HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 24 APRIL 2015
SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES DEEP CONCERN OVER RECENT ATTACKS AGAINST BLUE HELMETS, CONTRACTORS IN MALI
- In a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General: The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by a series of attacks directed against the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and MINUSMA contractors that have killed five civilians and injured 13 civilians and 16 United Nations peacekeepers since last week.
- On 15 April, in Ansongo (Gao region), a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device detonated outside the MINUSMA camp killing two civilians and wounding 12 civilians, including four children, as well as nine peacekeepers. On 17 April, 25 km west of Gao, two unidentified armed assailants attacked a convoy of MINUSMA-contracted trucks and killed two drivers and injured another contractor. On 20 April, 30 km west of Gao, unidentified armed men killed the driver of another truck contracted by MINUSMA. On 23 April, in Kidal region, 100 km south-west of Kidal, seven peacekeepers were wounded when a MINUSMA vehicle struck an explosive device.
- Attacks against civilians and UN peacekeepers constitute a serious violation of international law. The Secretary-General urges that those responsible for these attacks be brought to justice.
- This series of attacks highlights the urgency of finding a political settlement and re-establishing security in the north of Mali.
- The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the deceased and the Government of Mali. He wishes a speedy recovery to those who have been injured. He reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support the Malian people in their search for peace and expresses his profound gratitude to the brave peacekeepers serving in Mali and to the countries contributing these troops.
ON EVE OF PRESIDENTIAL POLLS IN TOGO, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES PEACEFUL ELECTIONS REFLECTING WILL OF PEOPLE
- In a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General: On the eve of the presidential election in Togo, the Secretary-General calls on all national stakeholders to recommit themselves to ensuring that the election is conducted in a peaceful, free and transparent manner and reflects the will of the people of Togo.
- The Secretary-General calls on all political leaders and their supporters to resolve any disputes that may arise from the electoral process through constitutional and peaceful means.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support the electoral process and the efforts of the Togolese to strengthen democratic order in their country.
SECURITY COUNCIL MEETS ON SYRIA, U.N. RELIEF CHIEF URGES END TO ‘NUMBNESS’ TO SENSELESS VIOLENCE
- This morning, UN Humanitarian Chief Valerie Amos, the World Food Programme’s Ertharin Cousin, as well as the High Commissioner for Refugees and his Special Envoy Actress Angeline Jolie, briefed the Security Council on the Syria humanitarian crisis.
- Ms. Amos called for the numbness to the senseless violence and apparent apathy to end. She stressed that there is no humanitarian solution to the Syria crisis, adding that the only solution is through political dialogue that reduces and ultimately ends the violence.
- She appealed to Council members to look seriously at all the options at its disposal. She urged them to demand that education and health facilities become zones of peace. And she also called on them to mandate a fact finding mission to complement the work of the Commission of Inquiry.
- For her part, WFP’s Ertharin Cousin said that families impacted by the crisis continue to face and make impossible decisions to find and access food – including pulling their children out of school and using it for negotiations to help their families survive.
- High Commissioner António Guterres said that the Middle East is a cancer that risks spreading and metastasizing. He warned that if things continued this way, future developments could spin out of control with increasingly dangerous global consequences.
- Mr. Guterres’ envoy, Angelina Jolie Pitt, also briefed Council members, saying that the international community is failing to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria. On behalf of the Syrian refugees, she appealed for unity, support for Syria’s neighbours and greater response to systemic sexual violence.
- UN agencies report that more than 220,000 people have been killed so far and over one million have been injured. An estimated 7.6 million people remain displaced within Syria and nearly 4 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.
U.N. SYRIA ENVOY TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL, INVITATIONS FOR NEXT ROUND OF GENEVA TALKS ISSUED
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Syria Staffan de Mistura will brief the Security Council this afternoon in closed consultations.
- Our colleagues in Geneva today announced that invitations for the Geneva Consultations went out a couple of days ago to as many stakeholders as possible, primarily Syrian and also other regional and international players.
- The consultations would start at the Palais des Nations in the first week of May and last a number of weeks. Consultations with individual delegations will be aimed at taking stock of where they think we are now, almost three years after the Geneva Communiqué was approved.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO ITALY, VATICAN AND FRANCE
- The Secretary-General will depart New York on Sunday, 26 April.
- His first stop will be in Italy, where he will discuss the issue of migration with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
- On the morning of Tuesday, 28 April, the Secretary-General will have a private meeting with Pope Francis.
- He will then attend the opening of a workshop organized by the Vatican entitled “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity.”
