HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 24 JULY 2017
TARGETING OF CIVILIANS COULD BE WAR CRIME, SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS IN WAKE OF DEADLY ATTACK IN AFGHAN CAPITAL
- In a statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the horrifying bomb attack in Kabul today, responsibility for which was claimed by the Taliban. The deliberate targeting of civilians constitutes a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law and may constitute a war crime.
- The Secretary-General expresses his deepest sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured. He reaffirms the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Afghanistan.
- The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has also condemned today’s deadly suicide attack in Kabul, which it described as “egregious, cowardly, and bereft of humanity.” As the Mission announced last week, suicide and complex attacks by anti-government forces have been the leading cause of civilian casualties.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN PAKISTAN
- In a statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Lahore, Pakistan, today and calls for those responsible to be brought to justice.
- The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and wishes full recovery to those injured. He supports the efforts of the Government of Pakistan to fight terrorism and violent extremism with full respect for international human rights norms and obligations.
U.N.-BACKED MIDDLE EAST QUARTET URGES MAXIMUM RESTRAINT AMIDST JERUSALEM HOLY SITE VIOLENCE
- Over the weekend, the envoys of the Middle East Quartet – comprising the European Union, the Russian Federation, the United Nations and the United States – expressed concern about the violence in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. Noting the particular sensitivities surrounding the holy sites in Jerusalem, and the need to ensure security, the Quartet envoys call on all to demonstrate maximum restraint, refrain from provocative actions and work towards de-escalating the situation.
- The envoys welcome the assurances by the Prime Minister of Israel that the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem will be upheld and respected.
- They encourage Israel and Jordan to work together to uphold the status quo, noting the special role of the Hashemite Kingdom as recognized in its peace treaty with Israel.
- In statements issued late Friday, the Secretary-General urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to refrain from actions that could further escalate the situation and called on all political, religious and community leaders to help reduce tension. The Secretary-General reiterates that the sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST KILLING OF BLUE HELMET IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- In a statement, the Secretary-General condemned the killing by suspected anti-Balaka militias of a peacekeeper of the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, in Bangassou, in the south east of the country. Three others were injured. The Secretary-General offers his condolences to the bereaved family and to the Government of the Kingdom of Morocco and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
- The Secretary-General is appalled by attacks against UN peacekeepers and urges the Central African authorities to investigate this incident and bring the perpetrators to justice. He is deeply concerned about the continued fighting in the south east of the country and calls on all parties to cease violence. He reiterates his support for the efforts by the UN Mission to protect civilians and assist in the stabilisation of the security situation in the Central African Republic.
SENIOR U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL KICKS OFF THREE-DAY VISIT TO IRAQ
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Mueller, began a three-day visit today to Iraq, where she is expected to meet senior Iraqi and Kurdish officials in Baghdad and Erbil.
- Her visit will focus on the current humanitarian crisis, ongoing relief efforts, and priorities for humanitarian delivery in Iraq following the military operation in Mosul.
- It is estimated that 3.5 million people will be forced from their homes once military operations against Da’esh end later this year. Across Iraq, more than 11 million people are in need of assistance.
U.N. ENVOY STRESSES NEED FOR EVIDENCE-BASED MIGRATION POLICY
- The intergovernmental process to adopt a global compact for migration continued today with the fourth of six thematic sessions focusing on the contribution of migration to sustainable development.
- Speaking at the opening session, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, highlighted the key contributions of migrants to their countries of origin, which include hundreds of billions of dollars in remittances (more than three times official development assistance) and the transfer of ideas, skills and knowledge.
- She also stressed the importance of basing migration policy on evidence rather than perception: “while the net benefits of migration outweigh its costs the public perception is often the opposite. Such public perceptions and attitudes negatively influence sound migration policy choices. This must be reversed so that policy is evidence-based and not perception-driven,” she said.
U.N. REFUGEE CHIEF CALLS ON AUSTRALIA TO HALT HARMFUL PRACTICE OF OFFSHORE PROCESSING
- The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, today called on Australia to immediately end its harmful practice of offshore processing of refugees.
- He said that Australia’s policy of offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, which denies access to asylum in Australia for refugees arriving by sea without a valid visa, has caused extensive, avoidable suffering for far too long.
- Mr. Grandi said that four years on, 2,000 people are still languishing in unacceptable circumstances, with families having been separated and many people having suffered physical and psychological harm.
- He noted that at a time of record levels of displacement globally, it is crucial that all States offer protection to survivors of war and persecution, and not outsource their responsibilities to others. Refugees, our fellow human beings, deserve as much, he stressed.