The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Starting off with a statement about the handover of the report of the Panel that was working on looking into the circumstances related to the death of Dag Hammarskjöld. The Secretary-General is pleased to announce that the Independent Panel of Experts, appointed by him pursuant to General Assembly resolution 69/246 to examine and assess new information relating to the tragic death of the former Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him, has now submitted its report on its findings, conclusions and recommendations.
The Secretary-General wishes to thank the Head of the Panel, Chief Justice Mohamed Chande Othman of the United Republic of Tanzania, and the other members of the Panel, Ms. Kerryn Macaulay of Australia and Mr. Henrik Larsen of Denmark, for their important contribution to the ongoing search for the truth about the conditions and circumstances related to the tragic death of the late Secretary-General and the members of the party accompanying him on that night between 17-18 September 1961.
The Secretary-General is pleased that the Panel visited Zambia to meet with new witnesses, and that it successfully gathered additional new information from Member States and other sources, including national and private archives in Belgium, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The Secretary-General will study the report carefully and expeditiously, and, subject to any considerations of a medical or private nature, will make the report of the Panel, as well as his own assessment and options on the way forward, available to Member States and the public as soon as possible.
The Secretary-General, meanwhile, is in Uzbekistan, where he met today with President Islam Karimov. Speaking to reporters, he said that the United Nations stands ready to assist Uzbekistan in promoting and protecting fundamental freedoms and providing opportunities for public participation — including through independent media, democratic institutions, access to justice, a stronger voice for civil society, and safeguards that enable human rights defenders to do their vital work.
While in Uzbekistan, the Secretary-General also visited Bukhara, a UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] World Heritage Site, which is the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia. The Secretary-General is now on his way to Turkmenistan, the last country on his visit to Central Asia. There, he is scheduled to meet with the President and address faculty and students at the International University for Humanities and Development. And then on Sunday, as you know, he will travel to Geneva to attend the start of the consultations on Yemen.
Just as a reminder to all of you that the Consultations are the start of a process. They are the first consultations to involve the different sides of the Yemeni conflict since hostilities resumed. They mark an important step as the parties embark on the road towards a settlement. We hope that the Consultations will help create a new dynamic to build confidence between Yemeni actors and yield concrete benefits for the population, especially reduced violence and increased access to humanitarian aid and basic services, as we have been underscoring here on a daily basis.
Specifically, the UN hopes the consultations will help achieve: a renewed humanitarian pause to allow humanitarian assistance to reach all Yemenis in need and provide assistance as we enter into the holy month of Ramadan; agreement on ceasefires with the withdrawal of armed groups from cities, building to a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire throughout the country; and acknowledgement from the sides of the need for the resumption of a peaceful and orderly political transition, and for subsequent talks to include more representation from other political parties, women, youth and civil society groups.
Meanwhile, on the ground, aid organizations have released new figures today which show significant increases in humanitarian needs in Yemen since the escalation of the conflict. An estimated 21.1 million people in Yemen — 80 per cent of the country’s population — now require humanitarian assistance. Over 1 million people have been internally displaced and need emergency shelter and essential household items, as do an additional 200,000 vulnerable host community members. Civilians are bearing the brunt of the fighting, with 11.4 million people in need of protection assistance, including 7.3 million children.
An estimated 20.4 million — nearly 80 per cent of the population — require assistance to get access to safe drinking water and sanitation. At least 12.3 million people — nearly half the population — are food insecure, representing more than 15 per cent increase since the crisis began. And 15.2 million people require assistance to obtain basic healthcare; 1.5 million women and children need nutrition services, and 2.9 million children require emergency access to education. That is a lot of numbers. If you weren’t able to keep up with the note, they are available on the OCHA [Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs] website or in my office.
Meanwhile, the Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, yesterday strongly condemned the reported killing of 20 Druze villagers by Al-Nusra Front members in north-western Syria. Mr. de Mistura said that the diverse social mosaic of Syria must be protected. Syria must remain a home to all its communities which have lived and prospered there for thousands of years.
