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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 FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 15 JULY 2014

 

IN HAITI, SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS LEADERS, TOURS SPORTS CENTRE WITH HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE

  • The Secretary-General is in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, ‎where he met with the Presidents of the National Assembly and the Chamber of Deputies.
  • Earlier this morning, he toured the "Sports for Hope Centre" with President Michel Martelly and the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.
  • Yesterday, the Secretary-General visited the village of Los Palmas, in Central Department. There he met with a family affected by cholera‎. He also took part in a ceremony in the local church to honour Haitians affected by cholera and to express his solidarity. The Secretary-General said that the United Nations and its partners are strongly committed to ending the epidemic as quickly as possible.
  • He also launched the "Total Sanitation Campaign" with Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, which aims to raise sanitation standards and improve health conditions. The United Nations will assist the Government of Haiti in targeting an initial 20 communes covering 3 million people within the next five years.
  • In the evening, the Secretary-General met with President Martelly. Speaking to reporters afterward, he said this was not the time for donor fatigue and that Haiti still needs the assistance of the international community. He also said that the holding of elections this year is essential.
  • This afternoon, the Secretary-General will‎ travel to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
  • Asked about the UN’s responsibilities regarding cholera in Haiti, the Spokesman noted the Secretary-General’s awareness of his responsibility to make sure that Haitians, the international community and donors especially are mobilized to give Haiti a better future.
  • Haq said that the Secretary-General came to Haiti to assure the Haitian people of his personal commitment and that of the United Nations to do all that can be done, with the Government of Haiti and the international community, to help overcome the spread of cholera.
  • Haiti still hosts the largest number of suspected cholera cases in the Western Hemisphere, and this is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue.
  • The Secretary-General wants to be the advocate of the Haitian people and help them to achieve the future that you want and deserve.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General feels regret, the Spokesman said that, in his tenure as Secretary-General, few things have upset him more than the situation in Haiti since the tragic earthquake of 2010.  It has caused him more anguish than he can express. His heart goes out to everyone who lost a loved one or was affected.
  • Asked about UN efforts to fight cholera, the Spokesman said that the Total Sanitation Campaign which was launched on Monday with the Haitian Government aims to scale up sanitation and hygiene interventions in rural areas.
  • Through this initiative, 3 million people in 750,000 households across the country’s 10 Departments will be supported to eliminate open defecation, access improved sanitation and adopt improved hygiene practices. 
  • The Campaign is assisting affected communities through the construction of water sources in areas of high risk of cholera; the construction/rehabilitation of latrines and water points in key institutions such as schools, health centres and markets.
  • Haq said that the UN Mission and the UN agencies in Haiti will continue to support projects to enhance water supplies in the country through the rehabilitation of water points and wells.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DEADLY ATTACKS IN AFGHANISTAN

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s attack in south-eastern Afghanistan. The attack on civilians in Paktika during the holy month of Ramadan is a despicable criminal act, which killed and injured many innocent people, including children.
  • The Secretary-General further condemns a targeted attack against civilian workers in Kabul today, which killed two government employees.
  • Such attacks, directed against civilians, are serious violations of international humanitarian law.
  • The Secretary-General offers his deepest condolences to the families of those killed and a swift recovery to those injured.
  • The Secretary-General notes that these acts come just days after the release of the United Nations’ report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and underscores the serious challenges that still face Afghanistan. He once again commends the bravery and resilience of the Afghan people, who participated in two rounds of elections in a clear rejection of violence and who continue to work towards a more prosperous, peaceful future.
  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) also strongly condemned the attacks in Urgun, in the south-eastern province of Paktika, and in Kabul.
  • In Urgun, at least 43 civilians have been killed, including eight children. The death toll makes it the single worst attack this year in the country. The deliberate attack on a civilian shuttle bus in Kabul has killed another two people. Fatalities in Kabul include two staff members from the Directorate of the Presidential Administration.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ján Kubiš, said that the perpetrators must be held accountable. He added that civilians should be able to go about their daily lives, without the risk of such horrific violence.
  • Today’s explosions follow two suicide attacks earlier this week in Paktika province, which killed four and wounded 11.  
  • The UN mission continues to reiterate that international humanitarian law, to which all parties to the armed conflict are bound, prohibits the use of indiscriminate and disproportionate tactics, in particular, improvised explosive devices.

GAZA: LEVEL OF HUMAN LOSS, DESTRUCTION ‘IMMENSE, SAYS U.N. AGENCY

  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said today that the level of human loss and destruction in Gaza has been immense. During today’s Geneva press briefing, the Agency said that there have been 174 killed and well over 1,100 injured so far, but those numbers were increasing rapidly; a cause of concern was the large proportion of women and children among casualties. Also, 560 homes were completely destroyed and thousands of other buildings damaged in Israeli airstrikes.
  • Some 17,000 refugees have sought refuge in 20 UNRWA schools.
  • Asked about the ceasefire proposed by Egypt for Israel and Gaza, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on Sunday, 13 July. He appreciates and fully supports the Egyptian initiative for a cease-fire agreement. He is deeply worried that the fighting has not stopped, despite Israel’s readiness to accept the ceasefire proposal. 
  • The Secretary-General calls on Hamas to cooperate with the Egyptian initiative, and urges all sides to build on this opening of a diplomatic channel. All parties must respect international humanitarian law. The United Nations will in the meantime continue providing much-needed emergency humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
  • Asked about damage to UN facilities in Gaza, the Spokesman noted that 47 UNRWA facilities had been reported as damaged as of Monday.

