Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Department of Public Information . News and Media Division . New York
26 June 2014
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
**Noon Briefing Guest
In a short while, I will be joined by the Executive Director of UN-Women. She will be here to brief us on the upcoming twentieth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.
The Secretary-General, as you know, is in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, today, where he spoke at the African Union Summit. In his address, the Secretary-General said that the United Nations was proud to be a key partner of the African Union and that it would remain by its side as it developed and implemented Agenda 2063 — promoting peace, human rights and sustainable development. The Secretary-General said that Africa's transformation and economic progress will entail sustainable energy for all and a revolution in agricultural productivity through policy reforms and technology. His full remarks are available online.
And in Equatorial Guinea, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with a number of African Heads of State, and we will make readouts of those meetings available as they come in. Yesterday, he inaugurated the UN House in Malabo, along with President [Teodoro] Obiang [Nguema Mbasogo] of Equatorial Guinea. And he said that the United Nations will help Equatorial Guinea reduce poverty and inequality, as well as promote food security.
Right here in the Security Council, Valerie Amos, the Emergency Relief Coordinator for the United Nations and the Humanitarian Coordinator, briefed the Security Council this morning on the implementation of resolution 2139 , concerning humanitarian access in Syria. She said with regret that violence and attacks on civilians by all parties to the conflict and human rights abuses continue unabated, with devastating consequences for those affected, and she provided numbers underscoring the worsening state of the crisis.
Ms. Amos said that 241,000 people continue to live under siege conditions, with only 1 per cent of that number having received food assistance since her last briefing to the Council. And she added that the number of people in Syria who now need humanitarian assistance has increased to 10.8 million people. And we have the full text of her remarks available in my office.
From Iraq, the humanitarian assistance mission in Iraq (UNAMI) reports that the country is now contending with one of the largest internal population displacements in the world. More than 1 million people have been displaced since the beginning of 2014, in addition to another million people displaced from previous conflicts. Over 220,000 Syrian refugees also remain in Iraq.
Displaced families continue to arrive in the Kurdistan region. UNICEF today expressed alarm at the latest mass displacements as some 1,500 people, including large numbers of children and elderly, arrived in Erbil yesterday. UNICEF and its partners are providing life-saving aid to the displaced families.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has also reported that there are increasing concerns about the high number of sick and disabled people, including children, arriving in Sulaymaniyah. There have been reports of possible shortages of medicines for chronic diseases, including diabetes and hypertension.
The UN Mission says that the situation in Al Qaim, near the Syrian border, remains critical. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that more than 60 families have left the camp in the town, which is under the control of ISIL [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant], towards Syria. Insecurity and limited access is affecting aid organizations' ability to reach people in the area.
And from Libya, the UN Support Mission in that country (UNSMIL) condemned today the assassination of Salwa Bugaighis, a member of the Preparatory Committee for National Dialogue. The Mission remains concerned about attacks against civilians in Benghazi, where she was killed. UNSMIL called on Libyan authorities to thoroughly investigate the assassination and bring the perpetrators to justice. We have more information online on the UN Mission's site.
And from Afghanistan, the UN Assistance Mission in that country (UNAMA) says that it is deeply concerned about the rising number of civilian deaths and injuries in the southern province of Helmand. Clashes between the Afghan National Security Forces and the Taliban since 21 June have killed at least 30 civilians, reports the Mission. The Secretary-General's Special Representative, Ján Kubiš, has called on all parties to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians during military operations.
And from Geneva, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has expressed her concern about the large number of executions in Iran since the beginning of this year. She called on authorities to halt, in particular, the imminent execution of a juvenile offender, Razieh Ebrahimi, who was convicted of killing her husband when she was 17 years old. She says she was subjected to domestic violence.
Ms. Pillay expressed alarm at the large number of juvenile offenders who reportedly remain on death row in Iran. According to information gathered by the UN Office for Human Rights from reliable sources, some 160 people are reportedly on death row for crimes they committed when they were under the age of 18. Ms. Pillay urged Iran to immediately impose a moratorium on all executions, with a view to abolishing the death penalty. And a full press release is available online.
And on the World Drugs Report,which was released today, the report finds that drug use prevalence is stable around the world. The report released today in Vienna says that some 5 per cent of the world's 15-to-64-year-olds have used an illicit drug in the past year. The Executive Director of UNODC [United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime], Yury Fedotov, launched the report to coincide with the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. He appealed for a stronger focus on health and human rights of all drug users, in particular those who inject drugs and are living with HIV. He said there remain serious gaps in service provisions. In recent years, only one in six drug users globally has had access to or received drug dependence treatment services each year. And you can find the report online, as well as a message from the Secretary-General on this issue.
