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REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
1 November 2013

Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing which was also attended by the Spokespersons for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, World Meteorological Organization, European Commission for Europe, UN Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Interparliamentary Union, International Committee of the Red Cross, World Food Programme, International Organization for Migration, United Nations Children’s Fund, and the Human Rights Council

Syria

Elisabeth Byrs, for the World Food Programme (WFP), stated that WFP had just finalized its food distributions for the month of October reaching close to 3.3 million Syrians with food assistance – a record for WFP operations in Syria since starting in 2011 – but short of the organization’s target to feed 4 million people because of insecurity and access problems that had hampered its ability to deliver to Aleppo and Hassekeh Governorates.

Despite challenges in reaching some areas in Syria during the October distribution cycle, WFP had been able to deliver assistance to some areas that had been inaccessible for many months. On 10 October, WFP had reached Ter Maleh in Homs Governorate for the first time in six months delivering food and wheat flour – enough to feed 7,500 people for one month. On 15 October, WFP managed to get 12 trucks into Aleppo City, for the first time since August, carrying 8,200 family food rations, enough to feed 41,000 people for one month. Twelve more trucks carrying enough food for 60,000 people had arrived in Aleppo over the previous 10 days. Fourteen more trucks were en route now to Aleppo carrying enough food for 75,000 people as part of the Governorate’s October allocation. Despite those efforts, WFP had not been able to meet all the needs of the Governorate during the October cycle due to insecurity on the roads feeding 175,000 people out of the 750,000 people who were supposed to receive food assistance. Aleppo remained one of the Governorates where it had become difficult for WFP to send food to in recent months.

WFP had participated during the month of October in an interagency assessment mission to Ter Maleh village in Homs Governorate, where they had found 14,000 people. Some 10,000 people were internally displaced from other conflict areas in Homs. WFP staff had reported major farmland devastation due to heavy clashes in agricultural areas in addition to dwindling food supplies in the village, where heavy fighting has raged for a few months, resulting in very high food prices. Some families had reported that bread was the only food they could get their hands on.

WFP was concerned about the fate of many Syrians trapped in conflict areas and still in need of urgent food assistance. WFP was monitoring worrying reports emerging of malnutrition among children in besieged areas. WFP was ready to step up nutrition support if they get access to these hotspots. Since mid-2012, WFP had been unable to access 38 locations such as Moadamiyeh, Daraya, Yarmouk, Hajar Aswad, Yalda, Babila, Sbineh, Douma, Jobar, Qaboon, Zamalka and Erbeen -- which were some of the most deprived areas where even the most basic items were in scarce supply.

WFP and its partners had regular access to 27 locations in Damascus and 35 locations in Rural Damascus and are feeding 600,000 people in these areas. WFP is also providing supplementary feeding for 10,000 children under 5 years in 93 shelters for internally displaced families in Damascus and Rural Damascus.

In sum, WFP was moving an average of 32,000 metric tons of food for three million people in all of Syria’s 14 Governorates every month using more than 1,200 trucks that navigated many armed checkpoints to reach destinations across the country. Delivering food to Damascus and Rural Damascus remained one of WFP’s biggest challenges due to insecurity and the siege in many conflict areas.

The Syria response was WFP’s largest and most complex global emergency. WFP needed US$ 30 million weekly to meet the food needs of people affected by the conflict.

On the question of the exact number of people in need of assistance, Ms. Byrs stated that 2.5 million people were in need of urgent assistance, but it was very difficult to have an exact number due to the lack of access to many locations. The rates of malnutrition in northeast Syria had been high for the past five years due to the draughts. Ms. Byrs stated that 2.5 million people had received assistance in September. Some 3.3 million had been reached in October, but the overall target for WFP for the entire Syria was to reach four million people by the end of December 2013. Answering the question about people who had been allowed to leave a neighbourhood in the Damascus area on 12 October and then in late October, Ms. Byrs said that they had then been met by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, who was a partner of WFP. There were still people trapped in Moadamiyeh, to which WFP had no access. On the question on the existence of starvation strategies, Ms, Byrs said that WFP and UN partners had made nine unsuccessful attempts to reach Moadamiyeh and could not confirm what exactly was happening in that area.

