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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

FRIDAY, 20 JUNE 2014

SECRETARY-GENERAL PRESENTS SIX MAIN PRIORITIES FOR THE WAY FORWARD IN SYRIA

  • The Secretary-General presented his six main priorities for the way forward in Syria, in a speech at the Asia Society this morning. He urged action to halt the fighting, at a time when the death toll may be well over 150,000 and half the country’s population of more than 22 million is displaced.
  • The six priorities he detailed are: to end the violence; for the international community to do its utmost to protect people and their human rights; to start a serious political process for a new Syria; to have accountability for serious crimes; to finish the destruction of chemical weapons in Syria; and also to address the regional dimensions of the conflict, including the extremist threat.
  • The Secretary-General said that it is essential to stem the flow of arms pouring into the country. He urged the Security Council to impose an arms embargo. If divisions in the Council continue to prevent such a step, he urged countries to do it individually.
  • He added that he will soon name a new Special Envoy. The Secretary-General said that the person will have a mandate to pursue a political solution – but will not be able to wave a magic wand. Much of the painstaking effort and cooperation will be needed.
  • Asked about reaction to United States President Barack Obama’s Thursday statement on Iraq, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General dealt with the question of involvement in Iraq in his speech at the Asia Society.
  • Asked about the flow of arms, Dujarric say that Member States and all groups with influence have a responsibility to stop the flow of arms into Syria.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN ENVOY EXPRESSES DEEP CONCERN FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE IN IRAQ

  • The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, expressed deep concern for hundreds of thousands of people affected by the violent conflict in Iraq.
  • She added that many people have fled Mosul, Diyala and Salah ad-Din with few or no resources of their own to sustain themselves in displacement very long. Emergency funds are being released to help aid organizations’ rapidly increase assistance.  
  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has warned that with fighting currently underway in different parts of Iraq, the displacement crisis could escalate further. UNHCR is working with other UN agencies and NGO partners in Iraq to revise its funding requirements.
  • It is expected to issue a new appeal to now cover the needs of a million displaced in Iraqi in 2014. The 1 million includes close to half a million people displaced by the violence in Anbar earlier this year and another half a million displaced in northern Iraq in recent days.
  • UNHCR also remains concerned about the safety of Syrian refugees at the Al Qaem camp in the Anbar province following military clashes in one camp area, causing panic among the refugees. UNHCR says that it is closely monitoring the situation.
  • The World Health Organizations (WHO) has reported that the health system in the Kurdistan region has been severely strained due to the recent influx of refugees. Local health authorities are working with aid organizations to meet the needs of some 550,000 displaced people in the region, including 300,000 newly displaced Iraqis and another 250,000 Syrian refugees.
  • Regular supplies of medicines and vaccines usually received from the central Government of Iraq in Baghdad have been halted because of insecurity and road blocks.
  • WHO continues to increase assistance in Erbil and Dohuk, and has reached tens of thousands of people with health and trauma kits, as well as treatment. It is working with the health authorities to identify more sustainable ways to make sure medical supplies are available.
  • WHO is also concerned about the increase in the risk of communicable disease outbreaks during summer because of the heat, and the lack of drinking water and sanitation. A disease early warning alert and response system is being setup in Kurdistan and Mosul.

U.N. ENVOY IN MIDDLE EAST DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT REPORTS OF ISRAELI SECURITY OPERATIONS IN WEST BANK

  • The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, is deeply concerned by reports that Israeli security operations in the West Bank since the abduction of three Israeli students have resulted in over 300 Palestinians arrested, many injured, and three Palestinians killed, including one minor this morning.
  • The United Nations understands that these security operations and tightened restrictions on movement throughout and in and out of the West Bank are part of all possible efforts by Israel to bring the three youths home safely. The United Nations continues to call for their immediate release.
  • At the same time, we call for restraint and expect Israel to carry out the related security operations in compliance with international law and respect for the lives, dignity and livelihoods of Palestinians. It should thus seek to minimise the impact of security operations on individuals who have committed no offense and investigate allegations of excessive use of force, including the killing of civilians.
  • The Special Coordinator is concerned that without restraint from all sides in these dramatic circumstances, it will become even more difficult to address an already critical security situation on the ground.

