HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 22 JULY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES ROLE OF CARIBBEAN COMMUNITY IN GLOBAL AGENDA
- The Secretary-General spoke to the Caribbean Community, CARICOM, at its biannual meeting at UN Headquarters this morning.
- In his remarks, the Secretary-General commended CARICOM’s leadership on a wide range of matters including sustainable development, reconstruction efforts in Haiti, the fight against transnational organized crime and the ratification of the Arms Trade Treaty in the region.
- He especially commended CARICOM’s work in raising awareness on climate change and the unique challenges of Small Island Developing States.
U.N. BURUNDI ENVOY UNDERLINES ADVANCES IN COUNTRY’S POLITICAL DIALOGUE
- The Security Council received a briefing this morning on the situation in Burundi from the head of the UN Office in the country, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga.
- He said that there have been significant advances in Burundi’s political dialogue in recent months. He emphasized that the return of key political figures to Burundi marks significant progress and is an encouraging sign that all political forces are willing to collaborate so that peaceful, free and fair elections can be held in 2015.
- At the same time, he noted that occasional clashes have continued between Government forces and armed groups. He added that the human rights picture so far this year is mixed.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R.CONGO CALLS FOR RESTRAINT AFTER FIGHTING RESUMES IN NORTH KIVU
- The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reports that heavy fighting has resumed between the Congolese Army and the M23 armed group in the Mutaho-Kibati area, near Goma, in North Kivu province.
- MONUSCO adds that after exchanging intermittent fire over the weekend, both sides are now using small arms, mortars and rockets.
- The Mission reiterates its call for restraint and its peacekeepers in the area remain on high alert.
- Asked about reported violations by Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) soldiers, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission has launched the process of reviewing its support to FARDC units suspected of being involved in these incidents.
MIDDLE EAST: SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGED BY DECISION TO RESUME TALKS
- Asked about the Middle East peace process, the Spokesperson noted that, in a statement issued last Friday, the Secretary-General welcomed the announcement by US Secretary of State Kerry in Amman, Jordan, that the basis has been established to resume talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
- The Secretary-General commends Secretary Kerry's efforts and the decision by the parties to return to the negotiating table. He is encouraged by this positive development and calls on both sides to show leadership, courage, and responsibility to sustain this effort towards achieving the two-state vision.
- The United Nations will support any endeavour towards meaningful negotiations and to the achievement of a comprehensive peace in the region.
U.N. AGENCY PROVIDES SUPPORT TO PALESTINE REFUGEE CHILDREN DIPLACED BY SYRIA CONFLICT
- The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has been working to provide education and psychosocial support to the many Palestine refugee children displaced by the conflict in Syria, with financial support from the European Union.
- In Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, the Relief and Works Agency has established child-friendly spaces for forcibly displaced refugees, and it plans to distribute Back to School Kits before the 2013/14 academic year.
- The Agency also plans to appoint and train 53 psychosocial counselors to respond to students’ needs.
MILLIONS OF GIRLS STILL AT RISK OF GENITAL CUTTING DESPITE DECLINING SUPPORT FOR PRACTICE, SAYS CHILDREN’S FUND
- The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a report that says a majority of people in most countries where female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) is concentrated oppose the harmful practice.
- The report, Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A statistical overview and exploration of the dynamics of change, finds that despite that opposition, more than 125 million girls and women alive today have been subjected to FGM/C, and 30 million girls are still at risk of being cut in the next decade.
- Surveys in the 29 countries in Africa and the Middle East where FGM/C persists show that girls are less likely to be cut than they were some 30 years ago, and that support for the practice is in decline, even in countries where it remains almost universal, such as Egypt and Sudan.
- However, millions of girls remain in considerable danger. The report highlights the gap between people’s personal views on FGM/C and the entrenched sense of social obligation that fuels its continuation, exacerbated by a lack of open communication on this sensitive and private issue.
U.N. CHEMICAL WEAPONS INVESTIGATOR EXPECTED TO VISIT DAMASCUS THIS WEEK: Asked about a visit by Angela Kane and Dr. Ake Sellström to Syria, the Spokesperson said that the two senior officials are expected to visit Damascus this week.
SECRETARY-GENERAL AWAITS RESULT OF INVESTIGATION INTO D.P.R.K. SHIP FOUND IN PANAMA: Asked about reports that weapons were found on a DPRK ship found in Panama, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General awaits the outcome of the investigation into the matter in question and is sure the 1718 Security Council Sanctions Committee will promptly address it.
*** The Guest at the Noon Briefing today was Ms. Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, who briefed on her recent visit to Syria and neighbouring countries.