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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

TUESDAY, 24 JUNE 2014

 

UKRAINE: SECRETARY-GENERAL PLEASED BY START OF PEACE TALKS, CALLS ALL SIDES TO LIVE UP TO CEASEFIRE

  • The Security Council heard updates this morning in its open meeting on Ukraine from Assistant Secretaries-General Tayé-Brook Zerihoun and Ivan Simonovic. 
  • Mr. Zerihoun noted encouraging signs towards de-escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, and added that political and diplomatic steps are beginning to emerge towards the resolution of the crisis.
  • As he noted in his briefing, the Secretary-General has been pleased to see that peace talks have reportedly started with representatives of armed groups in eastern Ukraine, led by former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma. The Secretary-General has stressed that such talks are indispensable in efforts to help defuse tensions.
  • The Secretary-General has also taken note that the armed militia groups have agreed to reciprocate the cease-fire, despite previously rejecting the President's offer and continuing their offensive. Overall, the cease-fire is holding. The Secretary-General expects all sides to live up to the ceasefire and to leave the door open for effective negotiation and mediation toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis.
  • Mr. Zerihoun added that, today, in a welcome development that will not only help reduce tensions but also improve the chances for a negotiated settlement, President Putin asked the Russian parliament to revoke the authorization to send troops to Ukraine.
  • Speaking by videconference, Mr. Simonovic presented the latest report by UN human rights monitors, which outlines some positive developments that have occurred recently through a number of initiatives and legislative changes. 
  • He said that recent developments create a window of opportunity for human rights and humanitarian confidence building measures.
  • Asked about videos of UN-marked helicopters, the Spokesman noted that the United Nations had raised concerns with the Government of Ukraine when the videos had first surfaced.

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES AGREEMENT FOR NEW INTERIM REGIONAL ADMINISTRATION IN SOUTH WEST SOMALIA

  • The Secretary-General welcomes the signature on 23 June in Mogadishu of an agreement to establish a new interim regional administration in south west Somalia, comprising the regions of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle.
  • The Secretary-General commends all parties involved for their diligent negotiation of this important agreement, and looks forward to its prompt implementation. He recalls that the formation of inclusive regional administrations is a key milestone in Somalia's path towards a federal system of governance, in line with the Provisional Constitution and the aspirations of the Somali people. 
  • The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support the Federal Government of Somalia’s peace-building and state-building efforts.

IN NAMIBIA, BAN KI-MOON MEETS PRESIDENT, DISCUSSES DEVLEOPMENT, HUMAN RIGHTS, CLIMATE CHANGE

  • The Secretary-General arrived in Windhoek, Namibia, a few hours ago. At a meeting with President Pohamba, the Secretary-General commended the progress made by Namibia in the areas of development, human rights, gender equality and environmental sustainability. 
  • They also exchanged views on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and climate change, especially the issues of desertification and drought.
  • Following their bilateral meeting, they proceeded to the official inauguration of the UN House in Namibia, which is home to a dozen Agencies, Funds and Programmes.
  • The Secretary-General will leave Namibia on Wednesday for Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, to attend the African Union Summit.

U.N. MISSION SAYS 1,000 PEOPLE KILLED IN IRAQ IN JUNE, CALLS FOR PERPETRATORS TO BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) released new casualty numbers today, saying that over 1,000 people have been killed in Iraq in June so far.
  • Al least 757 people were killed and nearly 600 were injured due to the conflict in Nineveh, Diyala and Salah al-Din Provinces. The number includes verified summary executions and extra-judicial killings.
  • Over 300 others were killed during the same period in Baghdad and areas in the south, many of them as a result of car bombs.
  • The report also says that abductions continue in the Northern provinces and Baghdad. This month, 48 Turkish citizens and around 40 Indian nationals were abducted in Mosul.
  • The Mission has urged the Iraqi authorities to swiftly carry out their obligation to thoroughly investigate the incidents and to make every effort to bring all perpetrators to justice.
  • On the humanitarian front, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) continues increase its assistance to help displaced children, who make up half of those displaced by the ongoing conflict in Iraq.
  • So far, UNICEF has distributed over 70,000 litres of water, 5,000 food parcels and 3,500 hygiene kits. UNICEF has also reached children in Sinjar and Tel Keif, just kilometres away from the frontlines in Mosul.
  • UNICEF’s representative in Iraq, Marzio Babille, says that the agency will continue to access children in hard-to-reach areas, including disputed territories, with life-saving aid.   
  • Also on Iraq, the UN Assistance Mission reports that the European Commission will increase its humanitarian assistance to Iraq by 5 million Euros to support efforts to help families displaced by the conflict.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s recommendations to countries in the region, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has called on countries in the region to do all they can to bring the situation in Iraq and Syria under control.
  • Asked about political discussions on Iraq, Dujarric emphasized the importance of inclusive government.
  • Asked about staff security, the Spokesman said that there are changes being made on the ground on the basis of security assessments. He noted that UN staff continue to work to provide humanitarian and other assistance, under difficult circumstances.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS ROLE OF

