HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 25 JUNE 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN EQUATORIAL GUINEA TO PARTICIPATE IN A.U. SUMMIT
- The Secretary-General arrived in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, today to participate in the African Union Summit.
- Prior to that, he wrapped up his visit to Windhoek, Namibia. He laid a wreath at Heroes Acre and visited the Independence Memorial Museum.
- In Equatorial Guinea, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with a number of African Heads of State.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General would meet the President of Egypt while in Malabo, the Spokesman said announcements would be made on the meetings he holds once they take place, given the fluid nature of his schedule.
SECURITY COUNCIL RECEIVES UPDATE ON ELECTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN
- Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, briefed the Security Council this morning on the elections in that country, and he said that the way the two presidential candidates and the country’s leadership manage the events that are unfolding will be vital to Afghanistan’s unity and stability.
- He appealed for calm among both candidates’ supporters and said that the candidates must decisively and actively engage in finding solutions to end the current impasse. Mr. Kubiš said that the need now is for statesmanship, not brinksmanship.
- Council members also heard from the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Yury Fedotov, who said that an estimated 80 percent of the world’s opium and heroin are produced in Afghanistan.
- Earlier today, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) until the end of June 2015. It also decided in a reduction in the size of the force, so that by that date, UNOCI’s uniformed personnel shall consist of up to 5,437 military personnel.
- This afternoon, the Council has scheduled meetings on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) and the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.
U.N. ENVOY IN LIBYA COMMENDS WORK OF LIBYAN ELECTORAL AUTHORTITIES ON ELECTION DAY
- Parliamentary elections kicked off in Libya today. While visiting a polling station, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Tarek Mitri, commended the efforts of the Libyan High National Elections Commission for carrying out a well-organized election.
- He said that the election offers an opportunity for interaction, dialogue and diversity in choices for Libyans. He added that Libya needs political institutions that reflect the diversity of the Libyan society.
- He urged all Libyans to exercise their right to vote and shape their country’s future in a peaceful manner. The UN, through an integrated team from the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP), continues to provide technical expertise, advice and capacity-building support to the Libyan electoral authorities.
U.N. AGENCIES AND PARTNERS CALL FOR MORE HUMANITARIAN FUNDING FOR IRAQ
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, briefed the press in New York by videoconference earlier today.
- On the humanitarian front, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that Iraq is facing serious food security concerns following conflict in many parts of the country this year. Over 1 million people have fled their homes since the beginning of 2014, abandoning farmlands and jobs.
- The governorates most affected by the conflict, Nineveh and Salah ad-Din, on average contribute about a third of Iraq’s wheat and barley production. But grain reserves in these areas are being depleted and levels of available food via the public distribution system are also fast deteriorating.
- Also on Iraq, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, today ended a two-day visit to Iraq where she met displaced families who had fled the fighting in Mosul. She visited the Kalak transit camp located between Mosul and Erbil, where many people had arrived in recent weeks with only the clothes on their back.
- She said that UN agencies and their humanitarian partners are sending more staff, releasing more funds and drawing on all available stocks to respond to the deteriorating situation.
- WFP has launched an emergency operation to feed more than half a million people affected by the ongoing conflict, despite security and funding challenges. The organization needs $88 million for its operations in Iraq until the end of the year.
- Regarding overall funding, the humanitarian community in Iraq has revised its funding appeal – increasing its requirements for this year from $103 million to over $312 million. The funding is urgently needed to help 1 million people affected by the conflict, including in Mosul and Anbar. The appeal remains one of the least funded appeals for 2014 with only 6 per cent of the funding has been received so far.
- Asked about the political transition in Iraq, the Spokesman said Iraq’s politics are in the hands of its people. He added that there is a need for an inclusive government that represents all Iraq’s political groups, faiths and ethnic groups.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. ENVOY MEETS DISPLACED PEOPLE IN BENTIU
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, was in Bentiu on Tuesday.
- She met with displaced persons at the UN Mission’s protection of civilians’ sites, which currently host close to 45,000 civilians. Individuals are still arriving on a daily basis.
- Johnson said that the people did not feel safe but were also coming to the UNMISS base for food, since one of the consequences of the fighting was food insecurity.
- The head of the UN Mission also met with the Deputy-Governor of Unity state to discuss the ongoing crisis, and deteriorating humanitarian situation, as well as with UN staff.
