HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 31 JULY 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS POLITICAL PROCESS IS ONLY WAY TO END GREAT LAKES CRISIS
- The Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Mary Robinson, delivered a message today in Nairobi, on behalf of the Secretary-General, to the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region of Africa.
- The Secretary-General said he remained concerned by the continuing reports of serious human rights violations and called on all armed groups to fully disarm, and on all parties to fully respect human rights and international humanitarian law.
- He also said that any acts that undermine or target the efforts of the United Nations on the ground to protect civilians and deliver urgently needed humanitarian relief would not be tolerated.
- In the message, the Secretary-General said the meeting of the International Conference was a significant opportunity to build on the momentum generated by the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region.
- Asked about Congolese Army units being supported by the United Nations, the Spokesperson said that, for operational reasons, the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) is not providing lists of the units that it supports.
- He noted that it was for the Congolese authorities to provide information on the arrests it has made of its forces who violate the law.
AFGHANISTAN: DEATH AND INJURIES OF CIVILIANS ON THE RISE SO FAR IN 2013
- In its latest report, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that the number of Afghan civilians killed or injured in the first six months of 2013 rose by 23 per cent compared to the same period last year. More than 1,300 civilian deaths and 2,500 injuries were recorded for the first half of this year.
- The rise in civilian casualties reverses the decline recorded during the same period in 2012, and marks a return to the high numbers of civilian deaths and injuries documented in 2011.
- The main reasons for this were the increased use of improvised explosive devices by anti-government fighters and an increase in civilian casualties from ground engagements between Afghan security forces and anti-government elements.
- Asked about the determination of civilians, the Spokesperson said that the UN Mission has done painstaking work to establish facts, and he noted the trend towards increasing civilian casualties.
MIDDLE EAST QUARTET ISSUES WELCOMES RESUMPTION OF ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN TALKS
- The following statement was issued on Tuesday in New York by the Middle East Quartet (United Nations, Russian Federation, United States and European Union):
- The Quartet welcomes the announcement by United States Secretary of State John Kerry that direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians have resumed on 29 July, 2013, with senior negotiators from both sides meeting in Washington to begin final status negotiations.
- The Quartet commends both President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for taking this courageous decision in the interest of their peoples, and is determined to lend its effective support to the efforts of the parties and their shared commitment to achieve a negotiated two-state solution within the agreed timeframe of nine months.
- The Quartet, recalling its previous statements, calls on all parties to take every possible step to promote conditions conducive to the success of the negotiating process and to refrain from actions that undermine trust.
- The Quartet expresses its appreciation for the efforts of President Barack Obama and Secretary Kerry in helping the parties reach agreement to resume negotiations. The Quartet commends the Arab League for its constructive role in support of renewed negotiations, including its reaffirmation of the Arab Peace Initiative, recognizes many others in the international community for their important contributions, and expresses hope that such efforts will continue.
- While noting that much hard work lies ahead, the Quartet expresses its hope that renewed negotiations will be substantive and continuous and set a clear path towards a two-state solution, the end of conflict, and lasting peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians. The Quartet intends to meet soon at the Envoys level to discuss next steps.
U.N. DISENGAGEMENT OBSERVER FORCE IN GOLAN CONTINUES TO CARRY OUT ITS MANDATE
- Asked about the departure of Austrian forces from the UN mission in Golan, the Spokesperson said that, as of 29 July, the UN Disengagement Observer Force, UNDOF, has 1,166 troops from Fiji (501), India (193), the Philippines (339), Nepal (130) and Ireland (three staff officers).
- He said that the situation on the Golan remains volatile, with clashes between the Syrian armed forces and armed members of the opposition continuing in the UNDOF area of operations, including inside the area of separation.
- UNDOF will continue to carry out its mandate– to monitor the ceasefire between Israel and Syria - within an extremely challenging operational environment.
HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS OFFICIAL WELCOMES IMPROVING COOPERATION BETWEEN ERITREA AND U.N.
- John Ging, the Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), has welcomed the improving cooperation between the United Nations and the Eritrean Government following a two-day visit to the country.
- He said that UN agencies are working with the Government to help the Eritrean people to help themselves, and that Eritrea continues to make impressive progress towards achieving several Millennium Development Goals. He said that the United Nations is committed to working with the Government in support of their goal to halve hunger by 2015.
- But he also noted continuing challenges, saying that the delayed rains this year are a pressing reminder of the difficult climatic conditions faced by the Eritrean people.
HEAVY RAINFALLS HIT INDONESIA AND MYANMAR
- In Indonesia, torrential rains have caused widespread flooding in Central Maluku over the past couple of days. The National Disaster Management Agency reports that more than 5,000 people have been displaced and at least nine people have been killed.
- Also, over the past few days, heavy rainfall, landslides and floods have affected communities in Karen State in southern Myanmar. The Government of Myanmar has evacuated thousands of people along the Salween River to higher ground and set up relief camps to accommodate vulnerable families.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says it is monitoring the situation in both countries and stands ready to assist.
UNICEF LAUNCHES “END VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN” INITIATIVE
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has launched an initiative today that urges people around the world to join global, national or local movements to end violence against children and bring together new ideas to focus collective action on this goal.
- The End Violence Against Children initiative builds on growing popular outrage that erupted following attacks against children, such as the shooting of the then 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, the fatal shooting of 26 pupils and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, and gang rapes of girls in India and in South Africa.