8 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.

**Noon Briefing Guests

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Nicholas Kay, and the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Maman Sidikou — they will also be joined by the Prime Minister of Somalia [Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke] — and that will be as soon as we are done here.  And as you know, they participated in the Security Council’s informal interactive dialogue on the AU [African Union] mission in Somalia (AMISOM) that took place earlier today.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

The Secretary-General was in Germany this weekend.  Yesterday in Bonn, he met with Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and they discussed the situation in Ukraine and agreed on the need for a comprehensive solution on migration issues.  We put out that readout over the weekend.  The Secretary-General then spoke at the official inauguration of the extension building of the World Conference Centre, also in Bonn.  In his remarks, he said that the Centre’s opening takes place at a crucial juncture for people and the planet.

And this morning, the Secretary-General travelled to Schloss Elmau, where he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel.  He thanked Germany for its strong support for sustainable development, calling on the country to continue its leadership role in delivering on the post-2015 agenda as well as on climate change.  While in Schloss Elmau, the Secretary-General took part in meeting of the Group of 7, the G7.  At a session on terrorism, he said that violent extremism is a fundamental threat to all countries and people, stressing that the international community’s response will be effective only through coordinated, multilateral action.

At a working luncheon for G7 outreach partners, the Secretary-General urged the Group of 7 countries to support the vision of a new, universal development agenda for the next 15 years that will integrate the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development, and place poverty eradication at its core.  The Secretary-General is currently on his way to Tajikistan, the first stop in a visit to Central Asia which will take him to all five countries in the region.

**Deputy Secretary-General

Meanwhile back here, the Deputy Secretary-General [Jan Eliasson] spoke at the twentieth anniversary commemoration of the World Summit for Social Development and that took place earlier today.  He said that in 1995 in Copenhagen, participants at the Summit agreed that we must place human beings at the centre of our development efforts.  He added that the affirmation that poverty eradication, full employment and social integration are closely linked rings even more relevant and true in today’s world.  Mr. Eliasson stressed that as we strengthen and reinforce our combined commitment to achieve a life of dignity for all, we must use the lessons of the past to ensure a better future for all.

**Children and Armed Conflict

And as you will have seen, it is our understanding that Member States this morning received the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict.  In his report this year, the Secretary-General highlights the recent global trends regarding the impact of armed conflict on children during the 2014 calendar year.  And as you will read in the report, 2014 saw unprecedented challenges for the protection of tens of millions of children growing up in countries impacted by conflict.

This is especially true in several situations affected by major crises, namely, in Central African Republic, Iraq, Israel and State of Palestine, Nigeria, South Sudan, and the Syrian Arab Republic — which were exposed to the most egregious violations.  This added to existing violations against children in protracted conflicts, such as in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.  Most recently, the security situation in Yemen deteriorated further with reports, in April 2015, of significant numbers of child casualties.


And you will have seen that over the weekend, we announced the beginning of the Yemen consultations in Geneva for 14 June.  In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the readiness of President Hadi to send a delegation to participate.  He said he was equally pleased that delegations of Yemeni parties from Sana’a have communicated their commitment to also attend.

The Secretary-General reiterated his urgent call on all parties to engage in these consultations in good faith and without pre-conditions.  He also reiterated his call for a renewed humanitarian pause in order to allow humanitarian assistance to reach all Yemeni people [in need].  The Secretary-General appealed to the international community and to the countries in the region in particular, to do everything in their power to reduce the civilian suffering in Yemen and to continue to contribute to United Nations efforts in this regard.

Meanwhile, our colleagues at the World Health Organization (WHO) stressed today that more than 15 million Yemenis do not have access to basic health care, with 53 health facilities closed and malnutrition increasing.  And on the education front, UNICEF says that 87 per cent of schools in the southern five governorates are closed.  Our humanitarian colleagues also say that [there are] more than 250,000 metric tons of grains in stores in Aden and Hudaydah, but that it can’t be transported due to lack of fuel and insecurity, nor be cooked because of a lack of cooking gas.  Without the full resumption of commercial imports and a safe environment in which to transport these goods, humanitarian agencies cannot meet the ever-growing needs of people to whom access is increasingly constrained.


