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Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

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

14 April 2015

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today's noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good afternoon. Welcome to the second Monday of the week.

**Noon Briefing Guest

Today, my guest will be Zainab Bangura, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and she will brief you on the Secretary-General's latest report which is scheduled to be discussed in the Security Council tomorrow. 


I have a statement attributable to the Secretary-General himself on the one-year anniversary of the abduction of schoolgirls in Chibok in Nigeria.  One year ago, over 276 girls were abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, in Borno State, in Nigeria.  While some of the girls were fortunate to have escaped, the fate of many still remains unknown.  We must never forget the kidnapped Chibok girls, and I will not stop calling for their immediate release and their safe return to their families. 

Over the past 12 months, Boko Haram intensified its brutal attacks on boys and girls in Nigeria and neighbouring countries.  Hundreds of thousands of children have been displaced from their homes, and deprived of their rights to live and grow up in safety, dignity and peace. Boko Haram's killing, abduction and recruitment of children, including the use of girls as "suicide bombers", is abhorrent. 

I also remain deeply concerned by the group's repeated and cowardly attacks targeting schools, in grave violations of international humanitarian law.  Going to school should not have to be an act of bravery.  The children of north-east Nigeria and neighbouring countries must be allowed to live in peace and enjoy their right to a safe education. 

The legitimate response to Boko Haram's attacks must be fully consistent with international law and not create additional risks for the protection of children. On this day, I reaffirm my support to the governments and people of the region in the fight against Boko Haram. I stand in solidarity with the families of all abductees, especially children, their communities and society at large.


And I have a statement on the death of a peacekeeper in Haiti.  A Chilean peacekeeper serving in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) died of gunshot wounds when his vehicle came under fire in the North East Department on 13 April, yesterday.  The Secretary-General expresses his sincere condolences to the family of the peacekeeper who was killed as well as to the Government and the people of Chile.  The Secretary-General calls for a swift investigation and urges the Haitian authorities to do everything possible to bring those responsible to justice. 

**Secretary-General Travels

The Secretary-General will travel to Washington, D.C., later this week, and he will appear on Thursday at the National Press Club.  The Secretary-General will discuss the challenges and opportunities the United Nations faces in its seventieth year, from fostering sustainable development and dealing with climate change to confronting violent extremism, and he will take questions during an hour-long session and I believe that will be visible on C-SPAN. 

On Friday and Saturday, the Secretary-General will attend a series of side events, including on Ebola, climate change and financing for development, among other topics, as well as attend the official Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  He will also speak at the Global Citizens Concert being held at the Washington Mall on Saturday before returning to New York later that day. 

**Security Council

Back here, as you know, the Security Council adopted a resolution by 14 votes in favour and one abstention, placing an embargo on arms and related material to, or for the benefit of, Ali Abdullah Saleh, Abdullah Yahya Al Hakim, Abd Al-Khaliq Al-Huthi and other designated officials.

Last night, the Security Council issued a press statement strongly urging all Libyan parties participating in the dialogue to agree on arrangements on the formation of a National Unity Government to end the country's political, security and institutional crisis.  The parties met yesterday in Algeria and are expected to resume the UN-facilitated dialogue in Morocco tomorrow.  And the Security Council, I believe, also issued a statement on the death of our peacekeeping colleague in Haiti. 


Also a note related to Yemen:  the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid al Hussein, reminded all sides to the conflict in Yemen today to ensure that attacks resulting in civilian casualties are promptly investigated and that international human rights and international humanitarian law are scrupulously respected.  In addition to hundreds of fighters, at least 364 civilians are reported to have lost their lives since 26 March, including at least 84 children and 25 women. 

The High Commissioner said such a heavy civilian death toll ought to be a clear indication to all parties to this conflict and that there may be serious problems in the conduct of hostilities.  The High Commissioner also warned that the [intentional] targeting of civilians not taking direct part in hostilities would amount to a war crime. 