PEACEBUILDING FUND

  • The Deputy Secretary-General opened the Fourth High-Level Stakeholders meeting of the Peacebuilding Fund, this morning here at Headquarters.
  • He said the Fund had built credibility by being persistent, creative and focused. He noted that in Sierra Leone, the Fund had been used to finance critical tasks as the UN Office there was preparing its departure.
  • He added that in the Central African Republic, the Fund supported peacebuilding efforts as soon as political frameworks, however tentative, began to emerge. He also said that the Fund took an exceptional measure to boost the credibility of the new Transitional Government by working with the World Bank, UNDP, the European Union and the Government to provide four months’ worth of salary payments to the police and gendarmerie.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General called on supporters of the Fund to renew their commitments saying that more resources will be needed to meet the world’s many peacebuilding challenges. The Fund has an annual target of $100 million.

LEBANON: U.N. CONDEMNS SUICIDE BOMBING OUTSIDE OF BEIRUT SUBURBS

  • The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Derek Plumbly, strongly condemned the suicide bombing that took place on Monday at the entrance to the southern suburbs of Beirut, in which a member of the General Security services was killed and a number of people were injured. The Special Coordinator underlined the need for continued unity in Lebanon in the face of the terrorist threat. 
  • Also today, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, met with the Speaker of Lebanon’s Parliament, Nabih Berri, and Prime Minister Tammam Salam in Beirut. He also met the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwaji and other senior officers.

DEPUTY CHIEF OF U.N. POLITICAL AFFAIRS WRAPS UP VISIT

TO SRI LANKA

  • Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco has concluded a four-day mission to Sri Lanka, which began on 19 June.
  • He met with key interlocutors, including the Minister of External Affairs, the Minister of Economic Development, the Defense Secretary, members of the opposition parties and civil society groups as well as the diplomatic community.
  • Among the topics discussed were Sri Lanka’s post-war achievements and remaining challenges, areas for constructive collaboration in support of a political solution and socio-economic development.

U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN FACILITATED MEETING BETWEEN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE AND ELECTION COMMISSION

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has helped to facilitate a meeting between the Independent Election Commission and Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah.  
  • The meeting allowed for an exchange of views says the Mission, which continues to encourage the candidates to fully engage in the electoral process, and cooperate with one another and with the electoral institutions.

PAKISTAN: NUMBER OF DISPLACED IN NORTH WAZIRISTAN

CLOSE TO 500,000

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the number of people displaced from Pakistan's North Waziristan Agency has risen to more than 455,000 people, 74 per cent of whom are women and children.
  • More than 380,000 people have been displaced in just over a week, following the launch of security operations on 15 June. They urgently need food, shelter, health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and protection.
  • The Pakistani Government is providing displaced people with cash grants as they register, and has provided the World Food Programme (WFP) with 25,000 metric tons of wheat to support the displaced families.
  • And the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that nearly 150,000 people have received polio drops on their way out of North Waziristan.

U.N. KOSOVO ENVOY DEPLORES VIOLENCE IN MITROVICA SOUTH

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo, Farid Zarif, deplored the acts of violence committed during the demonstration on Sunday in Mitrovica South. He also commended the appropriate response of the police and international security providers.
  • Mr. Zarif calls for continued calm in the aftermath of this incident. He reiterated that misguided behaviour by some individuals should not be permitted to inflame wider tension. He added that inflammatory and provocative statements should be avoided by all sides in order to help maintain an atmosphere conducive to the successful resumption and continuation of the Brussels dialogue.

ENVIRONMENTAL CRIME HELPS FINANCE CRIMINAL, MILITIA AND TERRORIST GROUPS, SAYS NEW REPORT

  • A new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL warns that global environment crime, which is worth up to $213 billion each year, is helping to finance criminal, militia and terrorist groups. Such illegal trade in natural resources is also threatening the security and sustainable development of many nations. 
  • The report estimates that militia and terrorist groups in and around African nations with on-going conflicts may earn up to $289 million annually from their involvement in the illegal or unregulated charcoal trade. Groups that benefit from the illegal trade in wildlife and timber products are also estimated to earn up to $12.2 million each year from elephant ivory in the Central Africa sub-region, driving a significant reduction in elephant populations across Africa.
  • By some estimates, the total amount generated from global environment crime significantly exceeds the global Overseas Development Assistance of around $135 billion each year.
  • The report calls for further strengthened action against the organized criminal networks profiting from the trade.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In response to a question, the Spokesman noted the holding of presidential elections in Mauritania on 21 June. He said that previously, the United Nations had welcomed the efforts that the Government of Mauritania had undertaken to promote dialogue with the opposition. Dujarric encouraged all actors to engage in an inclusive political dialogue that helps overcome the current stalemate.
  • Asked about the situation in the West Bank, the Spokesman reiterated the points made to the Security Council on Monday by Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman. Mr. Feltman had called for efforts to find three abducted Israelis and had also noted the need to follow international humanitarian law.
  • Asked about the reported release and re-arrest of a woman accused of apostasy in Sudan, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was monitoring the latest developments.