SG briefing; Security Council; Syria; South Sudan; and more

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will brief the General Assembly on his vision and priorities for his second term.

Security Council: The Security Council will be briefed tomorrow morning by Ian Martin, head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, and Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on post-conflict Libya. In the afternoon, Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, will brief the Security Council on his recent trip to Yemen, including an update on the situation on the ground in Yemen after President Ali Abdullah Saleh left the country on Sunday, bound for the US to receive medical treatment.

The Arab League sought help from the United Nations to address the escalating crisis in Syria on Tuesday, amid Syrian defiance of Arab efforts to broker a peace settlement and an upsurge of violence in which dozens of people died. Arab League secretary general Nabil Elaraby and Qatari Prime Minister Hamad Bin Jasim al-Thani wrote to U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon requesting a meeting of the Security Council to address ways that it could help implement a transition plan that called for Assad to step aside.

South Sudan
: The United Nations says it is alarmed by air attacks on a South Sudan refugee camp holding about 5,000 people who had fled violence in neighboring Sudan. The U.N. refugee agency says Tuesday the raid took place in the Upper Nile state town of Elfoj, about 10 kilometers from the Sudan border. The agency reports that several bombs fell during two attacks on a refugee transit site on Monday morning. It says the bombings injured one boy and that 14 others are missing.

Meanwhile, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev issued a decree on Tuesday ordering his country’s troops to withdraw from UNMISS. According to the Kremlin website the Russian soldiers and helicopters are to withdraw from South Sudan by April 1st.

Lamenting the lack of progress in recent years within the world’s sole multilateral disarmament negotiating forum, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged its members to break the existing impasse and move the agenda forward. “I appeal to you to support the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on agreed disarmament issues,” he added. “Prior agreement on their scope or final outcomes should not be a precondition for the start of negotiations, or an excuse to avoid them. “The tide of disarmament is rising, yet the Conference on Disarmament is in danger of sinking.”

The United Nations refugee agency today voiced its concern over reports of two suspected polio cases this week among Somali refugees living in camps in Ethiopia and three cases in the surrounding community. UNHCR spokesperson, Melissa Fleming said UNHCR is working closely with the Ethiopian ministry of health, the WHO, UNICEF, and other health partners to coordinate the response in the five refugee camps in Dollo Ado, where the cases were reported. In addition, a nationwide anti-polio campaign is scheduled to start on 27 January and will be expanded to include all refugee camps.

The United Nations human rights chief said today she was shocked at reports that 34 people were executed in Iraq in a single day last week and called on the country to institute an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty. “Most disturbingly,” said Ms. Pillay, “we do not have a single report of anyone on death row being pardoned, despite the fact there are well documented cases of confessions being extracted under duress.”