouses in Amman. The aid will be distributed to the neediest among an estimated 550,000 internally displaced people living in the neighbouring governorates of Sweida and Dara'a.
  • The opening of the office and warehouse in Sweida on Wednesday is part of a policy aimed at expanding UNHCR's humanitarian operation to support the increasing number of internally displaced people. There are believed to be more than 6.5 million across the country.
  • The Sweida office will distribute basic relief items, rehabilitate collective shelters and arrange for the provision of health, education and legal services. The office will also become a hub for coordinating the transport of aid across the Syrian-Jordanian border, particularly to Dara'a governorate and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Asked what the Secretary-General is doing currently on Syria, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is consulting widely with Member States to see how they can put in place policies that can help to end the fighting. He noted the Secretary-General’s discussion on Wednesday with the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, Nabil Elaraby, which focused in part on a successor to the former Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi.
  • The Spokesman added that the Secretary-General would give a major speech on Syria on Friday morning at the Asia Society.
  • Asked about problems with the transmission of a press conference by Syria’s ambassador on Wednesday, the Spokesman said that there were intermittent network connectivity problems with the external servers that interrupted the transmission of the signal of some live events. This interruption lasted for about one hour, and affected Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari’s press conference, as well as a concurrent meeting of the General Assembly.
  • He added that the Under-Secretary-General for Public Information had written Ambassador al-Ja’afari to provide an explanation and apology for the problem.

U.N. ENVOY FOR THE SAHEL CALLS FOR IMPROVED COORDINATION OF INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

  • The Secretary-General’s new Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, briefed the Security Council this morning.
  • She said that in her short time in office, she had been struck by the deterioration of the political and security situation in the region, from Mali to Libya and Nigeria.
  • She added that the efforts to address security challenges in the Sahel within the framework of the United Nations Integrated Strategy required a well-coordinated approach encompassing North, West and Central African countries and a flexible geographical definition of the borders of the Sahel region.
  • She said it also required that the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives in these regions work closely together.
  • Ms. Sellassie also noted that the international community needed to improve its coordination to make sure that the limited resources that have been made available so far for the Sahel have the desired impact.

U.N. MISSION NOW PROTECTING 95,000 CIVILIANS IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, says that the number of civilians seeking shelter at UN protection of civilians sites across the country has now reached 95,000, with over 30,000 people in Juba, 18,000 in Malakal and around 38,000 in Bentiu. That’s the largest figure recorded since the beginning of the crisis in mid-December.
  • The Mission also says that most new sites for internally displaced people are completed or very close to completion. In Malakal, 7,000 people have already moved to the new site.
  • In Juba, relocations from the Tomping site will start this week. And in Bor, the Mission expects to start relocations at the end of the month.
  • Meanwhile, the Mission says that 800 Rwandese soldiers have arrived, mostly in Malakal, in addition to 300 Ghanaians deployed mostly in Bentiu. It adds two Ethiopian battalions are also expected to arrive in the coming days.

PAKISTAN: MORE DISPLACEMENTS FROM NORTH WAZIRISTAN

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that an estimated 34,000 people fled North Waziristan, in Pakistan, yesterday following a relaxation in the curfew. This brings the total number of people displaced from the area since May to some 100,000. Further movement is anticipated. 
  • Access remains the greatest challenge in areas of displacement and the authorities are urged to improve humanitarian space.
  • The UN's health agencies are supporting the Government's humanitarian efforts to help the people who have left.

UNESCO DENOUNCES KILLING OF TWO JOURNALISTS IN UKRAINE

  • The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, today denounced the killing of journalists Igor Kornelyuk, and Anton Voloshin in Ukraine. She urged all parties to respect the civilian status of journalists.
  • Ms. Bokova called on all parties to respect the civilian status of journalists and let them carry out their important professional activities in safe conditions in keeping with the Geneva Convention and its Protocols.
  • Those killings bring to five the number of journalists who have been killed in Ukraine since January this year.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In response to questions, the Spokesman took note that one of the suspects regarding the September 2012 Benghazi incident was seized in a raid in Benghazi by US forces recently. He said that the United Nations was aware that the United States has provided an explanation to the Security Council that it acted in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter. Dujarric took note of the position of the Libyan authorities.
  • Asked about raids in the West Bank following the abduction of three Israeli youths, the Spokesman noted the Secretary-General’s expectation that Israel would abide by international humanitarian law during the efforts to find the youths.

 

*** The guest at the Noon Briefing was John Ging, the Operations Director of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who briefed on Mali.