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

1 August 2011

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

1 August 2011
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.

So, good afternoon, everybody.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Guest Today

I am very pleased to welcome back Valerie Amos, who, as you know, is the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.  Ms. Amos is here to brief you on the situation in the Horn of Africa.  And after that, I will have a few other items, and I will be happy to take questions.

So, Ms. Amos, welcome.

[Briefing by Ms. Amos issued separately.]

So, I have just a couple of other items; then I’ll be happy to take further questions.

** Syria

We issued a statement yesterday expressing the Secretary-General’s concerns about reports from Syria that hundreds of protesters have been killed and injured in Hama and other towns and cities throughout the country.  He strongly condemns the use of force against the civilian population and calls on the Government of Syria to halt this violent offensive at once.

He reiterates to the Syrian authorities their obligation to respect the human rights of the Syrian people, including their freedom of expression and right to peaceful assembly, and urges them to listen to the legitimate aspirations of the population.

The Secretary-General reminds the Syrian authorities that they are accountable under international human rights law for all acts of violence perpetrated by them against the civilian population.

**Security Council

The Security Council has scheduled consultations at 5 this afternoon on Syria.

The Department of Political Affairs will brief the Council.  Those consultations will be the first for the Council this month, under the new presidency of India.

And at 12:30 tomorrow, here in this Auditorium, Hardeep Singh Puri, the Permanent Representative of India and President of the Security Council for the month of August, will brief you on the Council’s programme of work for this month.

** Middle East

The UN Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, expressed his concern that two Palestinians were killed by the Israel Defense Forces in a refugee camp earlier today, during an operation which they conducted, citing security reasons.

Five Israeli soldiers were also injured.

Mr. Serry calls upon the Israeli authorities to exercise maximum restraint and thoroughly investigate the incident.  He also emphasizes the need for calm from all sides.

** Lebanon

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed there was a brief exchange of fire this morning between the Lebanese Armed Forces and Israel Defence Forces along the Blue Line in the general area of Wazzani.

UN peacekeepers immediately responded to the location in order to contain the situation and prevent any escalation.  The firing has since ceased and the situation in the area is quiet.  No casualties have been reported.

UNIFIL has opened an investigation to determine the circumstances of that incident.

That’s what I have.  Questions, please?  Yes, Erol?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Martin, on a totally different topic, this on Friday, as I understood the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Kosovo.  And my question is: do we have anything of that, any kind of readout?  Probably I missed that, but I didn’t see it in electronic form.

Spokesperson:  Yes, there was a readout; yes.

Question:  I am sorry about that, then.

Spokesperson:  No, you don’t have to apologize.  Yes, I am happy to provide that to you afterwards.

Question:  And what would be the procedure, what is the procedure actually when the SG is receiving dignitaries for foreign minister of the country that are not recognized by the UN, not Member States of the UN, United Nations?

Spokesperson:  What do you mean?

Question:  How it works, actually.  Is there any special kind of procedure or…?  I know it’s something, but I repeat, I would like to see, put some more light in this case because it is probably different; I don’t know.

Spokesperson:  Well, if entities that are not part of the United Nations request meetings, then that’s looked into.  And obviously there was an important reason to have that meeting, because of the events that had been unfolding in the previous days in Kosovo.

This was a very important meeting in that respect, and the Secretary-General did indeed voice his concern about the unexpected actions that led to the deterioration of the situation in Northern Kosovo at the beginning of last week.  And this was important in the sense that the Secretary-General was able to remind his interlocutors that all actors need to refrain from any actions that could exacerbate the situation.  And he said that it was important to do everything to maintain calm and ensure a peaceful resolution of issues in conformity with Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).  But I am happy to help you with the readout afterwards and we can maybe figure out why you didn’t get it.  Okay?  Very good.  Okay, other questions?  Yes, Matthew?

Question:  Following up on that, what, I mean, did, is there any readout from UNMIK [United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo] on, on what… what is the situation now on the, the border between Kosovo and Serbia and what’s, what’s UNMIK’s involve, there is a lot of talk of obviously KFOR [Kosovo Force] and EULEX [European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo], but what’s UNMIK’s role with regard to incidents that took place and what’s it’s current description of its status?

Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t have an update from them today to hand.  I am sure there is one, but I don’t have it to hand.  So, we can see if we can get that.  As I understand it, this is very much being handled by KFOR and EULEX; KFOR peacekeepers have been working today, and I would urge you to be in touch with them for more details.  And as you’ve asked about UNMIK, they did, as you know, provide some details last week.  And you’ve also heard what the Secretary-General has had to say both in his meeting with Mr. [Enver] Hoxhaj and with Minister [Vuk] Jeremić last week.  I think that there was quite a lot of detail there.  The United Nations, of course, is committed to doing everything possible to help to maintain calm.  It is part of the international presence, after all, but there are distinct roles for each different component of that international presence.

Question:  Anyway, thanks.  The reason I am asking is that it seems like part of the compromise that was reached in the Security Council last Friday was to have, to move up the day of their meeting on UNMIK with this idea that the, quote, the Secretary-General’s report on UNMIK and the situation in Kosovo would somehow address the event.  So, I just wanted to know, like, is that… I mean, I am not trying to… What’s UNMIK… UNMIK must be gathering information, I would assume, for that report or is the report finished?  What’s…?

Spokesperson:  Well, typically when a report is written, that information is put together and then it is eventually there for the Council and then in due course, for journalists, too.  And I am sure that that will be the case here, as well.  As for the timing of when that discussion will take place in the Council Chamber, that’s maybe something that the Permanent Representative of India will be able to help you with tomorrow.  Okay, other questions?

Question:  Can you confirm… there’s reports of a UN-contracted pilot dying in Sudan, Darfur?  Is that, do you have anything on that?

Spokesperson:  I don’t.  I have to look into that, yeah.

Question:  It seems to be by sand, but I just want to make sure that it’s a sandstorm, but that it’s actually true.

Spokesperson:  I don’t have anything on that.

Question:  Okay.  And I have been meaning to ask this for, I mean, with all, I know it’s been, it’s been listed for almost two weeks now that the Deputy Secretary-General is on official travel, from 18 July through 16 August.  But it doesn’t say, list any countries; it doesn’t list the kind of… is it possible to know, is that, is that actually leave, or is that in fact official travel and if so, what does it consist of?

Spokesperson:  I’ll find out.  All right, okay.  Have a good afternoon; thank you.

* *** *

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