HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN CAIRO AS PART OF EFFORT TO OBTAIN ISRAEL/GAZA CEASEFIRE
- The Secretary-General has arrived in Cairo, where he is expected to meet with the Egyptian President and Foreign Minister as part of his continuing effort to obtain an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.
- He arrived in Cairo from Kuwait City, where he met with the Amir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Hamad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. He told the Amir that he was in the region to promote a ceasefire but stressed that a cease fire was not enough that the root causes of the conflict also had to be addressed.
- The Secretary-General added that efforts should be made to strengthen the Palestinian government of national unity, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, by encouraging an internal Palestinian dialogue. The Amir updated the Secretary-General on his recent meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, who had been in Kuwait the previous day.
- Immediately following that meeting, the Secretary-General met the Foreign Minister, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
- The Secretary-General began his travel to the region yesterday in Doha, Qatar, where he met with the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The Foreign Minister of Qatar, Khalid Bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, also participated in the meeting.
- Afterwards, the Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister spoke briefly to reporters and said that he was coming to the region on a journey of solidarity and peace.
- He called for an immediate ceasefire as a first step. He added that one had to address the root causes of the conflict so as to avoid the perpetual cycle of war and perpetual insecurity for all.
- The Secretary-General added that all sides need to be assured that that international humanitarian law counts, and there will be accountability and justice for crimes committed by any party.
- Later that same evening, the Secretary-General met with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who was also in Doha. The President updated the Secretary-General on the negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza.
- Asked about efforts to protect civilians, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General believes that a halt to the fighting is necessary for the civilian population, who have borne the brunt of the killing.
- Asked about accountability, Haq added that the Secretary-General had stated that there needs to be accountability for recent actions, although his current focus is on halting the fighting.
- Asked about Egypt’s role, he said that the current initiative for a ceasefire is Egyptian-led, but added that the Secretary-General is supporting Egypt’s leadership in mediating a durable ceasefire. The bottom line, he said, was to get a durable ceasefire that would be agreed to by the parties on the ground.
- Asked about Palestinian casualties, the Spokesman said that more than 430 Palestinians had been reported killed. He noted recent information received by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that most of those killed were civilians.
- Asked about the use of a Qatari-chartered plane for the travel, the Spokesman pointed to the Secretary-General’s need to fly to the region on short notice over the past few days and added that such travel would not have been possible without the chartered plane.
- Asked when the Secretary-General would return to New York, Haq said that was expected by the end of the week.
U.N. RELIEF WING SAYS SOME 60 PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS KILLED OVER WEEKEND
- In the latest situation report on the emergency in Gaza, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that up to 60 Palestinians are reported to have been killed from Saturday to Sunday, making that 24-hour period the deadliest since the start of the current escalation.
- Mass displacement has increased, including up to half the residents of the Ash Shuja'ieyh suburb, who have fled to Gaza City. The overall number of displaced people is now reported to have exceeded 100,000, including some 84,000 people sheltering in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that more than 3,000 Palestinians have been injured.
- The main priority for humanitarian agencies continues to be the provision of food, water, mattresses and hygiene items, as well as fuel for essential water, health and sewage facilities.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) continues to provide daily food rations, together with UNRWA, and more than 50,000 people have received emergency assistance in the last 24 hours. The World Food Programme is distributing daily food rations to more than 2,000 hospital patients and staff across the Gaza Strip. And the World Health Organization is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and other partners on the most urgent health needs.
IRAQ: SECRETARY-GENERAL SOUNDS ALARM ON SYSTEMIC PERSECUTION OF MINORITY COMMUNITIES
- The Secretary-General has condemned in the strongest terms the systemic persecution of minority communities in Iraq by the Islamic State and associated armed groups. He remains particularly disturbed by reports of threats against Christians in Mosul and other Islamic State-controlled parts of Iraq.
- In recent weeks, tens of thousands of members of ethnic and religious minority groups have been displaced or forced to flee and seek refuge, while many others have been executed and kidnapped.
