HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 14 JULY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES NEW SYRIA RESOLUTION AIMED ON AID DELIVERY, CALLS ON PARTIES TO ENSURE RELIEF ACCESS
- In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the adoption of Resolution 2165 (2014), which will allow the delivery of aid to people in need in Syria by the most direct routes. The United Nations will proceed immediately with putting in place the mechanism mandated in the resolution.
- At least 10.8 million people inside Syria are in urgent need of assistance. Nearly half these people are in communities that are difficult for humanitarian agencies to reach. This resolution is aimed at getting aid through the four border crossings specified to nearly three million people who have not had secure food supplies or access to basic healthcare for many months.
- The Secretary-General particularly welcomes the reference in the resolution to the delivery of medical and surgical supplies, as these items have frequently been removed from aid convoys, in violation of international humanitarian law.
- The Secretary-General pays tribute to the staff of UN agencies, international and national Non-Governmental Organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who have delivered aid to millions of people over the past three years in dangerous and difficult circumstances, and have lost many colleagues in the process.
- The Secretary-General calls on all parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to enable unconditional humanitarian access to all people in need without discrimination, using all available routes; to lift the sieges illegally imposed by all parties on civilians; to end violations of international humanitarian law by all parties; and to ensure the safety of humanitarian staff.
LIBYA: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER DRAMATIC UPTICK IN TRIPOLI FIGHTING
- In a statement, the Secretary-General says that he is extremely concerned by the dramatic increase in violence in Tripoli and the toll that recent fighting is having on the civilian population. He calls on all parties to refrain from violence to achieve political objectives.
- The Secretary-General believes that such actions undermine the sacrifices that so many Libyans made during the revolution in order to create a state based on the rule of law. The Secretary-General reiterates the urgent need for dialogue among all Libyan actors to agree on a peaceful way forward for the political transition process.
- Also the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has been reducing its staff in Libya for the past week because of the prevailing security conditions in the country.
- The mission says the reasons behind this are purely due to concerns for the safety and security of the staff. After the latest fighting on Sunday and because of the closure of Tripoli International Airport, the Mission concluded that it would not be possible to continue its work in delivering advice and technical support while at the same time ensuring the security and safety of its staff as well as their freedom of movement.
- The mission has reiterated that this is a temporary measure. Staff will return as soon as security conditions permit. The UN, which stood by the Libyan people in their revolution in 2011, will not abandon them as they seek to build a democratic state. The UN looks forward to continuing to work with its Libyan partners and hopes to return to Tripoli as soon as possible.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SOUNDS ALARM ON WORSENING GAZA STRIP SITUATION
- In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General expressed alarm that, despite the Security Council's clear demand for a ceasefire, the situation in and around the Gaza Strip appears to be worsening, with grave implications for the safety of both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. He strongly believes that it is in the interest of both sides that steps toward dangerous escalation be replaced with immediate measures to end the fighting, thus preventing further casualties and greater risks to regional peace and security. He demands both sides move in this direction now.
- The Secretary-General does not believe that what is inherently a longstanding, serious political dispute between Israelis and Palestinians can be resolved via military means by either side. He remains engaged with both sides to urge de-escalation and an end to violence. It is time for Israeli and Palestinian families alike to feel a sense of peace and security, with trust in the other side, rather than fear, despair and hatred that characterize too much of the relationship in the current environment.
U.N. OFFICIAL SPOTLIGHTS GAZA VIOLENCE TOLL ON CIVILIANS
- Pierre Krahenbuhl, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) travelled to Gaza today, together with Humanitarian Coordinator James Rawley, to directly observe the situation resulting from the widening military operations.
- He told reporters that he was deeply alarmed and affected by the escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and the devastating human and physical toll it is taking on civilians, including Palestine refugees. He noted that at least 174 people had been killed and more than 1,100 wounded in the attacks.
- Mr. Krahenbuhl added that, as a direct result of military operations, approximately 17,000 refugees have sought refuge in the Relief and Works Agency’s 20 schools in Gaza, with some being displaced to the very same classrooms for the third time in five years. He expressed worry that already, 47 UNRWA premises have been damaged by the air raids and other fire. He said that the inviolability of UN installations and premises must be respected, in accordance with international law.
SECRETARY-GENERAL EMBARKS ON VISITS TO HAITI, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
- The Secretary-General left New York this morning to begin his travel to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
- In Haiti, he will first go to a village in the Central Department to launch, with Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, the country’s “Total Sanitation Campaign” which aims to scale up sanitation and hygiene interventions in rural areas. He will also meet with the local community and with families which were affected by cholera.
