HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY VANNINA MAESTRACCI,
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 5 AUGUST 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES CEASEFIRE AGREEMENT IN GAZA
- The Secretary-General has welcomed the efforts that led to the ceasefire in that began today, at 8 a.m. local time, and called on the parties to abide by it.
- The Secretary-General urges the parties to commence, as soon as possible, talks in Cairo on a durable ceasefire and the underlying issues. In this regard, he welcomes the proactive engagement of the Palestinian delegation under the leadership of President Abbas.
- Such talks, he said, are the only way to sustainably stop the violence, which has cost far too many lives, and to change the untenable and tragic status quo in Gaza. The UN stands ready to lend its full support to these efforts.?
- Since last Friday, the Secretary-General has spoken, sometimes more than once, with the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of Palestine, the Secretary of State of the United States, the Foreign Ministers of Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.
SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS BRIEFING ON DESTRUCTION OF SYRIA’S CHEMICAL WEAPONS
- Sigrid Kaag, the Special Coordinator for the OPCW-UN Joint Mission, briefed the Security Council by video teleconference on that Mission’s continuing work, in closed consultations today.
- Ms. Kaag reported to the Council on the work that has been taking place to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons, which have now been completely taken out of that country.
WFP DELIVERED FOOD TO MORE PEOPLE IN SYRIA IN JULY
- The World Food Programme (WFP) said that it has made significant progress over the last few weeks in reaching more people affected by the violence in Syria, due to improved access through cross-line and cross-border food deliveries.
- In July, WFP food assistance reached a total of 3.7 million people in Syria, up from 3.4 million people reached in June. More than 300,000 people in besieged and hard-to-reach areas received food from the agency through cross-line convoys in July, which is double the number of people reached using cross-line convoys in June.
- Security challenges continue to hinder WFP’s ability to deliver food, however, and the organisation wants to 4.25 million people but is short of that goal by half a million people. In particular, fighting along access routes has blocked all deliveries to Ar-Raqqa governorate.
UNICEF: MORE CHILDREN IN IRAQ DIE AS A CONSEQUENCE OF VIOLENCE AND DEHYDRATION
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that many displaced families desperately need food, water, shelter and health care services. Many of them have fled to the Dohuk Governorate in the Kurdistan region and an estimated 500 Yazidi families may have crossed into Syria.
- UNICEF, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and their partners have distributed food rations, water, tents and hygiene kits to displaced families in the Dohuk Governorate. UN agencies are working with local authorities to conduct further assessments and facilitate the provision of more assistance.
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has reported that an estimated 40 minority children have died as a consequence of violence, displacement and dehydration in northwest Iraq. The children, mostly from the Yazidi community, were displaced by the recent violence in Ninewa’s Sinjar city which is now under the control of the Islamic State.
- Stressing that children are particularly vulnerable during conflicts, UNICEF has repeated its urgent call for all children in need to be protected and allowed access to humanitarian aid to prevent further loss of life.
U.N. ENVOY IN AFGHANISTAN CALLS THE DEATHS OF INTERNATIONAL SERVICEMEN A TRAGEDY
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) expressed its sincere condolences and sympathies to the families and colleagues of international troops killed and wounded in an incident near Kabul today.
- According to initial reports, a number of International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops were shot dead or wounded by an attacker in an Afghan army uniform at a military academy, with an Afghan commander also reportedly wounded.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Ján Kubiš, said that international forces continue to perform a critical role in Afghanistan’s security and are providing critical training for the country's future and stability. He added that the death of these servicemen is a tragedy.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY OF REFUGEES AND ASYLUM SEEKERS IN LIBYA
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has expressed deep concern for the safety of refugees and asylum-seekers in Libya as the violence in the country continues to escalate.
- Almost 37,000 people have been registered with UNHCR in Tripoli and Benghazi, with many living in areas heavily damaged by fighting and unable to leave to safer areas due to ongoing clashes.
- In Tripoli alone, more than 150 people from Eritrea, Somalia and other countries have called the UNHCR protection hotline seeking help with medicines or a safer place to stay. Thousands of desperate people are also risking their lives and leaving for Europe by sea. So far this year, more than 1,000 people had died trying to cross the Mediterranean sea.
- UNHCR continues to work with its partners to deliver assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in Libya. It has urged the Libyan authorities to relax exit visa restrictions to allow people to leave and has also asked the governments of Egypt and Tunisia to keep their borders open to those fleeing the violence and seeking international protection.
MORE THAN 117,000 PEOPLE INTERNALLY DISPLACED IN UKRAINE
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that it estimates that more than 117,000 people are displaced within Ukraine, where the situation in the east continues to worsen.
- In the past seven days alone, more than 6,200 people have been forced from their homes, while as of 1 August some 168,000 people have crossed into Russia.
- The Agency is calling on the Ukrainian Government to set up a central registration system for internally displaced people. It says that the current lack of a systematic and uniform system hampers relief efforts, and this is especially important as authorities prepare for the coming winter.
- Those who have been uprooted have cited security concerns – including the risk of being caught in the crossfire – as the main reason for leaving their homes. Some have also expressed fears of persecution for their political views or ethnicities, while others were worried about being forcibly recruited by either side.
U.N. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ARRESTS AND DETENTIONS IN THAILAND
- The Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today said that it is very concerned over the methods of arrest and detention of politicians, activists, academics and journalists following the military takeover in Thailand in May.
- More than 700 people have been summoned and arrested. Most of them have been released within a week, but an unverified number of people have been detained for longer without access to lawyers and to their families.
- The Office voiced particular concern over the case of Kritsuda Khunasen, a student activist who supported the deposed Government, who claims to have been blindfolded and beaten.
- Last month, the High Commissioner for Human Rights raised her concerns with Thai authorities over this case, and her Office is calling for an independent and detailed investigation into Kritsuda Khunasen’s alleged torture.
U.N. CONDEMNS THE KILLING OF NGO STAFF IN SOUTH SUDAN
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned the killing of at least five South Sudanese employees of humanitarian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) earlier today by the so-called Mabanese Defence Forces, in and around Bunj, Maban County, in Upper Nile State.
- UNMISS dispatched a unit of peacekeepers in four armored personnel carriers from its base in the Upper Nile State town of Melut earlier this afternoon to protect United Nations and humanitarian personnel, as well as civilians who have taken refuge in United Nations facilities.
- The killings today come after the murder come on the heels of the murder of a Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) employee in Bunj yesterday morning by members of the same self-defence militia.
- The Mission calls upon local, state and national authorities to bring to justice the individuals responsible for these murders as soon as possible to halt the ongoing descent into lawlessness in Maban County.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, said that Maban County, where some 127,000 refugees from Sudan are living, has seen an increase in violence and harassment of civilians and aid workers, jeopardizing the lives of tens of thousands of men, women and children who count on aid organizations for their survival.
W.H.O REPORTS OVER 1,600 EBOLA CASES IN WEST AFRICA
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), as of 1 August, the number of Ebola cases stands at 1,603, including 887 deaths, in four countries; Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
- That is a total of 163 new cases and 61 deaths in two days. Human and financial resource mobilization continues to be sought from WHO’s partners, UN agencies, and other stakeholders.
- WHO has also announced it was convening a meeting of its emergency committee over the next two days.