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29 October 2014

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.

**Noon Briefing Guest

I will be joined in a very short while by our good friend John Ging, the Operations Director for OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs], who will be here to brief about his recent trip to Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon.

**Zambia

A couple of statements to start off with.  One on the death of the President of Zambia.  The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the passing of Michael Chilufya Sata, President of the Republic of Zambia, who died yesterday, on 28 October, while receiving treatment at a hospital in London.  The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to late President Sata’s family, the Government and to the people of Zambia.

**Ukraine

Also a statement on Ukraine.  The Secretary-General deplores the planned holding by armed rebel groups in eastern Ukraine of their own “elections” on 2 November, in breach of the Constitution and national law.  These "elections" will seriously undermine the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum, which need to be urgently implemented in full.  The Secretary-General urges all to uphold these agreements and work towards a peaceful resolution of the conflict.

The Secretary-General reiterates the fundamental importance of restoring stability and safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

And that statement should now be available online.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

Meanwhile, the Secretary-General visited Mogadishu in Somalia this morning along with the Presidents of the World Bank and of the Islamic Development Bank as well as representatives of the African Development Bank, the African Union and the European Union. He met with the President of Somalia, the Prime Minister as well as the Speaker of Parliament.  Speaking to reporters, the Secretary-General said that slowly but surely, Somalia was waking from a long nightmare.  He added that many indicators are finally pointing in the right direction.  And he urged Somalia’s leaders to remain united, adding that Somalia needs continuity and stability at this critical time.

The Secretary-General then also made a visit to Dadaab in Kenya, at the Ifo 2 refugee camp, which as you know hosts a large number of Somali refugees.  He toured the hospital there, including its maternity ward and nutrition stabilization centre.  And he also met with refugees as well as their host communities.

Just now, the Secretary-General has arrived in Nairobi and is meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta.  He will speak to reporters afterwards, and we will issue a transcript as soon as possible.  And we will also put out a readout as soon as we can of his meeting this morning in Djibouti with that country’s President, Omar Guelleh.

**Ebola

Our daily Ebola update:  in Accra, Ghana, today, the Head of the UN Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER), Tony Banbury, held a joint press conference with the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Samantha Power.

Mr. Banbury said that there's been a very significant mobilization of international personnel, resources and capabilities to work side by side with the Governments and that those efforts are starting to pay off.  However, he stressed that the crisis remains very serious, with continuous needs to build more beds, get more foreign medical teams in place, build more community care centres, and have more safe burial teams and more community mobilization.

The World Food Programme (WFP) also warns today that Guinea is facing growing food insecurity due to the current Ebola crisis.  Forest Guinea — the area of Guinea hardest hit by the virus — is experiencing the worst rates of food insecurity in the country.  Families are increasingly turning to coping strategies, reducing the quality and frequency of meals.  The World Food Programme has so far distributed food to 776,000 people since April in the most impacted countries — Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 

**South Sudan

And from South Sudan, the UN Mission in that country (UNMISS) reports continued heavy fighting in Unity State between Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and opposition combatants in the vicinity of its compound in Bentiu and nearby Rubkona.  The Mission has also received reports of SPLA and opposition troop movements around its base and in Rubkona.

The UN Mission expresses its grave concern that hostilities continue in violation of the23 January Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities and the 9 May Agreement between President Salva Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar.  The Mission stresses the need for both parties to end all military operations immediately.  The Mission further demands that all parties respect the inviolability of all UN assets and premises, including its protection of civilians sites.

**Democratic Republic of the Congo

And from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our humanitarian colleagues and the UN Mission (MONUSCO) in the country are conducting a needs assessment mission in Kalehe, South Kivu province, after more than hundred people were reported missing following torrential rains last weekend.  Some 775 houses, shops, health centres and schools have been destroyed as well as several plantations according to initial reports.

**Central African Republic

And from the Central African Republic, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warn today of significant declines in agricultural production in the Central African Republic.  According to a new assessment, agriculture, the backbone of the economy, has contracted by 46 per cent, compared to pre-crisis levels, due to widespread looting and insecurity.  Livestock numbers are estimated to be down by as much as 77 per cent, due to frequent raids and cattle rustling, while the fish supply declined by about 40 percent.  And more information is available on the agencies’ websites.

