20 November 2013
Spokesperson's Noon Briefing

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Acting Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Hello, good afternoon.

** Nepal

I have the following statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Nepal.

The Secretary-General congratulates the people of Nepal for the peaceful and successful conduct of the Constituent Assembly election.  The turnout shows their determination to take the peace process forward.  The new Constituent Assembly will have the historic responsibility to complete a new constitution, building upon the impressive gains in the peace process, so far, and thereby promoting national dialogue and genuine reconciliation.  The United Nations remains committed to supporting Nepal in its transition towards a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future.

**Secretary-General’s Travel

The Secretary-General is in Warsaw today, where he has been having a range of meetings with groups and countries, mainly focused on climate change, and he spoke at an event devoted to climate finance.

In his remarks at that event, the Secretary-General said that progress on climate finance is crucial for fuelling confidence in the negotiations on an ambitious global climate agreement.  He said that climate change is a threat to economies large and small, and to the stability of the global financial system.  More public and private finance is needed, along with stable investment policies and helpful regulatory frameworks.

The Secretary-General also met with the Polish Prime Minister at the Prime Minister’s office and spoke to reporters there.  Those remarks are available online.  Tomorrow, the Secretary-General has a number of further meetings at the climate change conference before flying back to New York.

** Philippines

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that according to the Government of the Philippines, some 4.4 million people are displaced and more than 1 million homes have been damaged.  Access and logistics continue to improve, but debris-clearing operations continue in some areas, while there are still power outages in others.  The relief operation has been scaled up substantially, especially in Tacloban. All residents now have access to clean drinking water and hygiene kits are being distributed to help prevent outbreaks of water-borne disease.

While much of the international focus has been on Tacloban, many other islands and remote villages also need to be reached, particularly in the Western Visayas region.  UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos today visited Roxas, an area badly affected by the typhoon and severe winds, where she met with people living in evacuation centres.  She said that that the top priorities are helping them build adequate shelters and getting their livelihoods back up and running.  Ms. Amos also met the Governor and members of the humanitarian relief teams working in Roxas and praised the coordination among the authorities, humanitarian agencies and militaries who are delivering aid.

**Security Council

The Security Council was briefed this morning by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, Abou Moussa, on the situation in the region.  In his remarks, Mr. Moussa expressed concern about the growing instability in the Central African Republic and the proliferation of armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.  The Special Representative said that in the Central African Republic, the recent increase in sectarian violence is particularly alarming and that there is a pressing need to address this crisis before it spirals out of control.

Mr. Moussa said that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, although the defeat of the M23 (23 March Movement) rebel group is a victory, a peace agreement has not been signed and several other rebel groups continue to threaten local communities.  Regarding the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Mr. Moussa said that military operations have degraded the LRA and limited it to pursuing survival tactics.  However, the group remains a serious and unpredictable threat.

Mr. Moussa’s remarks are available in our office and I believe he is expecting to speak to the press at the Security Council stakeout once that meeting is done.  The briefing will be followed by Security Council consultations on Sudan sanctions.

** Darfur

The African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mohamed ibn Chambas, attended the signing ceremony of the final security arrangements between the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) today in Khartoum.

He said he hoped the signing of these arrangements, stipulated under the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur, would constitute a significant step towards that document’s implementation.  He also said that this signing marks the beginning of new chapter for the Liberation and Justice Movement with the start of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of their forces.  There is a press statement available online.

**South Sudan

The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Kyung-Wha Kang, wrapped up a three-day visit to South Sudan today where she visited displaced communities in Jonglei State, as well as Government officials, local authorities and humanitarian organizations.

She stressed the need to promote resilience and said that it was important for humanitarian workers to be able to support the Government in developing disaster risk reduction and preparedness strategies, and in helping to improve the resilience of local communities, including enabling women to fully participate in decision-making processes.  She said that although the overall humanitarian situation had improved in several areas of South Sudan in the past year, millions of people are still in dire need of help.  Her press statement is available online.

