HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 28 AUGUST 2014
UKRAINE: ONGOING VIOLENCE COULD MARK A DANGEROUS ESCALATION IN CRISIS, WARNS SECRETARY-GENERAL
- In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General expressed alarm at reports that fighting in eastern Ukraine has spread southward, near the border of the Sea of Azov and the Russian Federation. If confirmed, this will mark a dangerous escalation in the Ukrainian crisis.
- The international community cannot allow the situation to escalate further nor can a continuation be allowed of the violence and destruction that the conflict has wrought in eastern Ukraine.
- The Secretary-General notes the recent talks in Minsk on 26 August, as well as the first official meeting between the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia. He calls for continuity of these talks, with a view to forging a peaceful way out of the conflict.
- All must do their part to contribute to the peaceful resolution of this conflict, in a manner upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH PRESIDENT OF INDONESIA IN BALI
- The Secretary-General is currently in Bali to attend the 6th Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations. Today, he met with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. They discussed the recent elections in Indonesia, the situation in the Middle East, Myanmar and Iraq, as well as the partnership between the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
- The Secretary-General also attended the closing ceremony of the Youth Event organized by the Government of Indonesia and the Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) on Unity in Diversity. He praised the young participants for raising their voices to drown out extremists, and encouraged them to be solid global citizens and leaders of today.
- Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will address the Global Forum of the Alliance of Civilizations and will also hold several bilateral meetings, before departing for Samoa to attend the Conference of Small Island Developing States.
PEACEKEEPERS DETAINED AT AREA OF SEPARATION IN GOLAN HEIGHTS
- During a period of increased fighting, which began yesterday between armed elements and Syrian Arab Armed Forces within the area of separation in the Golan Heights, some peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) were detained or whose movements are currently being restricted.
- There are 43 Fijian troops from Position 27 who are being detained in the vicinity of Al Qunaytirah. They are now in the southern part of the Area of Separation.
- There are a further 81 troops from the Philippines who are having their movements restricted at Positions 68 and 69 in the vicinity of Ar Ruwayhinah and Burayqah.
- The United Nations is making every effort to secure the release of the detained peacekeepers, and to restore full freedom of movement of the Force throughout its area of operation.
- UNDOF peacekeepers were previously detained by armed elements in March and May 2013 and were then released safely.
- Peacekeepers serving with UNDOF monitor the 1974 disengagement accord between Syria and Israel after the 1973 war. In June, the Security Council extended the mission's mandate for another six months, until 31 December 2014.
- As of July 31st 2014, there are 1,223 peacekeepers serving in UNDOF from six countries - Fiji, India, Ireland, Nepal, Netherlands and the Philippines.
DEPUTY HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WARNS THAT PLIGHT OF SYRIANS CONTINUE TO DEEPEN
- United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Kyung-wha Kang, briefed the Security Council today on Syria.
- Ms. Kang told the Council that in the past six months since Resolution 2139 was passed, the plight of the people in Syria has deepened. She noted the continuing collective punishment of civilians in violation of international humanitarian law.
- Ms. Kang also said the advance of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) into central Syria is taking the violence meted out to unprotected civilians to a new level. She called on the Council to all it can to end the conflict and ensure humanitarian access increases.
- United Nations humanitarian agencies and our partners are doing everything they can but the solution to this crisis does not rest with them, she added.
- The Security Council also met on the situation in the Golan Heights and is expected to meet on Ukraine later today.
IRAQ: AID AGENCIES WARN THAT ACCESS TO AREAS UNDER SIEGE STRICTED
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that the United Nations continues to support the Iraqi Government and the northern regional authorities in delivering emergency life-saving aid.
- Key priorities are shelter, food, clean water and sanitation as well as medical assistance. Protection remains a critical issue. The World Food Programme (WFP), which has delivered food to more than 700,000 people since the start of the crisis in June, warns that there is an urgent need for assistance in areas under siege by armed groups, particularly in Anbar and Salah al-Din.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that a new camp for displaced people is now open in Dahuk, in the Kurdistan region. Since the major scale up of assistance last week, UNHCR has delivered more than 10,000 tents and over 100,000 mattresses for hundreds of thousands of displaced people.
- In Dahuk, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today signed an agreement with authorities to drill wells to provide water to displaced people in the Governorate, which now hosts more than 400,000 people. UNDP and its partners are also providing legal assistance on gender-based violence to displaced people in Dahuk.
OVER 50,000 PEOPLE STILL REMAIN IN SHELTERS IN GAZA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), reported that, as of yesterday afternoon, almost 233,000 displaced people had left the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) shelters and approximately 54,000 people remained in 78 shelters.
- However, the number of displaced people is still very fluid, as people left shelters temporarily to go back to their work and check on their homes to gather personal items.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. ENVOY MEETS AFGHAN PRESIDENT, SAYS AUDIT TO COMPLETE AROUND 10 SEPTEMBER
- Earlier today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Jan Kubiš, briefed President Hamid Karzai on the progress of the Presidential election run-off audit.
- Mr. Kubiš emphasized that, given the absence from the audit of agents of the presidential candidates, United Nations experts engaged in the audit continue to conduct their work with strict impartiality, professionalism and vigilance.
- Mr. Kubiš said that the audit could be completed around 10 September. He added that, following all other necessary steps, the inauguration of the new President should then be possible soon thereafter.
OVER 100,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED IN LIBYA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says the latest figures from the local authorities in Libya indicate that around 107,000 people are internally displaced in and around Tripoli. However, reliable figures for Benghazi are not yet available.
- United Nations agencies and partners are working plans to provide humanitarian aid to displaced people. The World Food Programme (WFP) is preparing to reach some 50,000 of them.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. WARNS THAT FAMINE THIS YEAR NOT PREVENTABLE
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, today said he was worried that it might not be possible to prevent a famine in the country this year. He said that if famine were to happen, it would be towards the end of the year, more likely in early 2015.
- Mr. Lanzer said the single biggest cause, if there is famine, is the failure of the political leadership to resolve the current crisis.
- Meanwhile, the UN has suspended all flights to Bentiu in Unity State, following the crash of the UN cargo helicopter earlier this week, in which you will recall three Russian crew members were killed.
- This suspension will impact the provision of lifesaving assistance to more than 46,600 people who are seeking safety in UN peacekeeping bases in Bentiu.
W.H.O. ISSUES ROADMAP TO SCALE UP EBOLA RESPONSE IN WEST AFRICA
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a roadmap to guide, coordinate and scale up international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
- The roadmap will serve as a framework for updating detailed operational plans where the aim is to stop ongoing Ebola transmission worldwide within 6 to 9 months, while rapidly managing the consequences of any further international spread.
- WHO reports that there are now 3,069 probable and confirmed cases in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. So far, 1,552 people have died. And more than 40 per cent of the cases have occurred within the past three weeks.
- The Director General of WHO, Margaret Chan, and the Senior United Nations System Coordinator for Ebola Virus Disease, David Nabarro, are expected to be in New York next week.
- The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations in Turkey, Kamal Malhotra, attended the inauguration of President Recip Erdogan in Ankara today, representing the organization and the Secretary-General.
*** The guest at the noon briefing was the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Deputy Director for the Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, Nicholas Rosellini, as well as Odo Tevi, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Vanuatu to the United Nations. They briefed on the findings of a new UNDP report entitled “The State of Human Development in the Pacific: A Report on Vulnerability and Exclusion in a time of rapid change.”