And from Syria, rather, on Syria, upon instructions by the Secretary-General to enhance efforts towards operationalising the Geneva Communiqué, starting in May, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy on Syria, Staffan de Mistura, will proceed with a series of in-depth, separate consultations with the Syrian stakeholders and regional and international actors to take stock of their views as of today on the Geneva Communiqué.  No invitations have yet to be issued. 

Both the Special Envoy and his Deputy, Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy, are currently engaging these stakeholders on the nature of this process.  The Special Envoy will also be briefing the Security Council next week.  And if he is here in person, we will ask him to appear in front of you.  It's just a momentary pause, it is an intermission.  My monologue is not yet over.  Thank you, exactly.

**Central African Republic

Back to the Security Council which is now as you know holding a meeting on the Central African Republic.  Babacar Gaye, the Head of the UN Mission in that country, said that the humanitarian situation remains difficult, with 50,000 newly displaced people since January 2015, and that the fragmentation of armed groups impedes humanitarian access. 

He also stressed that the transition has reached a critical stage and that the electoral process is facing challenges, including the registration of IDPs [internally displaced persons] and refugees outside the country.  Mr. Gaye told the Council that the continuous support of the international community to the Central African Republic, both on the humanitarian and the political fronts, is more essential than ever.  And he will speak to you at the stakeout after he is done with the Security Council. 

**South Sudan

From South Sudan, the Deputy Special Representative of the UN in South Sudan, Moustapha Soumaré, visited Malakal today.  He met with local officials and with community leaders of the approximately 26,000 internally displaced people who are being sheltered by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and he toured the Mission's two protection sites, as well as an extension site currently under construction to relieve overcrowding at the existing facilities for displaced people.

He noted that the recent fighting between youths from the Dinka and Shilluk communities triggered an influx of more than 4,000 new IDPs into the UN protection sites in Malakal two weeks ago.  He said he was impressed by the progress made in the building of a new extension that will host these recently arrived civilians, as well as other people who have been under UN protection for many months. 

And just so you know, we've passed another unfortunate marker in that the UN Mission is currently sheltering more than 117,000 displaced people throughout South Sudan, which is the highest number since December of 2013, when this current crisis started. 

**Kenya/Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

And from Geneva, our colleagues at the [Office of the] High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) have expressed concern following the Kenyan Government's recent announcement that the Dadaab refugee camps, hosting some 350,000 Somali refugees, should be closed.  The agency has urged the Government to reconsider its decision.  UNHCR says that it shares Kenya's shock over the Garissa attack, and understands the current regional security situation and the seriousness of the threats Kenya is facing. 

It also remains concerned that the abrupt closing of the camps and forcing the refugees to return to Somalia would have extreme humanitarian consequences, and would be a breach of Kenya's international obligations.  UNHCR has reiterated that it stands ready to work closely with the Government of Kenya to strengthen law enforcement at Dadaab and support other measures to protect refugees and Kenyans alike against possible intrusion by armed groups.  And UNHCR also expressed its thanks at Kenya's continuous generosity in hosting the camp.  And across the border in Somalia, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia, UNSOM, has condemned today's attack on the Ministry of Higher Education complex in Mogadishu earlier today.


Quick humanitarian update from Ukraine: Government figures, according to [the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs], indicate that an estimated 1.2 million people have now been internally displaced by the conflict in the country. UNHCR alone says that nearly 778,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries. 

UN agencies and humanitarian partners warn that the lack of access to food has greatly increased since last October, especially for people living in non-Government-controlled areas.  Rapidly increasing food prices and decreased food consumption and diet quality have significantly impacted the lives of displaced families in the eastern provinces.

Aid agencies are also concerned about restricted access to social services such as pension and salaries in conflict-affected areas.  A UNICEF [United Nations Children's Fund] mission to Donetsk found that some school teachers had not been paid for three months. 


Just one more, on the subject of water, the Secretary-General delivered a video message today to the high-level session on the two Water Conventions during the seventh World Water Forum taking place in Daegu in the Republic of Korea.  He said that sustainable management of transboundary waters is vital in addressing disasters, adapting to climate change, and ensuring peace and fostering sustainable development.  As you know, the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, is attending the Forum and representing the UN. 

