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20 April 2015

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.  We have quite a few things today and we also have a number of guests today so let’s get started. 

**Somalia

Starting off with a statement attributable to the Spokesman on the attack in Somalia today.  The Secretary-General expresses his outrage at the attack this morning on a UN vehicle in Garowe, in Somalia's Puntland region. The attack resulted in the death of seven people, including four UN staff, and injury to several others. 

The Secretary-General conveys his deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victims, and wishes the injured a speedy recovery. He condemns in the strongest terms the attack against UN staff, who are working to provide humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Somalia, including the country's children, many of whom are in desperate need. 

The Secretary-General reiterates that terrorist attacks will not erode the commitment of the whole United Nations family to supporting the people and Government of Somalia in rebuilding peace and prosperity. He expresses his thanks for the dedication of UN staff serving in Somalia, and reiterates that such barbaric attacks will not diminish the United Nations' resolve to continue working for the cause of peace in the country.

Also on Somalia, you will have seen earlier today there was a statement from UNICEF’s Executive Director, Anthony Lake, condemning the attack as well. He called the staff heroes who had dedicated their lives to helping the children of Somalia.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, also condemned the attack which showed, he said, a complete disregard for the lives of people working on the humanitarian and development needs of the people of Somalia. 

**Secretary-General Remarks on World Humanitarian Summit

Earlier today, the Secretary-General briefed the Member States on the first World Humanitarian Summit, which will be held in Istanbul on 26 and 27 May of next year, 2016.  He said that today’s headlines have brought new reminders of why the Summit is needed. He said that the death of hundreds of migrants off the coast of Libya is not only deeply saddening – it should shock the global conscience.   

The Secretary-General said that this truly titanic humanitarian tragedy highlights yet again the need to address the plight of migrants, to crack down on the criminals who exploit the most vulnerable, and to strengthen rescue capacity in the Mediterranean and elsewhere.  He urged the European Union to show solidarity by accelerating its support. 

In a statement we issued yesterday, the Secretary-General made clear that the international response to this must be comprehensive and collective. The challenge concerns not only improved rescue at sea and protection. It is how to ensure the right to asylum of the growing number of people worldwide fleeing war who need refuge and safe haven. 

The Secretary-General added that the World Humanitarian Summit must focus the world’s attention on people caught in crisis, especially those that may have receded from the spotlight but where suffering remains acute.  We have his remarks available in the office. 

**Libya

I also have a statement on the killing of Ethiopian nationals in Libya.  The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the barbaric killing of a number of Ethiopian nationals by individuals affiliated with Da’esh in Libya. He utterly deplores the targeting of people on the basis of their religious affiliation. The Secretary-General expresses his condolences to the families of those who lost their lives as a result of this act and to the Government and people of Ethiopia.

The Secretary-General reaffirms that the ongoing UN-facilitated dialogue is the best chance for Libyans to overcome the crisis in their country. He encourages the parties to make the necessary compromises to reach an agreement. Only by working together will Libyans be able to start building a state and institutions that can confront terrorism. 

**Libya Mission

And on Libya, the latest round of UN-facilitated talks wrapped up in Morocco yesterday. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative [for Libya], Bernardino Leon, said at a press conference that Libyan parties participating in the talks are now expected to consult with their constituents on the draft agreement.  He added that the mission has asked them to finalize the agreement in the coming weeks. The mission is currently planning to facilitate parallel talks with armed groups, in an effort to make sure all Libyan actors are involved in finding a solution to Libya’s political and security crisis.   

**Indigenous

The Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson addressed today the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, calling on Member States to make sure that the post-2015 development agenda includes the rights of indigenous peoples.  Now is the time for indigenous peoples to be at the forefront of a transformative agenda that leaves no one behind, he said.  His remarks are also available in the office. 

**Security Council 

In its closed consultations this morning, the Security Council heard an update on the situation in Syria, including the plight of the civilians who have been affected by the fighting in Yarmouk [Camp].  The Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy, briefed Council members, as did the Commissioner General of UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency), Pierre Krähenbühl.  And we are making technical arrangements to have Mr. Krähenbühl brief you via videoconference from Jerusalem at about 1:45 p.m. this afternoon, so you have a chance to speak to him directly. 

