HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 27 APRIL 2015
PANEL WRAPS UP INQUIRY INTO INCIDENTS AFFECTING U.N. STAFF, PREMISES DURING LAST YEAR’S GAZA CONFLICT, SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR DURABLE CEASE-FIRE
The Secretary-General transmitted today to the Security Council and other bodies the public summary of the Board of Inquiry regarding incidents affecting United Nations personnel, premises and operations in the Gaza Strip during the recent conflict.
The Secretary-General expresses once again his deepest appreciation for the bravery of and outstanding efforts undertaken by UN staff members in Gaza during the course of the conflict. He also welcomes the professionalism displayed by the Board during the course of its work researching and analyzing the events depicted in the report.
- He thanks the chairman, Patrick Cammaert, and its Members for concluding this inquiry. He also appreciates the cooperation provided by the Government of Israel in the course of the Board’s work. The Board also appreciated its reception by the Palestinian Authority and meetings with local authorities in Gaza.
- The Board reviewed and investigated seven incidents involving the loss of 44 Palestinian lives, at least 227 injured or damage at UN facilities. The Board also reviewed three incidents involving weapons found in UNRWA schools, including instances in which Palestinian armed groups may have used UNRWA school premises to launch attacks.
- In his letter to the Security Council transmitting the report, the Secretary-General has expressed his "profound and continuing concern for the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and Israel, and their right to live in peace and security, free from the threat of violence and terrorism".
- Reflecting his personal anguish at this deplorable turn of events, the Secretary-General notes that "the agony of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and the tragic, decades-long predicament they endure there, is reflected in the report of the Board of Inquiry. We should also bear in mind that Israeli civilians in southern Israel continue to face the threat of rocket and terrorist attacks by Hamas and other militant groups."
Beyond the report’s contents, it reminds us that there has still been no progress on the critical elements that would secure long-term peace for the people of the region.
What is needed now more than ever is a durable cease-fire, which includes an end to arms smuggling, the opening of the crossings, more progress on the reconstruction of Gaza, and greater steps toward implementing the Beach Camp accord which addressed the much needed Palestinian reconciliation.
More importantly, we need to give new momentum to the search for a resolution of the conflict in the Middle East. For this, direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations must resume, and the international community must support the process with full engagement.
NEPAL: SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES DEEPEST SYMPATHY IN WAKE OF QUAKE, U.N. RELEASES $15 MILLION FOR IMMEDIATE RELIEF NEEDS
- A statement by the Secretary-General on the earthquake in Nepal was issued over the weekend, and that sentiment was echoed again this morning in a message, delivered on the Secretary-General’s behalf by the Deputy Secretary-General, in which he expressed his deepest sympathy and condolences to the people and Government of Nepal at this moment of grief and humanitarian plight after the horrific earthquake affecting large parts of the country.
- As of today, the Government reports that 3,351 people have been killed and 6,833 injured. Eight million people have been affected in 39 of the country’s districts.
- More than 1.4 million people need food assistance, including 750,000 people who live near the epicentre in poor quality housing. This is the largest earthquake since 1934 to hit Nepal.
- Food trucks are on their way to affected districts outside the Kathmandu valley and distribution is expected to begin on the 28th of April.
- UN and humanitarian partners are supporting teams that are deploying to affected districts to assess the most urgent needs, and the Humanitarian Country Team is coordinating international relief efforts to support the government. The priority will be to address the needs of the most vulnerable and save lives. This means search and rescue and debris removal to find and save people.
- Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos today released $15 million through the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to allow international humanitarian organizations to rapidly scale up their operations and provide immediate assistance to people in desperate need. The recipients will use the funds for the most immediate, lifesaving needs, including shelter, water, medical supplies, logistics services and other relief items.
- For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) is mobilizing to meet the needs of the people whose lives have been shattered by the massive earthquake in Nepal. WFP teams specializing in logistics and emergency response have arrived in Kathmandu and others are on their way to assess the scale of the disaster.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SEES FIRST-HAND ITALIAN NAVAL OPERATIONS TO PROTECT MIGRATNS ON HIGH SEAS
- The Secretary-General arrived in Rome today, where he has met with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini. He discussed with them his concerns about the situation of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea and emphasized the need for all authorities to focus on saving the lives of those who are at sea.
- The Secretary-General, Prime Minister Renzi and High Representative Mogherini have since travelled to Sicily, where they are getting a first-hand look at Italian naval operations to protect people on the high seas.
AT OPENING OF REVIEW CONFERENCE, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES REDOUBLED EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE NUCLEAR-WEAPON-FREE WORLD
- In a message delivered on behalf of the Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, the Deputy Secretary-General said this morning at the opening of the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that eliminating nuclear weapons is a top priority for the United Nations.
- No other weapon has the potential to inflict such wanton destruction on our world, and the NPT is the cornerstone of the non-proliferation regime and an essential basis for realizing a nuclear-weapon-free world.
- He called upon States parties to work hard and constructively in the coming weeks to produce an outcome that strengthens the Treaty. We need an outcome that promotes its universality, ensures compliance by all Parties with all provisions, and reinforces the NPT’s principal goals: to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and bring about their elimination.
- The Secretary-General noted that since the last Review Conference, the danger posed by nuclear weapons is still there. Proliferation challenges persist, including with respect to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, but the important understanding between the E3+3, or P5+1, and Iran proves that such challenges can be dealt with by diplomacy.
- He voiced disappointment that too little progress has been made on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.
- The Secretary-General said he is deeply concern that previous progress towards a nuclear weapon-free world have stalled, stressing that it is especially troubling that recent developments indicate that the trend towards nuclear zero is reversing.
