REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
7 March 2014
Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing, which was attended by the Spokespersons for Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, United Nations Refugee Agency, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations Children’s Fund, International Organization for Migration, Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Human Rights Council.
Central African Republic (CAR)
Rupert Colville, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) , stated that, although the security situation seemed to have recently improved in some parts of the Central African Republic, OHCHR was very concerned about the critical situation prevailing in Boda, a town located some 190 km west of the capital.
According to a team of five human rights monitors deployed by OHCHR at the beginning of the week, large numbers of Christian and Muslim civilians in Boda and surrounding villages had suffered tremendously from the recent fighting and the deterioration of their living conditions, and tensions were running very high.
Mr. Colville explained that Boda was currently divided into a Muslim area and a non-Muslim area. Some 11,000 Muslim civilians were stranded in four neighbourhoods and at risk of further attacks by surrounding anti-Balaka elements. A buffer zone under the control of French forces, known as Sangaris, separated the two communities.
Representatives of the Muslim community had told OHCHR team that they felt threatened and wanted to leave Boda as soon as possible. However, they were unable to move out, as their neighbourhoods were surrounded by hostile areas. Anti-Balaka elements had also set up numerous checkpoints along the only paved road in the town.
Mr. Colville said that the trapped civilians’ situation was made even worse by the fact that they could not engage in any kind of economic activity. In addition, anti-Balaka elements were reportedly forbidding civilians from selling food to Muslims. Even local vendors from neighbouring villages were said to have been threatened by anti-Balaka after Muslim civilians bought food from them under Sangaris’ protection. The Christian civilians, and in particular those displaced by the previous month’s clashes, were also living in very difficult conditions.
In Boda, unlike in other towns visited by the team, Muslim elements had reportedly been the first to attack after ex-Seleka forces had left on 29 January. Upon hearing that anti-Balaka armed elements had assaulted Muslim communities elsewhere in the country, they had attacked the non-Muslim area of the town, burning most shops and houses in the central Christian neighbourhood. The Muslim community in Boda was reported to have been better armed than in other areas due to their traditional involvement in the gold and diamond trade.
The fighting had reportedly killed at least 80 people and displaced thousands of Christian civilians and other non-Muslim civilians. As a result of the destruction of their neighbourhoods, most of them had gone to two sites for internally displaced people in Boda, or fled to the bush. They lived in very difficult conditions and had told OHCHR team about cases of children dying from malaria in the bush. They had said that they were now waiting for the departure of Muslims so they could go back to their homes and rebuild their roofs before the rainy season started.
Mr. Colville informed that the anti-Balaka elements told the OHCHR team that if Muslims did not leave Boda shortly, in particular before the beginning of the rainy season, they would attack them.
OHCHR had brought concerns about the real danger of a further explosion of violence in Boda to the attention of the international forces present in the country. However, they were clearly extremely stretched. That underlined the urgency of the Secretary-General’s call on 3 March to the international community to strengthen peacekeeping efforts by sending 10,000 troops and 1,800 police personnel.
The total lack of law and order was illustrated by the horrendous murder of the Muslim deputy mayor of Mbaiki on 28 February. Mr. Dido had been killed by a mob of youngsters. He had been one of the few remaining Muslims of Mbaiki. The original 2,000 Muslim residents had been evacuated some weeks prior. Mr. Dido had been stabbed to death with a spear, decapitated and mutilated.
The MISCA contingent apprehended 22 suspects, including a man with a blood-stained machete and a woman holding Mr. Dido’s genitals in her hands. Once MISCA had finalized the arrest, they had handed them over to the Gendarmerie but due to the absence of detention facilities in Mbaiki, the Gendarmerie had released all suspects as their identities and places of residence had been established. As far as OHCHR knew, the public prosecution had not been informed of the case. The surviving family of Mr. Dido had been transferred by MISCA to a safe location in Bangui on 1 March.
Christiane Berthiaume, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), informed of a new cash-for-work street cleaning project which IOM had launched in the 3rd district of Bangui. The 3rd district was one of the last areas in Bangui where Muslims and Christians continued to live in relative harmony, despite intense pressure from armed groups. The goal of the pilot project was to build and strengthen social cohesion and support the local economy.