And regarding Iraq, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Stephen O'Brien, is there today.  He met senior Iraqi Government officials, as well as people from Anbar and Salah al-Din Governorates who remain displaced in Baghdad.  Following his meeting with high-level officials including President Fuad Masum and Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafaari, Mr. O'Brien said that we must do more for all the people in Iraq affected by this devastating conflict.  Tomorrow he is expected to visit Erbil, and to meet with Kurdistan regional officials, and families who had fled violence and have sought refuge in the Kurdistan Region in this past year.


Regarding Libya, after meetings with representatives of municipalities and political party leaders respectively in Tunis and Algiers last week, the Libyan political dialogue is reconvening today in Morocco.  The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Bernardino León, will introduce a new draft agreement to the Libyan representatives in a plenary session later today. This is of course a critical moment in the talks and the Secretary-General is following these discussions very closely.  And we appreciate the widespread support from a number of Member States, including the neighbouring States, and we look forward to a productive meeting that will lead to agreement on the formation of a Government of National Accord.


The UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, today met with high-level Government officials in Iran, including the Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.  Her meetings in Tehran focused on the present situation in Lebanon, including issues related to peace and security, stability and stabilization.  They discussed developments in region, and in particular the impact of the Syria crisis on Lebanon.  Ms. Kaag also reiterated the concern of the Security Council and the International Support Group for Lebanon, that the vacuum in the Presidency of the Republic seriously undermines Lebanon’s ability to address its socio-economic and security challenges.


And we have also seen the reports of renewed bombing from Government aircrafts in a town in Idlib Province in Syria.  The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, reiterates his condemnation of the use of barrel bombs.  As he has said previously, all evidence shows that the overwhelming majority of the civilian victims in the Syrian conflict have been caused by the use of such indiscriminate aerial weapons and that it is totally unacceptable.  Mr. de Mistura stressed that the protection of civilians during armed conflicts is a cornerstone of international humanitarian law, and applies in all circumstances and without distinction.


And also on Saturday, you would have seen, we also issued a statement welcoming the release of two contractors working for the African Union-UN [Hybrid Operation] in Darfur (UNAMID) after 128 days in captivity.


I just want to flag to you — a report by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea that was released in Geneva and it says today that the Government of Eritrea is responsible for systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations that have created a climate of fear in which dissent is stifled, a large proportion of the population is subjected to forced labour and imprisonment, and that hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the country.  Some of these violations may constitute crimes against humanity, says the report, describing a totalitarian state bent on controlling Eritreans through a vast security apparatus that has penetrated all levels of society.

The release of the report comes as the international community, particularly governments in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, struggles to cope with a growing exodus of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants across the Mediterranean.  The UN refugee agency placed the number of Eritreans under its concern outside the country at more than 357,400 in the middle of last year — more on the human rights office’s website.


And I think you, Matthew, had raised the question on UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] and Rohingyas in Bangladesh — and our colleagues in Geneva tell us that UNHCR continues to seek access to register some 200,000 undocumented Rohingyas without legal status in Bangladesh.  So far, they don’t have access to this population for registration and documentation.

**Senior Personnel Appointments

And four senior [personnel] appointments to flag for you today.  The Secretary-General has appointed Simona-Mirela Miculescu of Romania as Representative and Director of the UN Office in Belgrade (UNOB), and he is appointing Nikhil Seth of India as Executive Director of the UN Institute for Training and Research, known as UNITAR.  He has also appointed Major General Didier L’Hote of France as the Force Commander for the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI); and lastly on the list, Fatoumata Ndiaye of Senegal will become the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund].

**Honour Roll

And two countries to thank today — Kenya and Timor Leste have paid their regular budget dues in full, bringing the number of fully paid Member States to 97.  So, we thank our friends in Nairobi and Dili.

