18 May 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 Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon everyone.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

The Secretary-General arrived today in Seoul, in the Republic of Korea, and he told reporters that, during this visit, he will hold talks with President Park [Geun-hye] and other senior officials on development, climate change and regional concerns.  The Secretary-General looks forward to addressing the Asia Leadership Conference, as well as the Seoul Digital Forum.  He will also attend commemorations of the seventieth anniversary of the United Nations and meet with business leaders who are part of the United Nations Global Compact initiative. 

In the evening, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, with whom he discussed climate change and Security Council reform, among other topics.  The Secretary-General underscored that 2015 would be a year for global action, as the new sustainable development goals are expected to be adopted in September at the General Assembly.  The Secretary-General expressed the hope that the Prime Minister himself would represent India at the September summit in New York.

**South-East Asia

We issued a statement yesterday afternoon about the Secretary-General’s increasing concerns about the plight of migrants and refugees stranded in the Andaman Sea and Straits of Malacca.  In recent days, the Secretary-General has spoken to the Prime Ministers of Malaysia, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, and Thailand, Prayuth Chan-ocha.  The Deputy Secretary-General has also spoken to the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Abul Hasan Mahmood Ali, and the Deputy Minister for Multilateral Affairs of Indonesia, Hasan Kleib. 

In their discussions with leaders in the region, they reiterated the need to protect lives and uphold international law.  Furthermore, they stressed the need for the timely disembarkation of migrants.  They also urged leaders to uphold the obligation of rescue at sea and maintain the prohibition on refoulement.  The Secretary-General and Deputy Secretary-General also encouraged leaders to participate in the forthcoming regional meeting in Bangkok on the migrant situation.  They hope that the meeting will lead to comprehensive outcomes at the regional and international levels.  The United Nations stands ready to assist all efforts to address the situation, including at the proposed meeting. 


Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, the Special Envoy for Yemen, delivered a statement on the Secretary-General’s behalf at the Riyadh Conference on Yemen yesterday.  In that statement, the Secretary-General called on all sides to refrain from any actions that undermine the safety and security of Yemen’s airports, seaports and transportation infrastructure.  He strongly encouraged ending immediately the interruptions in the import of fuel, food and medicines.  The Secretary-General said that he is strongly determined to intensify his good offices and he intends to convene in the near future an inclusive and widely representative conference that will restart a Yemeni-Yemeni peace process in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions.  He calls on all parties to join these consultations without preconditions. 

While in Riyadh, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed met with Yemeni President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, Vice-President and Prime Minister Khaled Bahah and many Yemeni political leaders, as well as the ambassadors of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.  He met with General Abdulrahman al-Banyan, Chief of Staff of the Royal Saudi Armed Forces, as part of his advocacy to secure an extension of the humanitarian pause. 

For its duration, the humanitarian pause greatly facilitated access to areas which had been extremely difficult to reach.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that people affected by the conflict were able to move out of insecure areas, seek medical care and receive help.  People previously trapped by fighting and airstrikes in Sa’ada, Aden, Lahj, Abyan and Al Dhale’e have reportedly moved from districts where access was previously blocked. 

In the first four days of the pause, humanitarian workers dispatched enough food aid to cover one month of food needs for more than 273,000 people, delivered fuel to ensure safe water access for 1.2 million people and transported or distributed enough essential non-food items for nearly 32,000 people.  Some 47 metric tons of medical supplies were given to hospitals and health facilities in five governorates. 

However, insecurity, fuel shortages and other logistical challenges hindered full implementation of the humanitarian plan during the pause.  Health facilities report that, since 19 March, some 1,820 people have been killed and 7,330 injured due to the conflict.  Casualty figures are likely to be underestimates.  Humanitarian partners estimate that more than 545,000 people were displaced in Yemen between 26 March and 7 May. 


Further to reports that Da’esh militants have reached the Iraqi city of Ramadi, humanitarian agencies report that more than 6,500 families have been displaced, with over 3,300 having moved towards the Fallujah area and more than 2,300 families travelling towards the Khalidiyah area.  Khaldiyah Hospital has reported receiving many casualties, and the local authorities have requested assistance from the international agencies.