The cleaning crews had already made a noticeable improvement in the PK5 market area; large piles of street garbage had been removed and drains had been cleared in preparation for the rainy season. Initial feedback from the community had been very positive.
Ms. Berthiaume explained that the youths were divided into five cleaning crews of ten people each, with a mix of Christians and Muslims, men and women. The 50 local youths represented all 29 neighbourhoods of the district. The first group of 50 would work for a two-week period.
Ms. Berthiaume stated that, three months after the formal declaration of the crisis, there were some 701,500 internally displaced people in the CAR – 276,500 in 62 displacement sites in Bangui and 425,000 outside the capital. Muslims and ethnic minorities had fled most neighbourhoods in Bangui. IOM had already evacuated 6,153 migrants and third country nationals from CAR; 4,621 of those to Chad. It was continuing to register third country nationals in Bangui. Over 2,700 people requesting evacuation had been registered at the Central Mosque and Military Airport Transit Site. The largest groups were from Chad, Senegal, Cameroon and Mali.
IOM was appealing for USD 17.5 million to evacuate stranded migrants and assist communities in need in CAR. It had already allocated USD 3.1 million from its own emergency fund.
Mr. Colville informed that the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonoviæ arrived in Ukraine late the previous night to conduct a preliminary assessment of the human rights situation following developments in the country since November 2013. He would be joined by a team of five other OHCHR staff from Geneva over the weekend in addition to the two staff OHCHR already had on the ground.
During his eight-day visit, Mr. Šimonoviæ was planning to meet authorities in Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Simferopol, as well as the Ombudsman, and civil society organisations at central and regional levels. Mr. Šimonoviæ would also liaise with regional organizations active in Ukraine, especially the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, its Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the Council of Europe.
Mr. Šimonoviæ, OHCHR’s most senior human rights official in New York, would seek to identify existing and potential human rights challenges and to advocate for the protection of human rights, including those of minorities, as well as for accountability for recent human rights violations. Mr. Šimonoviæ would present a report with recommendations for follow-up actions to the High Commissioner upon his return.
Mr. Colville informed that Mr. Šimonoviæ would address the media in Kiev on 14 March 2014. Further details will be available closer to the date.
Asked if there were any reactions from Simferopol whether the visit to that area would be possible, Mr. Colville said that the situation was very fluid on the ground, making it difficult to say anything with certainty, but the plan was definitely to go to Simferopol. Mr. Šimonoviæ would also be meeting the OSCE Mission in the country.
On whether there was a division of tasks between OHCHR and OSCE, Mr. Colville said that the arrangements would be worked out in time.
Adrian Edwards, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), stated that UNHCR was deeply concerned about the risk to people in South Sudan, including refugees in Upper Nile State, if conditions did not allow the agency to help deliver food to them soon.
Refugees in the Maban camps had last received food in February and might only access partial food rations this month. Recent cases of severe malnutrition including kwashiorkor among children had UNHCR particularly worried at the risks of prolonged disruption.
Mr. Edwards stated that UNHCR, WFP and other partners normally prepositioned food and other relief items during the first quarter of the year in preparation for the rainy season. The violent clashes in Malakal and other strategic river and road transport towns in 2014 had made pre-positioning impossible.
Unless food was delivered immediately, the health and nutrition status of refugees would become severely compromised. The problem was not just food shortages but also the safe passage of other humanitarian relief supplies.
Needy populations in the Upper Nile state, including refugees, internally displaced persons and increasingly host communities, were all suffering with that crisis. It came on top of, and had been exacerbated by, the armed conflict that had overwhelmed parts of the country for nearly three months. While Maban County, which hosted 130,000 refugees from Sudan’s embattled southern Blue Nile State, had not been directly impacted by the war, general insecurity and border restrictions along supply corridors had prevented delivery of relief items since the beginning of the year. The situation would be compounded by the onset of seasonal rains, when roads became impassable.
