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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, 27 JUNE 2014

SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESS U.N. ENVIRONMENT ASSEMBLY IN KENYA AFTER WRAPPING UP AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT VISIT

The Secretary-General left Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, early this morning.

He met with the President of Mali, the President of the Central African Republic, the President of South Sudan, President of Egypt, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, President of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania and Chairperson of the African Union, President of Burkina Faso and Prime Minister of Somalia.

In his remarks at a press conference yesterday evening, he said that the recurring theme of many of his discussions in Malabo has been regional cooperation. He said that regional challenges include inter-ethnic or religious violence, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, the threat of terrorism and the Lord’s Resistance Army, and illicit wildlife and drug trafficking.

He added that all countries in the region need to work together to address these pressing issues.

And he was asked about press freedom in Egypt, and said that when he met with President Abdelfattah al-Sisi earlier in the day, the Secretary-General had discussed this matter with him and urged him to fully guarantee the protection of the freedom of expression for journalists.

The Secretary-General just arrived in Nairobi, Kenya, where he delivered remarks to the first UN Environment Assembly. This Assembly is the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) governing body and the highest-level global platform for environmental policy making. It tackles issues ranging from wildlife crime and poaching to fossil fuel subsidy reform.

While in Nairobi, the Secretary-General will also meet with a number of Government officials, including President Uhuru Kenyatta.

BURUNDI: U.N. OFFICAL CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS AHEAD OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

The United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, today called on the authorities of Burundi to ensure that human rights are fully protected ahead of next year’s presidential elections.
He said that special attention must be paid to the full respect for freedom of expression, including for journalists and human rights defenders. And he added that violence linked to the electoral process must be prevented and harassment against perceived political adversaries must not be tolerated.

Mr. Simonovic was speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Burundi. During his visit, he met with Burundian officials and with representatives of the international community and civil society groups. He also visited Bujumbura’s Mpimba prison.
Mr. Simonovic expressed particular concern at the fact that the number of politically motivated incidents involving the Imbonerakure, the youth wing of the ruling party, against perceived political adversaries, has more than doubled compared to the same period last year. He called on the Government to ensure that perpetrators of political violence are held accountable.

U.N. AGENCIES STEPPING ASSISTANCE IN BAMBARI, CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, AFTER VIOLENCE AND DISPLACEMENT

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that at least 45 people have been killed this week and scores wounded in new violence and reprisal attacks in and around Bambari in the Central African Republic. The violence also resulted in thousands more people fleeing to displacement sites around the town.

UNHCR adds that people urgently need better protection, shelter, water and sanitation, as well as food and other items. The agency is sending in non-food items, mainly tarpaulins.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that agencies are supporting the hospital in Bambari and providing food, water and emergency items to the displaced there. In the last two days, 13 emergency latrines (ten for adults and three for children) and ten showers have been installed at the Eveche site, and the main water point has now been chlorinated.

However, the tense security situation in and around Bambari continues to hamper humanitarian access, including threats against staff and the theft of stocks and equipment.

And also, the UN’s Children Fund (UNICEF) tells us that its Goodwill Ambassador and actor, Mia Farrow, is taking her fourth trip to the Central African Republic from 1 to 5 July to witness and report on the impact the violence is having on the children of the country.  

SOUTH SUDAN: HUMANITARIAN WORKING TO IMPROVE CONDITIONS IN BENTIU

From South Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)  tell us that aid agencies are working relentlessly to improve living conditions for the more than 40,000 people sheltering in the UN base in Bentiu.

Water and sanitation agencies have built over 100 latrines in the past week and are scaling up their capacity to build over 500 more in the coming week.

The Office however says that the deteriorating food security situation is of particular concern as well as the mortality rate of children under five. Some 150 community outreach workers have been recruited and trained to inform families about malnutrition, sanitation, hygiene and general health issues, and encourage them to seek medical assistance early.

ONLY SECURITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE CAN LIFT SANCTIONS ON REBEL LEADER IN THE D.R.C.

Asked about the plans for Gaston Iyamuremye, President ad interim of the FDLR, to travel to Rome despite being under UN sanctions, the Spokesman said that Mr. Iyamuremye did not leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He did not travel to Rome.

Dujarric added that he is under Security Council sanctions and the only entity able to lift the travel imposed on him is the Security Council Committee.

The United Nations had submitted a request to the Sanctions Committee, following UN established procedures, to lift the travel ban for the sole purpose of allowing the individual to attend a meeting in Rome. The request was not accepted and he did not travel.

The Spokesman added that the United Nations had received the names of an FDLR delegation late and said that the request was submitted as soon as it was received.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY EXPANDS CAMP, DISTRIBUTE AID FOR DISPLACED IN IRAQ

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has reported that up to 10,000 people from the predominately Christian communities of Qaraqosh have fled the violence in their town earlier this week. The town is located 30 kilometres south-east of Mosul and is controlled by armed oppositions groups

Many of them have fled to Iraq’s Kurdistan region, which is already hosting an estimated 300,000 people from Mosul and the surrounding areas. UNHCR and its partners have distributed tents, mattresses and hygiene kits at schools and community centres in Erbil where the displaced families are sheltering.