**Press Conferences Tomorrow

Tomorrow, at 12:30 p.m., press conference here on the eighth session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities.  Yes, ma’am.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Steph, can you tell us why the Secretary‑General decided to take Israel and Hamas off the annex list of parties in the children in armed conflict report?

Spokesman:  The report is… obviously, the Secretary‑General's report, I don't think anyone was taken on or off.  The report is the result of a consultative process within the house.  Obviously, it was a difficult decision to take.  The Secretary‑General took that decision.  But, I think what's important to note is that the report that was shared today is much more than a list.  It has a large… large report outlining issues raised the shocking treatment of children and the suffering of children that we're seeing throughout conflict zones including what happened in Gaza and other parts of the State of Palestine.  I think in the body of that report, the Secretary‑General expresses his deep alarm at the extent of grave violations, unprecedented and unacceptable.  So, I think I would just… I would encourage everyone to not focus so much on the list, but on the report as a whole.  And the report, as I said, is much more… much more than the list.

Question:  But, a follow‑up.  The list is titled list of parties that recruit or use children for among other things… I'm sorry, the title of the list is… or the title of the annex is a list of parties that do these various offences which include attacking schools and/or hospitals.  And by the UN's own accounts, Israel attacked 7 UN schools and killed 44 people.  How can you not include them on that list?

Spokesman:  Again, you know, I think if you look at the body of the report, it clearly details what we saw in Gaza over the summer, the shocking nature of what we saw in Gaza and outlines it in very direct terms, which I think helps bring light to the plight of the children, plight to the suffering, and again, I would urge you to look at the body of the report which is much more than just a list.  Abdel Hamid.

Question:  Yes, follow-up Stéphane:  Hamas during the campaign and summer by firing rockets killed one Israeli child which is confirmed.  But, there are 540 Palestinian children have been slaughtered during the bombing.  How could any human being not see that bigger picture of killing so many children and yet under pressure the [Secretary-General] took the Israeli name out of the list?  I know for sure there was so much pressure on the [Secretary-General].

Spokesman:  You know, I hear your statement, Abdel Hamid.  I think the Secretary‑General did exactly what you said.  He brought to light the events in Gaza and the number of children that were killed.  It's there for everyone to read in black and white in the report.  I think it can leave no question to what the Secretary‑General's position is and what the United Nations position is on this very subject.  You know, Member States have never been shy in expressing their opinion to the Secretary‑General, but what should be in or out of the report… whether it's this report, this year or in the previous years, whether it's a report on all sorts of other issues that the Secretary‑General reports on to the Security Council.  Ultimately, it's the Secretary‑General's report, he stands by it.  I would also, you know, encourage you to look at the observations included in the report about the issues raised where certain parties said that it was never their intent to harm children.  And I think what we're focusing on is not so much on the intent, but on the cause and the impact on children.  George and then Benny.

Question:  Has this report been generally released, and is it available to us?  And if so, where?

Spokesman:  Yes, I think we can figure out how to make it available to you.  Mr. Avni.

Question:  Since the word "pressure" is the meme here, is it fair to say there were pressures on the Secretary‑General from both sides, one side wanted it to list Israel, the other side wanted to not list Israel?

Spokesman:  I think, you know, you read the media as much as I do, Benny, probably a bit more.  As I told Abdel Hamid, Member States, NGOs [non-governmental organizations], people around here are not shy about expressing their opinion to the Secretary‑General about what he should do or should not do, what words he should use in a report, what he should include in a report.  We've seen it this year.  We've seen it in previous years and I'm sure we'll continue to see it.  You know, and I think also… and if you look at the report… and I'll quote the observations from the Secretary‑General where he says, "I would like to put all parties to the conflict on notice that those that engage in military action that result in numerous grave violations against children will, regardless of intent, find themselves under continued scrutiny of the United Nations, including in future reports related to children in armed conflict."  I think one of the major aims of these reports is to increase the accountability by shedding light on possible violations of international law, international humanitarian law, and bring light to the plight of children in armed conflict.