Mr. Edwards emphasized that at greatest risk was about one-third of the refugee population comprising children under five years of age, pregnant and lactating women, elderly and disabled persons and persons who were chronically ill. As the rains started, normally in April, vulnerability to water-borne diseases, malaria and respiratory tract infection would increase. In recent weeks, there had been several cases of kwashiorkor among very young children in the refugee camps, which was symptomatic of protein deficiency that could be caused by illness. Food shortages could moreover lead to conflict between refugees and host communities foraging for wild fruits and vegetables. Tensions over grazing lands and open water sources had already been seen.
Apart from refugees, who were the responsibility of the Government and UNHCR to protect and assist, tens of thousands of internally displaced persons were facing even worse conditions in different parts of the Upper Nile State. There was a strong likelihood that many would make their way across the border to Ethiopia in search of humanitarian assistance. Already, refugees arriving in neighbouring countries were reported to be in poor nutritional condition.
Answering questions, Mr. Edwards said that UNHCR was concerned about all the population affected, including refugees and IDPs. It had been impossible to deliver food due to the security situation, which was leading to severe malnutrition. Particularly worrying was the condition of people arriving to Ethiopia, who had to cross a very difficult path.
Elisabeth Byrs, for the World Food Programme (WFP), spoke of logistic challenges which WFP was facing in transporting the food to deep field locations. She said that the crisis in South Sudan had seriously damaged food security, pushing millions into hunger and severely complicating WFP’s efforts to provide relief. WFP was urging all parties to the conflict to allow aid agencies better access to deliver humanitarian assistance to those affected by the crisis.
Ms. Byrs stated that so far, WFP had provided food and nutrition for more than 420,000 conflict-affected people in South Sudan. While WFP had been able to provide normal food rations for the refugee camps up until this point, the crisis had led to serious complications in resupplying the refugee camps and WFP’s supply of cereals in Maban was exhausted. WFP was distributing the March food rations to refugees in the Maban County. Because the normal supply routes were disrupted, WFP would be using a combination of airlifts and airdrops to replenish the stocks in the Maban County refugees camps and continued providing urgently needed food assistance to the thousands of refugees in the camps.
WFP logistics had brought in a Boeing 727 cargo plane to airlift supplies from Juba to a town called Paloich, and would move it by truck from there to Maban. WFP had also contracted two specialized planes for airdrops and expected them to arrive within days. Once the airlift and airdrop operations were in full swing later this month, which was what was required for the population in the camps in Maban, 2,200 metric tons of food per month would be able to be distributed.
Ms. Byrs stressed that the conflict was reversing progress made on food security. She quoted a report warning that, because of the ongoing crisis, an additional two million people in “crisis” or more were likely to experience significant food scarcity in 2014. The number of people in “crisis” and “emergency” food security conditions was estimated to have more than tripled. More than one million people were estimated to be in “emergency” food security phase as opposed to none prior to the conflict.
Answering a question with regards to the critical situation throughout the country, and any concerns for the loss of life, Ms. Byrs stated that there were great concerns about the situation. An airlift and airdrop system had been started in order to replenish the stocks because the much distribution had been completed.
Asked to comment on the situation in Sudan, Mr. Edwards and Ms. Byrs said they did not have updated information on Sudan at the moment.
Mr. Edwards said that as the crisis in Iraq’s Anbar Province was entering its third month, the security situation was continuously deteriorating. There were reports that families were now being displaced for a second time in various locations across the province, moving westwards from previously safe locations including Al-Habaniya, Al-Falahat village, Al-Nassaf village, Al-Azragiyah village and Al-Saqlawiyah. During the previous week, the number of displaced people in the town of Heet and surrounding areas – which lay to the northwest of Ramadi - had increased by some 25,000 people.
Elsewhere in Anbar, an inter-agency mission by UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF had returned to Baghdad the previous day after assessing the current living conditions and the needs of displaced people living in Al-Obaidy, some 450 kilometres northwest of Baghdad in the Al Qaim area.