UN agencies and humanitarian partners have responded by dispatching food rations, family food packages, tents, sanitation and water kits, conducting joint delivery missions and assessing the needs of families who have fled to safety.  Two mobile medical units have been pre-positioned and additional oxygen supplies are being released for Khaldiyah Hospital.


The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, continued meeting Syrian, regional and international interlocutors today in the framework of the Geneva Consultations.  This morning, he met with a delegation of the Syrian Popular Front for Change and Liberation, led by Qadri Jameel, who briefed on various perspectives on resolving the Syrian conflict.  Mr. de Mistura and Mr. Jameel also discussed the deteriorating situation in Syria and in the region.  Mr. de Mistura received a delegation from the People's Republic of China, with whom he discussed the ongoing efforts of the international community to help Syrians end their conflict through political means, as well as the role of the United Nations and the Security Council.

This afternoon, a delegation of the State of Qatar briefed the Special Envoy on regional efforts in support of a political solution to the Syrian conflict.  And Nabil Elaraby, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, joined today's Geneva Consultations.  He impressed upon Mr. de Mistura the significance of engaging regional countries and organizations in constructive efforts to end the conflict in Syria. 


The Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, returned to Bujumbura on Friday, 15 May, after attending the East African Community Summit in Dar Es Salam, Tanzania.  He continues to hold consultations with political parties, civil society and religious organizations, Government officials and the diplomatic community with a view to reconvening the political dialogue in the coming days.  He also met today with the President of the Electoral Commission. 

**Democratic Republic of the Congo

From the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN [Organization Stabilization] Mission in the country, MONUSCO, announced that 442 members of the Ituri Patriotic Resistance Front or FRPI, said they are willing to surrender.  Yesterday, the group of armed men, females and children gathered to start the peaceful surrender in a town of the eastern [Democratic Republic of the Congo] province of Ituri.  The Mission welcomes and supports this process, providing security on the ground, logistics and technical support to the Congolese. 

**South Sudan

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says today that it is deeply concerned by the fighting that took place in Malakal in Upper Nile State this weekend following an attack launched by opposition forces on Friday afternoon.  The Mission strongly condemns this new cycle of violence and yet another violation of the cessation of hostilities agreement.  It calls upon all parties to conclude a comprehensive peace agreement at the earliest, and reiterates that there cannot be a military solution to the conflict.

Our humanitarian colleagues say that, in Malakal, armed groups have engaged in combat next to the United Nations protection of civilians’ site and, as a consequence, civilians trying to stay out of harm’s way have been injured.  The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, warned that military operations in Unity and Upper Nile states over the past three days have again devastated countless lives.  Eyewitness accounts report targeted rape and killing of civilians, including children.

The offensive in Unity State has left thousands of homes burnt and Leer hospital is again under threat of destruction.  UN agencies and their partners are working to address the immense humanitarian consequences of the violence, which has resulted in more than 650,000 civilians being left without life-saving aid.  In the coming days, humanitarian staff plan to travel to Leer and Malakal to assess the humanitarian situation.


In a statement issued today, the Secretary General's Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, said that the tragic events in Nepal illustrate the urgent need to address education in emergencies.  In Nepal, nearly 1 million children are unable to return to school and the emergency flash appeal for education has received only 1.3 per cent of the needed funding, placing children at risk of trafficking, forced labour and abuse.

Mr. Brown stressed that the urgency of these unmet needs makes the case for a Global Humanitarian Fund for Education in Emergencies to coordinate and finance immediate help.  Currently, education only receives 1 per cent of humanitarian aid in emergencies, although millions of children need support, not only for days, but often for years.


The UN Sustainable Energy for All Forum opened this morning across town.  Today and tomorrow, more than 70 multi-stakeholder sessions will bring together Governments, the private sector and civil society to advance sustainable energy solutions, before the Forum moves to the UN on Wednesday and Thursday for the Global Energy Ministerial meeting.

At the opening, Kandeh Yumkella, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sustainable Energy for All and CEO of the “Sustainable Energy for All” initiative, said that energy touches everything. He said that our mantra going forward is very simple:  converting commitments to kilowatt hours for real people.


I was asked earlier about the death sentences issued over the weekend against the former President of Egypt and more than 100 other people.  The Secretary-General notes with serious concern the sentence of death issued by the Egyptian Criminal Court against former President Mohamed Morsi and 105 others.  He reaffirms the United Nations' position against capital punishment.

