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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,

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 8 AUGUST 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY DISAPPOINTED THAT GAZA CEASEFIRE NOT EXTENDED, FURTHER SUFFERING ‘INTOLERABLE’

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General expresses his deep disappointment that the parties were unable to agree to an extension of the ceasefire in their talks in Cairo.  He condemns the renewed rocket fire towards Israel. More suffering and death of civilians caught up in this conflict is intolerable.
    The Secretary-General urges the parties to swiftly find a way back to respect of the humanitarian ceasefire and to continue negotiations in Cairo to reach a durable ceasefire.
  • The extension of the ceasefire is absolutely essential for talks to progress and to address the underlying issues of the crisis as soon as possible. The Secretary-General firmly calls on the parties not to resort to further military action that can only exacerbate the already appalling humanitarian situation in Gaza.

GAZA: AID DELIVERY STEPPED UP DURING CEASEFIRE, BUT HUMANITARIAN NEEDS REMAIN ENORMOUS, SAYS U.N. RELIEF WING

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, during the 72 hour ceasefire, aid agencies began to assess needs and stepped up the delivery of urgently needed relief. Humanitarian needs remain enormous, with the provision of fresh food and drinkable water the most pressing.
  • Today, a Palestinian boy was reportedly killed and six were wounded as a result of renewed hostilities and several Israelis were reportedly wounded. Rescue teams have retrieved additional bodies, bringing the cumulative death toll of Palestinians to 1,922, of whom 1,407 are believed to be civilians and 448 of those were identified as children. More than 9,500 people have been injured.
  • The number of people displaced by the violence remains fluid. As of last night, nearly 200,000 people were sheltering in 119 UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and government schools, 166,000 of them in 90 UNRWA shelters.
  • Preliminary estimates indicate that some 65,000 people whose homes were totally destroyed or heavily damaged need urgent support, including basic household items. The ceasefire allowed for some repairs of critical electricity, water and sanitation infrastructure by local authorities.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided ready-to-eat food rations every day to 330,000 people sheltered in UNRWA and government schools. Some 46,000 household kits have been distributed since the beginning of the conflict.
  • UNRWA continues to distribute water to emergency shelters and their Community Mental Health Programme has provided psychosocial support to 73,000 parents and conducted recreational activities for 79,000 children.

SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY APPALLED AT ISLAMIC STATE’S ATTACKS IN IRAQ

  • In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General said he was deeply appalled at recent reports of attacks by the terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq. He remains concerned about attacks in Kirkuk, Qaraqosh, Tal Afar and Sinjar, mainly affecting the vulnerable communities of Christians, Turkomen and Yezidis.
  • The Secretary-General called on the international community, especially those with the influence and resources, to positively impact the situation, support the Government and people of Iraq, and do all it can to help alleviate the suffering of communities affected by the conflict.
  • The Security Council also issued a statement condemning the attacks in Ninewa and urging the international community to provide support. Following that, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) announced that the UN is urgently preparing a humanitarian corridor that will allow people in need to flee from areas under threat.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nickolay Mladenov, welcomed the cooperation between the Governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan region, and the international community. He added that it is time for Iraq’s political leaders to put the country’s interests ahead of their personal aspirations.

VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO UPROOT CIVILIANS IN IRAQ – U.N.

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the humanitarian situation has further deteriorated in Iraq, as armed clashes continue to drive the displacement of civilians fleeing the violence, including in Erbil city.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to provide assistance there.
  • The number of those displaced remains fluid and unverified. An estimated 50,000 people are believed to be trapped on Sinjar Mountain, and over 200,000 are estimated to have made their way to Dahuk governorate over the past 72 hours.
  • At the UN briefing in Geneva today, WFP said that it has set up three emergency field kitchens in Dahuk to urgently cater to the needs of the increasing number of displaced people arriving from Sinjar. The kitchens have helped WFP provide food to 75,000 people since 4 August.   

UKRAINE: PEACEFUL SOLUTION NEEDED TO AVOID FURTHER BLOODSHED, U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL

  • Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Ivan Simonovic, briefed the Security Council’s meeting on Ukraine this morning.
  • On the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight last month, he said that while it may constitute a war crime, a thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation is needed to determine the facts and circumstances of this act.
  • Mr. Simonovic said that it was disturbing to learn that the volatile security situation at the crash site continues to hamper the Dutch-led investigation.
  • He stressed the need to find a peaceful solution to the current situation, adding that we cannot afford to wait a day longer, when at least 50 people are being killed or wounded every day.
  • The price being paid by all Ukrainians as a result of the conflict is too high, Mr. Simonovic said.
  • He added that the political and economic consequences of the conflict spill over Ukrainian borders, negatively impacting on human rights worldwide - the civilian airplane tragedy being just the most drastic example.

