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

26 August 2014

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

26 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 Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.


Good afternoon, as you have seen concerning the helicopter incident in South Sudan, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) can confirm that three crew members of a helicopter contracted by the United Nations died today when it crashed near Bentiu in Unity State.

One surviving crew member has received treatment from Médecins Sans Frontieres in Bentiu.  The helicopter was on a routine cargo flight with the Mission when contact was lost.

Toby Lanzer, the officer‑in‑charge of UNMISS, expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased, and wished a full and speedy recovery to the injured crew members.  The Mission has currently launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash.  And the crew members were Russian citizens and the helicopter was contracted from a Russian company.

Also on South Sudan, you will see that late last night we did issue a statement from the Secretary‑General in which he welcomed the holding of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, Heads of States summit on South Sudan.  And he took note of the signing of the agreement of 23 January of the cessation of hostilities agreement implementation matrix by the Government of South Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition.  And the Secretary‑General calls on both parties to immediately implement the agreement and uphold the commitment to establishing a transitional Government of national unity.

The full statement is available upstairs.

**Security Council

Here, this morning, the Security Council extended the mandate of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, until 31 August of next year.  It also held consultations on Guinea‑Bissau.

The Security Council has issued a press statement welcoming the progress against armed groups in Africa’s Great Lakes region.  But it regretted the lack of significant progress made towards neutralizing the FDLR (Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda), which it called a top priority in bringing stability to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region.  


And a couple of items on Ebola:  the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the heavy toll on health care workers in this outbreak further impedes control efforts.

To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and more than 120 have died.

The World Health Organization explains that this heavy toll by the fact that neither doctors nor the public were familiar with the disease in these countries.  Moreover, several infectious diseases endemic in the region, like malaria, typhoid fever, and Lassa fever, mimic the initial symptoms of Ebola, and health care workers may not have seen, at first, the need to take protective measures.

Once the Ebola virus was identified and proper protective measures were put in place, cases among medical staff have dropped dramatically.  However, the heavy death toll among health care workers depletes one of the most vital assets in control of any outbreak, as WHO estimates that, in the three hardest‑hit countries, only one to two doctors are available to treat 100,000 people, mostly in urban areas.

The loss of so many doctors and nurses has made it difficult for WHO to secure support from sufficient numbers of foreign medical staff.  The African Union has launched an urgent initiative to recruit more health-care workers from among its members.


Also on Ebola, the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) remains fully committed to supporting the people of Liberia in their fight against Ebola.  Under the leadership of Karin Landgren, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, the Mission has reoriented several aspects of its civilian and security operations, and works closely with the UN country team to provide support to the Government‑led response and prevention efforts.  

UNMIL’s field offices continue to provide support to superintendents and county health teams.  They are facilitating the work of UN agencies and NGOs battling Ebola in a number of counties.  UNMIL is leading a crisis logistics team, comprising UN agencies, the ICRC (International Committee of the Red Cross) as well as the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, to expedite the delivery of supplies and equipment to those in need throughout the country.


A note on migrants and refugees, the past few years [days] have been the deadliest this year on the Mediterranean for people making irregular crossings to Europe, with more than 300 people having died in the past week while trying to cross over from North Africa.

That’s according to UNHCR report issued today in Geneva, which underscores that this brings the death toll this year from sinking vessels on the Mediterranean to almost 1,900, including 1,600 since June.

The Agency says that the main departure country for Europe is Libya, where the worsening security situation has fostered the growth of people smuggling operations, but also encouraged refugees and migrants to risk a sea journey rather than remain in a conflict zone.


And UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) has announced today that it has deployed its largest emergency aid ever in a single month.  So far this month, it has shipped 1,000 metric tons of life‑saving supplies for children caught in the world’s most urgent crises — an amount that would fill 19 cargo jumbo jets.  In August, UNICEF’s supply hub has dispatched 33 emergency cargo loads to the world’s most troubled crises, including the Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia, Palestine, South Sudan and Syria.

And more information is available on UNICEF’s website.

**World Food Programme

And lastly, our colleagues at the World Food Programme (WFP) have asked us to announce that internationally acclaimed musician Sami Yusuf has joined WFP as its Global Ambassador against Hunger.  Mr. Yusuf’s new status will allow him to raise awareness about WFP’s life‑saving work and to advocate on behalf of communities in need.


