Syria; Israeli-Syrian Violence; Haiti; Sustainable Development; Bahrain

Syria: Jeffrey Feltman, USG for Political Affairs, briefed the SC this morning in consultations on Syria and the efforts by Lakhdar Brahimi. Speaking to the press after the meeting, Mr. Feltman said that the overriding message was one of “grave concern.” He noted that the solution needs to come through a political process which has to be Syrian led – Mr. Brahimi’s current focus – and also reemphasized the Geneva Communiqué as an important building block.

Israeli-Syrian Violence: The Spokesperson announced today that there have been sporadic firefights between Syrian security forces, including the Syrian army, and armed members of the opposition in the area of separation in Golan, the equivalent of a buffer zone between the parties under the 1974 Disengagement Agreement between the Israeli and Syrian forces. The presence of military personnel and the military operations in the area of separation is a grave violation of the 1974 Agreement, and has the potential to escalate tensions between Israel and Syria and jeopardizes the ceasefire between the two countries and the stability of the region. The UN Disengagement Observer Force Commander in the Golan continues to liaise with Syrian authorities and the Israel Defense Forces to prevent an escalation of tension.

Haiti: UN humanitarian agencies announced today that they need funds to provide food assistance to the people of Haiti and to help rehabilitate the country’s agricultural sector in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. WFP said it needs more than $20 million to fund food assistance for some 425,000 people, while FAO and the Haitian Government also seek $74 million over the next 12 months to help rehabilitate the agricultural sector. The storm caused colossal damage to Haiti’s crops, land, livestock, fisheries and rural infrastructures, leaving more than 600,000 Haitians at risk of food and nutrition insecurity.

Sustainable Development: In honor of the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, the SG emphasized the link between peace, conflict, and the environment, urging the international community to recognize peace and security as “a critical fourth dimension” of sustainable development. In his message for the day, “There can be no peace if the resource base that people depend on for sustenance and income is damaged or destroyed – or if illegal exploitation finances or causes conflict.”

Bahrain: When asked about the deadly bombings that took place in Bahrain yesterday, the Spokesperson said that, “These violent acts cannot be justified by any cause.” According to media reports, five bombs exploded in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, killing two foreign workers and critically injuring a third. The bombings have been described as a terrorist attack by Bahraini officials.