- Close to 100,000 civilians are currently protected by UNMISS nationwide, with the largest number of displaced persons being in Bentiu.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN ENVOY CONDEMNS SURGE IN INTER-COMMUNAL VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- On the Central African Republic, the Senior Humanitarian Coordinator there, Claire Bourgeois, strongly condemned today the upsurge in inter-community violence in and around the town of Bambari during the last few days and called to break the cycle of perpetual violence.
- On Tuesday, Babacar Gaye, the head of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, briefed the Security Council on the latest situation in the country.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the violence has reportedly displaced several thousand residents from their homes.
- UN agencies and non-governmental organizations found around 7,000 newly displaced persons yesterday at the Eveche St Joseph site, adding to the 1,000 IDPs already living there.
- Other areas that continue to register arrivals include the Bambari MISCA base (around 500 IDPs), areas next to the Sangaris’ base (around 1,800) and Notre Dame des Victoires, which has around 2,500 IDPs.
- UN agencies and NGOs are assessing current food stocks and preparing to improve water and sanitation facilities at all sites.
U.N. DEPUTY HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF VISITS BURUNDI
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, started a visit to Burundi today to assess the human rights situation in the country.
- During his three-day visit, Mr. Simonovic is scheduled to meet with the President of the Republic of Burundi and with senior members of the Government, including several ministers. He is also expected to meet with the President of the Independent National Human Rights Commission and with representatives of civil society organizations.
- Mr. Simonovic will hold a press conference in Bujumbura on 27 June when he wraps up his visit.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ANNOUNCES NEW EXPERTS TO INVESTIGATE VIOLATIONS IN SRI LANKA
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, announced today that three distinguished experts have agreed to advise and support the team set up to conduct a comprehensive investigation of alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka. That team was mandated by the Human Rights Council in March.
- The investigation will look into alleged serious violations and abuses of human rights and related crimes by both parties in Sri Lanka during the last years of the armed conflict.
- The experts are Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, Silvia Cartwright of New Zealand, and Asma Jahangir of Pakistan. The experts will play a supportive and advisory role, providing advice and guidance as well as independent verification throughout the investigation.
GAZA FUEL CRISIS AFFECTS PUBLIC HOSPITALS, SAYS U.N.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the Gaza fuel crisis has affected public hospitals, which consume 8,000 litres of diesel a day, with only 20 per cent left in reserve. As a result, elective surgical operations will be cancelled and ambulance travel will have to be reduced by 50 per cent.
- The World Health Organization is procuring drugs and disposables for chronic diseases, worth US$ 1.5 million, but it will take several weeks to start the delivery of these items. Hospitals are suffering from the shortages and have appealed for support from international organizations.
- Asked about the mandate of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Robery Serry, the Spokesman reiterated the Secretary-General’s full support for Mr. Serry and the integrity and transparency of his work.
- Asked about three abducted Israeli youths, the Spokesman reiterated the Secretary-General’s condemnation of their abduction. He has also made clear the need for human rights norms to be respected in the process of finding them.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REMAINS SERIOUSLY CONCERNED ABOUT REPORTS OF ABDUCTIONS IN NIGERIA
- In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is seriously concerned about recent reports of abductions of women, girls and boys from villages in Borno state, northeastern Nigeria. He has also repeatedly expressed concern over the more than 200 schoolgirls abducted from Chibok in Borno State in April.
- The Secretary-General condemns all abductions in the strongest terms and calls for the safe release of all abductees.
U.N. TO LAUNCH LATEST REPORT ON GLOBAL DRUG DEVELOPMENT
- The UN’s lead report on the world’s major drug developments will be launched by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Vienna tomorrow. There will be a press briefing at 10.00 am New York time which can be viewed live on UN Information Service in Vienna website.
- Journalists can receive embargoed material in advance. Contacts are available in the Media Advisory.
- Asked about reactions to the Secretary-General’s speech at the Asia Society on Syria, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had hoped that his speech would spark a discussion on how to move forward positively in dealing with the problems in Syria.
- Asked about the work of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, the Spokesman said that the Mission’s work will continue for some more weeks while it performs its final tasks, including those involving the emptied facilities in Syria that had been used for chemical weapons destruction.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s work concerning Ukraine, the Spokesman said that throughout this crisis the Secretary-General has maintained contacts with President Petro Poroshenko, and his immediate predecessor, and with Russian President Vladimir Putin and has encouraged their dialogue with each other. Dujarric added that it was a good sign that a cease-fire seems to be holding, despite some serious incidents.