**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you.  Stéphane, on this incident with the helicopter, are there any preliminary results of the investigation?  Was it shot down?  Anything pointing to what caused that?

Spokesman:  No, no — obviously we’re very much looking into it.  The Mission has dispatched a team to the area, and as soon as we can share some information, I’ll let you know. 

You’ve got to use your mic, my friend.  I hear you but the world needs to hear you too.

Question:  Did you contact the Russian side on this incident already?

Spokesman:  I would assume that my colleagues in DPKO (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) are in touch with the contractors and the right authorities.  Masood, then Pam…

Question:  Yes, Stéphane, in the aftermath of the ceasefire now announced by Israel and the Palestinians, do you… does the United Nations have any final figures as to how many killed, women and children and all that?  And as to how many injured on both sides?  And does the United Nations have such a figure, will it release such a figure?  And also in the aftermath, the United Nations what do you call experts are asking for access into Gaza to certain charges of human rights violations.

Spokesman:  You know, obviously I saw the press reports as I was walking in here.  We’ve not seen anything official on the ceasefire.  We obviously very much hope that a ceasefire, long‑term ceasefire is secured, and the United Nations stands ready to support, to support the implementation of that agreement, as the Secretary‑General has told a number of his interlocutors over the last few days.  As far as figures, the numbers I’ve been updating you recently is the number of displaced people within Gaza and that number currently stands at 475,000.  That’s what I have.  Pam?

Question:  To follow up on the ceasefire question, clearly, from what you just said, you don’t have the terms of the ceasefire, but can you explain what the UN role was and who will be negotiating any follow‑up for the UN?

Spokesman:  No, I don’t have — I don’t have any official confirmation that — I haven’t seen any official announcement.  As I was walking and obviously there seems — they scheduled a press conference at this time, so they may be speaking in Cairo, but I can only watch myself on this monitor.  I can’t see what’s going on there.

You know, the Secretary‑General has been in touch over the last few days with [President] Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, the Emir of Kuwait [His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani], [United States] Secretary [of State John] Kerry, the Egyptian Foreign Minister [Sameh Hassan Shokry Selim], and I think his message from the start was very consistent that the UN is there to support the Egyptian-led mediation, and we will be there to also support obviously the implementation the best way we can, but I haven’t seen the terms, and we would also very much like as soon as possible to see a return of humanitarian aid into Gaza.  Matthew?

Question:  I wanted to ask you about Afghanistan.  The candidate of Abdullah Abdullah said he’s prepared to now pull out of the new recount.  He said none of his ideas were taken seriously, that the sites they said had fraudulent votes weren’t inspected, so I’m wondering given the UN’s role in trying to put the process back together what is the response or if any changes going to be made or is he going to drop out of the process?

Spokesman:  I hope to have something for you on that.  We’ve seen those statements, and I hope to have something for you on that shortly.

Question:  Could I ask on South Sudan, just the helicopter, if you can?  The Government has said the forces of Peter Gadet, who is one of the two sanctioned rebel, US sanctioned rebel leaders, are responsible for shooting it down, so I don’t expect you to confirm or deny that, but there is a way to get a statement from UNMISS what their contacts have been with the forces under the command of Peter Gadet.

Spokesman:  Obviously we’re looking into who did what to the helicopter.  Nabil and then Nizar… 

Question:  Thank you.  I have a follow‑up on Masood and Pam and a question.  You mentioned that the Secretary‑General has contacts with all these leaders in the region, and at the international level.  Is there any political — any preparation for a political solution for the whole problem?  Or just for the ceasefire?

Spokesman:  I think since this current crisis erupted the Secretary-General’s message has been consistent, is that a ceasefire is needed and then needed to address the root causes of the conflict.  So we don’t continue with this vicious circle of violence.  I mean, I think he said it best when he said destroy‑build, destroy‑build‑rebuild, and he said it had to stop, so obviously there is a need to address the root causes and to come up with a political settlement.  The first critical first step was obviously the ceasefire.

Question:  Okay, my question.

Spokesman:  That wasn’t your question?  Sounded like a question to me.

Question:  Sorry.  The question is on ISIL‑ISIS.  So obviously there is preparation, or in the making, international coalition to just encounter these threats from the terrorists in the Middle East and maybe beyond.

