Syrian Crisis: United Nations Response – Update No.15

04-2-hcr-syrian-refsSpecial Representative Lakhdar Brahimi met with Syrian President al-Assad in Damascus on 30 October as part of his ongoing tour in the Middle East to garner support for convening the Geneva II conference. On the eve of the meeting, he held consultations with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem. In a media briefing at Headquarters, the Spokesperson said that Mr. Brahimi was also scheduled to meet with opposition groups as well as civil society and women’s groups while in Syria. The Joint Special Representative will subsequently travel to Beirut for talks with Lebanon’s President, Prime Minister and the Speaker of Parliament.

The first monthly report of the OPCW Director-General on the activities of the OPCW-UN Joint Mission was submitted to the Security Council by the Secretary-General on 28 October. According to the report, chemical weapons inspectors completed inspections at 21 of the 23 sites disclosed by Syria. Due to security conditions, two remaining sites could not be inspected within the established timeline. However, OPCW said that efforts continue to ensure the necessary conditions for safe access to these sites. In the letter transmitting the report, the Secretary-General noted that the functional destruction of Syria’s capacity to produce chemical weapons is expected to be completed as planned by 1 November 2013, with the possible exception of the two sites.

In a press statement, OPCW also said that Syria had submitted a formal declaration of its chemical weapons programme three days ahead of a 27 October deadline, together with a general plan of destruction, for consideration by the OPCW Executive Council.

On 29 October, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed 10 cases of Wild Polio Virus Type 1 among young children in northeastern Syria. The agency warned that with frequent population movements across the region and sub-national immunity gaps in key areas, the risk of further international spread of wild polio virus type 1 across the region is considered to be high. A surveillance alert has been issued for the region to actively search for additional potential cases.

Following a two-day visit to Damascus, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said that the Syrian Government and UNICEF had agreed on the importance of reaching hundreds of thousands of children in some of the worst-affected parts of Syria with life saving vaccines, including those against polio. He stressed that with cases of polio now emerging in Syria for the first time since 1999, vaccinating children against polio is an urgent and critical priority for Syria and for the whole world.

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Security Council encourages closer UN cooperation with Islamic organization
28 October 2013 – The Security Council recognized and encouraged the active contribution of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the work of the United Nations in the fields of peacemaking, preventive diplomacy, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. (…) The UN chief urged partnerships to be strengthened between the UN and OIC which “could be uniquely placed” to launch a major initiative with partners to help end the “profoundly worrying” heightened tensions between Sunni and Shia communities in Syria and other parts of the world.

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