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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 10 JULY 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL NAMES SOUTH AFRICAN AS NEW HEAD OF U.N. WOMEN

  • Following consultation with Member States, the Secretary-General has appointed Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka of South Africa as Executive Director of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women (UN Women).
  • Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka replaces Ms. Michelle Bachelet.
  • Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka brings to this position, a wealth of experience in advocating for women’s issues with a combination of strategic leadership, consensus building and hands-on management experience. She was the first woman to hold the position of Deputy President of South Africa from 2005 to 2008.
  • Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka initially became a member of parliament in 1994 chairing the Public Service Portfolio Committee. She was deputy minister in the Department of Trade and Industry (1996-1999), Minister of Minerals and Energy (1999-2005) and briefly served as acting Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology in 2004.
  • Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka was Young Women’s Coordinator for the World Young Women’s Christian Association in Geneva (1984-1986) and served as the first President of the Natal Organization of Women, an affiliate of the United Democratic Front, when it was formed in December 1983. Ms. Mlambo-Ngcuka established Umlambo Foundation in 2008 to provide support to schools in impoverished areas in South Africa through mentorship and coaching for teachers and in Malawi through school improvements with local partners.

SECURITY COUNCIL CONCERNED OVER INCREASE CROSS-BORDER FIRE FROM SYRIA INTO LEBANON

  • This morning, the Security Council adopted a presidential statement on Lebanon.
  • As the impact of the Syrian crisis on Lebanon’s stability and security becomes more and more apparent, the Council underscored its growing concern at the marked increase of cross-border fire from Syria into Lebanon.
  • In the face of attempts to undermine the country’s stability, the Council encouraged all parties in Lebanon to demonstrate renewed unity and determination to resist a slide into conflict.
  • The Council also said it is gravely concerned at the dramatic influx of refugees fleeing violence in Syria. It commended Lebanon’s generous efforts in hosting and assisting them.
  • It stressed the need for strong, coordinated international support for Lebanon to help it to continue to withstand the multiple challenges to its security and stability.

SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONTINUES TO CALL FOR ACCESS TO ALL SITES FOR UN CHEMICAL WEAPONS INVESTIGATORS

  • Asked about the invitation by the Government of Syria to continue discussions on the UN chemical weapons investigation, the Spokesperson reiterated that this is a step in the right direction. The Secretary-General continues to believe that there needs to be access to all sites where there have been credible allegations made regarding the use of chemical weapons. The Secretary-General will meet with the head of the UN investigation team, Dr. Åke Sellström, this afternoon. The Spokesperson also noted that Dr. Sellström has been collecting and analyzing information thus far.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s Ramadan appeal for the people of Syria, the Spokesperson said that it has been welcomed by some groups and it is an important gesture by the Secretary-General for the sake of the country’s people. The appeal calls, not only for putting down weapons, but also for releasing prisoners and detainees, among other appeals.

U.N. WEST AFRICA ENVOY BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL ON LATEST ACTIVITIES

  • Following the meeting on Lebanon, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Said Djinnit, briefed the Council on the latest report of the Secretary-General on the activities of the United Nations Office in the region (UNOWA).
  • He told the Council that West Africa has continued to face multiple political and security challenges, including election-related tensions in a number of countries, as well as transnational organized crime, piracy and terrorist activities across the entire sub-region.
  • Mr. Djinnit said that while the situation in West Africa remains at a crossroads, he is encouraged by the commitment of the West African leaders and of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to strengthen their collective architecture for peace and security, drawing lessons from the challenges faced in addressing the crisis in Mali and its regional dimension.