**Niger

And in nearby Niger — according to Government figures, more than 1,400 cholera cases and 53 deaths have been registered since the beginning of this year.  Almost half of the cases were declared in September.  The Ministry of Public Health, supported by humanitarian partners, is providing assistance in affected areas as well as to communities at risk.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the situation in the south-eastern region of Diffa is particularly concerning — mostly due to limited access to water, inappropriate hygiene practices and increase in refugees arriving from Nigeria, where there has been a cholera outbreak.  The Nigerien authorities estimate that since May of this year, 105,000 people from northern Nigeria have fled into Niger.

**United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

From UNRWA, Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), wrote to Malala Yousafzai today to thank her for donating the 50,000 dollars she received for winning this year’s “World's Children's Prize” to help rebuild an UNRWA school that was damaged during the recent fighting in Gaza.

Mr. Krähenbühl said that recognition from someone who has campaigned valiantly for children’s rights would lift the spirits of a quarter of a million students at UNRWA schools in Gaza and boost the morale of the more than 9,000 teaching staff there.  And he added that the Relief and Works Agency shares Malala’s profound belief in the importance of education as a means to lift young girls and boys out of isolation, exclusion or oppression.

**Security Council

Meanwhile back here as you know, the Security Council is holding closed consultations this morning to hear a briefing from the President of the International Court of Justice.

Then this afternoon at 3 p.m., the Security Council will hold a meeting on the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.  That will be followed by a meeting and consultations to discuss the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

 

**China

And an update from the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos:  she is beginning a three-day visit to China today.  Ms. Amos, who also serves as Emergency Relief Coordinator, will meet senior Government officials and representatives of civil society and the UN family to discuss how to strengthen partnership between China and the UN on global humanitarian issues.

Her visit will also provide key opportunities to learn from China’s experiences and expertise in disaster management in the region, as well as to engage with university students and philanthropists on humanitarian action.

That’s it from me.  Just to say, before any issues are raised, that there is a building-wide issue with the Wi-Fi today, so all of us are being impacted by it.  You are being treated like UN staff and have to suffer through this breakdown, which is due to some hardware issues.  We hope it’ll be solved soon.

**Questions and Answers

Spokesman:  No, sorry, you’ll be next.

Correspondent:  Oh.

Question:  Does the UN have any comment on the second day of protests in Burkina Faso?

Spokesman:  We're definitely following these developments very closely, and the Secretary‑General reiterates his often-issued call to stress the importance of peaceful non-violent protests along with full respect for the rights of freedom of expression and assembly.  Abdelhamid and then Matthew.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  The violations in Jerusalem especially in [inaudible] had been increasing lately to the point that the mayor — the Jewish mayor of Jerusalem — went there and he declared, this is our city, it's our eternal capital, to the point that the Security Council is taking issue.  Why there is no statement from the Secretary‑General on these developments?

Spokesman:  Well, I think, you know, the… first of all, the Under‑Secretary‑General for Political Affairs will brief the Security Council in open session this afternoon, so I'm sure that will be one of the issues addressed.  The Secretary‑General has spoken out in the past, notably while visiting Israel and while in Ramallah on the issues of the holy sites.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask on Somalia, I'd asked you a couple of days ago about this ongoing dispute between the President and the Prime Minister where the Prime Minister tried to reshuffle the Cabinet, which most people think are within his powers there, and the President said no. I guess I saw what was sent out.  One, did the Secretary‑General meet with the Prime Minister or only with the President?  And is it fair to read his comment about the need for continuity?  Many people read that as saying basically he's siding with the President and saying no reshuffling of the Cabinet, and it seems to some to be kind of interfering in internal political affairs of the country.

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General is not going to interfere in the political affairs of a country.  As I said, he did meet with the President as well as the Prime Minister, so he met with both.  And I think the message to all concerned is for the need for stability in the country and to ensure that Somalia continues on a positive course.

Question:  Does that mean no Cabinet reshuffles…?

Spokesman:  No, I think the word continuity implies the word stability.  It doesn't… I think you would be mistaken to interpret that as the Secretary‑General telling the President whether or not he can reshuffle his Cabinet.

