UN Assessment team on the ground in Japan, Pascoe briefs Council on Libya, HRC considers Cote d’Ivoire, Libya, DPRK and more from UN Direct

Japan: today the SG spoke with the DG of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, who informed him that there was no danger of a chain reaction of the nuclear reactors, noting that there should be minimal health consequences. Also, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has arrived in Japan and plans to go to the affected areas. The Government of Japan requested the UN to disseminate updates about the current situation in Japan to the international community. Also, the U.S. has offered Japan with whatever assistance is needed and stands with the country as they recover and rebuild. So far, the U.S. has helped in a handful of ways: 1) USAID is coordinating the overall U.S. government efforts in support of the Japanese government’s response to the earthquake and tsunami; 2) the U.S. Ambassador declared an emergency which opened up an immediate funding of $100K from USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance; 3) a Response Management Team in DC has been set up; 4) a Disaster Assistance Response Team has been sent to Tokyo, which includes people with nuclear expertise from the Departments of Energy and Health and Human Services as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC); 5) two Urban Search and Rescue Teams – totaling 144 members – are on the ground in Misawa, Japan.

Libya: The Security Council received an update on the latest developments in Libya by B. Lynn Pascoe, USG for Political Affairs, today. The Special Envoy for Libya, Abdul Ilah Khatib, is currently heading to Libya now. Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Rashid Khalikov, arrived in Tripoli over the weekend. He has met with authorities to discuss access for humanitarian aid workers throughout the country. The government has informed Mr. Khalikov that his mission would be granted access outside Tripoli during his visit, including areas of recent fighting. A large number of migrant workers are around airports. The Security Council remains divided on the possible call to implement a no-fly and will need several days to continue discussions and agree on measures. Britain and France are still working on a no-fly zone resolution, which is backed by the Arab League. Meanwhile, Russia and China lead the opposition as the U.S., Germany, and other countries are hesitant. It is, however, important to highlight that Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin indicated to the press that he hadn’t ruled out the option, noting that Moscow is open-minded. In regards to the implementation of the no-fly zone, Nawaf Salam, Perm. Rep. of Lebanon, said that the matter will be addressed in the draft resolution that Lebanon is preparing with other members of the Council.  Speaking at a session of the HRC today on follow-up to its special session on Libya, Ambassador Donahoe expressed the U.S.’ grave concern for the situation in Libya and deplored the continued abuses, adding that “Gadhafi’s departure is the only way to bring an end to the bloodshed and set Libya on the path toward democratic government”.

Côte d’Ivoire: Speaking at the HRC today, Ambassador Eileen Donahoe, the U.S. Representative to the HRC, noted the grave and deteriorating situation in Côte d’Ivoire. She explained that continued reports of mass human rights abuses and violations of international law must be investigated. Furthermore, she expressed the U.S.’ full support for the initiative that the Ivoirians introduced, which proposes the HRC to establish a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the current situation in Côte d’Ivoire. Ambassador Donahoe stated that it’s important that members of the HRC strongly support the effort to send a message to former President Gbagbo that he must respect the will of the Ivoirian people, step down immediately, and acknowledge that Ouattara is the President of the country.

Sudan: In regards to the ongoing clashes in Abeyi, SRSG for Sudan Haile Menkerios continues to speak with both parties to find a suitable solution. UNMIS confirmed that both sides have reinforced their positions within the Abyei region, including the confirmed presence of Sudanese Armed Forces and SPLM troops not affiliated with the Abyei Joint Integrated Units.

West Bank: The SG condemns the murder of the Israeli family and is calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also condemned the killing of the family, which took place last Friday. His condemnation was delivered over Israel’s public radio. Abbas spoke with Benjamin Netanyahu, PM of Israel on Saturday.

HRC on DPRK: Today, Ambassador Robert King, the U.S. Special Envoy on North Korea Human Rights issues, made a statement to the HRC on the U.S.’ call for continued UN focus on the human rights situation in North Korea. The DPRK government continues to exclude Special Rapporteur Marzuki Darusman from visiting the country and fulfilling his mandate to observe and assess the current human rights situation. The U.S. echoes the Special Rapporteur’s disappointment that the government rejected 117 recommendations from the UPR process, and supports the work of the Special Rapporteur for continuing to shed light on human rights violations. Also, the U.S. welcomes the SR’s creative approach to identify practical ways that the DPRK government and international community can improve conditions for the people of the DPRK, including his recommendations for the DPRK to cooperate with OHCHR.