From Ukraine, our colleagues at UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] report that at least 68 children are reported to have been killed and 180 injured since March last year as a result of conflict in eastern Ukraine. But, the actual number of child casualties is expected to be considerably higher than reported, as many areas remain inaccessible due to conflict. UNICEF and its partners are working to ensure the safety of children in eastern Ukraine, including through the recent launch of a mine-risk education campaign, psychosocial support through schools and community protection centres, and safe drinking water to more than 550,000 conflict-affected people in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. UNICEF is appealing for $55.8 million to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of children and families.
Our colleagues in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs inform us that, three years since outbreaks of intercommunal violence in Rakhine State, more than 416,000 people continue to need humanitarian assistance. This includes 140,000 displaced people living in dire conditions in camps and many others without citizenship in isolated villages. Access to adequate healthcare and livelihoods remains a major concern for displaced people and vulnerable communities in Rakhine State.
Restrictions on the freedom of movement of hundreds of thousands of people in Rakhine [State] severely compromise their basic rights to food, health care, education, livelihoods and other basic services, leaving them dependent on humanitarian aid. Up to 40,000 displaced people in Rakhine State live in camps that are within 500 metres of the coastline. With the monsoon season under way, weather conditions along the coast are expected to deteriorate.
The High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres, expressed concern that renewed armed clashes in Colombia could derail the peace process under way and create further risks for the population. He called on both parties to move forward with negotiations, adding that he hoped that talks, which have been taking place in the Cuban capital Havana since 2012, will soon result in a peace accord. Mr. Guterres said progress on key aspects of the negotiation agenda, the agreements reached so far and the participation of victims in the talks were significant achievements that could make the difference between war and peace. There’s more on his website.
Still from UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees], they are saying today that they are concerned about increasing risks facing refugees and migrants in the Western Balkans. What has become known as “the Western Balkans route” is seeing a dramatic increase in refugees and migrants coming via Greece. Between 2012 and 2014 the number of people registering their intention to seek asylum in that area, the Western Balkans, went from 5,000 to 20,000, a four-fold increase. So far in 2015, the numbers have been rising further, with over 22,000 asylum claims lodged in Serbia alone in the first five months of the year.
The situation is particularly difficult in The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia where refugees and migrants follow rail tracks and mountain routes, walking for days, exposed to train accidents, natural elements and to abuse and threats from smugglers and criminal networks. More available on UNHCR’s website.
Tomorrow is the World’s first-ever day for Albinism Awareness. In a statement by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, he stressed that it is an opportunity to celebrate the talents and achievements of people with albinism, and to join the struggle against the challenges they face. Across the world, these children are likely to face bullying, prejudice and even violence because of stereotypes based on the colour of their skin. Albinos frequently cannot access adequate health care, although albinism may impair their vision and increase their risk of skin cancers. Full statement on the Human Rights’ website.
And our colleagues at [the Food and Agriculture Organization] have announced today that Queen Letizia of Spain has been named Special Ambassador for Nutrition of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in a ceremony in Rome today. The appointment was made in recognition of the Queen's personal commitment to building a world free from hunger and malnutrition, and Spain's efforts to promote global food and nutritional security. Sir. You never get the first question.
**Questions and Answers
Spokesman: Before we start, this young man here, Jean-Victor Nkolo, will be here to brief you after we're done.
Question: Thank you, Stéphane. Regarding Yemen, will you be releasing what you would like to see happen at the talks on Yemen?
Spokesman: As we said, we've outlined what we'd like to see the talks achieve. These are talks without preconditions. We would obviously like to see a humanitarian pause as soon as possible and we would like to see an end to the civilian suffering where, ongoing, we're seeing in Yemen. I think the numbers I just rattled off are impressive on any scale and show the scale of the destruction and of the suffering that continues every day in Yemen.