On that same subject, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says today that in 2050, there will be enough water to help produce the food needed to feed a global population expected to top nine billion, but that overconsumption, degradation and the impact of climate change will reduce water supplies in many regions, especially in developing countries.  Currently, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people in the world, a proportion set to reach two-thirds by 2050. 

**Daniel Craig

And Daniel Craig was here.  Just about an hour ago, he met the Secretary-General, and Daniel Craig was designated as the UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Other Explosive Hazards for the next three years.  As the first UN Global Advocate on this issue, Mr. Craig will be raising awareness about United Nations mine action, promoting our vision of a world free from the threats of mines and explosive remnants of war, visiting UN mine action programmes, and assisting in raising political and financial support for mine action activities. 

Announcing the designation, the Secretary-General thanked Mr. Craig, known for playing James Bond as you know, for using his star power to draw attention to the causes of mine destruction and mine awareness.  As the Secretary-General said, "As '007', Mr. Craig had a license to kill."  The Secretary-General said, "today, we are giving him a licence to save." 

**Honour Roll

While we are on the subject of her Majesty's Government, I wanted to express thanks to those in London responsible for paying the United Kingdom's Regular Budget 2015 dues.  This brings to 72 the number of Member States to have paid in full and we thank them all. 


This just in from Damascus.  The UN Relief and Works Agency [for Palestine Refugees in the Near East's] (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, today concluded his humanitarian mission to Damascus.  As part of the joint UN effort, Mr. Krähenbühl today discussed with Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, Faisal Miqdad, the importance of resuming distributions to civilians remaining in or unable to leave Yarmouk; of ensuring the safe exit of those civilians wishing to temporarily leave Yarmouk; and broadening the humanitarian response to those civilians from Yarmouk who have arrived in areas in the immediate vicinity of there.

Speaking after the meeting, Mr. Krähenbühl said that the access yesterday and today to civilians from Yarmouk who arrived in Yalda nearby is a positive development and the result of dialogue with the Government.  UNRWA hopes to build on this in coming days.  UNRWA welcomes the response by the Government of Syria and the close cooperation with the Office of the Special Envoy.  As you know, Mr. Ramzy is there as well. 

It is well aware that the situation remains critical for thousands of civilians and it will spare no efforts to find ways to assist civilians inside Yarmouk and to further improve the support of those who have fled the camp.  UNRWA will follow developments in the coming days very closely and reiterates its call for all possible measures to be taken to ensure respect for and protection of Palestinian and Syrian civilians living inside this camp.  Masood.  You've been very patient.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  On this resolution passed by the Security Council imposing arms embargo on the Houthis, does the United Nations have a mechanism in place to monitor whether this is being followed or not?  Or it will depend on the conflicting voices given to…?

Spokesman:  Well, I… as you know, and if I'm not mistaken, Security Councils that impose some sort of embargo also come with a creation of a committee that monitors the implementation of that resolution.  It is obviously up to Member States to respect… to respect the resolution in all its facets and the Security Council will put up the proper monitoring mechanism.

Question:  Just a follow‑up.  Does the Secretary‑General in his opinion think that this resolution should have been more comprehensive and should have included all parties on the embargo?

Spokesman:  I think the Security Council is master of its actions.  We welcome the adoption of the resolution and we call on all Yemeni parties to immediately abide by its provisions.  The Secretary‑General has taken note of the Security Council's call to intensify his good offices in order to enable the resumption of the Yemeni‑led political transition process that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people.  And the Secretary‑General reaffirms his strong commitment to facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance to a dramatically growing high number of people in need in Yemen.  We hear about that every day.  And he hopes that the resolution will result in a de‑escalation of the conflict, an end to the violence, and a return to UN-brokered negotiations for the good of the future of the people of Yemen.  And, of course, more immediately, for us to be able to deliver… to deliver humanitarian goods.  Joe.  Joe, Matthew.