**Iraq

Turning to Iraq, humanitarian agencies there are rushing to provide assistance to more than 90,000 people fleeing clashes in Anbar Governorate in Iraq. The priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who are fleeing, with food, water and shelter highest on the list of priorities.  Civilians are fleeing Ramadi, Albu Farraj, Albu Aetha, and other towns, and are moving towards Khaldiya, Amiriyat al Fallujah, as well as Baghdad.  Most of these people are moving on foot. 

The World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing rations, sufficient for three days, to more than 41,000 people in Ramadi, and has already distributed rations to more than 8,750 newly displaced people in Baghdad. Meanwhile, their colleagues at UNHCR (UN Refugee Agency) have distributed kits with key relief items to approximately 1,000 families in Amiriyat al Fallujah and Baghdad, with plans to distribute another 2,000 kits in coming days.  And UNICEF has also distributed kits in the last few days to cover the immediate needs of 85,000 people, including adult hygiene items and 12 litres of water. 

**Middle East

And the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, today welcomed the announcement on Saturday that an agreement has been reached that will allow Israel to release tax revenues, collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.  He said that withholding these revenues for over four months has undermined the stability of the Palestinian institutions and the ability of Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's government to pay public sector salaries and provide needed services. He added that this agreement is an important step in the right direction. 

**Yemen

And our colleagues at OCHA today are flagging that we welcome the announcement of a $274 million donation by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for humanitarian operations in Yemen, which will support the needs of 7.5 million Yemenis in the coming three months.  This funding will provide urgently-needed lifesaving assistance including food assistance for 2.6 million people, clean water and sanitation for 5 million people, protection services to 1.4 million people and nutrition support to nearly 79,000 people. 

In the past days, the UN and partners have distributed drugs and vaccines to critical areas, provided clean water and water purification tools to areas hosting displaced people, and started to distribute food supplies aimed at reaching 105,000 people.  However, access is severely constrained and humanitarian pauses and increased land and sea access are necessary to ensure aid, fuel and other supplies can continue to enter the country and reach the areas where they are most needed. 

**Secretary-General Travels

Just to flag that over the weekend, the Secretary-General became the first UN Secretary-General of the UN to speak to both the Development Committee and the International Monetary and Finance Committee at the spring meetings for the World Bank Group and IMF in Washington, D.C.  He delivered a number of remarks which we all made available to you over the weekend. 

**Afghanistan

And also on Saturday, we issued a statement on Afghanistan, in which the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest terms the barbaric attack carried out in Jalalabad. And he called for those responsible for the act to be swiftly brought to justice. 

**Guatemala

And just a couple of things that we have been asked about:  on Guatemala, we were asked about the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, whose renewal is impending.  The United Nations is ready to respond favourably to a request for a further extension, as the Commission has been doing an excellent job in investigating criminal networks with ties to government structures in Guatemala.   

The results of its investigations into criminal activity in Guatemala's customs authorities, revealed last week, are a case in point.  As you may know, the Commission was extended on three occasions by means of an exchange of letters, which the Government of Guatemala initiates and we are positively disposed to continue helping Guatemala to investigate, prosecute and dismantle criminal organizations and strengthen the rule of law.   

**Haiti

And the issue of the investigation into conduct of Formed Police Units has been repeatedly asked here.  I can say the investigation report into allegations of serious misconduct implicating members of a Formed Police Unit deployed to the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti has been completed. 

The report found that the two members of the Formed Police Unit in question used unauthorized and excessive force in response to demonstrations. No injuries or deaths resulted from their use of force.  These actions were found to be incompatible with the highest standards of conduct by UN personnel. 

The Mission is in the process of repatriating the two officers and the platoon commander on disciplinary grounds in consultation with the Police Contributing Country concerned and the authorities of the host Government.  There is a note to correspondents available in my office with more details, though I would stress that the whole report will not be made public. 

**Tolerance Event

A reminder that tomorrow, 21 April, the General Assembly President, the Secretary-General and the High-Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) will convene a two-day thematic debate on promoting tolerance and reconciliation. 

The two-day meeting will take place here at the UN headquarters and offer a platform for Member States and faith leaders from around the world, along with other stakeholders, to discuss ways to address the challenges of countering radicalization and extremism. 

The General Assembly President, the Secretary-General and the High Representative are expected to speak to you at a brief stakeout on 22nd [April], which would be Wednesday. We are also expecting the PGA’s office to release the list of the religious leaders that will be attending and find ways for you to speak to them. 

