Syria; Israel/Gaza; Mali; DRC; Myanmar

Syria: The SG has grave concerns about the existence and possible use of chemical weapons in Syria. According to his Spokesperson, the SG conveyed those concerns in writing to President Assad some months ago and has done so again in a letter handed over to the Syrian authorities yesterday. UNICEF also condemned yesterday’s shelling of a school near Damascus that killed a number of students and a teacher. The agency has renewed its call for all parties to the conflict in Syria to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure that all children are protected at all times.

Israel/Gaza: Richard Falk, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since 1967, recently finished a visit to Cairo and the Gaza Strip. “Israel fails to meet its international obligation to promptly and impartially investigate its own actions,” Falk said, and called on the international community to exert pressure on the country to fulfill such obligations. Falk met with governmental, inter-governmental, and civil society representatives, the UNRWA, as well as victims and witnesses during his trip. The UNRWA also secured pledges from 27 donors in the GA yesterday “at a time of great challenge” for the agency.

Mali: USG for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, briefed the SC this morning on the situation in Mali. As clashes in the North continue to get worse, Feltman noted that a military operation might be required as a last resort to deal with terrorist and criminal elements in the region. The priority, however, must be an inclusive national dialogue to end the conflict and to support the national authorities in pursuit of that goal, he said.

DRC: The humanitarian and security situation in the Kivus in Eastern DRC remains fragile, reported the Spokesperson today. M23 fighters withdrew from Goma over the weekend, in line with requirements laid out in a communiqué issued during the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region, and the airport has been reopened. Despite such progress, the humanitarian situation remains dire. A camp hosting 30,000 people was recently looted by armed men in North Kivu and, in Minova, there is evidence that rape is being used as a tool of war, with over 70 reported thus far.

Myanmar: OCHA Chief Valerie Amos is in Rakhine state on Myanmar’s coast today taking stock of the current humanitarian situation following the ethnic violence that has plagued the country since June. Amos noted that “the trust is not there,” urging political support for OCHA’s operations in the region as well as emphasizing the strong need for reconciliation. OCHA is currently working to assist some 115,000 people that are living in camps or with host families across Rakhine state.