The SC; CAR; Gaza; Drones; Sudan/South Sudan

The SC: The SC met this morning to discuss its program of work for January. Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar also briefed the press this afternoon, as Pakistan takes over the presidency of the Security Council for the month of January. This month’s program includes open debates on counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, and the Middle East; briefings on Yemen, CAR, Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, and Mali; and more. The Council will also be tracking the situations in the DRC and in Syria.

CAR: OCHA has also voiced serious concerns about the protection of civilians amid reports of widespread looting and violence in the CAR, where an armed rebel group had threatened to march on the capital. According to a situation report the agency released today, “An estimated 316,000 people are living in the affected areas, and some 700,000 persons in Bangui are at further risk of an escalation in fighting.” The SC also met to discuss the Central African Republic this afternoon.

Gaza: The easing of restrictions by Israel on the flow of goods to Gaza is “a welcome development,” as this is something the SG has called for a long time. The Spokesperson noted that this is part of a larger picture due to the cease-fire arrangements that also seek to have guarantees in place to ensure that illicit weapons do not enter Gaza.

Drones: When asked about the recent drone attacks across the globe, the Spokesperson drew journalists’ attention to the SG’s report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict issued in May 2012. He noted the language on drones is very specific, and calls on Member States to ensure drone usage complies with international law.

Sudan/South Sudan: The SG welcomes the holding of the Summit meeting between President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan and President Salva Kiir of South Sudan, to be hosted tomorrow, January 4, by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia with the facilitation of President Thabo Mbeki, chair of the AU High-Level Implementation Panel. The SG encourages both Presidents to address decisively all outstanding issues between the two countries, and noted that the UN stands ready to support the parties the resolution of all remaining disputes.