Correspondent:  So, pressures from both sides worked.

Spokesman:  I think… Benny, I appreciate you trying to play a little Spokesman polo with me, but I think I've answered your question.  Nizar.

Question:  On the same subject… I have other questions on Yemen.  The mothers and fathers of the children who were killed or slaughtered in Gaza still are looking forward to explanation and expect international justice.  Is the Secretary‑General going to issue a statement explaining why he strikes Israel out of this list?

Spokesman:  I think I'm doing this in the back and forth with all of you… with all of you today.  I think, again, I think you're all focusing on the list.  I would encourage you to actually read the full extent of the report and the details that are inside that report, especially in the section that you're talking to me about.  I think it brings to light the suffering of the children and the tragedy of the children who were killed during the conflict in Gaza over the summer.

Question:  On Yemen, did Saudi Arabia pay what they pledged to pay in aid, $274 million, as was suggested a few months ago?

Spokesman:  We're obviously still working on the modalities with Saudi Arabia, actually the transfer of these humanitarian funds that were pledged.  It's clear that this process is taking a lot longer than we would have hoped and that we would have liked, especially given the pressing needs on the ground that we highlight here every day.  The UN and the humanitarian partners continue to coordinate and deliver aid where they can.  And other donors have also been generous, but we seek to meet the current needs and those projected for the rest of the year as well.

Question:  So, do I understand you correctly that the money has yet to come?

Spokesman:  I think that would be a correct understanding of what I have just said.

Question:  Another thing.  Seven thousand dialysis patients in Yemen have been denied access to dialysis, which is fatal to them, because of lack of medical supplies or medical… is the United Nations going to do anything for emergency situations like this?

Spokesman:  I think we are… I don't have the exact report that you've seen, but I think it's very easy to imagine such a situation where we're seeing hospitals bombed.  We saw the… you know, the control centre of the Ministry of Health, I think as I mentioned last week, severely damaged.  It's clear that people are not having access to health care, millions are not having access to health care.  This is one of the many reasons why the Secretary‑General reiterates and will continue to reiterate his wish to see an immediate humanitarian pause to see the aid gate through.  As I said today, there's food in warehouses, but there's no fuel to distribute it.  It's too dangerous to go out and there's no gas with which to cook the food.  Mr. Lee and then round two.

Question:  Yemen and Sri Lanka and then more in round two.  On Yemen, I'm sure you've seen the quote by President Hadi saying what's to take place in Geneva are not talks at all but only a discussion to implement resolution 21-… 2216 (2015) and that they're not in negotiations.  So, given… and I know that the G7 said something about a UN‑facilitated process.  How are these two consistent?  Is President Hadi's description of what these talks are consistent with Ban Ki-moon’s [inaudible]?

Spokesman:  I saw the quotes attributed to President Hadi.  I think in this case, as in many other cases, before these kinds of consultations start, people make public statements for… various sides make public statements for various audiences.  What will happen on [14 June] is a start of consultations without preconditions.

Question:  Okay.  On Sri Lanka, I noticed the Government there has put out a pretty extensive readout of the Secretary‑General calling President Sirisena saying he was very… praised a lot of things.  So, I just wondered: did he make a call and is there a UN readout and if so, why wasn't it…?

Spokesman:  Yes, he did make a call.  I should have gotten a readout but I didn't.

Question:  Is it…?

Spokesman:  I will do my best.  Go ahead and then Olga.

Question:  Regarding to Iraq, on Thursday, there was an event about Iraq to raise funds.  Do you know how much money was pledged by the EU [European Union] members and other donors for Iraq's half billion aid that's required to help the refugees there?  And my second question is about Iran.  The Chief of IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] said we are ready to reinvestigate and go back to Iran to investigate the allegations of pre‑2003 of… of military nuclear facilities in Iran.  Does that mean the UN will have a bigger role in these… in these negotiations?  Obviously, the UN is not there yet, but with this new statement, it looks like the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to go back to those investigations.

