HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY MARTIN NESIRKY,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 7 SEPTEMBER 2012
APPOINTMENT ANNOUNCED FOR HEAD OF DAMASCUS OFFICE FOR SYRIA REPRESENTATIVE
- Mr. Mokhtar Lamani of Canada has been appointed as Head of the Office of the UN-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative for Syria in Damascus.
- Mr. Lamani brings a wealth of experience to this role, having held a wide range of diplomatic positions, most notably as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Representative to the United Nations in New York and as the Representative and Special Envoy of the League of Arab States to Iraq between 2006 and 2007.
- Also on Friday, the United Nations has increased its humanitarian appeal for Syria from $180 million to $347 million; that increase was first announced at today's Syria Humanitarian Forum in Geneva.
- The new plan includes 57 projects and covers all of Syria's 14 governorates.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the number of people in need of humanitarian aid has doubled since July to 2.5 million. More than 1.2 million people are internally displaced, and half of them are children forced from their homes.
- There are nearly 250,000 Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries; more than 100,000 people were registered as refugees during August alone.
- In response to questions about the protection of civilians, the Spokesperson noted that the Secretary-General had called clearly for the Security Council to take action so that civilians could be protected in Syria. He has repeatedly spoken about the strength and power of a unified Security Council.
- Asked about the potential for human trafficking regarding Syrians, the Spokesperson said that human trafficking in general has been an enormous problem.
- Regarding a recent incident off the coast of Turkey, the Spokesperson said that the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, had expressed its concern at reports of the deaths at sea of some 60 people believed to be Syrians, Iraqis and Palestinians after a boat sank off the western coast of Turkey near Ismir. The Agency says it understands that the alleged smugglers who have survived have been arrested.
- Asked about weapons flows into Syria, Nesirky reiterated that the Secretary-General has repeatedly said that further militarization in Syria would not be helpful.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS LEADERS OF GREAT LAKES REGION TO HELP RESOLVE SITUATION IN D.R. CONGO
- The Secretary-General has sent a message to the mini-summit of leaders of the Great Lakes region which is taking place in Kampala, Uganda. And he has asked them for their concerted efforts to resolve the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- He said that, while there has been a lull in military activities by the M23 in North Kivu since July, the situation remains very fragile, and he called for the group’s immediate and complete cessation of all destabilizing activities. He once again condemned the violence and serious human rights violations committed by the M23, as well as other armed groups, against civilians, and asked for thorough investigations.
- The Secretary-General added that he is deeply concerned at the continuing reports of external support to the M23 and he called for an end to all such support without delay.
- The Secretary-General said he intends to convene, on 27 September here in New York, a High-Level meeting on the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on the margins of the General Assembly. That would provide a platform for further dialogue aimed at reinforcing regional efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis there.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED ABOUT REPORTS THAT CHINA SENT NATIONALS OF MYANMAR BACK TO KACHIN STATE
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) expressed concern on Friday about reports that China has sent groups of nationals of Myanmar back to insecure parts of Kachin State.
- The Agency estimates that some 5,000 ethnic Kachins – many of them children – have returned to Myanmar since the middle of last month and are living in makeshift camps. They had fled to China’s Yunnan province after fighting broke out in June of last year in Kachin.
- The Agency has not been able to reach or assist the people living along the Chinese side of the border.
- On the Myanmar side, an Agency team has been able to provide aid – including blankets and mosquito nets – and to assess the returnees’ needs.
- Local partners say they expect more people to be sent back from China, and the Agency is urging the Chinese Government to offer temporary protection to those who fled the fighting, to respect their humanitarian needs and not send them back to a situation where their safety and livelihood could be at risk.
- The Agency also says it stands ready to support China in assisting these people until the situation stabilizes in their home areas.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICE MONITORS SITUATION AFTER EARTHQUAKES IN CHINA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is monitoring developments after a series of earthquakes in China and stands ready to assist the Government of China.
- Media reports say that at least 43 people have died and 150 people have been injured in those earthquakes in south-west China today.
- The US Geological Survey said the strongest of the earthquakes had a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale.
- The earthquakes have reportedly affected more than 700,000 people.
