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

2 April 2013

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

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

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

**Secretary-General’s Travel

The Secretary-General arrived in Andorra from San Marino today.  A short while ago, the Secretary-General addressed the Andorran Parliament.  In his remarks, he thanked Andorra for its success in empowering women and noted that Andorra is just one of two countries in the world that have 50 per cent of women in parliament.

Earlier, he met the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Andorra and gave a press conference.

At the news conference, the Secretary-General spoke about tensions on the Korean peninsula, where he said that the current crisis has already gone too far.  He said that nuclear threats are not a game.

The Secretary-General said that there is no need for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to be on a collision course with the international community.  He expressed his worry that others will respond firmly to any direct military provocation, and added that dialogue and negotiations are the only way to resolve the current crisis.

On the way to Andorra from San Marino, the Secretary-General visited the San Patrignano drug rehabilitation centre in Italy to meet residents and those who work at the centre.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will travel from Andorra to Monaco.

** Syria

The World Food Programme (WFP) says that the growing cycle of violence in Syria is preventing food aid from reaching many of the millions of vulnerable Syrians in need.  It calls on all parties to allow humanitarian aid to pass safely into disputed and conflict zones.

The situation is particularly critical in conflict zones and some opposition-held areas, where the Food Programme has limited access and where millions of people are believed to be in acute need of food.

World Food Programme sub-contracted trucks are often stopped at checkpoints and in many instances are forced to turn back, or sometimes hijacked.  Since the beginning of the operation in December 2011, the World Food Programme has recorded over 20 attacks on its food trucks, warehouses and cars.

** Iraq

The UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) strongly condemned the attacks that targeted journalists and media facilities in Baghdad yesterday.

Martin Kobler, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, said that assaults against media organizations or journalists are unacceptable under any circumstances.  He urged the Government of Iraq to ensure that media professionals are protected against all forms of intimidation and violence because of their opinions or thoughts.

The Iraq Director of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) expressed her deep concern about the dangerous impact of such incidents on press freedom and freedom of expression.  Those involved in the attacks should be brought to justice.

**United Nations Headquarters

And yesterday, the renovation of the Conference Building reached substantial completion.  The building has been reopened to delegates and staff, and the final commissioning of the sophisticated electronics is under way.  The various occupants and functions are being relocated back into the renovated building throughout the month of April.  By the end of the month, the building will be fully in use, allowing CMP to close down the General Assembly Building in May and start that renovation.

**Press Conferences

And following this briefing, at 12:30 p.m., Ambassador Eugène-Richard Gasana, the Permanent Representative of Rwanda to the United Nations and the President of the Security Council for the month of April, will be here to brief you on the Council’s programme of work for the month.  The Council adopted that programme of work this morning.

And then at 1:30 p.m., there will be a press conference here by Ambassador Peter Woolcott, the President of the Final United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty.

That’s it.  Questions, please?  Matthew, you’re first on the roster today.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Yeah.  Hi, Eduardo.  Yeah, I had some other questions but I want to ask you now that the midnight deadline of… of… of… 1 April on action on the rape, the 126 rapes in Minova by the Congolese army has passed, what is the UN, what has the UN done?  Has it suspended assistance or can it now, can it say what steps the, the army has taken in [inaudible]?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yeah, what I can tell you is that MONUSCO is aware of a number of appropriate actions reportedly taken by the Congolese Government in relation to the 126 alleged cases of sexual abuse that occurred in Minova, North Kivu, in late November 2012.

MONUSCO is also aware that, following investigations conducted in the area in the past few months, the issue is being pursued at the highest level by the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Mission is in close contact with the Government of the DRC and is expecting an official response, in the coming days, to its various communications on this issue.

MONUSCO notes that assurances have been received recently from various DRC officials — including from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Raymond Tshibanda — that justice will follow its course on this matter.

MONUSCO is committed to the Secretary-General’s due diligence policy and continues to insist on its implementation by its partners.

