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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 FARHAN HAQ,
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 28 AUGUST 2013

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES SECURITY COUNCIL UNITY ON SYRIA

  • The Secretary-General has just completed a trip to the Netherlands, where he spoke at a ceremony marking the centennial of the Peace Palace in The Hague.
  • In his remarks, he spoke about Syria and noted that the use of chemical weapons by anyone, for any reasons, under any circumstances, would be an atrocious violation of international law. He added that it is essential to establish the facts and a United Nations investigation team is now on the ground to do just that. The team needs time to do its job.
    The Secretary-General said to all parties, “Give peace a chance. Give diplomacy a chance. Stop fighting and start talking.” He said that the Security Council must at last find the unity to act and it must use its authority for peace.
  • Later, he spoke at Leiden University on the theme of freedom, and he gave a message to all world leaders: “Listen. Listen to the concerns, demands and hopes of your people. If you do not listen to your people, you will hear from them – in the streets, in the squares, or most tragically on the battlefield.”
  • The Secretary-General is traveling to Austria.

SYRIA: U.N. CHEMICAL WEAPONS INVESTIGATION TEAM CONTINUES WORK IN DAMASCUS SUBURBS

  • Today, the chemical weapons investigation team was able to visit several locations in the suburbs of Damascus, including impact sites, where it collected additional information and samples.
  • The Secretary-General appeals to all sides to allow the Mission to continue its important work. The evidence collected on-site by the Mission is crucial for its unique ability to establish the facts of the matter in an impartial and fact-based manner.
  • In response to questions, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General, in his speech at the Peace Palace, had called for adherence to the United Nations Charter, had said that we must pursue all avenues to get the parties to the negotiating table and had said that the Security Council of the United Nations must uphold its responsibilities under the Charter.
  • Asked about remarks by the Secretary-General that the inspectors may need four days to complete their work, Haq said that the inspectors had now completed a second day of work. He said that Dr. Ake Sellström, the head of the mission, would take the decision to determine whether the team had completed its work in getting the facts concerning the 21 August Ghouta attack.
  • Haq noted that the team was currently in Syria as part of a 14-day mandate and that it had not asked for an extension of that mandate.
  • Asked about a request from Syria for the team to inspect other suspected sites of chemical weapons use, he said that the team could consider other requests. He noted that the team had agreed with the Government of Syria to investigate Khan al-Asal and two other sites and would work on those in due course.
  • Asked about the mandate of the team, Haq said that it would try to determine whether chemical weapons have been used. It would try to put together an evidence-based narrative of what the facts showed.
  • Asked about security for UN staff, the Spokesperson said that the safety and security of the UN team is of paramount importance. All parties concerned must ensure the safety and security of the UN team on the ground.

HEADS OF U.N. REFUGEE, FOOD AGENCIES VISIT IRAQ, HOST TO 200,000 SYRIANS

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Executive Director António Guterres and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director Ertharin Cousin visited Baghdad yesterday and they expressed their appreciation to Iraq for welcoming fleeing Syrians and working with UN organizations to address their basic needs.
  • Iraq is host to some 200,000 Syrians. In the last two weeks alone, 46,000 Syrians crossed the border.

HAITI AT CRITICAL JUNCTURE, U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • The Special Representative for the Secretary-General in Haiti, Sandra Honoré, briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in that country.
  • In her remarks, Ms. Honoré said that Haiti is at a critical juncture and that progress in the fields of security and stability, as well as socio-economic development, could be undermined by instability resulting from polarization due to the electoral impasse.
  • The Special Representative said that the United Nations continues to support the Government of Haiti with the various short and medium term priorities that need to be addressed to eliminate the spread of cholera in the country.
  • Ms. Honoré also said that the UN Mission, MINUSTAH, stands ready to proceed with further adjustments to troop strength as may be mandated by the Security Council in October.

U.N. PEACEKEEPER KILLED IN EASTERN D.R. CONGO

  • The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) says that this morning, the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) launched an attack against M23 positions on the Kibati heights, north of Goma, in North Kivu.
  • The M23 has been using these positions to shell populated areas. The objective of the operation is to remove the threat against Goma.
  • The UN Mission, including the Intervention Brigade, is supporting the Congolese military operations. MONUSCO has delivered mortar and artillery fire and engaged its attack helicopters. The Congolese Armed Forces have used attack helicopters, battle tanks and ground forces. The operation is still ongoing.
  • One UN peacekeeper has been killed and three others have been wounded.
  • The UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri said today that fighting impunity and strengthening respect for human rights are essential for the stabilization of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, at the end of a seven-day visit to the country.

SOMALIA: U.N. ENVOY WELCOMES NEW AGREEMENT ON ADMINISTRATION, GOVERNANCE

  • Nicholas Kay, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, today welcomed the agreement signed in Addis Ababa by officials on behalf of the Federal Government of Somalia and the Interim Jubba Administration respectively. The agreement establishes the modalities of administration and governance in Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo.
  • Mr. Kay said that this is a significant step towards restoring peace in Somalia, building a strong Federal Somalia and contributing to regional and international security.

FOOD INSECURITY CLIMBS SHARPLY IN MALI, U.N. AGENCIES REPORT

  • According to preliminary results of a recent emergency assessment by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), food insecurity has increased sharply in the Gao and Timbuktu regions of northern Mali.
  • The percentage of people moderately or severely food insecure increased from 60 to 90 per cent between June and mid-August 2013 due to insecurity and the impact on agriculture and access to markets.
  • In August, the World Food Programme scaled up its emergency operations to reach an additional 110,000 people.
  • Humanitarian organizations have reached an estimated 900,000 people with food assistance, treatment for malnutrition, cash transfer programmes and farming support this year so far.