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4 June 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.  Apologies to all of you who had expected the Queen of the Netherlands to be here, she will be here tomorrow.  We had a calendar malfunction, but she will be here tomorrow.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

For today, I can tell you that the Secretary-General will depart New York on Saturday evening, 6 June, for a trip that will take him to Germany and Central Asia.  His first stop is Germany, where he will attend the official inauguration of the extension building of the World Conference Center in Bonn on 7 June.  Following that on 8 June, he will travel to Schloss Elmau to take part in meetings on terrorism and development at the Summit of G7 meeting with G7 partners.  While in Germany, he will also meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

On Tuesday, the Secretary-General will arrive in Tajikistan, where he will attend the opening ceremony of the High-level International Conference on the implementation of the International Decade, “Water for Life”.  While in the capital, Dushanbe, he will also meet with President [Emomali] Rahmon and will visit Lake Sarez.  The following day, 10 June, the Secretary-General will visit Kazakhstan, where he will participate in the fifth Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.  He will also meet with President [Nursultan] Nazarbayev, Prime Minister [Karim] Massimov, Foreign Minister [Erlan] Idrissov, and Speaker of the Senate Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

The Secretary-General will then travel on to Kyrgyzstan, on 11 June, he will attend the opening of the International Conference on “Development of Parliamentarianism”.  He will also hold talks with President [Almazbek] Atambaev, Prime Minister Temir Sariev and the Speaker of Parliament, [Asilbek] Jeenbekov, and visit the city of Osh, where he will meet with civil society representatives and local authorities.

On 12 June, he will travel to Uzbekistan, where he will meet with the country’s top officials, including President [Islam] Karimov and Foreign Minister [Abdulaziz] Kamilov.  The Secretary-General’s final stop in Central Asia will be Turkmenistan, where he will meet with the President and other senior officials.  He will also address faculty and students at the International University for Humanities and Development in Turkmenistan.

**Yemen

On Yemen, I do not have a firm announcement for you today, but I can tell you that the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, is working intensively to bring the parties together as soon as possible in Geneva.  He is currently mustering the required Yemeni, regional and international support before announcing the start of the consultations.  We hope to be able to make an announcement very soon.

The Special Envoy is in Abu Dhabi today.  He was in Riyadh until yesterday, and is likely to undertake additional visits and extensive consultations in the sub-region.  As the work to convene the Yemen consultations continues, the Secretary-General once again reiterates his call for a further humanitarian pause in order to allow assistance to reach the Yemeni people.  Humanitarian needs are becoming increasingly intense, and urgent measures by the international community, as well as regional states, are required to alleviate the worst consequences of the fighting.

To just illustrate that point, our colleagues at OCHA, the [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs], report that the Operations Room of the Ministry of Health in Sana’a, which manages all emergency operations for Yemen, was damaged yesterday.  The damage incurred is expected to further cripple already strained emergency health relief operations.  Our humanitarian partners have supported the Ministry of Health in ensuring effective emergency health response, including equipping and building the capacity of the very Operations Room that was damaged yesterday.

Yesterday’s incident follows attacks on dozens of health facilities by fighting, shelling, and airstrikes in Yemen since the escalation of the conflict on 26 March. In addition, 10 health care workers have been killed or injured while carrying out their duties since that time.  The World Health Organization (WHO) continues to appeal for the protection of health facilities, staff and of course patients.  Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Stephen O'Brien briefed the Security Council on Yemen yesterday, his first appearance in front of the Security Council in that capacity.  He warned that a full resumption of commercial imports of vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicines, is required to avoid a looming humanitarian catastrophe.

**Syria

Turning on to efforts regarding a political settlement in Syria, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met today with the President and members of the political committee of the Syrian National Coalition for Opposition and Revolutionary Forces in Istanbul.  Mr. de Mistura heard their views regarding the operationalization and implementation of the Geneva Communiqué.  Both parties agreed on the importance and urgency of finding a political solution to the current conflict.  They also agreed on the urgency of an immediate halt of the killing and targeting of civilians.

