HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 21 AUGUST 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO INDONESIA, SAMOA AND NEW ZEALAND
- The Secretary-General will depart on Tuesday, 26 August, on a three-country trip to Indonesia, Samoa and New Zealand.
- His first stop will be Bali, Indonesia, where he will attend the Sixth Global Forum of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC). He is also expected to with meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as well as with other leaders attending the Forum.
- On 29 August, the Secretary-General will depart Bali for Apia, Samoa, for the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States. He will address the opening plenary session of the Conference on 1 September.
- While in Samoa, the Secretary-General will hold bilateral meetings with leaders attending the Conference and meet with Samoan people driven from their homes by climate change.
- From Samoa, the Secretary-General will travel to New Zealand, where he will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Auckland and give a lecture. The Secretary-General is also expected to meet with Prime Minister John Key and other officials.
- He will arrive in New York on 3 September.
BABATUNDE OSOTIMEHIN REAPPOINTED AS HEAD OF U.N. POPULATION FUND
- Following consultations with the Executive Board of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Secretary-General has reappointed Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin as Executive Director of UNFPA.
- The Secretary-General noted his appreciation of UNFPA’s progress in effective management for results, especially for the most disadvantaged women and adolescent girls.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS NEED FOR UNITED ACTION BY SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Security Council held an open debate on conflict prevention, adopting a resolution reaffirming the duty of all States to settle international disputes peacefully.
- In his remarks, the Secretary-General noted that one of his core priorities is improving the United Nations’ ability to act early and act preventively. He said that events around the world today clearly demonstrate the changing nature and complexity of contemporary conflict.
- The Secretary-General said that the Security Council, which bears the primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, has a unique responsibility.
- He emphasized that when Member States join forces, we can achieve much, with the Council’s consensus on removing chemical weapons from Syria being one recent case in point.
- Also addressing the debate was Navi Pillay, in her last briefing to the Council as the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The Secretary-General paid tribute to her, saying that she tells it like she sees it and that she has spoken forthrightly on issues some have wished to avoid.
U.N. SYSTEM COORDINATOR FOR EBOLA ARRIVES IN LIBERIA
The United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola, Dr David Nabarro, arrived today in Monrovia, Liberia, the first leg of his visit to all countries affected by the virus.
Karin Landgren, the Head of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), said this visit underscored the United Nation’s commitment to rolling back the deadly virus.
- The Mission has reoriented several parts of its operations to support the Government in the fight against Ebola. It is leading a crisis logistics team at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and providing support to Superintendents and County Health Teams in every county.
- UNMIL Radio and the Mission’s outreach team are also disseminating information on Ebola prevention and response, with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Ms. Landgren stressed that Ebola’s impact now extends far beyond the families and communities of those infected with the virus, and poses a threat to broader public health, food security, physical security, and the national economy of Liberia. If we are to preserve the gains made over these 11 years of peace in Liberia, Ebola must quickly be stopped, she added.
- WHO says that the total number of cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, reached 2473, and the number of deaths 1350.
- Some of these countries are starting to experience supply shortages, including fuel and food, following the decision of many companies to suspend services.
- WHO is working with the World Food Programme (WFP) to ensure adequate food and supplies reach people in need, but calls on all companies to make business decisions based on scientific evidence with regard to the transmission of Ebola virus.
- Companies bringing goods and services to the affected countries are at low risk for exposure to Ebola. WHO, under the International Health Regulations, encourages companies and organizations to continue providing these necessary supplies.
IN MEETING WITH UKRAINIAN LEADER, U.N. RELIEF CHIEF URGES EFFORTS TO CREATE ENABLING ENVIRONMENT FOR HUMANITARIAN ACTION
- The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, arrived in Ukraine today for a four-day mission.
- Today in Kiev, she met with Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other Government officials. Ms. Amos thanked the Government for its fruitful collaboration with the United Nations and called for the fostering of a more enabling environment for humanitarian action.
- She is expected to visit eastern Ukraine later during her visit to see first-hand the humanitarian situation of people in the areas impacted by fighting.
- Meanwhile, Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, continues his visit to Ukraine.
