HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 9 JULY 2014
AFGHANISTAN: CIVILIAN CASUALTIES UP BY NEARLY 25 PER CENT IN FIRST HALF OF 2014 – U.N. MISSION
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has released a new report saying that the number of civilian casualties has increased by 24 per cent during the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year. The report also says that ground combat among parties to the conflict in Afghanistan is now killing and injuring more civilians compared to the improvised explosive devices. The greatest impact of ground combat has been on children and women. This year, the number of child casualties has more than doubled and two-thirds more women have been killed and injured compared to 2013.
- The Director of Human Rights for the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, Georgette Gagnon, added that this year, fighting is increasingly taking place in communities, public places and the homes of ordinary Afghans. She called for more efforts to protect civilians from the devastating impact of conflict and to ensure accountability for those deliberately and indiscriminately killing civilians.
- Asked whether the Secretary-General has been in touch with the Afghan candidate, the Spokesman said that the contacts with the candidates have been by the head of the UN Mission, Jan Kubis.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS ‘ALARMING’ ESCALATION OF VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic, known as MINUSCA, reports that the past weeks have witnessed an alarming escalation of violence and attacks against civilian populations in the Bambari area of the Central African Republic. Most recently, on 7 July, a brutal attack against the displaced persons at the site of Saint Joseph Cathedral and the Bishop’s residence in Bambari resulted in at least 27 deaths, including women and children.
- The Mission condemns in the strongest possible terms all acts of violence. The UN Mission remains actively engaged in efforts to end the violence and strongly encourages all parties to lay down they arms and engage in political and reconciliation processes aimed at putting a sustainable end to the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic.
U.N. SOMALIA ENVOY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACK ON FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has condemned last night’s attack on Villa Somalia, the seat of the Federal Government in Mogadishu. He called the attack the latest in a series of attacks by Al Shabaab against Somalia’s political institutions.
- Speaking from Villa Somalia today, following meetings with both the President and Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Somalia, Mr. Kay said that the political progress in Somalia is only possible through the unity of its political institutions. He said that the unity is being attacked by those determined to plunge the country back into turmoil. Mr. Kay reiterated the UN’s support for the people and institutions of Somalia as they make progress towards stability and peace.
U.N. HUMANITARAN WING WELCOMES KUWAITI PLEDGE FOR IRAQ CRISIS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today welcomed the generous contribution of $9.5 million from Kuwait to UN humanitarian agencies and the International Organization for Migration responding to the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Iraq. An additional half a million from Kuwait has been allocated directly to the Kuwait Red Crescent Society and the International Islamic Charity Organisation.
- Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos said the funding will help the humanitarian community scale up efforts to provide aid to displaced families and host communities in Iraq. An estimated 1.5 million people have been affected by the latest upsurge in violence in Iraq. Many people urgently need water, food, shelter, healthcare, sanitation and protection from violence.
- The Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Iraq, Jacqueline Badcock, today visited the Governorate of Dohuk as well as the Garmawa transit site for internally displaced people in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Dohuk has seen an influx of over 200,000 displaced people in the last two weeks.
- Ms. Badcock said that the UN and its humanitarian partners are rapidly scaling up to help displaced people. Emergency items such as food, water, tents and medical supplies are reaching families in need. Additional aid workers and emergency funds are being mobilized to continue the scaling up of efforts.
SECRETARY-GENERAL UNDERSCORES NEED FOR ISRAELI, PALESTINIAN LEADERSHIP TO RESUME ‘MEANINGFUL’ NEGOTIATIONS
- Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez Taranco delivered a message on the Secretary-General’s behalf to the Special Meeting of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
- In that message, the Secretary-General notes the increasingly precarious situation on the ground following the recent murders of Israeli and Palestinian teenagers. He said that there can be no justification for the deliberate killing of civilians, and he reiterates his call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law and to refrain from any actions that could further escalate this highly tense situation.
- The Secretary-General said that it is critical that the Israeli and Palestinian leadership, with the support of the international community, do their utmost to find their way back to meaningful negotiations.
- Asked about the calls made by the Secretary-General regarding the Middle East, the Spokesman said that he has made quite a few calls on that matter and would discuss that matter with the press later this afternoon.
SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON LEBANON SITUATION BY U.N. ENVOY
- In closed consultations, the Security Council heard an update on the situation in Lebanon this morning from the UN Special Coordinator in that country, Derek Plumbly. He spoke to reporters afterwards.
YEMEN: U.N. HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR VOICES ALARM OVER STEPPED UP FIGHTING IN AMRAN
- Johannes Van Der Klaauw, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, said today that he is extremely alarmed about the recent escalation of the conflict in Amran Governorate. Over the past few days, violence has displaced thousands of families as well as many more. He said that there are reports of more than 200 civilians, including women and children, having been killed. Thousands of people are reportedly trapped inside the conflict zone in Amran City, unable to flee the fighting.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator said that all parties to the conflict have a responsibility to make sure that civilians are spared from the fighting and that those who are affected by conflict are able to move to more secure areas. He also called on all parties to facilitate aid agencies’ access to civilians, and to protect and respect humanitarian activities, workers, and property at all times to ensure that aid can reach the most vulnerable people.
NEW WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION REPORT ON NONCOMMUNICABLE DIESEASE TO BE LAUNCHED IN NEW YORK
- A new World Health Organization (WHO) report profiling efforts to address noncommunicable diseases in countries will be launched tomorrow at UN Headquarters in New York. WHO Director General Margaret Chan will be joined at the event by health ministers from six countries.
- While many countries have taken action to address heart diseases, cancer, lung diseases and diabetes, the death toll from such diseases is still unacceptably high. The new report will show how progress in addressing noncommunicable diseases has been insufficient and highly uneven.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF U.N. ECONOMIC COMMISSION FOR EUROPE
- The Secretary-General has appointed Christian Friis Bach of Denmark as the next Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).
- He will replace Sven Alkalaj of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organisation.
- Mr. Bach is currently Head of the Parliamentarian Group for the Danish Social/Liberal Party.
- The Spokesman declined to comment on questions about whether a new UN envoy for Syria will be announced soon.
- Asked about UN immunities regarding Haiti, the Spokesman said that the UN’s legal position on the matter has not changed. He said that the United Nations continues to work in partnership with the Government of Haiti on the fight against cholera and once more appealed for funds for that effort. He noted in that regard that a meeting of the Joint Committee on Haiti had taken place earlier on Wednesday.
- In response to a question, the Spokesman welcomed a report from Medecins Sans Frontiere as an important contribution to the debate in the run-up to the World Humanitarian Summit, and said that the United Nations tried to benefit from constructive criticism. He noted that there is an increasing strain on the international humanitarian system, and also noted funding challenges. At the same time, he underscored the constant risks faced by UN humanitarian workers around the world.