Mr. de Mistura said that his visit demonstrates once again that the purpose of the Geneva Consultations is to give a chance to all Syrians to share their views of what a future Syria should look like.  Meanwhile, Deputy Special Envoy Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy met in Geneva with Samir Aita and Ziad Tlas, who briefed on the deteriorating situation in Syria.  Mr. Ramzy also met with a Japanese delegation, led by Ambassador Kaji, who briefed him on Japan's support for the United Nations' efforts to ease the humanitarian situation in Syria.  They discussed the ongoing initiatives to help Syrians reach a political solution to the conflict.

**Iraq

In Iraq, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, said today that vital aid operations supporting millions of people affected by the conflict in Iraq risk closure unless funds are made available immediately.  She warned that more than 50 per cent of the operations will be shut down or cut back if money is not received immediately.  The UN and its NGO [non-governmental organization] partners are asking donors for $497 million to cover the cost of providing shelter, food, water and other life-saving services over the coming six months.  The appeal will target communities across a broad part of the country which were displaced or affected by the violence between Government forces and the Da’esh.

The humanitarian needs in Iraq are huge and growing.  More than 8 million people require immediate life-saving support, a number that could reach 10 million by the end of 2015.  Violence has already forced nearly 3 million people from their homes, leaving them scattered in more than 3,000 locations across the country.  Human rights and rule of law are under constant assault as sectarian tensions sharpen.  Mass executions, systematic rape and horrendous acts of violence are rampant.  There are more details, if you are interested, in a press release that I have.

**Central African Republic

You will have seen that [the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission] in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) today issued a press release in which they announce they had received information of allegations of sexual abuse on an underage person involving one of the Mission’s soldiers in the Eastern part of the country.  The Head of the Mission, Babacar Gaye, immediately launched an investigation and informed the CAR [Central African Republic] authorities.  He reiterated the zero-tolerance policy of the Organization when it comes to sexual abuse.  Measures have been taken to protect the alleged victim and she has received the appropriate care.  The United Nations has also asked the troop-contributing Government of the soldier implicated by these allegations to launch an investigation as soon as possible.

**Democratic Republic of the Congo

From the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN [Organization Stabilization] Mission in the country (MONUSCO) is welcoming the operation launched today by the Congolese Army against the Forces de Résistance Patriotique d'Ituri, otherwise known as FRPI.  As you may know, the FRPI is an armed group operating in the Eastern province of Ituri.  One of its former leaders, Germain Katanga, was sentenced in March 2014 by the ICC [International Criminal Court] for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Negotiations were ongoing with FRPI combatants, but following their failure, the Congolese Army launched an operation against them, with the support of UN peacekeepers.  The Head of the UN Mission, Martin Kobler, said that the launch of this operation shows the commitment of the Congolese Government to fight armed groups.  His Deputy, David Gressly, is currently in Bunia and Aveba, to supervise the support given by the Mission, through helicopters and the deployment of several peacekeeping units.  He reiterated his call to FRPI combatants to join the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme supported by the United Nations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

**Peacekeeping

Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous has begun a week-long visit to troop- and police-contributing countries in Asia.  Mr. Ladsous is currently in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and is meeting with the country's President and Prime Minister, as well as a number of senior Government officials.  He is expected to speak with students at the National Defence University and visit a regional peacekeeping support training centre in the capital.  He will then travel on to China and Viet Nam, where he will discuss issues related to peacekeeping with senior government officials.

**Food

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Food Price Index fell to its lowest value since September 2009.  Major food commodity prices declined again in May, as cereal prices fell substantially amid a favourable outlook for this year's harvests.  If you are interested, go to the FAO website.

**Honour Roll

Thanks go to Bosnia and Herzegovina, which has become the ninety-fifth Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full.  We say thank you to our friends in Sarajevo.

**Press Events

Just to let you know, in about 15 minutes, if you are interested, Mustafa Akıncı, the Turkish Cypriot Community Leader will brief reporters at the stakeout area on the first floor — between Conference Rooms 1 and 2 — following his meeting with the Secretary-General.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  One on Syria and another one on Iran.  On Yemen:  On Syria, you've been repeatedly saying… talking about barrel bombs, and Syrian Ambassador to the UN have been also saying that there is no such thing that's called barrel bombs in the military jargon or arsenal.  Where did you… why do you use this term if it doesn't exist?  This is one.  Second thing, on Yemen, should the parties agree on the… on meeting… on the consultations in Geneva, is the Secretary‑General going to inaugurate the launching of the negotiations?