- Yesterday, he met with President Petro Poroshenko, reiterating the Secretary-General's concern over the situation in eastern Ukraine and his hope for a peaceful political solution to the conflict to save lives and avoid a humanitarian crisis.
U.N. AID ENVOY IN GAZA CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE
- The Head of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affair (OCHA) in the occupied Palestinian territory, Ramesh Rajasingham, called today for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.
- Mr. Rajasingham emphasized that civilians cannot keep moving between their homes and shelters each time conflict renews, adding that it is especially traumatizing for children. He said that it is also it is extremely difficult for them to save lives and to protect and assist those in need.
- In the long run, he said, a permanent halt in violence stemming from a durable cease-fire is crucial to mitigating the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip.
- Thousands of Palestinians have returned to shelter in schools in Gaza. Nearly 280,000 people are now taking refuge in UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools.
MORE AID SHIPMENTS ARRIVE IN SYRIA – U.N.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that as of today, the United Nations has sent eight shipments to Syria pursuant to last month’s Security Council resolution.
- Six of the shipments were from Turkey, four of them through the Bab al-Salam crossing and two through the Bab al-Hawa crossing. The other two were from Jordan through the Al-Ramtha crossing.
- The shipments included food assistance for nearly 70,000 people and medical supplies for some 190,000 people in Aleppo, Idleb, Quneitra, Lattakia and Dar'a Governorates.
- All of the shipments crossed without incident and distribution of relief supplies is ongoing.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that a $45 million donation from Kuwait has saved the lives and addressed the health needs of millions of people affected by the conflict in Syria.
- The funds were used to provide health care in both Government and opposition-controlled areas within Syria, as well as in neighbouring countries struggling to cope with nearly 3 million Syrian refugees.
VIOLENCE AGAINST CIVILIANS WORST SEEN THIS CENTURY IN IRAQ, SAYS U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that testimonies gathered from civilians who fled the recent violence in Sinjar have revealed appalling accounts of killing, abduction and sexual violence perpetrated against women and children.
- According to UNICEF, the type and scope of the violence against children, women and minority communities in Iraq in the past few weeks is one of the worst seen in this century.
- The agency has also documented 123 separate cases of rights violations carried out by armed groups against Yazidi and other minority groups in Ninewa, close to the border with Syria.
- UNICEF has provided psycho-social care and support to more than 3,000 distressed displaced children now sheltering in Dahuk, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. URGES IMMEDIATE END TO MILITARY OPERATIONS, ADVANCEMENT OF POLITICAL PROCESS
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that an unknown number of civilians, fleeing shelling in the area of Dolieb Hill in the Upper Nile State, have arrived at the Mission’s protection site in Malakal. Currently, UNMISS is protecting more than 17,000 civilians at that site.
- Also in Unity State, mortar shelling was reportedly heard in Bentiu close to the UNMISS base. No casualties were reported. But over 40,000 displaced people are sheltering in sites that area.
- UNMISS continues to urge all parties to immediately cease their military operations, fully cooperate with the Mission's protection of civilians mandate and engage in a meaningful dialogue to advance the political process.
- According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), aid workers at sites for displaced people in Bentiu, Unity State, have resumed operations today after scaling down following a recent attack on a female aid worker. The attack was the second against an aid worker in Bentiu in recent weeks.
DARFUR: U.N., AFRICAN UNION STRESS NEED FOR RECONCILTATION BETWEEN WARRING PARTIES
- The AU-UN joint peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID) received information from local sources about recurrence of violent clashes yesterday in Um Rakuba area, about 65 kilometres south-east of El Daein, in East Darfur. Dozens of people were reportedly killed as a result of heavy exchange of fire.
- The Mission has engaged the State authorities to urge them to reinforce the Government forces in the buffer area created one year ago to prevent clashes, and to explore ways to support any form of reconciliation between warring tribes.
***The guest at the noon briefing was Wu Hongbo, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and the Secretary-General of the Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS). He briefed reporters on the upcoming SIDS Conference, which will take place from 1-4 September in Apia, Samoa.