HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 27 AUGUST 2014
OUTGOING U.N. ENVOY IN LIBYA UNDERSCORES EFFORTS TO PROMOTE POLITICAL DIALOGUE
- The Security Council today adopted a Presidential Statement on Peace and Security in Africa expressing its concern about the situation in the Sahel region.
- Following that, Council members adopted a resolution extending the mandate of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) through June 2015. They then adopted a resolution modifying sanctions on Libya.
- Tarek Mitri, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Libya, in his last briefing to the Security Council, said that since his briefing more than a month ago, conflict, inflamed by air strikes, continues almost uninterrupted in Tripoli, Benghazi and other parts of the country.
- He strongly condemned the recent indiscriminate shelling and said that those responsible for the loss of civilian lives must be held accountable.
- Mr. Mitri added that more than 100,000 people are estimated to be internally displaced and at least 150,000 have fled the country. Many people in Libya are living in deteriorating conditions with limited access to food, fuel, water and electricity.
- Mr. Mitri said that the dialogue remains the only alternative to the prolonged violence and warned that the present political impasse will be deepened further by the use of force. He emphasized the United Nations’ continuing role to spare no effort towards bringing the various parties to the dialogue table.
U.N. MISSION IN GOLAN OBSERVES HEAVY FIGHTING IN AREA OF SEPARATION
- The United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) today observed heavy fighting between the Syrian armed forces and armed members of the opposition in and around locations in the central part of the area of separation.
- During the fighting, several mortars landed in or near United Nations positions. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) retaliated with fire. The UNDOF Force Commander, Iqbal Singh Singha, remains in contact with the Syrian authorities and IDF to urge restraint and prevent an escalation of the situation.
W.F.P. DELIVERS FOOD TO GAZA VIA RAFAR CROSSING IN EGYPT FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 2007
- For the first time since 2007, a World Food Programme (WFP) humanitarian convoy successfully crossed from Egypt into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing.
- After a seven-hour drive from Alexandria across the Sinai Peninsula, the trucks, carrying enough food to feed 150,000 people for five days, arrived at the crossing. A second convoy is expected to cross into Gaza in the coming days.
- WFP said that it is extremely important that it has access to the Gaza Strip from different routes to ensure a constant flow of supplies to meet the growing needs of people affected by the violence. It also expressed its gratitude to the Egyptian Government for opening the Rafah crossing and for allowing WFP to procure food in Egypt.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports from Gaza that heavy movement of people and traffic was observed across the Gaza Strip today, with Government and aid agency staff returning to their work places. Shops and markets were open. OCHA field officers are conducting assessments of displaced people.
- The number of displaced people has already declined dramatically. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) reports that as of this morning, there were approximately 53,000 displaced people staying in their shelters, and that’s down from nearly 290,000 as of yesterday.
- UNRWA estimates that more than 100,000 displaced people will stay at UNRWA shelters because their homes have been destroyed. OCHA and the Palestinian authorities are working together on a Gaza Early Recovery and Reconstruction plan whose first phase will cover 100 days after the ceasefire.
- The ceasefire also enables the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) to undertake risk assessments at UNRWA sites. Thousands of explosive remnants of war have been left in civilian areas impacted by conflict.
- As you would recall yesterday afternoon, we issued a statement from the Secretary-General welcoming the announcement of a ceasefire.
U.N. IN AFGHANISTAN PLEDGES TO REDOUBLE EFFORTS TO SUPPORT AUDIT PROCESS
- In response to recent issues with the electoral audit process, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has pledged today to redouble its support to the Afghan electoral authorities to help expedite the completion of a thorough and credible audit of the presidential run-off.
- The Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan, Nicholas Haysom, who spoke to the media in Kabul earlier today, expressed the United Nations’ regret at the decision of one of the Presidential candidates, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, to halt participation in the audit process. He added that organization will continue to be actively engaged in dealing with the concerns about the audit process from both presidential candidates.
- In an effort to protect the integrity of the audit process, the United Nations has requested Dr. Ashraf Ghani’s team to review their participation.
- According to UNAMA, the audit has resumed after a pause earlier today in the presence of United Nations experts, representatives of the Independent Election Commission, as well as international and national observers.
