HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 23 JULY 2013
U.N. ENVOY URGES RENEWED DIALOGUE BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS
- Robert Serry, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council this morning, saying that time is of the essence in the effort to renew a serious dialogue between the Israelis and Palestinians. He noted that the Secretary-General has welcomed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s intense diplomatic efforts in recent months and noted that some very tough choices will be required from both sides in the period ahead.
- Mr. Serry said that the bloodshed in Syria continues unabated and that parties to the conflict continue to fail in their obligation to protect civilians. He added that the surge in sectarian threats and violence in Syria and across the region is deeply worrisome. Syria is increasingly turning into a regional, if not a global, battleground.
- Mr. Serry said that all fighters in Syria should be reminded that those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law will be held accountable.
- Asked about the Middle East peace process, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had clearly endorsed Secretary Kerry’s efforts, adding that it would be up to the members of the Quartet to decide on whether the Quartet needs to meet.
- Asked about peace efforts concerning Syria, he said that Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi continues to work with the Russian Federation and the United States and the parties concerned to find a way forward.
MYANMAR: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES RELEASE OF 73 POLITICAL PRISONERS
- The Secretary-General welcomes the release of 73 political prisoners in Myanmar on Monday and also the recent statement by President Thein Sein that all political prisoners in the country will be released by the end of the year.
- He hopes that these and other measures undertaken recently in the country's transition to democracy will further strengthen efforts toward a comprehensive nation-wide cease-fire and national reconciliation in Myanmar.
MALI: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONTINUES PREPARATIONS FOR OUT-OF-COUNTRY VOTING FOR REFUGEES
- The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says it is continuing preparations with the Malian authorities and neighbouring states for out-of-country voting for refugees.
- It says that it is important that the Malian authorities quickly make public the voters’ lists and speed up distribution of the electoral cards in Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania.
- The Agency’s role in the elections is to help refugees vote in a safe environment. UNHCR has also helped to transport some election-related materials but the transportation of sensitive materials, such as voters’ cards or ballots papers, is to be the responsibility of the Malian electoral authorities and the countries of asylum.
- The Malian authorities have informed UNHCR that they are considering alternatives to allow refugees to vote in case of further delays.
- The UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, plays a role in providing technical assistance, logistical support and security to the electoral process in the northern part of the country where it is deployed. But MINUSMA is not organizing the elections. The Délégation Générale des Elections du Mali is the body in charge of organizing elections.
- The Délégation Générale has told the Mission that 81% of voting cards have been collected by voters so far.
- Asked whether Nigerian forces would withdraw from MINUSMA, the Spokesperson said he was not aware of any formal notification by Nigeria of such a withdrawal.
- Asked about the elections process, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations is not observing the elections. It is providing technical and logistical support to the elections, as well as security, in the north.
D.R.CONGO: U.N. MISSION SAYS HEAVY FIGHTING APPEARS TO HAVE STOPPED AROUND GOMA
- The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, reports that heavy fighting appears to have stopped on Tuesday around Goma.
- On Monday, the Mission reported intense finghting between the Congolese army and the M23 armed group in the Mutaho-Kibati area.
- MONUSCO peacekeepers in Goma and its surroundings remain on high alert.
SOUTH SUDAN: WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME LAUNCHES OPERATION FOR FOOD ASSISTANCE IN PIBOR COUNTY
- The World Food Programme (WFP) is launching an operation to bring urgently-needed food assistance to tens of thousands of people who have fled to hard-to-reach areas to escape violence in Pibor County, in South Sudan’s Jonglei State.
- The World Food Programme says it needs more food supplies and more helicopters to take the emergency assistance to areas that are inaccessible due to a combination of insecurity and roads made impassable by heavy rains.
- In areas of Pibor County where the humanitarian community has gained access, WFP is providing food assistance through distributions this week in Dorein, Labdab and Pibor town.
DARFUR: CONFLICT CREATES CHALLENGES TO FEED FAMILIES, SAYS WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
- The World Food Programme (WFP) says that the escalation in the decade-long conflict in Darfur has created the largest wave of population displacement that the region has seen in recent years and is straining its ability to feed vulnerable families.
- The World Food Programme says that new violence since the beginning of the year has prompted more than 250,000 people to flee their villages and abandon their livelihoods.
U.N. REPRESENTATIVE FOR IRAQ CONDEMNS ASSASSINATION OF POLITICAL FIGURE IN KIRKUK
- The Acting Special Representative for Iraq, Gyorgy Busztin, has condemned in the strongest terms the assassination on Monday of Sheikh Abdallah Sami Al-Assi, a pivotal and well-respected political figure in Kirkuk.
- Sheikh Al-Assi was the Head of the Arab bloc in the Kirkuk Provincial Council and the Deputy Chairman of the Provincial Council Security Committee, and he had worked with the UN Mission in Iraq in the discussions on the way forward for holding Kirkuk elections.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT NEW YORK STOCK EXCHANGE FOR CLOSING BELL CEREMONY
- The Secretary-General will visit the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday and deliver remarks on the evolving role of stock exchanges in promoting sustainable capital markets. He will also join New York Stock Exchange Euronext CEO Duncan Niederauer in ringing the Closing Bell at 4 p.m.
- The Closing Bell ceremony is open to the media.
- The reason he is visiting is that the New York Stock Exchange Euronext is expected to announce that it will join the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges initiative. The initiative aims to explore how exchanges can enhance corporate transparency on environmental, social and corporate governance issues.
U.N. CULTURAL AGENCY DEPLORES RECENT MURDER OF MEXICAN REPORTER AND CALLS FOR INVESTIGATION
- The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO, has said it deplores the recent murder of reporter Alberto López Bello and called for a full investigation.
- The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, has said that the killing must be investigated thoroughly as part of the endeavour to stem violence against the media in Mexico.
- This killing brings to three the number of journalists murdered in Mexico this year.
SECRETARY-GENERAL REMAINS CONCERNED OVER SITUATION IN EGYPT: Asked about the recent developments in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General remains seriously concerned about the situation, including the violence on Monday night. Senior UN officials, in their contacts with the Egyptian authorities, have stressed the need for reconciliation and an inclusive approach.
U.N. MISSION IN LEBANON OPERATIONS CONTINUE AS NORMAL: Asked about the European Union’s decision on Hezbollah, the Spokesperson declined to comment on the EU decision. Asked about its effect on UN operations in Lebanon, he said that UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) operations continue as normal.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR RESTRAINT IN KASHMIR: Asked about recent violence in Kashmir, the Spokesperson reiterated that the Secretary-General calls on all concerned to show restraint and resolve the issues peacefully.