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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

TUESDAY, 16 JULY 2013

 

U.N. SENIOR OFFICIALS CALL FOR PROTECTION AND HUMANITARIAN ASSITANCE FOR SYRIANS AFFECTED BY CRISIS

  • The Security Council met on Syria on Tuesday morning. Before moving into consultations, it was briefed by the High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres; the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos; and the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic.
  • Mr. Guterres stressed that the situation in Syria cannot be treated as a simple humanitarian emergency. He reiterated his call on all States to keep their borders open and to receive Syrians who seek protection.
  • Ms. Amos said that at least 6.8 million Syrians require urgent humanitarian assistance, including more than 4.2 million internally displaced people. Nearly half of those who require assistance are children.
  • On the human rights front, Mr. Simonovic said that the supply of weapons to both sides must stop and that the solution should be political, not military. He added that parties must initiate immediate negotiations to reduce violence and human rights violations, and improve the protection of civilians.
  • On Tuesday afternoon, the Council is expected to adopt a presidential statement on the Sahel and will be briefed on Iraq.
  • Asked about reports of members of the Pakistan Taliban fighting in Syria, the Spokesperson said the United Nations does not have a monitoring presence there. The Secretary-General remains very concerned about the violence in Syria, and has consistently stated that further militarisation is not the way to achieve peace.

 

U.N. REPRESENTATIVE VISITS SYRIA TO ASSESS IMPACT OF CRISIS ON CHILDREN

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict is in Syria on Tuesday, the second day of her three-day visit, to assess the impact of the crisis on children.
  • Prior to her arrival in Syria, Leila Zerrougui visited Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Lebanon.
  • In each country she has visited, the Special Representative has been meeting with families and children affected by the violence in Syria.
  • Ms. Zerrougui plans to speak to reporters when she returns to New York.

 

U.N. OFFICE FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES EXPRESS SORROW AT DEATH OF STAFF IN SYRIA

  • The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) on Tuesday expressed its great sorrow at the death of a staff member in Syria.
  • The death of 39-year-old Muhannad Ashmawi brings the total number of UNRWA staff members killed as a result of the Syria conflict to seven.
  • Mr. Ashmawi served in two UNRWA schools in Yarmouk. He sustained serious head injuries in a shell explosion on 9 July and died of his injuries on Sunday.
  • UNRWA said that his death occurs against the backdrop of intensifying armed conflict in Yarmouk and other Palestine refugee camps and neighbourhoods across Syria. This is aggravating an already dire humanitarian situation, causing new waves of significant, recurrent displacement and raising the toll of deaths and serious injuries among Palestinians and Syrians.
  • UNRWA condemned the persistent failure of all sides to protect civilians and safeguard human life in Syria.
  • It also deplored the immeasurable, needless human suffering that continues to affect communities across Syria. This is due to insistence on attempting to resolve the Syria conflict militarily. In the strongest terms, UNRWA appealed to all concerned parties to end the suffering, comply with their obligations under international law and resolve the conflict in Syria through mediated dialogue and negotiations.

 

UNESCO CHIEF SHOCKED AT DESTRUCTION TO CULTURAL HERITAGE IN SYRIA

  • The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has said on Tuesday she was deeply shocked at news of further destruction to cultural heritage in Syria, particularly reports of damage to the Crac des Chevaliers, a World Heritage site.
  • Irina Bokova called on the perpetrators to cease the destruction immediately and urges all parties to the conflict to safeguard the site, along with all of Syria’s cultural property.

 

D.R.CONGO: U.N. MISSION REPORTS CONTINUED FIGHTING IN NORTH OF GOMA

  • The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports that fighting between the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and the M23 armed group continued on Monday in Mutaho, north of Goma. 
  • According to the mission, MONUSCO, during the fighting, the M23 used rockets. Two rockets fell near MONUSCO positions in Munigi, a third rocket landed near Goma airport. There are no reports of casualties. A number of civilians have fled towards Goma for safety.
  • The mission adds that the Congolese army maintains control of Mutaho and has consolidated its positions around Kanyaruchina, a few Kilometers away.