Question: Can we talk about Burundi? The opposition's main concern, I think, with Mr. [Said] Djinnit and with the UN more broadly has been the lack of a clear repudiation of the third-term issue. Given that criticism, how does the United Nations respond, given whatever position you’ve had?
Spokesman: Well, I think, you know, Mr. Djinnit heard what the opposition had to say, what civil society had to say. He took the personal decision to take himself out of these discussions, I think for the good of the Burundian process, because he saw that he could not move the process along any further. There are discussions that will be going on in Johannesburg on the side-lines of the Yemen summit involving Mr. Djinnit, the Deputy Secretary-General, obviously people from the AU [African Union], the East Africa Community, Great Lakes region, to see what the best way forward is and to see what is the — what form the mediation will take place to help the Burundians come together and to create the atmosphere where elections can take place.
Question: Is there a reluctance from the UN? I mean, your past statements have called for the respect of Burundi’s Constitution, as well as the Arusha Agreement. Does that not fit in to whether there should or should not be a third term? Why is it so difficult for the UN to make a pronouncement on that?
Spokesman: Because it is also very much up for the Burundian parties and the Burundian people to decide on the best way forward. Masood and then Nizar and then we'll go that way.
Question: On the Yemen thing, are all parties being included or are there any vetoes given to some countries, not to consider certain parties?
Spokesman: I'm not aware of any veto. I think bringing these parties together has been challenging, Herculean, whatever adjective you would like to use. We want these talks to get under way. I think, as we've said, there's been seven seats allocated for both sides. We expect representatives of the Houthis and the General People’s Congress party, as well as the socialists, the Nasserites and the Islah party and obviously the Government of President [Abd Rabbuh] Mansour Hadi will also be represented. This has been a long-time effort by the Special Envoy and we're looking forward to these discussions getting started on Sunday. [After the briefing, the Spokesman said that the start of the talks had been postponed until the morning of Monday, 15 June.]
Question: On the opinion you just gave on Rakhine State and Burma, Myanmar, the situation over there, when can we… can I ask you whether we can meet with Mr. [Vijay] Nambiar on the situation, that he has basically been Special Envoy to Myanmar again and again, but he has not given any briefing, and the situation is becoming really bad for them.
Spokesman: We will see what we can do to bring Mr. Nambiar to you to find some way to interact with you. Hold on, I'll come back to you. We'll go second round. Brittany?
Question: Thank you, Stéphane, another follow-up on Yemen. Saudi Arabia has pledged $274 million to helping Yemen. Is there a timetable that things are actually going to be delivered?
Spokesman: As I said earlier in the week, we have not yet received the money. We're in discussions with the Saudis. Thanks. I'll get around to you. Don't worry. I can never forget you, Nizar, as much as I can try.
Question: I’m Majeed Gly, Rudaw Media Network. There's a draft of a report obtained by the Associated Press that from the UN's Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) that basically talks about 225 Haitian women being sexually exploited by the UN peacekeepers. Can you tell us when that report will be out and available for the media?
Spokesman: On Monday.
Question: And a second question about that. In the report it says some of the UN staff on peacekeeper think they have romantic rights and as long as they don't pay for the sex, it's their right. Is that true? Do they have those kind of rights?
Spokesman: I think, obviously, we would strongly disagree with that notion. Any sexual relations between members of a peacekeeping mission and someone in the population in exchange for money, gifts or whatever else is strictly prohibited and we will look into every case that we're able to look into. Sexual, even consensual relations between members of peacekeeping and someone who is a beneficiary of aid is strongly discouraged, because you have a relation of power. So, I think these are issues our colleagues in DPKO [Department of Peacekeeping Operations] are already very much looking into and we'll continue to look into as we get the report.
Question: Just a follow-up on that. Just to be clear, is it discouraged or prohibited, the relationship between somebody that's receiving aid from the UN and a peacekeeping staff?
Spokesman: Consensual sexual relations between members of a peacekeeping mission and a beneficiary of aid is strongly [discouraged]. If there is an exchange of money, gifts, food, it is an outright ban and it is against rules. Abdel Hamid?