The Secretary-General understands that the verdict is still subject to an appeal.  He will continue to monitor the process very closely.  The Secretary-General underscores the importance of all parties taking steps to promote — and avoiding those that could further undermine — peace, stability and the rule of law in the region. 

**Press Conferences

Tomorrow, at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press conference here on the launch of the World Economic Situation and Prospect report mid-year review.  That's it for me.  Are there any questions?  Yes. 

**Questions and Answers

Question:   Farhan, on 5 May, the Israeli Supreme Court decided to approve a plan by the State regarding that demolition of an Arab village, a Bedouin village and to build another Jewish village on this village.  So, what's the comment of the Secretary‑General on this? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I would just refer you back to the statement we issued on Friday about the recent reports of increased settlement activity.  That's not specific to this particular activity, but the sentiments in that apply throughout ‑‑ the Secretary‑General has been very concerned about these particular bits of demolitions and settlements construction.  Yes? 

Question:   But sorry, a follow-up question:  this has to do with also, the citizens of Israel.  And this is not the first time that something similar is happening and there's a long legal battle that local NGOs [non-governmental organizations] are doing.  And is the Secretary‑General going to talk to Mr. [Benjamin] Netanyahu about human rights issues in Israel, about the minorities and other stuff, or is it just another statement and nothing really done? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the Secretary‑General did speak a few weeks back with the Prime Minister of Israel and we shared with you the readout of that.  As concerns rise up, we'll take them either at his level or at the level of the Special Coordinator and other officials on the ground.  Edie? 

Question:  Farhan, on the Yemen meeting that the Secretary‑General is planning to organize, there are reports that it's going to be held next week in Geneva.  Can you confirm that?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't think I can confirm any particular date or venue until it's set.  And part of the problem is, as you know, that the fighting has once more resumed after a five-day humanitarian pause.  We want to see the fighting decisively stopped and then we can get about to organizing and inviting people to a conference.  Until that happens, some of this remains a little bit hypothetical.  Yes?

Question:  Farhan, on Burundi, what are Mr. Djinnit's instructions from the Secretary‑General?  I'm trying to get a sense of what the end game is here, because we've heard a lot about how he's facilitating dialogue with various groups in Burundi, but we've had a coup now.  We have over 100,000 people that have streamed over the boarders.  So, is his dialogue failing?  And what's the end game? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the end game ultimately is for Burundians to create the conditions for the holding of inclusive, violence-free and credible elections.  That is what he's working towards.  This is what the Secretary‑General has urged.  At the same time, of course, you're aware of the problems and issues that arose over the previous week.  And one thing that the Secretary‑General has been stressing, and that I'd like to reiterate, is that anyone responsible for ordering or committing human rights violations will be held accountable.  The Secretary‑General has strongly warned against reprisals and revenge attacks and he has urged magnanimity.  And that is something that Mr. Djinnit is encouraging with all the parties that he deals with.

Question:   A number of parties, if I may, have, including the AU [African Union], have called for the elections at the very least to be postponed.  The UN has not pronounced on this; can you do that? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, what Mr. Djinnit's discussions are about is how you can ensure that the elections will be inclusive and free of violence.  If that requires a postponement, that is what he will recommend, but he's right now talking to officials across the spectrum.  Yes?

Question:   Follow‑up on Burundi.  I wanted to ask a couple of things.  One is that there are reports of both military and police stopping people at checkpoints, checking their phones to see if they participated in anti‑third term protests.  So, I wondered is that… does Mr. Djinnit or the UN have any comment on the alleged crackdown on demonstrators?  I also wanted to know, has the Secretary‑General made any calls beyond the previously disclosed one to President [Uhuru] Kenyatta about the situation in Burundi?  For example, to Rwanda?  And finally, I want to know if you can speak to whether DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] has facilitated the purchase and acquisition of weapons by the Government of Burundi for allegedly or reportedly for its peacekeeping operations; and if so, what safeguards are in place that those weapons are not used domestically?  Thank you.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, on the last one, there are safeguards to make sure that all of the equipment used for peacekeeping missions is, in fact, used in peacekeeping missions.  So, that would a matter for DPKO to follow up on, but certainly, none of that equipment is meant to be used domestically by any troop-contributing country, including Burundi.  In terms of other phone calls the Secretary‑General made, on Friday afternoon, he did also speak with the President of Uganda.  And like I said, now, Mr. Djinnit is in Bujumbura and he can continue some of the discussions while he's there.  I'm not aware of any calls to the President of Rwanda.  And you've asked so many questions that I've forgotten your first.