Question:  Okay.  Just also on the resolution, paragraph 12 specifically requests the Secretary‑General, as you said, to intensify his efforts to facilitate… facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance and evacuation including the establishment of humanitarian pauses.  What steps are contemplated by the Secretary‑General in addition to what he's already done to "intensify efforts delivering humanitarian aid", trying to get these pauses and so forth?  And in the area of evacuation, would that also include evacuation of any remaining UN staff, whom I understand some… some of whom are going to be potentially evacuated in safe havens within Yemen?  Can you clarify that?

Spokesman:  We're taking whatever measures we can to ensure the safety of our national staff who remains behind in Yemen and who continue to the best of their ability to work with local partners and deliver the small amount of humanitarian aid that we're able to get in.  Obviously, in order for humanitarian aid to get in safely, we need a pause and we need an end to the violence.  UNICEF, the ICRC and others have managed to get planes in.  It's very difficult in an active combat zone.  We will continue… we will continue to do what we can and bring aid in to alleviate the suffering of the people of Yemen.  What is obviously critical in order to enable our humanitarian colleagues and our humanitarian partners to do their work is for all the parties involved in this to halt the violence and to create an atmosphere, not only where they can go back to the political table, but also to allow humanitarian aid to go in.  Mr. Lauria, and Mr. Lee.

Question:  From the outset, the Secretary‑General has opposed it in indirect language and… more indirect language, but this… you said he welcomed this resolution which in the first paragraph of the preamble endorses the Saudi operation.  Does that mean the Secretary‑General now endorses, as well…?

Spokesman:  No, I think…

Question:  …what the Saudis are doing?

Spokesman:  …the Secretary‑General's position is unchanged.  I think what we are focusing on is the need to deliver humanitarian aid, the need to de‑escalate, the need to end the violence, and we very much appreciate the support exemplified in the resolution's support for Mr. Benomar and his good offices.

Question:  So, he thinks the intervention is still not helpful…?

Spokesman:  The Secretary‑General's position on the… on the intervention has been oft‑stated by him directly, most notably when he was in Doha and I would refer to you that text.  Mr. Lee.

Question:  Sure.  Thanks a lot.  I want to ask pretty specifically about this request by national staff of the UN in Yemen.  They basically, in writing, requested the evacuation and they said that relocation inside the country is not an option anymore.  And from what I've seen, Helen Clark of UNDP [United Nations Development Programme] wrote back and said, we are doing everything we can consistent with UN regulations at this time and saying that we are currently exploring safe haven approaches.  So, I wanted to know, is this response by Helen Clark only applicable to UNDP regulations?  Has there been any discussions within the agencies?  And what other regulations that are holding back making the offer of evacuation and what safe haven approaches which the staff union said are unacceptable?

Spokesman:  I'm not going to go into what Helen Clark may or may not have written.  I did not see that email.  All I can tell you is that our colleagues in the Department of Safety and Security working with the relevant agencies, funds and programs are doing whatever they can to support and to keep safe our staff in Yemen.

Question:  I guess what I want to understand, is it a policy decision by the Secretary‑General that no agency of the system will evacuate people?  Is there some regulation that prohibits it or…?

Spokesman:  I'm not going to go further into it.  Yes, sir.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  On Syria, can you elaborate more on what's going to happen in Geneva with the Special Envoy?  What shall we expect?  My second question is on your statement yesterday on the Armenian issue.  You said… you used the word atrocious crimes.  What… what proof does the UN have to… to… to show that there was a crime?  What are the reports that you take into consideration for this?  Can you share those with us?  Thank you.