Spokesman:  On your first point, I don't know if the terminology exists, but the hardware definitely exists.  So, we will stick to that terminology.  And I think the people who are… and we will leave it at that.  I'm not going to argue military terminology, but I think the use of the term "barrel bomb" is an appropriate description of these explosive devices which are launched from the air mostly from helicopters and other flying aircraft.  On your second point, the Secretary‑General will be present one way or another.  Obviously, it depends on the dates and his travel schedule, but you can imagine that he's very closely following this and we can expect him to be present one way or another when the talks are held.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I have two questions, one on Yemen and one on Palestine.  And the one on Yemen is very simple.  The news says that the scheduled meeting is on [14 June].  Do you confirm that?

Spokesman:  No.

Question:  14 June?

Spokesman:  No.

Question:  No?  Okay.  My question about Palestine is:  The Spokesperson of the Department of State, Marie Elizabeth Harf, when asked last Monday if there is coordination between the US and France about the new draft resolution which calls for some timeframe to end occupation.  Of course, she said there is no such thing, but we are continuing consultation with other allies about if there is any draft resolution.  Now, do you confirm there is something going on about a draft resolution prepared by the French Mission to end occupation… or to put a timeframe for end of occupation and, if so what is the position of the Secretary‑General on that?

Spokesman:  I think… you know, we're not going to comment on draft resolutions.  I think that's a question best addressed to the French Mission and… or any of the other 14 ambassadors that you have a chance to talk to.  There are a lot of drafts working around the Council.  It's their domain.  And I will not step into it.  Nizar and then Matthew?

Question:  Why not?

Spokesman:  You know, it's… I think the Secretary‑General's position on the Middle East peace process continues to be the same.  He reiterated very clearly yesterday, and obviously, if there's Security Council resolution, there will be a Security Council resolution.

Question:  My question is regarding giving terrorist organization two hours of air time in public… in mass media and public television.  Isn't that promotion of terrorism, in a way, when you give a terrorist leader two hours of air time?

Spokesman:  I'm not sure exactly what you're exactly referring to.

Correspondent:  An Al-Nusra leader who is affiliated with Al-Qaida was given two hours in one week without any discussion of…

Spokesman:  All right.  I haven't seen the report you're mentioning.  I think, as Mr. [Jeffrey] Feltman said, obviously, the media and civil society have a role to play in combating terrorism.  There are also fundamental issues of freedom of expression, and those need to be balanced out.  But, I haven't seen exactly what you're referring to.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask about this Central African American… Republic sexual abuse allegations panel.  One, I understand that a group of some 14 or now 15 States is asking to meet with the Secretary‑General, I guess, before he leaves about the panel, about to whom the panel will report.  Is he going to do it?

Spokesman:  I believe the Secretary‑General will very likely… either the Secretary‑General or the Deputy Secretary‑General will meet them, and we will hear what they have to say.

Question:  Okay.  And the second question is, I understand that you've said… but I wanted to ask you why… that the OIOS [Office of Internal Oversight Services]… the investigation of Mr. [Anders] Kompass for having released the report on the… on the alleged sexual abuse will continue.  And some people are saying the… and that this panel will have… apparently, in what you read yesterday, there was no discussion of investigating whether this constituted retaliation against him, et cetera.  And since the Ethics Office would be in charge of making a determination, but the document shows that the Ethics Office was involved at a much earlier stage in looking at Mr. Kompass.   What's the relation between the two and how does the OIOS… what's the purpose now of the OIOS investigation?

Spokesman:  I think that the OIOS investigation will continue its course.  The administrative tribunal has also been involved.  That will continue its regular course.  The exact scope and terms of reference of the independent external review we announced yesterday is still being determined.  And as soon as I can share that with you, I will.  If there [is] any information, you know, unearthed by the OIOS work that is relevant to the panel, it will be shared with the external review.

Question:  And if you can, the… in terms… you say… the terms of reference and the membership of the panel is still being determined.  I mean this with all due respect, but since the documents… questions are raised, not about… questions are raised about actions of the Chief of Staff, Susana Malcorra, Ethics Office, OIOS.  Do these individuals have an involvement in writing the terms of reference or choosing the panel?

