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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 EDUARDO DEL BUEY, DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 14 AUGUST 2013

 

EGYPT: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS VIOLENCE IN CAIRO

  • The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the violence on Wednesday in Cairo that occurred when Egyptian security services used force to clear Cairo of sit-ins and demonstrations.  While the UN is still gathering precise information about Wednesday's events, it appears that hundreds of people were killed or wounded in clashes between security forces and demonstrators.  
  • Just days ago, the Secretary-General renewed his call for all sides in Egypt to reconsider their actions in light of new political realities and the imperative to prevent further loss of life.  The Secretary-General regrets that Egyptian authorities chose instead to use force to respond to the ongoing demonstrations.
  • He conveys his condolences to the families of those killed and his wishes for a full and speedy recovery to those injured.
  • The Secretary-General is well aware that the vast majority of the Egyptian people, weary of disruptions to normal life caused by demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, want their country to go forward peacefully in an Egyptian-led process towards prosperity and democracy. In the aftermath of Wednesday's violence, the Secretary-General urges all Egyptians to concentrate their efforts on promoting genuinely inclusive reconciliation.  While recognizing that political clocks do not run backwards, the Secretary-General also believes firmly that violence and incitement from any side are not the answers to the challenges Egypt faces.
  • With Egypt's rich history and diversity of views and experiences, it is not unusual for Egyptians to disagree on the best approach forward.  What is important, in the Secretary-General's view, is that differing views be expressed respectfully and peacefully.  To the Secretary-General's regret, that is not what happened on Wednesday.
  • Asked about actions by the Security Council concerning Egypt, the Deputy Spokesperson said that this was a decision for the Security Council members.
  • He noted that the Secretary-General had already made a strong statement and that he was also alarmed by reports of demonstrators attacking police stations and at least one church.
  • Del Buey said that the Secretary-General called for restraint and an immediate cessation of violence by all sides.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General would travel to Egypt, the Deputy Spokesperson said that he was speaking with Egyptians and regional leaders and that he had made his views clear through his statement.

OVERALL SITUATION REMAINS HIGHLY VOLATILE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Security Council was briefed this morning by three senior United Nations officials on the situation in the Central African Republic.
  • In his remarks, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country, Babacar Gaye, said that the overall situation has remained highly volatile and unpredictable, although there has been some progress on the political front. He said that the United Nations welcomes the establishment of the African Union mission and he encourages the Security Council to lend its full support to the force.
  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, said that over the past months, the humanitarian situation has deteriorated dramatically and has shifted from being a long-term crisis of poverty and chronic vulnerability to a complex emergency characterized by violence, acute needs and grave protection issues. She also said that this crisis threatens to spread beyond the Central African Republic.
  • The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, said that a key priority is to swiftly provide security and protect the population from further human rights violations.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ATTENDS PAKISTAN’S INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS AND MEETS WITH PRIME MINISTER

  • The Secretary-General wrapped up his visit to Pakistan today, after talks and a dinner with President Asif Ali Zardari.
  • Earlier on Wednesday, the Secretary-General attended part of Pakistan's Independence Day Celebrations and then met with Pakistani women parliamentarians.
  • The Secretary-General also met with the Prime Minister, as well as the head of the National Disaster Management Authority. The Secretary-General also had a media encounter alongside the Prime Minister.
  • The Secretary-General will be visiting Jordan, Palestine and Israel over the next two days.

GAZA: U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF URGES HAMAS NOT TO CARRY OUT PLANNED EXECUTIONS

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has urged the Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip not to carry out planned executions.
  • She is deeply concerned at the possibility that executions might be carried out over the course of the next weeks in Gaza. She added that she is concerned about the process by which death sentences are imposed by military and civilian courts in the Gaza Strip.
  • The High Commissioner noted that international human rights law requires compliance with rigorous fair trial standards in cases where death sentences are applied. She repeated her appeal to the de facto authorities in Gaza to implement a moratorium on executions and to fully uphold and promote the right to life.

SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. RELIEF FUND APPROVES ALLOCATION OF $6 MILLION FOR AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN JONGLEI

  • The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has approved the allocation of $6 million to aid agencies to provide food, nutrition, water and sanitation supplies to affected communities in Jonglei’s Pibor County. This is in addition to the $5.5 million that CERF had allocated in June.
  • The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said that the new funding would boost the humanitarian response.
  • He also called on all parties to ensure that civilians can move freely and in safety to have access to basic services and humanitarian aid.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PROGRESS MADE BY SANITATION AND WATER INITIATIVE

  • The Deputy Secretary-General on Wednesday warmly welcomed the encouraging steps that have been reported by a partnership examining the progress of Sanitation and Water for All (SWA). 
  • The Deputy Secretary-General said that political will and concrete action have led to significant gains on a majority of the commitments to achieve the goal of Sanitation and Water for All. The challenge now is to maintain momentum and eliminate barriers to delivering the remaining commitments. Strengthening financing systems, carrying out institutional reforms and addressing gaps in human resources will be critical.

SOMALIA REMAINS DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENT FOR AID WORKERS, SAYS U.N. DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON

  • Asked about the withdrawal of Médeçins sans Frontières (MSF) from Somalia, the Deputy Spokesperson said that this was a reminder that Somalia remained one of the most difficult and dangerous environments in the world for aid workers.
  • He added that UN agencies and humanitarian organizations working in Somalia remained unwavering in their commitment to alleviate the suffering of Somalis and help them build a better future.
  • Del Buey also said that the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Philippe Lazzarini, had noted that humanitarian workers will continue to mitigate risks and provide assistance to those most in need, including by supporting Somalia’s health authorities. Lazzarini also said that it was premature to talk about the impact of MSF’s withdrawal and that his team was analyzing the question.