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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

FRIDAY, 18 JULY 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS DOWNING OF MALAYSIA AIRLINES PLANE, CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION

  • The Secretary-General strongly condemns the downing of a Malaysia Airlines aircraft in eastern Ukraine on 17 July, killing nearly 300 people, including 80 children. This horrifying incident must at the very least prompt a serious and sustained effort to end the fighting in Ukraine.
  • The Secretary-General calls for a full and transparent international investigation into the incident and offers the full cooperation of the United Nations in such an inquiry. There must be accountability for this tragedy: anyone found to be responsible must be brought to justice. The United Nations is in touch with the International Civil Aviation Organization, which has offered Ukraine its investigative capacity in order to put together an international team. The Secretary-General echoes calls for all parties to grant immediate and unfettered access by investigators to the crash site.
  • The Secretary-General conveys his deepest condolences to the families of all victims and to the governments and peoples of their countries of origin.
  • Further on Ukraine, the Security Council held an open meeting on Ukraine this morning.
  • The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, told Council members that nearly 300 innocent people from many countries were killed, including a World Health Organization (WHO) staff member.
  • Mr. Feltman said that we face a rapidly deteriorating crisis in Ukraine that bears consequences far beyond the country’s borders. He said that we deeply regret that the glimpse of hope following the announcement of President Poroshenko’s peace plan has quickly dissipated.
  • He said that the United Nations will continue to do its part, with the Secretary-General being in close contact with world leaders. Mr. Feltman said that the Secretary-General has asked him to return to Kyiv and Moscow in the coming days in the spirit of his good offices.
  • He expressed hope that the shock of the downing of the civilian passenger jet on Thursday will prompt a serious and sustained effort to end the fighting and concentrate positively on Ukraine's future.
  • For its part, UNAIDS, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, today expressed its deep sadness over the loss of life of those aboard the flight. It is believe dthat many of the passengers were on their way to take part in the International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia. UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said that the deaths of so many committed people working against HIV will be a great loss for the AIDS response.
  • In response to further questions, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General intended to speak to President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine today.

BAN KI-MOON EXPRESSES ALARM AT SERIOUS ESCALATION IN GAZA

  • In a statement issued Thursday evening, the Secretary-General expressed his alarm at the serious escalation in Gaza, including resumed rocket fire into Israel and the subsequent launch of an Israeli ground operation into Gaza, despite his repeated urgings to the contrary.
  • This escalation will inevitably increase the already appalling suffering of the affected civilian populations. The Secretary-General calls for an immediate end to the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas into Israel and Israeli retaliatory action. He asks the parties to do their utmost to ensure the protection of civilians and United Nations premises and staff, and that humanitarian assistance continues to reach all those in need. All parties must respect international humanitarian and human rights law, and there must be accountability for any breaches of those obligations.
    The Secretary-General reiterates his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and urges regional and international partners to exert all possible influence to bring about an immediate end to the suffering and bloodshed. He will continue his efforts to that end.?
    And in remarks to the press yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General noted that there had been a number of recent incidents involving the deaths of civilians, including the appalling killing of four boys on a beach in Gaza City.  He urged Israel to do far more to stop civilian casualties.
  • The Security Council has scheduled a meeting on the Middle East at 3:00 this afternoon.
  • As of 17 July, at least 230 Palestinians, including 171 civilians, have been killed by Israeli air, naval and ground strikes in Gaza. At least 48 children and 31 women are among the fatalities. One Israeli civilian has been killed by Palestinian rocket fire.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that an estimated 96,400 people need shelter assistance because their homes have been damaged or destroyed. 
  • More than 22,900 people were sheltering in 24 installations belonging to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as of 17 July. Supplies are being delivered to shelters daily, including mattresses, food and water and hygiene kits. 
  • Since the start of the emergency on 7 July, 84 schools, including 47 UNRWA schools, were damaged. Also, about half of the sewage pumping and treatment systems no longer operate.
  • Asked about the UN’s concerns about an Israeli ground invasion, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General had made clear his concerns about such an operation earlier this week. He has consistently called for the parties to agree to a cease-fire and for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  • Asked about the actions taken by either side, Haq said that both sides can take concrete actions to halt the fighting on the ground. He underscored the need to avoid attacks on civilian areas and to avoid launching attacks from civilian areas.
  • Asked about Egypt’s efforts to secure a ceasefire, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General supported Egypt’s work and was in contact with leaders to push for a ceasefire. He added that the Secretary-General intended to speak today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • Asked about weapons found at an UNRWA school, Haq said that the Agency had brought that information to light and had made clear that this was a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.