U.N. ENVOY IN LEBANON STRONGLY CONDEMNS SUICIDE BOMBING

  • The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, strongly condemned today’s suicide bombing at an Internal Security Forces checkpoint in Dahr El-Baidar.
  • He telephoned the Director of the Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, to express his sympathy following the death of a member of the Security Forces, as well as the casualties which occurred in the incident. He also telephoned the head of General Security, Maj. Gen. Abbas Brahim.
  • The Special Coordinator noted the increased security measures in parts of the country. He stressed the importance of the work that the army and security forces were carrying out to sustain the calm that has prevailed in Lebanon recently. He underlined the United Nations’ solidarity with Lebanon’s Government and people in standing up to the threat of terrorism.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS CONTINUED HEAVY SHELLING AND USE OF BARREL BOMBS IN SYRIA

  • The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the continued heavy shelling, aerial attacks and use of barrel bombs by the Syrian Government. One such attack, on an improvised camp for internally displaced people in southern Syria on 18 June, reportedly killed over 50 people, including a number of women and children.
  • The Secretary-General reiterates his condemnation of the indiscriminate use of any weapon against civilians, which contravenes international humanitarian and human rights law. All civilians must be protected in any situation.
  • The Secretary-General again appeals to all Syrian sides to end the violence and focus on a peaceful, political solution to the conflict.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT’S PUSH FOR A PEACEFUL RESOLUTION

  • In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General welcomes President Poroshenko's expression of political will to peacefully resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
  • He takes note of the announcement of the President's 14 point peace-plan, which reportedly provides for dialogue, a cessation of hostilities and other measures aimed at de-escalation. A plan with such measures would be encouraging. 
  • The Spokesman noted the utmost importance of the implementation of such measures, as well as of those outlined in the 17 April Geneva agreement, in order to lead to a lasting and peaceful resolution.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN ENVOY IN YEMEN CALLS FOR FULL ACCESS TO PEOPLE IN NEED

  • Jamal Benomar, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, briefed the Security Council in closed consultations and spoke to the media at the stakeout following consultations.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, Johannes Van Der Klaauw, has called on parties to the conflict in Amran Governorate to ensure that aid organizations have full access to all civilians in need of assistance.
  • Up to 40,000 people have been displaced by conflict in Amran since October 2013, about half of whom fled their homes in the last month. This is in addition to over 42,000 people displaced by earlier rounds of conflict in the area.
  • Humanitarian organizations have received reports of civilians abandoning their homes, others hiding in caves in the nearby mountains, water pipelines destroyed and schools occupied by combatants.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator says that efforts to increase humanitarian operations in Amran have been constrained by widespread insecurity.

UN REFUGEE AGENCY: REFUGEE NUMBERS AT ALL TIME HIGH SINCE WWII

  • According to a report by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) released today to mark World Refugee Day, for the first time since World War II, the number of refugees, asylum-seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide has exceeded 50 million people.
  • That’s according to a report by UNHCR's annual Global Trends report shows that 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013 - six million more than reported in 2012. This massive increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria but also major new displacement was also seen in Africa in notably in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.
  • In a message marking the day, the Secretary-General said that these rising numbers are a stark reminder of the international community’s inability to overcome its divisions to prevent and end conflicts. He added that UNHCR and its partners continue to provide lifesaving assistance but that a humanitarian response alone is not enough. Political solutions are urgently needed. 
  • The Secretary-General also called on Member States and partners in civil society to do their utmost to support the nations and communities that have welcomed the forcibly displaced into their midst. He noted that most of the world’s refugees, in fact 86 per cent of them live in the developing world - in countries that have shown a generosity that is often well beyond their means.
  • UNHCR’s Special Envoy, Angelina Jolie, visited Myanmar refugees in northern Thailand today – one of the world’s longest-running refugee situations.
  • She said that more than half of the refugees under UNHCR’s care are already in protracted situations. And that on average a refugee spends 17 years in exile.
  • She added that unless current conflicts are resolved, we will see ever greater numbers of life-long refugees, requiring permanent support from the international community and posing a permanent risk to stability.

 U.N. OFFICIALS IN CENTRAL AFRICA APPEAL FOR AN END TO VIOLENCE IN THE REGION

  • Five Special Representatives of the Secretary-General in Central Africa – Burundi, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and for Central Africa - made a joint appeal to end the violence in the region which has seen major new displacement.
  • They called on all governments and parties in conflict in the region to cease all fighting and enable all refugees and displaced to return to their homes in safety and dignity.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT NAMIBIA, EQUATORIAL GUINEA AND KENYA

  • The Secretary-General will travel to Windhoek, Namibia, on Monday 23 June, before going to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the African Union Summit, and Nairobi, Kenya, for the closing session of the United Nations Environment Assembly.
  • While in Namibia, the Secretary-General will meet with President Hifikepunye Pohamba and other government officials. He will also participate in the commissioning of the United Nations House in Windhoek, home to 12 Agencies, Funds and Programmes.
  • On Wednesday 25 June, the Secretary-General will leave Namibia for Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for the 23rd Ordinary Session of the African Union. He will address the Summit on June 26 and hold bilateral meetings with Heads of States and other high officials.
  • On Friday 27 June, the Secretary-General will leave for Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the closing session of the first United Nations Environment Assembly. This Assembly is the UN Environment Programme’s governing body and the highest-level global platform for environmental policy making.
  • While in Kenya, the Secretary-General will also hold bilateral meetings with Government officials, including President Uhuru Kenyatta. The Secretary-General will be back in New York the following Sunday on the 29th of June.

