HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
TUESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2015
U.N. ENVOY STRESSES NEED FOR INTRA-SYRIAN TALKS
- The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met early this week in Istanbul with representatives of the Syrian opposition. Yesterday, he met with a delegation of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC), and then today, he met with delegations from armed opposition groups.
- Mr. de Mistura briefed the opposition delegates on the outcomes reached by the International Syria Support Group, including the close linkage between a ceasefire and a parallel political process pursuant to the 2012 Geneva Communiqué.
- In this context, the Special Envoy elaborated on his efforts to prepare for intra-Syrian talks under UN auspices, with a view to a Syrian-led process aimed at establishing credible, inclusive and non-sectarian governance and drafting a new constitution in Syria.
- He said that this initiative, now called the intra-Syrian talks, is building upon the Working Groups proposed by the Secretary-General and Mr. de Mistura to the Security Council in July and endorsed by the Council in its 17 August presidential statement. In this regard, Mr. de Mistura welcomed Saudi Arabia’s initiative to convene a delegation of the Syrian opposition.
YEMEN: U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY CONTINUES MEETINGS WITH YEMENI PARTIES, OVER 80 PER CENT OF POPULATION NEEDS AID
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, continues to hold consultations with both Yemeni parties.
- The Special Envoy for Yemen travelled to the region, where he just met with the Houthi delegation in Muscat to discuss a proposed agenda and composition of their delegation, following his discussions with the Government of Yemen’s delegation last week.
- All parties continue to be committed to a political settlement of the conflict, and Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed has been encouraged by his recent talks. However, further consultations are still required to ensure smooth and constructive discussions at the negotiating table.
- The Special Envoy will be traveling to Riyadh today to continue his consultations with the Government of Yemen’s delegation and he hopes to announce a date for the talks soon. He also commends the regional and international actors for their support in the process.
- Meanwhile, our humanitarian partners now estimate that 21.2 million people in Yemen or 82 per cent of the population require some kind of humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs or protect their fundamental rights, according to the Yemen Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2016, published today.
- Six months of conflict have taken a severe toll on civilians’ lives and their basic rights. Health facilities report more than 32,200 casualties since the end of March, many of them civilians. In the same period, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has verified close to 9,000 reports of human rights violations.
- Aid organizations estimate that 14.4 million people do not have enough food; 14.1 million people don't have sufficient access to healthcare; and 9.3 million don't have proper access to clean water or sanitation. Meanwhile, nearly 320,000 children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and 1.8 million children have been out of school since mid-March.
- There are currently some 2.3 million people are displaced within Yemen, while 121,000 people have fled the country.
U.N. SPECIAL ADVISER HOLDS TALKS IN BURUNDI IN SUPPORT OF INCLUSIVE DIALOGUE
- The Special Adviser of the Secretary-General, Jamal Benomar, has in recent days held meetings with the African Union in Addis Ababa and with Ugandan senior officials in Kampala.
- He arrived yesterday in Burundi to work with the Government of Burundi, as well as other concerned stakeholders, in support of an inclusive inter-Burundian dialogue and peaceful resolution of conflict.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE ALARMED BY VIOLENCE IN SOUTHERN NEPAL
- The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said today that it is alarmed by reports that at least four people have been killed and many injured, from both sides, in violent clashes over the weekend during protests in the Terai area of southern Nepal.
- These killings bring to at least 50 the death toll since protests against the new Constitution began this August.
- The protesters, from ethnic Madeshi groups, have been demanding that their concerns be addressed in the Constitution.
- They have been conducting a campaign of strikes and obstructions along the border between India and Nepal.
- The Human Rights Office stressed that any obstruction of essential supplies and services is a serious violation of international human rights law, and called on all parties involved on both sides of the Nepal-India border to immediately ensure effective, safe and rapid passage of supplies.
- The Office also said it has been urging all parties to engage in a meaningful, inclusive and open dialogue, to create a climate where minority and dissenting views are respected.
BANGLADESH: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE URGES GOVERNMENT TO IMMEDIATELY INSTITUTE MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY
- The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today said that the executions over the weekend of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujhid in Bangladesh brings to four the number of people hanged following convictions by the country’s International Crimes Tribunal.
- The UN Human Rights Office said that it has long warned that, given the doubts that have been raised about the fairness of trials conducted before the Tribunal, the Government of Bangladesh should not implement death penalty sentences.
- The UN opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances, even for the most serious international crimes. The Office renewed its call on the Government of Bangladesh to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty and abolish the practice altogether.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED OVER HUMANITARIAN PROBLEMS AT CROSSINGS FROM GREECE INTO THE BALKANS
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today warned of new humanitarian problems at crossings from Greece into the Balkans resulting from the profiling of people based on their alleged nationalities.
- It said that at the borders between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Serbia, nationals of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq are being allowed to cross but 1,000 people are stuck at the main entry point into the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia into Greece.
- Growing frustrations have led to protests among hundreds of people, mainly Iranians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. Some 60 people are on hunger strike, and 11 individuals are reported to have stitched up their mouths.
- With refugees and migrants expected to continue arriving in Europe via Greece over the winter and into 2016, the Refugee Agency stressed that it is imperative that the situation be managed in such a way as to minimize the risks of new problems being created.
- All people have the right the right to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard.
WESTERN SAHARA: U.N. ENVOY MEETS REGIONAL LEADERS
- The Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, was in Algeria, where he met with President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and Ministers of the Algerian Government.
- Mr. Ross is now travelling to Rabat, the capital of Morocco. Over the next few days, he is also expected to visit Tindouf and Nouakchott, in Mauritania.
AHEAD OF PARIS CLIMATE CONFERENCE, NEW REPORT WARNS THAT MILLIONS OF CHILDREN LIVE IN DISASTER-PRONE AREAS
- Ahead of the climate change conference starting in Paris (COP21) next week, a new UNICEF report says that more than half a billion children live in flood-prone areas and 160 million live in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed to the impacts of climate change.
- Executive Director Anthony Lake said that the sheer numbers underline the urgency of acting now.
- He noted that today’s children are the least responsible for climate change, but they, and their children, are the ones who will live with its consequences. And, he added, as is so often the case, disadvantaged communities face the gravest threat.
- Mr. Lake said that we know what has to be done to prevent the devastation climate change can inflict. Failing to act would be unconscionable, and we owe it to our children and to the planet to make the right decisions at COP21.
U.N. FOOD AND AGRICULTURE AGENCY ISSUES NEW GUIDELINES TO CONSERVE GENETIC RESOURCES
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released today new guidelines to assist countries in better conserving and sustainably using genetic resources in times of climate change.
- Genetic resources for food and agriculture encompass the diversity of plants, animals, forests, aquatic resources, micro-organisms and invertebrates that play a role in food and agricultural production.
- While these life forms are themselves threatened by climate change, their genetic makeup makes them key players in addressing future challenges.