** C ôte d’Ivoire

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire, Ms. Aïchatou Mindaoudou, condemned today the recent acts of violence against journalists, including the attack on a journalist working for Tomorrow magazine on 14 November, after which he died.  The UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) urges the authorities to take all necessary measures to ensure that those responsible are identified and brought to justice.  The mission also calls on all stakeholders to support freedom of information and expression and for the citizens’ right to be informed through a free and pluralistic press.

**Secretary-General’s Appointment

I have an appointment to announce.  Following consultations with the Advisory Commission of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the Secretary-General has appointed Pierre Krähenbühl of Switzerland as the Agency’s new Commissioner-General.  He will replace Filippo Grandi.  Mr. Krähenbühl currently holds the position of Director of Operations at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  And we have more information on this appointment in our office.

**Universal Children’s Day

As the world marks Universal Children’s Day — the anniversary of the UN Convention of the Rights of the child — UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) is urging that a much stronger light be shone on millions of children in every country and at every level of society who are victims of violence and abuse.  A UNICEF press release, as well as a joint press release with Child Helpline International and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, can be found at our office.

**Press Conferences

And last, tomorrow, at approximately 11:45 a.m., Tony Blair will speak to the reporters at the Trusteeship Council Stakeout following his briefing to the opening session of the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the Security Council.

Then, at noon, the UN Police Adviser, Stefan Feller, and Commissioner Hester Paneras will be my guests at the Noon Briefing.

That’s it from me.  Any questions?  Mr. Abbadi?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  How does the Secretary-General propose to get financing for climate change from private entities some of whom doubt the notion of climate change?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, it is clear that there are still some sceptics to win over. But the Secretary-General believes that we have been winning over those sceptics and more and more people are convinced of the need to do something urgently to address climate change.

In regarding what you said about getting private businesses on board, one of the things the Secretary-General said today, for example in his remarks after he met with the President of Poland, is that science is telling us we need to do more. Economists are highlighting the huge cost of inaction.  Businesspeople want the signals from Government that will create the right incentives to build a low-carbon future.

And what we are trying to do is encourage Governments to help provide those sorts of incentives for business, so that we can all be on the path towards a low-carbon future and towards sustainable development.  Yes, Karaman?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  For the last few days, I mean, today and yesterday, there were bombings in Syria; hospitals were bombed, many died and the UN system, I mean, not just Secretariat, but the system seems to be kind of gone totally silent on you know, against the crimes that are being committed in Syria by either radical groups or by the Government forces.  I mean, do you have anything to say on that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, although it is true that we don’t put out statements on this every single day, we have been drawing attention everyday to the violence in Syria.  And certainly, we oppose all of the violence whether by the Government or by radical groups or the opposition.  We have been trying to get a halt to all violence and we will continue with that.  And as you know, the Secretary-General and the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, are continuing with their own diplomatic efforts to see whether we can get an international conference for Syria by the middle of December and get to an effective peace process that can finally bring an end to this brutally long war.  Yes?

Question:  A follow-up.  Can you update us on what is happening on that track?  I mean, is there any positive development?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, certainly the discussions that the Secretary-General and others in the system, including Mr. Brahimi, have been having are progressing. But next week I believe we had announced earlier that the twenty-fifth of November would be the next time that Lakhdar Brahimi will meet, have a tripartite meeting with the [United States] and Russian officials to take stock of where we are.  And we will see where we are at that point, and whether at that point we can announce when the next conference; the next Geneva II conference will take place.

At this stage, the Secretary-General has no announcement to make, but once he believes he is ready to make an announcement, he will do so.  Yes, Masood?

