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21 July 2014
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING
BY FARHAN HAQ, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
MONDAY, 21 JULY 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN CAIRO AS PART OF EFFORT TO OBTAIN ISRAEL/GAZA CEASEFIRE
The Secretary-General has arrived in Cairo, where he is expected to meet with the Egyptian President and Foreign Minister as part of his continuing effort to obtain an immediate ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.
He arrived in Cairo from Kuwait City, where he met with the Amir of Kuwait, His Highness Sheikh Sabah al-Hamad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. He told the Amir that he was in the region to promote a ceasefire but stressed that a cease fire was not enough that the root causes of the conflict also had to be addressed.
The Secretary-General added that efforts should be made to strengthen the Palestinian government of national unity, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, by encouraging an internal Palestinian dialogue. The Amir updated the Secretary-General on his recent meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Mashal, who had been in Kuwait the previous day.
Immediately following that meeting, the Secretary-General met the Foreign Minister, His Highness Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah.
The Secretary-General began his travel to the region yesterday in Doha, Qatar, where he met with the Amir of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The Foreign Minister of Qatar, Khalid Bin Mohamed Al-Attiyah, also participated in the meeting.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister spoke briefly to reporters and said that he was coming to the region on a journey of solidarity and peace.
He called for an immediate ceasefire as a first step. He added that one had to address the root causes of the conflict so as to avoid the perpetual cycle of war and perpetual insecurity for all.
The Secretary-General added that all sides need to be assured that that international humanitarian law counts, and there will be accountability and justice for crimes committed by any party.
Later that same evening, the Secretary-General met with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, who was also in Doha. The President updated the Secretary-General on the negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza.
Asked about efforts to protect civilians, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General believes that a halt to the fighting is necessary for the civilian population, who have borne the brunt of the killing.
Asked about accountability, Haq added that the Secretary-General had stated that there needs to be accountability for recent actions, although his current focus is on halting the fighting.
Asked about Egypt’s role, he said that the current initiative for a ceasefire is Egyptian-led, but added that the Secretary-General is supporting Egypt’s leadership in mediating a durable ceasefire. The bottom line, he said, was to get a durable ceasefire that would be agreed to by the parties on the ground.
Asked about Palestinian casualties, the Spokesman said that more than 430 Palestinians had been reported killed. He noted recent information received by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs that most of those killed were civilians.
Asked about the use of a Qatari-chartered plane for the travel, the Spokesman pointed to the Secretary-General’s need to fly to the region on short notice over the past few days and added that such travel would not have been possible without the chartered plane.
Asked when the Secretary-General would return to New York, Haq said that was expected by the end of the week.
U.N. RELIEF WING SAYS SOME 60 PALESTINIAN CIVILIANS KILLED OVER WEEKEND
In the latest situation report on the emergency in Gaza, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that up to 60 Palestinians are reported to have been killed from Saturday to Sunday, making that 24-hour period the deadliest since the start of the current escalation.
Mass displacement has increased, including up to half the residents of the Ash Shuja'ieyh suburb, who have fled to Gaza City. The overall number of displaced people is now reported to have exceeded 100,000, including some 84,000 people sheltering in schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that more than 3,000 Palestinians have been injured.
The main priority for humanitarian agencies continues to be the provision of food, water, mattresses and hygiene items, as well as fuel for essential water, health and sewage facilities.
The World Food Programme (WFP) continues to provide daily food rations, together with UNRWA, and more than 50,000 people have received emergency assistance in the last 24 hours. The World Food Programme is distributing daily food rations to more than 2,000 hospital patients and staff across the Gaza Strip. And the World Health Organization is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and other partners on the most urgent health needs.