HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 11 JULY 2014
U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN PROPOSES ADDITIONAL AUDITS TO STRENGTHEN ELECTORAL PROCESS
- At a meeting on Thursday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other officials, the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA) proposed an additional audit of polling stations to strengthen the credibility of the country’s electoral process.
- The mission said that, for weeks, both Presidential candidates have requested a full investigation of serious and credible allegations of fraud, and have strongly urged measures that would separate fraudulent ballots from valid votes. The Mission shares these concerns and supports an extensive and thorough investigation and audit.
- The mission urges the Independent Election Commission and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission to take up this proposal and start implementing the proposed audit with utmost impartiality and transparency.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF ALARMED AT ATTACKS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, expressed alarm today at the Israeli military operations resulting in the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, as well as the indiscriminate firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel. She appealed to all sides to abide by their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
- Ms. Pillay warned in particular that attacks must not be directed against civilians or civilian objects, nor should military assets be located in densely populated areas or attacks be launched from such areas. The High Commissioner expressed deep concern about the prospect of a ground offensive and strongly echoed the Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire.
- The Secretary-General said on Thursday that it is imperative not only to restore calm today, but to establish a political horizon for tomorrow. Without the prospect of an end to the conflict, the sides will grow ever more polarized. He added that deepening violence and distrust will only complicate diplomatic efforts, and will surely resound around the region, with potentially dangerous consequences for all.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s efforts to resolve the crisis, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General has been in regular contact with key officials, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. He also recalled the Secretary-General’s remarks at the Security Council on Thursday, warning about the consequences of the dangerous escalation in and around Gaza.
- In response to further questions about the casualties in Gaza, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is deeply concerned about the growing humanitarian emergency in Gaza following Israel’s launch of its military operation on 7 July.
- The work of humanitarian organisations has clearly been affected by the ongoing military operation. An Emergency Operations Centre, managed by OCHA, has been set up in Gaza to coordinate the humanitarian response by agencies on the ground.
- Haq said that humanitarian partners are calling for immediate respect of international humanitarian law, including the prohibition of targeting of civilians and civilian objects and prohibition of indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks.
U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON REPORTS ROCKET FIRE TOWARDS ISRAEL
- Earlier on Friday, radars from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) detected the firing of three rockets towards Israel from the general area of Ain Arab in south Lebanon. Israeli authorities informed UNIFIL that one rocket impacted in northern Israel.
- The Israel Defense Force returned artillery fire towards the general area from where the rocket fire originated. At this time, no casualties have been reported from either side. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
- The UNIFIL Force Commander, Major-General Paolo Serra, and the Mission’s leadership are in close contact with the parties, urging maximum restraint in order to prevent any escalation of the situation.
- In coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces, UNIFIL has reinforced its presence on the ground and intensified patrols across the area of operations to prevent any further incidents.
- UNIFIL, in cooperation with the parties, is currently investigating to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident.
- Major-General Serra said that this is a serious incident in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 and is clearly directed at undermining stability in the area. He added that it is imperative to identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this attack.
U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW ENVOY FOR SYRIA CRISIS
- The Secretary-General announced the appointment yesterday afternoon of Staffan de Mistura as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria.
- In addition, after consultation with the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, the Secretary-General also announced the appointment of Ambassador Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy as the Deputy Special Envoy for Syria.
- The Secretary-General added that the Special Envoy will provide good offices aimed at bringing an end to the violence and human rights violations and promoting a peaceful solution to the Syria crisis.
- Mr. de Mistura has had a lengthy career at the United Nations, and his previous posts include serving as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. Before that, he has worked as the Deputy Executive Director at the World Food Programme, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq and the Secretary-General’s Personal Representative for Southern Lebanon.
- At Friday’s Geneva briefing, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) called on European countries to strengthen their response to the Syrian crisis. In a new report, UNHCR urged states to ensure access, including fair and efficient asylum procedures, to provide adequate reception conditions and to actively adopt other measures which can provide protection and safety for refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
- An increasing number of Syrians are now seeking safety in countries beyond the immediate region. Many are embarking on long and dangerous journeys to reach safety and in some cases to reunite with family members already in Europe.