Question:  Yes, sir, in the case of Palestine, occupied Palestine, which is now surrounded by one side by Israel which is stopping all any… any aid shipment and stuff like that.  Egypt itself is now also not allowing any shipments to go in.  The situation is dire over there… humanitarian situation is dire over there.  Has the Secretary-General been able to do anything about or, or, about this humanitarian situation and talked to Israelis or to Egyptians?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, yes, our efforts continue, including the efforts of the Special Coordinator on the ground, Robert Serry.  Yesterday, as you may know, Jeffrey Feltman, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs spoke to the Security Council on the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and gave an update including on the humanitarian situation and our continuing concerns in the work we are doing.  I’d just refer you to what he said at yesterday’s briefing.  Yes, Pam?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Just back to the Geneva II conference; the Secretary-General, with the Prime Minister of Poland this morning, said that he wants this conference in mid-December that should be the beginning and end of fighting; is there any progress on… on bringing the two sides together and does he have the rebel side’s agreed to attend, which we’ve read about and has, does he have the Government of Assad attending?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I believe the Government had already announced, and we confirmed the announcement some time back of their willingness to attend these talks.  We do believe it is important for there both to be a single Government delegation and a single opposition delegation that will be present for the Geneva II conference.  Like I said, once the Secretary-General believes he is ready to make an announcement about when the conference will be held, he will do so.  But, we are not at that point yet.  So, I don’t really have anything to say about when it is gonna happen just now.

Correspondent:  But…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  We’re still holding to our basic target of mid-December.

Question:  But, just as a follow-up, in his… he seemed very upbeat today on a… in the Warsaw meeting with the Prime Minister, is the… is the… are the decisions made about if Iran attends and who… what other nations attend?  Obviously, there is a lot going on in the region.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I won’t repeat what we have said, but you know what our stance is on that question.  But, a lot of these issues remain to be decided by various parties to see what we can do to make sure that there is a maximum of attendance of parties that will be helpful to moving this process along.  Once we have an announcement to make, we will do it.  But, we are still not at that point, though.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure, Farhan, I wanted to ask you… it… at the… the climate talks in Warsaw it is reported that… that a block of developing nations are very angry and walk… “walking out due to the failure to address…”, you know, who should pay for damages like the typhoon in the Philippines under the loss and damage provision damage that Australia said it should only be discussed after 2015, given the… the importance of this issue to many… so many countries and to the issue of climate change.  Does the Secretary-General have any view of whether the… this issue of compensation for damages caused by climate change should be dealt with now or… or… or should be put back beyond 2015?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, while he has been speaking in Warsaw, the Secretary-General has made it clear that that’s an issue to be resolved by the States who are attending these talks.  And we are leaving that decision there, in their hands.  But, he has been very clear about the need for nations to come together at these talks; he wants the Conference of Parties that is under way in Warsaw to be a useful stepping stone in this process.

And one of the things he said is I agree that we are all in this together.  We need to work together.  We need to be united and we need to have solidarity among all the people around the world.

No single country, no single organization, can address this problem on its own.  Yet, every single country can benefit from climate action at the global level.

So, he is urging a unified stance, and let’s see how that develops.  Yes?

Question:  I wanted to ask you, there… there… there is… there are reports kind of conflicting reports about in Southern Kordofan, the rebels are claiming that the… or the… that they rocketed the city saying that they were bombed by the Government… that… they… they say six were killed on their side, there is reports from Kadugli of… of others killed, and I know that there is a UN, uh… there is some UN presence in Kadugli.  I wanted to know, can the UN confirm any of this fighting back and forth?  And also how it might impact on the plan described by John Ging of [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] to do some kind of polio vaccination in Southern Kordofan?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, well, we ourselves are not present in Southern Kordofan itself.  But, I will… we’ll have to check.

[The Deputy Spokesperson later noted:  The UN remains deeply concerned that the polio vaccination campaign has still not gone ahead in SPLM-N (Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North) areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.  Cessation of hostilities is essential before the vaccination campaign can go ahead.  The UN continues to call on the parties to cease hostilities and agree on outstanding logistical issues to allow this purely humanitarian initiative to go ahead.  The UN stands ready to implement the vaccination campaign at short notice as soon as the parties agree to a cessation of hostilities, provide security assurances and resolve outstanding logistical questions.]

Question:  Isn’t there, isn’t there a UNISFA (United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei) base there in, uh… logistics base?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  A logistics base, but UNISFA’s area of operations is as you know, Abyei.  It’s the UN security force in Abyei, so, that is where it’s actually doing its work. I mean, it has a place where its supply is, but I don’t believe we have an actual peacekeeping presence as part of Southern Kordofan.  That’s not in… it’s not in our mandated area of operations.

