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

7 August 2014

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

7 August 2014
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 Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon.  I believe we have some people from the Central New York Diplomatic Youth Fellowship visiting in the back row, so welcome.  Nice to see you.

Okay, good afternoon, everyone.

** Gaza

The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, James Rawley, said today that the scale of needs is unprecedented in the Gaza Strip following four weeks of hostilities.  He said that teams are on the ground assessing needs and providing relief and emphasized the need for a sustained halt to the violence.

Since the conflict began last month, at least 1,380 Palestinian civilians have been killed, including 423 children and 224 women, and more than 9,000 people have been wounded.  Three civilians in Israel were killed.  Some of the 520,000 Palestinians who were displaced have since returned to their homes.

In the last 48 hours, humanitarian workers have been able to deliver food rations to hundreds of thousands of people.  Vital repairs to water and sanitation infrastructure are under way and hundreds of tons of refuse have been removed from Gaza’s refugee camps.  Medical supplies are being re-stocked and more clinics are open.  Mine risk education is targeting families in areas with the highest contamination of unexploded ordnance, and emergency psychosocial support is being provided to thousands of children.  Search and rescue workers have been retrieving bodies from under the rubble in areas that were previously inaccessible.

Mr. Rawley added that, without the full lifting of the blockade of the Gaza Strip, Palestinians in Gaza will continue to be deprived of any sense of a normal life and the massive reconstruction effort now required will be impossible.


The UN flag is flying at half-mast at Headquarters today in honour of the 11 staff members and contractors of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) who died in Gaza over the past month.  The Secretary-General, in his remarks yesterday at the informal meeting of the General Assembly, mourned the fallen staff and said that we will carry on with their work.

Also, at 1 today in the Circle outside the Secretariat building, we will have a moment of silence in memory of the colleagues killed in Gaza.

In less than one month of military conflict, UNRWA lost 11 of its personnel in Gaza.  In addition, in recent years, 12 people working for the Relief and Works Agency have died in Syria, in addition to one who died in the West Bank.

** Iraq

On Iraq, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that tens of thousands of people have been forced from their homes and are in urgent need of lifesaving assistance due to the violence in Sinjar.

While the situation remains fluid and numbers cannot be independently verified, thousands of families, many of them women, children and the elderly, are now trapped on Mount Sinjar.  Iraqi authorities estimate that there are some 50,000 people there.

An estimated 200,000 people have reportedly made their way to Dohuk Governorate in the Kurdish region or to disputed border areas inside Ninewa Province.

UN agencies and partners are providing displaced people with emergency assistance including food, water, health care and basic household items.

Also we’ve just been informed that Iraq will be one of the topics discussed in the consultations of the Security Council this afternoon.

The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has expressed alarm at recent reports of the violation of academic freedoms in various universities in Iraq, including the universities of Mosul, Tikrit, Anbar and Diyala.

There have been reports that professors, researchers and students have come under increasing pressure, especially in the fields of law, religious sciences and education.  UNESCO adds that the principle of co-education is also being jeopardized.

More information is available on the UNESCO website.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

This morning, Mary Robinson briefed the Security Council for the last time as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for the Great Lakes Region.

She said that she remains encouraged by the prospects and opportunities generated by the Peace, Security and Cooperation Framework, and by the significant achievements recorded so far.

Mrs. Robinson also told the Council that the voluntary surrender process of the FDLR – Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda – had yet to gain sufficient traction to show it is credible.  All negative forces in Eastern DRC must be removed, she said.

On elections, she said it would be critically important to work with authorities in Burundi and in all other countries in the region, in order to ensure the adequate political space that is necessary for free and fair elections.

As you know, Mrs. Robinson has been appointed Special Envoy for Climate Change and will be replaced for the Great Lakes Region by Saïd Djinnit, from Algeria.

Also briefing the Council today was the Head of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), Martin Kobler.

He said there could be no doubt that the security situation had vastly improved over the past year.  However, conflict persists, the situation is still fragile and not irreversible, he warned.

His full statement is available in our office and he will be at the stakeout in a few minutes.

**South Sudan

In a statement we issued yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern at the dire humanitarian situation across South Sudan.  He condemns in the strongest terms the recent killing of five South Sudanese employees of humanitarian non-governmental organizations in Maban County, Upper Nile State, and called for an investigation into events.

