HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ, ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 27 JUNE 2016
SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN ISRAEL, SAYS COLOMBIA CEASEFIRE OFFERS A ‘GLIMMER OF HOPE’ IN TURBULENT WORLD
- The Secretary-General is in Jerusalem, where he had a working lunch with President Reuben Rivlin of Israel. Speaking to the press with the President before the lunch, the Secretary-General said that he welcomes today’s announcement of the normalization of relations between Israel and Turkey, calling it an important and hopeful signal for the stability of the region.
- He added that the Middle East Quartet was soon to publish its report. Once issued, he said that Israeli and Palestinian leaders will need to engage on its recommendations for the resumption of meaningful negotiations.
- Earlier, the Secretary-General was in Tel Aviv and spoke at a ceremony at Tel Aviv University, in which he was also awarded the George S. Wise medal. In his remarks to students, he said that global technologies are linking people as never before in webs of commerce, culture and connections.
- Our challenge, he added, is how to harness that innovation to meet the challenges facing humanity – from climate change to promoting food security to preventing cyber-crime.
- And reflecting on the recent ceremony that he attended in Havana between the Colombian Government and the FARC-EP, the Secretary-General said that seeing those bitter enemies lay down their arms offered a glimmer of hope in today’s world.
- In Kuwait yesterday, the Secretary-General met with the Amir of Kuwait and expressed his deep appreciation and gratitude for Kuwait’s strong backing of the efforts of his Special Envoy, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, on the ongoing Yemen peace talks in Kuwait.
- And the Secretary-General also spoke to the Yemeni delegations in Kuwait and urged them to prevent any further deterioration of the situation in Yemen and to show the responsibility and flexibility required to arrive at a comprehensive agreement ending the conflict. He also urged the release of all prisoners, including political detainees, journalists, civil society activists and others as a goodwill gesture ahead of the Eid holiday.
· SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES MILITARY PROGRESS AGAINST ISIL IN IRAQ
- Yesterday the Secretary-General phoned Haider al-Abadi, Prime Minister of Iraq, to say he welcomed the progress made by Iraq’s security forces in retaking areas from ISIL.
- While noting the work the UN is doing to support the Iraqi government in addressing the humanitarian needs of civilians in Fallujah, he also expressed concerns over reports of serious human rights abuses against civilians displaced from that city.
- He welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to establish an investigative committee to look into all alleged abuses.
- The UN and its partners are helping to look after the needs of some 85,000 displaced persons from Falluja.
- In a related matter, the UNHCR today reported it has finished reconstruction of an irrigation canal near the city, which will help local farmers get back on their feet. The canal was destroyed in recent fighting.
OCEAN RESOURCE CHOICES TAKEN NOW WILL AFFECT MILLIONS: THE DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
- The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, spoke at the 40th Annual Conference of the Centre for Oceans Law and Policy this morning.
- Stressing that healthy oceans are critical to sustaining life on our planet, the Deputy Secretary-General said the decisions we make now on the sustainable use of ocean resources stand to benefit millions of people, for generations to come.
- He added that our impact on oceans and seas is taking a toll and many marine species today are at serious risk from ocean warming and over-fishing. He urged the international community to renew its efforts to protect the oceans and use their resources peacefully, equitably and sustainably.
- Later today, the Deputy Secretary-General will speak at the humanitarian affairs segment of the 2016 session of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
U.N. LEBANON CHIEF CONDEMNS ATTACK ON BORDER TOWN
- The Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, strongly condemned the four suicide bombings that took place at dawn this morning in the north-eastern Lebanese border town of El-Qaa, which killed five civilians and injured several others. The Special Coordinator expressed her profound condolences to the families of the victims and wished a quick recovery to the injured.
- Ms. Kaag commended the courage and commitment of the Lebanese Armed Forces and security forces, and she called for sustained international support to enhance their capacity in the face of security challenges, including the terrorist threat, in Lebanon and along its borders.
INTER-AGENCY HUMANITARIAN CONVOY REACHES RURAL DAMASCUS TOWN:
- Today, an inter-agency convoy is delivering much needed life-saving assistance to the hard-to-reach town of Qudsaya in Rural Damascus. The convoy contains food, nutrition, health, water and sanitation and education supplies for some 30,000 people. This is the second convoy to Qudsaya this year. The previous one took place in May.
- Since the beginning of 2016, the UN and its partners have been able to reach almost 57 per cent of people in besieged locations and 12 per cent in hard-to-reach areas through inter-agency operations. Further assistance is also provided to hard-to-reach areas through cross-border activities.