NEW U.N. ENVOY IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC TAKES UP FUNCTIONS

  • Babacar Gaye, who was recently appointed as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Central African Republic, took up his functions yesterday as the head of the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in the Central African Republic (BINUCA). 
  • At a press conference in the capital Bangui today, Mr. Gaye reaffirmed the UN's commitment to reaching sustainable peace in the country. 
  • He said that the priorities are to strengthen political dialogue and to restore security in the entire territory, as well as to ensure respect for human rights and provide humanitarian assistance.
  • Asked about the United Nations’ operations in the Central African Republic, the Spokesperson said that while the United Nations has no staff members outside of the capital, Bangui, several agencies are examining the possibility of establishing a permanent presence in some priority areas. Several missions have been conducted to assess the situation outside of the capital.
  • The Spokesperson also noted that Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos is scheduled to visit the Central African Republic with Kristalina Georgieva, European Union Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. They will visit areas outside of the capital, including Kaga Bandoro in the Nana Gribizi Province to see for themselves the humanitarian impact of the crisis and relief efforts.

D.R.CONGO: SITUATION STABLE BUT TENSE AFTER CLASHES IN NORTH KIVU

  • Asked about reports of fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission there (MONUSCO) said that earlier today, at around 6 a.m. local time, some 30 non-identified armed combatants attacked an M23 armed group position at Kanyanruchina, 5 km away from Goma, in North Kivu province.In response, the M23 launched a counter attack. As they were retreating, some of the attackers fired at MONUSCO positions. In accordance with their rules of engagement, the peacekeepers fired warning shots before being forced to engage the attackers.
  • In the firefight that ensued, 4 attackers were wound and apprehended by MONUSCO personnel. They received first aid care and were then evacuated to Goma hospital by MONUSCO. The Mission says that the situation is now stable but remains tense.

U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS ROADSIDE BOMBING IN WESTERN AFGHANISTAN

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has strongly condemned yesterday’s roadside bombing in Herat province which killed at least 18 civilians, including women and children.
  • The acting head of the Mission, Nicholas Haysom, said that he is deeply disturbed by the continued killing of Afghan civilians by improvised explosive devices.
  • The Mission said that the use of such tactics, which fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants, is a violation of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes.
  • Mr. Haysom reiterated the call by the Mission upon all parties to the conflict to respect the sanctity of this holy month of Ramadan, and avoid actions which could harm civilians.

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S SPECIAL ADVISOR ON SPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT WRAPS UP D.P.R.K. VISIT

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace yesterday wrapped up a four-day visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which he undertook at the invitation of the country’s Government.
  • During his mission, Wilfried Lemke met with the Minister of Sport and Chairman of the National Olympic Committee and other officials.
  • He said that his visit was fruitful in increasing the understanding of the DPRK’s policies and programmes in the field of sports, as well as to identify areas where the country needs external assistance.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS TO URGENTLY ADDRESS POLARIZATION WITHIN MYANMAR

  • This morning, the Secretary-General attended the meeting of the Group of Friends on Myanmar.
  • In his opening remarks, the Secretary-General said that the Government and people of Myanmar need continued support to move towards a truly irreversible reform process and to deliver the dividends of peace and inclusive development.
  • He noted that some important steps have been made in the past year, including the advancement of the reform process by the Parliament.
  • The Secretary-General said that he was deeply troubled by the communal violence and said that he remains deeply concerned about the plight of the Rohingya population and their disturbing humanitarian situation.
  • He said that there is a dangerous polarization taking place within Myanmar. If it is not addressed urgently and firmly, underlying tensions could provoke more upheaval, undermining the reform process and triggering negative regional repercussions. 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

EDUCATION ACTIVIST MALALA YOUSAFSAI TO MEET WITH SECRETARY-GENERAL: Asked about the visit by the Pakistani schoolgirl and education rights campaigner Malala Yousafzai to the United Nations this week, the Spokesperson said that she will meet with the Secretary-General and address the United Nations membership at the General Assembly.

NEW TROOPS DEPLOYING TO U.N. DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE: Asked about the troops serving with the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the Spokesperson said that a contingent from Fiji has been deployed, with part of that contingent having already arrived. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) is in contact with other potential troop-contributing countries.