HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 28 APRIL 2015
VATICAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS POPE, DISCUSSES CLIMATE CHANGE, MEDITERRANEAN MIGRANT ISSUE
- In his opening remarks at a symposium on climate change organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the Vatican, the Secretary-General said that mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects are necessary to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequality and secure equitable, sustainable economic development.
- The workshop, called “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity,” brought together faith leaders, civil society representatives and political leaders, including the Presidents of Italy and Ecuador.
- The Secretary-General told the participants at the workshop, called “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity,” that mitigating climate change and adapting to its effects are necessary to eradicate extreme poverty, reduce inequality and secure equitable, sustainable economic development.
- He stressed to the gathered delegates that climate change is an issue of social justice, human rights and fundamental ethics. Ban underscored that the world’s faith groups are clear on this issue – and in harmony with science. He told the audience, “Science and religion are not at odds on climate change; indeed, they are fully aligned.”
- Prior to the opening of the session, the Secretary-General had an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis. During their extensive meeting, they had a long discussion on climate change. The Secretary-General told the Pontiff that he very much looked forward to the Pope’s encyclical on the subject, which would act as moral voice on the issue. They also talked about the crisis in the Mediterranean, and the Secretary-General shared his impression of his visit yesterday to an Italian Navy vessel involved in search and rescue operations as part of operation “Mare Sicuro.”
- On the side-lines of the symposium, the Secretary-General also met with the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella. They focused mainly on the issue of migration. The Secretary-General reiterated that there was a collective moral responsibility to deal with the current crisis and it could not be left to just a few countries to handle.
- Speaking to reporters before leaving the Vatican, the Secretary-General said that, in dealing with the migration crisis in the Mediterranean, the international community needs to address the root causes of migration and find ways to share responsibility for resettling those who make the perilous journey. Collective action, he added, is the only approach that can work for a problem of such a large and trans-national nature.
- The Secretary-General travelled to Paris later in the day, where he addressed the Ambassadors to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He also chaired a meeting of his Global Education First Initiative and participated in a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS OUTBREAK OF VIOLENCE IN BURUNDI FOLLOWING PRESIDENTIAL NOMINATION
- In a statement on Burundi, the Secretary-General condemned the outbreak of violence in Burundi following the nomination of President Pierre Nkurunziza as the presidential candidate of the ruling National Council for the Defense of Democracy–Forces for the Defense of Democracy party.
- He called on the Burundian authorities to conduct a prompt investigation into the deaths that occurred during the recent demonstrations so that those responsible are held accountable.
- The Secretary-General has dispatched his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, to Burundi for consultations with President Nkurunziza and other Government authorities, political party leaders and members of the diplomatic community.
- He called on the Burundian authorities to uphold the human rights of all Burundians, including the freedom of assembly, association and expression. He also called on the security services to remain impartial and exercise restraint in responding to public demonstrations. He urged all parties to reject violence and avoid using inflammatory language or hate speech that could further increase tensions.
- The Secretary-General appealed to Burundians to safeguard the hard won gains made in consolidating peace and democracy and urges them to resolve their differences through dialogue. He reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support peaceful, credible and inclusive elections.
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that almost 21,000 civilians have fled to neighbouring Rwanda this month to escape electoral violence, including a surge of more than 5,000 who crossed the border over the weekend.
- Most of the refugees are women and children, who have reportedly experienced intimidation and threats of violence linked to the June 26 presidential election.
DARFUR: SECRETARY-GENERAL DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT ATTACKS AGAINST PEACEKEEPERS
- In a statement on Darfur, the Secretary-General said that he was deeply concerned about the recent increase in attacks on peacekeepers serving in the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the limited cooperation provided by the Government of Sudan in addressing these incidents.
- The Secretary-General condemned the two successive attacks by unidentified armed groups that occurred in Kass, South Darfur, on 23 and 24 April.
- The Secretary-General urged the Government of Sudan to ensure that the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice and take all necessary action to avoid further attacks on or threats against peacekeepers in Darfur. UNAMID has launched its own investigation into the incidents.
- The Secretary-General also deeply regretted that, on 26 April, the Government of Sudan denied a flight request for the emergency medical evacuation of an Ethiopian peacekeeper injured while performing his duties in Mujkar in West Darfur. The peacekeeper died hours later.
- The Secretary-General underscored the need for the Government of Sudan and the United Nations to work in full cooperation, especially in the context of the ongoing discussion on the UNAMID exit strategy. The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation and support to UNAMID and its troops for their tireless efforts to implement their mandate.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL ADDRESSES HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
- The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, is in Geneva today, where he spoke at the Human Rights Council and met with Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
- He is expected to travel to Paris, where he will participate in the Chief Executives Board meeting that the Secretary-General will chair.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO VISIT EARTHQUAKE-AFFECTED COMMUNITIES IN NEPAL
- Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos will visit Nepal from Thursday to Saturday, at the invitation of the Government. The aim of her visit is to show solidarity with the Nepali people, raise the visibility of the crisis and assess the response operations.
- Ms. Amos’ office says that the death toll has risen to nearly 4,400, with more than 8,100 people injured and hundreds accounted for, according to Government figures. Some 8.1 million people have been affected. Authorities say that up to 80 per cent of houses in Kathmandu have collapsed, with many people feared to be trapped inside.