- The UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says that its local partners in Syria informed the agency yesterday that 25 children were reportedly killed yesterday in air-strikes on al-Quriyah town, in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzour. Three attacks reportedly hit heavily crowded areas, including a mosque, during prayer time.
- Amid an intensification of violence, attacks on children in Syria are becoming commonplace with callous disregard for the lives of children. UNICEF deplores these attacks and calls on all parties to the conflict to keep children out of harm’s way.
UNITED NATIONS HELPING CIVILIANS IN SOUTH SUDAN, CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF HOSTILITIES
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is continuing to provide protection to approximately 10,000 civilians in Wau, following the outbreak of violence. UNMISS military forces have created a security cordon around an area adjacent to the UN base and peacekeepers are conducting active patrolling to ensure the safety of the displaced civilians within this area.
- UNMISS wishes to clarify that opening its gates are not a first line of response in the protection of civilians. At this time, UNMISS is continuing to provide a secure environment for those displaced by the violence in Wau adjacent to its base. UNMISS will consider additional measures in line with its mandate should the security situation deteriorate further.
- In a statement issued on Saturday, the Secretary-General called on all fighting forces to immediately suspend the hostilities, provide access to the UN Mission in South Sudan and cooperate with humanitarian partners to facilitate the delivery of assistance. He urged all parties to agree to dialogue to resolve their political disputes.
WHO CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON BENGHAZI HEALTH FACILITIES
- The World Health Organization (WHO) has condemned recent attacks on two health facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
- The agency reiterated that such attacks violate international humanitarian law and present a serious setback for people who need medical assistance and for the humanitarian community. Nearly 60 per cent of public hospitals in conflict areas in Libya have shut down or are inaccessible.
- WHO has urged all parties in the conflict to respect the safety and neutrality of health workers and health facilities.
U.N. SOMALIA CHIEF CONDEMNS HOTEL ATTACK IN MOGADISHU
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, today condemned in the strongest possible terms yesterday’s attack on the Naso Hablod Hotel, in Southern Mogadishu.
- Mr. Keating also expressed sadness at the death of the Somali State Minister for Environment Affairs, who was killed in the attack together with at least 25 people.
U.N. CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC MISSION CONDEMNS KILLING OF PEACEKEEPER
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic, (MINUSCA), condemned the killing of a peacekeeper by unidentified armed men on June 24 in Bangui.
- His body was found at Bangui General Hospital and an investigation was launched to determine the circumstances of the tragedy.
- Over the weekend, the Mission also welcomed the release of six Central African policemen who were held hostages by armed men.
- MINUSCA applauds the perseverance of the negotiating team that contributed to their release without the use of force.
UNITED NATIONS HELPING BOKO HARAM VICTIMS IN NIGERIA
- The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated US$13 million to provide life-saving assistance to people in north-eastern Nigeria who have been affected by Boko Haram violence and who have just become accessible to humanitarian responders.
- The Central Emergency Response funds will enable UN humanitarian agencies and their partners to provide food, cash for food purchase, child nutritional supplements, protection and health services to more than 250,000 of the most vulnerable people in the next four months.
- Since 2015, and including this latest allocation, the CERF has supported life-saving assistance in response to Boko Haram-related violence with more than $70 million in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEFS VISITING ITALY, CAR, ARGENTINA, MEXICO
- The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, is travelling to Italy today where he will be meeting with Italian national and local authorities in Rome and Brindisi. In Brindisi he will also meet with members of the UN Global Service Centre and the UN system.
- On Friday, Mr. Khare will proceed to the Central African Republic, where he is expected to meet with Government and local officials as well as personnel from the UN peacekeeping mission and partners. He will discuss operational support to the mission and follow up on initiatives related to conduct and discipline matters.
- And the Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is travelling to Argentina and Mexico. Mr. Ladsous arrived in Argentina today and he proceeds to Mexico on Wednesday. In both countries, he is expected to follow up on pledges to increase contributions to peacekeeping.
U.N. SYRIA COORDINATOR MOVING TO LIBERIA
- The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Yacoub El Hillo of Sudan as his Deputy Special Representative in the UN Mission in Liberia, (UNMIL). He will also serve as the UN Resident Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
- Mr. El Hillo succeeds Antonio Vigilante of Italy, who concluded his assignment on 15 June, and to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his outstanding contribution and dedicated service in supporting the implementation of UNMIL’s mandate and coordinating the activities of the UN system in Liberia.
- Mr. El Hillo brings to the position a wealth of experience in the field and at UN Headquarters. Since August 2013, he has served as the UN Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in the Syrian Arab Republic, based in Damascus.