Question:  But, just… just… I just wanna be… does this mean… is the UN somehow precluded from… from either ex… expressing concern or trying to find out what happened in Southern Kordofan?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  That’s not the case, but it is not our area of operations.  The area where UNISFA operates is a different area.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes?

Question:  Martin, uh… sorry, Farhan, there is a, um… there are reports that there is a new plan for the destruction of the chemical weapons; that they might be destroyed at sea and that’s a possibility ra… it would still involve moving them across conflict zones.  Do you have any comment, and will there be any, um… the Special Coordinator was supposed to hold a few press conferences, do you expect any kind of update from her and on this, this par… and can you just tell us… tell me about this possibility of destroying them at sea with the OPCW-UN (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons-United Nations) mission?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, regarding that, yes, the possibility of destroying chemical weapons at sea is one of the options.  But, there is a number of options that are being discussed, including ones involving transporting them to a different State.  So, there are discussions going on with different States, but that is one of the various options.

Somewhere down the line, of course, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will provide some further details about how the plans for the destruction of chemical weapons, of Syria’s chemical weapons will be implemented.  But, at this stage, it is simply one option among many that are being discussed.

Question:  All right, and since it is being discussed, where at sea would they be?  Like high seas, off… off a coast?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I wouldn’t be able to go into that detail.  We don’t even know for sure whether that’s an option that will be taken.  But, it is one of a range of possibilities.  And we’ll have to see.  One thing though that is very clear is that whether the destruction takes place on land or on sea, the intention is to make sure that the highest international standards are followed in terms of safety and other procedures for the destruction of these weapons.

Correspondent:  Thank you, Farhan.

Correspondent:  [inaudible]

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Oh, yeah.  Yes? Yes, you, and then Karaman, yes, Masood.

Question:  So, I go first?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yeah.

Question:  On this issue of destruction, the… in… in Afghanistan, the cult… the poppy cultivation has reached new high and the drug trade has gone higher than ever before.  And now that NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) is leaving, I mean slowly and slowly they are winding down.  It seems that this is going to spiral out of control.  Does the United Nations drug office have any plans to somehow talk to the Karzai government or whichever… whoever is the power in Afghanistan now how to control this drug epidemic or the cultivation of poppies which is going on?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, a few days ago, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in fact, came out with its latest finding about poppy cultivation.  And one of the things they made clear was the need for alternate economic activity, so that you could steer different peoples and groups away from relying on poppy cultivation for livelihood.  And so, that is what the Office on Drugs and Crime has been supporting and that’s what they have been taking up with the Government of Afghanistan and other responsible authorities.

Question:  Yeah, but Farhan, the thing is this has been going on for a very long time I am, I think since forever that we will find alternative means of cultivation other things to be, other vegetables to be grown when nothing has really stemmed it at all.  Are there any new ideas in… in UN Drug Office plans to do this except for the… to provide them with alternative methods?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, they have been doing a number of things, including, of course, trying to get the authorities with different degrees of success to crack down on the cultivation and transport of opium poppies.  But, yes, one of the things that is needed is to steer different people away from needing to grow poppies for their livelihoods.  Ultimately, there is no real alternative to doing that, because if people have no other options, that’s what they will grow.

Correspondent:  Because…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  So… so, there are needs for other activities, and there are ways of providing different types of economic activity in bringing different opportunities to different parts of Afghanistan, so they can be steered away from poppy cultivation.  Yes?  Yeah, Peter.


Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Oh, oh, oh, sorry, Karaman, his hand was up first.  And then you, Peter.  Karaman?

Question:  Thank you, thank you.  Sorry.  Back to the chemical weapons issue, Farhan, can you enlighten us how this process will work; who will decide where and how these chemical weapons will be destroyed?  If it is at sea, which sea and, you know, who decides where?  Is it going to be in Siberia by Russia?  Is it… where is it going to be and who decides that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, as with Pam’s question, that’s a level of detail that we’ll simply not at… at this stage.  There is a range of options being considered; destruction at sea is one of them, but it is not the only one.  And we are in talks — that is to say, the joint mission, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons — are in talks with nations to see what is a workable solution to this.  Yes?

