Humanitarian Situation in Libya and Syria: Yesterday, Valerie Amos, USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC, briefed the Security Council on the situation in Libya. Afterwards, at the media stakeout, Amos highlighted the call that she made for a pause in the hostilities to 1) enable those to leave; 2) enable the flow of humanitarian aid; 3) enable the UN humanitarian workers who are wounded to receive medical assistance; and 4) ensure that medical supplies go into these areas. In terms of the agreement made with Libyan authorities on securing access to Tripoli, parts of the west, and Misrata, Amos commented that the indiscriminate shelling and bombing by any of the parties and the use of cluster munitions by any party is unacceptable and should stop. Also, in response to a question on keeping neutrality of the humanitarians alongside military assets, Amos stated, “The use of military assets can seriously compromise the neutrality, independence, and security of humanitarian workers. And it’s incredibly important to continue the humanitarian efforts…We cannot compromise the safety and security of humanitarian workers.” In regards to Syria, Amos said that earlier this week, OCHA was expected to go in with a mission to Deraa but the mission got postponed. The hope is to go in late this week.
Senior UN Staff Travel: Vijay Nambiar, the Special Adviser to the SG for Myanmar, is scheduled to arrive in Myanmar on Wednesday for a three-day visit. He plans to hold meetings in Naypyitaw and Yangon with the newly installed government, political parties, and civil society organizations. In addition, Nambiar will meet with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
SG: This morning, the SG arrived in Geneva from Istanbul to attend the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, where he said that it’s crucial to accelerate efforts to broaden the coalition for action and to better connect risk reduction and sustainable development. He also enumerated several solutions that could aid in disaster risk reduction efforts; including, building local capacities, proper land use planning, good building design, and a focus on the needs of women. The SG will return to NY tomorrow afternoon.
Security Council: Valerie Amos, the USG for Humanitarian Affairs and ERC, briefed the Council on the protection of civilians in an open debate on the topic today, stating that she is concerned by the violence leveled against civilians in Bahrain, Yemen, and more recently, Syria, and by the loss of life and other human rights violations. In Syria, for example, Amos noted that reports of the deployment of tanks and shelling of residential areas are alarming. She expressed particular concern at the deterioration of the situations in Libya and Côte d’Ivoire into armed conflict as well. In Libya, civilians continue to be killed and injured by fighting between government and opposition forces, namely in Misrata and the Western Nafusa Mountains. In Côte d’Ivoire, Amos explained that direct attacks against civilians, indiscriminate shelling, sexual violence, attacks against humanitarian workers and peacekeepers, have all been reported and must be investigated without delay. In a message delivered to the same Security Council meeting on the POC, Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that President Ouattara’s government must urgently adopt measures to restore the rule of law throughout Côte d’Ivoire and investigate recent violations. In addition, Alain Le Roy, USG for Peacekeeping Operations, briefed the Council on the protection of civilians in peacekeeping operations, including in South Sudan.
Sudan: This afternoon, four Zambian soldiers from UNMIS were shot and wounded while on patrol near Abyei, which was strongly condemned by UNMIS. There will be an emergency Joint Military Committee meeting tomorrow to deal with this incident. Meanwhile in Darfur, UNAMID confirmed the arrest of a female national UNAMID staff member, detained by Sudanese security agents at her home inside the Abu Shouk camp for IDPs in North Darfur. UNAMID is connecting with authorities to determine the reasons for her arrest and detention.
Libyan Refugees: UNHCR reported that a boat with 600 people sank shortly after leaving Tripoli last week. The full death toll is unknown, and most of those on board are believed to have been from sub-Saharan Africa. Until now, Europe has received less than 2% of those escaping Libya. However, this past weekend, there was an increase in arrivals across the Mediterranean. Five boats carrying nearly 2,400 people – mostly sub-Saharan Africans – arrived on the Italian island of Lampedusa. All of the boats needed rescuing by the Italian coast guard and maritime police. The number of people who have reached Italy and Malta from Libya has reached almost 12,400, and as many as 800 people are unaccounted for. UNHCR has urged for European States to urgently put into place more reliable and effective mechanisms for rescue at seat on the Mediterranean.
Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: In response to questions about Israeli tax payments, Haq explained that the SG brought up the issue with PM Netanyahu in a recent phone conversation and asked Israel not to stop transferring tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority.
Iraq: Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Eric Schwartz announced that the U.S. will contribute an additional $51.5 million to UNHCR and other international organization in order to provide much-needed assistance to displaced Iraqis, including both refugees and IDPs. In this fiscal year, the U.S. has contributed a total of $114.9 million to assist displaced Iraqis.
Upcoming briefings: Tomorrow, Radhika Coomaraswamy, SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, will launch the SG’s annual report on children and armed conflict.