Ms. Berthiaume said that there the numbers of people who had to be transported from borders to the camps were going down, probably because of the intensification of fighting, and the fact that people were now coming from further away and it was taking more time to reach the border.

Christiane Berthiaume, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), informed that since July 2012, IOM had helped 350,000 Syrian refugees to reach the Za’atri and the Emirates Jordanian (EJC) refugee camps in Jordan, some 45 and 90 km from the border crossings.

IOM also provided pre-registration, orientation, initial health screenings, and referrals to hospitals and clinics for serious medical cases arriving in the two camps, which were located in Mafraq and Zarqa governorates.

IOM, in collaboration with the Jordanian Armed Forces and UNHCR, assisted Syrian refugees who crossed into Jordan to reach the transit facility in Raba’ Al Sarhan before providing them with onward transport assistance to the two camps.

In February 2013, with a surge in daily arrivals, IOM had begun to operate 24 hours a day. During the night shift, IOM was transporting up to 2,500 people every night, as many of the refugees had felt it was safer to cross the border in darkness.

At the IOM reception center in Za’atri camp, new arrivals were medically screened, vaccinated against measles and polio and children receive Vitamin A supplements. The refugees also got hygiene kits and refreshments before proceeding to the full registration process.

Since March 2012, IOM’s health teams, who were working under the supervision of the Jordanian Ministry of Health (MoH), had identified 3,762 refugees requiring immediate medical referral. Some 18,846 refugees had also been referred for follow-up treatment at clinics in the camps. IOM had provided over 70,000 vaccinations during initial medical screenings upon arrival.

IOM also provided TB screening, TB treatment with daily observed therapy (DOT), and TB awareness-raising, in close coordination with the MoH and the Jordanian National TB Programme in both camps. Since January 2013, IOM had also distributed shoes to refugees at the Raba’ Al Sarhan transit center, as many of the refugees had been walking for days and some lost their shoes on the way.

Marixie Mercado, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that there was no recent comprehensive data on malnutrition of children in Syria. There had been an upward trend of children being admitted into hospitals with acute and moderate malnutrition. The most difficult challenge in helping those children was access. There was also a lack of skilled, trained practitioners to deal with malnutrition. More precise information should be available soon.

Central African Republic

Ms. Byrs, for the World Food Programme (WFP), informed that around 1.1 million people were food insecure in Central African Republic, including 50 per cent of internally displaced persons. Many of those who had fled their homes were hiding in bushes out of fear.

Humanitarian needs had risen in recent months as renewed fighting had exacerbated the already precarious security situation. Since March, the livelihoods of already vulnerable families had been further disrupted. Close to 395,000 people currently remained displaced because of conflict.

In order to ensure continued food assistance in the country, WFP required an additional US$ 20 million from now until April 2014. By the end of this year, WFP planned to have reached a total of 500,000 people through food distributions, seed protection initiatives, supplementary feeding and emergency school feeding.

In September, WFP had assisted 30,000 people through its various food-based programs. Preliminary findings from an Emergency Food Security Assessment (EFSA), conducted in September 2013, indicated that 30 per cent of households, representing 1.1 million people, were food insecure. The assessment also predicted a further deterioration of the food security situation in the coming months if violence persisted. Farmers had been forced to leave their farms, depriving them of access to tools and agricultural inputs. As a result, harvests were poor and economic activities had been disrupted.

The security situation remained volatile. In Bouar, where WFP had recently been able to reopen its office, recent security incidents meant that UN staff there were being relocated to Bangui. Three other WFP offices had been temporarily closed over the past six months because of insecurity.

Based on preliminary findings from the September EFSA -- which warned of poor harvests now and in coming months -- WFP would further increase the number of people it is helping. Based on a similar assessment in June, WFP was planning to reach a total of 500,000 people and introduce a new blanket supplementary feeding program for 66,000 children aged between 6-35 months to prevent moderate acute malnutrition.

WFP activities included assistance for refugees and IDPs, nutrition activities for women, children and people affected by HIV, school meals programs and livelihood projects. WFP would also launch an emergency school feeding program when schools reopened and aimed to provide food to up to 10,000 children in November.

The UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS), managed by WFP, was the sole means of transport for the humanitarian community to reach most parts of CAR, which were inaccessible due to weak infrastructure and poor roads. UNHAS flew to 27 locations and had carried some 8,000 passengers so far in 2013. The air service required US$ 9 million to operate from January to December 2014.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Jean-Yves Clemenzo, for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), informed that the situation in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo was of concern because of the renewed fighting between M23 and governmental armed forces since previous Friday. Those combats had dramatic humanitarian consequences which extended to Uganda and Rwanda. ICRC was very concerned about the fate of civilians made prisoners during the fighting and recalled that risks of retaliation were significant during these periods of transition. ICRC called on all the parties to the conflict to show some respect to the population.

Mr. Clemenzo said that ICRC was hoping to be allowed to visit prisoners soon, according to its mandate. In the meantime, ICRC provided medical support to the civilian hospital of Ndosho in Goma. Regarding the displaced persons in Rwanda, ICRC provided help to a hospital close to the border providing first medical aid. Thousands of people had also fled to Uganda and ICRC was helping them reconnect with their families.

Answering a question on the number of prisoners concerned by this program and an estimate of the number of displaced persons, Mr. Clemenzo said that there was no precise figure on the number of persons who had been arrested since the previous Friday and that team on the ground was trying to obtain authorization to visit them but that ICRC was already visiting prisoners is Eastern DRC. He informed that thousands of displaced persons found refuge in Uganda but there was no figure regarding the number of displaced persons in Rwanda. He added that four injured civilians were treated in the Ndosho hospital in Goma. Regarding the military hospital, the information on the number of wounded persons was detained by authorities.

Angolan refugees

Kisut Gebre Egziabher, for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), informed that UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme for Angolan refugees in Botswana had ended on 31 October with the return to Angola of 194 people, which closed a further chapter in one of Africa's oldest refugee situations. A convoy carrying the returnees and their belongings, had left Dukwi refugee camp in the east of the country at dawn on 30 October and arrived in Angola the following day.

UNHCR had declared cessation for the Angolan refugee situation on 30 June 2012. In the case of Botswana, refugee status had been finally withdrawn by the Government in August and former Angolan refugees had been given until 31 October 2013 to return home. The latest convoy had brought to 461 the number of Angolans repatriated from Botswana since June 2012.

Angola's war of independence, which had lasted from 1961 to 1975, and a bitter civil war that had ensued (1975-2002), had claimed thousands of lives and displaced some four million people, including 550,000 who had become refugees. Most had fled to neighbouring countries including Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, the Republic of Congo and Botswana.

The convoy journey had been a lengthy one of around 1300 kilometres. It had arrived in Angola at the southern town of Katwitwi where temporary shelter arrangements were in place. With support from UNHCR and IOM, the Angolan Government was now assisting people to proceed to their home villages from Katwitwi to start a new life. Nearly half of this week's returnees were below 17 years in age and had either been born in exile or lived most of their life outside of their homeland.

UNHCR had provided buses and trucks to transport the returnees and their belongings - including beds, corrugated roofing, iron sheets and other common household items. UNHCR had also provided returnees with cash grants of US$ 100 per adult and US$ 50 per child, to assist with reintegration. Prior to departure, the Angolan consulate in Botswana had issued the returnees with travel documents and identity cards.

Now that cessation was in effect, Angolans who had fled their country during those turbulent years and remained abroad would no longer be regarded as refugees by UNHCR and host governments.

Although most Angolan refugees in the region had gone back home since 2002, more than 100,000 still remained in exile in countries including Democratic Republic of the Congo (74,500), Zambia (23,000), South Africa (5700) and Namibia (1700). The Governments of DRC, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia had offered opportunities for local integration of former Angolan refugees who had strong ties to the host countries.

Answering a question on repatriation operations, Mr. Egziabher said that between 2003 and 2007, a significant number of refugees, close to 450,000, had managed to return home. Around 100,000 refugees were still in countries hosting Angolan refugees, but many of them had their refugee status withdrawn. Most of those people likely had family and economic ties to their current countries of residence. Some 40 refugees in Botswana were reluctant to go home, claiming family ties in the country.