- He called on leaders to abandon short-sighted political posturing and instead embrace a bold and global vision that meets the demands of humanity. True national security can only be achieved outside and away from the shadow of the nuclear threat. This shadow must be removed for the sake of present and future generations.
YEMEN: U.N. ENVOY GIVES FINAL BRIEFING TO SECURITY COUNCIL AHEAD OF START OF WORK OF HIS SUCCESSOR
- Jamal Benomar, the Special Adviser on Yemen, gave his final briefing on the situation in that country to the Security Council in its closed consultations this morning.
- Over the weekend, we announced that the Secretary-General has appointed Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed of Mauritania as his Special Envoy for Yemen, succeeding Mr. Benomar. In this role, Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed will work closely with the members of the United Nations Security Council, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Governments in the region and other partners, as well as the United Nations Country Team for Yemen.
- Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed will be arriving in New York later this week, direct from his Ebola-related functions in West Africa. He will immediately start intensive consultations with interested Member States on what role the UN could play in facilitating peace talks at the earliest opportunity.
- The Secretary-General expressed his sincerest gratitude to Mr. Benomar for his tireless efforts aimed at assisting the Yemeni people in realising their aspirations for change through peaceful transition.
- We also announced the appointment of Peter Jan Graaff of the Netherlands as the Secretary-General’s Acting Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), replacing Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed. In his role as Acting Special Representative, Mr. Graaff will work closely with the Special Envoy on Ebola, Dr. David Nabarro, and with the Governments in West Africa and other regional partners.
MORE THAN 114,000 PEOPLE UPROOTED BY FIGHTING IN IRAQ’S RAMADI
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that more than114,000 people have been displaced by fighting in Ramadi, according to humanitarian partners. The Anbar Provincial Council reported that families continued to return to Ramadi City over the last few days. Heavy fighting was reported over the weekend north of Fallujah.
- Humanitarian agencies and partners continue to respond to the needs of the displaced people. Some 1,100 people in Abu Ghraib District and the Doura area of Baghdad, received core relief items through the UN Refugee Agency.
- UNICEF distributed 1,584 water and sanitation kits, including water, hygiene items and buckets in Baghdad Governorate.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPEALS TO INDONESIA TO REFRAIN FROM EXECUTIONS OF DEATH ROW PRISONERS FOR ALLEGED DRUG CRIMES
- In a statement issued over the weekend, the Secretary-General appealed to the Government of Indonesia to refrain from carrying out the execution, as announced, of ten prisoners on death row for alleged drug-related crimes.
- Under international law, if the death penalty is to be used at all, it should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, namely those involving intentional killing, and only with appropriate safeguards. Drug-related offenses generally are not considered to fall under the category of “most serious crimes”.
- Recalling that the United Nations opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, the Secretary-General urged President Joko Widodo to urgently consider declaring a moratorium on capital punishment in Indonesia, with a view toward abolition.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. SOUNDS ALARM OVER POTENTIAL ‘FORGOTTEN CRISIS’
- Humanitarian colleagues say that we must prevent the Central African Republic from becoming a forgotten crisis.
- Nearly 900,000 people have been forcibly displaced – both to neighbouring countries and internally – since the outbreak of violence in December 2013. Inside the country, 2.7 million people are in need of humanitarian aid.
- However, the funding shortfall does not allow us to ensure the protection of all of the displaced or to meet the minimum to meet the huge humanitarian needs, says Clare Bourgeois, the Humanitarian Coordinator in the country.
- She also called on partners working in transition and early recovery to step up and help families restore their livelihoods and resilience, as well as for support to judicial system to accelerate their support in the fight against impunity for crimes committed in the crisis.
- Also on the Central African Republic, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, arrived in Bangui over the weekend. During his four-day visit, Mr. Ladsous will mark the achievement of full operational capability of the UN Mission there (MINUSCA) established a year ago.
- He will meet with the transitional authorities, shortly before the opening of the National Bangui Forum on the 4th of May, and he will also fly to several regions of the country to see first-hand the country’s achievements and challenges.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION REPORTS SHELLING, FIRE EXCHANGE IN UNITY STATE
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports shelling and exchange of fire between SPLA and opposition elements for approximately two hours this morning in Bentiu, Unity State. Government troops prevented a Mission patrol from reaching Bentiu this morning and UNMISS flights to the Unity State capital have been suspended.
- The security situation in Malakal in Upper Nile State remains relatively quiet and the city is largely deserted. On Sunday, 26 April, a UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) team cleared Malakal Airport of unexploded ordnance left over from last week's clashes. The Mission reports that it extracted ten women and children on Friday, who had been trapped by the fighting along the road between Malakal and the neighbouring county of Baliet, and brought them back to the Mission’s protection-of-civilians site.
MORE THAN HALF OF RURAL PEOPLE LACK ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE, NEW U.N. REPORT FINDS
- A new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) says that more than half the people living in rural areas worldwide do not have access to essential health-care services. That represents more than double the number of those without access in urban areas.
- The report, which revealed major health access disparities between rural and urban areas, says that the largest differences exist in Asia. However, the highest numbers of people without health coverage are in parts of rural Africa.
NEARLY 13 PER CENT OF FUNDING TO RESPOND TO CHOLERA IN HAITI DISBURSED
- In response to questions on the funding for cholera response in Haiti, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Government of Haiti's 10-Year National Plan for the Elimination of Cholera requires a total of $ 2.2 billion. As of December 2014, 18 per cent, or more than $407 million, has been mobilised against the National Plan. Of this amount, nearly 13 per cent, or $285 million, has been disbursed.
ISRAEL, JAPAN AND SRI LANKA LATEST MEMBER STATES TO PAY U.N. REGULAR BUDGET DUES IN FULL
- Israel, Japan and Sri Lanka have paid their regular budget assessments in full, bringing the total number of Member States which have done so to 80.