HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 20 JUNE 2012
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES RESUMPTION OF TALKS BETWEEN LEBANESE LEADERS
- In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the resumption of the National Dialogue between political leaders in Lebanon, and the Declaration issued following the Dialogue meeting on 11 June.
- The Secretary-General commends President Sleiman’s initiative in re-launching the National Dialogue.
- He encourages political leaders in Lebanon to continue their work in this important process and looks forward to the next meeting planned for 25 June.
- The United Nations continues to believe that the National Dialogue can play a crucial part in promoting stability and the authority of the state in Lebanon.
- The commitment of political leaders in Lebanon to safeguarding the country from the impact of regional tensions at this difficult time is particularly important.
BAN KI-MOON OPENS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE IN RIO
- The Secretary-General opened the Rio+20, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil on Wednesday morning.
- He said that Rio+20 represents not an end, but a beginning.
- He added that progress on sustainable development since the Earth Summit 20 years ago, also held in Rio, has been too slow and that bold words and good intentions have not been enough.
- The Secretary-General said that we are on a dangerous road and that we cannot continue to burn and consume our way to prosperity at the expense of the world’s poor and the global environment.
- World leaders, he added, must send a signal that they are committed to a sustainable future. The challenge, he said, is to bring that vision to life.
- At a press conference, the Secretary-General told reporters that he welcomed the fact that negotiators have achieved consensus on a document that will be submitted to leaders for their consideration and approval.
- The Spokesperson added that the Rio+20 Conference is the beginning of a process, not the end of one. The Secretary-General, he noted, had made clear that world leaders need to send a signal that they are committed to a sustainable future.
U.N. DEVELOPING OPTIONS FOR ITS SYRIA PRESENCE
- Asked about options for the UN presence in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretariat is working on developing options.
- Asked about the decision to suspend patrols of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) and whether Security Council members had been consulted, the Spokesperson said that Security Council members were informed of the decision to suspend patrols.
- Asked about the presence of a “third element” fighting in Syria, Nesirky noted indications that there are forces present on the ground aside from the Government and opposition.
- Asked about the kidnappers of eleven Lebanese in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations has called for the release of the Lebanese nationals as soon as possible.
MORE THAN 200,000 SUDANESE REFUGEES FLEE INTO SOUTH SUDAN, ETHIOPIA – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- The influx of Sudanese refugees into South Sudan continues, with more than 202,000 refugees from Blue Nile and South Kordofan now in camps in South Sudan and Ethiopia, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
- In South Kordofan, the World Food Programme (WFP) continues to distribute food in Government-held areas, including Talodi, Gadir and El Leri.
- A recent joint assessment by WFP and the Humanitarian Aid Commission identified some 110,000 people in need of assistance.
- In Abyei, nearly 9,000 people have returned to areas north of the Bahr el Arab/Kiir River - up from 7,000 people reported last week, according to the UN Interim Security Force in Abyei (UNISFA).
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 400,000 people of South Sudanese origin have returned from Sudan to South Sudan since October 2010.
U.N. OBSERVES WORLD REFUGEE DAY
- Millions of people around the world are marking World Refugee Day on Wednesday.
- As in past years, landmarks around the world are being illuminated in United Nations blue, including the Colosseum in Rome, the Empire State Building in New York, and the CN Tower in Toronto.
- In a message, the Secretary-General noted that more than a million people fled their homes in the last 18 months alone because of a wave of conflicts in Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan and Syria.
- He added that despite budget constraints everywhere, we must not turn away from those in need.
U.N. INTERNAL REVIEW ON SRI LANKA UNDER WAY: In response to a question on the UN’s review into its own actions in Sri Lanka, the Spokesperson said that the review started in April 2012 and will be completed by July 2012 or thereabouts.
U.N. STUDYING CLAIMS ON CHOLERA IN HAITI: Asked about reports of differing strains of cholera present in Haiti, the Spokesperson noted that an independent panel of experts had previously delivered a report on cholera in Haiti. He said that claims made by Haitian families concerning the cholera epidemic are being studied.