Spokesman:  It is… ultimately, it's the Secretary‑General's decision. Carole, then George?

Question:  Stéphane, on this new case of child sex abuse in Central African Republic, where is the peacekeeper?  Has he been sent back home?  And can you talk about how the allegations came… surfaced?

Spokesman:  Sure.  My understanding is that the allegations came from an under-aged person at a health facility run by a partner organization.  That was immediately flagged to us.  We have now contacted, as I said in the statement, the troop‑contributing country and asked them to start an investigation.  It is not clear at this point whether the victim was able to identify the person she said had done these things.  So, that's why we're looking for… we're asking the troop‑contributing country to launch an investigation.  George?

Question:  Where is the incident?

Spokesman:  It's in the eastern part of the Central African Republic.

Correspondent:  [Inaudible].

Spokesman:  The question is, is… whether or not we've… the troop‑contributing country and the mission has been able to identify the person that is being accused of this.  George?

Question:  Forgive me for asking another question about the same episode, if I may, from a different angle, obviously.  If I heard you correctly, Stéphane, you said that the troop‑contributing country, singular, has been notified about this one episode about, I take it, one soldier from its complement within MINUSCA.

Spokesman:  Yes.

Question:  Is there a regular procedure for this kind of thing?  Or is this something I should take up with Mr. [Atul] Khare?  Because he mentioned… spoken somewhat to it a few days ago here.  Or…

Spokesman:  I mean, the… obviously, this is… this case is in its infancy.  We'll see where it leads.  But, obviously, if a member of a contingent is identified as being accused of committing these types of crimes, we would expect the troop‑contributing country to not only repatriate that person, but that soldier…

Correspondent:  To prosecute them in some fashion.

Spokesman:  …to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Correspondent:  Within its legal system or whatever they call it there…

Spokesman:  That is the way it operates.

Question:  Let me just… one other thing, if I may.  You have sided Mr.… identified Mr. Akıncı as being the leader of the Turkish community.  Would that make him kind of the head of the State or Government of the so‑called unrecognized Turkish republic of northern Cyprus?

Spokesman:  He is… speaking from this podium, he is the Turkish Cypriot community leader.  Yes, and then we'll go to Cara.

Question:  I have two questions.  First, about Iraq.  ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham] recently controlled the dam north of Anbar and it's threatening entire population and also their safety there.  Do you have any updates about that?  Is the UN preparing… is there any humanitarian preparation in case… because ISIS started cutting the water.  That's my first question.  And the second is about Turkey.  Due to the historical election in Turkey, there are violence against opposition group in Turkey.  And just recently, one has been killed.  And the opposition leader is accusing the Government.  Does the UN have any position on that?

Spokesman:  I haven't seen those reports.  I'll see what I can get for you on Turkey.  In terms of Iraq, you know, obviously, access to safe drinking water is critical to any humanitarian operation.  We are aware of the situation.  We're currently providing water assistance in various ways, including bottled water for people on the move and also water trucks where there are large amounts of displaced people.  Unfortunately, it's not the first time we're seeing water used as a tool of war.  We saw it in 2014 with the misuse of water in Anbar, which created widespread flooding in the Abu Ghraib region which damaged homes and agricultural lands and local water networks.  As I said yesterday, we reiterate our call that water and other resources must be protected during hostilities.  Any misuse of water for military objectives is a violation of international humanitarian law.

Question:  Yesterday, you told me you would give me a financial update about the donation that the UN had received so far for its programme in Iraq.  As we know, it's only 40 per cent of the UN’s needs has been received.

Spokesman:  Yes.  You know what?  If I promised it to you yesterday for today, I will get it to you this afternoon.  I don't want to misspeak on numbers.  [He later referred the journalist to the web page:  https://fts.unocha.org/pageloader.aspx?page=emerg-emergencyDetails&appealID=1097.]  Cara?

Question:  Thank you.  Two things:  Who damaged the operations room at the Yemen Ministry of health and how?  And also, I see that Ban [Ki-moon] is meeting today with the French chief of defence staff, Pierre de Villiers.  Why?  And will there be a readout?

