HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 1 AUGUST 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS VIOLATION OF HUMANITARIAN CEASEFIRE IN GAZA
- The Secretary-General condemned in the strongest terms the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire which commenced this morning. He is shocked and profoundly disappointed by these developments.
- The Secretary-General noted that the UN has no independent means to verify exactly what happened. According to the latest reports, two IDF soldiers were killed and one taken captive after the humanitarian ceasefire came into effect. This would constitute a grave violation of the ceasefire, and one that is likely to have very serious consequences for the people of Gaza, Israel and beyond. Such moves call into question the credibility of Hamas' assurances to the United Nations. The Secretary-General demands the immediate and unconditional release of the captured soldier.
- The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the resumption of Israeli attacks on Gaza and the killing of over 70 Palestinians this morning. Instead of giving both sides, especially Gazan civilians, a much needed reprieve to let them attend to their injured, bury their dead and repair vital infrastructure, this breach of the ceasefire is now leading to a renewed escalation.
- The Secretary-General urged both sides to show maximum restraint and return to the agreed 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire that tragically lasted such a brief period of time. He also urges those with influence over the parties to do everything to convince them to observe the humanitarian ceasefire.
AID ORGANIZATIONS IN GAZA APPEAL FOR $369 MILLION TO URGENTLY MEET HUMANITARIAN NEEDS
- Aid agencies in Gaza have today appealed for US$369 million to meet urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza. The appeal focuses on supporting access to
- health and water, as well as addressing the needs of the estimated 440,000 people who have been displaced in the fighting
- The situation for the civilians of Gaza and the UN Relief and Works Agency’s (UNRWA) ability to deal with what has become a human displacement crisis of huge proportions is reaching breaking point. The reported end of the ceasefire is going to add to an already intolerable burden
- UNRWA says that there are 86 UNRWA emergency shelters, housing more than 225,000 displaced people, an increase of 10 per cent in 24 hours. There as many as 3,500 people in some, placing intolerable burdens on UNRWA and its ability to deliver adequate services.
- To date, there have been six incidents at five different UNRWA schools housing displaced people which have been directly hit by Israeli shelling (Jabalia and Beit Hanoun being the latest) An estimated 106 UNRWA installations have been damaged since 1 June, 2014, many of them on multiple occasions.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES UGANDA’S DECISION TO ANNUL ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY ACT
- The Secretary-General welcomed the decision by the Constitutional Court of Uganda to annul the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act as a victory for the rule of law.
- He pays tribute to all those who contributed to this step forward, particularly the human rights defenders in Uganda who spoke out, at times incurring great personal risk.
- The Secretary-General called for further efforts to decriminalize same-sex relationships and address the stigma and discrimination that persist in Uganda against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
- The Secretary-General reiterated that everyone is entitled to enjoy the same basic rights and live a life of worth and dignity without discrimination, as affirmed in the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Ugandan Constitution and the recent resolution of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights on protection against violence and other human rights violations against persons on the basis of their real or imputed sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Executive Director of the the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Michel Sidibé also welcomed the decision saying that it was a great day for social justice and that rule of law had prevailed.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. WARNS THAT SITUATION IN JONGLEI, UNITY AND UPPER NILE REMAINS TENSE
- In South Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the situation in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile states remains tense and it is reported that people are continuing to flee to neighbouring countries. The total number of refugees has reached 434,000 while 1.1 million people have been displaced from their homes within the country.
- OCHA also says that the rainy season has increased the risk of diseases across South Sudan. In displacement sites, the most commonly reported illnesses include pneumonia, malaria and other acute respiratory infections. About 95,300 people are sheltering within nine UN Protection of Civilians sites.
- Of these, the majority are in four locations: Bentiu, Bor, Juba and Malakal. Most people are living in self-made shelters, but some are still in open areas. Most people rely on food distributions to survive.
- The living conditions at the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site are particularly dire, and worsening due to rain. About 40,600 people are sheltering there, and 20 more families are arriving each day.
- Nutrition is also a major concern. While partners have stepped up nutrition screening and outpatient therapy sites, their capacity is stretched. Some shelter is available on higher ground, but there is not enough space to accommodate people living in the site, as well as new arrivals. Partners are working to improve the drainage system and advocating with local authorities to allow the construction of a 1.5 km trench.
DESPITE PEACE TALKS, CLASHES IN C.A.R. CONTINUE TO TAKE HEAVY TOLL ON CIVILIANS
- In the Central African Republic, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has reported that despite recent peace talks in Brazzaville, clashes between armed groups have continued, exacting a heavy toll on civilians.
- Earlier this week (on 30 July), 26 civilians were killed when clashes between armed groups resulted in an attack on the village of Batangafo in Ouham Prefecture.
