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

14 October 2010

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

14 October 2010
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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the briefing.


I have with me today as my guests Angela Kane, who as you know is Under-Secretary-General for Management.  And also with Ms. Kane is Jun Yamazaki, who is Assistant Secretary-General and also Controller with the Office of Programme Planning, Budget and Accounts.  As you might suspect from the line-up, the main focus is to be able to brief you on the financial situation of the United Nations.

And then, obviously, Ms. Kane and Mr. Yamazaki will be happy to take questions.  I think we have about half an hour for that.  And then I will be happy to provide you with a little bit more detail on some other things going on and take questions.

So, please, the floor is yours.  Thank you very much.

[Press Conference by Ms. Kane and Mr. Yamasaki issued separately.]

**Secretary-General’s Statement on Cyprus

Okay, just to add a couple of other points, I have a statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Cyprus.

The Secretary-General welcomes the opening today of the crossing point at Limnitis/Yeþilýrmak in Cyprus, which he trusts will lead to increased interaction and cooperation between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.  He congratulates both communities and their leadership for this important achievement.

The Secretary-General hopes that this will help strengthen the climate of trust and goodwill necessary for the UN-supported negotiations to achieve a mutually-acceptable and lasting settlement as soon as possible.

** Chile

The Secretary-General spoke by telephone this morning with President Sebastian Piñera of Chile, to offer his warmest wishes following the safe rescue of 33 miners in Chile.

In a statement we issued last night, the Secretary-General joined with the people of Chile and the families of the heroic miners to celebrate what he called the “extraordinary triumph of human ingenuity and the strength of the human spirit”.  They worked together and never gave up, he said, and we can all learn from their bravery and perseverance.  The full statement is available in my office and also online.  We have also recently distributed a readout of the Secretary-General’s phone call with President Piñera.  And we have a separate readout on another phone call the Secretary-General had this morning with the Nigerian President.

**Security Council

The Security Council has a busy programme today, which began with a briefing this morning by the leaders of its mission last week to Sudan.

Following that meeting, Council members heard from Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe about his recent visit to Nepal.  They also have scheduled consultations on Nepal and Côte d’Ivoire.  We have Mr. Pascoe’s remarks in my Office.

Then, at 3 this afternoon, the Security Council will hold a formal meeting on Haiti to consider the mandate of the UN Mission there.  It has also scheduled a formal meeting on Sudan.

And after that, the Council will hold a formal meeting, followed by consultations, on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to hear from the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström.  And Ms. Wallström will speak to you at the Security Council stakeout after that.

** Sudan

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Georg Charpentier, is concerned by limitations on humanitarian access in view of intensified fighting in parts of Eastern Jebel Marra in Darfur.

The Humanitarian Coordinator welcomed the recent access by the World Health Organization and UNICEF to some parts of Eastern Jebel Marra, and he calls upon parties to the conflict to facilitate humanitarian access on a regular basis.  In this regard, he notes recent assurances from the Government of Sudan that access will be enlarged and sustained to allow for coverage of the national immunization campaign that started today.

And I have been asked a couple times about reports of attacks on a village in Jebel Marra.  We have actually had reports of attacks on as many as six villages, including the one already named, Soro, as well as other villages in eastern Jebel Marra.  These villages have not all been identified, as the information about the reported attacks is very sketchy.  Confirmation is difficult, and there is no access in these areas.  And as our statement today makes clear, we are trying to obtain that access.

** C ôte d’Ivoire

The electoral campaign in Côte d’Ivoire is due to start tomorrow. And the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Choi Young-jin is urging all the Ivorian protagonists, including presidential candidates, to continue to display maturity and respect for democratic principles, in line with the spirit and letter of the code of conduct.

He says he is confident that the interest and the aspiration of the population to see a peaceful resolution to the crisis will continue to guide all stakeholders and the Ivorian people will not tolerate any act of violence disrupting the electoral process.  We have his statement in my Office.

** Niger

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, has just arrived in Niger.

As you know, Niger has been one of the biggest humanitarian crises in Africa in 2010.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that nearly seven million people are affected by hunger in the country.

