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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 8 JULY 2014

 

 

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR MAXIMUM RESTRAINT IN GAZA AND SOUTHERN ISRAEL

  • The Secretary-General condemns the recent multiple rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza. These indiscriminate attacks on civilian areas must stop.                   
  • The Secretary-General is extremely concerned at the dangerous escalation of violence, which has already resulted in multiple Palestinian deaths and injuries as a result of Israeli operations against Gaza.
  • He reiterates his call on all actors to exercise maximum restraint and avoid further civilian casualties and overall destabilization. It is imperative now to restore calm.
  • The unsustainable situation in Gaza will also need to be addressed in its political, security, humanitarian and development dimensions as part of a comprehensive solution.
  • Asked what the Secretary-General is doing to de-escalate the situation, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General is following the situation closely. The Quartet envoys have been in touch with each other in recent days, including UN Special Coordinator Robert Serry.
  • Asked about the Secretary-General’s contacts on the matter, Dujarric said that the Secretary-General’s call for an end to the violence has been clear.
  • Asked about a letter from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Spokesman said the letter is being examined. He noted that the Israeli authorities have actively investigated and made a number of arrests in the case of the killing of a Palestinian teenager and said that the United Nations would like to see a thorough investigation done into the matter and to other events on the ground.

U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL COMMEMORATES SOUTH SUDAN’S INDEPENDENCE DAY, REMINDS LEADERS OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITY

  • On the occasion of the third anniversary of South Sudan's independence, the Secretary-General recalls the hopes and expectations of the people of South Sudan when their country was established on 9 July 2011.  Those hopes were dashed by the conflict that broke out in December 2013. Thousands of South Sudanese have been killed, and atrocities have been committed against civilians. 
  • The South Sudanese people are bearing the brunt of the failure to stop the fighting. They are living in squalor; their livelihoods have been lost and they are plagued by hunger, disease and insecurity. Over 1.3 million people have been driven from their homes and, unless the resources are forthcoming and the parties cooperate, hundreds of thousands face the possibility of famine in the coming months.
  • The Secretary-General reminds the leaders of South Sudan that this is a man-made crisis.  It is their responsibility and within their power to stop it.  He calls on them to live up to the expectations of their people, lay down their arms and return immediately to the negotiation table.
  • The Secretary-General reassures the people of South Sudan that the United Nations stands with them and will continue to make every effort to provide them the protection and humanitarian assistance that is their basic right.

OUTGOING U.N. ENVOY IN SOUTH SUDAN SAYS THE COUNTRY MUST BE SAVED FROM FIGHTING AND FAILING

  • In South Sudan, Hilde Johnson on her last day as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country, spoke to the press in Juba, saying that South Sudan had to be saved from fighting and from failing.
  • She said that the leadership of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), whichever faction they belong to, were all responsible for this crisis collectively. She added that, after decades of sacrifice and suffering to get their freedom and independence, these leaders turned on each other. They and only they can stop this senseless conflict and the violence against innocent civilians, she said. 
  • Ms. Johnson also said that the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) peace talks should not only be about finding ways to stop the fighting but also more fundamental issues. She said South Sudan needed reforms and a complete overhaul of key state institutions.
  • If the country and the people are the priority, it is not that difficult to find solutions, she said. She noted that further delays and blame -- whether from those wanting to remain in office or those wanting to get back in – would only lead to one conclusion: that this is only about a scramble for power.
  • Finally, she said that the UN and its Mission in the country were here to stay and would continue to support the people of South Sudan.
  • The UN’s Children Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are stepping up joint missions to reach desperate people in remote areas of South Sudan.
  • In these areas, the number of children at risk of death from malnutrition-related causes has increased dramatically and a hunger catastrophe is looming. An estimated 235,000 children under the age of 5 will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year – that’s twice as many as last year.
  • Across the country, an integrated Rapid Response Mechanism is in place so that teams of emergency workers and supplies can fly into remote areas to provide urgent humanitarian aid. The teams treat children suffering from malnutrition, provide water, sanitation and hygiene supplies and services, identify children who have become separated from their families and provide basic education services where possible.
  • The situation is most dire in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states where data indicates as much as 60 to 75 percent of the population is severely food-insecure. 
  • The Spokesman added, in response to further questions, that the mandate of the UN Mission has changed, and he added that a successor to Hilde Johnson would be named.

