HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 26 JUNE 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS BOMB ATTACK IN NIGERIA
- The Secretary-General is appalled by the bomb attack Thursday near a shopping centre in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, which reportedly resulted in the death of at least 21 people. He offers his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and wishes the wounded a swift recovery.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his unequivocal condemnation of such attacks. He remains deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in Nigeria.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES LIBYANS ON ELECTION OF COUNCIL OF REPRESENTATIVES
- The Secretary-General congratulates the people of Libya on the election of the Council of Representatives. The election marks an important step in moving the transition process forward and stabilizing the political process.
- The Secretary-General commends all actors for providing the space for the conduct of this important election. He congratulates the Libyan High National Election Commission for its work in supervising the polls. He also reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to work closely with the newly elected body in furthering the aspirations of the Libyan people to build a state based on democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
- The Secretary-General also notes with deep concern the continuing violence in Libya, including a number of incidents on election day. He strongly condemns the assassination of Ms. Salwa Bugaighis, a courageous and respected human rights defender who played a significant role in the February 2011 Libyan revolution and continued since to contribute to the transition.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the need to protect human rights defenders and calls on all Libyans to refrain from violence and acts that undermine the democratic transition process.
- The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has also condemned the assassination of Ms. Bugaighis, and has called on Libyan authorities to thoroughly investigate the assassination and bring the perpetrators to justice.
SECRETARY-GENERAL: UN PROUD TO BE A KEY PARTNER OF THE A.U.
- The Secretary-General is in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, today, where he spoke at the African Union Summit. In his address, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations was proud to be a key partner of the African Union and that it would remain by its side as it developed and implemented Agenda 2063 – promoting peace, human rights and sustainable development.
- The Secretary-General said that Africa’s transformation and economic progress will entail sustainable energy for all and a revolution in agricultural productivity through policy reforms and technology.
- In Equatorial Guinea, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with a number of African Heads of State and we will make readouts of those meetings available as they come.
- On Thursday, he inaugurated the UN House in Malabo, along with President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea. He said that the United Nations will help Equatorial Guinea reduce poverty and inequality, and promote food security.
SYRIA: ATTACKS AGAINST CIVILIANS CONTINUE UNABATED, SAYS U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF
- Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Security Council today on the implementation of resolution 2139, concerning humanitarian access in Syria.
- Ms. Amos said with regret that violence and attacks on civilians by all parties to the conflict and human rights abuses continue unabated, with devastating consequences for those affected and provided numbers underscoring the worsening state of the crisis.
- Ms. Amos said that 241,000 people continue to live under siege conditions, with only 1 percent of that number having received food assistance since her last briefing to the Council. She added that the number of people in Syria who now need humanitarian assistance has increased to 10.8 million.
- She also pointed to an increasing number of attacks on civilian infrastructure by armed opposition groups, resulting in significant damage or disruption to water, sewage or electricity networks.
- Ms. Amos said that needs continue to grow and are outpacing response efforts. She said that we need an increase in cross-line and cross-border deliveries to meet growing needs on the ground.
- Asked about remarks by Syrian Ambassador Bashar al-Ja’afari at the Security Council meeting concerning the reports by the Secretary-General and the Spokesman, the Spokesman said that the reports was very clear and that the United Nations stands by them.
IRAQ CONTENDS WITH ONE OF THE LARGEST POPULATION OF INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE
- The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) reports that Iraq is now contending with one of the largest internally displaced population in the world. More than 1 million people have been displaced since the beginning of 2014, in addition to another million people displaced from previous conflicts and over 220,00 Syrian refugees who remain in the country.
- Displaced families continue to arrive in the Kurdistan region. UNICEF today expressed alarm at the latest mass displacement as some 1,500 people, including large numbers of children and elderly, arrived in Erbil yesterday. UNICEF and its partners are providing life-saving aid to the displaced families.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has also reported that there are increasing concerns about the high number of sick and disabled people, including children, arriving in Suleymaniye. There have been reports of possible shortages of medicine for chronic diseases including diabetes and hypertension.