Spokesman:  Sure.  I will leave the IAEA to answer those questions.  Obviously, the nuclear talks themselves are… we're watching them closely, but there are… they involved the five permanent members in Germany and Iran, and they are in the lead on those discussions.  On your first question, it's an easy question.  I don't have the answer.  We will get you some numbers.  Olga.

Correspondent:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Thank you for finally announcing the date of conference and…

Spokesman:  It wasn't my fault.

Question:  …it takes place next week.  Does it mean that there will be no humanitarian pause before the start of…?

Spokesman:  I hope it doesn't… that's not our intention.  I think a humanitarian pause could start at any moment with the willingness of the parties.  These are consultations without any preconditions.  We would like to see a humanitarian pause as soon as possible.  I think every day that the conflict goes on, dozens if not hundreds of people die.  We don't need to wait for Geneva for a humanitarian pause.  Go ahead.

Question:  Just a follow‑up.  But, you mentioned the willingness of the parties, but do Secretary‑General… does Secretary‑General or his Special Envoy Ould Ahmed, do they have some understanding about this willingness of the parties?

Spokesman:  Willingness of the parties to…

Correspondent:  To start the humanitarian pause.

Spokesman:  You know, I think willingness is one thing.  I think everybody has willingness.  What we need to see is the actual pause.

Question:  Good afternoon.  Could I step to a greener pasture if possible?  You mentioned the Secretary‑General's going to Tajikistan.  Can you be a bit more specific about his whole visit to the Central Asia?  What questions will be discussed and whether Afghanistan would pop up…?

Spokesman:  Yes, of course.  I think they are host of important discussions to be had, notably on sustainable development, on the post‑2015 agenda.  On issues of climate change, we see large parts of Asia already feeling the brunt of a changing planet in terms of desertification and the shrinking of water levels.  Obviously, the regional political situation will be raised.  And the issues of human rights, as well.  Round two.

Question:  Stéphane, I have to ask again, because I feel like we would be able to focus less on the annex and more on the report, if we had a reason why Israel should not be included on a list of parties that, among other things, engage in attacks on schools when they engaged in attacks on seven schools.  What rationale would there be for not including them on that list?

Spokesman:  Each…

Correspondent:  Regardless of their intention of whether or not to hurt children.

Spokesman:  We gather and analyse evidence on a case‑by‑case basis, and each case is assessed.  It's a comprehensive process that's involved.  If you look at the 2010 report, it lays out some of the criteria that need to be met, but it is… I mean, you'll go back to the same issue, I'll go back to the same answer:  I think we do need to focus on the body of the report.  We've also put out… you know, we've done an extensive Board of Inquiry as to what happened to those schools in Gaza.  It's no mystery.  We've put out our own conclusions, and there again, laid out for all to read in black and white in the report.  Mr. Lee, Abdel Hamid, Benny and Nizar.

Question:  Sure.  Question on Central African Republic alleged sexual abuse.  But, first, I just… can you now… since you're talking about what the criteria are… I understand… it seems like the abuse the UN was aware of in the Central African Republic by the French Sangaris forces, was there any consideration of including them and if so, why not?

Spokesman:  On the CAR [Central African Republic], the situation in the CAR, part of the CAR was drafted with the information available at the time of the writing of the report.  As you know, the… we do hope to announce soon the external independent inquiry which will shed light on the process.

Question:  And I wanted… I'm sorry to reiterate this.  I'd sent you these questions but wanted to ask you.  I asked Rupert Colville of the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights who said that Mr. Kompass is going to be extended, although he also said it's not Geneva's decision; it's up to New York.  And there are several Member State who believe he's not being extended‑‑

Spokesman:  No, I have no indication whatsoever that his contract will not be renewed.

Correspondent:  It does apparently expire in one month.

