HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 17 JULY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES HUMANITARIAN PAUSE IN GAZA BROKERED BY U.N. ENVOY
- In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the humanitarian pause in Gaza today and appreciates that it has mostly been respected by all parties. This temporary ceasefire, brokered by his Special Coordinator, Robert Serry, has allowed civilians in Gaza to resume some daily routines and for repairs to start on essential electrical and water infrastructure. In Israel, civilians have had a reprieve from rocket fire. Throughout, the United Nations has continued providing essential humanitarian assistance.
- The pause shows that a cessation of hostilities is possible if all the parties demonstrate the necessary will and put the interests of civilians, who have borne the brunt of this escalation, first. Encouraged by discussions in Cairo, the Secretary-General hopes today’s humanitarian pause can lead to a more durable calm and expresses once again his support for international efforts, led by Egypt, to arrive at a sustainable ceasefire. In this regard, it will be crucial to address the underlying factors that have led to the recent escalation, including governance issues, the need to bring Gaza back under one legitimate Palestinian Government adhering to the PLO commitments, the full opening of the legal crossings, and other unimplemented core elements of Security Council Resolution 1860.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations readiness to help facilitate all efforts to this end. He has dispatched his Special Coordinator to Gaza to help further de-escalate tensions and achieve a lasting ceasefire that will spare Palestinians and Israelis future such rounds of violence.
GAZA: WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME DISTRIBUTES SUPPLIES DURING PAUSE
- The World Food Programme (WFP) took advantage of the five-hour humanitarian pause to provide emergency food assistance to thousands of people affected by the escalation in violence and to move food stocks into position around the Gaza Strip.
- The World Food Programme is distributing emergency food vouchers in areas where shops are functioning, at a time when banks in the Gaza Strip are closed and household incomes are at risk. It also transported food, including wheat flour, bread and canned tuna from its warehouses, to distribute to 85,000 people in the next days as security conditions permit.
- Meanwhile, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has made a $60 million flash appeal for Gaza. The appeal is to respond to the immediate shelter, food, health and psycho-social needs of affected families, to replenish emergency stocks, and to prepare for carrying out vital interventions that will be required immediately upon the cessation of military activities.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that at least 219 Palestinians have been killed as of today, and the Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that some 1,585 Palestinians have been injured. Some 25,000 children need specialized psycho-social support. Humanitarian agencies report that up to half the Gazan population is without water supply and essential medical supplies are urgently needed for Gaza hospitals.
U.N. AGENCY CALLS HIDING WEAPONS IN ITS GAZA INSTALLATION ‘FLAGRANT’ VIOLATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW
- Asked about a weapons discovery in Gaza, the Spokesman said that on Wednesday, in the course of the regular inspection of its premises, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) discovered approximately 20 rockets hidden in a vacant school in the Gaza Strip.
- UNRWA strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations. This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.
- Haq said that the incident, which is the first of its kind in Gaza, endangered civilians including staff and put at risk UNRWA’s vital mission to assist and protect Palestine refugees in Gaza.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET NEW U.N. SYRIA ENVOY
- The Secretary-General will make brief press remarks this afternoon in his conference room when he meets with his Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, and his Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy.
SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION BREAKTHROUGH ON EFFORTS TO REACH SYRIANS – U.N. RELIEF AGENCIES
- In a joint statement issued yesterday, the heads of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) welcomed Security Council Resolution 2165 on humanitarian access in Syria, which should enable them to reach up to 2.9 million more people with vital aid. This resolution represents a breakthrough in their efforts to get aid to Syrians in need.
- WFP teams on the ground are proceeding immediately to put in place the monitoring mechanism mandated in the resolution. UNICEF has already positioned supplies ready for the first cross-border convoys supported by the new resolution, including blankets, water purification materials, hygiene kits and syringes.
IRAQ: U.N., AID PARTNERS REPORT DAILY POPULATION DISPLACEMENTS, MOVEMENTS
- On the humanitarian situation in Iraq, humanitarian organizations report that additional displacement occurs daily and population movements remain ?uid. Access to basic services in areas controlled by armed groups remains a challenge. UN agencies and humanitarian partners continue to increase their assistance to families in camps and transit sites in Erbil, Suleimaniya and Dohuk in the Kurdistan region.