Question:  And somewhat relatedly on Madagascar, we had an interchange where basically the Secretary‑General had condemned a statement by the returning former President, and I'd asked did he know that the guy was jailed for making statements that were condemned from here, and what would he say to those who say it's kind of throwing a political… somebody under the bus for political views.  He's basically a political prisoner for what he said, that he doesn’t believe the Government…

Spokesman:  I don't think the Secretary‑General is throwing anyone under any bus.  You know, he expressed his opinion in the statement, and if we have anything to add, I will add it.  Evelyn and then Nizar.

Correspondent:  The Wi-Fi's working in here.

Spokesman:  I wish we could all move in here.  That’d be perfect, yes.

Correspondent:  Exactly.  We're going to all come in here and write.

Spokesman:  Maybe the problem’s been fixed.

Question:  There was an article in The New York Times that there were fewer Ebola cases in Liberia.  Is that… I mean, they explained that might not be the case, but do you have any original information on it?  Also, in Somalia, I hear the Secretary‑General was not wearing any protective gear.  They could have shot at him easily.

Spokesman:  Well, you know, we're not going to comment on what protective gear the Secretary‑General may or may not be wearing.  He went in and he's out safely.  On… we've seen these articles in The New York Times and other reports out of Liberia.  I think it's… I think we should not… we have to be careful in how we read into these reports.  There will be ups and downs.  There will be up and downs in the spikes of the outbreak.  I think it's hard to get accurate epidemiological information, particularly in Liberia.  So we're continuing to focus on our work as we, as I think Mr. Banbury said, planning for the worst but hoping for much better.  And I think by… in any operation by planning for the worst what we're really trying to do is to avoid it.  Nizar?

Question:  My question is about Bahrain.  Bahrain have rescinded their decision to ban…

Spokesman:  Sorry?

Question:  The Bahraini government have rescinded their decision to ban Al Wefaq opposition group.  But also, they are revoking nationalities of Bahrainis.  How does the United Nations view the revoking of those who are in opposition?  Also, the Nabeel Rajab and Maryam al-Khawaja and many other activists languish under some reports that they are some subject to torture.  Do you have…

Spokesman:  I think on those, I think the UN system, through the High Commissioner for Human Rights, has spoken out in defence of these people and we reiterate that call.  On the issue of citizenship, I have not seen those reports.  We would obviously hope that every… that the… in any of those types of issues that the law is followed.  And I would also refer you back to the letter the Secretary‑General sent to the King of Bahrain.

Question:  Do you have anything about the explosion in Homs today in…

Spokesman:  I do not.  I do not.  Sara?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  You mentioned briefly that the SG [Secretary-General] was in Mogadishu, Somalia; Dabaab, Kenya; Nairobi; and Djibouti.  Could you just clarify the timeline?  Was that over a two‑day period?

Spokesman:  He left Djibouti early this morning, went to Somalia then left Mogadishu, went to [inaudible] and is now in Nairobi.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Yes, go ahead.

Question:  Thanks.  Back in 2009, the Special Rapporteur, obviously an independent voice, as well as the Human Rights Council in 2012 endorsed this notion of the right of the internet, a right to keep this internet open and free.  Several years on, I wonder if the Secretary‑General has refined or developed a position on this, specifically in light of moves by a Member State this week to try and levy a tax on internet usage.

Spokesman:  I didn't see that report of internet usage, but obviously the right to access to information is a basic and a critical right.  And I think that in today's world that would include the right to access the internet.  Yes?

Question:  I have two questions.  The first question is regarding Ebola.  If you have any latest numbers about the donors and how much money is there now.  And the second one, about Gaza and the reconstructions.  Is there any… because I was trying to find out more information about which companies are getting money from the reconstructions and how decisions were made, which…  

Spokesman:  Yeah, I don't have that level of detailed information here.  I could happily put in you in touch with my colleagues at office for the Special Coordinator at UNSCO in Jerusalem who were in the lead in the whole reconstruction mechanism.  On the Ebola numbers, I don't have a fresh update for you today, but I can harvest one for you right after the briefing.

Question:  Thank you.  Could you please give us some information about the upcoming visit of Special Envoy Mr. Eide for Cyrpus, who is going to visit Turkey, Cyrpus and Greece?  Who he is going to meet with and when?  Because it's a critical time as the Cyrpus negotiations have halted again.

Spokesman:  Sure.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Spokesman:  I understand… let me ask his office to give us an updated travel schedule.  We'll share that with you. Abdelhamid and then Sangwon.