Mr. Edwards said that, due to the prevailing security situation the mission had been forced to postpone part of their assessment. Al Qaim district hosted around 5,000 Syrian refugees, out of whom some 2,000 were in the camp Al Obaidy while others were in host communities. The team had met with people displaced to temporary houses and two collective shelters in Al-Obaidy town over the previous four days.
The team had identified many people with specific needs, particularly female-headed-households with large numbers of children. In one particular visit, three female-headed-families were cramped together in one small house with 13 children. While the local communities had generously assisting the displaced, people were still in need of food and healthcare. Families living in unfinished houses lacked blankets, mattresses, cooking facilities and clothing. As an immediate step, UNHCR was distributing 300 core relief items to 300 families whom the team had visited.
Mr. Edwards stated that the humanitarian needs of the displaced were growing rapidly. Prolonged displacement was putting pressures on both the displaced and host communities as they began to exhaust their resources. UNHCR and other humanitarian agencies were receiving an increasing number of requests for humanitarian assistance and support. UNHCR and partners were continuing to conduct assessments of the humanitarian needs. At present, the shortage of shelter remained one of the most pressing issues.
The city of Fallujah remained under siege, the roads were closed and there were reports of shortages of fuel, food and other basic items. Armed clashes had been reported in north, south and the east of Fallujah even during the 72-hour ceasefire initiated by the Government of Iraq the previous week which had now ended.
The situation in Ramadi was also volatile. Shelling and clashes had continued in recent days in the city and in rural neighbourhoods. As the situation deteriorated in the Al-Malab, Al-Bothaib and 20th Street areas, small groups of residents had fled and headed to Heet. The local council in Heet was still welcoming those fleeing despite the significant burden on the local infrastructure, lack of sufficient accommodation and overstretched services. The district already accommodated some 11,250 displaced families.
Mr. Edwards informed that, to the northeast of Anbar, the first UN humanitarian assistance had in the previous few days also reached some 200 displaced families in dire conditions in Sulayman Beg in Salah Al-Din governorate. UNHCR had delivered 200 core relief items kits to these families, who had fled due to clashes occurred previous week in in the north-eastern part of Salah Al-Din.
As of 6 March, the number of people displaced in Anbar and the other governorates was approximately 380,000, which represented 63,494 families. 42,059 families had been displaced in Anbar, the largest governorate in Iraq and 21,435 families had been displaced in other governorates across the county.
On 5 March 2014, the Ministry of Migration and Displacement and the United Nations had launched the Strategic Response Plan to address the immediate humanitarian needs of people affected by the ongoing fighting in Anbar. The plan called for USD 103.7 million to cover the provision of assistance to 240,000 internally displaced persons as well as host communities and those stranded in conflict-affected areas.
Mr. Edwards said that UNHCR required USD 26,351,265 to address humanitarian needs of people displaced by the crisis in Anbar over the coming six months. Those needs were currently 11 per cent funded.
Mr. Colville said that OHCHR was seriously concerned about the conviction of a prominent Malaysian lawyer and Member of Parliament, Mr. Karpal Singh under the country’s 1948 Sedition Act. Mr. Singh had been found guilty of sedition on 21 February 2014 and was due to be sentenced on 11 March.
Mr. Singh had been charged with sedition after suggesting at a press conference in 2009 that it was possible to bring a legal challenge against a decision by the Sultan of the Malaysian state of Perak to dismiss the then Chief Minister. The prosecution in the case had argued that Mr. Singh’s words had the tendency to create hatred towards the Sultan.
Mr. Singh, who was also the chairperson of Malaysia’s largest opposition party, the Democratic Action Party, was facing a fine of up to 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit (approximately USD 1,500) and/or a maximum of three years’ imprisonment. If he was fined more than 2,000 Malaysian Ringgit or sentenced to more than a year in prison, he could be disqualified from his membership of Parliament.
Mr. Colville said that the 1948 Sedition Act was not in conformity with international human rights law. Using that law to limit freedom of expression and opinion could stifle enjoyment of these rights in Malaysia.
Lawyers had also be able to discharge their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance or improper interference of any sort and should be entitled to express views in their professional capacities on matters concerning the law.