Spokesman:  You know, I'm not going to go beyond what I've already said yesterday in answering questions on that issue.  On the first one, I think, you know, this is a start of… this is a result of the Secretary‑General calling on his Special Envoy to restart the political process.  I think there is a lot of… there is a lot of disagreement, but I think there is agreement that the military solution will not solve the current Syrian crisis as we enter the fifth year and that we need to find a political solution.  The Special Envoy will have a broad… broad series of discussions with various parties, stakeholders, international, regional, at various levels, to try to harvest… harvest ideas and to see… harvest some common ground, to see what… how we can move forward based on what has already been… what is recognized the international agreement recognize… the international… the agreement… agreed to… based on the communiqué that was agreed to in Geneva.  This is the beginning of a process.  I think we've… as I said, we've gone through this.  This is the start of the fifth year.  We're not going to promise… I'm not going to tell you exactly what's going to come at the end of it.  What motivates it is the clear understanding that for the good of the Syrian people and the region, we need to find a political agreement.  And so we're kick‑starting the current… the political agreement.  Iftikhar and then Abdelhamid.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Back to Yemen, I'm sure you have seen The Wall Street Journal's report that the United States has expanded its role on the side of airstrikes by Saudis.  Would that be helpful in resolving this crisis?

Spokesman:  I think the Secretary‑General feels that the focus should be on the de‑escalation of the conflict.  Abdelhamid.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Thank you, Stéphane.  I have two questions.  One on Western Sahara and one on UNICEF.  I will start with UNICEF.  UNICEF is participating in a cartoon festival in Italy which is honouring Israel. And there are a number of [non-governmental organizations] calling on UNICEF to withdraw from this under the slogan "Israel bombs are real, not cartoons".  Can you give us an explanation why UNICEF is participating in a cartoon festival honouring Israel?

Spokesman:  Well, I don't have any detail.  I do know that, you know, Israel is a… is a full Member State of this Organization.  I will ask UNICEF if they have any… if I… I have not heard of it.  So, I'll ask if there's any information.

Question: The second question is about Western Sahara.  As we mentioned before, last year, the Secretary‑General promised that this report… this year's report will be different, and he will be bold and he will go straight to the core of the issue.  However, the report came out, and it has nothing new, and apparently, as a representative of the Polisario has said, he has been under pressure.  Can you explain why this report has not… didn't go beyond what had been said again and again?

Spokesman:  Well, I think the report speaks for itself.  It's the Secretary‑General's position.  Mr. Ross will be here presenting it to the Security Council, and I'm sure he'd be able to give you more in‑depth view.  Oleg.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Some follow‑ups on Staffan de Mistura's activities.  First of all, I may have missed when are these consultations are going to take place?  When are they going to start?  And are they to be viewed as a single event?  Or is it going to be a series of consultations?  And since you said that parties of the conflict are to take place in them, are there any preliminary agreements from the parties themselves to take part in this negotiation?

Spokesman:  No, I think there's no preliminary agreement.  This will start at… as early as the beginning of May.  It will not be a one-off event.  It will be a series of rolling meetings and discussions in Geneva and other places between the Office of Special Envoy and the relevant parties.  The invitation lists and who he will be speaking to has not yet been defined and invitations have not been yet sent out.

Question:  Is this to be viewed as a third part of the Geneva process?

Spokesman:  I think it's to be viewed as a continuation of the Geneva Communiqué, and it's to be viewed as to the Secretary‑General's determination not to let the political process die, even in the… in the face of overwhelming odds and of the violence we're seeing on the ground.

Question:  And this time, is Iran going to participate?

Spokesman:  As I said, the full list of invitees and who the Special Envoy will be speaking to has not yet been identified.  Go.  And then we'll go to the second round.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Follow‑up on Oleg's question. So, will it be a kind of gathering or series of meetings one by one?

Spokesman:  It will be more of a series of one‑on‑one, so to speak.  It will not… and this is just… it's a start.  I think they were… this will start in May.  As I said, we… the decision as to who will be incorporated in these discussions, the full list has not yet been concluded and has not yet been done.  We're just kind of bringing you up to date.  As you saw, there was a leak… there was a story yesterday in the wires quoting unnamed officials, so I just kind of wanted to bring you up to date on where we stand.

Question:  Still, we cannot call it as a Geneva III?

Spokesman:  No, this is a continuation of… you know, it's not a formal… it will not be a formal meeting with parties in a room.  It's a series of separate conversations, but based on the Geneva Communiqué.  Yes, sir.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  A Japanese correspondent to Seoul was banned from leaving Korea for Japan was silently released today.  What is the UN's response to this?