Bay of Bengal

Dan McNorton, for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), informed that in recent days UNHCR had received worrying reports that more people were leaving on smugglers’ boats from the Bay of Bengal. That could signal the start of the annual sailing season – a deadly time when thousands of desperate people from Myanmar’s Rakhine state risked their lives on rickety boats to find safety and stability elsewhere.

According to UNHCR’s sources, more than 1,500 people had boarded boats in northern Rakhine state over the previous week.

There had been reports of passengers drowning off the coast of Rakhine state the previous weekend. UNHCR had been unable to verify the conflicting information so far and was seeking details from the authorities.

The number of boat departures from the Bay of Bengal had risen dramatically since June 2012, when inter-communal violence had erupted in Rakhine state. For the Rohingya in particular, leaving by boat was sometimes the only way for them to flee Myanmar. Without citizenship or valid travel documents, they faced difficulties in crossing overland due to a fear of arrest and detention by Myanmar authorities.

Mr. McNorton stressed that it was hard to know the exact number of boat departures due to the clandestine nature of those movements. Unverified reports suggested that from June to December 2012, more than 14,000 people had left on boats from Myanmar and Bangladesh. They had been joined by over 24,000 people in the first eight months of 2013. The majority were believed to be Rohingya from the Rakhine state, with some Bangladeshis among them. Over 400 had died or gone missing making the journey so far this year. Those who survived often landed in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, but specific numbers of these irregular arrivals were unknown.

More than a year after the first wave of inter-communal violence erupted in the Rakhine state, some 140,000 people remain internally displaced. Muslim communities in northern Rakhine state, especially the Rohingya, struggle with limitations on freedom of movement, access to basic services and livelihood, protection from extortion and forced labour, and are sometimes driven to desperation.

To stem that outflow, UNHCR believed the Myanmar government and international community needed to redouble efforts to promote reconciliation and economic development in the Rakhine state for the benefit of all communities, and pursue practical measures to ensure basic rights so that the Rohingya could lead normal lives where they are.

In parallel, UNHCR was continuing to advocate for States in the region to step up actions to prevent such tragedies, in particular by strengthening regional cooperation and ensuring that the humanitarian and protection needs of all people moving irregularly were properly met.

UNHCR believed that countries affected by such movements should adopt a comprehensive, harmonized approach that is underpinned by strengthened coordination and cooperation on search and rescue at sea, interceptions, disembarkation, assistance and identification of outcomes and solutions.

UNHCR was supporting that approach through various regional initiatives and was appealing to all states in the region to allow persons in need of protection to disembark and assist them with finding solutions.

Asked why those people were leaving in the first place, Mr. McNorton said they seemed to be drawn by worries over general instability in the Rakhine state, and the difficulties in accessing health and other basic services. Mr. McNorton said that UNHCR was looking at the Government of Myanmar to take action and steps with the view of securing a durable solution for those people. Unfortunately, the humanitarian engagement by itself would not suffice, and the authorities had to consult and work with the communities to ensure that the situation was safe for them, and that those remaining in the Rakhine state were supported.

Maldives

Fernando Puchol, for the Interparliamentary Union (IPU), stated that IPU had sent an urgent mission to the Maldives to help find ways to improve trust and confidence between State institutions in a country increasingly polarized by political division and where the annulment of presidential elections by the Supreme Court in September had taken a political crisis to new heights.

IPU had repeatedly called for the rule of law in the Maldives to be respected and for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of State to respect their individual constitutional prerogatives and function independently of each other.

In particular, IPU had been concerned by the inability of the Maldives Parliament to carry out its legislative and oversight responsibilities freely and independently. The frequent intimidation, harassment and attack of MPs as they went about their work had been deeply worrying and had led to a spate of new cases being lodged with IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians.

The IPU delegation, already in the Maldives and which included New Zealand MP and Attorney General Paul East, was due to meet with Government leaders including President Waheed. It would also engage with senior parliamentary authorities including the Speaker of parliament, as well as members of the Maldives Supreme Court and other law enforcers such as the Police Commissioner.