The Secretary-General reiterated that there is no military solution to the crisis in South Sudan.  He called upon the parties to immediately cease their military operations and demonstrate the political will to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

And you will have seen that the Security Council also issued a press statement on the situation in South Sudan last night.

** Central African Republic

The Senior Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic, Claire Bourgeois, says that she is concerned about the protection of the displaced persons and the civilian population of Bambari, following a recent visit there.

She reported that the condition of internally displaced persons remains dire.  Clashes between armed groups continued in Bouca and Batangafo in recent days.  Up to 20,000 people have sought shelter at sites including the Catholic mission, the hospital and the town hall.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs also says that the humanitarian community is concerned by the looming food security crisis in the Central African Republic.

The World Food Programme (WFP) distributed seed-protection rations to 226,000 people last month and assisted an estimated 372,000 people in emergency food insecure areas.  In addition, some 33,000 children under 5 received nutritious blanket-feeding packages.  UNICEF has registered almost 10,000 cases of malnutrition among children across the country.  Up to 15 new cases per day of severe malnutrition with complications are admitted to Bangui’s paediatric hospital, and the numbers continue to rise.

** Cambodia

The Trial Chamber of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) today found two former Khmer Rouge leaders — Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan — guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced them to life in prison.

These crimes, committed in the late 1970s, included murder, political persecution and forced transfers of hundreds of thousands of people, among others.

Today’s verdict is a milestone in the Courts’ work, as well as a historic moment in international criminal justice.  It demonstrates that there will be no impunity for the most serious international crimes.

The Secretary-General has consistently reiterated his commitment that there must be accountability for those who would perpetrate such crimes.

The fact that today’s judgment has been delivered some 30 years after the events in question sends a powerful message to anyone who may consider committing such crimes in the future.

In today’s sentencing, the Trial Chamber took note of how the crimes had been committed across the whole of Cambodia during a 2.5-year period against a large number of victims — among the highest of any decided case concerning international crimes.  The Chamber said the crimes had serious and lasting impacts on the victims, their families, and Cambodia in general.

The hearings for the case began in November 2011, with an unprecedented number of people — more than 100,000 — attending the trial.

There is more information available on the Chambers’ website.


Early next week, the World Health Organization (WHO) will convene a panel of experts in medical ethics to explore the use of experimental treatment in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Currently there is no registered medicine or vaccine against the virus, but there are several experimental options under development.

The World Health Organization notes that the recent treatment of two health workers with experimental medicine has raised questions.  It stresses that the gold standard for assessing new medicine involves a series of trials in humans, and that the guiding principle for the use of any new medicine is “do no harm”.

However, Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General at the World Health Organization, explained that the current situation was unusual and that guidance from medical ethicists was needed.

Her statement is available online.

That’s it from me.  Are there any questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Farhan, with regard to what’s happening in Iraq and the minorities which have been deported or made refugees in many areas, does the Secretary-General believe that there should be some kind of rapid deployment forces to help local governments to handle terrorism, which is becoming a regional phenomenon rather than just a local one?  It is beyond belief.  I mean, the number of people who’ve been displaced, who are going from one area to another, some of the Iraqis reached the Mediterranean, those Christians.  At least 8,000 reached Lebanon.  Also, we’ve seen that Arsal has been taken as a hostage by Da’ash [Islamic State] and [Jabhat] al Nusra, two terrorist groups.  The Lebanese Army is unable to handle that.  Shouldn’t the United Nations consider sending some kind of rapid deployment forces to prevent a long-term crisis?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, you’re talking now about both Iraq and Lebanon and in each case, the answer would be the same, which is that any mandate for UN forces to be deployed in any part of the area would need to be an issue decided upon by the Member States.  As I said just a few minutes ago, the Security Council does expect to take up the issue of Iraq this afternoon in its consultations.  At 3, they’ll start, I believe, with consultations on Darfur and then move to Iraq.  So Iraq is one of the topics that they’re discussing.  But, like I said, any question of forces would have to be something for them.

