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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

 FRIDAY, 31 AUGUST 2012

SECRETARY-GENERAL ENDS VISIT TO IRAN; MEETS PRIME MINISTER, FOREIGN MINISTER OF SYRIA

  • The Secretary-General left Iran on Friday and is on his way back to New York, with a stopover in Dubai.
  • Before leaving Tehran, the Secretary-General spoke to reporters about his visit and participation in the Non-Aligned Movement Summit. He said he was concluding his visit strengthened in his conviction in dialogue and diplomacy.
  • The Secretary-General said he was leaving mindful of the challenges, but also satisfied that he had conveyed the messages that must be aired at this crucial time. He said he had spoken out about human rights and protecting basic freedoms and about the international concerns about Iran's nuclear programme.
  • The Secretary-General also had a number of bilateral meetings in Tehran today, including with the Syrian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister. He reiterated that violence must stop on all sides and that the flow of weapons to both sides should also be halted. He also urged Syria to allow a greater number of humanitarian partners to operate in the country so that aid can reach those who desperately need it.
  • Earlier, the Secretary-General met with Nabil ElAraby, the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, and they discussed developments in Syria at some length.
  • The Secretary-General is expected to arrive in New York on Saturday.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General believed that progress could be made on the issues that he took up with the Iranian officials, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had held serious discussions and was satisfied that he had conveyed the messages that needed to be delivered.
  • He said that the Secretary-General had raised critical issues concerning Iran’s nuclear programme, the human rights situation in the country and support for efforts to end the fighting in Syria. It would be clearer in the coming days and weeks how Iran responded to those messages.
  • Asked about threats from Israeli officials concerning a possible attack on Iran, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General had called for all sides to ease their rhetoric. The Secretary-General, Haq said, has been clear that there can only be a diplomatic and negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
  • Asked whether the Secretary-General had met with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir while in Iran, the Spokesperson said that they had a brief greeting and handshake.

SECRETARY-GENERAL REGRETS IRAN HAS YET TO REACH AGREEMENT ON RESOLVING OUTSTANDING NUCLEAR ISSUES

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General has taken note of the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the nuclear programme of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is regrettable that Iran has yet to reach agreement with the IAEA on a plan to resolve all outstanding issues.
  • The Secretary-General emphasizes that there can only be a diplomatic and negotiated solution to the Iranian nuclear issue which should be pursued through a reciprocal, step-by-step process. This must include measures by Iran aimed at building international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.
  • The Secretary-General used the opportunity of his participation in the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement to convey the clear concerns and expectations of the international community on this matter.

NEARLY 230,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES IN NEIGHBOURING COUNTRIES, U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY SAYS

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said on Friday that the number of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey has reached nearly 230,000.
  • In Turkey, the Agency said that two more refugee camps – which together can host 23,000 refugees – have been opened in the last week to accommodate new arrivals. Another three sites which can host 10,000 refugees each are set to open next month.
  • Some 1,400 Syrians have been arriving every day at the Za’tari camp in Jordan in the past week, bringing the camp’s population to more than 23,000. The Agency and its partners are working to expand the site to receive more arrivals and improve conditions.
  • The Agency said that the number of Syrians fleeing to Kurdistan in Iraq has risen in the last two weeks.
  • Agency staff visited eight shelters in Damascus on Thursday and confirmed that sanitation, bedding, water and food are urgently needed.
  • Asked about the situation at the Za’tari camp, the Spokesperson noted that High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres had said on Thursday that the camp is in a very difficult situation, because of the environmental conditions.
  • At the same time, all agencies are doing their best to provide assistance and are trying to help improve the camp. Mr. Guterres said that he hoped that the situation in the camp will be quickly resolved.
  • Asked whether refugees could be sent back to Syria by the Jordanians, Haq said that UNHCR staff were on the ground to make sure that the rights of refugees were respected. High Commissioner Guterres had once more emphasized the importance of upholding the right to asylum.