SYRIA: NEW ENVOY TO TRAVEL TO REGION, HUMANITARIANS CONTINUE CROSS-LINE DELIVERIES OF AID

  • On Thursday afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke to the press briefly to introduce his new Special Envoy and Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura and Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy.  He said that they will travel to Syria, the countries of the region and other relevant countries in the near future.
  • The Secretary-General reiterated his commitment to help stop the violence and achieve a Syrian-led inclusive political solution that meets the democratic aspirations of the Syrian people. The full support of the parties and the international community, including especially a united Security Council, will be essential.
  • The Secretary-General added that the Syrian people have suffered enough and too long. It is time for action, and it is time for peace.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that cross-line deliveries are taking place inside Syria where possible. For example, inter-agency convoys involving the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent went to besieged Madamiyet Elsham in Rural Damascus yesterday, when assistance for 5,000 people was distributed in the eastern areas.
  • On 16 July, food, household items, water and sanitation and nutrition supplies for about 10,000 people were delivered; while two mobile clinics were deployed and 1,000 vaccines were delivered.
  • The plan is to continue daily convoys to Madamiyet until 20 July, to reach the planned target of 20,000 people inside the town and 5,000 people in the eastern part. People in this area had not received humanitarian assistance regularly since 2012.

NEW U.N. REPORT SAYS ISIL SYSTEMATICALLY TARGETS CIVILIANS AND INFRASTRUCTURE IN IRAQ

  • A new report by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) documents a litany of serious human rights violations committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL and associated armed groups between the 5th of June and the 5th of July. Some of the crimes may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, says the report.
  • The report also documents violations committed by the Iraqi security forces and associated forces. It provided details on the hardship and suffering imposed upon civilians, including large-scale killings, injuries as well as destruction and damage to livelihoods and property.
  • The report says that ISIL and associated armed groups have carried out many of these attacks in a systematic manner heedless of the impact on civilians, or have systematically targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure with the intention of killing and wounding many people. Targets included markets, restaurants, shops, cafes, playgrounds, schools, places of worship and other public spaces where civilians gather in large numbers.

AFGHANISTAN: HEAD OF U.N. MISSION VISITS AUDIT CENTRE

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, today visited the headquarters and premises of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), where the audit of the results of the country’s 2014 Presidential election run-off is taking place.
  • Mr. Kubiš said that the comprehensive audit is the way to enhance the credibility of the country’s electoral process and acceptance of the run-off results.
  • He added that the audit’s findings will eventually be adjudicated by the Commission in the presence of the UN, and in accordance with international best practices.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF AND E.U. COMMISSIONER CALLS ON PARTIES TO STOP ATTACKS ON CIVILIANS IN C.A.R.

  • The United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, and the European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Kristalina Georgieva, have expressed their deep concern over reports of alarming levels of violence in Bambari and elsewhere in the Central African Republic, including several cases in which armed groups deliberately targeted camps sheltering people who have fled their homes.
  • In a joint statement, they call on all parties to the conflict, and on those who may have influence over them, to end attacks on civilians, schools, hospitals, religious sites and humanitarian aid workers. These attacks are intolerable violations of international law and the perpetrators must be held accountable.
  • They are also asking all European Union and UN Member States to maintain and step up their efforts, both on the security side and by finding new funding streams for humanitarian operations inside the Central African Republic and in neighbouring countries.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY RE-ELECTS JOAN CLOS AS HEAD OF UN-HABITAT

  • Following the recommendation of the Secretary-General and after consultation with Member States, the General Assembly re-elected Joan Clos of Spain as Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).  His new term will run from 18 October 2014 through 31 December 2017. 
  • Nominated by the Secretary-General, Mr. Clos was first elected for a four-year term in 2010.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TENDS TO TREE TO MARK NELSON MANDELA DAY

  • Today is Mandela Day. The Secretary-General has said that as we remember Nelson Mandela, we also mourn the recent passing of one of his allies in the struggle against apartheid: Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer. She was a friend of the United Nations who served as a UNDP Goodwill Ambassador. Her writing gave life to our common values – and it will continue to inspire people for generations.
  • Today we remember all that Nelson Mandela taught and gave. We pledge to act on his example.
  • This afternoon, the Secretary-General will join volunteers from MillionTreesNYC to tend to a tree across the street in Ralph Bunche Park.

 

THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
19 – 25 JULY 201
4
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

 

Tuesday, 22 July

In the morning, the Security Council is expected to hold an open debate on the Middle East.

The UN Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador, Actress Mia Farrow, will be the guest at the noon briefing. She will brief on her recent visit to the Central African Republic.

In London, UNICEF and the Government of the United Kingdom will host the Girl Summit, a global movement to end female genital mutilation and child marriage for all girls within a generation.

In Geneva, the World Food Programme (WFP) will hold a press conference to launch its 2013 Aviation Report and provide updates on its ongoing operations. 

Wednesday, 23 July

In the morning, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting with troop contributing countries for the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. It will also hear a briefing on the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq.

At 10 a.m., the General Assembly will hold a dialogue on Technology Transfer #4 (Resolution 68/210).

Thursday, 24 July

In the morning, the Security Council is expected to hold consultations on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus.

In Geneva, the Human Rights Committee is expected to hold a meeting, which will include observations on Chile, Georgia, Ireland, Japan, Malawi and Sudan.