Question:  Does the Secretary-General recommend that?  I mean, did he recommend that in any of the meetings?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, you’ll have seen that the Secretary-General issued a statement just a few weeks ago discussing his concerns about the treatment of minorities, including Christians and others, in different parts of Iraq following the advances of the Islamic State in places like Mosul.  And the concerns he expressed at the time are even more relevant now, considering the recent advances that have been made in places like Qaraqosh.  So, his concerns apply, but like I said, the issue of forces is a separate matter, which would need to be handled by the Member States.  Erol?

Question:  Thanks, Farhan.  Just as a point of clarification, talking about yesterday’s plenary on the General Assembly that was convened under the, as we understood, the pressure or request rather from the Arab Group by the President of the General Assembly; and before, we have talked in this very room on whether the Secretary-General will convene another, or separate big international conference or meeting or so on Iraq.  Now, can you clarify a little bit — did that started actually yesterday, with the effort to talk about the reconstruction of, excuse me, not Iraq…

Deputy Spokesman:  You mean on Gaza, right?

Question:  Gaza, excuse me, on Gaza.  Did they started yesterday?  Does he plans to do that?  And what kind of… that meeting would be rather donor’s conference or political one or so, thanks?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don’t have anything to say about plans for any international conference.  I believe different Member States are considering the idea of what kind of conference can be organized to help the people of Gaza, including, potentially, a donor’s conference.  But there’s nothing to announce at this stage.  Certainly we are encouraging any efforts by the Member States to provide aid, so that Gaza can be reconstructed following the fighting that has taken place over the last month.  Of course, yesterday’s event was an informal meeting of the General Assembly.  The Secretary-General and many other senior UN officials spoke there, but many Member States also expressed their views, so they can use that meeting to gather impetus for other efforts to help the people of Gaza.  Yes?

Question:  Sure, thanks.  I want to ask about Liberia and also Afghanistan.  It’s reported that Robert Mugabe is withdrawing the Zimbabwean police and prison officials that serve with the UN force in Liberia due to the Ebola threat.  And I wanted to know, can you confirm that and also has any other troop-contributing or police-contributing country notified the UN of a withdrawal of their forces?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don’t have anything to confirm about withdrawal of Zimbabwean or other forces.  We’re aware of the concerns by different countries and of course we’re doing what we can, including, of course, at the level of the World Health Organization, to ensure that the outbreak of Ebola can be treated and dealt with appropriately.  At this stage, we don’t believe that there’s any cause for concern about the deployment of peacekeepers, but if there’s any specific cases where peacekeepers for one reason or another cannot be rotated or deployed, we would follow that up.

Question:  And also on peacekeeping, I wanted to know, I guess, ask again if there is any DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] response to these studies, the first one of which concerned Bangladesh and then there was a number of ones issued by the Open Society Institute about failure to vet and the inclusion in peacekeeping missions of troops who’ve committed human rights violations in their home country.  What’s the response to that?

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe my colleagues in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations are looking into the findings by the human rights group in Bangladesh on this.  I don’t have anything to report on that just yet, but you’re aware of our policies, and we do continue with our policies of vetting all peacekeepers that go into UN peacekeeping missions.  But, in this particular case, like I said, they’re looking at the report to see about any follow-up on that.  Jonathan?

Question:  Farhan, as you know, we’ve been going back and forth with correspondences trying to get to the bottom of how the UN compiles breakdown of combatants versus civilians, in particular, in the Gaza conflict.  And the response that I’ve had so far has been far from satisfactory.  I just want to put that on the record.  I do hope that there will be a forthcoming breakdown on how you actually tally it, and what all the sources are for the tallying of those numbers.  Just wanted to mention that.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, first of all, I disagree with your assertion.  Second of all, The Protection Cluster is collecting and verifying information on fatalities in Gaza, and these preliminary figures are used by the humanitarian community in situation reports.  In terms of methodology, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights compiles initial reports of fatalities from the media and other sources, and works with Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations to cross-check and verify these reports, and whether the individuals are civilians or combatants.  These preliminary figures are further verified through interviews once the security situation permits.  The Human Rights Office bases the definition of who is a civilian or a combatant on international law.

Question:  Farhan, with all due respect, what you just read out to me is something I was asking for, for weeks now.  That’s helpful.  That still doesn’t give a full accountancy, though.  So, it would be very helpful to know which NGOs you approach and that type of thing.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, for that you can talk to my colleagues in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, but they go through a range of different sources, which is what I’ve been telling you, they go through a range of sources and then they try to cross-check them.