 

D.R.CONGO: U.N. COORDINATOR CONCERNED OVER DETERIORATING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN NORTH KIVU

  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has expressed his concern over the deteriorating situation in North Kivu following renewed fighting near Goma.
  • Moustapha Soumare said that the clashes could lead to disastrous humanitarian consequences and appealed to all parties to the conflict to take all necessary steps to ensure the protection of civilians in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law.
  • The UN Refuge Agency (UNCHR), together with its partners, is rushing to help the tens of thousands of people who have fled into western Uganda to escape the new emergency underway in North Kivu. As of Sunday evening, the Uganda Red Cross had manually registered more than 66,000 refugees.
  • Given the current situation of the refugees, with sanitation and hygiene facilities nearly non-existent, the Agency is trying to persuade the refugees that if they wish to receive protection, shelter and assistance, they should go to a transit centre near the border in Bubukwanga sub-county. This will enable the Agency and the Ugandan Government to carry out a thorough registration of refugees and identify those most in need of protection and assistance.
  • The Agency said that it is also concerned about the situation in Goma, where clashes are also causing displacement. A steady stream of some 600 people a week have been crossing into Uganda. The Agency said that more skirmishes could trigger a bigger exodus.
  • Even before the arrival of the newest refugees, Uganda was already home to more than 210,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, more than 60 per cent of whom came from the DRC.
  • For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that its response so far is focusing on providing safe water and sanitation and on child protection.
  • Asked about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson said the United Nations Mission's (MONUSCO) mandate is to protect civilians regardless of which rebel group is threatening them. Nesirky noted that there is a very strong human rights component to the Mission. He added that combatants should not be paraded before the media nor should their remains be defiled.

 

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION REINFORCES PRESENCE IN GUMURUK AND PIBOR FOLLOWING CLASHES

  • Given the recent serious clashes in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, the UN peacekeeping mission there, UNMISS, has reinforced its presence in Gumuruk and Pibor.
  • However, due to severe logistical constraints and the lack of secured helicopter landing sites, the mission’s ability to deploy into the area of the fighting is very limited.
  • The mission is deeply concerned about the fighting in Jonglei. It does not have a full picture of the clashes yet and is continuing efforts to gather information and document the reports, in particular from the clashes in Pibor County.
  • The mission remains in regular contact with senior officials of the government, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), and community leaders in a bid to halt the violence.
  • The mission notes that the Government of South Sudan has the primary responsibility to protect civilians.

 

U.N. RELIEF CHIEF ANNOUNCES ALLOCATION OF $72 MILLION FOR NEGLECTED HUMANITARIAN CRISES

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, announced the allocation of some US$72 million for humanitarian work in neglected crises in twelve countries.
  • These new allocations bring the total amount provided through the underfunded emergencies part of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to an unprecedented $172 million in a single year.
  • The detailed press release including the list of the countries can be found online.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS AFRICA BUREAU DIRECTOR FOR U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Abdoulaye Mar Dieye of Senegal as Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). 
  • Mr. Dieye will replace Tegegnework Gettu who has taken up his new appointment as Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management in the UN Secretariat.
  • Mr. Dieye has been serving as Chief of Staff and Director of the Executive Office in UNDP.

 

SUDAN: U.N. PEACEKEEPERS ATTACKED DURING ROUTINE PATROL BY UNIDENTIFIED ARMED GROUP OVER WEEKEND

  • In response to questions the Spokesperson was asked on Monday about the attack over the weekend on troops serving with the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur (UNAMID): The peacekeepers were attacked when they were undertaking a routine confidence-building patrol. The peacekeepers were outnumbered four to one by their attackers who numbered between 100 and 150 people, and they had trucks mounted with anti-aircraft guns.
  • The identities of the attackers have not yet been established.  The United Nations is conducting its own investigations and calls on the Government of Sudan to identify and bring to account those responsible. One truck was stolen during the attack and the mission later recovered three damaged vehicles.
  • Regarding UNAMID’s mandate, it has a Chapter VII mandate. Following this weekend’s attack, the UN has been in regular contact with the Permanent Mission of Tanzania.

 

NAMIBIA AND ANGOLA FACE DROUGHT IMPACTING FOOD SECURITY AND CHILDREN – U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that neighbouring Namibia and Angola were facing a drought impacting food security and children on both sides of the border.  Though the emergency is in the early stages, it is expected to deteriorate. 
  • UNICEF seeks international support for affected populations, particularly women and children, to avert a nutritional and health crisis in both countries.  UNICEF’s support to the Governments of Namibia and Angola will focus on the prevention and treatment of malnutrition and diseases, mitigating protection risks and supporting children’s access to education.

 

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

U.N. MISSION IN MALI TO PROVIDE SUPPORT FOR ELECTIONS: Asked about the forthcoming elections in Mali, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission there will be providing logistical support in very difficult circumstances.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT FORCEFULLY AGAINST VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Asked about sexual violence against women, the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General has always spoken out very forcefully against this wherever it may occur.