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

10 January 2013

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

10 January 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 Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.  Welcome to the briefing.

**Deputy Secretary-General’s Travels

The Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Washington, D.C., for meetings with senior officials at the World Bank on Friday.  The purpose of the visit is to discuss further collaboration between the United Nations and the World Bank.

The Deputy Secretary-General will hold meetings with Mr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, and take part in a round-table discussion with members of the Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank.  And he will also meet other senior World Bank officials.

**Syrian Refugees

The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says that the Za’atri camp has been affected by the weather conditions in Jordan.  Some areas have become very muddy and some tents have been affected.  But, the agency reports that the vast majority of the camp has withstood the effects of the rainfall.

The UN agency and its partners are working to drain the section of the camp affected and mitigate the effects of further rainfall.  It has also relocated some affected and vulnerable families to pre-fabricated housing.

The Agency also continues its efforts to provide protection to new arrivals, including registration.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund says that it is working around the clock with its partners to sustain the provision of services to the camp where some 55,000 children are living.  UNICEF is working to ensure that all refugees have access to water, latrines and showers.  It has also distributed warm clothing along with sleeping mats to replace mattresses soaked by the rain.  Heaters have been distributed to families now living in prefabricated buildings within the camp.

UNICEF says that a lack of funding is a major constraint.  It adds that the funds raised for 2012 have now been exhausted and that no new funds have come so far this year.

** Darfur

The African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) says that it received reports earlier this week of fighting between Beni Hussein and Aballa tribes that took place on 5 and 6 January in Jabel Amer area, in North Darfur.

An undetermined number of casualties has been reported as a result of the fighting.  Several injured persons have been admitted at the Mission’s hospital in Kabkabiya for medical treatment.  The clashes have also forced thousands of civilians to flee the area.  After receiving these reports the Mission sent a verification patrol to Jabel Amer, but the patrol was stopped by Beni Hussein tribesmen and denied access.

The Mission has also mobilized its medical teams and three special flights and has evacuated a number of injured people.

In efforts to defuse tension the mission’s acting chief has held talks with the Governor of North Darfur and offered UNAMID’s assistance in helping humanitarian aid, as well as mediation and reconciliation efforts.

** Haiti

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, is visiting Haiti.  He met with Haitian President Michel Martelly upon arrival yesterday afternoon.  His visit in Haiti takes place as the country is about to mark the third anniversary of the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010.

Speaking to the press in Port-au-Prince, the Under-Secretary-General said this commemoration is an opportunity to remember those who died during this tragedy, including friends and colleagues.  He noted that three years after the earthquake, the focus is now moving from emergency to stabilization.

During his visit, Mr. Ladsous is scheduled to meet a number of Government officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  He will also meet with officials and staff from the UN Mission there, MINUSTAH.  And Mr. Ladsous will be returning to New York over the weekend.

** Kenya

The Office of the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Kenya has conveyed its condolences to the Government of Kenya and to families and relatives of the communities affected by the insecurity resulting from violent clashes in Tana River and other parts of the country.

The Office joined with other humanitarian and development partners in condemning these inhumane acts, which have, since the beginning of 2012, claimed the lives of more than 450 people, including women and children, and displaced nearly 112,000 people.  The Office also expressed its continued willingness to provide additional assistance in support of the Government and other humanitarian actors on the ground.

In the run-up to the elections in March of this year, the United Nations is again urging Kenyans to exercise their democratic rights in a peaceful manner with respect for the rights and dignity of all concerned.

Questions, please.  Edie, and then Masood, yes?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Martin, there have been these reports in the Middle East about the Secretary-General being involved in trying to act as an intermediary between the Palestinians and Israel over the issue of refugees living in Syria and whether they can enter the West Bank and Gaza to get away from the fighting.  I wonder if you could confirm these reports and tell us exactly what is going on with the UN role.

Spokesperson:  Well, the Secretary-General has expressed his general concern, deep concern for the plight of Palestinians who are in Syria and have been further displaced because of the fighting inside Syria.  And he has called generally for assistance from countries in the region to help those Palestinians who have been uprooted because of the violence that we have all seen inside Syria.  If I have anything further on this particular set of media reports, I’ll let you know, but I don’t have anything further at the moment.  Yes, Masood?