What’s the opinion of the UN?  Is the UN going to play any role in this?  And my other related question is whether the Secretary‑General sees any role for President [Bashar] Assad in this coalition, if it is formed ever.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  You know, they’ve been — that was a question, right?  I’m just checking, yes.  There have been quite a lot of reports that we’ve seen about what’s going on in terms of preparations, in terms of people announcing what they were going to do.  It’s something we’re looking at very closely.  The Secretary‑General has been clear in his denouncing of the activities of ISIS and ISIL and the threat that they pose to international community, that they pose to minorities and vulnerable groups, as we’ve seen.

Obviously, a lot of diplomatic discussions going on.  We would very much hope that whatever is — moves forward would be done within the bounds of international law.

I’ll leave it at that.  Nizar and then…

Question:  So regarding this meeting which took place in Jeddah two days ago of five countries discussing peace in Syria, has the United Nations been briefed about the outcome of that conference, which was a Summit in a way?  And how do they view the solution to the Syrian crisis especially that ISIL is now taking over a large area in that region?

Spokesman:  I think — I will find out if there’s any update on this meeting, this meeting you mentioned.  Obviously the Secretary‑General’s position on the need to find a political solution in Syria remains.

Question:  Another question, just a quick one, about the drone, the Israeli drone, which was shot down by Iran over Natanz.  How does the United Nations view that?

Spokesman:  We’ve just seen press reports.  If I have anything on that I will share it with you.  Kristin?

Question:  [inaudible] given the reports that the United States is conducting surveillance missions over Syria and considering bombing, would the Secretary‑General be against that, given that international law I believe would require that they seek some sort of approval either from Assad or from the Security Council?

Spokesman:  I’m not going to get into the hypotheticals.  I think we’ve seen these reports.  We’ve seen the statements.  I think the Secretary‑General has public comments, comments to the press, talked about the threat that ISIS and ISIL pose.  And obviously we would hope that a solution is found within the bounds of international law, but I’m not going to speculate moving forward.  Stefano and then Mr. Abadi…

Question:  Any reaction on the Russian soldiers that were captured inside Ukraine this morning?

Spokesman:  You know, I think we’ve seen — we’ve seen these reports.  I think the facts — we’ve seen what is being reported in the press at this point, but I think the incident highlights the complexity of the current situation in Eastern Ukraine and the ambiguity surrounding the situation on the ground.

And in this regard, the Secretary‑General very much welcomes — we very much welcome the start of the talks commenced between the three leaders of the customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Russian Federation and the President of Ukraine [Petro Poroshenko] with the participation of the European Union.  And we hope that these talks will be productive in their stated aim of dealing with both economic issues and the broad political context in this crisis.  Mr. Abadi?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane. 

On Gaza, even though the ceasefire, durable ceasefire is supposed to have been declared by Abbas and by Israel, there are indications that they have not agreed on some main — some of the main demands of Hamas, especially the liberational prisoner, the transfer of funds to pay the Palestinian employees, and the extension of the maritime fishing area.

How does this affect, or will it affect should it take prolonged time to negotiate those items, how would that affect the Secretary‑General’s wish to get to the root causes of the question?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary‑General stated that what is critical and what is urgent is to agree on a ceasefire.  Now, as you said better than I would have said, we’ve not received any official announcement, so I’m not able to pronounce on the ceasefire.  But it is critical that a ceasefire be agreed to, that humanitarian aid can get into, and that the root causes can be addressed.

In the back…

Question:  Mark Langfan of Arutz Sheva.  We keep hearing the terms “durable” and “sustainable” ceasefire.  How exactly is that different than a ceasefire to the status quo ante?  And does it mean a de facto break of the blockade?

Spokesman:  I’m not sure I understand your — I’m not sure I understand your question.  Obviously any ceasefire that is agreed to we would hope that it last as long as possible, that it be open‑ended, that humanitarian aid would go through, that discussions to address the root causes be initiated, and I think the Secretary‑General has made it clear that he does not want to see a return to the status quo ante.  Yes, sir, we’re going to go to the first questions first and then we’ll go to the second round.

