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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

TUESDAY, 1 JULY 2014

 

U.N. ENVOY IN IRAQ ASKS IRAQI LEADERS TO PUT ASIDE DIFFERENCES AND NAME SPEAKER SOON

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, expressed his regret that Iraq’s newly elected Council of Representatives was not able to reach an agreement on naming a Speaker today.  
  • He called upon all political leaders to set aside their differences and elect a Speaker during the next session which is due to be held next week. That step would allow the Parliament to elect a new President, move forward on the government formation process and engage in resolving the legitimate concerns of various communities.
  • Mr. Mladenov again warned that any delay or failure to observe the deadline set by the Iraqi Constitution will be detrimental to the country’s integrity.
  • The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has released new casualty figures for June. It says that at least 2,417 Iraqis have been killed and another 2,287 have been injured in acts of terrorism and violence during the month. The Mission reports that this includes more than 1,500 civilian deaths – the highest toll in a month since 2007. 
  • Nickolay Mladenov said that the staggering number of civilian casualties in one month points to the urgent need for Iraqi leaders to restore security and address the root causes of violence through a Constitutional political process.
  • UN Women has expressed outrage at the deliberate targeting of women and girls in Iraq and reports of kidnapping, rape and forced marriage by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups.
  • The organization calls such targeting a grave violation of human rights, and is a common characteristic of conflicts around the world, with devastating and enduring consequences for women and girls, families and societies.
  • UN Women is especially concerned by the risks to women’s rights posed by growing extremism in various parts of the region and worldwide.
  • At today’s briefing in Geneva, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) condemned in the strongest terms the upsurge in violence and killings in Iraq. The office continues to strongly urge all parties to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law. It has called on the Iraqi authorities to hold accountable those responsible for violations. 
  • The Secretary-General has expressed deep gratitude to the Government of Saudi Arabia for their generosity, following the Government’s contribution of $500 million to the UN for life-saving humanitarian efforts in Iraq.
  • The Secretary-General welcomes the timely funding which will help UN agencies and its partners support millions of Iraqis affected by the ongoing conflict.

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS MURDER OF ISRAELI TEENAGERS

  • The Secretary-General has condemned in the strongest terms the murder of the three Israeli teenagers who were abducted on 12 June in the West Bank. There can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians. He hopes Israeli and Palestinian authorities will work together to bring the perpetrators swiftly to justice, and extends his deepest sympathy to the families of the victims.
  • The Secretary-General believes this heinous act by enemies of peace aims to further entrench division and distrust and to widen the conflict. It must not be allowed to succeed, he said. He calls on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation.
  • The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, said today that his thoughts are with the bereaved families of the three Israeli teenagers who were killed. He said that the perpetrators must be brought to justice, as any association with or support for terror or violence must be rejected and will have consequences for those concerned.  In this regard, Mr. Serry continues to be deeply troubled by statements from Hamas representatives suggesting support for this heinous act. 
  • In Geneva, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today called on all Israelis and Palestinians to exercise maximum restraint and to prevent the situation from worsening further. 
  • The Human Rights Office reiterated its call for strict adherence to international law by all relevant actors, to avoid further loss of life, injuries and negative impact on human rights. It also urged all parties to refrain from punishing individuals for offences they had not personally committed or by imposing collective penalties.
  • Asked whether Robert Serry’s comments indicated that he had first-hand knowledge of Hamas’s involvement, the Spokesman said that Mr. Serry’s remarks referred to the statements made by Hamas members to the media.
  • Asked about actions taken by Israel in response, the Spokesman noted the calls made for restraint.

SECRETARY-GENERAL FOLLOWING REPORTS OF RENEWED FIGHTING IN EASTERN UKRAINE WITH GRAVE CONCERN

  • In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is following with grave concern reports of renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine.
  • He is extremely disappointed that the unilateral ceasefire declared by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko never achieved the momentum needed to end the violence. He renews his call on all sides in Ukraine to not give up the idea of a functioning cease-fire and work toward a definitive cessation of violence through a continued political and diplomatic process.
  • The Secretary-General reiterates that a continuation of hostilities can only further exacerbate an already precarious situation. He strongly condemns the persistent unlawful violence at the hands of armed militia groups and enjoins them to lay down their weapons and express their grievances peacefully and in accordance with international law.