Question:  Yeah, since poppies are used to make opium; and opium can be refined into morphine, has any UN agency ever explored the idea of just buying the crop and converting it into medical use; use morphine, or is there some policy or prohibition on that idea?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I think you’d need to check with the Office on Drugs and Crime itself what its precise policy is on this.  I don’t frankly know what they stipulate in terms of medicinal uses, but I believe they do have a policy and you might want to check with their office in Vienna.  Yes?

Question:  Sure, thanks.  I wanted to ask about, I mean, it’s about Haiti.  One is about there have been, there seems to have been now several days in a row of… of protests that have been… tear gas has been used on them, they are calling for the resignation of the President and for local elections to be held.  And Uruguay seems to now be confirming that they are pulling their… their… their… their… dah… you know, their part of MINU… uh… uh… of MINUSTAH (United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti) out and sending their Foreign Minister and Defence Minister including to New York to do that.  I wanted to know… wha… what does the UN say about the protests and about the… the road map forward in Haiti, and also if you still, if there is any answer yet to this idea whether there are standing claims commissions in… in… in any UN peacekeeping mission.  I know that it has taken, it may not be a yes or no question, but it’s been six days it seems like probably it could be answered.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, counting the number of days that it takes for people to do their work is actually unhelpful.  They are doing their work and I have checked back with them; and they are doing it.  We will get an answer to you at some point, but it takes people in our Peacekeeping and Legal Affairs offices to look into this matter.

Now, regarding Haiti and the question of the Uruguayans; we are aware of the press reports on this matter, and we share the concerns expressed regarding the long-delayed elections in Haiti.  Preliminary and informal discussions have taken place with the Uruguayan representatives in New York regarding the planned withdrawal of a part of their troops, as part of the peacekeeping mission's consolidation.  However, no formal notification has as yet been exchanged.

And regarding the protests, I believe the mission itself has said something on the ground, and you can just look into what the Mission, MINUSTAH has been saying.

Question:  I just… just… and I’m… I’m… I mean, my only question is just that, if the question is do they have standing commissions or not?  It seems like after this amount of time, and I understand you’re say… it seems like, if they need to have some explanation of why it’s no, if it’s yes, they clearly…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, Matthew…

Question:  …know it, right?  So, it’s…

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, Matthew, the work is being done.  I am sure you would write an angry story about anyone who sends an assignment to their underlings then counts the number of days it takes for them to actually get it done right.  Yes, Pam?  Pam first, then you.

QuestionFarhan, the Secretary-General said at these climate talks today that he was deeply concerned about not being able, that the scale of action, I think it was what he said, was not sufficient to meet the lowering of temperatures that they are seeking to combat climate change.  What else, um… what is he implying that can be done; and does he think he is, after all this haggling is going on at, um… in Warsaw, what… what can be… what does he think he may… will he achieve that goal?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  We’re certainly hopeful that we’ll achieve that goal, precisely because our mutual survival in the long term depends on it.  And what he has been trying to do is underscore to the people of the world and to the Governments of the world that it is in all of our shared interest to actually come together, finance a green climate; finance low-carbon economies that can help us on the way forward, so that we don’t destroy our planet.

You’re absolutely right that one… he has been saying is that the commitments made so far haven’t been enough; but one of the things he has been doing and he has been meeting with all of the various nations in different groupings of Member States to try to get them to come together and understand what their shared responsibilities are and then act on them and come to agreement on a way forward that we can all live with.  Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Back to the question of the destruction of chemical weapons, you indicated that one of the options will be to destroy them in the sea without mentioning whether it is territorial sea or high seas.  Regarding high seas, has anybody checked whether that would be in conformity with the treaty of the Law of the Sea?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I am not going to go into further details about the options that are being discussed.  I didn’t say that it would be on the high seas in the first place.  But, in any case, destruction by sea and destruction by land are among the options being considered.  However that destruction takes place, it will be done in conformity with international law and the highest level of international standards.  Beyond that, I don’t really have details to give, because this is the very nature of the fairly sensitive discussions that are going on with a number of Member States right now.  Yes, Karama?