Question:  I’m Kurosawa from Japanese newspaper, Sankei Shimbun, and I want to ask you about the freedom of press in South Korea.  Recently a Sankei Shimbun reporter in Seoul wrote an article about the whereabouts of the President Park [Geun-hye] for seven hours on a day a South Korean ferry sank in April which caused 300 people’s death.  And he, citing South Korean reports, his article said the rumor circulated that President Park secretly met a married man during seven hours, and after he wrote that, he was summoned by prosecutor’s office in South Korea, and according to South Korean media, he might be prosecuted on Friday.

I think it seems that there is no freedom of press in South Korea.  What do you think about this?

Spokesman:  Well, thank you for the background.  Thank you for your opinion.  It’s the first I heard of this.  Let me look into it and if I get something I will share it with you.  Yes, go ahead.

Question:  All right, I’m asking about this because I know at least reporters should be, you know, treated equally.

Spokesman:  Listen, you’re making a very interesting statement.  We have defended the freedom of the press and the freedom of expression of reporters repeatedly from here.  You’re asking me to comment about a specific case which I know nothing about, except what you’ve just told me now.

I’ve harvested the information you’ve shared with me.

Question:  Just one question please…  just one question.

Spokesman:  And I will return with an answer.

Question:  He quoted South Korean report and our colleague was summoned by Prosecutors’ Office.

Spokesman:  Could you give all this to me in writing and we can talk about it a little later, but I will come back to you. Yes, in the back…

Question:  Some company in Japan and also in Canada say they have found a vaccine against Ebola.  The UN is in touch with this company in terms of [inaudible]?

Spokesman:  We will check with the World Health Organization.  There’s another meeting I think early next week of WHO’s Ethics Committee, which looks at the issues of ethics of how you use experimental vaccines, especially when there are limited batches, because it raises a lot of questions, a lot of ethical, ethical and fairness questions, so we’ll ask WHO and we’ll get back to you.  Masood, Matthew and Nizar, the winning trio…

Question:  Question of durable solution for this crisis.  What is this Middle East Quartet led by Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister of Britain, is doing?  It is sitting out there with lots of money being given to Mr. Blair and it’s doing nothing.

Spokesman:  I hear your question.

Question:  Can’t that be activated to function at least to do something?

Spokesman:  I hear your question, Masood.  Tony Blair does not lead the Quartet.  He’s an envoy to the Quartet.  There’s been no change in his status.  The Secretary‑General has discussed the Middle East with various counterparts who are members of the Quartet.  As for an official Quartet meeting or statement, I’m not aware of one right now.  So…

Question:  Can it be activated?

Spokesman:  If there is something, I will share it with you.  What did I say, Matthew and Nizar?  Nizar, Matthew?  Matthew, Nizar, thank you.

Question:  This is somewhere between Ebola and this freedom of the press.  And you may not have heard of the case, but I still think it’s worth asking you this.  A journalist in Senegal was sentenced to one year in jail for reporting, apparently falsely, that a case of Ebola in Senegal, and what I wanted to know is, let’s say just assuming that this was false, that there is no Ebola in Senegal, what’s the UN’s view on the jailing of reporters for a report that turns out to be false as opposed to running a correction?  The one thing I’ve actually looked into this South Korea case, it seems — I want to add one thing.  I know you haven’t said anything, before your response.

Spokesman:  You can talk about these things ad vitam aeternam.  You can share it with me, and then let’s stick to the questions.  On Senegal, I have not seen the case, but as I said previously, we have always defended freedom of expression and the rights of journalists and I’m happy to look into the case.

Question:  Have you now heard about the Philippine peacekeepers a timetable for their removal from the Mission in Liberia due to Ebola?

Spokesman:  Yes, we have.  In fact that was just handed to me by Lindsay.  The UN peacekeeping, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, has received official confirmation of the Philippines’ decision to withdraw its contingents from the UN Mission in Liberia and from the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan at the end of their current tour of duty.  UN peacekeeping is extremely grateful for the energy, expertise and selfless work of its peacekeepers, civilians and uniformed personnel alike contributed from countries around the world.  UN peacekeeping is reaching out to other groups in police contributing countries to replace the Philippine contingents.

Question:  Something relevant to that, according to resolution 2170, countries are not supposed to communicate or really deal with ISIS or ISIL and al Nusra.  Do you think that Qatar by liaising with the kidnappers of Mr. Curtis have violated 2170?