Spokesman:  That was at their request.  I'll see what sort of readout I can give to you afterwards.  Obviously, in Yemen, we don't have the forensic ability to determine who damaged it.  My understanding it was from bombs most likely aerial bombing or artillery.  We are focused in Yemen on the ground on the humanitarian operation so we can… we're observing the damage but we have no way of attributing blame one way or another.  I'll get back to… yes, Ali?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  On Yemen, what is the [Secretary-General] waiting for to make the announcement about the Geneva talks?

Spokesman:  We're waiting to get indication from his Special Envoy that all the ducks are in a row, that everybody's on the same page, on the same tone, on the same note.  You know, these negotia-… talks about talks are complex.  I think it is clear that from our end, we want people to come from Geneva without any preconditions.  I think we're getting there, but we can use all sorts of metaphors, whether it's lining up ducks or herding cats, it's… so we don't want to make a premature announcement.

Question:  So, I mean, what does the [Secretary-General] hope or expect from the Yemeni parties to discuss in Geneva?  Is it the… the… the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] initiative? Is it the resolutions of the Security Council?

Spokesman:  It is talks… it will… we want to bring them around the table without precondition to restart the political process and to find light at the end of this horrendous tunnel in which the Yemeni people are now.  I'm not going to prejudge the outcome in terms of the details of it, but what we want is a reinvigorated political process and a stop to the fighting.

Question:  Yeah, but do you mean by that that you will leave the… you will leave it to them to decide the schedule and the attendance?

Spokesman:  One is not going to impose a settlement.  They need to come around the table and agree themselves and agree not only in Geneva, but then agree once they leave Geneva and implement whatever agreement has been reached.  Abdel Hamid, Nizar, and then Matthew?

Question:  What is the UN expecting from the neutral dialogue between Burundi's parties as everybody's trying to avoid main issue, which is the third term?

Spokesman:  You know, what I can tell you right now is Special Envoy [Said] Djinnit is briefing the Council on his efforts to facilitate the consultative political dialogue in the country.  Chief among the objectives of that dialogue is the creation of conditions for the holding of peaceful, inclusive and credible elections in Burundi, and we do expect a full statement from the [Secretary-General] on Burundi later on this afternoon.

Question:  Did he have a chance to talk finally to the President?

Spokesman:  Mr. Djinnit?

Correspondent:  Yes.

Spokesman:  I don't know.  We'll try to get… hopefully that will be clear in the statement.  Go ahead.

Question:  Thanks, Stéphane.  It's now being reported that 100,000 people have been displaced in Anbar in the past two weeks and the UN itself said early on after ISIS took Ramadi that they weren't being let into Baghdad.  There was a lot of issues with people being left out on this bridge connecting the two provinces.  Do you have any update on that, whether you're raising this with the Iraqi Government?

Spokesman:  Let me get an update on that… let me get an update on that exact detail.  I mean, I would hope that people are able to get into Baghdad more freely and I hope that the obstacles have been removed, but I need to check with my colleagues.  Abdel Hamid?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I have a question first on Cyprus, then on Yemen.  On Cyprus, would the election of Mustafa Akıncı, there was hope that the island might be finally united.  The two Cypriot and Greek leaders met together in Nicosia.  There's a hope it is becoming larger, even.  Would a meeting with the Secretary… is there something going on?  Is there an initiative?

Spokesman:  I think Mr. [Espen Barth] Eide is continuing his work.  I think the signals that came out of the meetings that he hosted were positive.  We saw the reopening of two new crossings, which is clearly a positive step.  The… you're catching me a bit off guard because the meeting is going on now or just… is just ending, so we'll see if we can get an update for you this afternoon as a readout at least.  Yes, sir.

[He later issued the following readout:  The Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Mustafa Akıncı, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community.  The Secretary-General welcomed the positive atmosphere surrounding the Cyprus talks, commending the commitment of the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Akıncı, and the Greek Cypriot leader, Mr. Anastasiades, to reach a comprehensive settlement to the Cyprus issue.  He encouraged the leaders to stay on this path and assured Mr. Akıncı of his personal commitment and that of his Special Adviser Espen Barth Eide to continue facilitating the efforts of the two leaders in the talks.  The Secretary-General also welcomed the leaders’ agreement to work on a number of confidence building measures that would benefit both communities.  He noted that the measures could help to increase and sustain the positive environment on the island.  The Secretary-General also welcomed the decision by the leaders to establish a committee on gender equality in the framework of the talks.]

