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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, 18 September 2012

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. Welcome to the briefing.

**Secretary-General at General Assembly

This afternoon at 3, the Secretary-General will speak at the opening of the sixty-seventh session of the General Assembly.

The Secretary-General will say that we are living in a period of unease, and he will say that, at a time of rising unemployment, rising inequality, rising temperatures, and rising intolerance, the United Nations must rise to the moment.

Last night, he spoke at the Church of the Holy Family, and he noted the backdrop of global protests and violence in response to yet another harmful instance of hatred and provocation. He said that we need religious leaders in all parts of the world to help lead the way in promoting tolerance, seeking forgiveness, healing divisions and building mutual understanding and mutual respect. Those remarks are available online.

And also yesterday, the Secretary-General made remarks at the closing of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly. He said that the General Assembly, during that session, had sought to promote mutual understanding and a culture of peace across the world, including through the Alliance of Civilizations. As the troubling events of recent days made clear, this must remain a priority.

** Syria

Today, the Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been visiting refugee camps on the Turkish and Jordanian borders with Syria. In Turkey, he went to the Altinoz camp in Hatay Province, and in Jordan, he visited the Za'atari camp. In both camps, he was briefed by UN agencies and Government officials on conditions in the camps.

Mr. Brahimi met Syrian refugees and listened to first-hand accounts of their ordeals. He was deeply moved by what he saw and heard, and promised to convey an accurate picture of their plight to all those whom he will meet at the United Nations in New York, when he will be here next week.

**Security Council

The Security Council adopted a resolution this morning expressing its determination to work closely with the new institutions and offices of the Somali authorities, and encouraging the new President to appoint an inclusive, accountable Government. The Council reiterated its support for AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia. The Council strongly condemned the grave and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by many parties, including al-Shabaab.

Also this morning, the Security Council is holding consultations to discuss developments in Yemen and in Guinea-Bissau. This afternoon, the Council will hold consultations on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on which it will receive a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous. And as we mentioned yesterday, Mr. Ladsous will talk to reporters at the stakeout following that session.

Yesterday, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the Council on efforts to develop an integrated regional strategy for the Sahel.

**Refugee Award

The UN refugee agency announced today that a Somali woman is the winner of the 2012 Nansen Refugee Award. Hawa Aden Mohamed is a former refugee who chose to return to Somalia in 1995. There, she launched an ambitious education programme to assist people uprooted by Somalia's persistent conflict and recurring droughts.

The refugee agency said Hawa Aden Mohamed is being given this award in recognition of her exceptional, tireless and inspiring humanitarian work under incredibly difficult and challenging circumstances. A few days ago, she was taken to hospital for surgery. The refugee agency hopes that she will be sufficiently recovered and well to attend the Nansen Award prize ceremony in Geneva, which is scheduled for 1 October.

**Weeks Ahead

And we have available for journalists, in my office, a document listing the meetings and events at the United Nations for the coming weeks. This is for planning purposes and it is subject to change. We’ll try to update it as often as possible. So that’s available in the office for journalists.

**Secretary-General’s Press Conference

And as I mentioned yesterday, the Secretary-General will hold a press conference in this room tomorrow at 2:15 p.m. He will discuss the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, among other topics. So that’s at 2:15 here tomorrow.

Thanks very much. Erol?

**Questions and Answers

Question: Thank you, Martin. It’s… my two questions are actually regarding press conferences: if Mr. Vuk Jeremić, the new President of the General Assembly, will join or will have a press conference on his own on the agenda of the General Assembly, and if Mr. Brahimi will brief us some time soon?

Spokesperson: On the first, I would urge you to check with the Office of the President of the General Assembly. They would probably be able to help you on that. I am not aware of the programme that there might be. It doesn’t mean there isn’t anything happening, I just don’t know at this point.

Question: Thank you. Excuse me? They do not coordinate with you in a way that is probably they will hold a mutual… I mean the… the joint press conference…?

Spokesperson: As I say, Erol, as I say, I am not aware of anything. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t something happening; I am not aware of anything at the moment. As soon as we are able to check, we will let you know. And I am sure…

Correspondent: Because there is no functioning website of them, since we don’t know who is his team, who is, by this time, everything is there…

Spokesperson: Well, Erol, you don’t need to rely just on a website; there are also human beings working in the Office of the President of the General Assembly, and I am pretty sure they would be happy to help you. On the second question, about Mr. Brahimi, as I mentioned, he has been in the region, including today in Turkey and Jordan. And as I mentioned also, he is scheduled to come back to New York towards the end of this week. He and his spokesman, Mr. [Ahmad] Fawzi, are aware of the interest of journalists here in hearing directly from him, and I am sure that that will be taken into account in his movements, once he is here in New York, but it is for him to decide. I haven’t heard anything concrete yet on that. But he is certainly aware of the interest of the press corps here. Matthew?

Question: Sure, I wanted to ask something about Sudan or… and/or South Sudan. One, Russia is saying that one of its helicopters that was flying in some UN-related function to the Yida refugee camp in South Sudan was shot at and “seriously damaged”, and I am wondering if… have you heard that? Can you confirm that?

Spokesperson: Personally, no, but we will check with the Mission.

[The Spokesperson later said that the United Nations Mission in South Sudan had been informed that the Government of South Sudan had confirmed the incident and had apologized to the Russian Mission.]

Question: The other one is, the Government of Sudan has said — and I am assuming the UN will have a response to this — they are claiming that… that aid is being brought in, they claim against the tripartite agreement, into Southern Kordofan from a neighbouring State, which would seem to be South Sudan. What’s the status of aid actually arriving, given that the UN is part of the tripartite structure?

Spokesperson: Well, we’ve made clear repeatedly, and I am happy to do so again, that we need access to all affected people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States to stop people fleeing, and to respond to the obvious humanitarian difficulties that there are. The United Nations calls on the Government of Sudan to allow cross-line humanitarian operations to assist vulnerable people in those areas.

Question: And by cross-line, you mean within Sudan?

Spokesperson: Correct.

Question: Okay. And then I wanted… I mean, you may… this may have been superseded at least in part, in… in… in Côte d'Ivoire, the authorities suspended the publication of, it’s unclear if it is six or seven papers, all of which were viewed as being pro-[Laurent] Gbagbo newspapers, and they seem to have… to have… have removed the ban, saying that they are negotiating with the newspapers. But, and there seems to be one called Notre Voie that is still not published. But since there is a UN peacekeeping mission there, I am wondering: what is… what does… or maybe it is elsewhere in the UN, what do they say about both the suspension, and now the idea that the Government will negotiate with the papers, whether they can keep publishing? Should they be allowed to publish? What… what… what’s the UN view on this?

Spokesperson: Well, I would have to check with the mission to see if they have anything specific on these particular cases. But it’s a hard and fast principle that journalists should be allowed to do their job free from intimidation and free from those kinds of difficulties. People have the right to be informed, and journalists play an important part in allowing people to be informed. Other questions, please?

[The Spokesperson later added that the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) had commented on both the measures taken with regard to the media and the lifting of those measures.]

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

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