HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 6 MAY 2015
SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS PEACE BELL REPRESENTS COLLECTIVE DESIRE FOR PEACE AT CEREMONY MARKING ITS RETURN TO JAPANESE GARDEN
- The Secretary-General today attended a ceremony marking the return of the Peace Bell to its original location at the Japanese Garden. In his remarks, he said that sixty-one years after it was donated by the UN Association of Japan, the Peace Bell still represents the collective desire for the world to live in peace.
- He added that now that it has returned to its home, we must also intensify our work to restore the bells of peace in villages and cities and countries around the world.
- The Peace Bell is rung twice a year – on the first day of spring and on the 21 September to celebrate the International Day of Peace. It was temporarily relocated to the Rose Garden five years ago during the renovations of UN headquarters.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRONGLY CONDEMNS KILLING AND WOUNDING OF PEACEKEEPERS IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
- In a statement issued last night, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the killing of two UN peacekeepers from the United Republic of Tanzania and the wounding of 13 others in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) earlier yesterday.
- The casualties happened when a convoy of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or MONUSCO was ambushed and came under fire from suspected Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) forces in Beni territory, North Kivu.
- As of today, all four missing peacekeepers have now been recovered and are safe.
- This attack followed an incident on the 4 May when a MONUSCO helicopter carrying the Force Commander was hit by gunfire from unidentified armed elements in the same area.
- The Secretary-General also condemns in the strongest terms the continuing atrocities perpetrated by the ADF against defenseless civilians in the Beni area.
- The UN remains committed to taking all necessary actions in line with Security Council resolution 2211 (2015) to protect civilians and neutralize armed groups in eastern DRC.
MALI: MORTAR FIRE TARGETS U.N. PEACEKEEPING CAMP IN KIDAL
- This morning at around 4:45 a.m. in Mali, the Kidal compound of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was targeted by mortar fire, with some six to eight mortar shells being fired at the camp. The attack, which lasted about twenty minutes, did not cause any casualties or damage.
- Following that at around 6:30, a civilian vehicle struck an improvised explosive device one kilometre north of the MINUSMA compound. Two civilians were wounded.
- MINUSMA peacekeepers responded to the attack and reinforced security. They conducted patrols to locate where the attack came from and ensure the safety of the civilian population.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Mali, Mongi Hamdi, condemned these criminal and cowardly acts. He reiterated MINUSMA’s strong determination to continue to fulfil its responsibilities in support of Mali and its people in search of a lasting peace.
U.N. AGENCIES ASSIST PEOPLE DISPLACED BY VIOLENCE AROUND LAKE CHAD
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that 25,000 people have arrived in Nguigmi and Bosso in eastern Niger since 30 April, according to Government estimates.
- These people were reportedly told to evacuate islands in Lake Chad due to planned military operations by coalition forces from Chad, Niger and Nigeria against Boko Haram. Some 5,000 Nigerians arrived in Diffa from the islands on 3 May, many of whom were on their way back to Nigeria.
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has provided displaced families with 10,000 litres of water, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is providing household kits for 5,000 people, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are supporting health facilities.
NEW SPECIAL ENVOY FOR YEMEN CONDUCTS INTENSIVE CONSULTATIONS TO GET POLITICAL PROCESS BACK ON TRACK
- The Special Envoy on Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is conducting intensive consultations aimed at getting the political process back on track. In Paris today, he met officials from the Office of the President and the Foreign Ministry, as well as the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperative Council, Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani.
- The Special Envoy tomorrow will go to Riyadh for meetings with President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, Vice President Khaled Bahah and other Yemeni officials, as well as with Saudi officials. The plan is to travel from Riyadh to other regional capitals for further consultations. Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed was in New York until yesterday, where he met with permanent representatives from key countries in the region and members of the Security Council.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that widespread violence has intensified in Aden Governorate, with reports of heavy shelling and clashes taking place in seven districts, especially heavy in Khormaskar district. It has also reported of airstrikes in Sa'ada today.
- Today, for the first time, clashes were reported in Attawahi District, where parties to the conflict were reportedly shooting at residents attempting to leave and shelling the boat in which they were trying to escape. Several hundred families have managed to flee to other parts of Aden Governorate by boat.
- Residents also report a lack of food, water, fuel and breakdown of basic services in both Aden and Sa'ada Governorates, with several districts in Aden Governorate completely cut off.
THAILAND: U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CALLS FOR GREATER COUNTER-SMUGGLING MEASURES
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that it is deeply concerned at this week’s discovery of dozens of bodies in smugglers’ camps in southern Thailand.
- It calls on countries in the region to strengthen cooperation on counter-smuggling and counter-trafficking measures while ensuring the protection of victims.
- In recent days, Thai authorities announced that they found the remains of some 30 people believed to be from Myanmar and Bangladesh, and initial police accounts cite illness and abuse as likely causes of death.
- James Lynch, the agency’s Regional Representative and Regional Coordinator for South-East Asia, said that it is distressing to hear that people who escaped difficult conditions back home have had to put their lives in the hands of ruthless smugglers, only to be killed before they could reach safety.
85 STATES PAY THEIR DUES
- Montenegro becomes the 85th of the 193 Member States to pay its regular budget dues in full.
*** The guest at the noon briefing, Yukio Takasu, the Under-Secretary-General for Management, briefed on the financial situation of the Organization.