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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE U.N. SYSTEM
Tuesday, 27 January 2015

UN Headquarters was closed because of inclement weather on 27 January. In the absence of a noon briefing, here are highlights of developments throughout the UN system:


WE MUST REDOUBLE EFFORTS TO ERADICATE ROOTS OF HATRED, URGES SECRETARY-GENERAL ON HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY

  • In his message on the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, the Secretary-General said that 70 years ago, humankind united to overcome the Nazi menace but today we are being tested again.
  • He added that minorities everywhere continue to face bigotry, and that sectarian tensions and other forms of intolerance are on the rise. 
  • Stressing that we still have a distance to travel in upholding human rights, preventing genocide and defending our common humanity, he urged everyone to redouble their efforts to eradicate the deep roots of hatred and intolerance.
  • The Secretary-General is expected to participate at the memorial ceremony on Wednesday at the General Assembly Hall, as well as at the opening of the exhibit called “Shoah: How was it Humanly Possible?”

NEW W.H.O REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR AFRICA SAYS FIGHTING EBOLA WILL BE HER HIGHEST PRIORITY

  • The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board appointed today Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti of Botswana as the new Regional Director for WHO's Africa Region. Dr. Moeti pledged to accord the highest priority to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as she takes office.
  • She said she would work with WHO colleagues and partners to help the affected countries halt the spread of the disease and reach zero cases, while starting on the recovery agenda, including the building of resilient health systems able to withstand similar shocks in the future.
  • Dr. Moeti was nominated Regional Director by the health ministers of the 47 Member States of the WHO African Region at the annual Regional Committee for Africa in Cotonou, Benin, in November 2014. She will take up her appointment for a five-year term on 1 February 2015, succeeding Dr Luis Gomes Sambo who has served as Regional Director for the past 10 years.

U.N. AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES FORCES TO SUSPEND CASH ASSISTANCE TO GAZA

  • The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Tuesday that it has been forced to suspend its cash assistance programme in Gaza to tens of thousands of people for repairs to damaged and destroyed homes and for rental subsidies to the homeless.
  • More than 96,000 Palestine refugee family homes were damaged or destroyed during last summer’s conflict and $720 million is required to address this need.
  • To date, UNRWA has received only $135 million in pledges, leaving a shortfall of $585 million. While some funds remain available to begin the reconstruction of totally destroyed homes, UNRWA has exhausted all funding to support repairs and rental subsidies.
  • The UNRWA Director in Gaza, Robert Turner, warned that many families in Gaza continue to have inadequate shelter during severe winter weather. People are sleeping amongst the rubble; children have died of hypothermia. He said that the situation is distressing and unacceptable.

MIDDLE EAST QUARTET UNDERSCORES URGENCY OF IMPROVING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN GAZA

  • The Middle East Quartet Envoys (US, Russia, UN and EU) met on 26 January in Brussels. EU High Representative Federica Mogherini attended the start of the meeting.
  • The envoys shared assessments of the political outlook for the region and prospects for reviving the Middle East Peace Process. They explored the role that the Quartet could play in supporting the resumption of meaningful negotiations with the aim of achieving a comprehensive peace agreement based on a two-state solution. They noted in this regard the importance of engaging closely with their Arab partners. They agreed on the importance of convening a meeting of the Quartet Principals as soon as possible.
  • They also underscored the urgency of improving the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza and agreed that every effort should be made to encourage the fulfilment of pledges of assistance made at the Cairo Conference on the reconstruction of Gaza in October last year.

SECRETARY-GENERAL MEETS WITH ISRAELI PRESIDENT

  • The Secretary-General met on Monday with Reuven Rivlin, President of the State of Israel.
  • They discussed a wide range of issues, including the upcoming Holocaust Memorial Ceremony at the United Nations and the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe. They also discussed the importance for the parties to create the conditions conducive to a resumption of meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
  • The Secretary-General and President Rivlin also discussed the heightened tensions in Israel, the West Bank and Jerusalem. The Secretary-General expressed his appreciation for the President’s commitment to promote calm and his clear voice of moderation.

SECRETARY-GENERAL EXPRESSES APPRECIATION FOR SWEDISH EFFORTS ON DEATH OF DAG HAMMARSKJOLD

  • The Secretary-General met on Monday afternoon with Margot Wallström, Foreign Minister of Sweden.  They exchanged views on situation in Syria and Ukraine. They also addressed the challenge of countering violent extremism.
  • Referring to the recent resolution adopted by the General Assembly on Dag Hammarskjöld, the Secretary-General expressed appreciation for Sweden’s efforts to bring to light the conditions and circumstances relating to the death of the former Secretary-General.
  • During the meeting, they discussed the process ahead of the Special Summit on Sustainable Development in September 2015. In this context, the Foreign Minister and the Secretary-General also stressed the importance to address climate change.
  • They also exchanged views on the review process of UN Peace Operations and the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.

 UN MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN CONDEMNS KILLING OF CIVILIANS IN ROADSIDE AMBUSH

  • The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) strongly condemns the killing of eleven civilians, five of them journalists, in a roadside ambush while travelling to Raja in Western Bahr El Ghazal State on Sunday, 25 January.
  • The Mission says that unidentified gunmen reportedly opened fire on a two-car convoy, which was transporting the new County Commissioner of Raja, James Benjamin, including a team of local journalists.
  • The vehicles were returning to Raja when they came under attack between Sepo and Magaya. It was the second roadside ambush in the country in less than two weeks.
  • The Mission calls upon local, state and national authorities to investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice.

 U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND SUPPORTS ONE OF LRGST CHILDREN DEMOBILIZATION PROCESS IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that it is supporting one of the largest demobilizations of children from armed groups which is starting today in South Sudan.
  • This demobilization includes some 3,000 children, who will gradually quit the armed fraction COBRA, commanded by David Yau Yau,  in the village of Gumuruk, in the State of Jonglei.
  • UNICEF adds that the first part of the demobilization today involved 280 children.
  • The Children’s Fund and partners will provide psychosocial support, education and skills training for the children. UNICEF also supports them with immediate interim care – food, shelter, clothing and basic health.
  • After they are registered, UNICEF will begin to trace their families.
  • UNICEF says that currently more than 12,000 children were used by armed forces and groups on both sides of the conflict.

U.N. OFFICIAL URGES MORE FUNDING FOR AID RESPONSE FOR CHILDREN IN UKRAINE

  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Ukraine, Giovanna Barberis, said that the recent shelling in Mariupol, which had killed two children and injured seven, was as a shocking reminder of the price being paid by children and families in the ongoing violence. 
  • With an estimated 1.7 million children had been affected by the conflict, the agency is calling on the international community for funds to enable urgent scaling up of the humanitarian response.
  • In particular, a group of 1,000 children who had taken refuge in some 12 bomb shelters in Donetsk was said to be the most vulnerable due to the lack of sanitation, improper living arrangements and limited water and food supply.