Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.

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 SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 26 MAY 2016

 

DON’T LET PAST DISPUTES HOLD YOU BACK – SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS ASIAN LEADERS AT JEJU FORUM

  • The Secretary-General is currently in Nagoya, Japan, where he will attend the outreach session of the G-7 Summit tomorrow.  Shortly after arriving in Nagoya, the Secretary-General held a bilateral meeting with the Prime Minister of Viet Nam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, with whom he discussed the country’s support to United Nations peacekeeping operations, including its preparations to enhance contributions, as well as human rights and regional issues.
  • The Secretary-General came to Nagoya from Jeju Island in the Republic of Korea, where he spoke earlier today to the Jeju Forum, in remarks that focused on how Asia can manifest wisdom, flexibility and soft power in an effort to build a better world in the region and beyond.
  • The Secretary-General encouraged Asian leaders not to be held back by the continent’s past disputes. He said that it is time to agree on borders that are now disputed and rise above conflicting interpretations of history.
  • He called the security situation on the Korean Peninsula deeply troubling and one of the great challenges to global action and regional cooperation and said that the pursuit by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles only undermines its own security and hurts its citizens.
  • On the margins of the summit, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn of the Republic of Korea. They talked about a wide range of issues, including climate change, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the situation on the Korean Peninsula.

SPECIAL ENVOY STRESSES URGENT NEED FOR AID ACCESS IN SYRIA, WARNS OF SEVERE MALNUTRITION AMONG CHILDREN

  • The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, today briefed the Security Council during consultations on the current situation in the country. This was his first briefing to the Council since the conclusion of the last round of talks in Geneva and since the International Syria Support Group met in Vienna on 17 May.
  • He told reporters earlier today in Geneva that he intends to consult the Security Council regarding what would be the best option for the resumption of the talks.
  • Mr. de Mistura also said that if areas besieged either by the Syrian Government or by the opposition are not accessible, the option of air drops should be taken seriously into account. He noted credible reports of severe malnutrition among children in areas such as Moadamiyeh, saying that such reports should add a sense of urgency.
  • A joint United Nations-International Committee of the Red Cross-Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy yesterday delivered much-needed humanitarian assistance to the hard-to-reach area of Houle in Homs, Syria. Food, nutrition, hygiene kits, and educational materials were delivered to 71,000 people. This is the third humanitarian convoy to Houle this year.
  • Since the beginning of 2016, inter-agency operations have reached more than 800,000 civilians in need in besieged, hard-to-reach and priority cross-line areas. Many of these people have been reached more than once.
  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, who was in Hatay, southern Turkey, said today that cross-border aid operations from Turkey into Syria are vital, reaching some four million people who cannot be reached via other routes. 
  • He visited the zero-point near the Bab al Hawa border crossing and paid tribute to the Turkish, Syrian, and international NGOs who continue to work tirelessly to provide critical and life-saving assistance in a dangerous and volatile environment.

U.N. SUPPORT STRONGER THEN EVER – SPECIAL ENVOY FOR YEMEN ON TALKS IN KUWAIT

  • The United Nations Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, spoke to the media in Kuwait today about the progress of the Yemeni peace talks there. He said that he has convened a number of bilateral meetings with the delegations over the past few days.
  • The delegations have discussed specifically the details and mechanisms of withdrawal, handover of weapons, resumption of political dialogue, restoration of state institutions and other matters that will be included in a comprehensive agreement. The discussions also covered the importance of guarantees and reassurances to ensure the implementation of an agreement.
  • He said that the talks are ongoing, the international support is stronger than ever and the UN is determined to achieve a lasting peace and to solidify any agreement reached.    
  • At the same time, the Special Envoy warned, the ongoing conflict has destroyed the country’s economic infrastructure and severely disrupted the functioning of state institutions, causing the suffering of many civilians. Failure to address the issue will lead to further deterioration of the economic situation.