U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN SAYS PRESIDENTIAL RESULTS ARE NOT FINAL, CALLS FOR COOPERATION AND RESTRAINT

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) says that it has taken note of yesterday’s announcement of the preliminary presidential run-off results. It is aware that the results are not final and are subject to change, and that it would be premature for either of the candidates to claim victory.
  • The mission continues to encourage electoral institutions, including the Independent Election Commission and the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission, to fully carry out their mandates while demonstrating utmost impartiality, transparency and responsibility.
  • The Mission also urges the institutions to cooperate within the framework of their mandates to conduct additional audits in a rigorous and timely manner.
  • The UN Mission reiterates its call for the candidates to exercise restraint and take all steps necessary to control their supporters to prevent them from making any irresponsible statements and from taking steps that could lead to civil disorder and instability.
  • Asked about the tensions over the election results, the Spokesman said that this is an Afghan-led process and underscored the importance of upholding the integrity and credibility of the electoral process.
  • Asked about the election results, Dujarric said that the release of preliminary results on 7 July is a step in the Afghan electoral process but is not the final one.
  • He said that it is important for the electoral commission to implement further audits and other measures that could enhance the credibility and transparency of the electoral process.
  • The UN Mission and the Secretary-General call on the candidates and their campaigns not to make inflammatory statements at this sensitive time.

IRAQ: U.N. AGENCIES CONCERNED ABOUT HUMANITARIAN NEEDS IN SINJAR

  • The UN’s Children Fund (UNICEF) led a second humanitarian mission to Sinjar, in Iraq’s Ninewa province, yesterday. An estimated 8,000 families have fled to Sinjar from neighbouring Tal Afar, and are in need of assistance.
  • The humanitarian team reported that access to clean water and sanitation remains critical. Some 35,000 children are displaced in Sinjar and remain the most vulnerable to diseases. UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to supply emergency medical kits but have warned that the area suffers from a severe shortage of medical capacity.  
  • As a result, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nickolay Mladenov, has announced that the UN is preparing an extensive emergency response in Sinjar. 
  • Also on Iraq, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that UNICEF is providing tanks of drinking water daily in areas with high numbers of displaced people. More than 600,000 liters of water have been supplied to camps for displaced people and urban areas of Anbar, Baghdad, Diyala, Erbil and Ninewa, supporting more than 30,000 people. 
  • Since 15 June, the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached nearly 100,000 people displaced by conflict and violence in different parts of Iraq. However, assistance to Anbar province is extremely difficult due to insecurity. 
  • Fuel shortages are also hampering humanitarian operations. Aid agencies report that they have affected the delivery of medicines and water samples, health referral services and disease surveillance in parts of Ninewa Governorate and the Kurdistan Region. 
  • Asked about negotiations with parties in Iraq on access to humanitarian aid, the Spokesman noted that the United Nations as a general practice negotiates with whatever parties on the ground that it needs to contact in order to obtain access to people in need.
  • Asked about the UN’s focus in Iraq, Dujarric said that the United Nations was focusing on encouraging the formation of a government in which all Iraqis felt that they were included.

U.N. MISSION IN LIBYA TEMPORARILY REDUCES NUMBER OF STAFF DUE TO INSECURITY

  • In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the UN Support Mission in Libya is temporarily reducing the number of its staff in Libya, owing to the prevailing security conditions in the country.
  • The decision to reduce the level of its presence was taken solely out of concerns for the safety and security of the staff.
  • He added that this is a temporary move and will be reviewed as soon as the security situation improves.

U.N. ENVOY SAYS WEST AFRICA FACES THREATS TO REGIONAL SECURITY AND STABILITY

  • The Secretary-General’s Special representative for West Africa, Said Djinnit, briefed the Security Council this morning.
  • He said that despite the efforts to promote development and consolidate democracy, the region continues to be confronted with the daunting scourge of transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, piracy and growing terrorist activities. He called for decisive concerted efforts to fight these threats to regional security and stability.
  • On Nigeria, Mr. Djinnit said that the country was at a crossroad with growing insecurity in the northeast and increasing political tensions in the lead up to the 2015 general elections. He added that the Boko Haram crisis was now affecting the sub-region and asked Council Members to continue to support efforts aimed at preserving stability in the country.
  • Mr. Dinnit also noted that West Africa was currently struggling to respond to the deadly pandemic caused by the Ebola virus, adding to many other challenges to stability in the region.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN ENVOY IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC CONDEMNS RECENT ATTACKS IN BAMBARI AND PAOUA

  • The Senior Humanitarian Coordinator in the Central African Republic (CAR), Claire Bourgeois, has strongly condemned recent attacks against civilians in Bambari and Paoua.
  • On 7 July, people who had sought refuge at the St Jospeh Cathedral in Bambari were attacked. This followed an incident on 4 July where gunmen threw a grenade into a mosque in Paoua, injuring 34 people including four seriously.
  • The actress Mia Farrow, who is a UN’s Children Fund (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador, has just completed her fourth visit to the Central African Republic, where she saw the impact of extreme violence and met people with stories of inspiring courage.
  • She called for the support of the international community to help provide security so that schools can be rebuilt and children can safely return to them.