Spokesman:  Right.  No, as I said, I have no indication whatsoever that his contract will not be renewed.

Question:  Mr. Colville had said something about contracts being automatically extended if a person is under investigation.  Is that your understanding?

Spokesman:  I think that is very likely a policy but as I said, for Mr. Kompass, I have no indication that his…

Question:  The other thing I asked you is about Miranda Brown who was an… worked with Mr. Kompass and has since been terminated.  I know that she wrote a letter to the Secretary‑General dated 23 May saying she's willing to participate, but not if she's fired by the UN and has no immunity.  Has the Secretary-General’s responded to the letter?

Spokesman:  I don't believe there has been a response.  I don't know if it was received.  I don't believe she was terminated, I think her fixed-term contract was not renewed.

Question:  What would you say to those who say if you actually want to know… this was a person who was number two to Kompass at the time involved.  What arrangements were being made to try to get her…?

Spokesman:  I think we would have to leave that to the panel once it's named.  Mr. Avni.

Question:  Yes.  Could you explain, therefore, why is it that there is an annex if you are supposed to give the same weight to the annex and to the body of the report?  Why… why… what is so special about this annex?

Spokesman:  I would urge you to read… if you read the whole report, I think that will put that in perspective.  The annex is very detailed.  The different parts of the annex are very detailed as to why entities and countries are on it.  And the process as a whole is there to shed light on the situation of children in armed conflict.  And I think, as it says in the report, 2014 saw a very negative development in terms of numbers of children killed, of mass abductions, of sexual violence against children, against detention of minors.

Correspondent:  Right.  But, to follow-up on that, I mean, since we're simple people, we know this report has been issued every year and with little attention, yet…

Spokesman:  I think, Benny, I think…

Question:  This year there was a lot attention focused on the annex, and the question is, does the annex have the same weight as far as the… is it fair to say that the annex is worse violators?

Spokesman:  You know, I'm not going to go… as much as I'd love to go down any road with you, I'm not going to go down that road.

Correspondent:  Simplify it for our readers, listeners, watchers.

Spokesman:  I think… you know, other people have paid attention to the report every year.  I think some are paying more attention this year because of a debate that was started through leaks and other articles.  Again, the report is there to shed light on the role… on the suffering of children in conflict and I think it is doing exactly that.

Question:  But, since most of our readers, listeners, are people that need like a little simpler explanation, could you explain the difference between the annex and the body of the report?

Spokesman:  I think the… the body of the report highlights in detail what has happened to children in various conflict situations over the last year.  Maggie, you snuck in.

Correspondent:  If you could…

Spokesman:  I'll leave it at that.  Maggie.

Question:  If you could refresh my memory, perhaps I've missed it along the way, but the schools that were… the UN schools, the UNRWA [United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East] schools that were damaged in 2014, have you asked Israel for compensation?  I think it was under consideration at one point.

Spokesman:  There are discussions going on to that effect.

Correspondent:  There's been no decision taken yet.

Spokesman:  There've been no funds received.

Question:  But you did ask them for a specific amount, which you could share with us?

Spokesman:  No, thank you.

Question:  I'll just briefly ask something about the annex and then my question is about Libya.  Please correct me:  the annex has been requested by some bodies… I don't know, the Security Council or… to add to the report a list of those violators, be they groups like Boko Haram or countries.  And there is a long list of groups like ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham], Boko Haram, [Al-]Shabaab and many others.  It’s the first time that a State that had been considered to be included which is Israel and it has been taken out.  Of course, Hamas, which I also support the idea to include any group, be them Hamas or any who violate, the right of children to life.  And that is the question.  Why, if there is a country that committed so many atrocities against children, should [it] not be included?  There is no explanation in the world that would be convincing.

Spokesman:  You know, I think I've tried to the best of my ability to answer that question.  This was a process.  You can refer back to a 2010 report which lists some of the criteria.  Again, I think the report does its job and its job very well in shedding light and helping bring accountability to those who are responsible for harming children in conflict.  Nizar…

Question:  But, my question on Libya, can…?

