Posted by: APO | 31 October 2007


30 October 2007







The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Marie Okabe, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General and Janos Tisovszky, Spokesperson for the General Assembly President.


Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General


Good afternoon, all.


**Guest at Noon Today


Our guest today will be Bruno Cathala, Registrar of the International Criminal Court, who will brief you on the work of the Court in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Uganda and Darfur.



** Somalia


Now turning to Somalia.  The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has welcomed the peaceful conclusion of the crisis within Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government.  Mr. Ould-Abdallah now calls on the Government to continue to seek peaceful solutions to internal differences and encourages all Somali leaders to work for an end to the country’s problems.  These include the implementation of key provisions of the Transitional Federal Charter and the conclusions of the National Reconciliation Congress.


Mr. Ould-Abdallah has also voiced deep concern over the worsening security and humanitarian situation, and calls on the authorities to facilitate humanitarian access.


The security situation in Mogadishu, which the UN refugee agency has called the worst in months, has caused some 36,000 more residents to flee their homes this weekend.  The UN refugee agency reports today from the field that hundreds of families around Mogadishu are preparing to flee, loading trucks, buses and donkey carts with household items.  The bulk of the internally displaced are fleeing to the town of Afgooye, where some 100,000 people have found temporary shelter and continue to be assisted by the UN refugee agency.


** Darfur


Speaking at the Arab League Donor Conference on Darfur in Khartoum today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Sudan, Ashraf Jehangir Qazi, says the humanitarian operation in Darfur remains an enormous challenge.


He said continued displacement, ongoing insecurity and limited humanitarian access continue to challenge the humanitarian operation and its ability to respond to the urgent needs of beneficiaries.


A successful humanitarian response is dependent on widespread respect for the basic humanitarian principles of impartiality, humanity and independence of humanitarian actors, he said, adding that he would like to take this opportunity to appeal to all parties involved in that conflict to adhere to these principles.


He went on to say that sustained peace throughout Sudan is the key to ending the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and to moving towards a more holistic goal of recovery and development throughout Sudan.


Meanwhile, Ameerah Haq, the Deputy SRSG for Sudan, who is also the UN Humanitarian Coordinator on the ground, told the same conference that humanitarian needs in Darfur, estimated at $650 million in 2007, remained immense and are expected to increase in 2008 to over $800 million.


Ms. Haq stated that the humanitarian community was concerned about the current insecurity in camps housing displaced people in Darfur, in particular in South Darfur, including proliferation of arms within the camps and increased levels of violence.  She called on all parties to stop the arming of displaced persons within the camps and to respect both the principles of voluntary return and the securing of camps as neutral humanitarian spaces.


**Security Council


In the Security Council — this is just to recap — but it has yesterday unanimously adopted a resolution that renewed for another year a ban on diamonds and arms trade with Côte d’Ivoire, as well as targeted sanctions restricting the travel of individuals.


There are no Council meetings or consultations scheduled for today.


And tomorrow, as you know, is the last day of Ghana’s presidency, and they will have a number of mandates that are expiring.


** Chad — UNICEF Update


And turning to Chad, we have had an update from UNICEF on the situation of the 103 children being held at an orphanage in Abeche, following an attempt by a French NGO to fly them out of the country.


UNICEF says the children appear to be in good health and are doing fairly well.  The agency has brought in food and games.  It has also dispatched 10 staff members to Abeche, including the Head of the Child Protection Unit, and is training 40 staff to care for the children.


Investigators are working to determine where the children are from and whether they have living relatives.  UNICEF continues to stress that all processes involving the movement of children should be transparent.  Proper investigations should always take place to trace family [members] and determine if there are options available, such as the child remaining with parents, extended family or appropriate caregivers.


**Central Africa


And the thirteenth Conference of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of Central African States is taking place in Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic of Congo.  In a message to that conference, which was delivered by his Special Representative for the Central African Republic, François Lonseny Fall, the Secretary-General says he is encouraged by the progress achieved so far in the process of integration of Central Africa, as well as in the promotion of peace.


He notes that numerous obstacles are impeding the region’s development, among them the persistence of several zones of tension in the subregion, the proliferation of light weapons and small arms, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, human trafficking and cross-border insecurity.


The Secretary-General pledged the UN’s support to these States in the region in addressing these issues.  And copies of his remarks are upstairs.


**Counter-Terrorism Meeting


And in Nairobi, the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee opened its fifth meeting yesterday with international, regional and subregional organizations to look at ways that countries can better secure their borders against terrorists and potential terrorist acts, as well as how the UN system can assist in this effort.


The various sessions will focus on such issues as hindering terrorist movement across national boundaries, bolstering the ability of countries to detect illicit arms shipments and preventing the abuse of the refugee and asylum systems.  We have more information upstairs or you can visit their website on the UN website.


**Questions and Answers



Question:  I’ve just got a couple of questions.  One, there’s a controversy in Liberia about the peacekeeping Mission there charging money for people to stay, including Liberian citizens, to stay within its base — the Pakistani contingent.  Are you aware of this?  And do you think you’ll have any comment on it?


Deputy Spokesperson:  Let me look into that for you.  I don’t have anything on that today.


[The Deputy Spokesperson later added that the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) had strongly protested the allegations against the Pakistani contingent, which has continuously extended free humanitarian and development assistance to all Liberian citizens, especially in areas where the Pakistani peacekeepers are based.  This valuable assistance has been recognized by all, including the Government of Liberia.]



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