Together with the Kurdish authorities and other humanitarian partners, UNHCR has helped to expand the Garmawa camp in Dohok where more than 1,000 displaced people are now staying. More camps are being constructed in Kurdistan to accommodate the growing number of displaced families arriving in region.    

The agency has revised its funding requirements together with other UN agencies and humanitarian partners. It needs $64.2 million for shelter and protection services but has only received 8 per cent of the funding so far.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED BY ONGOING ISRAELI OPERATIONS IN WEST BANK AND FATE OF 3 MISSING ISRAELI TEENAGERS

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in a briefing in Geneva today, expressed its increasing concern at the human rights situation in the context of the ongoing operations by Israeli security forces after three Israeli teenagers went missing close to the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on 12 June.

The Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Flavia Pansieri, met this week in Geneva with the mothers of the three missing Israelis and expressed her sincere sympathy with them. As a mother herself, she expressed her understanding of their deep anxiety about the fate of their sons. The Human Rights Office is concerned that the three teenagers have still not been located, after being missing for 15 days, and hopes for their immediate safe return.

The Human Rights Office’s sympathy also goes out to the mothers and loved ones of the six Palestinians, including two teenagers, who have been killed by Israeli forces, in addition to the many others who have been injured, during these past two weeks. The Office reiterates its call for strict adherence to international law by all relevant actors and joins others in their call for restraint.

Asked about the resignation of US Middle east Envoy Martin Indyk, the Spokesman said the United Nations appreciated working with him.

Asked about the state of the Middle east peace process, he said that  the United Nations has emphasized the need for the parties to return to negotiations.

VENEZUELA: HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS REPORTEDLY TAKING PLACE IN RECENT DEMONSTRATIONS

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern about the continuing human rights violations reportedly taking place in Venezuela in the context of recent demonstrations.

Briefing the press in Geneva today, the office noted with particular concern reports on violations of due process and the situation of young people in detention, published last week by reputable human rights organizations in Caracas. These include beatings, and a lack of information about the whereabouts of those detained as well as lack of access to them by lawyers and families.

The High Commissioner, Navi Pillay, has on several occasions urged the authorities to respect the rights to peaceful demonstration and assembly. She has also unequivocally condemned all violence by all sides, including the excessive use of force by security officials.

Given the seriousness of these latest reports, her Office urges the Venezuelan authorities to undertake prompt investigations into these allegations and to ensure that those found responsible are brought to justice.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

Asked about reports that the United States might provide arms to Syrian rebels, the Spokesman noted the clear position the Secretary-General has taken against the arming of the parties to the Syrian conflict.

Asked about media restrictions in Thailand, the Spokesman noted that in his recent press conference in Malabo, the Secretary-General had called on all leaders to respect freedom of expression.

The Spokesman, in response to questions, drew attention to the chronic under-funding of UN humanitarian appeals, whether in Iraq, the Central African Republic or elsewhere. The Secretary-General continues to urge funding for all the appeals.

*** The guest at the noon briefing today were Martin Sajdik, President of the ECOSOC; Navid Hanif, Director of the Office for ECOSOC Support and Coordination of DESA; and Nikhil Seth, Director, Division for Sustainable Development, DESA.

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
28 JUNE
– 4 JULY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Monday, 30 June

The guest at the Noon Briefing will be Hilde Johnson, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan.

At 3 p.m., in Geneva, the UN Office there and the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) will co-host an event called Driving Democratic Change: IPU at 125 and beyond to mark the anniversary of the Union. 

From 30 June to 4 July, in Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will hold working group meetings on communications and the rights to peace.

From 30 June to 18 July, in Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will convene its 58th session.

Tuesday, 1 July

The guest at the Noon Briefing will be Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. She will present the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.

At 2:45 p.m., in the press briefing room, officials from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs’ Division on Sustainable Development will launch the latest Global Development Report.

From 1 to 3 July, members of the Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Advocacy Group in Africa, including Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and Graça Michel, will start their visit to South Africa, Malawi and Rwanda to discuss ways to accelerate progress on the MDGs.

Wednesday, 2 July

At 12:30 p.m., in the press briefing room, Ambassador Eugene Richard Gasana, Permanent Representative of Rwanda and President of the Security Council for the month of July, will brief the media on the Council’s programme of work for the month.

At 3:30 p.m., in Conference Room 1, there will be special event on Best practices and challenges in implementing a moratorium on the death penalty. The event is co-organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Permanent Mission of Italy.  

At 1 p.m., in the South Delegates Lounge, high-level representatives from the Global Compact Board, Principles of Responsible Investment, Principles for Responsible Management Education and Global Compact LEAD will meet with Member States to discuss partnerships for the post-2015 development agenda.

From 2 to 3 July, the World Health Organization will convene a meeting in Ghana to agree on a comprehensive operational response to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Health authorities from affected countries in the region are expected to attend.

Thursday, 3 July

At 12 p.m., in Geneva, the UN Conference on Trade and Development will hold a press conference to launch the Economic Development in Africa 2014 report on Catalyzing Investment for Transformative Growth in Africa.

Friday, 4 July

Today is a UN Holiday and the headquarters in New York will be closed.