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

31 July 2012

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

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 Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.  Welcome to the noon briefing.

**General Assembly

The Secretary-General is scheduled to brief the General Assembly at an informal briefing at 3:30 p.m. today as a follow-up to the recent G-20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, and to report on his recent travels to Asia and Europe.  On this occasion, the Secretary-General will also formally announce the composition of his High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.  A press release on this will be issued following the session.

** Syria

The UN refugee agency says that, with armed violence raging in Aleppo, thousands of frightened residents are seeking shelter in schools, mosques and public buildings.  The Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and other national associations are registering about 300 displaced families a day who are in need of urgent assistance.

Growing numbers of people from Aleppo are fleeing across the Hatay border into Turkey.  Many report difficulties along the route, including snipers and road blocks, which may be hindering others from making the journey.  Well over 70,000 people have sought formal protection in Turkey since the outset of the crisis, the UN refugee agency says.

Meanwhile, the Jordanian Government estimates that some 150,000 Syrian refugees have entered the Kingdom since March last year.  In Lebanon, 34,096 displaced Syrians are receiving protection and assistance through the efforts of the Government and UN and NGO partners.

**Security Council

The Security Council adopted a resolution this morning extending the mandate of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) by a year.  The Council decided, following the Secretary-General’s recent report, that UNAMID’s uniformed personnel will be reconfigured so that UNAMID shall consist of up to 16,200 military personnel, 2,310 police personnel and 17 formed police units of up to 140 personnel each.  The resolution was adopted with 14 votes in favour and one abstention (from Azerbaijan).

Yesterday afternoon, the Council President issued a press statement in which the members of the Security Council restated their demands for the full restoration of constitutional order in Guinea-Bissau.  Council members called on all political actors and civil society to engage in a consensual, inclusive and nationally owned transition process and in a genuine dialogue.

** Iraq

Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, attended a meeting today on the issue of Camp New Iraq (formerly Camp Ashraf).  At that meeting, Mr. Kobler urged the Government of Iraq to refrain from violence under any circumstances and to be generous when it comes to the humanitarian needs of the camp’s residents.  The United Nations supports only a peaceful, humanitarian solution to the issue of Camp New Iraq.

At the same time, he urged the residents of Camp New Iraq to begin preparations for the next move to Camp Hurriya without delay.  Especially vulnerable persons and minors should be included in the next group.  He added that the United Nations has gone every extra mile and will continue to leave no stone unturned to fulfil this humanitarian mission.  We have a press release with more details.


The Secretary-General has today appointed Under-Secretary-General Peter Launsky-Tieffenthal as Coordinator for Multilingualism.  We have more details on this appointment in my office.

Questions please?  Yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yesterday, the Secretary-General mentioned the Syrian action team or the crisis management group under his purview.  And I wonder if you can provide details of, like, whom it would consist of, what advisers, what their capacities would be… advising recommendations? 

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, it’s an interdisciplinary team from various agencies of the UN, who are dealing directly or indirectly with the situation in Syria.  It is chaired by the Secretary-General, or in his absence the Deputy Secretary-General.  And that’s all about I can tell you.  They are working very hard on looking at the situation in Syria and looking at the future prospects for the United Nations and the international community.

Question:  So, no names on membership right now?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, no.  We’re not going to offer you names.  It’s an internal committee.  Matthew?

Question:  I want to ask you a couple of questions about Côte d'Ivoire.  One is that they were… it was announced by the Government of Côte d'Ivoire that they arrested four people in Liberia for killing seven peacekeepers and the article is reporting that UNOCI had no knowledge of these arrests.  Have you since learned whether these are in fact the people… what’s going to be the UN’s role, where are they’re going to be tried and has the case been solved?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, I don’t think the decision… if they’ve been arrested in Côte d'Ivoire, my impression is that they will be tried in Côte d'Ivoire and by Côte d'Ivoire law.

Question:  They were arrested in Liberia.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Then we have to see how the judicial process goes.  Obviously, they have to be extradited from Liberia to Côte d'Ivoire.

Question:  I guess, I’m just asking since there were the UN peacekeepers that were killed, doesn’t the UN have some interest or role in pursuing those who may have done it or…?

Deputy Spokesperson: The UN has a very strong role in pursuing those who have done it, but it has to do so with national jurisdictions.  There?