And during her three-day visit, Valerie Amos will visit the Zinder and Diffa regions — some of the areas most affected by the crisis — to review humanitarian activities and prospects for improving the humanitarian situation.  She will meet representatives of the Government of Niger, the United Nations, national and international NGOs and other humanitarian partners.

The visit is also aimed at focusing the attention of the international community on the Sahel, a region that is home to the poorest countries in the world.

So, that’s what I have for you.  I am happy to take questions.  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Martin, regarding the renewal of the mandate for the Haiti peacekeeping force, there are demonstrations today and tomorrow in Haiti calling for the withdrawal of UN troops.  And I am just wondering, you’ve probably heard the criticisms before; it’s an occupying force, it’s not helping the country to get back on its feet.  Do you have any reaction to those demonstrations, first?  And then second, on the issue of UN troops in the camps in response to the problems and the growing number of rapes and things, has there been any discussion about reassigning more of the UN Peacekeeping troops to more of the camps — I believe you said about 1,200 police and military are in the camps now — well, what are the other 10,000 doing?

Spokesperson:  Well, as you well know, the peacekeeping force in Haiti is there under a Security Council mandate which is up for renewal this afternoon.  That means it is there because the Security Council has mandated it to be there and to carry out work according to a set of instructions, if you like, within that mandate.  Of course, the Mission itself on the ground, as well as our colleagues in the Peacekeeping Operations Department here in New York and elsewhere, are aware of the protests.  This is something that, of course, we’re aware of.  I think you have to look at the big picture.  And there are a couple of elements here.  One is that the people of Haiti have, for many, many years, before the earthquake, had an extremely tough time.  The peacekeeping operation, the Mission on the ground — which is not just peacekeepers — it’s a much larger operation involving humanitarian work, police work; it’s been there for a long time to help the people of Haiti.  As you well know, a lot of progress had been made by the people of Haiti with the help of the Mission, up to the point of the earthquake.  And as you have heard from here on a number of occasions, not just from me, that the earthquake knocked everything back dramatically and obviously.  And it is hardly surprising that the people of Haiti feel frustrated.  They’re living in very difficult circumstances.  That’s hardly surprising.  But I think we need to make sure that the focus is correct here.  The Mission is there under a Security Council mandate at the request of the Haitian Government.  It’s there to help the people of Haiti.  And that’s what they will do.  And as long as they have the mandate to do that, that’s what they will do.  You ask about police, the presence of peacekeeping troops in the camps; I can ask my colleagues in MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] to provide you with some more details on an exact breakdown of the numbers to help you further.

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  You said that the Security Council is very busy, has a busy schedule today.  In that regard, is there any progress in the efforts and at recruiting the Director of the Security Council Affairs Division?  I know that they have recalled an officer to run the Division on a temporary basis.  But is there any progress in recruiting the Director of the Division?

Spokesperson:  I am sure that that recruitment process is in train.  I don’t know exactly where it is, but I am sure it’s in train.  And it’s in safe hands, I can assure you, at the moment.  Yes?

Question:  Concerning the investigation, you mentioned on the death of a young Haitian on the Nepali base, has there been any follow-up on that? 

Spokesperson:  What do you mean by follow-up?

Question:  I mean, if the investigation is still going on, when is it expected to be completed? Are we going to be informed about it? 

Spokesperson:  Well, to jump right to the last part of your question:  once an investigation is complete, it would be for the Mission and the Haitian authorities — they’re working together on this — to decide how they wish to communicate that.  I don’t have anything for you at the moment.  But as you know, it’s something that is being looked into; it is being investigated.  Yes?

Question:  Yes.  The UN Day Concert sponsored by the Republic of Korea and dedicated to the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] will be held in the General Assembly on Friday, 22 October.  It’s been clear there will be some kind of lottery for the UN staff.  But what kind of arrangements will there be for UN correspondents?

Spokesperson:  Let me find out.  I don’t know the answer to that.  But I am pretty sure that we can get an answer for you.  All right?  Okay, thank you very much.  Thanks.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.