OHCHR urged the Government of Malaysia to review Mr. Singh’s conviction and to repeal the Sedition Act, which was something that the Prime Minister had publicly undertaken to do in 2012.
Ms. Berthiaume stated that the IOM was calling on the international community to ensure that migrant women were not left behind in the ongoing discussions on the post-2015 development agenda.
IOM emphasized the urgency to more systematically and thoroughly address the often unique situation of migrant women. Today, approximately 111 million international migrants were women (from a total population of 230 million). They were present in virtually all types of migration flows, both high-skilled and low-skilled. They were no longer confined to family reunification and increasingly migrate on their own in pursuit of economic betterment. However, poverty and unemployment at home coupled with high demand for domestic and care services abroad pushed many to resort to irregular means of migration.
Ms. Berthiaume said that IOM was distressed to witness increasing numbers of women and children embarking on perilous journeys to reach better and safer shores. The tragic deaths that had taken place in Lampedusa and the Sahara desert at the end of previous year had highlighted that desperation migration was no longer a men’s preserve.
Statistics on migration and gender dynamics were limited and uneven across countries, but existing evidence pointed towards poor result on all eight Millennium Development Goals. The data revealed that migration amplified inequalities in both countries of origin and destination. Thus, women on the move were more vulnerable to exclusion, poverty, ill-health, exploitation and violence.
IOM emphasized that efforts should be made to ensure that a global partnership committed to maximizing the benefits of migration and minimizing the risks and human rights violations would emerge from the Post-2015 agenda.
The website dedicated to the issue was: migrantwomen.iom.int
Guidance on contraception
Mr. Glenn Thomas, for the World Health Organisation (WHO), introduced Dr. Marleen Temmerman, Director of WHO's Department of Reproductive Health and Research, and announced the launch of a new WHO guidance called "Ensuring human rights in the provision of contraceptive information and services: guidance and recommendations".
Dr. Temmerman presented the guidance, which was the first WHO guidance which included human rights in its title. She recalled that it was known from research that worldwide, at least 222 million girls and women, who would like to use contraceptive to plan or postpone a pregnancy, did not have access to contraceptive methods. Such a lack of access represented a major burden on maternal health but also on the health of family, children and women.
The guidelines provided 24 recommendations for managers, policy-makers and other stakeholders, and were based around 9 human rights concepts, which were non-discrimination, availability of contraceptives and contraceptives' services, accessibility, acceptability, quality of care, informed decision-making without coercion, privacy and confidentiality, participation and accountability. Dr. Temmerman particularly pointed that a core concept was voluntary approach and that the choice should be left to the woman or the girl, because a lot of contraceptive behaviours were coerced by partners and families but also by governments and programmes pushing one direction or another.
Dr. Temmerman explained that WHO was now spreading the guidance to the countries in order to have them integrated in national health policies and to have an impact on women's health.
Answering a question on how many women were using contraceptives and of their age, Dr. Temmerman responded that the estimated numbers were 600 million women worldwide. The unmet needs remained mainly in developing countries like Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern East Asia, and not in Europe and western parts of the world. She said that with wide geographical differences, vulnerable groups such as young girls were often the ones who suffering the most, leading to a serious impact on maternal mortality. A multi-sectorial sexual education, in the first place to boys and girls in schools, was being promoted.
Answering a question as to whether this serious issue had been discussed with Pope Francis and the Catholic Church, Dr. Temmerman said that it had not been done yet, and the guidelines were just scientific-evidence based principles developed by the health community along with the human rights community. She stated however that the WHO would definitely reach out to faith based organizations, churches and others.
On a question about the degree of coercion involved in the use of contraception, Dr. Temmerman said that there was a lot of coercion both in the use and in the non-use of contraceptive methods. She recalled that governments had both coerced women to use contraceptives and limit the number of children, and coerced them not to use contraceptives. WHO was thus looking to promote access to voluntarily family planning and informed choice for girls and for women. The countries with the lower child and adolescence death rates were those countries which had been providing access with contraceptives, education, information and services to both girls and women, and boys. Uruguay was mentioned as a country where the Government had made a national effort to make contraceptives available and free for all, and since then they had had zero preventable maternal deaths and had reduced unwanted pregnancies for young girls.