MASS ATROCITIES BY GOVERNMENT AND ARMED GROUPS CONTINUE IN SYRIA, REPORTS U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS BODY
- The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued its latest report which says that mass atrocities by both Government forces and non-State armed groups continue to take place in the country.
- According to the report, members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, including torture, murder, enforced disappearances and forcible displacement.
- ISIL poses a clear and present danger to civilians, and particularly minorities, under its control in Syria and in the region. The report also noted that journalists and other media workers are systematically targeted by ISIL.
- For its part, the Government continues to commit violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity, with impunity. Between January and July, hundreds of men, women and children were killed every week by the Government’s indiscriminate firing of missiles and barrel bombs into civilian-inhabited areas. There is clear evidence in some instances that civilian gatherings were deliberately targeted, constituting massacres.
- The report also said that, in April and May, Government forces used chemical agents, likely chlorine, in eight separate incidents in western Syria.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY TO TRAVEL TO UKRAINE
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, will begin a seven-day visit to Ukraine tomorrow. While in the country, he will meet with Ukrainian officials, representatives of the civil society and others.
- Mr. Simonovic will also travel to the east of the country to assess the human rights situation there. This will be his fourth visit to Ukraine since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine earlier this year.
- On Friday, in Kiev, Mr. Simonovic will launch the fifth and latest report of the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine.
- The report is expected to document grave human rights violations and abuses committed in eastern Ukraine and the impact of the intense and sustained fighting on the civilian population.
U.N. OFFICAL STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF U.N. AND N.G.O. RELATIONS
- The Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, Susana Malcorra, today addressed members of the global civil society today at the opening of the 65th the Department of Public Information/ NGO conference.
- Ms. Malcorra said that presence of the NGO community is crucial and timely as Member States continue to negotiate the post-2015 development agenda, including climate change.
- She underscored the need to strengthen the UN’s relationship with civil society, whose voices need to be heard more now than ever. The conference, titled “2015 and Beyond: Our Action Agenda, will go on until 29 August.
MORE FOOD AID REACHES DISPLACED IRAQIS NEAR BAGHDAD
- The World Food Programme (WFP) said that its food aid convoys have reached displaced people in Karbala, southwest of Iraq’s capital Baghdad.
- So far, more than 700,000 displaced people in Iraq have received food assistance from WFP and partners since the start of violence in mid-June. This week alone, 2,000 displaced families in Karbala received food assistance after WFP sent convoys from Erbil.
ATTACKS IN KIDAL COWARDLY AND UNJUSTIFIED, SAYS U.N. ENVOY IN MALI
- The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) reported that today eight rockets hit a peacekeeping camp in Aguelhoc in Mali’s Kidal region. No casualties were reported.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Mali, Bert Koenders, called the attack cowardly and unjustified, adding that the goal of the United Nations Mission , which much like that of the people of the country, is the return of peace.
- He added that the attack took place on the eve of the resumption of peace talks in Algiers, a crucial moment for the country’s future. Mr. Koenders called for the strict observance of the ceasefire.
W.H.O. STARTS EBOLA PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE WORKSHOPS
- Workshops organized by the World Health Organization aimed at strengthening preparedness and response against Ebola in West Africa began in the Republic of Congo today.
- The workshops bring together more than 40 Disease Prevention and Control Officers, Clinicians and Infection Control Officers and other experts.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW SPECIAL ADVISER ON CLIMATE CHANGE
- In a statement, the Secretary-General congratulated Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for Strategic Planning, on his appointment as the Dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland starting in October 2014.
- The Secretary-General expressed his deep gratitude for Mr. Orr’s service and leadership over the past 10 years. Robert Orr has been instrumental in defining new roles for the United Nations and innovative strategies for addressing world problems.
- On subjects as diverse as counter-terrorism, human rights, peace building, women’s and children’s health, sustainable energy, institutional innovation, public-private partnership, and climate change, Mr. Orr has forged the strategy and architecture for a twenty-first century United Nations.
- The Secretary-General has asked Mr. Orr to continue to serve the United Nations as a Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Change, to support efforts towards a universal climate agreement in 2015 and global climate action on the ground. He wishes Mr. Orr every success in his new role as Dean and looks forward to his continued engagement with the United Nations on climate change.