|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 briefing.
**Noon Briefing Guest
Today my guest is Zainab Hawa Bangura, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict. She will brief on her recent visit to the Central African Republic. Ms. Bangura, the floor is yours.
[Press conference by Ms. Bangura is issued separately.]
Thank you very much for a very stimulating and interesting presentation. I want to thank you on behalf of all the journalists, I think they found it also equally fascinating; tragic, but fascinating. And we congratulate you on the work you are doing. Thank you so much.
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I have a few announcements to make, and there is another press conference here in exactly four minutes, so I’ll be quick.
The latest periodic update by the independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria was released today, and it describes the unrelenting violence that has resulted in many thousands of dead and wounded. The report also focuses on arbitrary detention and disappearances, huge displacement and the massive physical destruction in Syria.
The update describes the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict, with Government forces and militias that support it attacking Sunni civilians, and reports of anti-Government armed groups attacking Alawites and other pro-Government minority communities, including Catholics, Armenian Orthodox and Druze. Some minority communities, including Christians, Kurds and Turkmen, have also been caught up in the conflict, and in some cases have been forced to take up arms for their own defence or to take sides. The report also highlights the presence of foreign fighters, some with links to extremist groups, and the radicalization of some of the Syrian anti-Government fighters. The full report is online.
The Secretary-General spoke to the Security Council during its meeting on post-conflict peacebuilding this morning, saying that the United Nations has made significant progress in advancing the peacebuilding agenda.
He said that UN missions and country teams are working more closely together and that the United Nations has also become more agile in deploying senior leaders, specialized experts and staff to the field. The United Nations has strengthened and expanded its partnerships, including with the World Bank and regional organizations. And it is broadening and deepening the pool of its expertise to build institutions in key areas where there is a capacity gap.
The outcome of these various efforts, he said, has been a more coherent, timely and effective response to immediate post-conflict priorities. We have his remarks in our office.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that the situation in Wau remains tense. Several thousand civilians fleeing violence were provided safety in and around the UN base on Wednesday. Earlier today, many of those who sought UN protection and stayed overnight left the base to inspect their homes. A significant number of civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly, remain in the UN base and continue to be protected.
The UN Mission continues to safeguard the airport and has conducted patrols to assess the situation in the city and affected outlying settlements. The Mission is also redeploying additional peacekeepers to Wau in order to assist in the protection of civilians. UN agencies stand ready to provide humanitarian assistance. The Mission is urging authorities and community leaders to exercise restraint and engage in peaceful dialogue in order to prevent a further deterioration of the fragile situation.
Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency reports that an estimated 4,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo have sought refuge in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State in recent weeks.
Vijay Nambiar, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Myanmar, has finished a visit to Myanmar that he went on at the invitation of the Myanmar Government, which began on 16 December. He participated in a meeting of the Myanmar Peace Donor Support Group on Monday, and he accompanied the Minister for Immigration and Population Affairs, U Khin Yi, on a visit to Rakhine State.
This visit helped the Special Adviser see the current conditions of the internally displaced persons from both communities in the area and also allowed him to participate in the discussions which the Minister was holding with the representatives of the two communities, together and separately. During those discussions, the Minister presented some ideas on the way forward, especially on a framework for addressing immediate and medium-term solutions to the problems afflicting the communities there.
In his own comments to the communities, the Special Adviser underlined his initial impression that the Minister’s outline of his proposal was forward-looking and realistic, while taking into account the dignity and essential interests of the affected communities.
The UN refugee agency said today that 55 people have drowned or are missing after an overcrowded boat capsized off the Somali coast on Tuesday night. This is the biggest loss of life in the Gulf of Aden since February 2011. According to five of the survivors, the boat was overcrowded and ran into trouble almost immediately after leaving the port of Bosaso in northern Somalia. It capsized just 15 minutes into its journey, spilling all 60 passengers into sea. Those on board were Ethiopians and Somalis. One hundred thousand people have crossed the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden this year, despite warnings from UNHCR and other aid agencies about the risks such trips involved.
We have a message here from the President of the Security Council. The President of the Security Council wishes to inform the members of the Council that a public meeting in connection with the draft resolution on Mali will be convened today at 3:15 p.m.
With respect to Kenya, the UN refugee agency expressed today its concern about the recent security incidents in Kenya which have killed scores of Kenyans as well as refugees. It condemns these attacks and extends its sympathy and solidarity to all victims, the Kenyan people and their Government.
The refugee agency said that it has noted recent public statements linking the presence of refugees to these security incidents and that it cautions against stigmatization of refugees and asylum-seekers. Recognizing Kenya’s long-held commitment to refugee protection, the agency urges the Government of Kenya to continue to uphold the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers who have fled to Kenya in search of protection. There are more details in a press release available online.
I have an appointment here to announce. The Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission have appointed Mohamed ibn Chambas of Ghana as their Joint Special Representative for Darfur and Head of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). His responsibilities will also include those of the African Union-United Nations Joint Chief Mediator. Mr. Chambas replaces Ibrahim Gambari of Nigeria. We have more information on this appointment in my office
And today, two minutes ago, there will be a press conference on the General Assembly resolution entitled “Intensifying global efforts for the elimination of female genital mutilations”. Participants will include Ambassador Der Kogda, Permanent Representative of Burkina Faso to the United Nations; Mariam Lamizana, President of the Comité Inter-Africain sur les pratiques traditionnelles ayant effet sur la santé des femmes et des enfants (CIAF); and representatives from No Peace without Justice.
I have time for two questions. Mr. Abbadi?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Thank you, Eduardo. Just points of information, is the Secretary-General going to take a vacation and where? When would the Joint Special Representative on Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, be back to Headquarters?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we don’t have any information. We know Mr. Brahimi, as you know, is in Cairo this week discussing with various players in the Syria conflict, and when we have something to announce, we will announce it. Last question?
Question: Yeah, thank…
Deputy Spokesperson: I don’t have any information on the Secretary-General’s… I believe he will be in town next week.
Question: Sure, thanks, Eduardo. May… maybe you will have something on this, or DPKO can give you something, that there are reports of a significant number of troops from Zimbabwe now in the Kivus. They are reported by journalists as rolling on tanks towards Goma, and I wonder, one, can MONUSCO… you’d think that the… as… with their presence there, they could confirm if that is there and if it is also… what is the UN’s view of the legality at this point of their deployment?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, we have… we are aware of those reports. MONUSCO’s brigades in North Kivu were informed that no such presence has been recorded in the province.
Question: And they would be told? Do they have a… do… do they have some…?
Deputy Spokesperson: Well, they would either be told or they would find out one way or another, but up till now no presence has been detected in the province. Thank you so much, we have another press conference. Have a good afternoon.
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