Brahimi; Mali; Syria; CAR; New Appointment

Brahimi: Lakhdar Brahimi met with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Geneva today. The three discussed the necessity of reaching a political solution modeled off of the Geneva Communiqué and the establishment of a transitional government, Brahimi renewing his call for a “speedy end” to the bloodshed and destruction in the country. The Syrian government today, however, called Brahimi “flagrantly biased” in his attempt to mediate the conflict. Brahimi is scheduled to brief the SC later this month on his consultations with the Syrian Government and representatives of the opposition.

Mali: The SC held consultations on the situation in Mali yesterday, Council members expressing their “grave concern” over the reported military movements and attacks by terrorist and extremist groups in the north of Mali. The SC called for a rapid deployment of the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) and for the immediate issuance of an agreed political roadmap, which includes serious negotiations with non-extremist Malians in the north and presses for the full restoration of democratic governance.

Syria: UNHCR announced that the severe winter conditions across Syria and the surrounding region have brought new difficulties for the more than 600,000 people either registered as refugees or being assisted as such. In Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, UNHCR is working tirelessly to weatherproof homes, provide blankets and winter clothing, kitchen sets, mattresses, and other essential items for over 100,000 families. WFP Chief Ertharin Cousin will be in Turkey from the January 13-15 to visit WFP’s food assistance operation for Syrian refugees and to hold meetings with senior government officials in Ankara and Istanbul.

CAR: SRSG and Head of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in CAR, Margaret Vogt, briefed the SC today. The UN envoy called on the international community to engage more forcefully, both diplomatically and financially, in response to the recent advancement of armed rebel groups threatening to march on the capital. UNHCR is also seeking immediate and unconditional access to the 17,000 refugees and 2,500 asylum seekers displaced by the recent fighting in the north and east of the country. The looting of several WFP warehouses could cause serious delays to food distribution to refugees; UN agencies are looking for a quick solution.

New Appointment: Kevin Kennedy (US) will be the new Acting Head of the UN Department of Safety and Security. Mr. Kennedy will replace Gregory Starr who announced his intention to leave the position of USG for Safety and Security due to personal and family reasons. Mr. Kennedy most recently served as DSR for MINUSTAH, and previously as Deputy Special Coordinator for the Middle-East Peace Process and Director of the Coordination and Response Division in OCHA.