**Honour Roll

And on this very rainy day, I want to thank the Government of Barbados for becoming the seventy-fifth Member to pay its regular budget in full.  And hopefully, that will bring us some sun. 

**Press Conferences Today

After we are done here, which will be later than 12:30 p.m. there will be press conference here on the opening of the fourteenth Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. Speakers will include the Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Peoples. 

After that’s done, probably closer to 1:15 p.m., we will have a briefing here by Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Wu Hongbo, and the Director of DESA’s (Department of Economic and Social Affairs) Financing for Development Office, Alex Trepelkov. And they will talk to you about Financing for Development.  Edie.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Do you have any details on the UNICEF people who are killed?  What were their jobs?  Where were they going?  What were they doing?  Their names?

Spokesman:  Their names, nationalities… names will not be released until the full notification of next of kin is completed.  We're trying to get some more details from our UNICEF colleagues, but my understanding, they were on a bus going from their guest house from their… where they lived to the UNICEF… to the UNICEF office.  But as soon as we have more details, we will share them with you.  Nizar, Matthew.

Question:  Stéphane, you have heard about this attack today, aerial attack on (inaudible) in the western Sana’a, attack which rocked the whole city, and video is coming from there showing the explosion. Speak about unconventional weapons used in that attack, dozens of people perished immediately and many are going to hospitals, choked by the gases coming from the attack. Does the United Nations have anything to say about that?

Spokesman:  Well, we're… I was just looking at the press reports coming in.  We've asked our colleagues to look into these reports. Obviously, just at first glance, these kinds of reports are extremely disturbing when you see a probability of a high level of civilian casualties. I don't have any further details, and we will look into it and speak further… further to it. But I think all… all the violence that we've seen over the weekend, I think, serves as a reminder for the parties to heed the Secretary‑General's call on Friday for cessation of hostilities and for a ceasefire, which he talked about in Washington.

Correspondent:  He spoke about aid coming from Saudi Arabia to… there were also reports that attacks are happening by the Saudi aircraft or fighters against convoys carrying wheats and fuel and other things.

Spokesman:  What we talked about is the Saudi Government has said it would fund OCHA's flash appeal for Yemen. This is… again, this is not the full yearly appeal. This is a flash appeal. This will help a number of people in the immediate term to finance these operations, but clearly we need a cessation of hostilities to be able to deliver aid on a grand scale and to bring people the assistance they need.  And, again, as we've stress from here repeatedly, even before this round of violence, Yemeni civilians were in dire need of humanitarian assistance.  So there's a much larger need which is still unfunded.  This was very much a flash appeal.  I'll come back to you.  Matthew.

Correspondent:  Sure.

Spokesman:  And then presidente.

Question:  Also on Yemen, in terms of trying to find a replacement for Mr. [Jamal] Benomar that can actually speak with both sides, I wanted to ask you, on Friday, I'd asked the spokesperson here about whether Mr. [Ismail Ould] Cheikh Ahmed, why he has filed no financial disclosure online… public financial disclosure… and whether he has a business that's funded by gulf interests and was told we will check and get back to you.  So, I wanted to know, now that's Monday…

Spokesman:  It is, indeed, Monday. That is a fact.  When I have something to share with you, I will do so.

Question:  And I wanted to ask whether you're aware of Mr. Hassan Zaid of the Al-Haq party, which has been on and off affiliated with the Houthis has said online that Mr. Cheikh Ahmed is unacceptable and is viewed as being Saudi selected and will not be received by… I just wonder…

Spokesman:  I…

Question:  Are you going to consult with the Houthi side with someone…?

Spokesman:  We are… by answering your question, I am not confirming or denying the person you mentioned as an envoy.  What is clear is that any envoy especially in dealing with very difficult political negotiations in what is an active conflict zone needs to be received by all the parties. And we expect that when our envoy is named that he or she will be received and engaged with… with all the parties.

Question:  But I noticed that the Secretary‑General was scheduled today at 4 p.m. to meet with the GCC ambassadors. I just wonder, what outreach are you doing to quote the other side that's in Yemen…?

Spokesman:  I think… contacts are being held at various levels.  The meeting with the GCC ambassadors was at their request so we will have to see what message they come with and we will try to get you a readout.  Seniore.

Question:  Stephane, the Secretary‑General announced today the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, but it’s more than one year away.  What is his recommendation, short-term especially on the rights of asylum for immigrants and refugees?

