HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY EDUARDO DEL BUEY,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 23 AUGUST 2013
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES PROMPT INVESTIGATION ON ALLEGED USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA
- In a statement issued on Friday, the Secretary-General said that he is giving his utmost attention to the tragic situation related to the attacks on the suburbs of Damascus on 21 August. It is his intention to conduct a thorough, impartial and prompt investigation on the reports of the alleged use of chemical weapons during these attacks.
- To this end, the United Nations has already written to the Syrian government to urgently confirm that it is prepared to provide its cooperation to the UN Mission already on the ground, on the basis of the modalities of cooperation set out and mutually agreed on 13 August 2013. The Secretary-General has also instructed Under Secretary General Angela Kane to travel to Damascus, where she is expected tomorrow.
- The Secretary-General urges the Syrian authorities to respond positively and promptly to his request without delay, taking into account in particular that the Syrian Government has publicly expressed its own concerns regarding these events.
- The Secretary-General also calls on the Syrian opposition to cooperate with the UN Mission to investigate the alleged use of chemical weapons in this most recent tragic event. It is of paramount importance that all those who share the concern and urgency of investigating these allegations, equally share the responsibility of cooperating in generating a safe environment for the Mission to do its job.
- The Secretary-General further calls on all those member states with interest and influence to equally exert their utmost for the provision of a safe and secure environment for the Mission to engage in its work.
- The humanitarian need in Syria is great. The need to provide humanitarian assistance to all victims of violence, including the latest ones, is imperative. In this context, the Secretary-General calls for a cessation of hostilities both in this particular area, and in the country.
NUMBER OF SYRIAN CHILDREN FORCED TO FLEE AS REFUGEES HAS REACHED ONE MILLION – U.N. AGENCIES
- With the Syrian crisis into its third year, the number of Syrian children forced to flee their country as refugees has now reached one million, the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) announced on Friday.
- Anthony Lake, the Executive Director of UNICEF, said that we should stop and ask ourselves how, in all conscience, we can continue to fail the children of Syria.
- For his part, António Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, said that what is stake is nothing less than the survival and wellbeing of a generation of innocents.
- The two agencies said that children make up half of all refugees from the Syrian conflict. Most have gone to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, and increasingly, Syrians are fleeing to North Africa and Europe.
- Inside Syria, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, some 7,000 children have been killed during the conflict. The UN Refugee Agency and UNICEF estimate that more than 2 million children have been internally displaced within Syria.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS EXPLOSION OF CAR BOMBS IN TRIPOLI, LEBANON
- In a statement issued on Friday, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the two bomb explosions, shortly after Friday prayers, outside two mosques in the north Lebanese city of Tripoli, leaving tens of people killed and hundreds injured. He extends his condolences to the families of those killed and to the Government of Lebanon, and his sympathies to all those injured.
- The Secretary-General calls on all Lebanese to exercise restraint, to remain united, and to support their State institutions, particularly the security forces, in maintaining calm and order in Tripoli and throughout the country, and in preventing the recurrence of such destructive actions.
- The Secretary-General hopes that those responsible for such cowardly acts of violence will be brought to justice as soon as possible. He reiterates the determination of the international community to support Lebanon’s security and stability.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONCERNED OVER FIRING OF ROCKETS FROM LEBANON TOWARDS ISRAEL
- In a statement issued on Friday, the Secretary-General said he is greatly concerned over Thursday’s firing of rockets from the area of Tyre, within the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon’s area of operations, towards Israel, which is a clear violation of resolution 1701 (2006). UNIFIL is investigating the circumstances of the incident in cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israel Defense Forces.
- The Secretary-General notes the retaliatory strikes by the Israel Defense Forces in Lebanon in the area of Na’ameh, and condemns any and all violations of resolution 1701 (2006). He urges all concerned to exercise maximum restraint, and cooperate with UNIFIL in order to prevent an escalation. The parties must fully adhere to resolution 1701 (2006) and respect the cessation of hostilities agreement.
- The United Nations is committed to continuing to work with the parties to ensure that the calm that has prevailed continues to be sustained.
IN CAIRO, U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF MEETS BROAD RANGE OF INTERLOCUTORS
- Asked about the situation in Egypt, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General remains engaged regarding the situation in the country.
- Asked about the visit to Egypt by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, the Deputy Spokesperson said that Mr. Feltman concluded his three-day visit to Cairo on Friday. Meeting with a broad range of interlocutors, he listened to diverse viewpoints and conveyed the United Nations full support for an Egyptian-led, peaceful path to resolving the crisis. Mr. Feltman saw and spoke to a broad number of interlocutors from the government, civil society, human rights, and political parties, including from the Muslim Brotherhood.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS SENIOR GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN SEOUL
- The Secretary-General has had a wide range of meetings with South Korean leaders on Friday, including with the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
- There was a heavy emphasis in those meetings on developments on the Korean Peninsula and on sustainable development and overseas development assistance.
- At the start of the day the Secretary-General spoke to a gathering of the diplomatic corps based in Seoul about the Millennium Development Goals and the post-2015 development agenda. He also spoke about Syria, calling for swift access to the site of the most recent alleged chemical weapons attack.
- Later in the day, the Secretary-General spoke to students at an event hosted by the UN Academic Impact, saying that education was a crucial investment for the future.
- Over the weekend, the Secretary-General will attend the opening of the World Rowing Championships, visit his hometown and deliver a lecture there to school students. He will return to Seoul on Sunday afternoon for further meetings.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN
- On Friday afternoon, the Security Council was due to hold an open meeting on Sudan and South Sudan.
U.N. PEACEKEEPERS IN D.R. CONGO TAKING ACTION TO PROTECT CIVILIANS NEAR GOMA
- The United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) said on Friday that for the third consecutive day, fighting continued between the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) and the M23 armed group in the Kibati area, 15 km north of Goma, in North Kivu province.
- The Mission said that populated areas and UN positions were directly targeted by mortars and hit by indiscriminate fire. Four civilians were reportedly killed and 15 others injured due to M23 shelling in the outskirts of Goma.
- In response and as instructed by Martin Kobler, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of MONUSCO, UN peacekeepers have taken necessary action to protect civilians and prevent an advance by the M23, including by using attack helicopters.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO NETHERLANDS, AUSTRIA NEXT WEEK
- On 27 August, the Secretary-General will arrive in The Hague, The Netherlands, where he will meet with King Willem Alexander and Queen Máxima.
- On Wednesday, 28 August, the Secretary-General will meet with Prime Minister Mark Rutte and participate in the official commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Peace Palace.
- He will also meet with Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans and speak at a Ministerial Conference on the Peaceful Settlement of Disputes hosted by the Foreign Minister. The Secretary-General will also give a lecture at Leiden University in the afternoon.
- Later in the evening, the Secretary-General will arrive in Vienna. He will attend the next day a ceremony at the Vienna City Hall where he will be awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Province of Vienna.
- On 30 August, the Secretary-General will travel to Alpbach. He will address the closing session of the European Forum Alpbach on 31 August, before returning to New York on the same day.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
24 – 30 AUGUST 2013
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 24 August
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Sunday, 25 August
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 26 August
This afternoon, there will be a meeting of troop-contributing countries on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
In Geneva, the 67th session of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will begin. It will end on 30 August.
Tuesday, 27 August
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Wednesday, 28 August
This morning, the Security Council will hold a debate on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
Thursday, 29 August
Today is the International Day against Nuclear Tests.
In the morning, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). It will be followed by a debate on the United Nations Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK).
Friday, 30 August
Today is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.