SG’s Year-End Press Conference: The SG held his annual year-end press conference today, reflecting on the major achievements and challenges within the past year. He highlighted the humanitarian situations in Syria, the Sahel, the Middle East, and the DRC as major focal points for UN activity in the past few months, as well as challenges that will continue to need addressing in 2013. The SG is currently in conversations with African leaders regarding next steps in the DRC and noted that the Middle East peace process is in a “deep freeze” that must be remedied as soon as possible. In addition, the SG said that he is willing to travel to the DPRK in the new year and that we must continue to press harder to achieve the MDGs by 2015. Syria: The UN and its partners launched the 2013 Syria Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan today, appealing for $1.5 billion to assist civilians affected by the ongoing conflict in Syria over the next six months, the largest short-term response appeal ever issued. The majority of the appeal – $1 billion – is for the Syria Regional Response Plan, which will support refugees fleeing Syria to Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt. It is based on planning estimates that up to a million Syrian refugees will need assistance during the first half of 2013. The SC: The SC held a briefing on the CAR and LRA yesterday, announcing that the UN and AU will seek increased funding early next year for a strategy against the armed group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its impact on communities in Central Africa. The USG for DPA, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the SC this morning on the Middle East, noting that the GA vote last month symbolizes the growing international impatience with the longstanding occupation and a resounding endorsement of Palestinian aspirations to live in freedom and dignity in an independent state of their own, and side by side with Israel in peace and security. The Council also ended the UN mission in Timor-Leste and extended the mandate of the UNDOF in Golan by six months, until the end of June 2013. WFP: WFP appealed today for immediate funding to continue providing food assistance as planned to more than 550,000 refugees in Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps in northern Kenya. The agency is currently facing a $34.5 million shortfall for the next six months, and unless it receives new funding, it will run out of food for refugees in February.