LIBYA: DETEIORATING SECURITY SITUATION IN CAPITAL REFLECTION OF FRACTURED POLITICAL SCENE – U.N. ENVOY
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, Tarek Mitri, briefed the Security Council today. He said that the deteriorating security situation in Tripoli over the past couple of weeks is a reflection of the deeply fractured political scene in the country.
- Mr. Mitri, who briefed from an UN office in Lebanon, said that the all-out confrontation between two major rival groups in Tripoli continues to play out in the country’s international airport. He added that the interim Government’s call for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire has gone unheeded.
- He said that the fighting around the international airport has brought the war close to the office of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). Security concerns had led to the reduction and ultimately to the withdrawal of international staff in the country. He stressed that the move is temporary and will be reviewed as soon as there is an improvement in security.
- He added that the UN and other international and regional actors have called for a cessation of violence. And that the UN mission continues to be in contact with various parties and groups in Libya in an attempt to de-escalate the situation.
U.N. MISSION WELCOMES START OF AUDIT OF AFGHAN PRESIDENTIAL RUN-OFF RESULTS
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomes the start of the audit of the results of the 2014 Presidential election run-off today.
- As you know, the audit, which follows an agreement between the two Presidential candidates, was facilitated by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry. Both candidates have committed to participating in and abiding by the result of the audit.
- The audit is being conducted by Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), under the close and extensive supervision of the UN. The Director of the UN Secretariat’s Electoral Assistance Division, Craig Jenness, has arrived in Kabul to supervise the preparations for this unprecedented audit and its start.
- The audit will be internationally supervised in a manner proposed by the UN, in consultation with both candidates. It will be conducted in accordance with international standards, utilizing an IEC checklist enhanced by UN recommendations.
AT START OF INTER-MALIAN TALKS, U.N. ENVOY URGES COMMITMENT TO DIALOGUE, PEACE
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Mali, Bert Koenders, has welcomed the start of the inter-Malian talks in Alger. Those talks aim to begin a negotiation to achieve a global peace agreement.
- Koenders urged the Malian parties to commit to dialogue and peace. He added that the parties need to put aside individual interest and take into account the concerns of the entire population.
- He also called on the international community to support the current process.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS FINANCING GAPS FOR AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
- This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the General Assembly’s thematic debate on the promotion of investment in Africa. He said that during his travels in Africa he had seen the dynamism and promise of this vast continent.
- He noted that foreign direct investment in Africa, including investment from other African countries, has steadily increased since the turn of the century and it now exceeds Official Development Assistance.
- But, he added, much of this investment has been related to resource extraction and exports, with not enough being channelled into vital development needs.
- The Secretary-General said that there are many critical financing gaps, especially in agriculture, infrastructure and industrialization, which are now the focus of Africa’s development agenda.
- He called on countries to remain committed to fulfilling ODA commitments. But also said that harnessing all sources of investment and finance -- public and private; domestic and external -- and ensuring they complement each other is essential.
MARKING INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL JUSTICE DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED FOR ACCOUNTABILITY
- The Secretary-General spoke at an event today to mark International Criminal Justice Day, and he also took the occasion to celebrate ten years of the UN Relationship Agreement with the International Criminal Court.
- He said that this is a day for all of us to underscore a crucial point: justice matters. Accountability for serious crimes of international concern is central to our global commitment to peace, security human rights and fundamental freedoms.
- The Secretary-General once again called for universal ratification of the Rome Statute and encouraged all Member States who are parties to the Rome Statute to do their part to strengthen the International Criminal Court.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW ENVOY FOR AFRICAN GREAT LAKES REGION
- The Secretary-General has appointed Said Djinnit of Algeria as his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region. He succeeds Mrs. Mary Robinson of Ireland who recently accepted new responsibilities as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.
- Mr. Djinnit most recently served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA).
CRASH OF MALAYSIAN AIRLINES FLIGHT ‘TRAGIC’ DEVELOPMENT – U.N.
- In response to a question, the Spokesman acknowledged the reports that a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane has crashed near the border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, but added that the United Nations has no further information at the moment.
- Haq added that this is a tragic development. The UN’s thoughts are with the passengers, the crew and their families.