The annulment of the first round of presidential elections in September 2013 won by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party leader Mohamed Nasheed, and time running out for a new president to be elected by 11 November when President Waheed’s term of office was ending, had led to a political stand-off impacting on the work of the parliament and MPs.

The mission, which had lasted a week, would conclude ahead of the new first round of presidential elections, now due to take place on 9 November.

HIV/AIDS

Sophie Barton-Knott and Peter Ghys, for the UN Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), informed that UNAIDS had released a supplement to the 2013 UNAIDS Report on the global AIDS epidemic focused on the issue of HIV and aging.

The supplement revealed that out of the estimated global total of 35.3 million people living with HIV, an estimated 3.6 million were people aged 50 years or older. The majority – 2.9 million, were in low-and middle-income countries, where the percentage of adults living with HIV who were 50 years or older was now above 10 per cent. The supplement also revealed that in high-income countries almost one-third of people living with HIV were 50 years or older.

The “aging” of the HIV epidemic was due to three main factors: the success of antiretroviral therapy in prolonging the lives of people living with HIV, decreasing HIV incidence among younger adults – shifting the burden to older ages, and the fact that people aged 50 and above were also engaging in risk behavior such as unprotected sex and injecting drug use which were leading to new HIV infections.

The supplement highlighted that HIV prevention services, including HIV testing, tailored to the needs of people aged 50 and above, were essential and that those services should also reflect the needs of key populations in that age group. The supplement also outlines the importance of timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy as the immune system weakened with age. The supplement concluded that HIV responses therefore needed to adapt to that important demographic trend. It also underlines the need to integrate HIV services for people over the age of 50 with other health screening services available to that age group.

Mr. Ghys clarified that most infections were occurring in younger age groups, but people 50 and older also had sexual behavior not very different from others. The treatment had a major effect on expanding life span of those people. About 10 per cent of all people with HIV in low- and middle-income countries and about one third in high-income countries were now over 50. Answering the question on treatments, Mr. Ghys said that a large number of people with HIV were now eligible to undergo antiretroviral treatments, in line with the recent WHO guidelines. When it came to that age group, other factors, such as diabetes or heart diseases, were also more prevalent than among younger populations, which had to be taken into account.

Post-2015 Development Agenda

Jean Rodriguez, for the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), announced Regional Consultation on the Post-2015 Development Agenda "Inclusive and Sustainable Development: Perspectives from Europe and Central Asia on the Post-2015 Development Agenda", which would take place in Istanbul on 7-8 November. ECE Executive Secretary Sven Alkalaj would open the event, together with Cevdet Yilmaz Minister of Development of the Republic of Turkey, Kadir Topbas, Mayor of Istanbul, Member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Ambassador Michael Gerber, Special Representative of Switzerland for Global Sustainable Development, UNDP + Representatives of Civil Society.

The meeting would be an opportunity for the region to formulate its priorities for the new development framework after 2015 and discuss how these priorities can become part of a coherent global agenda. The region of Europe and Central Asia with its high-, middle- and low-income countries encapsulated many of the global challenges and was therefore an important voice in the process of shaping the post-2015 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The meeting would provide a perspective on a broad range of issues that feature prominently in the global debate and that are also of high priority for citizens in the region. In cooperation with the responsible UN entities, the meeting would include, among others, panel discussions on education and decent jobs, health and social protection, population dynamics and migration, environment, and on ways to effectively implement and monitor the new agenda.

The Regional Consultation would be a multi-stakeholder event, bringing together representatives from governments, international organizations, civil society, the private sector, academia and media, and it would be preceded by a full-day civil society consultation.

Somalia

Ms. Momal-Vanian, on behalf of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), informed that after 23 years without postal services, Somalia would start receiving international mail from 1 November, thanks to an agreement concluded with the United Arab Emirates and its postal operator, Emirates Post.

Human Rights Council/Universal Periodic Review

Cedric Sapey, for the Human Rights Council, stated that the 17th session of the Universal Periodic Review would be concluded today and would adopt the remaining reports in the afternoon, namely those of Israel, Congo and Malta. The report on Israel had already been sent to journalists and the remaining reports on Malta and Congo would be issued before the start of the meeting on adoption, at 3 p.m. on Friday.