Question:  Follow-up, Farhan, I mean, the, it might be too many questions on that… to Mr. Abbadi’s question, I mean, it looks like no country is going to accept these weapons to be destroyed on their territory.  It looks like destruction at sea is the only viable option at this point, no?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  I never answer questions that are based on hypothetical things about something that might happen.  For example, the man in front of you asked me many questions about a war that he said was inevitable in September, which did not happen.  Let’s see.  Yeah?

Question:  Thanks.  Are there any repercussions to Assad now that the resolution has taken place and, I mean, for two and half years, there has been instances of — one could say war crimes, one could say genocide — I am just wondering the UN or the Secretary-General’s position specifically to Assad in terms of repercussions.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: Well, the Secretary-General has repeatedly and strongly called for accountability not just by President Assad, mind you, but by all sides who are guilty of atrocities; who are guilty of violations against civilians, and we continue to do that.  Yes, Masood?

Question:  Is there a specific time frame?

Correspondent:  Yes, yes, Farhan.

Question:  Is there specific repercussions?

Correspondent:  [inaudible]

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes, you are.

Question:  Yes, [Inaudible]… Syria that it… about to burst, I mean, it may not have turned out into a full-fledged war, but it was nevertheless… it scarred millions of people in Syria.  That’s what we were basically talking about.  I mean, it, there is a civil war going on in any case.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Yeah.

Question:  It may not have gone to the heights that we had probably suggested, but it was happening.  That’s the reason why we were very concerned about it.

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Oh, yeah.  No, no, Masood, I appreciate your point.  But, the basic point is there was a time when many people were convinced that something would happen, which didn’t happen.  Karaman right now as basing the question on the idea that no one will agree.  And it is possible someone will agree.  The bottom line is we will have to see.  The discussions are going on; let’s see what the results are.  Yes?

Question:  Sure.  I actually, on that, just speaking of… of agreements and things happening or not, is there any, what’s the update on the dem… the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo signing with the M23?  I know that there was a lot of focus they went to Kampala, are they any closer, is it… is it… does the… what’s the UN doing to ensure that that conflict is actually signed on the dotted line?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, we are certainly trying to see what we can do to get the parties to come to some form of agreement… some form of understanding.  But, as for the latest update, Abou Moussa gave that in his remarks about Central Africa which are available in our office.

Question:  Can I ask about the Fiji peacekeepers?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Uh, no…

Question:  Do you have anything on that?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson: …hold on, one second.  Yes?

Question:  Just a final, a follow-up on the Lebanon bombings.  Was there… is… is… the Secretary-General made some initial comments.  Is he having any side meetings in Warsaw with world leaders about the widening of the civil war from Syria to Lebanon?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, certainly one of the topics he has been discussing is the expansion of the war in Syria.  But, in terms of, talking about Lebanon, I don’t have anything further to say beyond the statements that were put out by the Secretary-General; by the Special Coordinator for Lebanon and later in the day by the Security Council about the situation.  That is as about as much as the system has been saying about yesterday’s incident in Beirut.

Question:  But, any side meetings in Warsaw about it?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, he’s had a number of meetings in Warsaw; I don’t have any specific readouts to give, but certainly, the situation in Syria and in the wider region has been part of his various discussions that he has been having along with of course, talking about climate change.  Yes?

Question:  I just wanted to… the… the… the… I wanted to know whether you were able… I had asked you yesterday about this UNDOF peacekeepers from Fiji, there are now more and more, now Radio New Zealand; it’s being pretty much reported all over.  What took place in that incident and is there a peacekeeper in hospital in… in Israel and what’s the UN’s understanding of what happened?

Acting Deputy Spokesperson:  Our colleagues in Peacekeeping are looking into that and once we have a reply, I will get it for you.


[The Deputy Spokesperson later noted:  UNDOF, like other UN peacekeeping missions, has contingencies in place for medical emergencies, including medical facilities in its area of operation and evacuation procedures when required.  These procedures were adhered to following the incident of 15 November, in which UNDOF personnel were involved in a motor vehicle accident in the UNDOF area of operation.  The injured peacekeepers were immediately taken to the medical facility at the UNDOF headquarters, Camp Faouar.  UNDOF personnel requiring further medical attention were evacuated in accordance with medical emergency contingencies in place.]

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