Spokesman:  Well, I think, you know, what we're seeing... what we've seen the past year, what we're already seeing in… this year where I think as the Secretary‑General said that the Mediterranean has become a sea of misery, is first and foremost to see a robust rescue at sea operation. We have seen Italy. We've seen Greece and Malta doing what they can, but there is an expectation that the European Union would also step in and assist the three countries that have been carrying a big burden for what we have seen. So there is… there is that part.  There's also ensuring that the rights of migrants in receiving countries are respected, that migrants are treated with dignity and that the governments that are hosting the majority… the vast majority of migrants are also given the support they need, that the burden be shared. 

And, of course, what we need to address is… are the conflicts that often drive people to seek… to seek safety on the shores of Europe, whether it's in Libya, whether it's in Yemen, whether it's in Syria and other places.  We're seeing the nationalities of the people that are dying at sea, that are being rescued at sea is… there's very large number of different nationalities, but many of them come from conflict zones, and I think that's why we're also putting a lot of efforts in trying to solve the conflicts that we can… where these people are coming from. 

And also underscore on Libya the… it's the issue of Libya being able to control its seashore and being able to handle… handle the influx of migrants that are transiting through Libya. I think there… it's not a coincidence that we see most of the migrants come from… through Libya, which is a country without… that is in the State that we all know.

Question:  Thanks, Steph.  Staying with that.  I was wondering if you could confirm or perhaps provide some details on whether there will be a UN presence at the European Council meeting on Thursday on the migrant crisis.

Spokesman:  Not that I'm aware of at the Secretariat level.  We can check what UNHCR's been doing. I know UNHCR has been very active in sharing various proposals and ideas with European Union officials. Oleg.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  On Yemen, on Friday, the Foreign Minister of Iran [Javad Zarif] sent a letter to Ban Ki‑moon disclosing his four‑point plan and ideas for these negotiations. Did Secretary‑General study this letter?  Did he discuss it with the Iranian authorities…?

Spokesman:  No, the letter was indeed received.  It was asked to be circulated as a document of Security Council.  It was or in the process of doing so. And I think the Secretary‑General believes strongly that a political solution agreeable to all parties is the best way forward.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane. As a follow‑up to Giampaolo's question, are the UN taking concrete measure to deal with the migrant crisis?  And there have already been contacts between the Secretary‑General, the Secretariat, and the… with the Italian or European authorities about it? Thank you.

Spokesman:  I will… when I can update you on the phone contacts, I will.  Our colleagues at UNHCR are very much in the lead.  And are… I would say our cousin organization, the IOM [International Organization for Migration], is also very much implicated in working with the Italian authorities, with the Greek authorities. I know Mr. … the High Commissioner for Refugees, Mr. [Antonio] Guterres is currently in Greece, if I'm not mistaken. So, operationally, they are in the lead and they are obviously in, I would say, daily contact with the relevant governments.  Ms. Fasulo.

Question:  Thank you, Steph. Following up on the migrant issue, is it the US… UN policy that all migrants have the right to be settled permanently in other countries?  And, secondly, I believe you mentioned that the response to these kinds of crises should be international. So the question I have is, what is the responsibility or if any, of countries around the world, not those immediately, you know, the focus of these migrants, to take… take in asylum seekers?

Spokesman:  I would venture to say that all countries have a moral responsibility.  If you look at not only the situation in the… the situation in Mediterranean, the situation in Syria. Which countries are carrying the load… are carrying the heaviest burden for caring for refugees who have been forced out of Syria?  Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, you know, Iraq, to mention just those four. There are other countries, Egypt as well, and there are others carrying a load. Those are often countries that have their own set of problems, their own socioeconomic stresses, their own political stresses. And I think it behooves other countries, wealthier countries, to also take in refugees and migrants. And I think you can look at the numbers that have been brought into other countries, and you can draw your own conclusions.  As to… you know, I can't go here into the legal part about migrants, because obviously people fall under different categories.  I think the important part is they be treated with respect and that they be afforded the protection of the law as it applies to their own cases.

Question:  Can I just follow up quickly?

Spokesman:  Sure.

Question:  Given the focus… I mean the importance that you've implied about other countries taking in asylum seekers, does that mean that countries perhaps in Asia or Latin America that… continents not directly involved would also have some kind of responsibility of…?

Spokesman:  I think… I think every Member State has a moral responsibility, and I think they all need to examine the kind of support they've been giving and what their capacities are. We're going to make our way down.  Yes, go ahead.