[The Spokesman later clarified that the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, has just wrapped up a one-day visit to Ankara, Turkey, where he met with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Feridun H. Sinirlioğlu.  Mr. Eide is scheduled to visit Athens, Greece, on 5 November.  From 6 to 7 November, he will be in Cyprus, where he will hold separate meetings with the leaders of the two communities and others.]

Question:  Yes.  The Foreign Minister of Cuba introduced the draft resolution in the General Assembly, which was voted upon and passed by a vast majority.  Was it any activities of the Foreign Minister here?  Did he meet with any senior officials at the UN?

Spokesman:  Not that I'm aware of.  He definitely did not meet… both the Secretary‑General and the Deputy Secretary‑General are away.  I don't believe he met with senior officials, but I can ask the senior officials who he could have met with if he did meet with them.  Sangwon?

Question:  Speaking of the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General], do you have any readouts on his preliminary days of meeting…

Spokesman:  No, we're waiting for one.  We had hoped to get one before noon.  But as soon as we have something, we're expecting something verily.

Question:  One clarification on what the UN is doing with Ebola and quarantine.  Last week, Farhan said UN staff members will self‑monitor their temperature for 21 days and laid out different things.  Is that for any staff member who's just travelled there or specifically for staff members who may have come in contact with…

Spokesman:  It's for staff members who have come back from the impacted region.

Correspondent:  Okay.

Spokesman:  Yes?

Question:  I'm talking about the Tunisian elections.  Do you have any comment about the late of the announcement of the results and how was efficient the technical assistance of the UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] to the Tunisian authorities?

Spokesman:  I have nothing to add to the statement we have already made.  We hope that the technical assistance that was provided by the UN Development Programme and other UN partners was welcomed by the Tunisian authorities.  I think the elections seem to have gone well, and we welcome their outcome.  I'm not aware of any issue with the technical support.  Mr. Lee and then Nizar.

Question:  Sure.  I want to ask about Bangladesh and then something in‑house.

Spokesman:  This is how efficient we are.  It's not about Bangladesh, but just an update on the numbers.  The requested was for $998 million, and the funding so far is for $493 million for the general pool.

Question:  Ebola.

Spokesman:  Yes, for Ebola.  Not just random money.  Yes, Mr. Lee?

Question:  I wanted to ask you, the former minister and leader of the largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, in Bangladesh, Mr. Nizami, has been sentenced to death.  And I wanted to know… some people say it's going to give rise to unrest.  And I also… I guess the Secretary‑General is against the death penalty.  Is there any comment from the UN about…

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General remains against the death penalty.  I have not seen that report, so I'm not going to comment on it.

Question:  Okay.  And I wanted to ask the about the Comptroller position here in the UN.  I understand that in… some months ago, the former Comptroller moved to UNDP as Associate Administrator.

Spokesman:  It's not a matter, it's a fact.  It was announced.

Question:  Who's been running it since then?  And can you confirm that Bettina Bartsiotas is going to be named the new Comptroller this week?

Spokesman:  There has been an acting Comptroller, and senior appointments are official once — if I may be so bold — once I announce them from this podium.  So we can play around with the name game for quite some time.

Question:  But given this number of months without a Comptroller…

Spokesman:  There's an acting Comptroller, so I think that the finances treasury of the UN remains in safe hands under the supervision of Mr. Takasu as is the Head of the Department of Management.  Joe?

Question:  [Inaudible]

Spokesman:  I know, but if you haven't asked a question yet, you get to jump over the people who have asked two questions or already or three or four.

Question:  This will be quick.  Just on the numbers you just read out on the contributions, monies received for Ebola, do you have any or could you get any more granular in terms of the particular countries that have contributed and how much?  And also, is this calculated only in cash contributions or how about in‑kind?

Spokesman:  These are cash contributions.  The numbers are fairly well explained on the Multi‑Donor Trust Fund web page, which I can show you.  It's, in fact, very granular.

Question:  So, in other words, if a country, such as China, which in addition to whatever monies it contributed, has also provided expertise and helped construct facilities; that in-kind type of contribution would not be…

Spokesman:  There are different ways.  Obviously, some countries choose to give bilaterally.  Giving through the Trust Fund is a way to fund particular UN system activities.  So it is a… it is for monies to fund operations, targeted operations.  But we will show you the web page and you'll have lots of granularity.