Spokesman:  You know, it’s an interesting question.  I know that Qatar was involved in negotiations, but I don’t know what the nature of Qatar’s contacts was with — on the other end.  They contacted us.  They must have been talking to a number of other people.  I don’t know who these other people are.

Question:  According to something really related the pullout of the Filipinos from the Golan, from UNDOF, is it related to the kidnapping?  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  You’d have to ask the Filipino Government as to why they pulled out their troops.  There may not be a third round.

Question:  On the Philippines withdrawal, did they give a reason, and did Liberia, did Ebola have anything to do with the decision?

Spokesman:  I think you can draw your own conclusions.  You can draw your own conclusions.  Mr. Wachtel?  And then Evelyn, sorry…

Question:  Stéphane, can you share anything please on what the UN’s involvement will be whether it’s just going to facilitate in terms of a work space for the P5+1 talks on Iran that are expected to happen on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly?

Spokesman:  I believe you’ve answered your own question.  The P5+1 are exactly that.  There’s no UN representation on that board.  As the P5 — as that group is all made up of Member States, they can request a room, and they’ll do that.  Obviously if there are any media arrangements to be made we will share them with you.

Question:  Just one quick follow‑up on that, do you have any specifics on dates and anything that you can share at this point?

Spokesman:  No.  As soon as I can I will offload.

Question:  Just one other thing on Gaza one of the items that’s in focus now is a ceasefire monitoring group that would be part of this resolution.  Would there be UN involvement in that?  Or is the UN taking part in some of the negotiations over that?

Spokesman:  Yeah, I think you’re — I don’t want to speculate or answer any questions — I’d love to ask questions — to answer any questions before I’ve seen the document.  Evelyn, because you haven’t had a chance, and Mr. Abadi…

Question:  Yes, on the Philippines, did you mean in Liberia, are they going to leave at the end of their…

Spokesman:  At the end of their current tour of duty.

Question:  Or is that the Golan?

Spokesman:  No, you know, sometimes I just read what I’m given.  It’s a very valid question.  The way I read it is that it’s at the end of their tour of duty for both unless there is a punctuation error in what I was given.  And we know the importance of punctuation.

Question:  Okay, you can send out an e‑mail if you want.

Spokesman:  It’s a very, very good question.

Question:  On peacekeeping.  Secondly, any reaction to in eastern Ukraine of the separatists marching Ukrainian soldiers in not the greatest condition down the street?

Spokesman:  I think those images were shocking, and I think people need — people’s dignity needs to be respected at the minimum.


Question:  Thank you.  You mentioned of UNICEF activities and you had guests last week.  Do we have any news of UN-Women?  What are they doing exactly?

Spokesman:  In where?

Question:  In both Iraq, Syria.

Spokesman:  We can always ask.

Question:  Would you please?

Spokesman:  I would be happy to ask.

Question:  They have no one available for interview.

Spokesman:  Let’s go Pam.  You were still on round two here.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  The World Food Programme has said that their, and this was a Wall Street Journal report that just came out, that they told them directly that there was the lack of donors to the aid program to North Korea.  Can you confirm why the contributions have decreased?  And that they have?

Spokesman:  I can’t.  We can ask World Food Programme in Rome, or if you can reach out to Bettina here in New York, and I’m sure she’s an avid watcher so she’s probably working on an answer for you right now.  Mr. Abadi, then Matthew?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  We have heard a lot about peacekeeping in recent times, including today, but not much about preventive diplomacy.  We know that peacekeeping budget is about $8 billion.

What is the budget of preventive — for preventive diplomacy and for what period of time?

Spokesman:  I think the budgets of the Department of Political Affairs are public documents.  You can look.  If you have trouble finding those I will help you out, but obviously I think preventive diplomacy in general takes a lower profile than peacekeeping.  Matthew?

Question:  I wanted to ask about Libya.  I know I’d asked you before whether the UN had any knowledge of these reported air strikes by Egypt and UAE [United Arab Emirates] in the country, and it seems like it’s more and more clear that these did take place.  What is the UN, you were saying before you wouldn’t talk about hypothetical strikes in Syria, but the actual undisputed strikes in Libya, what do they think of them?  Also, there’s an article that says UN envoy opposes foreign intervention in Libya, by AP, and the UN envoy referred to is Bernardino Leon.