Question: Thank you. I have two questions, sir, Stéphane. First, you called the meeting in Geneva consultation. Normal cases we call it dialogue, talks, but here are we lowering the expectation by calling these, what happened in Geneva, just consultation? That's one question. The second question: Press report says that, on 27 June, there is a preliminary group from the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC [International Criminal Court] is arriving in Israel and Palestine to collect data about possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during this summer, the attack this summer on Gaza last year.
Spokesman: I am not aware of it. I would not be aware of your second part of your question. I would check with the ICC prosecutor's office to ascertain the facts. Your first question: Consultation, I think it's a very specific word. I think it has been difficult and challenging to get the parties to be in the City of Geneva. I think we are being very realistic. I think what's important is to get these consultations on the way. I think the daily suffering of the Yemeni people should be a reminder to everyone around the table as to the urgency to find a political way forward.
Spokesman: I think one thing we do intentionally here are words, so, yes.
Question: Thank you so much, Stéphane. It's another question on Yemen. Earlier today Reuters reported that [Ismail Ould] Cheikh Ahmed said that negotiators in Geneva are not going to be sitting at the same table. Can you confirm this?
Spokesman: Yes, that's correct. It will start with more proximity discussions. I think, as we said, we hope to get them around the same table. Matthew?
Question: Two interrelated questions. One has to do with Miranda Brown, who I have asked you about before, whistle-blower, has put in writing that the Office of Ban Ki-Moon was told about the sexual allegations and evidence of sexual abuse in Central Africa Republic on, at latest, 8 August 2014. She says there was a response by that office to Mr. [Anders] Kompass's assistant saying that Jan Eliasson had been put in charge of it. I'd like to know what’s your response to that? It's very different than hearing what they heard about it in the spring. How would you explain the lack of action, given that? The inter-related question is that on the report that you insist on calling a draft, when it was given to the DFS [Department of Field Support], but actually it was finished, it was just withheld for a month. It says clearly in the report that victims are not… that there's a problem. United Nations have performed very poorly in assisting victims of sexual abuse and assault. Only 26 of 217 SEA [sexual exploitation and abuse] victims were even referred for assistance and it's unclear if they received any. So, I'm wondering, on Monday, are you going to have, like, a written response that is available?
Spokesman: I think what… it's hard for me to predict what I'm going to do in the next hour, so I don't know what we'll have on Monday. On your second part, this UN report, this OIOS report is yet another tool to help the system, DFS, DPKO and all the parts of the house to perform better on issues relating to sexual abuse and exploitation. We can always do better and we need to do much better. On the issue of support for the victims and follow-through in support of the victims, one of the big challenges that we have had is the lack of funding, is that what had been proposed by the Secretary-General was not funded by the Member States. We've had to do it with existing resources and we haven't had the funds that we needed. We also need to do better in terms of communications to the population at large in terms of how they can access hot line, what their rights are, what is illegal, how they can protect themselves. There are all sorts of ways we can improve. I think what we have seen since, over the past number of years, is a decrease of cases of sexual abuse while overall the number of peacekeepers has increased. What I would go on to Miss Brown, she makes a number of claims in her letter, which are, you know, claims. Obviously, as to who was told in various offices, when, what and where it will be looked at thoroughly by the external panel, independent panel, which we hope to announce, hopefully next week. What I can tell you categorically is that the Deputy Secretary-General was only made aware of this issue in April. So, that is a fact which I am telling you now. What information was passed onto his office, to whom it was passed on, how that was dealt with, that will be looked at by the review panel, but the Deputy Secretary-General was not made aware of this issue until April of this year.
Question: So, are you saying an 8 April 2014 email from Executive Office of Ban Ki-Moon to Ms. Linnea Arvidsson, Mr. Kompass's personal assistant, indicating that the Deputy Secretary-General would be briefed on the report that was submitted doesn't exist?