Question:  I just… I guess I want to ask this because it was said Thursday in this room that on Monday, MONUSCO had set a 1 April deadline and… and I asked the Congolese Foreign Minister on Thursday at the stakeout and he said… he was very dismissive of the… of the ultimatum.  So when were these assurances given?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, what I have… what I have given you is what I have on this.  As I said, we are aware of the investigations; the Mission is in close contact with the Government of the DRC and is expecting an official response in the coming days.  And we note that assurances have been received recently from various DRC officials, including the Foreign Minister.

Question:  [inaudible] to Mr. Ladsous?  That’s what I am asking.

Deputy Spokesperson:  To the United Nations.  I don’t know exactly to which individual, but to the United Nations.

Question:  Because Martin also said that he met with Mr. Ladsous on Wednesday, but a… he said that that meeting involved Mr. Ladsous reiterating the ultimatum and now, so I… I… what… I will just boil it all down, what… since the last statement which was by Martin on Thursday saying that the ultimatum stood on Monday, what changed that the ultimatum is either been extended, I mean, what… what… what is this new information that you are referring to?

Deputy Spokesperson:  No, no, the ultimatum, we note, MONUSCO notes, that assurances have been received recently from various DRC officials that justice will follow its course on this matter.  We have had a response; we are just waiting for an official confirmation of that response.

Question:  Since Thursday?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Yes.  So we have that here.  Joe?

Correspondent:  Ah, yeah, you mentioned actually at the outset of the briefing the Secretary-General’s praising of Andorra for its record on women.  So I was wondering if he had any comment on the UNRWA’s going along with Hamas’ demand in Gaza for underfunded schools to keep boys and girls separate, not allowed any males to teach in… in… in… in the schools that would have any girls and that this is a segregation, gen- by gender and it’s a UN-funded operation, so, it seems rather inconsistent with the Secretary-General’s emphasis on, uh, equality, uh, [inaudible]

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, you know I don’t have any information on the UNRWA position, we will have to find that out for you.  But equality is access to education, if the girls have access to education.

Question:  [inaudible] at the end of the nineteenth century, separate but equal, uh…?

Deputy Spokesperson:  Not really, I went to an all-boys school when I…

Question:  By choice?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I’m sorry, no, no, not by choice.

Correspondent:  Well, I mean, there were other options in the… anyway.

Deputy Spokesperson:  Not for me.

Correspondent:  The point, the point being if you could, uh…

Deputy Spokesperson: We will try and check with UNRWA to see if they have a position on that.  Yeah?

[The Spokesperson later reported that UNRWA has no comment on this issue.]

Question:  You mentioned that Andorra was one of two countries in the world with 50 per cent of the parliament composed of women; which is the other country?

Deputy Spokesperson:  I am not sure; we’ll have to check in on that for you.  I don’t have that information with me.  One more question.

[The Spokesperson later reported that Rwanda is the second State where women hold 50 per cent of parliamentary seats.]

Correspondent:  Give me, I mean, two.

Deputy Spokesperson:  One more question.  You are going to have a field day with the Rwandan Ambassador on the Security Council for the month of April.

Question:  Just remember the… the… the Nepal peacekeeping question that I had asked, but this is a new question.  The new question involves an e-mail has emerged, and has been published by Inner City Press, in which a… a… a… staffers of the OICT Logistics Unit complained that they were left four months after Hurricane Sandy in 3B in waterlogged equipment without chairs, no printers, no toner, basically holding their own fundraisers to continue to do the work that they have to… to… for the UN.  And what I am wondering is how can this be the case?  How can the UN leave its own workers underground, submerged under water essentially…

Deputy Spokesperson:  Matthew, we don’t comment; as you know, we don’t comment on leaked documents.  We don’t.

Correspondent:  I am not asking about the document, I am asking about the conditions in 3B.

Deputy Spokesperson:  The conditions have been discussed here before, if I recall correctly.  Martin has addressed them, I have addressed them.  That’s where our position stands.

Thank you very much; I’ll leave you to the Rwandan Permanent Representative.

Correspondent:  If you could communicate whatever response [inaudible].  I would appreciate it, because I want to, I am writing [inaudible]

Deputy Spokesperson:  Well, whatever we get goes into the transcript.  Okay, thank you.

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