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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 5 MAY 2015

 

U.N. CREATED TO LEAD WORLD TO BETTER FUTURE, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS AT TREE-PLANTING CEREMONY TO COMMEMORATE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF END OF WWII

  • This morning, the Secretary-General joined the President of the General Assembly and other officials this morning to plant the tree of peace and unity to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and the founding of the UN.
    He said that in establishing the UN, the founders planted the seeds of an organization they hoped would lead the human family out of horror and into a better future. He added that there is much distance still to travel until the seeds sown seven decades ago blossom into lives of dignity and peace for all.
  • The Secretary-General called on everyone to remember those who had died and re-dedicate themselves to the founding aims and ideals of the organization.

U.N.-BACKED SYRIA TALKS KICK OFF IN GENEVA, ENVOY SEEKS BROAD SPECTRUM OF VIEWS

  • The Special Envoy for Syria for the Secretary-General, Staffan de Mistura, spoke to reporters in Geneva earlier today to discuss the start of  a series of consultations with Syrian and other parties with a view to ‘operationalizing’ the Geneva Communiqué. 
  • He made clear that the consultations taking place in Geneva are not a conference, and what will happen over the coming weeks is not Geneva III. Instead, he said, these are closed, low-key, separate, structured discussions with the parties, to consult on the current crisis in Syria, the road ahead and the final destination of a Syria at peace with itself. 
  • He said that the first meetings are starting today, for an initial period of five to six weeks, ut he added that there is no cut-off date.  Rather, this is a rolling process which will be expanded, as necessary, with additional players and actors to be consulted as it continues. 
  • Mr. de Mistura said that at this stage, more than 40 Syrian groups, in addition to the Government of Syria, will participate, along with about 20 regional and international actors, including the neighbouring countries and the five permanent members of the Security Council.  He declared his intention to get as broad a spectrum of views as possible, and he affirmed that, as challenging as the process may be, we do not have the luxury not to try. 

FOR FIRST TIME IN TWO YEARS, U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND HELPS DELIVER AID TO FAMILIES UPROOTED FROM YARMOUK REFUGEE CAMP

  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) this week participated in two cross-line inter-agency missions to provide humanitarian assistance to families recently displaced from Yarmouk Camp. Most of the families were displaced to three locations about 10 kilometres south of Damascus.
  • This is the first time UNICEF has been able to get access to this area for the past two years.
  • After crossing five checkpoints, UNICEF was able to deliver three trucks with baby diaper kits, kits for newborn and kits of clothes for children. In its first mission earlier in the day, UNICEF delivered kits to treat 3,000 cases of diarrhoea, midwifery kits as well as boxes of High-Energy Biscuits.
  • According to UNICEF staff on the convoys, it is estimated that some 50,000 people live in the three locations that were visited, in addition to about 2,500 Palestinian refugee families who fled Yarmouk.

YEMEN CONFLICT CLAIMS MORE THAN 600 LIVES – U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE

  • From Geneva, the High Commissioner for Human Rights says that the conflict in Yemen has now taken at least 646 civilian lives, including 50 women and 131 children. In addition, more than 1,300 civilians have been injured. There has also been severe destruction of civilian infrastructure, including houses, in many districts.
  • In recent days, the Human Rights Office has documented the destruction of a number of civilian houses, reportedly belonging to individuals affiliated with the Houthis, by airstrikes. It expressed particular concern about airstrikes which hit a military field hospital in Damnat Khadeer District, 40 kilometres north of Taiz. UN Human Rights field monitors were denied access to the site, so it has been difficult to verify the death toll and establish who the victims were.
  • Meanwhile, the Human Rights Office reiterates that all suspected violations of international human rights law and humanitarian law during the conflict should be investigated, and that the intentional targeting of civilians not taking direct part in the hostilities should be immediately stopped.

NEPAL QUAKE DEATH TOLL TOPS 7,300 – U.N. RELIEF WING

  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than 7,300 people have died and more than 14,000 have been injured in the earthquake in Nepal, according to Government figures.
  • While search-and-rescue teams are preparing to leave Nepal, the next phase of aid delivery to people in urgent need is scaling up.
  • Logistical hubs are being set up in five more districts, in addition to hubs in other areas that are already operational, to support humanitarian deliveries.
  • Since 29 April, aid agencies have distributed 52,000 tarpaulins in 29 earthquake-affected districts, and more than 230,000 more are en route to Nepal.
  • The distribution of more than 2,000 tons of food has also begun across 15 districts.
  • The UN Development Programme (UNDP) said that alongside humanitarian relief, reconstruction needed to start in Nepal. 
  • UNDP will lead the early recovery work and start with rapid structural assessment of public buildings to identify which structures were safe and which ones needed repair and retrofitting. 
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) meanwhile says that temporary field hospitals have been established in five locations in Kathmandu and another five outside of the capital region. 