Spokesman: That's not what at all I'm saying. What I'm saying is that obviously the panel will have access to e-mails, will look as to who received what documents, who was informed, who was not informed. What I can tell you categorically is that, personally, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations was not informed of this until April.
Question: In March on the timeline… in March, when it was the staff retreat in Turin and Ms. [Susana] Malcorra asked OIOS and the Ethics Office to get together to speak about Mr. Kompass, who else other than Miss Malcorra was made aware that…?
Spokesman: All these issues will be looked at, but she makes a claim regarding the Deputy Secretary-General, which I counter and which to me is false. Nizar and then Anna?
Correspondent: Today the Jamhuriya newspaper in Turkey published confessions of two taxi drivers, without equivocation, confirming that they were carrying under orders from the Turkish authorities dozens of Da’esh or ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham] members into Syria along with weapons and drugs.
Spokesman: The question?
Question: This is what I'm saying. What is United Nation's position? Mr. de Mistura for example condemned today the attacks in Idlib area earlier against the Druze, and here Turkey is sending and is someone looking at…
Spokesman: I have not seen that report, so I can't speak to that report. And I think yesterday I gave quite a lengthy answer about the issue of foreign fighters, so I would have you refer back to what I said yesterday, but I did, yes, but I don't have any information on the specific case.
Correspondent: There are videos…
Spokesman: There may be videos and posters and movies made about it, but I personally am not aware of the case. Anna?
Correspondent: Thank you, Stephane. I have two questions. First, on Pakistan. It's been reported that Pakistan closed the offices and completely wants to expel Save the Children charity amid suspicions of espionage and the suspicions were high since a doctor allegedly linked to this charity, Shakil Afridi, tried to collect DNA samples from Osama bin Laden’s family and so on and so forth. Lots of people, lots of experts say that since 1979 this organization has done a lot…
Spokesman: What is your question?
Question: I'm getting there. So what's UN's position on this? And usually does UN support this kind of way this kind of charity important work over…?
Spokesman: Obviously, Save the Children is a very important player on the humanitarian stage, one that the UN works with. You know, I think you should obviously also talk to Save the Children, but we obviously regret the news of this… of the closure and we're concerned about the impact it would have on children and the most vulnerable.
Question: The second question. I said I had two questions. It's a very short and precise question. I'm hoping for the similar answer. What is UN's stance on public flogging of journalists in twenty-first century? Thank you.
Spokesman: We are against cruel and unusual punishment and I think flogging clearly falls in that category. Cara? And then we'll go to round two.
Question: Thanks. It's been… I believe it's been 10 days since Morocco was informed of child sexual abuse against one of its peacekeepers. Has Morocco said what actions it will take?
Spokesman: Peacekeepers where? Sorry? I didn’t hear that.
Correspondent: Central African Republic.
Spokesman: Let me check with my colleagues at DPKO and see what there is. [The reporter was later informed that the 10-day deadline expires next Monday.]
Question: There are reports that Sudan's president, Omar al-Bashir, might travel to the AU Summit in Johannesburg. Given his ICC indictment, does the UN feel it's incumbent on South Africa to arrest him?
Spokesman: I think it's incumbent for all countries to live up to their obligations under treaties they have signed. Masood and then Iftikhar?
Question: Stéphane, there are reports that there were migrants and people seeking refuge in the high seas near Australia, that the Australian Government has been paying smugglers or human traffickers money to… not to bring them to Australia, but to take them to Indonesia or some other places. Has the United Nations seen these charges?
Spokesman: Actually, I've seen those reports. I have no way to know whether they are true or untrue. I think much as I answered Sherwin’s question, I think they are very important international treaties and protocols and covenants dealing with the rights of refugees and migrants. The most important thing is for them to be treated humanely and with dignity. We would call on all countries concerned to do that.
Correspondent: The Australian Prime Minister on record has said he will use any and every method to dissuade these people from coming in.
Spokesman: I would refer you to what I have just said, which is: It is incumbent on every country to treat migrants and refugees according to relevant international treaties and most importantly humanly and with dignity. Iftikhar?