- Since the conflict began in March 2011, some 123,600 Syrians have sought asylum in Europe. Relative to the 2.9 million refugees in countries immediately neighbouring Syria these numbers remain small - only four per cent of Syrian refugees have sought asylum in European countries, excluding Turkey, since the conflict began.
- Asked about Mr. Ramzy’s appointment, the Spokesman clarified that it was made by the Secretary-General, following consultations with Nabil Elaraby, the League of Arab States Secretary-General.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CALLS FOR MORE FUNDING FOR SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners today launched a revised appeal for $658 million to respond to the growing regional refugee crisis resulting from the conflict and worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan.
- The Agency said that it expects 715,000 people to be made refugees from South Sudan by the end of the year – double the number initially estimated earlier this year.
- The continuing conflict and worsening humanitarian situation in South Sudan are fuelling an exodus of refugees into Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda at a much higher rate than anticipated.
- The Agency said the refugees arriving in these countries are in a terrible state, traumatized by the situation they fled from as well as by the difficult journey.
NIGERIA: U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR EDUCATION CALLS FOR MORE SUPPORT FOR KIDNAPPED SCHOOLGIRLS
- Gordon Brown, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Global Education, has called for the global community to show support for the schoolgirls of Chibok, Nigeria, on 22 July, which will mark the 100th day of their captivity.
- He is encouraging civil society and youth organizations to hold vigils in solidarity with the school girls and to send letters of support to the community for their safe return and for the Safe Schools Initiative.
U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL FOCUSES ON PROGRESS FOR YOUTH ON WORLD POPULATION DAY
- Today is World Population Day and in his message, the Secretary-General calls on the world to renew its commitment to help young people unleash progress across society.
- There are an estimated 1.8 billion young people in the world today, mostly in developing countries, and many of them are denied their rightful opportunities to get quality education, find decent work and participate in the political life of their societies, says the Secretary-General.
- He remains particularly concerned about adolescent girls who may face discrimination, sexual violence, early marriage and unwanted pregnancies. He calls for more investments in health, education, training and employment for young people as they undergo the critical transition to adulthood.
- By empowering today’s youth, he says, we can lay the groundwork for a more sustainable future for generations to come.
EBOLA KILLS MORE THAN 500 PEOPLE IN WEST AFRICA
- The World Health Organization (WHO), during a briefing in Geneva on Friday, said that the Ebola virus has killed more than 500 people in West Africa since the beginning of the year.
- In Guinea, the epidemic tended to show minimal activity, with only one new case reported in seven days. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, the situation remained precarious with new figures and people infected.
- WHO called on all authorities and communities in the region to remain vigilant and to follow the situation closely.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
12 JULY – 17 JULY 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Monday, 14 July
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 5, there will be an event on the 2016 UN General Assembly Special Session on Drugs: Ensuring a Successful Outcome.
At 3 p.m., in Conference Room 2, there will be a special high-level event on Improving the Coordination of Efforts against Trafficking in Persons.
In Geneva, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, Ross Mountain, will brief the media on the humanitarian situation and challenges in the country.
Tuesday, 15 July
In the morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on post-conflict peacebuilding.
At 12:45 p.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference on International Criminal Justice Day (17 July). The Convenor of the Coalition for the International Criminal Court (ICC), William Pace, will talk about issues facing the ICC and Rome Statute system.
Wednesday, 16 July
In the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic as well as on Sudan and South Sudan.
In Geneva, the Executive Director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibé, will launch a new report on HIV/AIDs.
Thursday, 17 July
Today is International Criminal Justice Day.
At 10 a.m., in the Trusteeship Council Chamber, the General Assembly will hold a thematic debate on Promotion of investment in Africa and its catalytic role in achieving Africa’s development objective. The Secretary-General is expected to deliver opening remarks.
In the morning, the Security Council will hold consultations on the UN Support Mission in Libya.
At 1 p.m., in Conference Room 1, there will be a special event on the UN Commission on International Trade Law Standards for Transparency, Accountability and Good Governance.
At 1:15 p.m., in Conference Room 2, there will be an interactive panel discussion on Into the Homestretch: Towards the Activation of the Kampala Amendments to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on the Crime of Aggression.
Friday, 18 July
Today is Nelson Mandela International Day.
In Geneva, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women will hold a meeting on Central African Republic, Georgia, India, Lithuania, Mauritania, Peru, Swaziland and Syria.