- Back in the capital, Port-au-Prince, the Secretary-General will meet with the President, Michel Martelly, as well as with parliamentarians. He will have interactions with the leadership of the UN Mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, be briefed on its activities, and see the Mission’s work in the area of the rule of law.
- Also during his visit, the Secretary-General will inaugurate the “Sports for Hope” Centre with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach.
- In the Dominican Republic, the Secretary-General will meet with the President, Danilo Medina. He will also meet with the Presidents of the Senate and of the Chamber of Deputies and address a joint session of Congress. The Secretary-General will then visit the Government’s “Quisqueya sin Miseria” programme, an anti-poverty programme which focuses on the most vulnerable groups.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION WELCOMES AGREEMENT TO BREAK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION IMPASSE
- Over the weekend, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) issued a statement welcoming the agreement reached by the two Presidential candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, on breaking the electoral impasse.
- The agreement, which was facilitated by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, involves a complete audit of the results of Afghanistan’s Presidential election run-off. Both candidates have committed to participating and abiding by the result of this comprehensive audit.
- At a press conference yesterday, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ján Kubiš, hailed efforts by one of the country’s electoral management bodies, the Independent Election Commission, to start the implementation of the audit plan.
- Mr. Kubiš called the agreement on the audit by the two candidates a sign of statesmanship, wisdom and responsible understanding. The Mission has forwarded the agreed audit framework and procedures, including an audit checklist, to the electoral bodies.
- The agreement also includes the formation of a government of national unity upon the declaration of the final results of the Presidential election. The mission added that this would augur well for the future stability, prosperity and unity of Afghanistan.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS EXPLOSIONS, SMALL-ARMS FIRE IN SOUTH SUDAN’S UPPER NILE STATE
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reported mortar and artillery explosions as well as small-arms fire yesterday close to its base in Renk in Upper Nile State.
- On Friday, in Unity State, the Mission reported clashes between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Opposition elements, including heavy gunfire, southwest of Bentiu. At its protection of civilians site in the state capital, UNMISS is protecting more than 40,000 civilians. That same day, UN peacekeepers also heard heavy machine gun fire coming from Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) positions in Nasir Town, in Upper Nile State.
- Meanwhile, as part of its ongoing efforts to decongest its sites, the Mission, over the weekend, voluntarily moved another 330 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in the Tomping compound in Juba to the new protection of civilians site adjacent to the UN House property, also in Juba. An estimated 1,300 displaced people have now been relocated to the recently opened protection site and the number of IDPs still living at the Tomping site is now estimated at about 13,000.
- Overall, the Mission is protecting upwards of 97,000 displaced civilians at its sites across the country. UNMISS once again calls on the main parties to the crisis in South Sudan to sincerely abide by and implement the cessation of hostilities agreements they signed earlier this year and bring hostilities to an immediate and enduring end.
SOMALIA: U.N. FUND ALLOCATES $1.4 MILLION FOR EMERGENCY MEASLES CAMPAIGN
- The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $1.4 million for an emergency campaign to combat measles outbreak in Somalia, which has already left thousands of children at risk of disability and death. The funding will help vaccinate an estimated half a million children under 5 years of age in the worst affected areas of Banadir, Lower Juba and Puntland.
- Around 4,000 suspected cases of measles have been reported so far this year, more than double the suspected cases reported during the same period last year. Three quarters of cases were reported in children under 5. In Somalia, measles is one of the leading killers of young children, a situation made worse by the lack of health services.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW CLIMATE CHANGE ENVOY, SENIOR OFFICIAL FOR U.N. BURUNDI OFFICE
- The Secretary-General has appointed Mary Robinson of Ireland as his Special Envoy on Climate Change.
- Building on her work on climate justice, she will engage Heads of State and Governments around the world in order to mobilize political will and action, and raise ambition in advance of the 2014 Climate Summit that the Secretary-General is hosting in New York on 23 September 2014. She will also provide strategic advice to the Secretary-General based on her consultations.
- The Summit will be an important milestone to mobilize political commitment for the conclusion of a global agreement by 2015, as well as to spur enhanced action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and build climate resilient communities.
- The Secretary-General has also appointed Agostinho Zacarias of Mozambique as his Deputy Special Representative ad interim for the United Nations Office in Burundi (BNUB). Mr. Zacarias will also serve as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- He will succeed Rosine Sori-Coulibaly of Burkina Faso, who completed her assignment in May this year. The Secretary-General is grateful to Ms. Sori-Coulibaly for her dedicated service and contribution to peace consolidation efforts in Burundi.
- Mr. Zacarias most recently served as United Nations Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of UNDP in South Africa.