Question:  Right, but to get a statement like that, what you just read out, will take weeks.  Just a question, also now, moving on to Iraq, does the UN have any mechanism to actually approach ISIS [Islamic State]?  Any country or some other way to speak with this group to try to figure out a way out of the crisis that we’re experiencing?

Deputy Spokesman:  The way the Secretary-General and his senior representative on the ground in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, have proposed to deal with this crisis is to have a unified response by the Government of Iraq.  We are in touch with the authorities in Iraq, both in the Government of Iraq and in the Kurdistan Regional Government, and we have been encouraging a unified response to deal with this threat.  And of course, you’re aware of the actions the Security Council has taken in dealing with this threat in the form of the various statements that they’ve made.

Question:  I guess, to push this along further as a question, for instance, the United Nations has a means to be able to communicate with Hamas, for instance.  Is there a mechanism by which the United Nations is capable to have some sort of dialogue, whether through a mediator of some sort, or does that just not exist?

Deputy Spokesman:  Wherever groups control territory that we need to use for the transhipment or provision of humanitarian aid, we try to get in touch and try to have contacts with authorities on the ground in order to be able to provide aid to the people who need it.  That’s as much as I can say on that.  I don’t have anything to say about any formal contacts of any sort.  Linda?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Following up on Gaza casualties, you said that 1,380 civilians have been killed.  What’s the latest in terms of Hamas combatants?  Hamas or other Palestinian combatants?

Deputy Spokesman:  In terms of the definitions, there’s about 500 or so people who have not been determined to be civilians, of whom roughly half of them are presumed to be combatants and about the other half are people who simply have not been identified or otherwise determined.  Yes?

Question:  You spoke about ISIS and Hamas.  There’s a big difference here.  Hamas came into power in Gaza by elections and ISIS is a terrorist group as it is categorized, so obviously here, there is a difference when you make any contacts with them as United Nations.

Deputy Spokesman:  And at this stage, I don’t have anything further than what I’ve said to Jonathan about that.

Question:  But do you put them in the same category in this case?

Deputy Spokesman:  I’m not trying to make that comparison.  This is a comparison that, with respect, that you’re talking about.  These are two different situations, and I’m talking about them differently.

Question:  Regarding the recruitment of militants or terrorists in the Syrian refugee camps, be it in Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey or other places, it has transpired that 500 of those who took Arsal, which has a population of 40,000 people, 500 of those were recruited from the refugee, Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley and in the areas surround Arsal.  I understand now that some of the Syrian refugees are going back to Syria after what happened.  Can you just highlight what’s happening there?  Is the United Nations looking or seeing over their repatriation?  And how about the recruitment?  How does United Nations deal with the recruitment in the camps?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we do not believe that people who are in refugee camps should be recruited into military activity.  Obviously, the idea is that the camps are there for people who are civilians who would need our assistance.

Question:  But there were 500, at least, were recruited from the Arsal area, from the Syrians themselves.

Deputy Spokesman:  We’re against any inappropriate activities held at any refugee camps.

Question:  How do you monitor that?

Deputy Spokesman:  Nisar, there are so many other people asking questions.  Please do not drown them out.  You’ve had four questions in a row.  Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  I have a question of a medical nature, which I will not ask you.  I did the sensible thing — I got in touch with the help of people from your office with WHO local office.  I asked to talk to the Director, Deputy Director.  I asked them if I can get the coordinates of Margaret Chan, the head of WHO in Geneva and they took my e-mail, my name and they have not got back to me.  I would like you to find out why they are not answering a reporter’s questions.  Thank you.

Deputy Spokesman:  I’ll try to have my colleagues get back to you.  Kahraman?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  On that note, can we request that maybe someone from WHO can come and brief us about Ebola breakout?

Deputy Spokesman:  We’ll contact them and see whether they believe that there’s any need.  I believe that they have been providing regular briefings to the press corps in Geneva, so some of your colleagues have been getting that.  But, if we can do that around here, I’ll let you know.  Yes, Ken?

