HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 18 JULY 2013
SECRETARY GENERAL COMMEMORATES NELSON MANDELA DAY
- On Thursday morning, the Secretary-General addressed a meeting of the General Assembly to mark Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday.
- In his remarks, the Secretary-General said Nelson Mandela is a giant of our times. He gave 67 years of his life to the struggle for human rights.
- He said that this year’s commemoration of Nelson Mandela International Day comes as the globally revered Madiba remains in hospital.
- At this difficult time, he said, our thoughts are with Mr. Mandela, his family and all the people of South Africa.
- The Secretary-General added that every day, we want to mobilize the human family to take action, inspire change, and build a more peaceful, sustainable and equitable world.
- He said Nelson Mandela has done as much as anyone to shape the very conscience of the international community.
- On the occasion of Nelson Mandela International Day, more than 70 staff from the UN Secretariat, agencies, funds and programmes, as well as the Permanent Mission of South Africa, are helping to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach and Far Rockaway. The effort is coordinated by two grassroots organizations – We Build New York and Respond & Rebuild.
- Asked about what UN staff are doing to meet Nelson Mandela's call for 67 minutes of public service on Mandela Days the Spokesperson said dozens of UN staff are involved in this endeavour and those colleagues who have gone to Rockaway and other communities are working very hard to help rebuild homes affected by Hurricane Sandy.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF COMMENDS COUTE D’IVOIRE’S LEADERSHIP IN TACKLING CHALLENGES
- The Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve Ladsous, briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.
- Mr. Ladsous said that Côte d’Ivoire was on the right path and that its leadership had demonstrated remarkable resolve to tackle the many challenges the country is facing.
- However, he noted that threats to Côte d’Ivoire’s peace and security persist and should not be underestimated, such as the political divisions and networks affiliated with the former regime, as well as piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, drug trafficking and organized crime.
- Mr. Ladsous said that the presence of the UN Mission in the country, UNOCI, remained essential, particularly with respect to protecting civilians, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former combatants, and security sector reform.
SOUTH SUDAN: ACCESS FOR AID IN JONGLEI STATE ALLOWS FOR NEEDS ASSESSMENT FOR CIVILIANS – U.N. COORDINATOR
- The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said on Thursday that expanded access for aid agencies in Jonglei state’s Pibor country has allowed for the assessment of the needs of up to 25,000 civilians who have fled recent fighting.
- Mr. Lanzer said that non-governmental organizations and UN agencies have a joint team on the ground and are providing medical assistance, water purification tablets, and plastic sheeting.
- He is particularly concerned that some children show signs of measles, which can be fatal in such conditions.
- Civilians stranded in the bush need not only peace and security, but also freedom of movement so that they can gain access to services.
- The Coordinator said that basic services can be provided by aid organizations, assuming that all parties ensure unhindered and continuous access, as well as a safe and welcoming environment for non-governmental organizations and UN agencies.
- Asked about the fighting in South Sudan, the Spokesperson said UNMISS's ability to deploy into areas of severe fighting in South Sudan is severely limited given the lack of air assets and secured landing sites. The Spokesperson noted that the small UNMISS presence in Manyabol had two purposes: to treat and help evacuate the wounded Lou Nuer who had arrived there seeking medical aid; and to ensure that the helicopter landing strip was secure for additional inbound humanitarian flights. He added that UNMISS forces have been reinforced in Gumuruk and Pibor and are instructed to use force to protect civilians when they are under imminent threat.
SOMALIA: U.N. COORDINATOR CONCLUDES FIRST OFFICIAL VISIT TO SOMALILAND
- The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia concluded his first official visit to Somaliland on Wednesday.
- During his two-day mission, Philippe Lazzarini met with Somaliland President Ahmed Mohamed Mohamoud Silanyo, ministers, representatives of civil society, and others.
- Mr. Lazzarini reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to help boost the region’s agriculture, livestock, water and environment sectors, and in his meetings, he discussed the question of land allocation for internally displaced people.
- He also visited a settlement for internally displaced people in Hargeisa.
Mr. Lazzarini expressed support for the agreement that included the lifting of a ban on UN humanitarian flights to and from Somaliland.
SPOKESPERSON SAYS MAIN FOCUS OF SYRIA CRISIS SHOULD BE CIVILIANS: Asked about the situation in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the nature of the fighting is complicated and intense. The main focus should be the civilians in Syria who continue to endure considerable hardships and suffering.
SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMENDS PANAMANIAN AUTHORITIES’ ACTION IN CONFORMITY CONCERNING D.P.R.K. SHIP: Asked about the status of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s ship being detained by the Government of Panama, the Spokesperson said the Secretary-General is aware of the discovery by the Panamanian authorities of the weapons shipment, commends this action in conformity with Security Council resolutions, and underscores the fact that it is the duty of all member sates to implement Security Council resolutions.
APPOINTMENT TO UN UNIVERSITY OFFICE: The Spokesperson said that Dr. David Malone, Rector of the United Nations University, announced Thursday the appointment of Mr. James Cockayne of Australia as Head of the UNU Office at the United Nations in New York. Mr. Cockayne will assume his post in early September 2013. Most recently, Mr. Cockayne served as Co-Director of the Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation, leading their work in New York and Africa. Earlier, Mr. Cockayne spent four years with the International Peace Institute working with UN officials, academic experts and governments to develop innovative recommendations on climate change, poverty and underdevelopment, biosecurity, and peace and security.