U.N. AGENCIES, PARTNERS DELIVER AID TO SYRIA’S MADAMIYET ELSHAM FOR FIRST TIME IN TWO YEARS

  • UN agencies and partners from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent reached Madamiyet Elsham in Rural Damascus yesterday for the first time in nearly two years and delivered food, household items, and hygiene supplies for about 5,000 people.  It’s hoped that this will be the first of four days of deliveries, which would benefit a total of 20,000 people.
  • Two mobile clinics also went in and provided medical services until supplies ran out. Aid workers observed that the large crowds were welcoming them and also noticed that there was no electrical power; people had been chopping down trees for firewood.

NEARLY HALF OF YEMEN’S POPULATION STRUGGLE FOR FOOD – U.N.

  • From Geneva, the World Food Programme (WFP) says that a joint new survey with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has found that while food security has improved in some parts of Yemen, more than 10 million people – more than 40 per cent of the population – don’t know where their next meal will come from.
  • Global acute malnutrition rates are serious across most of Yemen, reaching emergency levels in some areas. Twelve of the country’s governorates have critical levels of stunting, which is caused by malnutrition, resulting in children failing to grow properly.

U.N. MISSION STAFF RELOCATED FROM LIBYA DUE TO DETERIORATING SECURITY CONDITIONS

  • Asked about UN relocations from Libya, the Spokesman recalled that last week, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) decided to reduce staff numbers in Libya because of the significant deterioration in security conditions.
  • The most recent fighting in Tripoli has led the Mission to further reduce the number of staff, again for security reasons.
  • Haq reiterated that this is a temporary measure. The United Nations is continuously assessing the situation on the ground, and relocated staff will return as soon as security conditions permit. The United Nations remains committed to assisting the Libyan people with the political transition process and supporting Libya in building a democratic state based on the rule of law.
  • Asked about reports that the Government would like a larger international presence in Libya, the Spokesman noted that it was up to the Security Council to change the mandate of the Mission.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SADDENED BY DEADLY MOSCOW TRAIN DERAILMENT

  • In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General was saddened to learn about today’s train derailment in Moscow, which killed many and left scores more injured. 
  • At this difficult moment, the Secretary-General extends his sincere condolences to the families of the victims of this tragic accident, the Government and the people of the Russian Federation. He wishes a full and speedy recovery to all those injured.

U.N. MISSION IN THE D.R. CONGO DENIES REPORTS IT TRANSPORTED INDICTED WAR CRIMINAL

  • Asked whether the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) had transported an indicted war criminal to Rome, the Spokesman denied that it had done so. He said that the Mission had transported Gaston Iyamuremye to Kinshasa, together with other members of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) leadership.
  • The Sanctions Committee did not give permission for a travel waiver to be issued, and Gaston Iyamuremye did not leave the Democratic Republic of the Congo; he was escorted back to the east the following day. Other FDLR members did proceed to Rome for the meeting.
  • Haq added that the United Nations representatives present at the San’Egidio meeting confirmed that Mr. Iyamuremye did not participate at the Rome meeting.
  • MONUSCO continues to implement its Security Council mandate, including with regard to protection of civilians and the neutralisation of armed groups in the eastern DRC.  The Mission refutes any allegations of collusion with the FDLR.

PHILIPPINES: TYPHOON RAMMASUM COULD AFFECT 43 MILLION PEOPLE – U.N.

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that Typhoon Rammasum is projected to make landfall in the Philippines this evening and reach the capital, Manila, before noon tomorrow.
  • Flooding and landslides are expected, with the country’s authorities saying the typhoon could affect some 43 million people. The UN humanitarian country team is monitoring the situation in collaboration with the country’s Office of Civil Defence.

SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES PEACEBUILDING

  • The Security Council held an open meeting on peacebuilding, in which Council members heard from the current and former chairs of the Peacebuilding Commission – respectively, the Permanent Representatives of Brazil and Croatia.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REPORTS NEARLY 1,000 EBOLA CASES IN WEST AFRICA

  • At the briefing in Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that an estimated 964 cases of Ebola have been reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. So far, more than 600 people have died. In Guinea alone, six new cases and three deaths have been reported in the last few days.
  • The organization is monitoring the situation and increasing its efforts to reduce the number of cases. A new a Sub-Regional Coordination Centre in Conakry is being set-up to help control and coordinate response efforts in the three countries.

SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES GRATITUDE TO OUTGOING HEAD OF U.N. FIELD SUPPORT OFFICE

  • The Secretary-General says that Ameerah Haq has informed him of her intention to step down as Under-Secretary-General for Field Support. The Secretary-General would like to express his tremendous gratitude for her outstanding service.
  • Throughout her career, Ms. Haq has consistently demonstrated a deep care for United Nations field staff, and a strong commitment to the values of the Organization. She began her service as a Junior Professional Officer, and over the course of a 38 year career worked in a wide range of development, humanitarian and peacekeeping roles, at Headquarters and in the field. Seven of her thirteen assignments, encompassing 20 years with the United Nations have been served in the field, often in hardship duty stations. 
  • As the Secretary-General’s Special-Representative in Timor-Leste, she led the final stage of the United Nations' peacekeeping assistance to that new and independent country.  As Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, during a period of significant expansion in the size and complexity of United Nations peace operations, she has successfully managed to provide enhanced support to United Nations missions, and troop and police contributing countries, while implementing a number of important reforms that created significant resource efficiencies, reducing the financial burden on Member States.