Question:  Farhan, could you maybe later provide us with the breakdown of 11 people being commemorated today?  How they contributed to the, you know, welfare of the…

Deputy Spokesman:  I can do that now.  The UNRWA staff members are:  Fatma A. Rahim Abu Amouna, 54, a teacher; Inas Shaban Derbas, 30, a teacher; Mohammed A. Raouf Al-Dadda, 39, a teacher; Ismail A. Qader El-Kujk, 53, an environmental health worker; Farid Mohamed Mohamed Ahmed, 50, a teacher; Ahmed Mohamed Mohamed Ahmed, 51, a school principal; Munir Ibrahim El Hajjar, a social worker; Medhat Ahmed Al Amoudi, 53, a labourer, and Abdallah Naser Khalil Fahajan, 21, a school attendant.  Two UNRWA contractors employed under the Agency’s Job Creation Programme have been killed while on duty in UNRWA’s shelters:  Adel Mohammad Abu Qamar, a guard, and Hazim Abdelbasit Abu Hellal, a guard.

Question:  Do you have any nationalities?

Deputy Spokesman:  They were all Palestinian.

Question:  Okay.

Question:  And some them, most of them were killed in Gaza, but others were killed in Syria, correct?

Deputy Spokesman:  No, these… all 11 names I read out were people killed in Gaza over the past month.  Matthew?

Question:  Sure, thanks a lot.  I wanted to ask you, and you may have anticipated this coming, but it has to do with these documents that have come out about UN system operations in Afghanistan.  And most recently the document is a totally straight DSS [Department of Safety and Security] document, it says that DSS witnessed what was called “ghost staffing” at the UN protection force and that the whistleblower, or the person who noticed it, was told by DSS — just let it go at this time.  It’s a memo to file.  So what I’m saying is it’s a Secretariat question.  Forty-eight hours ago I did ask UNDP.  Yesterday you told me, you said they were in touch with me.  They’re not.  They have said absolutely no response and it just seems like they’re pretty serious charges and so where’s the response?

Deputy Spokesman:  My colleagues at the UN Development Programme are working on a response.  I’ve been told that they will get back to you, so I will wait for them to get back to you first.

Question:  Are they going to answer on the Department of Safety and Security and UNAMA [United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan]?

Deputy Spokesman:  I have no idea what their answer will be until I see it, but they will get back to you.

Question:  Why did you say they were in touch with me when they weren’t?  I’ve seen nothing from them.

Deputy Spokesman:  Because they said that they were following up, that they had received a request from you, which means that you were in touch with them.  So they were, therefore, respectively, in touch with you and then they told me that they were following up.

Question:  When?

Deputy Spokesman:  They told me that on… what day is today?  They told me that on Tuesday.

Question: When?

Deputy Spokesman:  As you know, we don’t have artificial deadlines.  They’ll give you the answer once the answer is ready.

Question:  Farhan, regarding UNRWA, can you give us an estimate of what the staff is?  I gather there are 10,000 or so people working at UNRWA.  Can you give an estimate, for example, of what proportion of the staff is Palestinian, versus international?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, they have a considerable number of Palestinian staff in the Palestinian territories.  Similarly, a lot of their staff in Syria is Syrian.  They have, in other words, a large number of national staff in the places where they work.  For the detailed breakdown of staff from area to area, please ask our colleagues at UNRWA.

Question:  Farhan, the colleague in UNRWA have not been forthcoming with the breakdown of how many foreigners and how many local employees they have.  So it would be very helpful to get those numbers.  Thank you.  They haven’t responded to e-mails.

Deputy Spokesman:  In every place where they work, I know that they provide what their total staff numbers are and what their international staff numbers are.  So the logical thing is that you can simply subtract the one number from the other.  Yes, Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  Now that we have a ceasefire in Gaza and that there may be a prolonged ceasefire, does the Secretary-General have any intention of visiting the area to see for himself directly the destruction?

Deputy Spokesman:  I do not have any plans for travel from the Secretary-General to give to you at this stage.  Richard?

Question:  Any chance there was some… any updates on the mine action people looking at the UN schools in Gaza?  Have there been any other missiles found?  How many schools have they visited that were abandoned, closed for the summer?  Any update on that situation, please?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, there has been a Mine Action Service team that’s been there in Gaza.  They’ve been going from place to place.  As you know, they found… since the start of this crisis, weapons have been found at three schools that had been vacated, and we reported those.  No further weapons have been found since the third one.  Yes?