**Disaster Risk Reduction
And the UN's top official for disaster risk reduction, Margareta Wahlström, is at the Sixth Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which wraps up today in Bangkok. This biennial conference is the primary gathering in the Asia region to ensure political and stakeholders' commitment towards disaster risk reduction. And we have more information available online on that.
And press conferences: tomorrow at 10 a.m., a press briefing here by UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] on "Rebuilding Timbuktu: The restoration of an intellectual and spiritual capital and its vital role in Mali's post-conflict recovery".
And at noon, I will be joined by Martin Sajdik, the President of ECOSOC [Economic and Social Council], along with Navid Hanif, Director of the Office of ECOSOC Support and Coordination for DESA [Department of Economic and Social Affairs]; Nikhil Seth, Director, Division of Sustainable Development at DESA. And they will be here to discuss various forthcoming ECOSOC events. That's it. Yes, Mr. Klein?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Yes, the Syrian Ambassador this morning in his statement at the Security Council charged that, in the UN report on humanitarian conditions in Syria and also the Secretary-General, and he said the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General have avoided using the word "terrorists" in describing Al-Nusra and ISIS. They're using euphemisms like "extremists", "radicals", "armed opposition". So I would like you to comment on that and whether you're willing to use the term "terrorists" in describing those groups. And secondly, does the Secretary-General have any comment on the killing of the 3-year-old girl in Gaza that resulted from a launching of a rocket in Gaza by Hamas or something?
Spokesman: I haven't seen that report, but I'll look into it. You know, on Syria, I think our reports have been very clear, and we stand by what we say in the reports. Matthew?
[The Spokesman later informed the reporter that the office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process reports that a rocket dropped short on a house in Beit Lahia and killed a little girl while injuring four more children. As always, we condemn the indiscriminate fire of rockets and call for their immediate cessation. And as Jeffrey Feltman has said in the Security Council briefing, we condemn the loss of any civilian life.]
Question: Sure, I wanted to ask about a letter. The Permanent Representative of Iraq told me that he submitted a letter to the Secretary-General and to the Council saying that the country wants logistical support from Member States. I wanted to know if… is that the case? And what's the Secretariat doing on such a letter?
Spokesman: Well, yes, the letter has been received. It was addressed… it was asked to be circulated to the Security Council, so I'm sure it will be if it hasn't already done so, and I think that's a matter for Member States to look at. Yes, ma'am?
Question: Yesterday, the State Department declared the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group as a terrorist organization and also slapped sanctions on two of its leaders. Does the UN have any comment on it? And also, is the Security Council also planning similar sanctions?
Spokesman: You know, I think that the labelling of groups as terrorist groups is done by the Security Council and some of its sanctions committees, so that will be up to them to decide to what to do on that issue. Yes, Matthew?
Question: Sure, I also wanted to ask… I asked you yesterday about the Sudan-South Sudan talks in Addis, and now its… the opposition side has said that they have written to the Secretary-General explaining the reasons for not pursuing… not continuing with the talks. And I wanted to know, even though you said yesterday IGAD [Intergovernmental Authority for Development] is in charge, obviously, if one of the sides is reaching out to the Secretary-General — what's the UN's response?
Spokesman: I've seen reports of the letter. We checked just a few moments ago; we had not received the letter, so I haven't had a chance to read it and digest it. I think the Secretary-General addressed the issue of the talks, the IGAD talks, in his statement in Malabo earlier today, where he encouraged both parties to continue to participate in the IGAD-sponsored talks.
Question: And speaking of Malabo, has… I'm sorry if I missed it, I had to step out for a second. Has the Secretary-General…
Spokesman: You didn't miss it.
Question: I didn't miss it?
Spokesman: No, you didn't miss it. Obviously, we will issue readouts as they make their way across the Atlantic to us here. Before we turn to our guests, I was handed a statement on Nigeria.
The Secretary-General is appalled by the bomb attack yesterday near a shopping centre in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, which reportedly resulted in the death of at least 21 people. He offers his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and wishes the wounded a swift recovery.
The Secretary-General reiterates his unequivocal condemnation of such attacks. He remains deeply concerned about the escalation of violence in Nigeria.
And on that note, I will get our… yes? Last question and then I'll get our guests.
Question: Thank you. Has there been any new development — letters, talks, phone calls — regarding the three journalists imprisoned in Egypt since yesterday?
Spokesman: Not since yesterday. Thank you. I'll be right back.
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For information media • not an official record
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