SECURITY COUNCIL INFORMED THAT MILLIONS OF PEOPLE IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE IN SYRIA

  • The Security Council discussed the humanitarian crisis in Syria in its ministerial meeting on Thursday afternoon, and the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, said that more than 2.5 million people – including refugees from Palestine and Iraq – are now in grave need of assistance and protection inside the country.
  • He said that the most pressing needs include water and sanitation, food and shelter, blankets and health care. Less than half of primary health care facilities and hospitals are now fully functional in Syria.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General added that more than 1.2 million people have sought refuge in public buildings, such as schools and mosques, which lack adequate water and sanitation.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General and High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres also spoke to reporters following the Council meeting, and the transcript is available on our website.
  • Asked about the discussion of a buffer zone in the Thursday Security Council meeting, the Spokesperson noted that the Deputy Secretary-General had said that the concept would require careful and critical consideration, taking into account the consequences and the implications of introducing such zones in a period of such great insecurity and conflict.

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF WARNS ORDINARY PEOPLE FEELING BRUNT OF CRISIS IN MALI

  • The UN humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, concluded her first mission to Mali on Thursday, warning that it is ordinary people who are feeling the brunt of the humanitarian crisis and instability in the country.
  • On Thursday, she visited families in Mopti who have been displaced by the conflict in the north of Mali. Some 440,000 people have been forced from their homes due to the conflict, and over half of them have fled across the border into neighbouring countries such as Niger, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.
  • Ms. Amos expressed her hope for a return to peace and stability so that displaced people can return home. She said that a significant number of people are not receiving help and that many places are too dangerous for humanitarian organizations to work.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED ABOUT SUDDEN SPATE OF EXECUTIONS IN A NUMBER OF COUNTRIES

  • The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) says it is concerned about what it calls a sudden spate of executions in number of countries, including the Gambia, Iraq, and South Sudan.
  • On Tuesday, two men were hanged in South Sudan in the central prison in the capital, Juba. It is thought that they did not have proper legal assistance.
  • A week ago, nine prisoners were executed in the Gambia soon after a public announcement by President Yahya Jammeh that all people on death row will be put to death by mid-September.
  • And in Iraq, during the month of August, 26 people have reportedly been executed, including 21 in a single day, bringing the number of people executed there since the beginning of the year to around 100.
  • The UN Human Rights Office has reiterated its call for all States, who have not yet done so, to introduce or reintroduce an official moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
  • The global trend has been away from the use of the death penalty, a move that has been endorsed by the General Assembly

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

JOAN CLOS APPOINTED SECRETARY-GENERAL OF HABITAT III: Dr. Joan Clos, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme, or UN-Habitat for short, has been appointed as the Secretary-General of the Third UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urbanization, known as Habitat III. In the appointment made by the Secretary-General, Dr. Clos will also act as the focal point for the Conference on behalf of the UN system. The Habitat IIII Conference will be take place in 2016 and will focus on reinvigorating the global commitment to sustainable urbanization that should focus on the implementation of a "new Urban Agenda." 

GERMANY TO PRESIDE OVER SECURITY COUNCIL IN SEPTEMBER: Friday was the last day of France’s Presidency of the Security Council. Germany will preside over the Council in September.


THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
1 – 7 SEPTEMBER 2012

(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)

Saturday, 1 September
Today, Germany will assume the rotating Presidency of the Security Council for September.

Sunday 2 September
There are no major events scheduled for today.

Monday, 3 September

Today is an official holiday at United Nations Headquarters in New York

Tuesday, 4 September

Today, at 4:00 p.m., the General Assembly will hold a meeting on Syria. The Secretary-General and Joint Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi are expected to participate.

In Geneva, at 2:30 p.m., there will be a press conference on the launch of the “Global Employment Outlook: Bleak Labour Market Prospects for Youth” published by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The report is under embargo until 4 September at 2:00 p.m. GMT. Ekkehard Ernst, Head of the ILO Global Employment Trends Unit, will be the speaker.

Wednesday, 5 September

At 11:00 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to launch the “Global Chemicals Outlook”.

At 12:30 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a press conference by Ambassador Peter Wittig, President of the Security Council for the month of September and Permanent Representative of Germany. 

In Geneva, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a press conference by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to launch the Report on Assistance to the Palestinian People 2012. The report is under embargo until 5 September 2012 at 5:00 p.m. GMT. Speakers will include Mahmoud Elkhafif, Coordinator of the Assistance to the Palestinian People at UNCTAD, and Mutasim Elagraa, Economist at UNCTAD. 

Thursday, 6 September

At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 4 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be an informal meeting of the General Assembly to mark the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

At 3:00 p.m., in Conference Room B (NLB), there will be a seminar on “The reintegration of labour migrants” organized by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the MacArthur Foundation.

Friday, 7 September

The United Nations Conference to Review Progress Made in the Implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects will end today.