Question:  As to that, in response to people's cell phones being checked to see if they protested, but I just wanted to understand more on this question of, you're saying weapons for peacekeeping?  I mean, most countries have their own military equipment, then they deploy to a country and they get reimbursed.  But, I’m not aware that the US makes… the UN makes sure they don't… how they're used in countries.  So, I wanted to know, very specifically, acquisition of grenades in this case, what safeguards are in place?  If a country procures them with the assistance of DPKO, do they remain out of the country?  If they go back to the country, how does the DPKO have any idea how they're used? 

Deputy Spokesman:  DPKO follows up on how contingent-owned equipment is deployed and used.  Now on the first question, if we… if there is a confirmation of this sort of a crackdown, that would be a matter of grave concern.  Like I said, what we want to make clear is anyone responsible for ordering or committing human rights violations will be held accountable and we will take that very seriously.  Yes?

Question:  Farhan, thanks.  Regarding the aid to Yemen, does the United Nations oversee all the aid arriving at Yemen?  Particularly, some ships floated their cargo in Aden, in an area which is disputed by many parties or fighting is going on around it in Little Aden.  Who saw to the off-loading of the ship, whether it contains any weapons or not in that area?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, for our part, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ms. [Valerie] Amos, has requested that all Member States route humanitarian assistance through existing UN and humanitarian organization channels.  For us, the main channel is, as you know, our hub in Djibouti.  And so, we're requesting all parties to try to send aid there.  In the event that in-kind assistance is sent, this is normally done in one of two ways:  bilaterally with the country concerned or through the United Nations, which has the role of coordinating emergency relief activities.

Question:  Well, here, we have many seaports.  We have Mukalla and you have Aden and you have Hodeidah.  Where does the United Nations have inspectors or people to see directly if they don't go through Djibouti? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, for our part, of course, what we've been trying to press for is to make sure that those ports are themselves open.  As you know, they've been closed to commercial traffic for some time now.  So, what we've been pressing is for that closure to be ended.  In the meantime, what we've done is set up a transportation hub in Djibouti where we are trying to get the aid to go and then we can then send it onward into Yemen.

Question:  Obviously, this ship coming from Iran is going to Hodeidah.  Will it be inspected in Hodeidah, because Mr. [Javad] Zarif today mentioned that he is ready to allow United Nations to inspect the cargo on board?  Will the United Nations be able to do that? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, Iran is among the Member States who have also humanitarian assistance to Yemen.  The UN has accepted the offer of Iran to supply assistance to the UN hub in Djibouti.  We're not aware of any requests from Iran that the UN facilitates the docking of a ship from Iran in Yemen with humanitarian supplies.  There are other questions, yes? 

Question:  Yes, Farhan, I want to ask you if you can update us on this list of Mr. de Mistura's agenda to talk to?  I mean, does he play it day by day or do you have a list of interlocutors with him on the other side?  What are those people and can we have a printout of this list, if you have it? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I can certainly give you a list of the names.  Mr. de Mistura has a spokeswoman who has been giving us daily updates, such as the one that I just shared.  And so, every day, she gives us… including the names of interlocutors and I can share that with you after.  Yes? 

Question:  Just digging into the Ramadi displacement numbers.  You note 6,500 families heading to Fallujah and to Khaldiyah.  Khaldiyah, only 20 miles from the front lines now and seems outside of the UN's reach.  Is the message to those that have been displaced that if they wait there in those cities, that UN protection can come to them, UN aid?  Or do they need to push further into other Government-held, other parts of the country in order to receive a higher guarantee of assistance? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I don't want to give any false assurances of safety.  As you know, this has been a conflict where Da’esh has made some advances on the various forces that they've been dealing with.  And it's been very troubling to people who have been displaced sometimes, more than once.  At the same time, we're trying to get aid and assistance to Khaldiyah, as I just mentioned.  And so, we're hopeful that we can assist people there.  But, as for their long‑term protection, ultimately, the one thing that will ensure their long‑term protection is if all forces… all parties are united to make sure that Da’esh does not advance any further.  Right now, as we know, that has been a problem over the past year, where they have made some fairly startling advances both in Iraq and in Syria.  Yes? 