U.N. LIBYA ENVOY HOLDS TALKS WITH LIBYAN PARTIES ON HOW TO END VIOLENCE

  • The Secretary-General’s Deputy Special Representative for Libya, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, led a team from the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) to Tripoli for consultations with the Libyan parties, with a view to ending the violence in the country.
  • Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed will also assess the humanitarian needs in Libya and explore options to alleviate the suffering of innocent civilians caused by indiscriminate shelling, displacement, acute food shortages and the disruption in basic services. The UN Mission is working closely with the international community in a joint effort to achieve a durable and sustainable ceasefire.
  • In today’s Geneva briefing, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its concern about the situation in Libya, including about the frequent indiscriminate shelling of heavily populated areas in Tripoli and Benghazi, and the deteriorating living conditions in both cities.
  • The Human Rights Office reminds all parties involved in the hostilities that under international law, indiscriminate attacks are war crimes, as are attacks on civilians or civilian objects such as airports – unless such civilian facilities are being used for military purposes. The Office appeals to all sides to immediately end all violations of international law.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION DECLARES EBOLA PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY OF INTERNATIONAL CONCERN

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared today the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
  • This declaration is a legally-binding instrument for all Member States on disease prevention, surveillance, control and response.
  • It’s been used twice before: in 2009 during the swine flu pandemic and last May following a resurgence of polio, especially in the Middle East.
  • The Committee made a series of recommendations for affected States, neighbouring States and the international community.
  • It stressed that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade with the affected countries but that some restrictions and surveillance measures should be implemented.

LIBERIA: U.N. MISSION WORKING TO SUPPORT EBOLA RESPONSE

  • The Head of the UN Mission in Liberia, Karin Landgren, said today that the Mission is working in support of crisis logistics, while police and military from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) continue to provide back-up security to the Liberia National Police. 
  • The Mission’s Radio also continues to inform all Liberians, spreading facts and dispelling rumors about Ebola.
  • Stopping Ebola requires Liberians to work together as one community, Ms. Landgren said.

SECRETARY-GENERAL NAMES MEMBERS OF HIS HIGH-LEVEL ADVISORY GROUP ON SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT

  • The Secretary-General is announcing today the membership of a High-level Advisory Group on Sustainable Transport to provide recommendations on sustainable transport, actionable at global, national, local and sector levels.
  • The Advisory Group, established for a period of three years, will work with governments, transport providers, businesses, financial institutions, civil society and other stakeholders, to promote sustainable transport systems and their integration into development strategies and policies, including in climate action.
  • This initiative represents one more step by the Secretary-General in advancing climate action and in implementing his Five-Year Action Agenda in which the Secretary-General pledged to forge consensus around a post-2015 sustainable development agenda and implement it. 
  • The Secretary-General has appointed Mr. Olof Persson, Chief Executive Officer of the Volvo Group, and Ms. Carolina Tohá, Mayor of Santiago, Chile, as Co-Chairs of the Advisory Group.

AFGHANISTAN: U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME INVESTIGATING ALLEGATIONS

  • In response to questions on the response by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) regarding allegations in Afghanistan, the Spokesman said that UNDP can confirm that recent allegations concerning Afghanistan have previously been reported to the UNDP Independent Office of Audit and Investigation. In order to avoid jeopardizing the investigation process, the details of investigations are kept confidential and very limited information is made available to offices outside the Office of Audit and Investigation, until the process of gathering relevant evidence and fact-finding has been completed.  Should the matter be substantiated, the evidence gathered by the Office of Audit and Investigation will form the basis of remedial action.
  • In response to questions on allegations concerning visas in Afghanistan, regarding UNDP staff participating in the UN Games in the United States, the Spokesman clarified that only three of the four staff members who were mentioned in the allegations travelled from Afghanistan to the United States to participate in the UN Games. This was private travel. The staff members applied and obtained their US tourist visas themselves. They also paid for all travel expenses.