HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY, SPOKESPERSON
FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 1 AUGUST 2012
U.N. MISSION IN SYRIA DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT HEAVY FIGHTING IN ALEPPO
- The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) said that it is deeply concerned about the heavy fighting in Aleppo. There has been a significant increase over the past three days in the level of violence in the southeast neighbourhoods of Aleppo.
- The observers from the UN Mission are reporting exchanges of fire, shelling and explosions in addition to use of helicopters, tanks, heavy machine guns and artillery shelling. On Tuesday, they also saw firing from a fighter aircraft.
- The observers now have confirmed information that the opposition is in possession of heavy weapons, including tanks, in Aleppo.
- There are reports of casualties and mass displacement from the area. Many people have sought temporary shelter in schools and other public buildings in safer neighbourhoods. The UN Mission also reports that there is a shortage of food, fuel and gas.
- The UN has reminded both parties of their obligation under international humanitarian law to protect civilians.
- Asked about a General Assembly meeting on Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General wants to see that the voice of the international community is united, so as to put pressure on the parties to stop the fighting and turn towards a political process. He noted that there has been frustration in trying to achieve those goals.
- He added, in response to questions, that actions against civilians taken by either side are to be condemned and that those responsible should be held accountable.
- Asked about civilians fleeing Syria and their safety, Nesirky said that the United Nations is working with local authorities in neighbouring countries to provide assistance to the refugees. He noted the generosity of many of the countries in the region, who have been working with the United Nations to help refugees from Syria.
U.N TO DISTRIBUTE FOOD TO THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN ALEPPO
- The World Food Programme (WFP) will distribute food to 28,000 people in Aleppo over the next few days, following reports of shortages of food, gas and electricity during weeks of violence in Syria’s largest city.
- In July, the World Food Programme provided food assistance to over half a million Syrians. The organization had aimed to reach more, but was prevented from doing so by fighting in many parts of the country.
- The Programme has also launched an operation to provide food assistance to vulnerable Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq through food vouchers. The six-month operation, which started in July, aims to assist 67,000 people this month and is to reach 120,000 by December.
- The World Food Programme’s operation in Syria is $62 million short of its needs, which are calculated at $103 million.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNOUNCES MEMBERS OF HIGH LEVEL PANEL ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
- The Secretary-General, in an informal meeting with the General Assembly on Tuesday, announced the 26 members of the High-level Panel to advise on the global development agenda beyond 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
- The Secretary-General had previously appointed three co-chairs: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia; President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia; and Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom.
- The Panel will hold its first meeting at the end of September on the margins of the General Debate, and its findings will inform the report that the Secretary-General will prepare and submit to the General Assembly next year.
- The Panel’s work will be closely coordinated with that of the intergovernmental working group to design Sustainable Development Goals, as agreed at the Rio+20 Conference on Sustainable Development.
U.N. WELCOMES ADOPTION OF PROVISIONAL CONSTITUTION IN SOMALIA
- Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, welcomed on Wednesday the adoption of the Provisional Constitution of the Somalia Republic by the Constituent Assembly in Mogadishu, calling it a ‘momentous occasion’.
- He said that the adoption of the Provisional Constitution is an historic achievement, as it completes one of the most important milestones towards ending the transitional period and ushering in a new political future.
Mr. Mahiga also praised the Somali delegates who are “not deterred” by the suicide bomb attack which occurred earlier in the morning in an attempt to disrupt the process. The attempt was promptly foiled by the security forces.
U.N. PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS
- On Wednesday, the Secretary-General has confirmed the appointment of Jamal Benomar as his Special Adviser on Yemen, at the level of Assistant Secretary-General, to lead strengthened good offices for Yemen during the country’s transition.
- He is also appointing Ernesto Enrique Baca of Argentina as Assistant Secretary-General for the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Project in the Department of Management.
U.N. MISSION IN DR CONGO UNABLE TO COMPLETE INVESTIGATION: Asked about an investigation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Spokesperson noted that, due to the prevailing security situation, the UN Mission there, MONUSCO, is currently unable to reach all areas on the ground where it has engaged the M23. It is therefore unable to complete the investigation at this stage.
U.N. ENCOURAGES PRESIDENTS OF SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN TO MEET: Asked about talks between the Presidents of Sudan and South Sudan on resolving outstanding issues, the Spokesperson said that the United Nations would encourage both Presidents to meet at the earliest opportunity and make further progress.