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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 MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 7 AUGUST 2013

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW U.N. LEGAL COUNSEL

  • The Secretary-General has appointed Miguel de Serpa Soares of Portugal as Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel. He will replace Patricia O’Brien of Ireland.
  • Mr. Serpa Soares is Director General of the Department of Legal Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.

SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON ABYEI AND THE SITUATION BETWEEN SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Security Council held consultations on Wednesday on Abyei and the situation between Sudan and South Sudan.
  • On Wednesday afternoon, the Council was due to have consultations on the work of the sanctions committee dealing with resolution 1718, which concerns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

U.N. FORCE IN LEBANON LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED VIOLATION OF RESOLUTION 1701

  • The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was informed by the Lebanese Armed Forces on Wednesday that on Tuesday night an Israeli Defense Force patrol had crossed the Blue Line in the general area of Labouneh, and that there had subsequently been an explosion at the location causing injuries to some Israeli soldiers.
  • On receiving this information, UNIFIL immediately launched an investigation into the alleged violation of resolution 1701. A UNIFIL investigation team is currently at the location indicated by the Lebanese Armed Forces. It is trying is to ascertain if any traces of a possible explosion or other activity can be identified on the ground.
  • The area is a steep hilly terrain with thick vegetation.
  • UNIFIL has also asked the Israeli Defense Force to provide details of any incident in the area as alleged and, if so, the precise location. Further details will be provided to the media as the investigation progresses.

U.N. WILL DO ITS UTMOST TO HELP PEOPLE OF HAITI IN DEALING WITH CHOLERA

  • Asked about a report on cholera in Haiti, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has always believed that, while claims against the Organization are not receivable, the United Nations will do its utmost to help the people of Haiti in dealing with cholera.
  • Nesirky noted that on Tuesday, the Haitian Government and the United Nations launched a revised Humanitarian Action Plan for this year asking for $100 million to help Haitian people in need of assistance.
  • The financial aid would help cover immediate needs for the rest of the year, notably for the most vulnerable 935,500 people who have not yet received assistance and who are at-risk of cholera or from the hurricane season.
  • The Spokesperson said that the revised Humanitarian Action Plan, which underlines cholera response as a key priority, earmarked $40 million for critical cholera needs. Only $8.7 million has been mobilized so far, which is of particular concern during the hurricane season, as funding is not enough to meet potential needs.

U.N. WELCOMES RELEASE OF 68 CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE FROM MYANMAR ARMED FORCES

  • The United Nations in Myanmar has welcomed the release of 68 children and young people from the Myanmar armed forces. This development follows the recent release of 42 children and young people exactly one month ago.
  • Also, the release on Wednesday is the latest of four such releases under the auspices of an Action Plan agreed between the UN team on the ground and the Myanmar Government. The Action Plan aims to monitor and report grave child rights violations.

U.N. WORKING CLOSELY WITH GOVERNMENT AND PARTNERS FOLLOWING FLOODS IN THE PHILIPPINES

  • More than 470,000 people have been affected by flash floods and rainfall in the past week in the Philippines. Most of the affected are in Mindanao. Two people have been killed in a landslide and 17 people have been injured since 21 July.
  • The authorities have placed Maguindanao province in Mindanao under a state of calamity to expedite relief efforts. Regional authorities are providing relief to about 72,000 people out of nearly 250,000 affected in Maguindanao province alone and have requested additional food supplies from the Government of the Philippines.
  • The UN Country Team and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) both are working closely with the Government and humanitarian partners.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF SAYS STATES NEED TO DO MORE TO HONOUR AND STRENGTHEN TREATIES WITH INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, said on Wednesday that States need to do more to honour and strengthen their treaties with indigenous peoples, no matter how long ago they were signed.
  • In a statement issued to mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples on Friday, Ms. Pillay said that even when signed or otherwise agreed more than a century ago, many treaties remain the cornerstone for the protection of the identity, land and customs of indigenous peoples.

U.N. MISSION IN SOMALIA TO USE ITS GOOD OFFICES TO CONTINUE DIALOGUE WITH FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND PUNTLAND

  • Asked about Somalia on Tuesday, the Spokesperson said that concerning the question on Puntland, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, UNSOM, says that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nicholas Kay, is aware of reports that Puntland's leadership has unilaterally decided to sever ties with the Federal Government of Somalia over a number of concerns including interpretation of constitutional provisions and implementation of federal arrangements. 
  • Mr. Kay will use his good offices to continue dialogue with both the Federal Government and the political leadership of Puntland as they seek mutual understanding on these and other key matters.
  • Regarding the evacuation of an injured journalist, the Mission reports that the journalist was evacuated to a Nairobi hospital for surgical treatment on Monday 5 August after the National Union of Journalists (NUSOJ) obtained clearance from the Ministry of Information for his travel. The Mission says it is following up with the National Union of Journalists on the condition of the journalist and to better understand why a journalist working with a non-government owned radio station (Radio Dalsan) would need a letter from the Ministry for emergency evacuation.
  • Finally, on an attack on another journalist, also in Kismayo, the Spokesperson said that, as with all similar cases, attacks against journalists are unacceptable and journalists should be able to carry out their work free of intimidation.

U.N. MINE ACTION SERVICE HAS A MANDATE TO PROVIDE TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO SOMALI POLICE

  • Asked about information sharing by the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in Somalia, the Spokesperson said that the Mine Action Service has a mandate to provide technical support to the Somali Police Force, in explosive ordnance disposal, first response and post-blast investigation to improvised explosive devices, including mentoring and training in law enforcement investigative techniques.
  • At the request of Somali authorities, UNMAS supports cooperation between law enforcement agencies in facilitating knowledge sharing between the Somali Police Force and other law enforcement agencies. The relationship is between the Somali Police Force and these agencies, with UNMAS providing technical support. UNMAS operates fully within its mandate in this regard, Nesirky said.
  • Asked about a staff member for the UN in Somalia who was the subject of an anonymously filed complaint regarding conduct, the Spokesperson said that the contracting office, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS), is looking into the allegations.  While that is ongoing, the United Nations would not have further comment.

OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO HAVE A WORKING DINNER WITH RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON THURSDAY: Asked whether the Secretary-General will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, the Spokesperson said that they will have a working dinner on Thursday evening.

SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES THAT INCLUSIVE POLITICAL PROCESS IS THE ONLY WAY FORWARD IN EGYPT: Asked about the situation in Egypt, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General has stressed to Egyptian leaders that an inclusive and peaceful political process is the only viable way forward in Egypt and has reminded them of their collective responsibility to determine the direction of Egypt's future.

SECRETARY-GENERAL’S THOUGHTS GO TO CIVILIANS WHO SUFFERED ATTACKS IN SYRIA: Asked about terrorist attacks in Syria, the Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General’s thoughts go to the civilians who have suffered from attacks by both sides in the conflict. He added, in response to a further question, that two Syrian bishops who have been detained by rebels should be immediately released.