Spokesman:  I'm sorry.  Go ahead.  Happy to answer about Libya.

Question:  Yeah.  The talks started today in Skhirat in Morocco.  There is a fourth version… a fourth draft of the agreement for the national unity Government.  We don't know what are the new changes and how long the talks are going to take.  If you can share more information…?

Spokesman:  Sure.  I will do.  I don't think there's an end date for the talks.  We always… in these cases we always know the start, the end is a different matter.  Nizar, then Matthew, then we need to… I don't want to keep the Prime Minister waiting.

Correspondent:  Allow me to have two questions.  One regarding this annex again.  There is… it seems there is a pattern.  Whenever Israel is indicted or been accused of major atrocities, it gets exonerated somehow:  Qana Massacre, which happened in 1996, still Israel did not account for it and they did not pay; and also, here again, the atrocities committed in Lebanon 2006 against the whole population, Israel did not honour any of that…

Spokesman:  What is the question, Nizar?

Correspondent:  Again now, this annex is being cleaned.  I think this tarnishes the reputation of the United Nations in a way.

Spokesman:  Nizar, I appreciate the statement and sharing of your opinion.  What is the question?

Question:  The question is:  is the United Nations going to issue a statement… an official statement explaining this decision to…?

Spokesman:  I think the report is comprehensive.  It's detailed especially on the part that's of interest to you, and it lays out the situation very clearly on the responsibilities of the parties.  This report is one of the mechanisms that can be used to bring light and to bring scrutiny for those who are involved in bringing harm to children in armed conflict.  I think it puts forward some of the egregious violations that we've seen in the past year.

Question:  On Yemen, just a quick question:  the ceasefire or the civilian lull in the fighting and ceasefire, it's not just Saudi Arabia who is carrying out these attacks.  Nine other allies are participating in it.  Did the United Nations approach some of them, at least the major ones?

Spokesman:  I think we have been in contact… obviously our understanding is this is a Saudi‑led coalition… but there have been contact throughout the region during this conflict.

Question:  Okay.  Did you get anything from…?

Spokesman:  As I said, I think intentions are one thing.  What we want to see are results on the ground and a humanitarian pause.

Correspondent:  Saudi Arabia and Burundi.  On Saudi Arabia, the Supreme Court has upheld the sentence of Raif Badawi…

Spokesman:  Yes, I saw that.  I expect to get some guidance this afternoon.

Correspondent:  1,000 lashes…

Spokesman:  I saw it.

Correspondent:  And the other one is about Burundi.  I asked you before about Godefroid Bizimana.  Now I'm going to ask about Jérôme Ntibibogora, who is a Burundian police officer who, civil society there, say was involved in an attack against a hospital and firing at protesters.  He's set for deployment in the Central African Republic after being trained by an Italian centre known as CoESPU, a Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units.

Spokesman:  As much as I have everybody's files and names under my fingertips, I will check…

Question:  Again, it goes back to this question.  I've actually heard from the Italian mission that they've put some of their training on hold, but likewise has the UN put anything on hold of deployment of police officers from Burundi?

Spokesman:  I think we'll… you know, there is a Human Rights Due Diligence Policy and people are being screened.

Correspondent:  But, Godefroid seems to…

Spokesman:  Has he been appointed?

Correspondent:  No, that's why I'm asking.

Spokesman:  Yes.  Quick question.

Question:  Last week, I asked about these Chia militias, they have footage, a video of executing a man belonging to ISIS, he was burned alive.  Did the UN contact or follow up with Iraqi government about this kind of atrocities…?

Spokesman:  I will see if there's follow‑up… obviously, as we said before, any operation to liberate a territory that's being held by Da’esh, any military action needs to be done with full respect of international law.  We can't have people fear not only the people which they're living under, but those who might liberate them.  Thank you.  I'll get the Prime Minister.

For information media. Not an official record.