U.N. CALLS ALL PARTIES TO MINIMIZE IMPACT OF CONFLICT ON CIVILIANS IN KISMAYO, SOMALIA: Asked about developments in Somalia a couple of times, the Spokesperson said that the UN position on Kismayo is the same one that was articulated last month by the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Mark Bowden, who said on 14 August that he was deeply concerned about reports of civilian casualties in Kismayo caused by naval gunfire and airstrikes. Mr. Bowden called at that time for all parties to make every effort to minimize the impact of conflict on civilians and to allow full humanitarian access to all people in need. Nesirky said that we maintain that position today.
U.N. SAYS DECISION TO IMPOSE CURFEW IN DARFUR FALLS WITHIN PURVIEW OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES: Asked about a curfew in Darfur, the Spokesperson said that the decision to impose a curfew falls within the purview of North Darfur state government authorities. He added that the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) has operations in the affected area, including night patrols that contribute to the protection of civilians in Kutum township and nearby camps for internally displaced people. Those night patrols have continued in accordance with pre-existing patrol schedules.
THE WEEK AHEAD AT THE UNITED NATIONS
8 – 14 SEPTEMBER 2012
(This document is for planning purposes and is subject to change.)
Saturday, 8 September
Today is International Literacy Day
Sunday 9 September
There are no major events scheduled for today.
Monday, 10 September
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.
The Secretary-General will be in Geneva, Switzerland, where he will give a public lecture organized by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. Then, he’ll travel to Bern, where he will address the Federal Parliament and meet with the President of the Swiss Confederation.
At 10:00 a.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a meeting of the General Assembly on 2001-2010: Decade to Roll Back Malaria in Developing Countries, Particularly in Africa.
At 1:15 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be a discussion forum on “The death of newspapers is irreversible” organized by the United Nations Academic Impact of the Department of Public Information (Point Counter-Point series).
At 1:30 p.m., in Conference Room 7 of the North Lawn Building (NLB), there will be a special event celebrating the International Literacy Day on the theme “Rethinking literacy: How far have we gone in reaching the literacy goal?” It is organized by the Office of the President of the General Assembly, in cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Consulate General of France and United Nations Women for Peace.
At 3:30 p.m., in Conference Room 2 (NLB), there will be a dialogue between the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, and civil society. It is organized by the Office of the President of the General Assembly, in collaboration with the United Nations Non-Governmental Liaison Service (UN-NGLS), the NGO Branch of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the NGO Section of the Department of Public Information (DPI).
In Geneva, the 21st session of the Human Rights Council will begin. It will end on 28 September.
In Geneva, the 17th session of the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families will begin. It’ll end on 14 September.
In Geneva, there will be a press conference by Heiner Flassbeck, Director of the Division on Globalization and Development Strategies of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), on the launch of the Trade and Development Report 2012. The report is embargoed 12 September 5:00 p.m. GMT.
Tuesday, 11 September
This morning, the Security Council will hear a briefing on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), followed by closed consultations on the same topic. In the afternoon, the Council will hear a briefing on the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), followed by closed consultations on the same topic.
In Geneva, at 2:00 p.m., there will be a press conference by the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, about her report to the Human Rights Council.
Wednesday, 12 September
This morning, the Security Council will adopt a resolution on the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL). Then, the Council will hear a briefing on the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), followed by closed consultations on the same topic. In the afternoon, troop-contributing countries will meet on the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
At 10:00 a.m., in Conference Room 4 (NLB), the fifth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will begin. It’ll end on Friday, 14 September.
In Geneva, at 10:45 a.m., there will be a press conference by Filippo Grandi, Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), about “UNRWA: Serving Palestine Refugees in the Middle East at a time of crises”.
Thursday, 13 September
Today, there will be a meeting of the General Assembly to launch the Secretary-General’s report on effective mediation. The Secretary-General is expected to participate.
Friday, 14 September
Today, at 10:00 a.m., in the General Assembly Hall, there will be a United Nations High-level Forum on The Culture of Peace.
At 11:15 a.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, there will be an end-of-term press conference by the President of the General Assembly, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser.
At 12:00 p.m., in the Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, Michael Keating, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Afghanistan, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.
In Geneva, the Conference on Disarmament concludes the third and last part of its 2012 session.