- The continued insecurity is having a direct impact on aid efforts. 16 aid workers have been killed in the Central African Republic since fighting reached its peak in December.
- An estimated 527,000 people are still internally displaced in the Central African Republic, including 102,000 internally displaced persons in Bangui. Over half the population – 2.5 million people – need humanitarian assistance.
- In addition to the perilous security situation, the efforts of aid groups are also being hindered by a lack of funding. Less than 40 per cent of the US$565 million needed for 2014 has been received so far.
U.N. WELCOMES DEPLOYMENT OF INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS AND EXPERTS TO SUPPORT AUDIT IN AFGHANISTAN
- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed the deployment of international observers and UN experts ahead of the resumption of the comprehensive audit of the results of the Presidential run-off tomorrow.
- More than 200 full-time international observers are expected to play a key role in providing complete international scrutiny of the audit, while dozens of experts from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will be based in the audit warehouses where they will provide advice on international best practices.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, said that the arrival of the observers and experts is a powerful and tangible expression of the international community's commitment to Afghanistan. He added that the unprecedented audit provides a credible mechanism to address the concerns of the Presidential parties and the people so as to ensure justice and the legitimacy of the result of the Presidential elections.
- The United Nations has also welcomed the Government of Afghanistan’s commitment to end and prevent the recruitment of children in the national security forces.
- The Government had recently reconfirmed its commitment with the endorsement of a roadmap to end the recruitment. The roadmap is supported by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, said that the endorsement signals the Government’s commitment. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, added that the move will make a real difference in the lives of Afghan children.
- Afghanistan is one of seven countries whose national security forces are listed by the Secretary-General for recruitment and use of children.
IRAQ: U.N. MISSION SAYS 1,700 PEOPLE KILLED IN JULY
- The United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) has released new casualty figures for July. The mission reports that at least 1,700 Iraqis, including nearly 1,200 civilians, have been killed during acts of violence and terrorism in July.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, is concerned about the rising number of civilian casualties, including childrenand women, who remain the most vulnerable. He, once again, called on all sides to the conflict to ensure the protection of civilians and respect for international humanitarian law.
- Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate followed by Salahadin, Ninewa, Kirkuk, Babil and Diyala. Data from Ramadi and other areas of Anbar are currently not available.
HEAD OF W.H.O LAUNCHES NEW JOINT EBOLA RESPONSE PLAN WITH WEST AFRICAN PRESIDENTS
- The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Margaret Chan, met today in Guinea with presidents of West African nations impacted by the Ebola outbreak, to launch a new joint US$100 million response plan.
- Dr. Chan said the scale of the Ebola outbreak, and the persistent threat it poses, requires WHO and Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to take the response to a new level. This will require increased resources, in-country medical expertise, regional preparedness and coordination. Of greatest need are clinical doctors and nurses, epidemiologists, social mobilization experts, logisticians and data managers.
- The Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak Response Plan in West Africa also outlines the need to increase preparedness systems in neighbouring nations and strengthen global capacities.
- The scale of the ongoing outbreak is unprecedented, with approximately 1,323 confirmed and suspected cases reported, and 729 deaths since March 2014.
U.N. ENVOY IN SOMALIA CONDEMNS MURDER OF YET ANOTHER MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, has condemned the murder today of Sheikh Aden Madeer, a Member of the Somali Federal Parliament. He also expressed his concern over the continued attacks on Members of Parliament. Mr. Madeer is the fifth MP to be assassinated in 2014.
- Mr. Kay called the murder an attempt to intimidate and undermine those working to build a better Somalia. He added that urgent action is needed to bring the perpetrators to justice.
***The guest at the Noon Briefing was the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, who spoke to reporters on the situation in Gaza.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
2 – 8 AUGUST 2014
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Monday, 4 August
At 12:30 p.m., in the press briefing room, Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom, who is the President of the Security Council for August, will brief on the Council’s programme of work for the month.
At 4 p.m., in the press briefing room, there will be a press conference on the Globe Theatre organised by the Permanent Mission of the United Kingdom.
From 4 to 8 August, in Geneva, the Office for Disarmament Affairs will hold a session on the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological and Toxin weapons, and their Destruction.
Tuesday, 5 August
At 11 a.m., in the press briefing room, the Director of the Human Development Reports at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Khalid Malik, will brief on the 2014 Human Development Report.
Wednesday, 6 August
The Secretary-General’s High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, is expected to deliver a message on his behalf at the Peace Memorial Ceremony in Hiroshima, Japan. Ms. Kane will also deliver the Secretary-General’s message to the 2014 World Conference against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.
Friday, 8 August
At 3:00 p.m., in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, there will be a commemoration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (9 August). The theme will be Bridging the Gap: Implementing the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.