Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

11 October 2017

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Central African Republic

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, just concluded a visit to the Central African Republic today.  Speaking to the press in Bangui, he warned those responsible for atrocities and those instrumentalizing and inciting ethnic and religious hatred will be held responsible and will have to face justice.

In addition to visiting Bria, Mr Dieng met with national authorities, religious and community leaders, representatives of armed groups, civil society and victims.  He stressed the need to start a dialogue on urgent measures to end the violence and ease intercommunal tensions.  He said all the victims have expressed the same will to live together in peace with all Central Africans. 

Mr. Dieng also expressed concern about the gravity and scope of criminal atrocities committed by armed groups in the hinterland with total impunity.

In their weekly press conference, our colleagues at the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) also said they have received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor that took place in Bambari by UN peacekeepers.  The alleged victim was immediately referred to our humanitarian partners on the ground for appropriate medical and psychological assistance.  The Office of Internal Oversight [Services] (OIOS) has carried out a verification of information inquiry and preserved evidence which will lead to the matter being referred to the Member State for further investigation and action.

**Libya 

On Libya, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that over 15,000 residents have been displaced from the city of Sabrata due to clashes and insecurity since 17 September.

Humanitarian workers are supporting the impacted people by providing medical supplies, including trauma kits and body bags, to the city’s hospitals.  Food and non-food assistance has so far been provided to nearly 2,000 people displaced to surrounding areas.  Emergency assistance, including food, bedding, hygiene, as well as baby kits, is also being delivered to areas where migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are being detained, and medical and psychosocial support is also being provided.

There are concerns about overcrowding and the conditions of the centres where the migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are being detained.  Humanitarian workers are calling on the authorities to find solutions for the group, including alternatives to detention, and are calling for unimpeded access to all those currently held.

**Myanmar-Bangladesh

A new report by the UN Human Rights Office has found that brutal attacks against Rohingya in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State have been well-organized, coordinated and systematic, intended to drive the population out of the country and prevent them from returning.

The report is based on interviews by a team from the Office of Human Rights conducted in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar with dozens of newly-arrived Rohingya refugees.

The Human Rights Office says [it is] gravely concerned for the safety of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya who remain in northern Rakhine State amid reports the violence is ongoing, and calls on authorities to immediately allow humanitarian and human rights actors unfettered access to the area.

**Migration

Also in Geneva, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, spoke at the second multi-stakeholder hearing of the Global Compact for Migration.  She noted that while the process to adopt the Global Compact is led by Member States, the participation of stakeholders is key in order to ground the debate in reality.  She also urged civil society to remain committed to improve all aspects of international migration and help dispel misconceptions about migrants.

And tomorrow, the sixth thematic session will begin in Geneva and will focus on irregular migration, regular pathways and labour mobility.  This is the last thematic session before the Conference on International Migration takes place next year.

**Democratic Republic of the Congo

Back here, in the Security Council, this morning, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the Mission (MONUSCO), Maman Sidikou, briefed the Security Council.  He said that challenges related to the implementation of the 31 December agreement have unfortunately persisted in recent months, leading to the re-emergence of a climate of political uncertainty and tensions.  He called for the implementation of confidence-building measures towards elections, noting that progress was made with regard to the voter registration process.

He added that the security situation deteriorated in several provinces, from the Kasais to the Kivus, impacting the life of civilians as well as food security in the country.

Despite the scope of the challenges, the UN Mission continues to adjust its presence to adapt to the circumstances, to maximise efficiency in the context of budget restrictions.

He stressed that the UN’s support was essential but not sufficient.  All regional actors have a role to play to bring stability to the DRC, Mr. Sidikou said.

**Obesity

A report to flag from the World Health Organization (WHO), which is reporting today a ten-fold increase in childhood and adolescent obesity over the last four decades.

According to a new study done with the Imperial College London, the world will have more obese children and adolescents than underweight ones by 2022.  The number of obese 5 to 19 year olds rose from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016.  An additional 213 million were overweight in 2016 but fell below the threshold for obesity.

WHO has also released guidelines calling on frontline health-care workers to actively identify and manage children who are overweight or obese.

**Girls

Today is the International Day of the Girl Child.  This year’s theme is “Empower Girls: Emergency response and resilience planning”, and it seeks to promote the protection of girls from conflict and violence and to strengthen their resilience while ensuring their full participation in mediation and negotiation processes.

And at 3 p.m. at UN Headquarters here, the Deputy Secretary-General will be taking part in the fifth annual Girls Speak Out event.

**Central Emergency Response Fund

Lastly, the Secretary-General has appointed nine new members to the 21-member Advisory Group of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).  As you will recall, established in 2005, the Advisory Group provides policy guidance and advice on the use and impact of Funds.  I will stop there: if you are interested in the list, it is in my office.