Question: Thank you, Stéphane. Follow-up to the Rohingya Muslim crisis: How does the United Nations view the latest announcement by the Myanmar Government that they will prevent Rohingya Muslims from leaving the country, without even giving assurance that they will address the causes that force them to take these dangerous journeys?
Spokesman: Obviously, I think, I haven't seen that particular law, but it is clear that the United Nations through various channels, openly and privately, has pressed the Government of Myanmar for the case of the Rohingya people to ensure their full… to ensure that they are treated with their full human rights in Myanmar. Brittany?
Question: Thank you, Stéphane. Two questions. One quick follow-up to my previous question about aid delivery; when the Saudis promised $50 million to the World Food Programme, the actual money that was delivered was much lower than what was reported. What is the average timetable for pledging aid, as far as them delivering?
Spokesman: I think that you would have to ask the various humanitarian agencies. Obviously we would like to see pledges transform themselves into hard cash as quickly as possible. Governments have different procedures, internal procedures that they have to work through. On the WFP case, you'd have to ask WFP.
Question: The second question, on the children and armed conflict report: There's no mention of Yarmouk or the 166 children that died Yarmouk, or what Navi Pillay said was tantamount to a war crime, children who were starved in Yarmouk because aid wasn't delivered. Why isn't there mention of any of this?
Spokesman: Again, the report, I think, highlights the global situation that children face throughout the world. I think intelligent people will argue and have different opinions about what should have been in the report and out of the report. It is… the report stands as it is.
Question: Don't you think it's glaring omission?
Spokesman: I really have nothing else to add. Yes?
Question: Thank you. About Yemen, about the Geneva talks, is there any coordination or… between the United Nation and Iran has been, I know, the UN Envoy earlier, he travelled to Iran.
Spokesman: The Envoy has travelled throughout the region. Whether it's Tehran, Ruadh, Muscat, he's gone all over. He's talked to regional leaders. He's talked to representatives of Security Council, the five permanent members. I think the international community, the region, the subregion all have a role to play. It's not a matter of coordination. It's matter of consultation. It is clear that many countries have an influence on one or more of their parties, so it's important that we talk to as many people as possible.
Question: Has Iran talked to UN that they are supporting the talks?
Spokesman: I think it is critical that the international community supports the talk and we… talks and we are moving forward on that basis. [The Spokesman later clarified that a press article had misquoted the Director of the UN Counter Terrorism Centre, Jehangir Khan, concerning the Geneva Consultations on Yemen. The Spokesman reiterated that no country — except Yemen — will be invited to the forthcoming Yemen talks in Geneva, and the Secretary General expects all countries to be supportive of these talks.] Abdel Hamid?
Correspondent: Thank you. Going back to the report on the children and armed conflict. In fact, there are free countries that consider a child 16 years and younger, which is Iran, Saudi Arabia and in fact Israel, but Israel not for all the children there, but half of the children, which is the Palestinians. Order 152 pass by the military consider Palestinians under 16 children and above 16.
Spokesman: What is your question?
Question: Why is it not highlighted and in the report, that this is against international law to consider a child that is below 16?
Spokesman: I think the situation in Gaza and the West Bank is clearly highlighted in the report. I'm not sure the report is mandated to look at legislation in vigour. We're looking at the impact on children. Ana, then Matthew, then Nizar?
Question: Thank you Stephane. Since you mentioned that tomorrow is the world albino awareness day, I couldn't refrain from asking. You mentioned that albino people, they are being discriminated all over the world, but there are places where people go further than that. They are being mutilated. They are being sacrificed. They are being annihilated. Places like Tanzania, for example. Do you have country by country report on this and what the UN is doing to stop this massacre?
Spokesman: Well, the United Nations has been raising the issue, trying to shine a light on the issue of albinos and their suffering. I have, in fact, from this podium, I have talked about the situation in Tanzania. It is an issue the human rights community and our colleagues of the Human Rights Office deal with on a country by country basis. You can check with their office here, if they have a breakdown, but it involves ensuring that victims are protected and that communities, the attitude of communities towards people, albinos changes. Mr. Lee?