Asked about figures of girls or women enduring illegal abortions and dying of it, Dr. Temmerman said that every two minutes a girl or woman died of being pregnant or trying to give life. She argued, however, that major progress had been achieved through the Millennium Development Goals: a few years earlier, the estimates had been of 500,000 but now there were 250,000 women dying every year. Some 74,000 girls were dying per year because of complication of illegal abortions, mainly in those countries where women did not have power and did not have access to health care services or contraceptives or sexual education, such as in South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa where some forms of discrimination and violence against women remained important.
Answering a question asking why anti-contraceptives were more present in developed countries than undeveloped countries, Dr. Temmerman said that WHO had launched an appeal for contraception more than twenty years earlier at the International Conference for Population Development (ICPD). Today, WHO was noting great progress in some countries which had implemented contraceptives and information services, while there were difficulties convincing some developing countries on the necessity of contraceptive measures.
On a question about the age of children who would be participating in educational programme on sexuality, Dr. Temmerman said that those programmes in schools usually started around 12 or 13 years old, which was the optimal age to learn about sexuality.
Asked to comment on claims by conservative circles that sexual education led to more births to young parents, Dr. Temmerman said that when young or older people were already sexually active, they did not ask themselves if it was allowed in their country or not. Even if condoms or contraceptives were made widely available, that would not lead to more sexual activity. She stated that people were sexually active with or without a law or and with or without contraceptives, which was why education, prevention, information and provision of contraceptives were so important.
Patrick McCormick, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), spoke of the aftermath of typhoon Haiyan, for which UNICEF had prepared a report on progress and remaining challenges of humanitarian aid in the region four moths after the Haiyan. He emphasized that, although the road to recovery was likely to be long, a growing sense of recovery was notable. The typhoon had hit some of the country’s poorest areas, where before the disaster some 40 per cent of children had already been living in poverty. Children were amongst the worst affected by the disaster, and they were at the centre of UNICEF's response.
Human Rights Council
Rolando Gomez, for the Human Rights Council (HRC), informed that the interactive dialogue of Member States with the High Commissioner for Human Rights was continuing in the morning. There were approximately forty states and non-governmental organizations remaining to speak.
The interactive dialogue would be followed by a High Level Panel Discussion to observe the 65th Anniversary on the Convention of the Prevention of Genocide. That discussion aimed to identify the challenges related to implementing the resolutions of the convention which had been adopted in December 1948 and had yielded a total of 144 ratifications from States. The Panel would also be an opportunity for States to redouble the efforts to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. The opening statements would be delivered by the High Commissioner and the Foreign Minister of Armenia. Panellists also included the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General on the Prevention of Genocide, representatives of Switzerland, Guatemala and Cambodia as well as a Rwandan sociologist, himself a survivor of the Rwanda genocide.
Mr. Gomez informed that the High Level Segment had concluded a record for participating dignitaries which included two Heads of State, one Prime Minister, one Vice- President, 45 Foreign Ministers and 55 other Ministers.
On 10 March, the Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendes would present his annual report, including a thematic report on his mission to Ghana. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders Margeret Sekaggya would deliver her thematic report, including her missions to the Republic of Korea and Togo. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food Olivier de Schutter would deliver his thematic report, including that of his missions to Malawi and Malysia. Raquel Rolnick, Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, would also present her thematic report including her report of missions to the United Kingdom and Indonesia. Independent expert on environment John Knox would present his thematic report, including the report of his mission to Costa Rica. Cephas Lima, Independent expert on foreign debt, would deliver his thematic report, including his report of missions to Argentina, Greece and Japan.
A public meeting would take place in Room XXI at 4 p.m, hosted by the Permanent Mission of the United States, to negotiate the draft resolution which was tabled for Sri Lanka.
Ms. Momal-Vanian informed that the Human Rights Committee would commence its session on 10 March. Reports of the following countries would be examined in the course of three weeks: Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Latvia, United States of America, Chad and Nepal.