[The Spokesperson later added that the four suspects were arrested in Liberia by Liberian security forces.  Both Liberian and Ivorian authorities have informed UNMIL and UNOCI of the arrests.  The judicial investigations are ongoing. UNOCI will support the Ivorian judicial authorities as requested and within the scope of its mandate.  UNOCI will also monitor the conditions of detention and due process for any of these suspects who may be extradited to Côte d'Ivoire in order to ensure that international standards are respected.]

Question:  I want to thank you.  The Secretary-General is consistently asking the Security Council member States to speak with one voice on Syria.  What does he think of the Saudi-backed Syria resolution, draft resolution, working its way through the General Assembly right now, at least in talk?  

Deputy Spokesperson:  We are not going to comment on resolutions that may or may not be working their way through the Security Council.  We will see what the Security Council thinks about them.  Then, if they are passed, then we will have a reaction to it.

Question: [inaudible] General Assembly, not…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Then, we have to see what happens at the General Assembly.  We are not going to comment on it early on.  Tim?

Question:  What happened to the M23 rebels making ground in eastern DR Congo?  I wonder if MONUSCO… do you have any plans to reinforce any positions…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  MONUSCO is working on protecting civilian populations and on combating this.  As you know, they have been moving their troops around.  We are not getting into details of their movement.  But I imagine they are looking at it.  Yes?

Question:  Another question on Côte d'Ivoire.  The… You said, I guess, last week, on the incident in the camp that was burned down and at least six or more Ivoirians were killed.  Is the UN going to do a probe that they will obviously speak to all people that, you know, some have been quoted in the press by name and they were pushed off the truck into the ground.  And I saw Friday that Mr. Koenders made a statement that dismissing all allegations about the UN negligence and the killings.  I wonder, was that made after the probe, or has the probe not taken place?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I suggest you discuss with UNOCI.  They have a press person there.  They can give you the information as to what the situation or the event was…

Question:  Who is doing the investigation?  UNOCI investing itself?  That’s why I’m asking you.  I thought there is some kind of a DPKO, or some kind of a Headquarters function to make sure that UNOCI is in fact speaking truthfully about what happened…

Deputy Spokesperson:  We will have to find out exactly who is doing it.  But UNOCI has the people you should to be speaking with.

Question:  But I sent you this question yesterday.  That’s why I’m asking you today. 

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’m telling you UNOCI has a press office you should be…

[The Spokesperson later said that UNOCI established an internal investigation team immediately following the incident.  The team travelled to Duékoué last week to conduct its investigation. Further information will be provided once the investigation is completed.  In parallel, the Government is conducting a judicial investigation to identify those responsible and take the appropriate judicial measures.]

Question:  Thanks.  Just following up in a different way.  Considering the Security Council’s inability to do anything on Syria, does the Secretary-General think that topically it’s a good idea for General Assembly Member States to try to take their own action on the situation?   

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has said the international community should come together and speak as one.  How they should do it?  They did it in Geneva a couple of weeks ago.  They’ve done it with the extension of the mandate for UNSMIS for an extra 30 days.  This is the type of things that should be going on.  We are looking at the international community getting together and speaking in one voice.

Question:  On Yemen, does the UN have anything to say about the takeover of the Interior Ministry by Ali Saleh supporters and the reported kidnapping of an Italian diplomat or a guard?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, I have nothing on that, Matthew.  We will take a look at it and see.

Question:  Is there a readout of the meeting yesterday between the Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister of Somalia?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, there is not.

Question:  Because he apparently left town before the Council meeting.  I’m wondering, was the monitoring group discussed?  Why there is no a readout, I guess?

Deputy Spokesperson:  That’s… sometimes we issue readouts, and sometimes we don’t, Matthew.  It’s a question of a decision that has been taken.  In this case, a readout has not been issued.

Question:  It’s a country that has UN…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, sometimes we issue readouts, and sometimes we don’t.

Question:  Could I ask you one more question?

Deputy Spokesperson:  One more question. 

Question:  Sure.  What about the UN staff and NGO staff in Myanmar that were detained some time ago?  Given in the run-up to the UN Humanitarian Day, I wonder what steps the UN has taken to… regarding these people.   

Deputy Spokesperson:  The UN is very involved, and is looking into the situation.  We are discussing the situation.  Once we have some progress, we will let you know.  Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.  Have a good afternoon.

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