The SG; Syria; IDPs; Philippines; Myanmar

The SG: The SG traveled to Jordan and Iraq today, where he raised concerns about the political divisions that remain in the country. During meetings with Iraq’s President, Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and leaders of Parliamentar political blocs, Mr. Ban reiterated his call for Iraq and Kuwait to fully quell the existing tension between them.

Syria: The SG also called the DG of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons today to express his continued concern over Syria’s chemical weapons and recent reports of plans for their possible use. Lakhdar Brahimi met with Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, and Secretary Clinton today. The three officials agreed that there is an urgent need to initiate a political process to help resolve the ongoing conflict in Syria, yet no concrete decisions have been made regarding how to move forward. UNESCO Chief Irina Bokova also voiced deep concern over the continued killing of both professional and citizen journalists in Syria, after the news of the violent death of eight journalists since late November.

IDPs: The Kampala Convention entered into force today, the world’s first Africa-wide treaty that protects people displaced within their own countries by violence, natural disasters, or large-scale development projects. Africa accounts for 10 million of the 26 million internally displaced people worldwide who were driven from their homes by conflict or human rights-related violence in 2011. The “historic” treaty, applicable and binding only in Africa, is a “milestone” for the continent and serves as an “international model,” praised by both UNHCR Chief Antonio Guterres and UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs, Chaloka Beyani.

Philippines: The SG expressed his condolences at the loss of life and serious damage to homes and infrastructure in the Philippines as a result of Typhoon Bopha (known locally as Typhoon Pablo), the second devastating storm to hit Mindanao in a year. He noted that the UN stands ready to provide humanitarian assistance to the country and to mobilize international support for the response effort.

Myanmar: Today, Valerie Amos called on the Government of Myanmar to work with the UN and its partners to increase efforts to address the humanitarian issues causing continued instability in the country. In Kachin, Myanmar, the OCHA chief expressed to President Thein Sein that security concerns in the country cannot stand in the way of delivering humanitarian assistance. “We have substantial experience working in insecure environments… We hope the Government will give us permission to travel to these areas and provide the aid that is so desperately needed,” said Ms. Amos.