- In Kathmandu Valley, the main hospitals are functioning, but are overcrowded and lack emergency supplies. Damage to hospitals is reported from several affected districts.
- A UN team is being deployed in the capital to assist the Humanitarian Country Team and the Government to coordinate emergency relief efforts on the ground. There are 37 urban search-and-rescue teams on the ground with over 545 personnel and 36 dogs.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) is coordinating arrivals, dispatch and allocation of medical teams to affected areas. It has also deployed emergency health kits containing essential medicine, disposables and instruments to cover the health needs of 80,000 people for the next three months.
- The World Food Programme (WFP) plans to provide food for 1.4 million people over the next three months. Distribution of rice is expected to start in Gorkha, one of the worst-hit districts, tomorrow. It has also dispatched 80 metric tonnes of emergency items including tents, blankets, health kits and telecommunication equipment.
- WFP is also activing its UN Humanitarian Air Service operation to access remote areas cut off completely or hard to reach overland. For its part, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) is responding to a call by the Government and is sending thousands of plastic sheets and solar-powered lamps to people left homeless and without light.
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), together with the Nepal Red Cross, is distributing hygiene kits. UNICEF will also airlift medical and sanitation supplies, as well as tents, from Copenhagen.
VIOLENCE DISTRUPTS SERVICES AT TWO MAJOR HOSPITALS IN YEMEN
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that violence has disrupted services at two major health facilities in Yemen.
- Militants entered the main hospital in Aden, Al Jumhouria Hospital, yesterday and started shooting. Patients and doctors fled in terror. The main public hospital in Haradh, which serves more than 150,000 people, is almost deserted after an attack on 24 April.
- All parties to the conflict are legally obliged under international humanitarian law to respect and protect civilians and to spare them from the effects of the fighting. All attacks on hospitals must stop.
- In Sana'a, water processing plants that supply drinking water have closed, and public transport and operations at financial institutions have been reduced because of the lack of fuel.
- Humanitarian partners estimate that more than 300,000 people have now been displaced by the escalating conflict, particularly in Hajjah, Al Dhale'e and Abyan Governorates.
- UN agencies and humanitarian partners report that food distributions in Hudaydah Governorate will stop today because of lack of fuel. Operations in other locations will also run out of fuel in the next few days. About 106,000 people received food assistance yesterday, bringing the total since 15 April to nearly half a million people in seven Governorates.
U.N. REFGUEE AGENCY ASSISTS HUNDREDS RESCUED AT SEA NEAR TRIPOLI, LIBYA
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners are assisting some of the more than 1,200 people rescued at sea near Tripoli over the past 10 days. Many of them are in immigration detention centres.
- In Libya, so far, UNHCR has registered some 36,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, many of them affected by the growing violence and lawlessness in the country. The majority of them are Syrians, Palestinians, Eritreans, Iraqis, Somalis and Sudanese.
- The agency says that at least 2,663 migrants or asylum-seekers, including women and children, are now spread across eight immigration detention facilities across Libya run by the Department for Combatting Illegal Migration. This is a significant increase from the 1,455 people in detention a month ago.
- UNHCR can generally organize the release of refugees and asylum-seekers it has registered but its capacity to register new arrivals in Libya is currently limited due to the security environment. It has appealed to the Libyan authorities for the release of very vulnerable people, such as pregnant women, and also for alternatives to detention, where people can stay up to 12 months in poor conditions.
SECURITY COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTIONS ON CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC, WESTERN SAHARA AND COTE D’IVOIRE
- In a series of votes today, the Security Council extended the mandates of the peacekeeping missions in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and Western Sahara (MINURSO) by one year, until the end of April 2016, and also extended the arms embargo in Côte d’Ivoire by a year.
- The Security Council then heard in its closed consultations from Terje Roed-Larsen, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for the Implementation of Resolution 1559, about the recent developments in Lebanon.
D.R. CONGO: U.N. MINE ACTION STAFF HAVE BEEN RELEASED
- Three UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) contractors, who were abducted on 23 April in North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were released earlier today.
- They are unharmed and have arrived safely in Goma. They will return to their home locations over the coming days.
HEAD OF U.N. PEACEKEEPING MEETS TRANSITIONAL AUTHORITY IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is currently in the Central African Republic (CAR), as the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in CAR (MINUSCA) has just reached its full operational capability, a year after the mission was established.
- Mr. Ladsous also held meetings with the transitional authorities ahead of the opening of the National Bangui Forum on 4 May.
U.N. ENVOY IN MALI APPEALS FOR CALM AFTER ATTACK AGAINST PEACEKEEPING VEHICLES
- The head of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mongi Hamdi, expressed his great concern for the peace process following the events in Ménaka yesterday and in Timbuktu today, where vehicles of MINUSMA were targeted.
- Mr. Hamdi appealed for calm to give dialogue and peace a chance, and stressed that there is no alternative to the signing of a peace agreement.
SOUTHERN AFRICA’S MAIZE HARVEST EXPECTED TO SHRINK, COULD LEAD TO FOOD INSECURITY
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned today that Southern Africa's maize harvest is expected to shrink this year by some 26 percent compared with 2014's bumper crop. This could trigger food price increases and adversely affect recent food security gains.
- The fall is mostly due to the impact of erratic weather conditions. An expected drop in maize harvest in South Africa, which is the sub-region's main producer and exporter, accounts for most of the decline.
**The guest at the noon briefing was the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, Lassina Zerbo.