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Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 26 AUGUST 2014

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES IGAD SUMMIT ON SOUTH SUDAN

  • In a statement issued on 25 August, the Secretary-General welcomed the holding of the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Heads of State Summit on South Sudan.
  • The Secretary-General took note of the signing of the 23 January 2014 Cessation of Hostilities Agreement implementation matrix by the Government of South Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Army in Opposition.
  • He called on both parties to immediately implement the agreement and uphold their commitment to establishing a Transitional Government of National Unity. He also commended the IGAD Heads of States and their Special Envoys for their tireless efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis in South Sudan and reiterates the full support of the United Nations to this process.
  • The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has confirmed that three crew members of a helicopter contracted by the United Nations died today when it crashed near Bentiu in Unity State.
  • One surviving crew member has received treatment from Médecins Sans Frontieres in Bentiu. The helicopter was on a routine cargo flight with the Mission when contact was lost.
  • Toby Lanzer, the officer-in-charge of UNMISS, expressed his condolences to the families of the deceased, and wished a full and speedy recovery to the injured crew member.
  • The Mission has currently launched an investigation to determine the cause of the crash. The crew members were Russian citizens and the helicopter was contracted from a Russian company.

SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF U.N. MISSION IN LEBANON

  • Today, the Security Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) until 31 August 2015. The Council also held consultations on Guinea-Bissau.
  • The Security Council has issued a press statement welcoming the progress against armed groups in Africa’s Great Lakes region. However, the Council regretted the lack of significant progress made towards neutralizing the Forces Démocratiques de Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), which it called a top priority in bringing stability to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region. 

EBOLA: HEAVY TOLL ON HEALTH CARE WORKERS IN WEST AFRICA FURTHER IMPEDES CONTROL EFFORTS

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) said that the heavy toll on health care workers in this Ebola outbreak further impedes control efforts. To date, more than 240 health care workers have developed the disease in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, and more than 120 have died.
  • WHO said that this heavy toll could be because neither doctors nor the public were familiar with the disease in these countries. Moreover, several infectious diseases endemic in the region, like malaria, typhoid fever, and Lassa fever, mimic the initial symptoms of Ebola, and health care workers may not have seen, at first, the need to take protective measures.
  • Once the Ebola virus was identified and proper protective measures were put in place, cases among medical staff dropped dramatically. However, the heavy death toll among health care workers depletes one of the most vital assets during the control of any outbreak, as WHO estimates that, in the three hardest-hit countries, only one to two doctors are available to treat 100,000 people, mostly in urban areas.
  • The loss of so many doctors and nurses has made it difficult for WHO to secure support from sufficient numbers of foreign medical staff. The African Union has launched an urgent initiative to recruit more health care workers from among its members.
  • The United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) said that it remains fully committed to supporting the people of Liberia in their fight against Ebola. Under the leadership of Karin Landgren, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Liberia, UNMIL has reoriented several aspects of its civilian and security operations, and works closely with the United Nations Country Team to provide support to the Government-led response and prevention efforts. 
  • UNMIL’s field offices continue to provide support to Superintendents and County Health Teams. They are facilitating the work of United Nations agencies and NGOs battling Ebola in a number of counties.
  • UNMIL is leading a crisis logistics team, comprising United Nations agencies, the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, to expedite the delivery of supplies and equipment to those in need throughout the country.

PAST WEEK DEADLIEST FOR PEOPLE CROSSING MEDITERRANEAN, SAYS U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY

  • The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that the past few days have been the deadliest this year on the Mediterranean for people making irregular crossings to Europe, with more than 300 people having died in the past week while trying to cross over from North Africa.
  • The report, issued by UNHCR in Geneva today, underscores that this brings the death toll this year from sinking vessels on the Mediterranean to almost 1,900, including 1,600 since June.
  • The Agency said that the main departure country for Europe is Libya, where the worsening security situation has fostered the growth of people smuggling operations, but also encouraged refugees and migrants to risk a sea journey rather than remain in a conflict zone.
  • UNHCR’s Tripoli office receives daily calls from refugees, asylum-seekers and others expressing fear for their lives and making desperate requests for food, water, medicine and relocation.
  • The Agency said that the situation at Europe's sea borders demands urgent and concerted European action, including strengthened search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean, ensuring that rescue measures are safe. It also commended the Italian Navy’s operations which have saved thousands of lives.

U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND DEPLOYS ITS LARGEST EMERGENCY AID OPERATION EVER IN A SINGLE MONTH

  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today that it has deployed its largest emergency aid ever in a single month. So far this month, it has shipped 1,000 metric tons of life-saving supplies for children caught in the world’s most urgent crises – an amount that would fill 19 cargo jumbo jets.
  • In August, UNICEF’s supply hub has dispatched 33 emergency cargo loads to the world’s most troubled crises, including the Central African Republic, Iraq, Liberia, Palestine, South Sudan and Syria.

INTERNATIONALLY ACCLAIMED MUSICIAN JOINS W.F.P. AS GLOBAL AMBASSADOR AGAINST HUNGER

  • Internationally acclaimed musician Sami Yusuf has joined the World Food Programme (WFP) as its Global Ambassador against Hunger. Mr. Yusuf’s new status will allow him to raise awareness about WFP’s life-saving work and to advocate on behalf of communities in need.
  • Mr. Yusuf, a long-time supporter of WFP, has already visited the agency’s operations in Jordan and Egypt. In the past, he has donated proceeds from his record sales to support WFP’s work during the Horn of Africa drought in 2011. More recently, he dedicated one of his songs to survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
  • As an ambassador, Mr. Yusuf joins an influential group of renowned celebrities and sports stars, including actress Drew Barrymore, singer Christina Aguilera, Chelsea Football Club Manager Jose Mourinho and footballer Kaka.