- The UN Mission says that the situation in Al Qaim, near the Syrian border, remains critical. The UN Refugee Agency reported that more than 60 families have left the camp in the town, which is under the control of ISIL, towards Syria. Insecurity and limited access is affecting aid organizations’ ability to reach people in the area.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. REMAINS DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN HELMAND
- On Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission (UNAMA) there is deeply concerned about the rising number of civilian deaths and injuries in the southern province of Helmand.
- Clashes between the Afghan Nations Security Forces and the Taliban since 21 June have killed at least 30 civilians, reports the mission.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ján Kubiš, has called on all parties to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians during military operations.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF CONCERNED ABOUT EXECUTIONS IN IRAN
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has expressed concern about the large number of executions in Iran since the beginning of this year. She called on the authorities to halt, in particular, the imminent execution of a juvenile offender, Razieh Ebrahimi, who was convicted of killing her husband when she was 17 years old. She says she was subjected to domestic violence.
- Ms. Pillay expressed alarm at the large number of juvenile offenders who reportedly remain on death row in Iran. According to information gathered by the UN Human Rights Office from reliable sources, some 160 people are reportedly on death row for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 18.
- Ms. Pillay urged Iran to immediately impose a moratorium on all executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
UP TO 200,000 PREVENTABLE DEATHS YEARLY CAUSED BY DRUG OVERDOSE, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
- The Secretary-General, in his message on the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, said that drug abuse and illicit trafficking have calamitous consequences for the world’s efforts to deliver greater prosperity and equality for all.
- He added that there are up to 200,000 preventable deaths each year from overdoses. Illicit drugs spawn criminal violence and weaken a state’s essential institutions.
- Drug use prevalence is stable around the world, according to the 2014 World Drug Report of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The report was released today in Vienna, and it says that some five per cent of the world’s 15 to 64 year olds used an illicit drug in the past year.
- The Executive Director of UNODC, Yury Fedotov, appealed for a stronger focus on the health and human rights of all drug users, in particular those who inject drugs and are living with HIV.
- Mr. Fedotov said there remain serious gaps in service provision. In recent years, only one in six drug users globally has had access to or received drug dependence treatment services each year.
TOP OFFICIAL FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION ATTENDS MINISTERIAL MEETING IN ASIA
- The UN's top official for disaster risk reduction, Margareta Wahlstrom, is at the 6th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which wraps up today in Bangkok.
- This biennial conference is the primary gathering in the Asia region to ensure political and stakeholders' commitment towards disaster risk reduction implementation.
- The Conference, with more than 3,000 delegates from 63 countries, has adopted the Bangkok Declaration on Disaster Risk Reduction in Asia Pacific 2014, which highlights the importance of an enhanced monitoring and review mechanism to measure progress in implementing the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction' and promoting higher education, training and research for professional development in disaster risk reduction.
U.N.D.P. SAYS HAITI SHOWS SOME GREAT PROGRESS ON THE M.D.G.S.
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched a new Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) report for Haiti showing some great advances, particularly in health and education.
- Haiti has made significant progress to achieve most of the eight MDGs, having reached—or almost reached—several development targets, according to a new report launched yesterday by the Haitian Government and UNDP. The country has steadily boosted net enrollment rate in primary education from 47 percent in 1993 to 88 percent in 2011, achieving equal participation of boys and girls in education.
- Haiti has also halved the number of underweight children under five years old, three years ahead of the 2015 deadline, and infant mortality decreased 44 percent since 1990, faster than the global average rate.
- Asked about reports that former South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar had written a letter to the Secretary-General, the Spokesman said that the letter has not been received so far. He added that, as he said today in Malabo, the Secretary-General expects both parties to fully cooperate with the mediation under the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and to ensure that they implement fully the agreement signed on June 10.
- Asked whether the Lashkar e-Taiba can be considered a terrorist group, the Spokesman said that it is up to the members of the Security Council and the relevant sanctions committee dealing with the issue to designate whether an entity is a terrorist group.
*** The guest at the noon briefing today was Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women. She briefed on the upcoming 20th Anniversary of the 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing.