HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 30 JUNE 2014
IRAQ: SECRETARY-GENERAL GRAVELY CONCERNED AT DEEPENING CRISIS, RISING NUMBER OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
- In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed grave concern at the deepening crisis and the rising number of civilian casualties in Iraq.
- The Secretary-General called on all parties to the conflict to stop the persecution of civilians based on their religion or ethnic background, and reminded them of their legal obligation and moral responsibility to avoid and prevent any violence against civilians.
- The Secretary-General remains deeply troubled by the persistent reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law, including summary executions and indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas. He urged the Iraqi Government to hold all perpetrators accountable.
- Iraq’s newly elected Council of Representatives is expected to convene tomorrow. The UN mission in Iraq says it has encouraged all representatives to attend the session to undertake their constitutional duties. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nickolay Mladenov, has called on the new Parliament to immediately engage in addressing the concerns of all communities in Iraq.
- He stressed the importance of electing a Speaker, following which the Parliament should promptly elect a President and approve a new Government, as stipulated by the Constitution. He warned that any delay in the process will be detrimental to the country’s future.
- Asked about the declaration of a caliphate by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams, the Spokesman said that the United Nations was monitoring events closely, including the impact on civilian populations. The hope remains that the meetings in Iraq on Tuesday will create a positive atmosphere and an Iraqi Government in which all people feel that they are represented.
- Asked about the status of Kurdistan, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General’s position on Iraq remain unchanged.
- Dujarric added that UNAMI is working to provide aid to people who have fled the fighting to places such as the Kurdish areas.
U.N. SOUNDS ALARM OVER STEPPED UP HUMANITARIAN PROBLEMS IN IRAQ
- In yesterday’s statement, the Secretary-General commended the work of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) on humanitarian and human rights issues.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports, meanwhile, that displacement numbers continue to increase rapidly. The ongoing crisis has displaced an estimated 650,000 people so far, bring the total displacement, including from Anbar, to over 1.2 million people in Iraq.
- Concerns for the displaced are mounting, in particular for those unable to reach areas under Kurdish control, where humanitarian organizations are more easily able to access them. Lack of security in areas with large scale displacements such as Mosul, Tal Afar, Tikrit and on the road south to Baghdad continues to hinder assessments and delivery of aid.
- Over the weekend, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that it has received a million doses of polio vaccine to expand immunization efforts in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The supplies will help UNICEF, and the World Health Organization as well as local authorities launch a joint campaign targeting some 800,000 children under the age of five early next week.
MEETING ISRAELI PRESIDENT, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST KIDNAPPING OF STUDENTS
- Yesterday, the Secretary-General was a guest at a working brunch yesterday hosted by the Israeli President Shimon Peres.
- Speaking at the beginning of the meeting, the Secretary-General expressed strong solidarity with the people of Israel and again condemned the recent kidnapping of the young Israeli students in the strongest possible terms.
- The Secretary-General said that the UN takes this very seriously, adding that the UN will do whatever it can to address the situation, in close coordination with international partners.
- Asked about the Palestinian unity government, the Spokesman said that UN support for that government continues, based on its recognition of Israel and adherence to prior commitments.
U.N. RELIEF WING REPORTS POWER OUTAGE IN SYRIA’S ALEPPO
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) received reports over the weekend that some areas of Aleppo City in Syria had no electrical power at all, while others have had less than one hour of power per day. The water supply has also been cut off for more than ten days in most of Aleppo, with some areas supplied with water only every five days for an average of six hours. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) continues to negotiate to reach rural Aleppo in order to repair water, sewage and electrical lines damaged in an explosion on 2 June, which has left an estimated 1 million people in Aleppo City without regular water supply.
- UN agencies and other partners are providing aid so that 16.5 million people continue to have access to clean water through water purification supplies in 14 of Syria’s governorates. In addition, humanitarian workers recently sent medical supplies for more than 138,000 people in Aleppo, including water testing supplies and diarrhoeal disease kits.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator is leading a Summer Response Strategy that targets prevention, detection and outbreak preparedness activities to ensure adequate safe water and sanitation facilities in at-risk locations, such as places where vulnerable internally displaced people are living in crowded collective shelters.
CONDEMNING BOKO HARAM ATTACKS, SECRETARY-GENERAL REITERATES U.N. READINESS TO SUPPORT NIGERIA
- The Secretary-General strongly condemns the continuing horrific attacks by Boko Haram against civilians in northeastern Nigeria. Such violence has become an almost daily occurrence, as demonstrated by the attacks over the weekend on villages and churches near Chibok, the village from where Boko Haram abducted over 200 schoolgirls.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to support Nigeria as it responds to this challenge in a manner consistent with its international human rights obligations.
- The Secretary-General conveys his solidarity and sympathy to the victims of the violence and to the people of Nigeria.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WRAPS UP VISITS TO NAMIBIA, EQUATORIAL GUINEA AND KENYA
- The Secretary-General is back at UN Headquarters today, following a week in which he had visited Namibia, Equatorial Guinea and Kenya.
- On Saturday, he returned to New York from Kenya, after first meeting with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi. In that meeting, the Secretary-General expressed his solidarity with the people of Kenya in light of recent terrorist incidents.
- The two leaders also discussed issues of regional peace and security, including the situations in Somalia in South Sudan.
- The Secretary-General also spoke to the press in Nairobi, and he mentioned that, in Kenya and all over the world, wildlife is under threat from habitat destruction, conflict between humans and wildlife and from illegal wildlife trafficking.
- As a token of his concern, and his support for the Kenya Wildlife Service, the Secretary-General adopted a lion cub on Saturday: Tumaini, which means hope in Kiswahili.
- Asked about Kenya’s involvement with the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Spokesman said that Kenya had been cooperating with the Court and it is hoped that such cooperation will continue.
IN BURUNDI, SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL URGES RELEASE OF DETAINED HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
- In response to if Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, met with a detained human rights activist while in Bujumbura, the Spokesman said that Mr. Simonovic’s office says that during his visit at the Mpimba prison he met, with among others, Pierre Claver Mbonimpa, a leading human rights defender detained there.
- In addition, Mr. Simonovic raised the case of Mr. Mbonimpa as well as other cases in his discussions with Burundi's officials. He encouraged Burundi's officials to guarantee freedom of speech and to protect the rights of all human rights defenders.
U.N. WORKING TOWARDS EXTENSION OF UKRAINE CEASEFIRE
- Asked about Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the United Nations is working with the parties concerned to obtain an extension of the current cease-fire. The Secretary-General has urged concerned parties to work toward a definitive cessation of violence through a political process.
- Dujarric added, in response to questions on the killing of a journalist, that all such killings are condemned and that the United Nations had made clear the need to allow all journalists to go about their work without hindrance.
ON D.P.R.K. MISSILE LAUNCH, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES PEACEFUL SOLUTION, CALLS FOR RESUMPTION OF TALKS
- Asked about reports of reported missile launches by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Spokesperson said that, as the Secretary-General has made clear, he believes that there can only be a peaceful solution through the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and he call upon the parties concerned to take the necessary steps to facilitate the resumption of negotiations.
***The guest at the noon briefing was Hilde Johnson, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in South Sudan and Head of the United Nations Mission in that country. It was her last briefing in New York before she leaves the position.