Spokesman:  We're not going to say anything more than we've already said on this.  Round two.  Masood, then the Joes.

Question:  On the Syrian talks, what… what would give Mr. Staffan de Mistura any edge after the more failure of the talks in Moscow for these talks to continue again?  Because…

Spokesman:  You know, what is… I would ask you the question.  What is the other option?  Abandoning all hopes?  That's not an option for us.  It's not an option for the Secretary‑General.  It's not an option for Mr. de Mistura.  I think the Secretary‑General's clearly explained his frustration and his anger as to where we are now.  He's instructed Mr. de Mistura to kind of… to kick-start and to restart and that's what we're going to do.

Question:  So, are there any… any… what I'm saying is are there any bright ideas that the United Nations has or creative ideas that…?

Spokesman:  You know, I think the… the bright and creative ideas I think we will share first with the parties we will be talking to.  It's about talking to those who are directly involved, who have an impact on the situation on the ground, all based obviously on the Geneva Communiqué, but more importantly on the premise that there is no other option but a political discussion.  Joe.

Question:  Follow‑up on that.  The idea of a ceasefire in Aleppo was characterized as one of those potentially bright ideas from the ground up to try to kick-start a peace process.  It hasn't worked.  I mean, are we to assume now with the renewed effort to try to go top down with a reinvigorating the Geneva Communiqué that the efforts are trying to achieve a ceasefire in Aleppo and other local areas is being abandoned or is that going on in parallel?

Spokesman:  You know as well as I do that the discussions on the Aleppo freeze were inconclusive in the discussions the Special Envoy had with the parties.  However, the plan remains on the table.  It's not an either/or situation.  It very much remains on the table.  We're going to keep trying and going at this from different angles.  But, the one thing we cannot do is just sit idle.  Mr. Lauria.

Question: Thank you.  Unless I'm wrong, the UNRWA team didn't actually go into the camp, correct?  They spoke to people outside.

Spokesman:  Mr. Krähenbühl did not go into the camp.  He spoke to a number of Palestinians who managed to leave safely.

Question:  So, what does the UN know about what's happening inside the camp?  How much of this is actually controlled by Islamic State?  And lost in all this seems to be pretty significant military strategic development where Islamic State has gotten to the outskirts if not inside the capital of the country they're trying to overthrow.  Does anybody have any thoughts about what their mot-… are they going to use this as a base?

Spokesman:  I think as Mr. Krähenbühl I think was asked somewhat the same question earlier today in Damascus, he said it was not his role to speak on military strategy.  I'm not going to try to put my head in… my brains into the head of an ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant/Sham] fighter and say why they went into the camp.  Our focus is on the well‑being of the… what, 18,000 civilians that are currently in the camp that we're trying to reach.  You're talking about densely populated urban areas.  I think the front lines are somewhat blurred.  They change on a regular basis.  What we need to do is to ensure that those civilians who wish to leave can leave safely.

Correspondent:  [Inaudible].

Spokesman:  Well, I think, you know, there are discussions going on with Mr. Ramzy and the Syrian Government.  But, I'm not going to go into a public discussion of whatever… of the sort of political advice we're getting.  What we're focused on and Mr. Krähenbühl's mission was focused on was the humanitarian aspect.  Oleg and Mr. Lee, oh, and then Iftikhar.

Correspondent:  Back to Syria.  I heard you say the list of invitees…

Spokesman:  We were just in Syria.

Question:  Yeah, I know.  Back to Mr. Staffan de Mistura's activities.  I heard you say the list of invitees has not yet been sent out, but back to Iran's participation.  Does the Secretary‑General think that it is necessary to include Iran in any negotiations on Syria?

Spokesman:  I think it is important that all those who have an influence on the current conflict be included in discussions.  As to the exact list of those who will be invited to this new effort, it has not yet been decided.  Is that thank you or just a…

Correspondent:  No, just another question.