- On same afternoon, the Secretary-General will travel to Paris, where he will visit the headquarters of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). There, he will meet with Secretary-General Angel Gurría and address OECD Ambassadors.
- He will then attend at Steering Committee of his Global Education First initiative at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), before taking part in the 70thanniversary celebrations for the Organization.
- The following morning, Wednesday, 29 April, the Secretary-General will attend the opening of the meeting of the Chief Executives Board (CEB), which brings together the heads of the Organizations across the UN system.
- He will then give an address at the Institut d'études politiques de Paris, before attending more sessions of the CEB in the afternoon.
- The Secretary-General’s last meeting of the day will be with President François Hollande of France.
- On Thursday, 30 April, the Secretary-General will take part in CEB meetings, as well as meet with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and attend an event to mark International Concert Jazz Day at UNESCO Headquarters.
- The Secretary-General will return to New York on the afternoon of Friday, 1 May.
SECRETARY-GENERAL, GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER DISCUSS CYPRUS, MIGRATION
- This morning, the Secretary-General met today with Mr. Nikos Kotzias, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Greece. They exchanged views on the “name” dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They discussed the state of play in the talks for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus.
- The Secretary-General and the Minister for Foreign Affairs also discussed the various ways to ensure protection of migrants and refugees who are making the journey across the Mediterranean Sea. They exchanged views on the situation in the Middle East as well.
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S ENVOY MEETS GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER ON ‘NAME’ ISSUE
- As part of his ongoing efforts, Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, also met with Nikos Kotzias, Foreign Minister of Greece, to discuss the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" issue.
MYANMAR: SECRETARY-GENERAL CHAIRS PARTNERSHIP GROUP MEETING
- The Secretary-General is took part in a meeting today of the Partnership Group on Myanmar.
MIGRATION: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CALLS E.U. MEASURES ‘IMPORTANT FIRST STEP,’ WELCOMES TRIPLING OF FUNDS FOR MARITIME OPERATIONS
- From Geneva, the UN Refugee Agency today said that the measures announced this week in Luxembourg and Brussels on migration are an important first step towards collective European action.
- The Agency says this is the only approach that can work for a problem of such a large and transnational nature.
- It welcomes in particular the tripling of funding for joint maritime operations and appreciates the assurance given that this will mean an operation with similar capacity, resources and scope to the Mare Nostrum operation.
- It also adds that it is crucial that everyone’s focus is on saving lives, including the Libyan search-and-rescue area, which is where more most of the distress calls tend to come from.
- More is available on UNHCR’s website as part of their briefing notes.
U.N. RIGHTS CHIEF URGES UNITED KINGDOM TO CURB TABLOIDS’ INCITEMENT TO HATRED, ANTI-FOREIGNER ABUSE
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged the United Kingdom authorities, media and regulatory bodies to curb incitement to hatred by British tabloid newspapers.
- This comes after decades of sustained and unrestrained anti-foreigner abuse, misinformation and distortion, and in the wake of a recent article in the Sun newspaper calling migrants “cockroaches.”
- The High Commissioner called on all European countries to take a firmer line on racism and xenophobia, which he said under the guise of freedom of expression, are being allowed to feed a vicious cycle of vilification, intolerance and politicization of migrants, as well as of marginalized European minorities such as the Roma.
- The High Commissioner added that the nasty underbelly of racism that is characterizing the migration debate in an increasing number of EU countries has skewed the EU response to the migrant crisis, which, as we saw in the results of the EU Council deliberations, focuses on deterrence and on preventing movement at all costs.
AT LEAST 140 CHILDREN HAVE BEEN RERUITED BY ARMED GROUPS IN YEMEN, U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND REPORTS
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said today that at least 140 children have been recruited by armed groups. It added that as the conflict enters its fifth week, children remain the most vulnerable. Urgent action is needed to end grave violations against children, including their recruitment and use by armed groups, with parties to the conflict meeting their obligations under international law.
- The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights also added that it continues to receive disturbing reports of the humanitarian situation, including hospitals being unable to mobilize ambulances due to the lack of fuel and morgues not being able to keep up with the number of casualties.
- It urged all sides to the conflict to ensure that international human rights law and international humanitarian law are respected, and to ensure that all measures are taken to ensure that civilians are protected.
- It called all sides must ensure that the humanitarian aid, that is so desperately needed, can reach people in Yemen.
U.N. CONCERNED OVER REPORTS OF VIOLENCE BETWEEN SECURITY FORCES, OPPOSITION PROTESTORS IN GUINEA
- In response to questions on the situation in Guinea, the Spokesman said that we are concerned over reports of violence between security forces and opposition protesters that took place yesterday, which reportedly resulted in the death of one person and the wounding of four others.