**Questions and Answers

Question time.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Sure.  I have questions about meetings taking place today.  One was, on the DRC, I heard, you know, what you'd said, but can you say if there's been any progress on the investigation of the killings of the two experts, Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalán? Has there been any cooperation or coordination between the UN and the Congolese authorities in terms of…

Spokesman:  Yeah, there's been discussion with the Congolese authorities, how to best work on a follow‑on mechanism with UN participation from the Secretariat.  And, as soon as we have confirmed details, we'll share them with you.

Question:  Okay.  And I wanted to ask about the… I was just down in the Fifth Committee, and, obviously, the Secretary‑General spoke, and then some various Member States spoke.  He seemed to… he left.  The US hadn't yet spoken.  And I just wanted to know… a lot of the speeches before that were… were about budget cuts and how… and… and his… his reform proposals.  First of all, like, if you can say it, because it seemed like a pretty… maybe it was just the way the speeches were scheduled, but was there something that he had to do?  It seemed like this was going to be a big moment.

Spokesman:  It's… The Secretary‑General had scheduled meetings.  The fact that he left had absolutely nothing to do with the fact the United States had not spoken or was about to speak.  As you know, the Secretary‑General has been deeply engaged in discussions on UN reform and UN budget with the US Mission, given that the United States is the largest… has the largest single share of budget… responsibility for the budget, in the UN budget, and, obviously, also having contacts with members of Congress.  So, I think nothing should be read into that.

Question:  And I mean, this may seem strange, but when I first went in there, I was actually first told there was… no press.  That's a quote, which, obviously, it's about money, and it's an open meeting.  So, I wanted… maybe that was just a miscommunication.

Spokesman:  No, I think it's a miscommunication.

Question:  I noticed in the… in the speeches that are sent out by the DPI (Department of Public Information) media documents counter, we get a lot… we get… almost every other committee, we get Second Committee, the First Committee, but the Fifth Committee, we're not getting and it seems it’s about money… I'm not complaining about Rey.  I'm saying, is it a policy decision of the UN to not circulate money speeches?

Spokesman:  Money makes the UN go around, as they say.  That's a question you should address either to the GA Spokesman or to the Fifth Committee.  We have no control of that.  Ms. Lederer?

Question:  Stéph, do you have any additional details on this allegation of sex… sexual abuse in Bambari?  Was it a girl?  How old? Any… was it just one person?

Spokesman:  It was… from what I understand — and I think you should also ask our colleagues at the mission, as they would have more detail — it was a 16‑year‑old girl who was involved in the incident, and the incident dates from 30 September.  But the re… the victim was immediately referred to humanitarian partners for psychosocial support, for going to the hospital.  And the victim rights advocate on the ground, the local one, is ensuring that her… she remains safe and receives the assistance she needs.

Question:  And do you know whether anything has happened to the alleged perpetrator?

Spokesman:  The TCC (troop-contributing country) in question is being officially notified.  We've asked, in short, that an investigation is ongoing quickly.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Stéph, do you have any comment on the situation of the Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)?  It seems the visa of the commissioner… or the new visa of the commissioner has been denied, and they are being subject to many more critics…

Spokesman:  We… that's… we understand his visa had not been renewed.  We very much hope the Government will renew his visa.  As you know, the Secretary‑General feels the work of the Commissioner and of the Commission is extremely important.  Yes, Mr.  Lee?

Question:  Sure.  I wanted to ask you about Togo.  I'd asked you before.  You said Mr. [Mohammed Ibn] Chambas went.  And now the Government has announced it's banning all weekday protests, which there have been a lot of protests.  And it seems like… I wanted to know what… what success has the UN had in this Chambas visit and good offices?  And does it have any comment on… on this restriction on the right to assemble?

Spokesman:  We feel that people, as a matter of principle, have a right to demonstrate peacefully, and that right should be upheld in whatever country.  The discussions… I think Mr. Chambas’s office is continuing to look at the matter, and, obviously, the rising tension is an issue of concern for us.

Question:  And I th… again, I… I'm sorry to ask you this again, but I keep getting questions from people in Cameroon, when Mr. [François Louncény] Fall or his team or just for more details, given what's going on there, is there… do you have anything more… the working group?

Spokesman:  I have nothing more to share with you.

Question:  Are they… I mean, have you asked them and they don't want to say or…

Spokesman:  No, I just… if I had something to share with you, I would try to offload it.

Question:  Okay.  And I wanted to ask you about, yester… in the Fourth Committee, the Ambassador of Morocco, Omar Hilale, said two things.  He said that Mr. Horst Köhler is going to the region next week.  So, he put a date on it.  And he also said that the idea of a referendum is dead.  That's… that's what he's quoted as saying.  And, since that's the name of the mission, Referendum in Western Sahara, does the UN have any re… have any… does the UN believe that the referendum is dead?

Spokesman:  On a potential visit by the new special personal envoy, as soon as we have something to confirm, we will do so.  As far as… I'm not going to comment on the Ambassador's statement.  The mission there has a mandate given to it by the Security Council, and its work is to implement that mandate.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.