HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 2 SEPTEMBER 2014
IRAQ: SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES LIFTING OF SIEGE IN AMERLI
- In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General welcomed the lifting of the siege on the town of Amerli in Iraq through the action of the Iraqi Security Forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga and others with air support from the United States. This has averted a major humanitarian as well as human rights disaster.
- The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation to those who participated in lifting the siege, as well as to those countries providing assistance to the affected population through air drops.
- The Secretary–General also welcomes the action of the United Nations Humanitarian Country Team who, in coordination with the local and national authorities, succeeded in distributing the first of a planned series of life-saving supply convoys to the children and families of Amerli.
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has delivered 45 metric tons of aid for some 3,000 children, women and their families following a break in the siege.
- A convoy of seven aid trucks, which was the first in a series of planned aid convoys, was dispatched from Erbil to Amerli carrying life-saving supplies, including food packs and rations, oral rehydration kits and bottles of water.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) had been requested to provide medicine and surgical supplies. Many other UN agencies are on stand-by with more aid to assist people in and out of the town.
- UNICEF and WHO report that a mass polio immunization campaign has succeeded in reaching 4 million children under the age of 5 despite the conflict across Iraq. This includes hundreds of thousands of displaced children.
- The latest estimates from the Kurdish Regional Government and the United Nations shows that up to 1.8 million people have been displaced so far this year. More than 600,000 of them have been displaced in August alone.
- According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), at least 1,420 civilians were killed and another 1,370 were injured in acts of terrorism and violence. Since the beginning of June, there have been nearly 4,000 civilian casualties.
- Yesterday, the Human Rights Council held a Special Session on Iraq and adopted a resolution requesting the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to urgently dispatch a mission to Iraq to investigate alleged violations and abuses committed by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and associated groups.
- Speaking at the meeting, Flavia Pansieri, the United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that human rights officers in Iraq continue to gather strong evidence that serious violations of international human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in areas under the control of ISIL and associated groups. She added the effect on children has been catastrophic and many of them have become direct victims of the conflict.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, who also addressed the Council, said that 693 child casualties have been reported since the beginning of 2014. She added that in the last three months, there have been 22 verified targeted attacks on schools.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS PRIME MINISTER OF NEW ZEALAND, FOLLOWING VISIT TO SAMOA
- The Secretary-General was in New Zealand today, where he met with Prime Minister John Key. He told the press afterward that they had discussed Ukraine, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East.
- Over the weekend, the Secretary-General was in Samoa to attend the Third Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), the biggest Conference ever organized in the Pacific islands.
- In his remarks at the opening of the session, he welcomed the SAMOA Pathway, the outcome document of the Conference, as a guide. He said that by addressing the issues facing Small Island Developing States, including climate change, we are developing the tools we need to promote sustainable development across the entire world.
- In the margins of the Conference, the Secretary-General also held several bilateral meetings with the Prime Ministers of Samoa and Barbados, the President of the Seychelles and the Special Envoy of China to the Conference.
- He also spoke on the phone with Fiji’s Prime Minister, ensuring him that the United Nations is doing its utmost to obtain the immediate release of its peacekeepers detained in the Golan Heights.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR ROBUST INTERNATIONAL RESPONSE TO TERRORISM
- In his message to the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, which was held in Nairobi today, the Secretary-General said that an increasing number of African countries are being affected by terrorism and violent extremism.
- He called for a robust international response to terrorism and welcomed US President Barack Obama’s initiative to convene a high-level Security Council Summit on terrorism and foreign fighters at the UN Headquarters in New York on September 25th. He added that the UN is strongly committed to stepping up its cooperation with the African Union and its Member States to address the issue.
U.N. CONTINUES TO SEEK IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF PEACEKEEPERS IN GOLAN
- Over the weekend, there was news from the Golan Heights, on the safe passage of peacekeepers from the Philippines who had been surrounded by armed elements in Positions 68 and 69 in United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
- Meanwhile, the 45 Fijian peacekeepers forced from Position 27 in Golan on 28 August continue to be detained by armed elements. At this time, no additional information on their status or location has been established. The United Nations continues to seek their immediate and unconditional release.
- UNDOF has confirmed that the number of Fijian peacekeepers currently held is 45, and not 44 as previously reported. The discrepancy is due to the movement of two personnel on the ground immediately prior to the detention of the troops.
FOUR PEACEKEPEERS KILLED IN MALI
- The Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) reports that one of its military vehicles hit an explosive device earlier today on a road north of Kidal. Four peacekeepers from Chad are reported to have been killed. Fifteen others have been wounded, including six who are reported to be seriously injured.
SCALE OF DESTRUCTION IN GAZA UNPRECEDENTED
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the ceasefire in Gaza has now allowed for a more in-depth assessment of the structural damage caused by the conflict.
- Organisations on the ground report that the scale of destruction is unprecedented. An estimated 18,000 housing units have been either destroyed or severely damaged, leaving more than 108,000 people homeless.
DISPLACEMENT IN UKRAINE MORE THAN DOUBLES, SAYS U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
- In total, some 13 per cent of the housing stock in the Gaza Strip has been affected. This is in addition to the pre-crisis housing deficit of 71,000 housing units; many people were already living in overcrowded or inadequate conditions. Finding temporary housing solutions for these people will be one of the major challenges facing local authorities and the humanitarian community in the coming period.
- Electricity is still out for 18 hours a day in most areas across Gaza and only 10 per cent of the population receives water daily.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that fighting in eastern Ukraine, particularly around Donetsk and Luhansk, is driving more people from their homes and increasing the need for humanitarian aid.
- The Agency says that the number of people displaced inside Ukraine has more than doubled in the past four weeks. As of Monday, 260,000 people have been uprooted, compared to 117,000 in the first week of August.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW HEAD OF PEACEBUILDING SUPPORT
- The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support. Mr. Fernandez-Taranco will succeed Judy Cheng-Hopkins to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her dedication and able leadership.
- Mr. Fernandez-Taranco brings to the position a wealth of experience, having worked in the United Nations system for over 30 years, both at Headquarters and in the field, in managing increasingly complex development, political, peacebuilding, human rights and humanitarian operations in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific and Europe. He has been Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs in the Department of Political Affairs since July 2009.
- Prior to this, he served as United Nations Resident Coordinator in the United Republic of Tanzania. From 1994-1998, he served as Deputy Special Representative of the Administrator in the West Bank and Gaza Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People.
- Mr. Fernandez-Taranco was also the Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director in the Regional Bureau for Arab States, United Nations Development Programme from 2001 to 2006 and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti (1998-2001).
W.F.P. STEPS UP EFFORTS TO HELP COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY EBOLA
- The World Food Programme (WFP) said today that it is stepping up assistance to people in the three countries most affected by Ebola: Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
- It has launched an emergency operation to reach 1.3 million people in health centres and quarantine areas.
- The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), which WFP manages, deployed an airplane last month to shuttle between the capitals of the three countries to allow vital access for humanitarian workers and the delivery of life-saving supplies.
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) cautioned today that disruptions in the food trade and marketing in the three countries hardest hit by Ebola have made food increasingly expensive and harder to come by. It also warned that labor shortages are putting the upcoming harvest season at serious risk.
?*** The Guests at the noon briefing were Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), and Dr. David Nabarro, the United Nations System Coordinator on the fight against Ebola.