U.N. WARNS THAT FOOD CRISIS TO DETERIORATE IN PARTS OF SOMALIA

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that the food insecurity in Somalia will deteriorate in the coming months due to poor rains and drought conditions in parts of the country.
  • According to FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU), some of the areas where food crisis is expected include the agro-pastoral regions of Bakool, Gedo, Middle Juba, Hiran and Lower Shabelle. In parts of Mogadishu, where rates of malnutrition have surpassed emergency levels among displaced communities, conditions are expected to deteriorate even further.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, has called on the donor community to make resources available immediately so that aid organizations can carry out emergency assistance.
  • The humanitarian appeal for Somalia is only 25 per cent funded so far. An estimated $700 million is still needed to reach 2.9 million people with assistance until the end of the year.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE DEEPLY DISTURBED BY AUSTRALIA’S ACTION AGAINST SRI LANKA ASYLUM SEEKERS

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says it is deeply disturbed that Australia returned 41 asylum-seekers to Sri Lanka, apparently without adequate screening of their protection claims and needs.
  • It says that international law requires that each case be properly and individually examined on its own merits, and is not something that can or should be done hurriedly.
  • The Office welcomes the High Court of Australia’s issuance of an interim injunction against the return of 153 other Sri Lankan asylum-seekers, reportedly including nearly 40 children. It hopes the matter will be subject to a full judicial review in light of Australia’s obligations under international law.
  • Asked about Australia’s treatment of refugees, the Spokesman reiterated UNHCR’s concerns that asylum seekers be treated fairly and humanely, wherever they may seek refuge.

UKRAINE: U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS MILITARY MEANS ALONE IS NOT A SOLUTION

  • Asked about recent developments in Ukraine, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General reiterates that military means alone cannot provide a solution.
  • He added that a lasting cease-fire upheld by all parties is fundamental.

U.N. MISSION RECEIVES REQUEST FROM INDIA TO VACATE NEW DELHI OFFICE

  • In response to a question, the Spokesman confirmed that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has received the Indian Government’s request to vacate the premises which it is using in New Delhi.
  • He said that the Mission is currently conducting a market survey to assess costs and identify possible alternative locations. UNMOGIP is in contact with the Indian authorities and will continue its cooperation on this matter.

JAPAN EVACUATES OKINAWA RESIDENTS AHEAD OF TYPHOON

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that Typhoon Neoguri is located in the north of Japan’s Okinawa, where 540,000 people have been advised to evacuate.
  • The typhoon is expected to turn eastward and make landfalls in Kyushu on 10 July, continuing to move slowly across Japan. OCHA stands ready to support and its regional office is in close contact with the Japanese authorities.

U.N. WOMEN APPOINTS ACTRESS EMMA WATSON AS NEW GOODWILL AMBASSADOR

  • UN Women has appointed British Actress Emma Watson as its new Goodwill Ambassador.
  • Best known for her role in the ‘Harry Potter’ film series, the young actress will dedicate her new efforts towards the empowerment of young women and will serve as an advocate for UN Women’s #HeForShe campaign in promoting gender equality.
  • Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says that the engagement of young people is critical for the advancement of gender equality in the 21st century. She added that Ms. Watson’s intellect and passion will enable UN Women’s messages to reach the hearts and minds of young people globally.
  • Ms. Watson called the opportunity truly humbling, adding that she hopes to bring more of her personal knowledge, experience and awareness to her new role.

U.N. EVENT TO MARK 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF FIRST WORLD WAR   

  • The Department of Public Information (DPI) has invited journalists to a special event this evening at 6:30 p.m. in the Economic and Social Council Chamber.
  • To mark the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the First World War (WW1), the Permanent Missions of France and Germany, in cooperation with DPI are organizing a commemorative event to promote the principles of peace and reconciliation.
  • The event will feature remarks by the Secretary General, readings from the letters and diaries of participants of WW1 and musical performances by the Grammy-award winning ORPHEUS Chamber Orchestra, featuring compositions by Samuel Barber, Ludwig van Beethoven and Maurice Ravel.