The International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic would hold a press conference in Press Room 1 on 10 March at 10 a.m.
Adama Dieng, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, would speak about achievements and challenges of his mandate, as well as the interactive dialogue with the Human Rights Council, in Press Room III on 10 March at 12:30 p.m.
The Conference on Disarmament would hold a public session on 11 March from 10 a.m.
Ms. Momal-Vanian said that the event “Children with Albinism: Violence and Displacement” would be held in Room XXV on 11 March at 1 p.m. The event would be moderated by the Ambassador of Canada to the United Nations; UNICEF and OHCHR were co-organizers.
A round table discussion on difficulties on communicating science and technology to the world, organized jointly by United Nations and CERN, would take place at CERN on 11 March at 3:30 p.m. Webcast would be available.
Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), informed that the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos would address the media in Press Room III at 1:15 p.m. today. She was currently briefing United Nations Member States on the Central African Republic and the Philippines, and had also briefed the Security Council on the Central African Republic the previous day. The summary of Ms. Amos’s briefing to the Security Council would be circulated shortly.
Melissa Begag,for the World Trade Organization (WTO), informed that on 14 March a meeting of the General Council would take place, when members would elect new chairpersons of WTO bodies. The meeting would be followed by a briefing, as per usual practice. The Preparatory Committee for Trade Facilitation would meet on 10 March at 10 a.m, and the Trade Policy Review would meet on 11 and 13 March to review Myanmar’s trade policies.
Speaking of the agenda of WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo, Ms. Begag informed that he would meet United States Trade Representative Michael Froman in Washington, D.C. on 10 March. Mr. Azevedo would also speak to the US Chamber of Commerce, and meet members of the Congress, the National Foreign Trade Council, the Coalition of Services Industries and the American Foreign Bureau. He would meet United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon BKM in New York on 12 March.
Jemini Pandya, for the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), stated that between 16 and 20 the IPU’s 130th Assembly would take place in Geneva. The Assembly would be particularly important as it would be marking the Union’s 125th anniversary, and would include a debate on the commitment to democracy in the coming years. Ms. Pandya said that the turnout would be very high, with 138 countries participating, and some 50 Speakers of Parliament coming. Numerous activities would take place during the Assembly.
Ms. Pandya stressed that the IPU was the only forum providing a regular opportunity for women parliamentarians to meet, and the upcoming Assembly would feature a full-day meeting on women parliamentarians. On 20 March, various outcomes were expected to be adopted, including four resolutions, one of which on a nuclear-weapon free world. That would be the last assembly of the current Secretary-General Anders B. Johnsson, who would be retiring after 24 years at IPU. The election for his replacement would take place on 20 March. Ms. Pandya added that the Speaker of the Tunisian Constituent Assembly would be coming, as well as delegations from Russia, Ukraine and Syria. Journalists would be able to access the Assembly with their United Nations badges. Agenda and timetable were available online.
On 11 March, IPU would brief on the launch of a map on the status of women in politics, prepared in cooperation with UN Women.
Answering a question on what the IPU was doing with regard to the imprisonment of , Eugène Diomi Ndongala, Member of the Parliament in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ms. Pandya said that the Committee for human rights of parliamentarians had already discussed his case and would do so again during the Assembly. IPU had already expressed its concern over the case, and another resolution was likely to be adopted soon.
Mr. McCormick informed that a press conference on the devastating impact on children during three years of conflict in Syria would take place in Press Room III on 11 March at 9:45 a.m. Simon Ingram, Regional Chief of Communication of UNICEF Middle East and North Africa, would address the media. The affected children discussed would also include refugees.
Ms. Byrs announced a press conference on humanitarian situation in Syria and WFP’s response. The conference would take place in Press Room III on 10 March at 2:30 p.m, and the speaker would be Amir Abdulla, WFP Deputy Executive Director.
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The representative of the International Labour Organization also attended the briefing, but did not brief.
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The webcast for this briefing is available here: http://bit.ly/1cHyjQL