IRAQ: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN FALLUJAH

  • As operations are underway to liberate Fallujah, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, has strongly urged all parties to undertake every effort to protect the lives of civilians and preserve the city’s infrastructure in accordance with the relevant principles of international human rights and humanitarian law. 
  • He called on all parties to the conflict to adhere strictly to international humanitarian law and to ensure that civilians are permitted to leave areas where fighting may be taking place in dignity and safety.
  • Meanwhile, humanitarian agencies on the ground in Iraq are warning that civilians in Fallujah in Iraq are at extreme risk. Lise Grande, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said humanitarian workers are receiving distressing reports of civilians trapped inside Fallujah who are desperate to escape to safety, but are unable to.
  • Since 22 May, 800 people have reached safety, mostly from outlying areas. Some families report having to walk for hours under harrowing conditions to reach safety. People trapped in the city centre are thought to be most at risk. At least 50,000 people are thought to remain in the city, and the few people who have left Fallujah report that conditions are dire.

NEXT PHASE OF TRAINING FOR FUTURE AFRICAN PEACEKEEPERS TO START IN JUNE

  • The Department of Field Support (DFS) has reported that the second phase of training for a cohort of future African peacekeepers under the Triangular Partnership Project will commence this June in Kenya.
  • The training is part of a project launched by DFS with support from Japan and Kenya in July 2015 to train and equip African military engineers to be deployed in peacekeeping missions.
  • The trial training of for this project was conducted in Nairobi, Kenya. The second phase will see 18 Japanese instructors train up to 60 Kenyan military engineering students. A Swiss-led pilot “Training-of-Trainers” course – for up to ten trainees drawn from different African Troop Contributing Countries – will also take place from in July and August.
  • Japan has provided $38.5 million for training and associated administrative costs, infrastructure development and the procurement of heavy engineering plant equipment for training as well as operational needs.
  • After participation in the training, the military engineers are expected to deploy to peacekeeping missions, where they will fill critical gaps in current United Nations engineering capabilities.

GOODWILL AMBASSADOR NANA MOUSKOURI TO VISIT GREECE AMID REFUGEE AND MIGRANT CRISIS

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) Goodwill Ambassador, singer Nana Mouskouri, and its Regional Director Marie-Pierre Poirier are visiting Greece amid ongoing refugee and migrant crisis.
  • Their four-day mission aims to see the work being done to help refugee and migrant children and their families in Athens and Piraeus.
  • Some 22,000 children are among the 55,000 migrants and refugees currently stranded in Greece, hosted in 35 camps and sites on the mainland and islands.
  • UNICEF is scaling up its response to provide more support for children and meet their most pressing needs in terms of protection, health and education.

U.N. FOOD AGENCY APPOINTS HEAD OF SLOW FOOD AS AMBASSADOR FOR ZERO HUNGER IN EUROPE

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) appointed Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food, as Special Ambassador Zero Hunger for Europe.
  •  Slow Food is an organization working to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions and to ensure everyone has access to good, clean and fair food.
  • In his role as a Special Ambassador Zero Hunger, Mr. Petrini will help ensure a better understanding of FAO's vision of a world free of hunger and malnutrition in which food and agriculture contribute towards improving livelihoods, particularly those of poor people.

NEW PROGRAMME TO DELIVER RAPID AND COMPREHENSIVE SUPPORT DURING HEALTH EMERGENCIES

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) announced today the creation of a new Health Emergencies Programme which adds operational capabilities for disease outbreaks and humanitarian emergencies.
  • The programme is designed to deliver rapid, predictable, and comprehensive support to countries and communities as they prepare for, face or recover from emergencies caused by any type of hazard to human health, whether disease outbreaks, natural or man-made disasters or conflicts.
  • WHO member states agreed a budget of US$494 million for the Programme for 2016−2017. This is an increase of US$160 million to the existing Programme Budget for WHO’s work in emergencies.

**The guests at the noon briefing were Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, and the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, who briefed ahead of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers (29 May).**