Spokesman:  Far be it from me to criticize the Associated Press.  He remains ‑‑ as far as I know, he was in Cairo as the EU envoy, so he should be identified as the EU envoy.

As far as ‑‑

Question:  Did Mr. [Tarek] Mitri agree there shouldn’t be foreign [inaudible]?

Spokesman:  As far as Libya is concerned, obviously we’re following the situation.  It is very concerning.  The violence that we’ve seen, as I talked about yesterday, the staff of UNSMIL (United Nations Support Mission in Libya) has been working hard with various interlocutors to try to find a negotiated ceasefire.  We are no — we are in no — political solution, rather.  We are in no position at this point to confirm these reports of air strikes, but we do believe that outside actors should refrain from intervening or supporting any of the armed actors involved in the fighting in Libya.

I mean, the violence is basically a way of undermining the political process.  And I would add that Mr. Mitri will be here tomorrow, and he has agreed to speak to you, so he can answer the questions as opposed to me.

Question:  Of course there’s violation.  If any country attacks in Libya, he’s violating 1973 resolution, which bans any weapons going in, whether in action or smuggling.

Spokesman:  Are you answering his question, or are you asking?

Question:  I’m asking you whether this is violation of…

Spokesman:  I think I’ve… this time, there’s no punctuation issue.  We believe that outside actors should refrain from intervening or supporting any of the armed actors involved in the fighting in Libya, which undermines the political transition process.

Question:  My question is regarding Mr. Ayatollah al-Nimr, who his lawyer has been denied access to him on Sunday, and the court is adjourned until the 30th.  Do you believe that due process is given to him after his lawyer was denied access to him?

Spokesman:  Let me see — I haven’t seen — let me see if I get anything on those reports.  Masood then Jonathan, and then the gentleman in the back, and we’ll call it a day.

Question:  Yeah, Stéphane, at what point in time does the Secretary‑General go to the United Nations Security Council and deem this ISIL what you call threat to international peace and security and demand action?  Meaning thereby a resolution on the Chapter 7 to fight it?  Is there a time line that he has in mind that he’s — or is he waiting for some signal?

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General has spoken out against this group that you mentioned and he has — and the Security Council has also taken it up and it is already on its agenda.

Question:  But calling for action…

Spokesman:  That’s my answer to your question.  Jonathan and then in the back and then we’ll call it a day.

Question:  Stéphane, the wires are now reporting that South Sudanese rebel Commander had warned the UN not to fly over its territory, including these helicopters like the one that was shot down.

Spokesman:  You know…

Question:  And now the Spokesman from that group is claiming that they shot down the UN helicopter with rocket propelled grenades.  What sort of recourse does the UN have in such an incident?

Spokesman:  Well, you’re putting me at a disadvantage because I’m not seeing the wire copy.  I don’t want to comment until we’ve been able to establish the facts on the ground, and what’s happened.

But obviously, attacks on UN personnel is a serious violation of international law.

Question: [inaudible] with whom the Secretary‑General spoke to about Gaza is Hamas, and with respect to that, exactly who does the UN believe is the legally responsible party for the Gaza Strip?

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General’s interlocutor for issues having to do with Palestine is the Palestinian Authority.  And the bonus question goes to the Italian.

Question:  Thank you.  And it is to do with an Italian effort actually.

Spokesman:  Maybe can I take it back?

Question:  It has to do with the Italian Minister of Interior [Angelino] Alfano, just recently accused Europe for not doing …

Spokesman:  Accused who sorry?

Question:  Europe, the European Union — not helping Italy with the situation on immigration and what you just talked before, the people dying in the Mediterranean.  So I’m asking:  For the UN, who is in this case, who should be responsible?  I know you answered this before that you think there should be a larger, more countries should cooperate.  But Italy practically accusing Europe recently, they’re not even, use the expression, it says it’s not helping, Europe is not helping in helping us to save people, not even helping to collect the debt.  So who do you think [inaudible]…

Spokesman:  Legally, obviously, where refugee or migrant lands is critical to who has the responsibility for it, but obviously on a larger scale, it should not be left up to just one country to handle this massive flow of human flow we’re seeing across the Mediterranean.

It has to be a larger international effort, both in terms of supporting the countries that receive the bulk of the migrants, but also in working to establish peace and prosperity and economic development in the countries where these migrants are coming from and where they’re fleeing.

Thank you.

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