The 15 reports that were adopted by the working group at the current session would be considered for final adoption by the plenary of the council at its following session in March. At that session, 70 UN Member States would already have been reviewed in the second cycle of the UPR.

Geneva activities

Ms. Momal-Vanian informed that two notes would be sent to correspondents, one regarding the 5 November meeting on Syria, and one on the 7-8 November Iran nuclear talks, which would both take place at the Palais des Nations.

On 5 November, there would a meeting of the Joint Envoy Brahimi with Russian and American representatives. Pictures of arriving delegations could be taken. For the time being, there were no indications that there would be press stakeout or conference, but this could change.

The Iranian nuclear talks, which would take place on 7-8 November, would be organized along the same pattern as the previous time, which meant that they would be held at the Palais des Nations, but media events would take place at CICG.

Answering questions why the arrival of delegations to the Iranian nuclear talks could not be filmed, Ms. Momal-Vanian explained that the decision had been made by the organizers. She assured journalists that they would have access to their offices and Press Room 2 without interruption.

Ms. Momal-Vanian also informed that the Human Rights Committee was ending its session today. Since 14 October, the Committee had examined reports of Bolivia, Djibouti, Mauritania, Mozambique and Uruguay.

The Committee against Torture was having a private meeting in the morning, and would hold a public session in the afternoon to consider the report of Latvia. The Committee would then exam reports of Belgium, Burkina Faso and Portugal the following week, and Andorra and Kyrgyzstan the week after.

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances would hold its fifth session from 4 to 15 November. It would start with the report of Argentina in the afternoon of 4 November, and the report of Spain would be examined in the afternoon of 5 November and the morning of 6 November.

The Committee on economic, social and cultural rights would also start its work on 4 November, and during the four weeks it would examine the reports of Kuwait, Albania, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Djibouti, Belarus, Egypt, Gabon, Austria and Norway.

Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), stated that there would be a conference in Brussels on 4 November on how to downscale global climate change models to regional level. WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud would be speaking as would the co-chairs of the IPCC recent working group I and the EU climate change commission.

On 6 November, WMO would be releasing its annual greenhouse gas bulletin on the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. There would be a press conference at the Palais in Room III at 10.30 a.m. with Michel Jarraud. Copies of the report under embargo would be sent out on 4 or 5 November, and would also be available in Japanese, as they were issued in collaboration with the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

On 13 November, there would be another press conference in Room III, also with Michel Jarraud, on the provisional statement on the state of the climate this year, to coincide with the climate change negotiations taking place in Warsaw. Information would be sent out shortly under embargo.

Mr. Rodriguez announced that Joint Task Force on Environmental Indicators, organized jointly by UNECE, Eurostat & the European Environment Agency (EEA) would take place in Room VIII between 4 and 7 November. The Workshop on Waste Statistics + would review progress made in the countries of Eastern Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia on waste statistics and would further discuss the harmonization of classifications and definitions, and producing high-quality, harmonized and timely statistics on waste generation and management. The outcome of the workshop would contribute to the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) East countries and Russian Federation cooperation with the EEA in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument - Shared Environment Information System (ENPI-SEIS) project, where waste had been identified among the priority areas for cooperation.

At its 7th session, the Task Force would in particular review six water and one waste indicators for enhancing the understanding by member countries of their production requirements; consider six new indicators on transport and environment to be added to the UNECE list of environmental indicators; and discuss practical arrangements that would help the member countries in the production and sharing of indicators.

Ms. Berthiaume informed that IOM Director General William Lacy Swing would arrive in Malta on 3 November to discuss with the Government the latest developments concerning migration in the Mediterranean and to explore ways for effectively managing mixed migration flows and addressing the migration-related challenges faced by Malta. The visit followed the tragic events of October 2013 in the waters between Libya, Malta and Italy, where hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers had lost their lives.


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The representatives of the International Labour Organization, World Health Organization, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and UN Conference on Trade and Development also attended the briefing, but did not speak.

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The webcast for this briefing is available here: http://bit.ly/1f836J1