Correspondent:  Stéphane…

Spokesman:  No, go head.  You've got the mic.  Go ahead.

Question:  Sorry. Stéphane, the UN human rights chief spoke this morning of a continued failure of [inaudible] monumental failure of compassion on the boat people issue. There seems to be quite a bit of discrepancy between his strong language and the language that was used by Ban Ki‑moon earlier and, indeed, your language here today has been stronger. I just wonder why that discrepancy.

Spokesman:  You know, I would read… I would not read too much into examining every word.  I think… what the Secretary‑General says, what I say here on his behalf or what the High Commissioner says who obviously speaks independently, I think everyone is aiming in the same direction, is that we need to show more compassion. These migrants need urgently our help, thus the need for search… for stronger rescue at sea.  And I think, as I told Linda, I think every country needs to help carry the burden and alleviate the burden that Mediterranean countries are carrying.  Yes, right here.

Question:  Majeed from Rudaw Media Network.  I have two questions.  One is about the status of refugees.  Globally, Mr. Ban Ki‑moon last week mentioned there's 50 million refugees, unprecedented level of conflicts around the world. My question is, is there enough donation and enough international support for these crisis especially in the Middle East when… in the western part of the world…?

Spokesman:  The short answer is no.

Correspondent:  No.

Spokesman:  No.  We're seeing an unprecedented financial need to deal with humanitarian crises.  Almost all of our appeals, if not all of them… I may stand corrected… are underfunded. Almost all of them are underfunded. We need more support. We need more… we need more financial help, but obviously, the best humanitarian solution would be to find a political solution to the conflicts that we're seeing around the world.

Question:  Well, my second question is about Iraq.  You mentioned the 90,000 people working… working Anbar in this humanitarian crisis. There are now reports that in Baghdad, the capital city, they are not allowing Sunni refugees to come in because of… I mean, they mention different reasons.  What is the United Nations' reaction?

Spokesman:  I will take a look.  I had not heard that, but I will take a look at those reports.  We'll go to the Italian row.

Question:  You were talking about the [inaudible] control in Libya which clearly doesn't exist. The Italian Government is considering to ask the UN the permission to [inaudible] resolution of the Security Council to do some kind of petroleum of the shores. Is that legally feasible…

Spokesman:  I think… well, we'll have to see what comes up in the Security Council and what they decide.  I think going back to what Mr. [Bernardino] León said, the… underscoring the importance for all the Libyan parties to agree on a political way forward to secure strong institutions.  And part of that would obviously be ensuring control of its waterfront.  Stefano.

Question:  Thank you. Two things - one connected to each other.  Okay.  On the migrants, here in this room just last week, in December, even before, you and other representative UN say the… I mean, it was clear, clear the Frontex was not putting enough… you talk specific about the money. There was just the one… I believe one fourth of the amount of money that the operation of the Italian operation before Mare Nostrum had.  Can you say today say that today that the Secretary-General could tell to the European Union I told you so?  And when these things happen means that you told them what was going to happen in April because I remember specifically was say in December, this is going to happen in April.  There's going to be a disaster.  What are the consequences?  Why they should listen to you now?  Because they didn't listen to you before.

Spokesman:  Well, you know…

Question:  And then there is another question has to do with what you were mentioning on the roots of this problem.  Today we have in The New York Times the Foreign Minister of Iran, Zarif, he's saying this.  One cannot confront Al-Qaida [inaudible] logical siblings such as the so‑called Islamic State in Iraq while effectively enabling their growth in Yemen and in Syria.  I will have [inaudible] Libyans.  What does Secretary‑General thinks about this means that there is a politics here that it's really schizophrenic or…

Spokesman:  I think…

Correspondent:  Between Iraq and Yemen.

Spokesman:  The fact there are politics in that kind of the world should come as no surprise to anyone.  The Secretary‑General's position has been clear is that you need to find a political solution to the crises we're seeing whether it's in Iraq, in Yemen, or in Libya.  The lack of political prospects is among others one of the root causes for the rise in extremism.  There are others.  And I would encourage you to pay… to follow and pay attention to the debates that we'll be seeing Tuesday, tomorrow, and Wednesday which will involve faith leaders who also have a big part to play.  Evelyn, then Carla.

Question:  On this flash appeal for Yemen, is Saudi Arabia making arrangements to get the humanitarian goods in in between the bombing?

