HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 21 AUGUST 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL SHOCKED BY REPORTS OF ALLEGED USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said that he is shocked to hear the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons in the suburbs of Damascus today.
- Professor Åke Sellström and his team are currently in the Syrian Arab Republic to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons reported by the Government of Syria at Khan al-Assal as well as two other allegations of the use of chemical weapons reported by Member States. According to the agreement reached in Damascus in July, the two parties are discussing, in parallel, other allegations and their related sites.
- The United Nations mission to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria is following the current situation in Syria carefully, and remains fully engaged in the investigation process that is mandated by the Secretary General. Professor Sellström is in discussions with the Syrian Government on all issues pertaining to the alleged use of chemical weapons, including this most recent reported incident.
- The Secretary-General is aware that a number of Member States, the Arab League and the European Union have expressed grave concern about the most recent reports of the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Secretary-General reaffirms his determination to ensure a thorough investigation of the reported alleged incidents that are brought to his attention by Member States.
- The Secretary-General reiterates that any use of chemical weapons by any side under any circumstances would violate international law.
- The President of the Security Council has called for consultations this afternoon on Syria.
- Asked if the UN mission will investigate today’s alleged incident, the Deputy Spokesperson noted that according to the agreement reached in Damascus last month, the two parties are discussing, in parallel, other allegations and their related sites.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVELLING TO REPUBLIC OF KOREA
- The Secretary-General was due to leave New York today to travel to the Republic of Korea.
- He is set to arrive in Seoul on Thursday evening.
- On Friday, he will meet with the President, Park Geun-hye, as well as the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- The same day, the Secretary-General will also engage with the diplomatic corps based in Seoul on the Millennium Development Goals and attend an event hosted by the UN Academic Impact.
- The Secretary-General will be visiting the Netherlands and Austria after his trip to the Republic of Korea.
IN CAIRO, TOP U.N. POLITICAL OFFICIAL MEETS EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, ARAB LEAGUE CHIEF
- Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who arrived in Egypt on Tuesday, met with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy and Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby.
- In remarks to the press in Cairo on Wednesday, Mr. Feltman said that his discussions with Mr. Elaraby were focused on areas of collaboration between the United Nations and the League of Arab States. They also discussed efforts towards a political solution to the conflict in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, as well as the political process in Yemen and the role of the United Nations therein.
- Asked about his meeting with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy, Mr. Feltman stressed that he was in Cairo to listen. The Secretary-General had asked Mr. Feltman to listen to Egyptians to better understand the situation and how the United Nations can best assist.
- Asked about reports of the possible release of former President Hosni Mubarak, the Deputy Spokesperson said that this is an internal Egyptian matter.
U.N. MISSION IN D.R. CONGO STEPS UP PATROLS FOLLOWING CLASHES NEAR BASE
- The UN Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) reports that clashes between armed groups continue to cause insecurity in the eastern part of the country.
- The Mission says that combatants from four armed groups exchanged fire near its base in Pinga, North Kivu province, on Monday. Three mortar bombs landed near the base.
- The Mission has activated its contingency plan in the area and its peacekeepers are providing security to 1,000 civilians in and around its base.
- The Mission has also stepped up its patrols and sent its helicopters to deter armed groups from fighting and to protect civilians.
U.N., PARTNERS TO BE ALLOCATED MORE THAN $30 MILLION TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE IN SOUTH SUDAN
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Wednesday that UN agencies and humanitarian partners will receive a new allocation of $33 million to provide assistance to communities affected by crisis in South Sudan.
- The funding, allocated from the South Sudan Common Humanitarian Fund, will help aid organizations reach people with critical assistance, including water and sanitation, education, health care, nutrition, livelihood support and mine clearance.
- More than 4 million people are affected by food insecurity in South Sudan and more than 70,000 people have been internally displaced since the beginning of the year. South Sudan currently hosts 220,000 refugees, mostly from Sudan.