Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 16 February 2011
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon everybody.
This afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Security Council will hold a meeting on Côte d’Ivoire and will consider a draft resolution on continued temporary deployment of troops from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to the mission in Côte d’Ivoire (ONUCI).
The Security Council will then hold a meeting on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, known as UNMIK. Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, will be briefing Council members.
On Egypt, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, informs us that the High Commissioner will formally ask the Egyptian Government to accept a mission from the Office. The aim of the mission is to assess the situation and find ways to help the transition to democracy from a human rights point of view.
**Democratic Republic of Congo
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, informs us that, on 15 February, after more than a year of negotiations, the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Repatriation (DDRRR) sections extracted Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Bisengimana, who is also known as Sam-Mutima Kunda, in the village of Ntoto, Walikale territory in eastern DRC.
The Mission says that this defection is a serious blow to the FDLR, the Forces démocratiques de Liberation du Rwanda. This is because Lieutenant Colonel Mutima was a member of the High Command. It adds that he was responsible for mobilizing civilian support for the FDLR and recruitment. Before fleeing to the province of North Kivu in 1994, Lieutenant Colonel Mutima served as the company commander in the Rwandan Army.
This defection comes after the extraction of three majors by the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Repatriation section through various operations in January of this year. And last year, 1,881 FDLR rebels opted for voluntary surrender and disarmament with MONUSCO, including 64 officers.
**Sri Lanka Journalist
Yesterday, I said that we had still not received the letter or petition from the Resident Coordinator in Colombo regarding a missing Sri Lankan journalist. I was wrong on that.
My Deputy already mentioned at the noon briefing on 1 February that it could be confirmed that the letter to the Secretary-General, which was transmitted to New York by the UN Resident Coordinator in Colombo, had been received.
It was also channelled to colleagues in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
And that letter is now being reviewed.
We’ve asked for an update on this, and will let you know when we have it.
The disappearance of any journalist anywhere is, of course, a matter of concern, and not just to the Secretary-General.
**Press Conferences Tomorrow
At 9:30 a.m., there will be a press conference with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Special Unit for South-South Cooperation of the UN Development Programme. This is to launch a report that is part of promoting the theme of social protection on the occasion of the World Day of Social Justice.
And then, Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, will be the guest at the noon briefing.
And then at 3 p.m., the Minister of Agriculture of France, Mr. Bruno Le Maire, will give a press briefing on the “Priorities of the French presidency of the G-20 on Agriculture”.
And all three briefings will take place in this room.
That’s what I have. Questions. Yes.
**Questions and Answers
Question: Martin, about Kosovo and UNMIK, we on the France 24 website published this morning a new report, apparently from 2003, from the Mission showing a lot of back and forth between UNMIK and TPI about obviously human organs trafficking. It seems that this report was never transmitted to EULEX even though the Secretary-General guaranteed that every effort would be done. So, where is that?
Spokesperson: Let me look. I need to check into that. Yeah, thank you. Let me look and then we’ll see what we have to say. Okay. Yes, Mr. Abbadi.
Question: Thank you, Martin. Has the Secretary-General met with former UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar, and what were the subjects under discussion?
Spokesperson: Yes, yes, they did meet yesterday, as I understand it. And as I mentioned to you before, this was partly social and partly business, in the sense that any Secretary-General, former Secretary-General, can provide insights to a serving Secretary-General. If you would like more details than that, then I am happy to dig a little deeper. Yes, Nizar.
Question: Yeah, we had two threats: one from Ehud Barak, yesterday that the border with Lebanon will not remain quiet [inaudible]. Another one today from the Foreign Minister [Avigdor] Lieberman threatening two warships, two Iranian warships crossing the Suez Canal. Is there any reaction on these two threats?
Spokesperson: Seen both of the reports, and don’t have any comment at the moment. Yes, Ali.
Question: Thank you, Martin. Will the Secretary-General support now any involvement of the Security Council regarding the issue of settlement, the Israeli-Palestinian issue?
Spokesperson: Well, the subject in the Security Council is very much a matter for the Security Council. Speaking more generally, the position of the international community and the United Nations, including through the Security Council, on settlements is quite clear. Yes, Edie, I think you had a question. No? Okay, right, Matthew.