Question: Two questions for this round. Burundi and Central African Republic. In Burundi, documents emerged, a ruling, legal opinion by the ministers of justice of the East African Community states, and they read very closely the constitution and the Arusha declaration and they say that a third term would be illegal, that he’s not eligible, that it's clear the first term was under the Constitution. I'm wondering, one, is there any response by the Secretariat, that it's been sort of not addressing this question? And was Mr. Djinnit aware of this ruling during the time of this facilitation? And if so, why didn't it speak more clearly on the subject?
Spokesman: I think that Mr. Djinnit is one of our more experienced diplomats, experienced negotiator, mediator. I'm sure he was aware of everything he needed to be aware of. I don't have a response to that. I think a lot of opinions have been shared and I would refer you to what I said to Sherwin.
Question: Is the DSG [Deputy Secretary-General] aware of this document as he goes to the African Union Summit…?
Spokesman: I think the DSG is fully aware of the situation in Burundi and would be looking forward to his discussion with Mr. Djinnit.
Question: The CAR [Central African Republic] question is actually a different thing there, where it’s reported that two Gabonese… reported that two Gabonese peacekeepers basically rented, signed a lease on behalf of MINUSCA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic], the mission, when they had no authority to. It's reported they've been asked to stay in the country as this is investigated by the Gabonese and also the UN. So, I wanted to know, first, it's often been stated that the UN has jurisdiction over its peacekeepers in terms of any wrongdoing, if that's different in this case, and if you can give some kind of statement.
Spokesman: I'm unaware of…
Question: And what would you say in light of all of this recent sexual abuse and past sexual abuse and it's making non-public in this, to those that would say in this peacekeeping in particular and UN peacekeeping more generally is really surrounded by any number of scandals right now? What does Ban Ki-moon intend to do about it?
Spokesman: I think we have the peace operations review panel which will come out next week. And they'll come in and brief you, which is going to be a holistic look at our peace operations or the special political missions, peacekeeping missions. I think we are focusing on a few horrible and egregious cases which need to be highlighted, where some of them were not handled properly by the United Nations, as we've said in the case of the Central African Republic. But, I think it's also important to recall that the huge, the vast majority, the overwhelming majority of personnel, uniformed and civilian, involved in peacekeeping do an amazing job, day in and day out. Nizar, you will have the last call and then Jean-Victor is eager to come up here.
Correspondent: I understand that Mr. [Stephen] O'Brien went to Saudi Arabia the last few days and did he raise the issue of targeting civilian areas today, for example, Old Sana’a was hit hard and whole area was destroyed.
Spokesman: I know he just was in Saudi Arabia and I will get you a readout from my colleagues in OCHA.
Question: How about targeting Old Sana’a…?
Spokesman: We've talked about the issue of targeting of civilian infrastructure. And I will see what came out of his visit. Thank you.
Question: Can we get an answer from UNICEF on Baku in 2015?
Spokesman: Yes, I will give it to you. [He later informed the correspondents that UNICEF said the following: For the last 8 years UNICEF has been supporting a programme in Azerbaijan to promote sport for development including through sporting events. The programme aims to lay the groundwork for increased participation of children in sports, particularly the development of inclusive physical education and sport and recreational activities for all children in the country. UNICEF is using the opportunity of the European Games to put a focus on safe and inclusive sport for all children in Azerbaijan, especially girls and children with disabilities. Just earlier this week, following a two-day national consultation with adolescents, a declaration on safe and inclusive sport was presented directly to Azerbaijani Government officials with recommendations from adolescents on how to improve access to safe and inclusive sport in the country and to involve adolescents and youth in the development of sport and youth policies, programmes and strategies. UNICEF has been working in Azerbaijan since 1993 to protect and advocate for children’s rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which the country ratified in 1992.]