Question:  With the growing reports about training camps being built in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and other places to fuel the conflict in Syria further than it is fuelled, how does the United Nations see these nations who are supporting a sentiment in Syria, in the meantime they are arming what they call are moderate groups?  Of course, in the past, moderates turned out to be extremists or converted into extremists.  What guarantees these one will contribute to peace?

Spokesman:  Without agreeing to the premise of your question, the Secretary‑General continues to encourage all countries to work with all parties to find a political solution in Syria.

Question:  Does he believe that a recruitment and training will…

Spokesman:  I will refer you to what I just said.  Abdul Hamid and then Sara.

Question:  Last Monday, the 20th, I raised an issue about a settler who went off the road, hit two girls, killing the young six‑year‑old [inaudible] and injuring her friend.  And when I asked you, you said, we're not aware of it.  So killing a Palestinian child doesn't look… doesn't show on the radar of the United Nations and… but when a Palestinian also did the same and hit an Israeli baby and he was killed, the whole world would be condemning that and the… had been a statement condemning the killing of the Palestinian child of 6 years old, wouldn't you think that would maybe deter the Palestinians and say, look, the world is also sympathizing with us?  Maybe he was out of anger for the killing of the six‑year‑old.  He went the following today and killed an Israeli child also.

Spokesman:  Abdul Hamid, I'm going to try to unpack what you've just said and separate the statement from the question.  I think accusing the Secretary‑General of having no regard for the killing of Palestinian children to me implies you haven't heard the Secretary‑General speak out in the last… in the…

Question:  [Inaudible]

Spokesman:  Let… in the last months, notably on what's happening in Gaza, and I think his very emotional visit to Gaza, his meeting with families, his meeting with children, his meeting with schoolchildren.  So I don't agree with that premise.  We very much hope that the person responsible for the killing… for the death of that child in the West Bank is brought to justice and faces the full weight of the law for the killing of that child.  And I will stop there.  And I do have… I have a statement which was just given to me, which I do want to read out, which is going to take some time.  So, and we've already taken some time, so if you'll just bear with me.  And it's on the review of the… of UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur], which we've been talking about for quite some time.

Question:  Can we ask questions when you're done?

Spokesman:  You can always ask questions, yes.  A review initiated… sorry.  Let me start again.  This is on a statement on the review of having to do with reporting from the UN Mission in Darfur.  A review initiated by the Secretary‑General was conducted into recent allegations that the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur intentionally sought to cover up crimes against civilians and peacekeepers.  The review team reviewed all the material related to 16 incidents, which were the basis of these allegations.  It also interviewed former and current staff in UNAMID and at UN Headquarters.  The UN team did not find any evidence to support these allegations.  However, it did find a tendency to underreport unless absolutely certain of the facts.  In five of the cases examined, the Mission did not provide UN Headquarters with full reports on the circumstances surrounding these incidents which involve possible wrongdoings by Government or pro-Government forces.  The review team also found that the Mission took an unduly conservative approach to the media maintaining silence when it could have developed a press line even in the absence of all these facts.  The Secretary‑General is deeply troubled by these findings.  He recognizes UNAMID faces unique challenges owing to its complex mandate and operating environment.  Nevertheless, keeping silent or underreporting on incidents involving human rights violations and threats or attacks on UN peacekeepers cannot be condoned in any circumstances.  The Secretary‑General will take all necessary steps to ensure full and accurate reporting by UNAMID.  Every effort will be made to ensure that sensitive information is systematically brought to the attention of UN Headquarters and the Security Council in a timely fashion.  UNAMID’s media policy will be re-examined to ensure greater openness and transparency.  The Mission will be expected to follow up formally and report on Government investigations into incidents where peacekeepers have been killed or injured.  Ensuring that the UN speaks out consistently against abuses and identifies the perpetrators is a key goal of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative.  The Secretary-General will ensure that all missions are provided with clear guidance on the fulfilment of their reporting obligations, particularly with regard to human rights and the protection of civilians.  He looks forward to the upcoming review of UN peace operations as an opportunity to comprehensively address this issue, which is a core element of his Human Rights Up Front initiative. Evelyn and then Matthew.

Question:  Yes.  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  Your microphone, please.