LIMITED FUNDING, INSECURITY AND LOGISTICAL ISSUES CAUSE CUTS IN FOOD RATIONS FOR REFUGEES IN AFRICA

  • The heads of the World Food Programme (WFP) and of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned today that funding difficulties, compounded by security and logistical problems in some countries, have forced cuts in rations for nearly 800,000 refugees in Africa.
  • At a meeting in Geneva, the WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin, and the High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, made an urgent plea for $186 million to allow WFP to restore full rations and prevent further reductions elsewhere through December 2014. For its part, UNHCR needs $39 million for nutrition support it provides to malnourished and vulnerable refugees in Africa. 
  • Across Africa, 2.4 million refugees in some 200 sites in 22 countries depend on regular food aid from WFP. A third of those refugees have seen reductions in their rations.
  • Supplies have been cut by at least 50 per cent for nearly 450,000 refugees in remote camps and other sites in the Central African Republic, Chad and South Sudan. Another 338,000 in Liberia, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Ghana, Mauritania and Uganda have seen their rations reduced between five and 43 per cent.

AID ORGANIZATIONS CONTINUE TO INCREASE ASSISTANCE IN BENTIU DESPITE INSECURITY

  • From South Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that aid operations in Bentiu, Unity State, continue at full pace, though the security situation in the area is very tense.
  • Aid agencies continue to scale up water and sanitation, with one latrine for every 100 people sheltering in the UN base, and seven litres of water per person per day.
  • Aid agencies have also launched operations in Nhialdu, south-west of Bentiu, where many of the displaced people arriving in Bentiu live. Initial reports indicate that the food security situation is extremely worrying. The first loads of relief supplies flew into that area yesterday with distributions starting today.
  • Humanitarian agencies have also launched operations in Koch, further south, which is one of the areas that has been hardest to reach during the crisis.
  • Humanitarian agencies aim to assist 3.8 million people by the end of the year. So far, 1.9 million people across South Sudan have received some form of assistance this year.

U.N. ENVOY CONGRATULATES SOMALI PEOPLE ON INDEPENDENCE DAY

  • From Somalia, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, today congratulated the people of Somalia as they celebrated their 54th Independence Day.
  • He called on all Somalis to unite and to continue working together to build a peaceful future for their country.  

U.N. AGENCIES AND AID PARTNERS HELP NEARLY HALF A MILLION PEOPLE DISPLACED BY VIOLENCE IN PAKISTAN

  • From Pakistan, the UN and non-governmental organizations are helping nearly 470,000 people uprooted in North Waziristan, near the country’s border with Afghanistan.
  • The displacement of these people, three-quarters of whom are women and children, was triggered by the Pakistani military’s operations against armed insurgents.
  • Nearly 100,000 people have also fled to Afghanistan’s Khost province to seek shelter.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that food, medicine and sanitation services, among others, have been provided to the displaced.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW HEAD FOR U.N. PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Major General Delali Johnson Sakyi of Ghana as Chief Military Observer and Head of Mission for the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP).
  • Major General Sakyi succeeds Major General Young-Bum Choi of the Republic of Korea, who completed his two-year assignment on 16 June 2014. The Secretary-General is grateful for his contribution to UN Peacekeeping.
  • Major General Sakyi most recently served as Force Commander for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES HIS PRIORITIES ON LINKEDIN

  • In a LinkedIn Influencer video interview released this morning, the Secretary-General discusses his priorities, including why he has taken on climate change, gender equality and mobility at the UN.
  • The interview is available on the Secretary-General's LinkedIn Influencer account and on all UN social media platforms.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

  • In response to questions about the budget for UN peacekeeping, the Spokesman said that the UN Secretariat is following the discussion among Member States in the Fifth Committee very closely. He noted the importance of having a stable source of funding for UN peacekeeping operations.
  • Asked about the reporting from the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the Spokesman noted that there has been a strategic review of the Mission’s operations.

 ***The guest at the noon briefing was Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. She presented the annual report of the Secretary-General on the issue.