Spokesman:  Go ahead.  And then Matthew.

Question:  On Ukraine, surprisingly.  There has been some escalation of violence in the last days especially yesterday there were reports coming of people killed on both sides including civilians.  There was a Russian journalist injured, a TV journalist, so is the Secretary‑General concerned about what's happening over there?  There seems to be some concerns that the situation in Ukraine is off the radars right now, especially at the UN.  Do you…?

Spokesman:  You know what?  I would… obviously the current… the skirmishes we've seen are of concern because it's not going in the right direction.  I mean, we very much supporting the Normandy process, the meetings that took place, I think, just less… less than a day ago.  I would disagree with the premise that it's off the radar when I think I… we've been from this podium flagging the humanitarian situation, the dire humanitarian situation.  Again, we're seeing more than a million IDPs, 700… more than 770,000 refugees in a country where a year ago or a little more than a year ago there were likely none or very few.  We're seeing people who are living in areas that are not controlled by the Government having lack of access to food, lower caloric intake.  I mean, this is a very slow‑moving, but increasingly desperate humanitarian situation, which should serve as a reminder to all those political leaders who are involved in this conflict to sit around the table and resolve their differences.  Mr. Lee.

Correspondent:  Sure.  Two questions.  One, it has to do with Kenya.  Beyond the Government asking to close Dadaab, there's some complaints that human rights groups that are affiliated with Muslims, but claim they have no terrorist affiliation are being closed down and having their assets freed.  One is called [inaudible] Africa and was preparing a report on extrajudicial killings by the police.  Now its assets are frozen.

Spokesman:  I will look into it.

Question:  And the other one, it has to do with the… I saw the notes of correspondents from the Secretary‑General about the attack on the South Korean embassy in Tripoli.  And you know, one, they've now moved their diplomats to Tunisia.  Is there any follow‑up comment on that?  But, two, there was also an attack with a car bomb on the Moroccan embassy in Tripoli.  I wanted to know, should we just assume he has the same concern?

Spokesman:  Of course, he has the same… we were asked questions after the attack on the embassy… the attack on the embassy of the Republic of Korea.  We reacted to those questions.  Obviously, those concerns are shared with the attack on the Moroccan mission, and Mr. León, I think, specifically mentioned the attack on the Moroccan mission.

Question:  Do you have anything on Somalia, this big attack today?

Spokesman:  No, not more than I said.  Go, then Iftikhar, then we'll go to our guest.

Question:  Thank you.  [Inaudible].  So, just to have a better idea on that invitation list, does it addressed only to the Syrian parties or could include Member States…?

Spokesman:  No, I think — first of all, the invitation list doesn't exist yet.  That's the important thing to remember.  But, obviously, these discussions will be with Syrian parties, with regional parties, and with international parties.  Okay.  Iftikhar.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  You have read Secretary‑General's statement on one‑year anniversary of the abducted Nigerian girls.  Has the Malala Yousafzai has also weighed in on this.  Has the Secretary‑General spoken to General Buhari, the newly elected President, to find out if he has a better strategy?

Spokesman:  He has not spoken to Mr. Buhari since he spoke to him right after the election.  We'll take two more questions from people who have not yet asked questions.  And then we have to go… yes.  Go ahead.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  On Iran… I'll issue the word "irony" this time… does the Secretary‑General have any comment about them being elected to the women's council when previously he…?

Spokesman:  Which women's council?  The governing body of UN-Women?

Correspondent:  Yes.

Spokesman:  No, listen, I think these elections are organized by Member States. It is not designated by the Secretary-General.  It is a purview of Member State.  Regardless if a country is elected or not elected to these governing bodies, I think every Member… every Member State of this Organization needs to uphold the human rights treaties, the international convention on human rights and its obligations.  Last question.

Question:  Yeah.  Apparently, the Tuareg opposition groups in Mali are not going to sign the peace agreement.  Does the UN have a statement on this or a response?

Spokesman:  I will try to get some guidance.  And in the meantime, I will get our guest.

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