Syria; Fifth Committee; South Sudan; DRC; WFP

Syria: On Sunday, Lakhdar Brahimi met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the SG of the League of Arab States, Nabil El-Araby, in Cairo. Speaking to press after the meeting, Mr. Brahimi said that there was no military solution to the Syrian crisis, and that the only possibility was a political solution. Mr. Brahimi also said that the Geneva Communiqué should be turned into an SC resolution and he encouraged Council members to continue talks to achieve such a goal.

Fifth Committee: The Fifth Committee held its 11th Formal meeting today, after pausing last week due to Hurricane Sandy. During the meeting, the USG for Management, Yukio Takasu, and USG for Safety and Security, Gregory Starr, briefed the Committee on the damage to the UN buildings during the Hurricane, which included “severe and unprecedented” flood damage to the cooling and electrical systems, that has largely been contained. In response to their briefing, several Member States spoke adamantly about the “total failure” in communication between the UN and the Missions during the storm and in the days following, as well as the need for drastic improvement of the UN’s emergency management procedures.

South Sudan: In a statement released yesterday, Special Envoy for South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, announced that South Sudan’s decision to expel a UN human rights officer constitutes a “breach of the legal obligations” of the Government of the nation and of the UN Charter. UNMISS recently received official communication from the Government ordering one of its human rights officers to leave the country within 48 hours. Johnson is currently seeking clarification on the reasons behind the order and is in communication with South Sudanese officials to protest against this decision. According to the SG’s Spokesperson, UN officials here in New York, including the DSG, have taken up the matter as well.

DRC: John Ging, Director of Operations for OCHA, briefed the press on the agency’s humanitarian efforts in the DRC. He urged a greater response to tackle the major humanitarian needs being experienced in eastern DRC, where over two million people have been displaced by fighting, what he calls a “very bleak illustration of the dire humanitarian situation the country is facing.” Despite humanitarian needs in the DRC rising consistently in recent years, funding for the relief response has decreased steadily since 2009, according to OCHA, with annual contributions falling from $541 million in 2008 to $391 million in 2011.

WFP: Head of WFP, Ertharin Cousin, will be in Lebanon and Jordan to meet Syrian refugees and to see the increasing humanitarian needs firsthand starting Tuesday. Cousin will meet senior Government officials in both countries and visit WFP food distributions in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon and in Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. She will hold press conferences in both locations.