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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 20 AUGUST 2013

 

MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS: U.N. SAYS THE TEST FOR BOTH SIDES WILL BE TO NOT DISAPPOINT THEIR PEOPLE

  • The Security Council was briefed on Tuesday morning on the situation in the Middle East by the Assistant Secretary-General for political affairs, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco.
  • In his remarks, Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said that despite an ever challenging regional environment there has been a small but important opening in the form of direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
  • He said that the test will be for both sides to go the distance and not disappoint their people. He said that leaders on both sides must realize that this is an opening they cannot afford to lose and that the Secretary-General and the United Nations, including with the Quartet, will continue to bring all possible support to their efforts. 
  • Regarding the situation in Syria, the Assistant Secretary-General said that the position of the Secretary-General remains unchanged: there is no military solution to this conflict. He said that what is urgently needed is a political solution.
  • Mr. Fernandez-Taranco said that the international community is doing its best to ensure that the Geneva Conference takes place as soon as possible. He said that the United Nations hopes that all in the international community will remain committed to this process and will contribute to its success, in word and in action.

SOME 30,000 SYRIANS HAVE STREAMED INTO NORTHERN IRAQ, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday that since last Thursday, some 30,000 Syrians have streamed in to northern Iraq.
  • The Agency said that this new exodus is among the largest it has seen so far during the Syrian conflict.
  • Some of the reasons those fleeing have given the Agency are recent bombings, fighting among various factions on the ground, and the collapse of the economy and the resulting difficulties in caring for their families.
  • In response to the influx, the Agency and its partners have erected shelters to provide shade and water and food distributions have been set up at the crossing points.
  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that of the estimated 4,800 people who crossed the border from into Iraq yesterday, at least 2,100 of them were children. Many were below 12 years old, and the younger ones were particularly dehydrated and exhausted after the four or five hour walk across the border in the scorching heat.
  • A child protection team is at the border working to identify separated and unaccompanied children, to make sure they were on the buses for registration with the UN Refugee Agency, and that they continued to receive support at their final destinations.
  • For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) has mobilized food from its stocks in Iraq. Distributions of 3,100 food parcels – enough to feed 15,000 people for one week – will begin today in some of the transit camps.
  • The Programme will also send enough food to feed 185,000 people for one month from Turkey to Iraq.
  • It is also ramping up its staffing presence on the ground to respond effectively and promptly to the influx of Syrians into Iraq.

JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE BRAHIMI WELCOMES RUSSIAN-US DISCUSSIONS ON SYRIAN CRISIS

  • The Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, welcomes the bilateral discussions on the Syrian crisis which are going to be held between the Russian and the US delegations in The Hague shortly. Mr. Brahimi will not participate in this meeting.
  • He is in constant contact with both the Russian and the US authorities. Another meeting to further preparations of the so called "Geneva II" conference might be held in the near future, but it has not been decided yet where or when that meeting will be.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE REMAINS ALARMED BY CONTINUING VIOLENCE IN EGYPT

  • The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Tuesday that it remains alarmed by the continuing violence in Egypt. The Office echoed the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation yesterday of the ambush in the Sinai in which killed 25 police officers.
  • On the reported detention of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members, including some of its leaders, the Office said that everyone deprived of their liberty must be treated humanely and afforded all judicial guarantees under international law.
  • The Office also reiterated its call to the Egyptian authorities to allow it to deploy human rights officers so that it can assess the situation on the ground.
  • Asked about the arrest of a Muslim Brotherhood leader in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has consistently called for the release of the group’s leaders as well as for transparent legal processes.
  • Asked about the situation of journalists in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that whether Egyptian or foreign, they should be able to conduct their work in accordance with the situation on the ground. He added that they need to be able to operate freely so that both domestic and international audiences can understand what is happening in Egypt. Nesirky said that the United Nations does not condone harassment of journalists and that violence against them is unacceptable.

U.N. FOOD AGENCY CONCERNED ABOUT RISE OF POVERTY AND FOOD INSECURITY IN EGYPT

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that it is concerned about the rise of poverty and food insecurity among the most vulnerable communities in the country amidst continued political uncertainties and a worsening economic situation that the country has faced over the last few months.    
  • The Programme has continued its food distributions in Egypt throughout July and August with minor delays.
  • It distributed food vouchers for Syrian refugees in July and is now planning distributions for 50,000 people this month. The Programme reached 95 per cent of the targeted beneficiaries last month, assisting 35,000 Syrian refugees with food vouchers in greater Cairo, Damietta and Alexandria despite instability and demonstrations across the country.

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN SAYS IT HAS STEPPED UP PATROLS IN PIBOR COUNTY IN RECENT DAYS

  • The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Tuesday today that its peacekeepers have stepped up their patrols in Pibor County in recent days.
  • The patrols are being conducted daily, both on foot and by vehicule, and they aim to help create a secure environment for the safe return of civilians and their access to locations where food is being distributed.
  • During the patrols, peacekeepers locate vulnerable displaced civilians affected by recent fighting, interact with them, explain the situation in Pibor and Gumuruk towns and the food distribution, and gather information on the location of other civilians and their condition. 
  • The Mission has received the support and cooperation of the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), Pibor County authorities, and armed groups in the area where patrols are conducted.
  • The intensive patrolling is part of continuing efforts by the Mission to bolster the implementation of its protection of civilians mandate and to help establish an improved security environment.

U.N. MISSION IN MALI TAKES NOTE OF CONFIRMED RESULTS OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

  • The United Nations Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) notes that the Constitutional Court has confirmed on Tuesday the results of the presidential election run-off.
  • In a statement issued shortly after the election, the Secretary-General congratulated the authorities and the people of Mali.
  • He also congratulated Ibrahim Boubacar Ke?ta on his election as President of the Republic while saluting the commitment shown by Soumaïla Cissé - the second-placed candidate - to democratic principles.
  • The Secretary-General has also reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to accompany Mali in the next phase of its stabilisation and peace consolidation process, including by supporting inclusive dialogue and reconciliation and the conduct of national legislative elections.

U.N. TO PROVIDE HIGH ENERGY BISCUITS FOR PEOPLE AFFECTED BY TORRENTIAL MONSOON RAINS IN THE PHILIPPINES

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that torrential monsoon rains continue to affect the Philippines.
  • In Luzon, seven people have died. The more than 140,000 people who have been displaced are staying in 200 evacuation centres, as well as with relatives and friends.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) will provide 50 metric tons of high energy biscuits.
  • In Mindanao, nearly 250,000 families have been affected by the monsoon, with some 112,000 people having been.

NEW U.N. MARITIME LABOUR CONVENTION COMES INTO FORCE

  • The International Labour Organization (ILO) says that its new Maritime Labour Convention has become binding international law as of today. The Convention needed ratification by 30 of the Organization member States, representing more than 33 per cent of the world’s gross shipping tonnage to enter into force. To date, more than 45 Member States representing more than 70 per cent of global gross shipping tonnage have ratified the Convention.
  • ILO Director of the International Labour Standards Department Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry said that it is now incumbent on all to ensure that ratification and legal implementation translate into law and practice so that the world's seafarers can truly benefit from the protection of the Convention and that shipowners who meet the decent work requirements of the Convention can enjoy the benefits it offers.