[The Spokesperson later added that we are not aware of any response from the Government of Israel conveyed to the United Nations following the Secretary-General’s appeal to all countries last month to provide assistance, and the message of President Abbas, asking that Palestinian refugees fleeing violence in Syria be allowed safe passage to the Occupied Palestinian Territory for humanitarian reasons.]

Question:  Yeah, on this India and Pakistan tension on the border that you have been talking about, the tensions have been, I mean, they have been ramped up.  Does Secretary-General have anything to say about that as yet or no?

Spokesperson:  Look, we are obviously aware of the latest media reports from today, but I don’t have anything to add to what I said yesterday.  And I am sure you are aware of what I said yesterday; except simply to reiterate that the UN Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan urges both sides to respect the ceasefire and to de-escalate tensions through dialogue.  If I have anything else, I’ll let you know.

Question:  Okay, another thing; can you confirm that the, that Pakistani side has written a formal complaint about Sunday’s incident to the, to UNMOGIP (United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan), and the Indian side has not done so in case of Tuesday’s incident.  Can you confirm that?

Spokesperson:  I already said that yesterday, Masood.

Question:  No, but is, uh, uh, also are they acting on Sunday’s report?

Spokesperson:  I’ll read you what I said yesterday:  that the mission, I beg your pardon, the Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan, UNMOGIP has received an official complaint from the Pakistan army and will conduct an investigation as soon as possible in accordance with its mandate.  That was with respect to the alleged incident on 6 January.  And with regard to the one on 8 January, no official complaint has been received either from the Pakistan army or the Indian army.  That’s what I have.

Question:  I see.

Spokesperson:  Okay.

Question:  Any, any timeline on this?

Spokesperson:  Again, as I said yesterday, and I’ll say it again:  as soon as possible, okay.  Yes, Tim?

Question:  Thank you, Martin.  There have been some clashes in Mali between the Government troops and the Islamist rebels, and I’m wondering, is this going to hold up the UN’s planning for its political mission and other missions in the country?

Spokesperson:  Well, what I can tell you is that we are concerned about the reported military movements of rebel groups along the front line in northern Mali and the resulting tensions.

And we would ask the Malian rebel groups to abide by Security Council resolutions 2071 (2012) and 2085 (2012) calling for them to cut off all ties with terrorist organizations.

And also, we urge adherence to the cessation of hostilities declared on 4 December 2012 in Ouagadougou and continue to call on the parties to engage in dialogue to address the situation.

The United Nations is supporting the mediation efforts of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, and we look forward to the resumption of negotiations, which are now scheduled for 21 January.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Said Djinnit, continues his contacts to support the political track in Mali, including negotiations and the establishment of an inclusive national dialogue and the development of a road map for transition.

And in addition, the Special Envoy for the Sahel, Romano Prodi, is in Bamako today.  Okay.  Yes, Masood?

Question:  Another follow-up [inaudible].  In the past, the Secretary-General had offered his good offices to mediate between India and Pakistan.  Does that offer still stand?

Spokesperson:  If I have anything further on this matter, I will let you know, okay. I don’t have anything further at the moment.  Iftikhar?

Question:  Yes.  Collaboration between the United Nations and the World Bank is a very general term.  What specific, on what specific subject is he going to Washington to discuss?  Is it poverty alleviation or something like that?

Spokesperson:  A number of topics, in fact.  It is quite an important development.  I think what you are seeing is a deepening of the relationship that there has been between the United Nations and the World Bank group.

Just as an example, amongst the other senior World Bank officials that the Deputy Secretary-General will be meeting is Mahmoud Mohieldin, the Special Envoy and Representative on the Millennium Development Goals and Financial Development; so that gives you one idea of what might be on the agenda — and also with Rachel Kyte, who is the Vice-President of Sustainable Development.  So, that gives you another aspect.

So, it is likely to touch on yes, on poverty reduction, Millennium Development Goals, sustainable development including sustainable energy.  So, all of the areas where there is strong ground for further strengthening the cooperation between the World Bank and the United Nations.

It’s, I think, a very full programme that the Deputy Secretary-General will have there, including, as I said, a meeting with the president of the World Bank.  Yes?

Question:  Do you have anything about the three Kurdish women including a top activist, a leader activist uh, for autonomy in Turkey yesterday for us?

Spokesperson:  We are aware of the reports, but I don’t have anything on that.  We’re certainly aware of the media reports, as you are.

Any other questions?  Okay, thank very much; have a good afternoon.  Thank you.

* *** *

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