DPRK; Mali; CERF; Syria; Haiti; UNHCR; LGBT Rights; New Appointments

DPRK: Both the SG and SC issued statements “deploring” last night’s rocket-launch by DPRK. The Spokesperson today noted, that the launch is a “clear violation of SC resolution 1874 (2009), in which the Council demanded that the DPRK not conduct any launch using ballistic missile technology.” The SC held emergency consultations on the issue this morning, where Susan Rice expressed the need for Council members “to send North Korea a clear message that its violations of UN Security Council resolutions have consequences.”

Mali: The SC issued a press statement yesterday “condemning the arrest” of the Malian Prime Minister that led to his resignation and the dismissal of the Malian Government. In response, the Council members “stress their commitment to authorizing as soon as possible the deployment of an African-led international support mission in Mali.” The SG also issued a statement on the resignation, calling again “for a cessation of military interference in politics” within the country.

CERF: The SG spoke yesterday morning at a high-level conference on the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), asking participants to give as much as possible to one of the world’s largest sources of humanitarian funding. OCHA Chief Valerie Amos also spoke at the event, describing CERF as a “central pillar” of the UN’s humanitarian assistance efforts. Since 2006, the Fund – managed by OCHA – has enabled the fast delivery of life-saving assistance to people affected by natural disasters and other crises in 87 countries and territories. Over 40 donors pledged a total of $384 million at the high-level conference, the top five being the UK, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, and Germany. The US pledged $4 million to the Fund.

Syria: UNHCR announced that more than half a million Syrian refugees have now been registered or are awaiting registration in neighboring countries and North Africa. The numbers are climbing by 3,200 each day, and will only continue to rise. The SG also urged the international community to unite to support a negotiated end to the crisis in Syria, stressing that a political rather than military solution is necessary at the fourth meeting of the Group of Friends of Syria in Morocco. The “Friends of Syria” gave the Syrian National Coalition, an opposition bloc, full political recognition as a “legitimate representative” of the nation.

Haiti: The UN announced a new initiative yesterday to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The new initiative – supporting an existing campaign known as the Initiative for the Elimination of Cholera in the Island of Hispaniola established almost a year ago by the Presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic – will invest in prevention, treatment, and education to take a “holistic approach” to ending the disease over the next 10 years. The SG also announced that Dr. Paul Farmer will serve as his Special Adviser for the initiative. When asked about the allegations that the UN brought the disease to the country initially, DSR of MINUSTAH Nigel Fisher said that the issue is with legal affairs and he cannot comment as a UN staff member.

UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency announced that government donors pledged $550 million towards the agency’s work next year, amidst expanding humanitarian crises in the Middle East and parts of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa. The agency’s global refugee program remains the largest component of its requirements – amounting to $3.07 billion, or 78 per cent, of the $3.92 billion sought for the agency’s total budgetary needs for 2013. This is an improvement from the equivalent pledging session for 2012, where donors pledged $482 million.

LGBT Rights: At a special event on the need for leadership in the fight against homophobia yesterday, the SG was joined by international musical artists Ricky Martin and Yvonne Chaka Chaka and others to advocate for the rights of LGBT individuals worldwide. “Let me say this loud and clear: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are entitled to the same rights as everyone else,” the SG said, “They, too, are born free and equal.”

New Appointments: The SG has appointed Major General Delali Johnson Sakyi of Ghana as the Force Commander for the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), succeeding Major General Moses Bisong Obi of Nigeria. The SG has also appointed Kaarina Immonen of Finland as his Deputy Special Representative in the Central African Republic. Ms. Immonen will also serve as the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, succeeding Bo Schack of Denmark.