Question:  Farhan, an easy one after all these questions.  Actually, can you share with us any official date by the United Nations for the events, and I know there are at least two that are going to be taking place in these premises at the UN, on the Srebrenica Genocide in the very beginning of July?  And if you can share that knowledge with us, can you confirm that the Secretary‑General or Deputy Secretary‑General will attend? 

Deputy Spokesman:  That's actually not an easier question.  I believe that yes, one or the other will attend these events that will occur on the anniversary of the Srebrenica Massacres.  Given the Secretary‑General's extensive travel, it may be the Deputy Secretary‑General who is attending.

Question:   And just a follow‑up.  When you say Srebrenica massacre, are you avoiding to say Srebrenica Genocide? 

Deputy Spokesman:  No, no.  We've established there was a genocide.  That was established by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia.  Yes? 

Question:  Farhan, just on Yemen.  I just wanted to understand, for the Geneva Conference to go ahead, you would need to have another ceasefire on the ground in Yemen?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I mean, at this stage, what the Secretary‑General does is that he reiterates his call on all parties to create the conditions leading to a permanent ceasefire ending all hostilities.  All parties must ensure that humanitarian agencies and their partners have safe and reliable access throughout the country and to enable the immediate and unhindered resumption of the import of fuel, food and medicines.  And by the way, as for an extension of the humanitarian pause, I would like to add that the Secretary‑General regrets, that despite repeated calls by the United Nations, the five-day humanitarian pause in Yemen was not extended when it expired yesterday.  Yes? 

Question:  Sorry.  I need to get back to the same subject.  Can you please confirm if the Secretary‑General is considering the approval of the plan for Israel to demolish these Bedouin villages in Negev? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, on this, I wouldn't want to comment directly on a case that's before the local domestic courts.  We would have to study that.  But, of course, we've had concerns about different types of construction and settlement activity, including the one that we issued last Friday.  Yes? 

Question:  Farhan, how do you describe the distribution of aid in Yemen during the past five days?  How successful was it?  Because other reports coming from Yemen speak about many people did not even see any sign of aid coming to their cities.

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah, at the start of this briefing while you were sitting right there, I read a note about what we achieved over the first several days of the humanitarian pause.  I can print it out again for you if you missed it. 

Question:  Obviously, here, you are calling for more ceasefire, because that mission has not been accomplished yet? 

Deputy Spokesman:  It's not that the mission has not been accomplished.  We accomplished as much as one could possibly do within a five-day span.  But you have to remember something.  This is a country of between 25 and 26 million people.  It depends on imports for much of the food needs of its people.  And yet, its main ports have been closed for weeks.  This is a recipe for disaster.  And you can supply aid to hundreds of thousands or even millions of people and that still won't solve all of their problems until the fighting ceases, humanitarian access is restored and the ports are open again.

Question:  Are you worried about starvation in Yemen, people dying from starvation? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, that's exactly one of the worries.  Yes?

Question:  Sure.  Thanks.  I want to ask you something about Sri Lanka and also something about the Secretary‑General separately. On Sri Lanka, the General Jagath Dias of the 57th Division, who was listed in the Secretary‑General's own report of the Panel of Experts on accountability in Sri Lanka, has recently been named the Army Chief of Staff.  So, many people see this as actually kind of a reward for what are alleged war crimes or inconsistent with positive messages by many, but including from this podium.  Does the Secretary‑General have any view of the placing of a person, arguably will be listed in the Human Rights Council's report, in such an important position?

Deputy Spokesman:  I think first we'll allow for the Human Rights Council itself to review the matter and pronounce themselves on that.