Question: Sure, I want to ask you some questions about Sudan. One is that the SPLM [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] in this new fighting with General [George] Athor, he is saying that Khartoum is providing him weapons and supporting him. I wonder what UNMIS has to say about that. And also what UNAMID has to say about reports of renewed fighting in Wadi Mora, and also this expulsion of Médecins du Monde from Darfur and the allegations by the governor there that Médecins du Monde with UNAMID was delivering expired medications. Does UNAMID, you know, deny that, and what have they said about this?
Spokesperson: On the very last part, I am not aware of that particular aspect, but I know that Mr. [Ibrahim] Gambari was briefing correspondents today in Khartoum, and did address the question of the expulsion of Médecins du Monde. He said that this was most regrettable, and there is a mechanism when any NGO is facing such a dilemma that there should be some kind of negotiations between the central Government and local authorities — and that would include help from UNAMID on the ground. And this is something that I know that our humanitarian colleagues are looking at right now. Médecins du Monde has been playing a critical role in providing medical support. And they are obviously not the first NGO to find themselves in this position, and this is not something that we feel comfortable with because obviously they play an important role. Mr. Gambari did speak a little bit more about in Khartoum today.
Question: And what’s your response to that report that came out yesterday among other things, saying that UNAMID is perceived as being too close to the Government?
Spokesperson: Well, I answered that yesterday, you know. UNAMID has a very clear Security Council mandate. I answered that question yesterday.
Spokesperson: I am just answering on Darfur here. What I can tell you is that on some fighting that has been taking place in Shangil Tobaya, and that we are certainly concerned about that fighting, and a humanitarian assessment mission is planning to visit the area tomorrow with UNAMID military escorts. And it is our understanding that the fighting that has been talking place there since the 15th — so that is yesterday — has displaced a large number of people from the local population. And we would certainly call on all the parties to cease fire immediately and resume negotiations, not least because these clashes between Government and rebel forces and air strikes by the Government have, it would seem, led to the loss of life; losses of life, and as I say, displacement of civilians. Yes, Sylviane.
Question: Sorry to interrupt, but I want to know, there is, next week, there is a Security Council on the Middle East. It seems that it is very important since the Security Council didn’t meet for the [inaudible] to discuss the Middle East. Do you know who will be briefing the Council on that matter?
Spokesperson: I don’t at the moment, but I am happy to find out. Yes, Edie.
Question: Martin, does, on this whole issue of organs for sale in Kosovo, has the Secretary-General said anything about this? This practice, or this alleged practice?
Spokesperson: Well, let me check. What I do know is that UNMIK, the UN Mission, has cooperated with EULEX; which is, as you know, carrying out an investigation. The Council of Europe has also issued a report, as I understand it. I think that Mr. [Lamberto] Zannier would be in a better position to answer these questions. And I’ll see what we can do about getting some answers for you. Okay.
Question: Can I ask a question on Haiti?
Spokesperson: Yes, of course.
Question: Sure, there are two presidential candidates: Jean Henry Céant and Yves Crystalline have both asked for an investigation of Mr. Edmond Mulet and his role in the recent changes and the second run of the election. I just wonder what, given, you know I, you may be dismiss, what the UN’s response to that is? And also if there is an answer now to, that Canaan camp with tens of thousands of people that were set up and Mr. [Nigel] Fisher’s statement that the Government wasn’t allowing services to be provided. Has the UN taken any steps to provide services or to otherwise address those tens of thousands of people there?
Spokesperson: Well, on the first one, let’s be absolutely clear. The Secretary-General fully supports the work and role of the Special Representative in Haiti, Edmond Mulet. And on the second, I think we will have some more details to be able to give you on that. But I don’t have them right now. Okay, thanks very much. Have a good afternoon.
[The Spokesperson later said that Nigel Fisher indeed said, “the Government practically prohibited us from providing services there”, as expressed by some NGOs and reinforced by an official notification in local media identifying population in Canaan as “illegal”. He added that the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs provides assistance to all affected population on the basis of needs. In the case of Canaan, an informal settlement around the Corail-Cesseless camp, the humanitarian community has taken the view that relief aid must be given to individuals whether or not they are part of a formal settlement or informal settlement, especially at the time of a cholera epidemic. The UN is working with a number of partners in Canaan in the area of cholera prevention, shelter and water, while the status of the displaced in Canaan is being clarified with local authorities.
On the other hand, Mr. Fisher was misquoted in the same interview with the following: “But when we went to visit, we saw that they are doing pretty well on their own.” He never said that. What he said was: “When we went to visit, we saw that they had to rely on themselves.”]
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