SG condemns attack on peacekeepers in Lebanon, urges G8 leaders to continue support for women’s and children’s health, PGA briefs press and more from UN Direct

Peacekeeping: Today, as the UN commemorated the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, there was an attack on peacekeepers in Lebanon. The SG condemned the attack, all the more deplorable on this occasion, and extended his sympathies to the peacekeepers and families as well as the people and government of Italy. The UN will work with the Lebanese authorities to conduct a full and swift investigation on the attack to bring the perpetrators to justice. The SG stated, “Peacekeeping is dangerous and difficult. I pay tribute to the 120,000 United Nations military, police, civilians who are working under the blue flag around the world for the cause of peace.”

Flotillas to Gaza: Based on media reports of flotillas planning to head to Gaza with humanitarian aid, the SG wrote a letter to governments of countries around the Mediterranean. He stressed that assistance for Gaza should be channeled through legitimate crossings and established channels.  In addition, the SG called on all governments concerned to use their influence in discouraging flotillas, because they carry the potential to escalate into conflict. Furthermore, he called on the Israeli government to act responsibly and with caution to avoid any violence. While he believes that flotillas aren’t helpful, the SG acknowledges that the situation in Gaza remains unsustainable. He urged the Israeli government to take further meaningful and far-reaching steps to end the closure of Gaza through SCR. 1860.

SG: The SG is currently at the G-8 Summit in Deauville, France, where he spoke at three outreach sessions. Among the various issues that he discussed, the SG brought up the Mideast peace process, urging the international community to push the process, building on the vision laid out by President Obama. In regards to women’s and children’s health, he noted the impressive work he had witnessed in Nigeria and Ethiopia to reduce deaths, improve well-being and achieve the MDGs. He also urged further support for the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which has received more than $40 billion in commitments from roughly 42 countries, as well as foundations, the private sector, and civil society.

Syria: OHCHR is deeply concerned with the situation on the ground with excessive use of force on demonstrators.

Abyei: The UN Country Team in Sudan deplored the ransacking of humanitarian organizations’ premises and the looting of emergency relief supplies in Abyei. Enough food to supply 50,000 people is among the items taken. Items that were taken were intended to aid surrounding villages. Humanitarian Coordinator Georg Charpentier said that humanitarian agencies are working around the clock to provide assistance.  Meanwhile, UNMIS confirmed that the situation in Abyei continues to be unstable, as the looting is still ongoing, and occasional firing can be heard. UNMIS is conducting ground and air patrols right now.

Tunisia-Libya Border: UNHCR reported on a serious disruption this week at the Choucha camp near the Tunisia-Libya border. Roughly 4,000 migrant workers and refugees in Libya are sheltered there, and are waiting to be evacuated to their countries of origin. Two deaths have been reported and death threats received by UNHCR staff and other humanitarian workers. UNHCR reiterates its call for donor and resettlement countries to contribute more help for the humanitarian evacuation program led by the IOM, and to offer additional resettlement slots for refugees. WHO also said that the health situation in Misrata remains critical despite the decrease in fighting this past week.

Liberian Refugees: UNHCR resumed the repatriation of Liberian refugees who had been stranded at the agency’s office during the post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. On Tuesday and Thursday, two chartered flights flew 264 Liberian refugees from the southern Ivorian city to Roberts International Airport, roughly 60 km from Monrovia.

Senior UN Staff Travel: DSG Asha-Rose Migiro is heading to Haifa, Israel, as the Guest of Honor at the International Women Leaders’ Conference on “Women, Science, and Technology,” co-hosted by the government of Israel and UNESCO. She will also visit Jerusalem to meet with the President of Israel, and the Speaker of the Knesset. Migiro will be back in NY on May 30th.

Security Council Reform: In response to a question on what changes the SG would like to see at the Security Council, Nesirky listed three elements that were essential to this process: 1) the SC by general consensus internationally needs to be reformed to reflect the changes that have been made over the last decade; 2) the momentum among the Member States to actively negotiate and review a draft text on how those reforms look; 3) it’s for the Member States to determine the nature of reform. What form the Council takes is yet to be decided. Thus, the SG will continue to provide the political framework for those negotiations to continue.

Upcoming Events: On Monday, May 30th, the 17th session of the HRC in Geneva will begin.

PGA Briefing: Today, PGA Joseph Deiss briefed the press on the work of the GA. Just in the month of May, Deiss met with ED of the WFP Josette Sheeran, attended the Conference on Global Governance and Security Council Reform in Rome, attended the thematic debate on international migration and development and attended the NAM Ministerial Conference in Indonesia and Bali. The next few weeks will be busy as well, with the HLM on HIV/AIDS taking place June 8-10. Deiss noted that there will be 8 heads of state, 6 heads of government, and 40 ministers present among a long list of other participants. In addition, a thematic debate on green economy will be held June 2 and another on global governance June 28.