Question:  Sorry.  [inaudible] in the story that Colin Lynch broke that the whistle-blowers said that they were pro-Khartoum, and they intended to underplay or not do due diligence when it comes to the actions or the… yeah, becomes the actions of the Sudanese Government.

Spokesman:  Well, I think what the Mission found was… what the review team found is that the Mission took an unduly conservative approach in its reporting to the media and to its Headquarters when it came to… when it comes to incidents involving Government or pro-Government forces.  So I don't think that's in contradiction to what you've just said.  Matthew.

Question:  In order… I guess I… first of all, I mean, overall, I wanted to know, like, who… then who does the UN find was responsible for this non‑reporting to Headquarters and to the media?  And two, the statement that you've read, it's obviously… it's based on some kind of a report.  Is the… in order to judge to take a look at what they found, is that document going to be made public?

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General will be sending or has sent as we speak to the Security Council a letter, a cover letter, and the executive summary of the report.  This is what we're sharing with you at this time.

Question:  What about the report itself?  Does the Security Council get it?

Spokesman:  I just told you what…

Question:  Does it relate to Mr. Chambas who in the middle of this investigation was laterally moved to another USG [Under-Secretary-General] post?  That's why I'm asking sort of who is responsible?  Is it a matter of… obviously someone decided not to…

Spokesman:  I can say the Secretary‑General is committed to addressing the issues uncovered by the review, whose main name was to determine where the weaknesses were in the oval reporting chain from the field to UN Headquarters.  The incidents that were the focus of the review occurred for the most part before Mr. Chambas' arrival into the mission.

Question:  I want to ask if the team had interviewed [inaudible]?

Spokesman:  Yes, they did.

Question:  They did?

Spokesman:  They did.

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Sara.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Follow‑up to Nizar's question.  The Minister for the communications for Bahrain mentioned that [inaudible] are being held in normal prison and anyone is free to come see them, and they are not being tortured.  Other than that, on Gaza, does the UN have a response to the Wall Street Journal report debunking the four Palestinian children that were supposedly targeted on the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], on the beach?  They actually exposed it as a hoax.

Spokesman:  No, I have no comment.  I think the Secretary‑General has spoken out very clearly and strongly following the… as… the deaths of so many civilians including children in Gaza.  That's what I have to say.  Matthew.

Question:  There many will probably be more questions about this statement when you email it out, but I wanted to ask if the UN has any response to the journalist that was captured and then recently released as written in The New York Times account at of his capture and, among other things, he says…

Spokesman:  Where?

Question:  In Syria.  I'm sorry.  He said that he was handed by the Free Syrian Army to Al Nusra where he was tortured for months.  Given the Secretary‑General has met with the Syrian opposition coalition, which says openly is affiliated with and a supporter of the Free Syrian Army, what is the response by the Secretary‑General and Mr. de Mistura to release journalists saying at great length that the FSA and Al Nusra are indistinguishable?

Spokesman:  What we have said repeatedly is for all parties that are holding people against their will for them to be released.  Evelyn?  Nizar, Nizar, I know you always have a follow‑up.

Question:  One question on the money raised for Ebola for the Trust Fund, is that… are they pledges or are they real finances or hospitals or whatever or do they still include a lot of pledges that may or may not come in?

Spokesman:  No, this is money that is in the Trust Fund, but, again, I would urge you to look at the website, which will give you all the details you need.

Correspondent:  And second…

Correspondent:  On this

Spokesman:  Sorry.

Question:  Categorizing some rebels in Syria as moderate and others non-moderate, what is the criteria for that?  Obviously here as Matthew was saying, the… this journalist was kidnapped by Free Syrian Army and sold to the Al Nusra, so this is the moderate in this case? 

Spokesman:  I'm not going to start putting labels on people.  What is clear is that it's Secretary‑General has called for all those involved in the conflict to return to the table to find a political solution.  Evelyn?  And then we'll go to Mr. Ging.

Question:  Yes.  You may have commented on it earlier, but Ukraine Russians had another reaction which seems to contradict the Minsk Agreement that this separatist election being held very shortly is legal.

Spokesman:  I would refer to you the statement I read at the opening of this briefing, which I think answers that question.

Question:  I'm sorry.

Spokesman:  That's okay.  I read it off at the beginning.  But the beginning was about 40 minutes ago.  So, I will get Mr. Ging.  So don't go away.

 

 

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For information media. Not an official record.