- The United Nations encourages all parties to exercise calm and restraint and to work together to resolve differences through dialogue and consensus, in the spirit of the Accord of 3 July 2013.
- It also urges Guinean stakeholders to continue to maintain the focus on the fight against Ebola, which requires national cohesion and solidarity.
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, is currently in Conakry to consult with President Alpha Condé, political actors and other national stakeholders.
MORE THAN 280 CHILDREN FREED BY ARMED GROUP IN SOUTH SUDAN – U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND
- In South Sudan, more than 280 children have been freed in the final release of children from the Cobra Faction, an armed group in that country.
- It is the last of a series of releases that have taken place since January following a peace agreement between the faction and the Government of South Sudan.
- Prior to each release, UNICEF and the National Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Commission (NDDRC) conducted an intensive and detailed screening and verification process with each child.
- A total of 1,757 children have now been released from the Cobra Faction since January.
U.N. CONTRACTORS ABDUCTED IN D.R. CONGO
- In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, yesterday, at around 17h00 local time, three UN Mine Actions Service-contracted personnel travelling on the Goma-Rutshuru road in North Kivu Province were abducted by unidentified armed people.
- Contact has been made with the alleged perpetrators and the United Nations is working with relevant parties on the ground to resolve the situation.
DARFUR: U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON BLUE HELMETS, CALLS FOR SPEEDY INVESTIGATION
- The UN Mission in Darfur says today it has repelled two attacks by unidentified armed men in Kass, South Darfur.
- The ensuing exchange of fire resulted in at least four attackers killed and six peacekeepers and one assailant injured.
- The first attack took place yesterday when about 40 gunmen on horses and camels opened fire on UN peacekeepers protecting a water point; the second attack was against a patrol this morning.
- The African Union-United Nations Acting Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Abiodun Bashua, condemned these attacks.
- He called on the Government of Sudan to speedily investigate the incidents, saying that the continuing climate of impunity and failure to prosecute those who attack peacekeepers and humanitarian workers have to end.
BURUNDI: DIPLOMATS, REGIONAL BODIES TAKE PART IN U.N.-BACKED MEETING TO ASSESS SITUATION AHEAD OF POLLS
- The members of the diplomatic community and regional organizations in Burundi met today in the capital Bujumbura, under the auspices of the United Nations, to assess the situation.
- They took note of progress in preparation of the elections and strongly encouraged the government, political parties and civil society organizations to refrain from any acts of violence and intimidation before, during and after the elections.
FOR FIRST TIME SINCE START OF EBOLA OUTBREAK, GUINEA, LIBERIA, SIERRA LEONE CARRY OUT IMMUNIZATION CAMPAIGNS
- For the first time since the start of the Ebola outbreak, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are conducting major nationwide immunization campaigns.
- UNICEF-supported campaigns against measles and polio, among others, aim to vaccinate more than three million children, after immunization programs and routine health interventions were seriously disrupted by the epidemic.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS SENIOR OFFICIALS IN LIBYA, LEBANON
- The Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Ali H. Al-Za’tari of Jordan as his new Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), where he will also serve as UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Representative of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Mr. Al-Za’tari succeeds Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania who served as D-SRSG from March to December 2014.
- We are also appointing Philippe Lazzarini of Switzerland as the Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon where he will serve as Resident Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Representative in the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon (UNSCOL), Sigrid Kaag.
- Mr. Lazzarini succeeds Ross Mountain of New Zealand. The Secretary-General is grateful to Mr. Mountain for his leadership and distinguished service in coordinating United Nations humanitarian and development efforts in Lebanon, particularly in response to the Syrian crisis.
U.N. ADVISER SENDS VIDEO MESSAGE TO ARMENIA FORUM
- On Armenia, the Spokesman clarified that Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, sent a video message to the side symposium in Yerevan, which wrapped up yesterday.
IRAQ, RUSSIA LATEST MEMBER STATES TO PAY U.N. REGULAR BUDGET DUES IN FULL
- Iraq and the Russian Federation have paid their regular budget dues in full, bringing the total number of countries that have paid to 77.
SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE MARKS RETIREMENT OF U.N. COLLEAGUE
- Aberash Zewde is retiring from the UN after almost 35 years of service, having served five Secretaries-General and countless Spokespeople.
- The bulk of her career has been spent taking care of journalists during photo-ops, special events and the annual General Assembly debate.
- The Spokesman said that Abi, as she is known, has always been there for her colleagues and her friends and that we will miss her calm presence.