Question:  Farhan, my apologies if I missed you making a statement on it.  But has the Secretary-General or some official UN body put out a statement about the slaughter of the Yazidis and the Christians in Iraq?

Deputy Spokesman:  There was a statement a few weeks ago about the treatment of minorities in general, including Christians and Yazidis.  That was about two to three weeks back.  And as you know, the situation has worsened.  We don’t have any new statement today, although we’re evaluating what the situation is on the ground following this offensive in Qaraqosh.

Question:  Could you recount, perhaps, what was said at that time?  Just to paraphrase so that we can have a sound-bite for usage?

Deputy Spokesman:  Off the top of my head?  The Secretary-General discussed his concerns at the advances the Islamic State has made in Mosul and other areas that have been threatening to different minority communities in Iraq, including the Christians and Yazidi communities, as well as others.  I’m not remembering all of them that the statement referred to; but beyond that, he made very clear the need for a unified response by the Government of Iraq and his hope that there can be the formation of an inclusive Government of Iraq that can deal with the crisis on the ground.  Yes?

Question:  Sure, I wanted to ask — there’s a letter from three UN system-wide staff unions, FISCA, Uniserve and another one, that was directed to the Secretary-General about the deaths in Gaza of UN staff and calling on him to take all measures necessary to ensure accountability and to ensure that no further colleagues are killed.  I wanted to know if you received this letter and what steps… whether or not you received it?  Have any changes been instituted, both on accountability for those killed, as well as for, to protect the colleagues there and elsewhere?

Deputy Spokesman:  On that, yes, we’re aware of the letter and what I can say, as you have seen in the Secretary-General’s remarks, even just yesterday, he made very clear the need for accountability and we will be following up on that, as the situation goes on.  I don’t have anything further, specific, to say about accountability in this matter at this stage, but this is something that we’ll continue to follow.

Question:  For example, the families of the 11 individuals you’ve named — what’s the status in terms of, I mean, the UN as I understand has some kind of death benefits, but are going to see recompense from those who fired the shells?  What does accountability mean in this case?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don’t think it would be productive at this stage of any discussions to say specifically what we would do.  Yes?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  On Ebola, the World Health Organization, I’m not sure what that statement was.  It means they’re looking into the new drugs, correct?  It’s not that they have rejected them?

Deputy Spokesman:  It doesn’t mean that they’ve rejected them, but they do believe that there’s guidance that’s needed concerning the questions of medical ethics raised by this.

Question:  Yes, I understand that.  But they’re not rejecting them, they’re going to contemplate it, right?

Deputy Spokesman:  Within the perspective, including within the perspective of medical ethics, yes.  What’s your name?  Yes, you.  I tried calling on you, but I have no idea what your name is.

Question:  Sarah Summerset.  Thank you, Farhan.  My question is about the stranded Yazidis on the mountaintop.  The Iraq Army has dropped some aid to them, I believe, but 70 children have already died of either starvation or thirst.  To follow-up to Jonathan’s question, what is the UN planning on doing about helping them?

Deputy Spokesman:  About the people on Sinjar Mountain?  Well, on that, what I can say is that there are erroneous media reports that were circulating today that the UN has “rescued” some of the thousands of people trapped by militants in mountains near the town of Sinjar.  The UN in Iraq has heard reports that people have been moved by Iraqi forces but we have no further details.  UN agencies are mobilizing all possible resources to ensure people who need help are assisted with basic aid on their arrival in Dohuk.  Okay, Mr. Abbadi?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  The Secretary-General said yesterday that the Gaza crisis must be the last crisis.  How can he ensure that it is, it will be the last crisis?  Does he have any specific ideas or plans to suggest to the Security Council, for example?

Deputy Spokesman:  As you can see, what he suggested, and what some of his advisers, including Robert Serry, suggested at the General Assembly yesterday, was to deal with all of the long-term concerns of the people of Gaza, the people of Israel and Palestine more broadly and to settle a lot of those long-term problems so that the root causes of the issue have been dealt with.  I’d refer you to their remarks, which get into the specifics of what’s needed.  But ultimately, regarding what you asked, it’s not the Secretary-General himself who can put an end to this — it’s the parties.  And we need to put as much pressure as we can, as the UN and the wider international community, to make sure that the parties do settle this problem, once and for all.

Have a good afternoon, everyone.

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