HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESS BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
THURSDAY, 5 SEPTEMBER 2013
IN ST. PETERSBURG, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS POLITICAL SOLUTION IS ONLY WAY TO END BLOODSHED IN SYRIA
- The Secretary-General attended on Thursday the opening sessions of the G20 summit in St. Petersburg after a day of meetings with a range of leaders and officials.
- At the working dinner, the Secretary-General was expected to brief world leaders on developments in Syria. In his remarks, the Secretary-General was expected to outline the work of the UN chemical weapons investigation team and to explain why he asked Lakhdar Brahimi, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, to join him in St. Petersburg.
- The Secretary-General said earlier that, while the world is focused on concerns about the possible use of chemical weapons in Syria, it is crucial to push even harder for the International Conference on Syria to take place in Geneva. He said a political solution is the only way to end the bloodshed in Syria.
- On Friday, the Secretary-General will again be taking part in the G20 summit and will meet with several world leaders. The Secretary-General intends to speak on Friday at the G20 about economic matters and sustainable development.
- Asked about the Secretary-General’s meetings, the Spokesperson said that he had met a number of leaders on the margins of the summit, including US President Barack Obama.
- In response to questions, Haq said that the Secretary-General and Mr. Brahimi would try to meet a number of world leaders in St. Petersburg and try to work with them to move forward on arranging the International Conference on Syria. The Secretary-General had made clear that such a conference was needed more urgently than ever.
- Asked about a Tuesday briefing by the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Angela Kane, Haq said that it was with about three dozen States who had expressed interest in details about the 21 August Ghouta incident.
- He reiterated that the Secretary-General would report back to Member States and to the Security Council once he received the final analysis of the chemical weapons team concerning that incident.
- Asked about the earlier Khan al-Asal attack, the Spokesperson said that the chemical weapons team still intends to continue with its investigation into that incident and two other sites once it has completed its work on the 21 August attack.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF IS IN SYRIA TO LOOK AT STRENGTHENING U.N. EFFORTS
- Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, was in Syria on Thursday to look at ways of strengthening the UN’s ongoing humanitarian efforts and to support its staff, who continues to work in a challenging environment.
- The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and the broader UN family together have more than 4,500 staff in Syria, who are delivering humanitarian support to those in urgent need.
- Ms. Amos had a number of positive meetings on Thursday with the Syrian authorities and humanitarian partners.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY TO SEEK EXPANSION OF INTERNATIONAL HELP FOR COUNTRIES STRUGGLING WITH SYRIAN REFUGEE CRISIS
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Governments of Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey said in Geneva on Wednesday that they will work together to seek an urgent and major expansion of international help for the region as it struggles to cope with the Syrian refugee crisis.
- The agreement came during a half-day meeting chaired by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres with senior officials from those four countries, which are hosting most of the refugees who have fled Syria since March 2011.
- Asked about cuts in aid to Lebanon, Haq said that Mr. Guterres had made clear the need for the international community to step up financial support to the countries receiving refugees from Syria, which has become the world’s largest refugee crisis.
U.N. ENVOYS ATTEND REGIONAL SUMMIT ON D.R. CONGO IN KAMPALA
- The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General to the Great Lakes Region, Mary Robinson, and his Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Martin Kobler, were in Kampala, Uganda, on Thursday to attend an extraordinary session of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) focused on the crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- In a press release issued on Wednesday, the UN Envoys, along with African Union, US and European Union Envoys, encouraged the parties to reinvigorate the implementation of their commitments under the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, and in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2098.
- They also urged all parties to bring the Kampala Dialogue to a positive and swift conclusion, in order to move to a broader process addressing the deeper causes of the conflict.
U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR RECOVERS REMAINS OF ONE OF FOUR PEACEKEEPERS REPORTED MISSING FOLLOWING FLOODS
- The African Union–United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) reports that one of its patrols has recovered the remains of one of the four peacekeepers reported missing following floods late last month.
- On 25 August, six peacekeepers were swept away by powerful currents while escorting World Food Programme (WFP) trucks. The incident occurred when the peacekeepers attempted to pull out their truck which was stuck in the mud of a river valley. A rescue team found two of the peacekeepers alive.
SECURITY COUNCIL HOLDS CONSULTATIONS ON SUDAN/SOUTH SUDAN AND ON GUINEA BISSAU
- The Security Council held consultations on Thursday morning on Sudan and South Sudan, as well as on Guinea Bissau.
- On Thursday afternoon, they were due to have an open meeting on non-proliferation and Iran.
U.N. MARKS FIRST INTERNATIONAL DAY OF CHARITY
- Recognizing the role of charity in alleviating poverty and human suffering, the United Nations marked the first International Day of Charity on Thursday at UN Headquarters.
- In a message to mark this occasion, the Secretary-General has said that the role of charity can and should grow as we aim to accelerate our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and define a bold agenda for the period beyond 2015.
***The Guest at the noon briefing was Georg Kell, the Executive Director of the UN Global Compact. He briefed reporters on the UN Global Compact’s 2013 Global Corporate Sustainability Report and the forthcoming Global Compact Leaders Summit, which will be held in New York on 19-20 September.