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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 FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 27 MAY 2016

 

AT G-7 SUMMIT IN JAPAN, SECRETARY-GENERAL RAISES REGIONAL CHALLENGES AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES

  • The Secretary-General is currently in Seoul, where he will attend a number of events, including the DPI/NGO Conference on Monday.
  • Prior to that, he was in Ise-Shima, Japan, earlier today, where he attended the two outreach sessions of the G7 summit.
  • In the first session, dedicated to stability and prosperity in Asia, the Secretary-General noted the urgent regional challenge posed by the fact that several Asian countries are claiming the same territory and maritime areas. The Secretary-General called on all concerned to resolve disputes through dialogue in a peaceful and amicable manner, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law – such as the UN Charter and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
  • He also underscored the worrying situation on the Korean peninsula. The Secretary-General thanked the G7 for their firm stance against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s continuing nuclear activities and called for the full implementation of all relevant Security Council resolutions and sanctions measures.
  • In a separate outreach session, the Secretary-General detailed the priorities ahead for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • On the side lines of the session, the Secretary-General met with the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and welcomed the discussions on referendum preparations on Bougainville’s future status and the target date of 15 June 2019 for the referendum.
  • The Secretary-General also spoke by phone with President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus.  With reference to recent events in Istanbul, the Secretary-General reiterated that the UN’s policy on Cyprus has not changed. The Republic of Cyprus is the Member State of the UN. The bi-communal dialogue that takes place under UN auspices aims at reaching a settlement of the Cyprus issue based on relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY STARTS DELIVERING AID TO PEOPLE WHO FLED FALLUJA IN IRAQ

  • The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has begun delivering emergency relief aid to families who recently escaped the besieged Iraqi city of Falluja.
  • More than 800 people have fled Falluja in recent days as Iraqi Government forces continue their offensive. Some 50,000 civilians still remain trapped inside, prevented from escaping by militants as the city continues to come under heavy bombardment by Iraqi forces.
  • UNHCR and its partner, Muslim Aid, began distributing emergency relief items today to families who have escaped the city and are sheltering in a camp it has helped to set up in Amiriyat al-Falluja, in Anbar governorate. The agency will also open two new camps next week in Habbaniyah Tourist City that will be able to accommodate 500 newly-displaced families.
  • Meanwhile, the past month has seen a spike in numbers of Iraqi refugees risking the dangerous crossing into Syria in a desperate bid to escape Mosul, which is held by Da’esh, and fighting in surrounding areas.  Since the beginning of May, a total of 4,266 refugees have arrived at the Al-Hol camp located 14 kilometres from the Iraqi border in Syria’s north-eastern Hasakah Governorate.
  • In anticipation of further arrivals in the coming weeks, the first of five UNHCR airlifts of emergency items such as tents and blankets arrived from Jordan to Qamishli in the far north of Hasakah Governorate on Thursday. The total amount of aid arriving will be enough to provide support for up to 50,000 people, including refugees and the immediate host community.

U.N. SYRIA ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL OF NEED TO SEE PROGRESS ON THE GROUND

  • The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, briefed the Security Council on the current situation in Syria yesterday afternoon, and he reiterated the need to see progress on the ground – particularly in reference to the cessation of hostilities and humanitarian access.
  • He informed the Council members of his intention to start the next round of intra-Syrian talks as soon as feasible, but certainly not within the next two to three weeks.  
  • Meanwhile, the Special Envoy will maintain close and continuous contact with the Syrian parties, as well as the members of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), before determining the "appropriate time" to reconvene the parties in Geneva.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED AT CONDITIONS IN NEW REFUGEE SITES, URGES ALTERNATIVES BE FOUND

  • The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says it is seriously concerned about sub-standard conditions at several sites in northern Greece where refugees and migrants were evacuated this week from the makeshift site at Idomeni.
  • It is urging the Greek authorities, with the financial support provided by the European Union, to find better alternatives quickly.
  • UNHCR says it agrees that the makeshift site at Idomeni where refugees had been staying in abysmal conditions, needed to be evacuated but adds that the conditions of some of the sites to which the refugees and migrants were transferred fall well below minimum standards.
  • UNHCR will continue to assist the Greek authorities to provide emergency assistance and urgently improve conditions at these sites where possible. But it says that where it is not possible to bring conditions up to minimal humanitarian standards, alternatives need to be found and made ready to accommodate refugees.

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS MAJOR GENERAL MICHAEL BEARY OF IRELAND AS HEAD OF U.N. INTERIM FORCE IN LEBANON

  • United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today announced the appointment of Major General Michael Beary of Ireland as his new Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
  • Major General Beary succeeds Major General Luciano Portolano of Italy, who will complete his assignment on 24 July 2016.  The Secretary-General is grateful to Major General Portolano for his exemplary service and leadership of UNIFIL over the past two years.
  • Major General Beary has had a long and distinguished career in the Irish Army since entering as an Infantry Corps Officer in 1975.  As General Officer commanding 2nd Brigade since 2013, he served in a wide variety of assignments and held several command and staff officer appointments, including at the unit, brigade and defence force headquarters levels.
  • He spent ten years on overseas deployments, including in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Lebanon, Uganda and Somalia.  He served with UNIFIL in 1982, 1989 and 1994.  From 2011 to 2013 he commanded the European Union military training mission in Somalia and in 2004 was Liaison Team Leader with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.  He was previously Director of Training for the Irish Defence Forces and Commandant of the Military College.
  • Major General Beary holds a Bachelor of Science, a Master of Business Studies and a Master of Science in National Security Strategy.  He is a graduate of the Command and Staff School of the Irish Defence Forces and the National War College at the National Defence University in Washington, D.C.
  • Born in 1956, Major General Beary is married and has three children.

CENTRAL AMERICAN COUNTRIES EXPERIENCING WORST DROUGHT IN DECADES

  • According to UN agencies, NGOs and governments in Central America, more than 3.5 million people are food insecure and in need of health care and livelihood recovery support in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua – these countries are experiencing their worst drought in decades due to the El Niño weather phenomenon.
  • Without sufficient emergency assistance, food shortfalls are expected to continue at least until September 2016. Meanwhile, above-average rains in parts of South America have continued to cause flooding, and increased diseases spread by mosquitoes, including malaria, dengue, chikungunya and the Zika virus.

U.N. CONCERNED BY FINANCIAL CRISES FACING INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS

  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is disturbed by the severe financial crisis that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is facing. Should the Commission not receive the necessary funds in the coming weeks, the capacity of the regional human rights system to respond to victims of rights violations across the Americas may be seriously diminished.
  • Unfortunately, in recent years, the Commission has faced undue pressure from a number of States.
  • The Human Rights Office urges States to reaffirm their commitment to human rights by providing the Commission with the required resources to fulfil its crucial mandate and indeed to strengthen this key institution. The Commission’s robust defence of human rights in the region should be encouraged – not punished.

NEW U.N. REPORT SAYS CLIMATE CHANGE ONE OF THE MOST SIGNIFICANT RISKS FOR WORLD HERITAGE SITES

  • A new report released today by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Union of Concerned Scientists, says that climate change is fast becoming one of the most significant risks for World Heritage sites.
  • The report, which lists 31 natural and cultural World Heritage sites in 29 countries that are vulnerable to climate change, underscores the urgency to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global temperature rise to a level well below 2 degrees Celsius.