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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 17 January 2012

Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Eduardo del Buey, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the noon briefing.

**Security Council

This morning, the Security Council met in closed consultations. They discussed the Development Fund for Iraq and its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. Afterwards, the Council was briefed by Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos on her recent visit to Sudan and the situation there.

**Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

The Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, met yesterday and today with the Representatives of the Parties, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis of Greece and Ambassador Zoran Jolevski of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

He said that, at his request, he met with each of the Representatives separately, in each case several times. Both sides presented the positions of their respective Governments on the “name” issue as they stand at the present time.

Mr. Nimetz added that the discussions were helpful and focused on the optimal way to move the process forward in a constructive manner. He also said that he was given firm assurances that each Government is sincere in its interest in finding a solution, and that they fully respect the United Nations process.

Given these assurances, the Personal Envoy says he will consult further with the two Representatives with the view of arranging a visit to the two capitals to continue the discussions. “As we move forward, I have asked the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the resolution of their difference by promoting a positive atmosphere through their actions and public statements,” he added.

**Côte d’Ivoire

The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Catherine Bragg, is in Côte d’Ivoire for a three-day visit. According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the mission aims to assess the humanitarian situation one year after the post-electoral crisis and to draw international attention to the remaining challenges.

Yesterday, Ms. Bragg launched the 2012 appeal for Côte d’Ivoire, which seeks more than $173 million to cover the needs of over 3 million people this year. Today, she met with the Minister of Planning and Development, the United Nations country team and humanitarian organizations. And tomorrow, Ms. Bragg is scheduled to travel to the western part of the country, where she will visit displacement areas.

**United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees

Three years after the end of the Gaza war, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has launched an emergency appeal for Gaza and the West Bank worth just over $300 million. According to UNRWA officials, the continuing blockade and the restrictions on exports have far-reaching consequences which increase poverty and aid dependency, and the demand for UNRWA’s emergency services.

The appeal focuses on three strategic priorities — food security, protection and emergency-response capability. Eighty per cent of the requested funds will be used to promote food security. In addition, a sizeable portion of the appeal also aims to protect the rights of refugees and improve their access to basic emergency health, water, sanitation, education and temporary shelter.

The appeal also seeks to further strengthen the Agency’s emergency-response capacity, positioning the Agency to better respond to emergency needs despite the decrease in overall funds sought. We have a press release with more details in my office.


The Secretary-General and José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, have appointed Ertharin Cousin of the United States as Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP). The appointment is at the Under-Secretary-General level and Ms. Cousin will succeed Josette Sheeran. The WFP Executive Board has confirmed its concurrence with this appointment. We have Ms. Cousin’s bio in my office.

That’s all for me. Questions?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Do you have any more details about the training of Arab League observers by the UN? The number of trainees and trainers, so far?

Deputy Spokesperson: No. We are awaiting the outcome of the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States, who will then decide on exactly what their needs are. We do have a team of people ready to help them. But, of course, this is in support of their request. Mr. Abbadi?

[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights had informed his office that its team was composed of four trainers who will train the observers for two or three days.

He added that team was ready to deploy and to provide the technical assistance requested last week by the League of Arab States.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights notes that the details, duration and composition of its team could change, depending on the outcome of the League of Arab States’ forthcoming meeting, Mr. del Buey said.]

Question: Thank you Eduardo. The Tunisian Government is trying to bring to justice the former President, whom it believes has committed serious crimes against its people. Does the Secretary-General support those efforts?

Deputy Spokesperson: As you know, serious crimes against humanity are crimes that the Secretary-General takes very seriously. It is up to the authorities in Tunisia to proceed as they must.

Question: Does he support the request of Tunisia to have Ben Ali brought back from Saudi Arabia to Tunisia to be judged?

Deputy Spokesperson: Well, if there is a case to be brought, then the Tunisian authorities and the Saudi authorities are going to have to analyse it. I don’t believe there is anything in front of the ICC right now on that. If the accusation is that he has committed crimes against humanity or crimes against humanitarian law, that would be against the standards of the United Nations. Yes, Matthew?

Question: Sure, I wanted to ask you, I had asked about this yesterday, the continued fighting in Jonglei State. Now the Governor there has talked about retaliatory attacks against Lou Nuer and now Dinka, and has said that there is no either South Sudan army there or UNMISS peacekeepers. So what is the UN doing as this fighting escalates?

Deputy Spokesperson: The UN Mission in South Sudan has responded flexibly and vigorously to the growing threat in Jonglei State while carrying out still its peacekeeping responsibilities elsewhere in the country. The Mission mobilized 1,000 of its troops for deployment to the area, a figure that represents nearly half of the Mission’s 2,100 combat-ready personnel. So the UN is present and they are aware of the ongoing violence. And they are working very closely with the Government of South Sudan and with community leaders, urging them to end the cycle of violence peacefully and settle their long-standing grievances and differences.

Question: After yesterday’s noon briefing, I did speak with Ms. Malcorra. I thanked her. I’ll thank you. One thing I want to ask you is, she said on the record that the lack of Russian helicopters led to an inability to bring “lethal assets”, meaning they brought people, but they didn’t bring the equipment that they would need to prevent this violence. And it’s unclear to me if that equipment has been brought. There’s some discussion of Bangladeshi helicopters from MONUSCO, who are from UNISFA, but it sounds like that arrangement is not in place. You said that the UN responded flexibly and vigorously, but does UNMISS actually have equipment to protect civilians in that area, or does it just have people?

Deputy Spokesperson: What I have for you is that peacekeepers did reach people despite the limited airlift assets. So we do have that. I’m not sure exactly what equipment they managed to bring in or not. We can try and find that out for you if they will release that information for security reasons. But for operational reasons, very often they don’t want people to know what kind of assets they have in order to protect…

Question: She said on the record that they weren’t able to bring it in. I just want to know if they brought it now?

Deputy Spokesperson: We’ll have to check into that for you. Anybody else?

Question: One other thing on security, if you don’t mind. Yesterday, when I asked you about this flight of the Secretary-General from Beirut to the UAE, you’d said, you know, it was described as a private jet, but that for security reasons you might not say that at the time. But now that the flight has taken place, do you have the information requested yesterday?

Deputy Spokesperson: When we get the information, I’ll let you know, okay? Mr. Abbadi?

Question: Thank you. What kind of specific assistance is the United Nations bringing to Tunisia in the aftermath of its revolution?

Deputy Spokesperson: I believe, if I’m not mistaken, we gave assistance in helping them with their elections. And we would have to get back to you on other aspects of the assistance. I don’t have that with me.

Okay, thank you very much. Have a good afternoon.

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