Question:  Is the UN becoming a captive of its own rhetoric?  There is a Security Council resolution 2216 (2015).  It clearly and straightforward talks about disarming the Houthis and going to the negotiation after they evacuate the areas they occupied.  Now we’re talking about meeting in Geneva without any precondition.  Would they come… if they come to the negotiation, which they still didn't announce that officially, won’t they come empowered by the land they occupied by the military edge they have over the legitimate government of Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi?

Spokesman:  Well, you know, obviously, people will come to the negotiating table with a reflection what is going on, on the ground.  I think the focus for us right now is not to look at that but rather to just to get people around the table and restart the talking.  You can see what has been happening every day.  I mean, today the destruction… or yesterday, rather, the destruction of a serious, of a very important medical coordination centre.  The lack of fuel, the lack of food.  I think it's high time that all parties involved agree without precondition to meet in Geneva and restart this Yemeni‑led process, assisted by the United Nations.  Nizar, then Matthew?

Question:  Yeah, the recent press statement by the Security Council did not mention the peace and partnership agreement between the Yemenis.  I wonder if the United Nations is dropping that?  Although this peace agreement was meant to implement the outcome of the national dialogue and put it in action.

Spokesman:  I think that's a question you need to ask the President of the Security Council.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  Sort of one is just a procedural question.  This 3:30 p.m. meeting with the French chief of defence staff, is there a… is there some way this can be a photo op?

Spokesman:  There will be a UN photo, and we’ll share that.

Question:  Who decides… I've seen him when he's met with other defence ministers.  It's been one open to the outside independent press.  Who makes that decision?

Spokesman:  It's… I think it's pretty standard for that level of meeting.

Question:  And also just substantively on that, the French army has announced it's going to reduce its number of troops in the Central African Republic from 1,700 to 900, and somehow there's going to… this is going to be coordinated in some way with the UN in turning the handover of bases.   What's the UN and DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations]…

Spokesman:  I’m sure that's something that may very well come up in the meeting, and that's something our colleagues on the ground are working on coordinating with Sangaris forces.

Question:  And I wanted to ask you about Uzbekistan.  In light of the Secretary‑General's trip, and just generally, there's been a pretty high‑profile arrest and abuse of a human rights defender, Elena Urlaeva, who is known to document forced labour in cotton fields there.  She was arrested, subject to cavity searches, X‑rays.  A number of human rights groups have spoken against it.  And I wonder, one, is the Secretary‑General aware of it?  And, two, is this the type of issue…?

Spokesman:  We've seen the reports.  The Secretary‑General will very much bring up the issue of human rights on his… on every stop in the region.  You know, the human rights record in the region is mixed.  That's evident.  We obviously welcome the engagement of these countries with the UN human rights machinery.  The Secretary‑General will tell his… reiterate to his interlocutors the importance of working with that machinery, offering the UN's help in working to implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Council.  I think by the end of 2016, all the countries will have gone through the Universal Periodic Review.  We also have a human rights centre in Dushanbe, which is there to help, as well.  And he will also make the point of the importance of civil society, of a free civil society that can operate, so the human rights issues will be raised.

Question:  But, on this particularly kind of pretty high‑profile case, does he have a view of the arrest and some would say torture of this activist?

Spokesman:  Obviously, we're… we're… we're looking into it but it's clear that civil society groups in every country need to be able to operate freely.

Question:  When was the last time the United Nations visited Sa’ada?  Because the reports coming from Sa’ada show total obliteration of whole areas by Saudi bombardment.

Spokesman:  I will ask my humanitarian colleagues.

Question:  Rohingya question?  The Asian Centre for Human Rights put out a report blaming not just the Government of Bangladesh but the UN/UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] for failure to register up to 2,000 Rohingya within the country, which it says makes them much more susceptible to trafficking because they don't have the stature… they haven't been registered by the UN system.  So, I wonder, is there some reason that UNHCR or the UN system to the level of Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar and the people working on it…

Spokesman:  Let me look into that specific report.  Thank you, all.  We'll see you tomorrow with the queen — of Holland, that is.

For information media. Not an official record.