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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

THURSDAY, 5 MARCH 2015

 

EBOLA: VACCINE TRIAL TO START IN GUINEE AFTER PROMISING INITIAL CLINICAL TESTS

·         On Ebola, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced today the launch of a Phase III trial in Guinea to test the VSV-EBOV vaccine for efficacy and effectiveness to prevent Ebola.

·         This phase will start on Saturday, 7 March, with the Health Ministry of Guinea, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Epicentre and The Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), and is based on promising data from initial clinical trials.

·         Vaccination will take place in areas of Basse Guinée, the region that currently has the highest number of cases in the country.

·         The objectives of the trial are two-fold: to assess if the vaccine protects the contacts who were vaccinated and if vaccinating the contacts will create a buffer - or ring of protected individuals - around the index case to prevent further spread of the infection.

·         Vaccination will also be proposed to frontline workers in the area where the trial will take place.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES STATES TO UPHOLD PRINCIPLES IN FIGHT AGAINST EXTREMISM

·         From Geneva, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein urged States not “to lose their grasp” of the human rights principles underlying their societies in their struggle against violent extremism.

·         He said that the fight against terror was a struggle to uphold the values of democracy and human rights – not undermine them. He added that counter-terrorist operations that are non-specific, disproportionate, brutal and inadequately supervised violate the very norms we seek to defend and can risk handing terrorists a propaganda tool.

·         The High Commissioner said he was deeply concerned at measures that restrict freedom of expression and democratic space in numerous countries.

·         Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein was presenting his Annual Report to the Human Rights Council. His remarks spanned numerous major issues affecting countries and individuals all across the world, including many forms of discrimination, as well as racial and religious hatred.

IRAQ: HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE BEGINNING TO ARRIVE IN SAMARRA

·         In Iraq, humanitarian agencies report that a small number of families continue to arrive in Samarra every day but getting accurate numbers of displaced people remains challenging as no assessment has yet been conducted.

·         The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that humanitarian partners are planning to conduct a needs assessment this weekend but humanitarian assistance is beginning to arrive in Samarra.

·         The World Food Programme (WFP) has dispatched 2,000 Immediate Response Rations-ready to eat for newly arrived internally displaced families in Samarra.

·         The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have respectively provided 500 and 1,000 household kits.

·         UNHCR is also assisting the Government with camps design and establishment for internally displaced people.

·         And the World Health Organization (WHO) is working with the Government to provide health services through four mobile clinics provided by WHO and expected in Samarra District in the next few days.

YEMEN: REVISED HUMANITARIAN APPEAL SEEKS $747 MILLION FOR URGENT NEEDS

·         UN agencies and humanitarian partners today launched a revised aid appeal for Yemen, seeking more than $747 million to address urgent needs of 8.2 million people in 2015.

·         The funding will help aid organizations provide essential life-saving aid, including food assistance, and carry out protection programmes.

IN LEBANON, U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF DISCUSSES IMPACT OF SYRIAN CRISIS

·         Today in Lebanon, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Valerie Amos, met Prime Minister Tammam Salam, and the Minister for Social Affairs, Rashid Derbas, and other senior officials. They discussed the impact of the Syria crisis on neighbouring countries and the need for more support.

·         Ms. Amos thanked the Government and people of Lebanon for hosting refugees from Syria and acknowledged the impact on the country's economy and people.

·         She hoped that donors at the upcoming Kuwait Conference will generously support Lebanon’s efforts to help refugees and its own economic stability.

U.N. FOOD PRICE INDEX CONTINUES TO DECLINE, REACHES LOWEST LEVEL SINCE JULY 2010

·         The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today that its Food Price Index declined to a 55-month low in February, dropping 1.0 percent from January and 14 percent below its level a year earlier.

·         Lower prices for cereals, meat and especially sugar more than offset an increase in milk and palm oil prices.

·         The Food Price Index is at its lowest level since July 2010. Its decline reflects robust supply conditions as well as ongoing weakness in many currencies versus the U.S. dollar.

SAINT LUCIA LATEST MEMBER STATE TO PAY DUES IN FULL

·         As of 5 March 2015, 53 Member States of the United Nations have paid their regular budget assessments in full, with Saint Lucia being the most recent.