NIGERIA: HUNDREDS OF RECENTLY RESCUED WOMEN, GIRLS VISIBLY PREGNANT – U.N. POPULATION FUND

  • Although a large number of girls and women rescued from Boko Haram in Nigeria have been found to be pregnant, we do not know yet the total number of pregnant girls among those rescued. The screening is still ongoing.
  • The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has reported finding 214 visibly pregnant women and girls who are in the camps for internally displaced people in Borno. They are currently receiving support from UNFPA as part of its humanitarian response programme in the north-east of Nigeria.
  • Late in April, 22 girls in the IDP camp were provided with psychosocial counselling by UNFPA; 15 of them were pregnant. UNFPA cannot confirm that all of these women were rescued from Boko Haram. Some of these women and girls were already pregnant in the IDP camps and others joined from the forests. The psychosocial counselling and screening is ongoing.

U.N. AGENCY HAILS ARMED GROUPS’ PLEDGE TO RELEASE CHILD SOLDIERS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Bangui Forum started yesterday in the Central African Republic, and today, armed groups signed an agreement pledging to release all children associated to armed groups or armed forces and to stop the recruitment of children.
  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) described the signature of the agreement as a major step forward. It estimates 6,000 to 10,000 children are being held by various armed factions in the country.

SUDAN: AID AGENCIES SEEKING MORE THAN $1 BILLION TO MEET NEEDS OF 5.4 MILLION PEOPLE IN NEED

  • The humanitarian community has launched the 2015 Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan today, developed in consultation with the Government of Sudan.
  • The projected humanitarian needs remain high, with a total of 5.4 million people needing some form of humanitarian assistance. Humanitarian organizations in Sudan seek over $1 billion to fund projects delivered by 112 humanitarian partners to meet the needs of the people.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE VOICES CONCERN OVER SERBIAN AUTHORITIES’ PRESSURE ON OMBUDSMAN

  • The UN Human Rights Office today expressed its concern over the continued and increasing pressure by Serbian authorities, including members of the ruling Serbian Progressive Party, on Ombudsman Sasa Jankovic.
  • The Office said that these pressures first emerged following his investigation of alleged wrongdoing by the country’s Military Security Agency, including suspicions that it had been illegally spying on opposition parties, union leaders and judges, this January. The pressures have intensified since the publication of his latest Annual Report last month.
  • The Office said that it trusts that the Government will continue to exercise due diligence in connection with any possible pressure, threat, or forms of retaliation against the Ombudsperson and the institution, and will distance itself from the accusation made against him.

U.N., HONDURAN GOVERNMENT AGREE ON OPENING OF HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE

  • Yesterday, there was a signature in Geneva of an agreement between the Government of Honduras and the High Commissioner of Human Rights’s Office to open an office in Honduras.
  • The country office, established at the request of Honduras, will be charged with monitoring and reporting publicly on the human rights situation, helping build the capacity of State institutions and civil society for the promotion and the protection of human rights, as well as conducting public advocacy on human rights issues.
  • The opening of this office was one of the main topics during the Secretary-General’s recent visit to Honduras.

MEETING LEADERS OF COMMUNITIES, U.N. CYPRUS ENVOY NOTES OPTIMISM ON SETTLEMENT

  • Yesterday, in Cyprus, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, met with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Mustafa Akinci.
  • Speaking to reporters afterwards, he said that there is a new spirit of optimism and trust that the process can lead to a real settlement.
  • This morning, Mr. Eide met with the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, and on 11 May, he will meet jointly with the two leaders.

U.N. DISASTER EXPERT PARTICIPATES IN EVENT ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN BAHRAIN

  • Margareta Wahlstrom, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, is in Bahrain today to take part in the Second Session of the Arab High Level Forum on Sustainable Development.
  • While the absolute number of disasters worldwide has almost doubled since 1980, the average number of disaster events has almost tripled during the same period in the Arab region. Global records on disaster losses indicate that between 1980 and 2008, the Arab region's economy has endured losses estimated at $20 billion.

NEW GUIDE ON MENTAL HEALTH IN HUMANITARIAN EMERGENCIES LAUNCHED

  • A new guide was issued today by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on mental health in humanitarian emergencies.
  • Worldwide, nearly 80 million people are currently impacted by humanitarian emergencies arising from natural disasters and armed conflict, and WHO estimates that 5% to 10% of these people suffer from a mental health condition such as depression as a result of the emergency.
  • People with mental health disorders rarely have access to specialized health workers and the guide issued today is meant to help non-specialist health workers better identify, assess and manage mental health needs.

***The guest at the noon briefing was John Ging, Operations Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), who spoke to journalists about Chad and Niger.