- The Secretary-General warned that any systematic attack on the civilians, because of their ethnic background, religious beliefs or faith, may constitute a crime against humanity. He called on all armed groups to abide by international humanitarian law and protect civilians living in areas they control.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, has also condemned such attacks against minorities. He has reiterated the UN’s commitment to rapidly respond to the needs of the hundreds of minority families who were forced to flee their homes. UN humanitarian agencies are now preparing a response and mobilizing additional supplies to help families arriving in the Kurdistan region.
SOUTH SUDAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON PARTIES TO HALT ATTACKS, DESIST FROM COUNTER-OFFENSIVES
- In a statement issued yesterday evening on the hostilities in South Sudan, the Secretary-General said he was deeply concerned by the attack by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition forces under the command of Riek Machar on Nassir, Upper Nile State.
- The Secretary-General calls on Mr. Machar to cease immediately all offensive operations on Nassir and other points, and on the Government of South Sudan to desist from launching a counter-offensive. He calls on both parties to stop the violence immediately, reconvene political negotiations and demonstrate the political will necessary to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
- The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that heavy firing by opposition forces against an SPLA barracks in Nassir Town shortly after daybreak this morning. The shooting had subsided by mid-morning. Opposition forces engaged in some sporadic shooting at the SPLA barracks in the late afternoon today but there was no return fire. Most of the town appears to be under the control of opposition forces, apart from the SPLA barracks which are located in the western part of the town.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES CENTRAL AFRICANS TO SEIZE OPPORTUNITY TO PROMOTE RECONCILIATION
- The Secretary-General has called on Central Africans to seize the opportunity of the Brazzaville Forum for reconciliation in the Central African Republic (CAR) to one a new page in their history.
- In a message to the Forum held today in the Republic of Congo and delivered by his Special representative for the Central African Republic, Babacar Gaye, he said the holding of this Forum was a sign of hope and now needed to be translated into a new beginning for the country.
- The Secretary-General noted that the importance of the next steps of the Central African Republic’s reconciliation process.
SECURITY COUNCIL TO DISCUSS UKRAINE
- The Security Council has scheduled a formal meeting on Ukraine this afternoon.
- In a press statement issued on Friday, the members of the Security Council expressed their deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims, and to the people and Governments of all those killed in the crash in eastern Ukraine on 17 July of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. The members of the Security Council called for a full, thorough and independent international investigation into the incident in accordance with the international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF VISITING NEPAL, BANGLADESH AND INDIA
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, arrived in Nepal, which is the fifth largest contributor of uniformed personnel to UN Peacekeeping, earlier today. This is the first stop of a five-day-long trip that will also include Bangladesh and India. Mr. Ladsous is visiting all three countries to thank them for their contributions to UN Peacekeeping Missions around the world and the sacrifices made by their uniformed personnel and civilian staff.
- In all three countries, the Under-Secretary-General is expected to meet with senior government officials. Additionally, while in Kathmandu, he will brief the Institute of Foreign Affairs on Nepal-UN Peacekeeping cooperation and, later, he will address Army officials on UN Peacekeeping.
- In Bangladesh, which is the largest contributor of Blue Helmets to UN Peacekeeping , Mr. Ladsous will speak at the Bangladesh Institute of Peace, Support Operations Training, an institute that trains Peacekeepers, on the trends and challenges of UN Peacekeeping. He will then head to India, which is the second largest contributor of peacekeepers, on 25 July before returning to New York the following day.
U.N. HOPES IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS WILL COME TO PRODUCTIVE CONCLUSION
- Asked about the extension of talks between the E3+3 nations and Iran, the Spokesman said that it was hoped that the talks would come to productive conclusion so that outstanding questions about Iran’s nuclear programme would be resolved.
***The Secretary-General’s Spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, briefed reporters by telephone from Cairo, Egypt, on the Secretary-General’s activities in the Middle East.