HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 4 JUNE 2013
COMMISSION OF INQUIRY SAYS NEW LEVELS OF BRUTALITY HAVE BEEN REACHED IN SYRIA
- The Independent International Commission of Inquiry dealing with Syria says in its latest report, out on Tuesday, that the conflict there has reached new levels of brutality.
- The report says that allegations have been received concerning the use of chemical weapons by both parties. However, it says conclusive findings may be reached only after testing samples taken directly from victims or the site of the alleged attack. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that the Secretary-General’s investigative team, led by Ake Sellström, is granted full access to Syria.
- The report also says that war crimes and crimes against humanity have become a daily reality in Syria. It says that a diplomatic surge is the only path to a political settlement.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s views on the Commission of Inquiry’s report and its call for a diplomatic surge, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has said for a long time that an enhanced and accelerated push for a political solution is needed.
- The Secretary-General finds the catalogue of atrocities documented in the report to be staggering and sickening, Nesirky said. The Secretary-General would like to see progress towards a political solution during the three-way meeting that is to take place in Geneva on Wednesday.
- The Spokesperson noted the role being played by the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, and Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, both of whom will be in Geneva.
- Asked about the chemical weapons team, the Spokesperson said that the members were in different locations but could be quickly assembled and deployed within 24 to 48 hours. Dr. Sellstrom continues to conduct the mission’s work outside Syria and analyse all the information that is made available to his team, Nesirky added.
- The Secretary-General has repeatedly stated that a credible and comprehensive inquiry requires full access to the sites where chemical weapons are alleged to have been used. Only on-site investigation could provide evidence on whether or not chemical weapons were used.
- The Secretary-General remains gravely concerned about any allegations of chemical weapons use, by any party. The Secretary-General has stressed that any use of such weapons would be an outrageous crime.
- In response to a question, the Spokesperson said that the footage of alleged chemical weapons use provided by Ms. Anastasia Popova has been passed on to Ake Sellström.
- The Spokesperson noted the requirement to look into allegations of any and all uses of chemical weapons, adding that the Secretary-General is concerned by all such allegations.
SMALL NUMBERS OF SYRIAN REFUGEES FROM AL QUSAYR ARRIVING IN EASTERN LEBANON, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that it has been seeing small numbers of refugees arriving in eastern Lebanon after escaping from the embattled Syrian town of Al Qusayr, where heavy fighting flared up three weeks ago.
- The refugees, mostly women and children, have told the Refugee Agency’s staff that Qusayr has been badly damaged and the living conditions are extremely difficult. They said that the route to Lebanon was dangerous and it was unsafe to travel with men.
- The refugees describe Qusayr as a ghost town, heavily damaged and rocked by warfare. People are hiding in bunkers or holes dug as shelters.
- The Refugee Agency does not have access to Qusayr and the refugee accounts are hard to verify. It says that it is imperative that people seeking a route out of Qusayr, and other unsafe locations, be allowed access to safe areas.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED OVER REPORTS OF EXCESSIVE USE OF FORCE AGAINST PROTESTORS IN TURKEY
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its concern on Tuesday about reports of the excessive use of force by law enforcement officers against protestors who had initially gathered to express their dissatisfaction with the redevelopment of the historic Taksim square and Gezi Park in Turkey.
- The Human Rights Office said in Geneva that it welcomed the authorities’ call for an investigation. The Office of the High Commissioner said that it was calling on the Government of Turkey to ensure that the right to freedom of peaceful assembly is fully respected and it also urged protestors to ensure that demonstrations remain peaceful.
- Asked further about the Secretary-General’s response, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General is closely monitoring developments in Turkey.
U.N. ALLOCATES MORE THAN $7 MILLION TO ASSIST PEOPLE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Tuesday that the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated more than $7 million to assist some 1.1 million people in the Central African Republic.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic, Kaarina Immonen, said that this allocation will enable the humanitarian community to provide food and medical assistance, access to potable water and sanitation, support to victims of gender-based violence, waste management support and reproductive health care.
- The Central African Republic has an estimated 206,000 internally displaced persons and 17,000 refugees. Nearly 50,000 Central Africans have fled, mainly to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon and Chad.
NEW FORCE COMMANDER NAMED FOR U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR
- The Secretary-General and the African Union Chairperson Ms. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced on Tuesday the appointment of Lieutenant General Paul Ignace Mella of Tanzania as the Force Commander of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
- Lieutenant General Mella will replace Lieutenant General Patrick Nyamvumba of Rwanda, who completed his assignment on 31 March this year.
- The Secretary-General expressed his deep appreciation to Lieutenant General Nyamvumba for his dedication and invaluable service during his tenure with UNAMID.
U.N. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE AGENCY CALLS FOR RESOLUTE EFFORTS TO ERADICATE GLOBAL MALNUTRITION
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has called for resolute efforts to eradicate global malnutrition and hunger, in a report released on Tuesday.
- According to its flagship annual report, The State of Food and Agriculture, two billion people suffer from one or more micronutrient deficiencies, while 1.4 billion are overweight.
- The report says that the cost of malnutrition to the global economy in lost productivity and health care costs could account for as much as 5 per cent of global economic output. It also notes that 26 percent of all children under five are stunted and 31 percent suffer from Vitamin A deficiency.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS ITS PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR JUNE
- The Security Council adopted its Programme of Work for June on Tuesday.
- Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, the Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom to the United Nations and the President of the Security Council for the month of June, was due to brief reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
*** The Guest at the Noon Briefing was Kyung-wha Kang, the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs. She briefed reporters on her recent mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.