HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 1 AUGUST 2013
TEAM IS PREPARING TO DEPART FOR SYRIA WITHIN DAYS TO LOOK INTO ALLEGATIONS OF USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- Asked about the team that is to travel to Syria to look into allegations of the use of chemical weapons, the Spokesperson said that the team will depart for Syria as soon as practical and is preparing to depart within days.
- He added that the team is now reassembling in The Hague and will be ready to depart once the remaining logistical and legal modalities for the Mission have been finalized.
- In addition to the Head of Mission, the team will consist of about 10 experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the World Health Organization.
- Asked where the team will visit, Nesirky said that, in addition to the reported incident at Khan al-Asal, at this stage the Mission will also investigate two other incidents where the evaluation of the available information has indicated an on-site investigation is warranted. The locations of the two other incidents are being kept confidential as a safety and security precaution.
U.N. PEACEKEEPERS IN D.R. CONGO HAVE ESTABLISHED A SECURITY ZONE IN GOMA AREA
- In response to questions, the Spokesperson said that the UN Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) reports that -- as planned and in close coordination with Congolese security forces -- its peacekeepers have now established a security zone in the greater Goma area and along the Goma-Sake axis, in North Kivu province.
- The objective of the security zone is to provide better protection to more than 1 million civilians -- including internally displaced persons -- living in the area. UN peacekeepers and Congolese security forces will continue their patrols to ensure that the area is free of unauthorized weapons.
- The Mission adds that the security zone is not an offensive operation and is not targeted at any one armed group.
- MONUSCO reiterates its commitment to a political solution to address the recurring cycles of violence and instability in eastern DRC and calls on all parties to implement their commitments under the Framework agreement, signed by leaders of the Great Lakes region.
U.N. HAS SELECTED VENDOR FOR TRIAL USE OF UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES BY MISSION IN D.R. CONGO
- In response to questions, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations can confirm that it has reached the final stage of the procurement process in relation to the trial use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) by its mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO).
- The selected vendor is the Italian company SELEX ES. The UAV is known as the "FALCO" and is designed to be a medium-altitude, medium-endurance surveillance platform capable of carrying a range of payloads, including several types of high resolution sensors. Its payload does not include weapons.
- The deployment of the UAV is planned in coming weeks.
- The use of unarmed UAVs will allow UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to monitor the movements of armed groups and protect the civilian population more efficiently, particularly in the country's eastern region.
- Asked about UN use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the Spokesperson reiterated that the UAVs that will be used by the United Nations do not carry weapons.
SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSED NEED FOR INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE IN PHONE CALLS WITH EGYPTIAN LEADERS
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s contacts on Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has spoken by phone with Egyptian leaders and leaders in the region about Egypt. In his calls, he has discussed the need for restraint and for inclusive dialogue.
- The Secretary-General spoke on Wednesday with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton following her visit to Egypt. The Secretary-General reiterated his call to release Mohammed Morsy and senior Muslim Brotherhood officials.
- Asked whether sit-ins pose a threat to national security, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General has repeatedly said that peaceful protest must be allowed and that freedom of speech and of expression need to be guaranteed. Those who are participating in protests must do so peacefully.
U.N. MISSION WELCOMES APPOINTMENT OF NEW CABINET IN SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, has welcomed the appointment of a new Cabinet of the Government in the country.
- The Mission says it stands ready to work closely with the new Cabinet, once sworn in, to advance South Sudan's reform agenda, including combating corruption; transforming the security sector; and providing essential services to the people.
- The Mission also says it looks forward to working with the new Cabinet on protecting civilians, and strengthening core state institutions, as well as political milestones related to Constitutional review and the holding of free and fair national elections.
- In this regard, the Mission is urging the new Cabinet to do its utmost to forge national unity and solidarity and respect the rights of all South Sudanese citizens.
U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY FOR HIV/AIDS IN AFRICA APPOINTED
- The Secretary-General has appointed Speciosa Wandira-Kasibwe of Uganda as his Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa. Ms. Wandira-Kasibwe is Senior Adviser to the President of Uganda on Population and Health.
- As Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Ms.Wandira-Kazibwe will help advance the AIDS response in Africa by advocating for the active engagement and involvement of all sectors of society.
- In this role, she will replace Asha-Rose Migiro of Tanzania.
MORE THAN 1,000 IRAQIS KILLED IN VIOLENCE IN JULY, U.N. MISSION SAYS
- The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said on Thursday that more than 1,000 Iraqis were killed and more than 2,300 were wounded in acts of terrorism and violence in July. The Mission, in releasing its monthly casualty figures, said that most of those killed or wounded were civilians.
- The Acting Special Representative, Gyorgy Busztin, said that more than 4,000 Iraqis have been killed since the start of the year, adding that the Mission hasn’t seen such numbers in more than five years. He reiterated his urgent call on all Iraq’s political leaders to take immediate and decisive action to stop the bloodshed.
- Baghdad was the worst-affected governorate in July, with 957 civilian casualties.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL URGES INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY NOT TO ABANDON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonovic said at the end of a four-day visit to the Central African Republic on Thursday that state institutions throughout the country remain close to collapse. He urged the international community not to abandon the country.
- Mr. Šimonovic also said that while the situation in Bangui has slightly improved, the state simply does not exist outside of the capital and there is no rule of law. He also expressed his concern about the high rate of sexual violence in the country.
- During his visit, the Assistant Secretary-General met the Transitional Authorities, including the Prime Minister of the Transitional Government and several Ministers. He also held discussions with religious leaders and members of civil society organizations and of the international community.
NIGERIA TO WITHDRAW BATTALION FROM U.N. MISSION IN MALI, WILL MAINTAIN PRESENCE THROUGH HOSPITAL AND POLICE UNIT
- Asked recently about the withdrawal of Nigerian troops from the UN Mission in Mali, MINUSMA, the Spokesperson confirmed that the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has been informed of Nigeria's plan to withdraw its infantry battalion from the peacekeeping mission in Mali.
- However, Nigeria will maintain a presence within the Mission, including through its military hospital and a police unit.
- The Department of Peacekeeping Operations wishes to extend its appreciation to Nigeria for its contribution to UN peacekeeping and to the Mission MINUSMA.
- The Department is in close contact with a number of troop contributors to provide MINUSMA with the troops and assets it needs.
ARGENTINA REPLACES THE UNITED STATES THIS MONTH IN ROTATING PRESIDENCY OF THE SECURITY COUNCIL: Argentina has replaced the United States this month in the rotating Presidency of the Security Council. The Council is expected to hold consultations on its programme of work for August on Friday.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SEEKS TO ENSURE THAT VOICES OF ALL MEMBER STATES ARE HEARD AT G20 MEETINGS: Asked about the meetings of the Group of 20, the Spokesperson noted that, whenever the Secretary-General attends those meetings, he seeks to ensure that the voices of all member states are heard.