Spokesman:  I think the monies will come to the UN.  We very much hope to see ceasefire as quickly as possible so we can get… we can get that aid in.

Question:  And just briefly, is it Al‑Shabaab who attacked the UNICEF… I mean the…?

Spokesman:  They've claimed responsibility for it.  Yes.

Question:  Stéphane, the tragic deaths from the migrants coming from North Africa and Sub‑Saharan Africa into the Mediterranean and drowning there have been going on for many years, and a lot of the causes prior to the current conflicts have been just poverty.  And what is being done to try and build up the economies in these countries so that the people can make a living for themselves there?

Spokesman:  Carla, I think you… you know, the reasons of why people take the courageous step to move at great risk across great distances, across deserts, across seas, the reasons are multiple — poverty, oppression, conflict, all those issues.  They're not… it's not an either or situation.  And I think that's why the UN is putting a lot of effort in trying to find political solutions to the countries in crisis and to look forward to… and the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals to eradicating poverty. Those are all the issues we need [inaudible].  Mr. Lee and then we'll go to Nizar.

Question:  Thanks a lot. I wanted to ask about Bangladesh and Haiti.  On Bangladesh, I know that the statement you said about the local elections, and now Khaleda Zia's convoy has been attacked and the BNP [Bangladesh Nationalist Party] has called for a nationwide whatever, you know, halting of transportation.  So, is there a UN role at all in trying to either defuse this or…?

Spokesman:  I will follow up and see what there is.

Question:  And the Haiti one, it's kind of a specific story. Following the… the… the Delhi attack on a peacekeeper, it's said that Dominican trucks will only enter Haiti if they get MINUSTAH [UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti] escorts.  I wanted to know, is this something that MINUSTAH is considering doing escorting commercial trucks?

Spokesman:  MINUSTAH provides assistance at the request of the Haitian government, sometimes of the Haitian police.  So, that would be done at their request if that were feasible or if that were to happen.

Question:  And the report, I just wanted to understand, when you said it's not going to be made public, can you just say why this report and the one on Mali about excessive use of force by UN peacekeepers is not being…

Spokesman:  These are internal working documents.  I think we're sharing with you the conclusions. Nizar.

Question:  The conflict in Yemen which is both internal and external going on for three or four weeks now, the refugees find no place to go, and there is no safe place in Yemen at all.  Al‑Qaida has controlled the vast area of Yemen, and bombardment… area bombardment have destroyed everything, all the infrastructure including water and electricity.  People go to hospitals even cannot get oxygen anymore, hundreds of patients are dying there in a miserable situation.  We hear about calls for ceasefire or calls for cessation of hostilities, but that doesn't seem there is…?

Spokesman:  Question, question please.

Question:  [Inaudible] in communication with the Saudis to stop aerial bombardment because this is destroying the country…?

Spokesman:  Nizar, Nizar.

Correspondent:  Yes, this is a question.

Spokesman:  The statement part is over.  Please find a question.

Question:  Okay.  The question is, when will someone tell the Saudis to stop destroying the country?

Spokesman:  I think we are… the Secretary‑General's call on Friday could not have been clearer. That message is also being passed through different… in different conversations. We need to see a stop to the fighting.  I mean, I think the Yemeni people were suffering enough as… were suffering immensely before this happened, and this has only made a bad situation worse.  And I mean, I think we've been able to flag the little humanitarian assistance we've been able to get in through planes, mostly UNICEF, but it's a drop in the bucket.  And we need to be able to get more in and that would only happen if there is a ceasefire.

Question:  You talked earlier about poor countries such as Lebanon and Jordan hosting millions of refugees whereas GCC countries, which have very deep pockets, do not seem to…

Spokesman:  I would refer you…

Question:  …of Yemenis or Syrians.

Spokesman:  Contrary to my belief… to my policy, I will answer your statement as opposed to your question, but I would refer you back to what I said to Linda about the moral responsibilities of countries around the world. Mr. Carpenter and then we'll end it up here to let our next guest…

Question:  Stéphane, this donation by Saudi Arabia for the Yemeni refugees, was this a spontaneous gesture by Saudi Arabia or was there a negotiation between UN and Saudi Arabia regarding…

Spokesman:  I think would you have to ask the Saudis that, but we're grateful for the money.  Thank you very much.  And I'll see you back here with Dr. Wu and then we have the indigenous peoples.  I'm sorry.  We'll come back to you.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.