Question:  And thanks a lot.  I wanted to ask, with the Secretary‑General now in South Korea, and again, to give them credit, the JoongAng Daily has continued its reporting and they now say that they have in their possession, an e‑mail from the nephew, Mr. Bahn [Joo-hyun], with an H, saying “QIA said that the Emir of Qatar had an official meeting with UN Secretary‑General at UN Headquarters at 11:30 [a.m.] and that Secretary‑General Ban mentioned the Landmark 72 upon the request of Ban Ki-sang, which is to say his brother”.  So, I looked into what… there was a meeting on 24 September 2013 between the Secretary‑General and the Emir of Qatar and I've read the readout.  It doesn't make any mention of this building in Viet Nam.  So, I wanted to ask you, maybe you know or you can ask those involved:  does the Secretary‑General deny that this Viet Nam building was… arose in anyway in this meeting, as his nephew has apparently said in an e‑mail that a publication of South Korea says it has a copy of? 

Deputy Spokesman:  As Stéphane [Dujarric] and I both made clear last week, the Secretary‑General has denied any involvement in this.  And we don't have anything to add to what we said last week.  Yes?  Yes, Carole? 

Question:  Back on Burundi, you mentioned last week, human rights monitoring, given the Secretary-General's concern about reprisal attacks, is the thinking any clearer on what to do on that front here? 

Deputy Spokesman:  Hard to say clearer.  But, one thing that is very clear is that there is a major need for human rights monitoring on the ground.  And we would support and encourage efforts to improve human rights monitoring there.

Question:  There's no UN presence?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have anything specific to say, no.  Yes, Linda? 

Question:  Farhan, I'm sorry if I missed this earlier.  But, my question is: Has the [Secretary-General] formally responded to or reacted to the seizure of Ramadi by ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham]?  And if he hasn't, do you expect a former statement to be issued?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, we're still studying the situation on the ground which is quite fluid.  There hasn't been a statement from the Secretary‑General yet, but there may be one down the line.  I did mention our humanitarian concerns at the start of this briefing.

Question:   Follow-up on that?  Quick one?

Deputy Spokesman: Let… there are other people who have been waiting.  Yes? 

Question:  I have follow‑up on the Iraqi situation.  The news report says that thousands of those who fled Ramadi and escaped to Baghdad are being prevented from entering the city, of course, for sectarian reasons.  So, there are certain militias who are preventing those fleeing the conflict to enter Baghdad.  Do you have any update on that? 

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have any confirmation on those reports, but what we would say is that those who are fleeing from situations of clear physical danger should be accommodated and we urge all Iraqi people to help assist these people who are in dire need.

Question:  There were reports about a big massacre in Ramadi today.  Like more than 500 people were massacred inside the city.  Did you get anything about that? 

Deputy Spokesman:  We've heard very worrying reports, including in the media, about a major number of people being killed but we don't have any first-hand confirmation.

Question:  When can we expect to hear from Mr. Djinnit himself?  We requested that he be present here and you said that you would.

Deputy Spokesman:  We're looking into that.  We're trying to see what we can do to set up a video teleconference briefing, so that he can be…

Question:   What's the delay?  I mean, he briefed the Security Council by a link the other day.

Deputy Spokesman:  I believe he's going to try to brief the Security Council on Wednesday by video link.  And we're trying to see around that point whether we can also get a briefing to you; and hopefully at some point, we can get something arranged.  Yes?

Question:  Great.  Sure.  I want to ask about Qatar and also about Mali.  In Qatar, a BBC journalist has been detained for two days for seeking to report on the condition of migrant workers building things for the World Cup, and many organizations around the world have condemned it and I wondered if the UN has anything statement on the journalist, and particularly because it involves migrant labour.  I know there's Mr. [Peter] Sutherland, there’s a bunch of people speaking on migrants.  What's your view of this? 

Deputy Spokesman:  We're against any harassment of reporters for doing their jobs. 

Question:  Okay.  All right.  And maybe you… I also wanted to ask, Mr. [Hervé] Ladsous of DPKO held a press conference in Bamako over the weekend.  There was some criticism, by actually the President of Mali, of the mission.  But, I wanted to ask specifically, in his press conference, he said that he sort of chided, he said:  Was there even a word of thanks for its operation in Sangaris?  No.  Isn't that curious?  And I wanted to know, in what capacity was he saying that?  Is the UN?  Does the UN have a position on Malians not being sufficiently grateful to France or was he speaking in some other capacity? 

Deputy Spokesman:  I don't have any real comment.  I would just refer you to the text of his statements.  And if you have anything further, you can ask our colleagues in peacekeeping.  Have a good afternoon, everyone.

For information media. Not an official record.