U.N. OFFICIAL TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN TO ASSESS CHILDREN’S RIGHT TO EDUCATUION AND ACCESS TO SCHOOLS

  • On South Sudan, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, and UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova, will be on a joint visit to the country starting Sunday.
  • This visit will focus on the right to education, ending and preventing attacks against schools as well as the military use of schools.
  • The mission will also mark the beginning of the collaboration between the Office of the Special Representative and Forest Whitaker, who is UNESCO’s Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SCALES UP EFFORTS TO HELP REFUGEES FROM PAKISTAN

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is helping Afghan authorities in the eastern province of Khost register and assist people fleeing the offensive in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. 
  • According to the agency, over 6,400 people had fled North Waziristan into the eastern parts of Afghanistan.
  • Many urgently need shelter, water and sanitation. UNHCR has provided tents and other basic relief items to the most vulnerable families. The World Food Programme has distributed food assistance. UNHCR remains concerned about insecurity and limited access to people in need in the mountainous region.
  • On Pakistan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that as of 20 June, some 200,000 people have been displaced in North Waziristan according to Government estimates. Humanitarian partners are preparing to assist in the aid efforts of the local authorities, including providing emergency medical kits and food assistance.
  • In response to questions, the Spokesman noted the comments made by presidential candidate Dr. Abdullah Abdullah earlier this week about a potential UN role, as well as those of President Karzai today.
  • At the request of the parties, the UN stands ready to help facilitate an Afghan-led process in which both parties will cooperate. Dujarric said that the United Nations would need to hear more information about what they’re asking.

W.F.P. ENVOY DRAWS ATTENTION TO POSITIVE IMPACT OF GOOD NUTRITION

  • World Food Programme (WFP) Ambassador Against Hunger, Jose Mourinho, has used a visit to Cote d'Ivoire to draw attention to the positive impact that good nutrition can have on the lives of young children.  
  • In his first trip as a WFP Hunger Ambassador, Mourinho visited a school in Yamoussoukro, where children receive free daily meals as part of a WFP programme.
  • After a visit to Nanan primary school outside Yamoussoukro last week, he called food a magnet for children, encouraging them to stay in school helping them to focus on their lessons and providing the nutrition they need to lead healthy lives.

SPOKESMAN RESPONSES TO REPORTS OF VIDEO TRANSMISSION PROBLEMS

  • 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.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • Asked about the violence in Sri Lanka, the Spokesman said that was a cause for concern. He noted that Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez Taranco was visiting Sri Lanka and would report back on his report to New York.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
21 JUNE – 27 JUNE 2014


(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Monday, 23 June

Today is World Public Service Day and the International Widow’s Day.

The Secretary-General is expected to travel to Namibia where he will meet with key Government officials and participate in the commissioning of the UN House in Windhoek.
In the morning, the Security Council is expected to hear a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on the Middle East.

At 10 a.m. in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the Peacebuilding Commission will hold its first annual session. Ambassador Antonio de Aguiar Patriota of Brazil, who is the Chair of the Peacebuilding Commission, and Judy Cheng-Hopkins, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, will be the guests at the noon briefing.

At 11 a.m., in the press briefing room, Wu Hongbo, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Secretary-General of the 3rd International Conference on Small Island Developing States will brief the media. He will joined by the Ambassador Ali’ioaiga Feturi Elisaia of Samoa.

At 1:15 p.m. in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a panel discussion on Women’s Access to Justice: Challenges and Best Practices. [Organized by the Permanent Missions of Austria and South Africa]

At 1:15 p.m., at the Church Centre, there will be a joint event co-organized by the Permanent Mission of Samoa and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs called Together from here to Samoa: SIDS 2014 in Partnerships.

From 23 to 26 June, the UN Public Service Day Awards Ceremony and Forum will take place in Seoul, Korea. 

From 23 to 27 June, the first UN Environment Assembly will take place in Nairobi, Kenya. 

Tuesday, 24 June

The Security Council will hear a briefing on the UN Multidimensional Integrated

Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

Wednesday, 25 June

Today is the Day of the Seafarer.

The Secretary-General is scheduled to travel to Equatorial Guinea to attend the 23rd Ordinary Session of the African Union. 
In the morning, the Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and hold a debate on the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

In the afternoon, the Security Council is expected to adopt resolutions on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and MINUSCA. It will also hear a briefing from the 1737 Committee. 

Thursday, 26 June

Today is the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

In the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the Middle East and the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).

The guest at the noon briefing will be the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. She will brief on the upcoming 20th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing.

In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold consultations on the UN Regional Center for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia (UNRCCA).

At 3 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, there will be an open meeting of the Group of Friends of the Alliance of Civilizations.

Friday, 27 June

The Secretary-General is expected to arrive in Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the closing session of the UN Environment Assembly.

At 11 a.m., in the press briefing room, Lazare Eloundou Assomo, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Representative to Mali, will discuss the situation of damaged and destroyed World Heritage in Mali.