HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER 2014
SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS MEMBER STATES FOR SUPPORT IN FIGHT AGAINST EBOLA
- This afternoon, the Secretary-General will ask the General Assembly for its support in the fight against Ebola.
- Yesterday, he confirmed that the response to Ebola would require 1 billion dollars over the next 6 months.
- He also announced the establishment of a UN emergency health mission, combining the World Health Organization’s strategic perspective with a very strong logistics and operational capacity.
- This international mission, to be known as the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) will have five priorities: stopping the outbreak, treating the infected, ensuring essential services, preserving stability and preventing further outbreaks.
- In his speech to the Security Council, the Secretary-General also stressed that the disease is destroying health systems in affected countries and that more people are now dying in Liberia from treatable ailments and common medical conditions than from Ebola itself.
- To date, 318 healthcare workers are known to have developed the disease, and almost half of whom have died as a result.
- The gravity of this situation is compounded by the fact that even before the current crisis, Liberia had just 51 medical doctors to serve a population of 3.7 million people, and that Sierra Leone had one of the lowest number of health workers per capita in the world.
- Next Thursday, 25 September, the Secretary-General is convening a High Level Meeting on Ebola that will bring together global leaders to take stock of where we are in the fight against the virus.
- With 134 co-sponsors, the resolution that was adopted yesterday by the Security Council had the highest number ever of co-sponsors in the Council’s history.
MALI: WOUNDED BLUE HELMETS FLOWN TO HOSPITAL
- Following the attack yesterday in Mali’s Kidal region which killed five Chadian peacekeepers serving in the United Nations Mission in the country, MINUSMA, and injured three others when their vehicle was hit by an explosive device, the wounded peacekeepers have been evacuated by helicopter and are now at the UN Mission’s Chinese hospital in Gao.
- The Secretary-General expressed his outrage in a statement issued early this morning.
- He also called on the armed groups meeting in Algiers to take immediate action on their declaration to collaborate with MINUSMA to prevent these attacks. And he said that these continued assaults against the United Nations must cease immediately.
- The latest attack brings the total number of peacekeepers killed in incidents by explosive devices in Mali to 21 and 84 wounded peacekeepers since the beginning of the mission on 1 July 2013.
- The total number of peacekeepers killed to 31 and of those gravely wounded to 106 in that Mission.
- The Security Council also issued a press statement this morning condemning this attack.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES PEACEFUL FIJI VOTE
- In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General welcomed the peaceful conduct of the parliamentary elections in Fiji on 17 September, in which he commended the people of Fiji for exercising their constitutional right to vote.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES MALAYSIA AIRLINES CRASH
- The Security Council is met on Ukraine this morning, discussing the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight 17.
- Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman told the Council the ceasefire in southeastern Ukraine is holding so far and has contributed to a marked de-escalation on the ground.
- But, he said, the conditions are still not conducive for investigators to have full and unfettered access to the site.
- Mr. Feltman said that the Secretary-General once again calls on all those with influence on the situation to exert it immediately, so as to create a positive security environment for investigators.
- He added that winter will soon arrive in Ukraine, and will make access to that site even more difficult.
- That meeting on Ukraine is to be followed by a meeting on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF).
- In the afternoon, the Security Council will be holding a ministerial meeting on Iraq chaired by the US Secretary of State. As you know, the US presides over the Council this month. John Kerry will preside over this debate. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Nickolay Mladenov, as well as the new Iraqi Foreign Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, are also scheduled to brief Council members.
IRAQ: GOVERNMENT, U.N. AGENCIES CONDUCT MASS POLIO IMMUNIZATION CAMPAIGN
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the Iraqi Ministry of Health, with the support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has successfully concluded a mass polio immunization campaign on Thursday, immunizing millions of children across the country.
- The five-day campaign was conducted between 14 and 18 September and is part of an ongoing national response, at a time when the number of children displaced by conflict continues to increase.
- Also a new report released on Thursday by a consortium of UN agencies, NGOs and media development organizations highlights the importance of access to information for Iraqi communities and their ability to cope with the humanitarian crisis in Iraq.
- The report follows a rapid assessment of information and communication needs carried out in northern Iraq in August. Its findings reveal that displaced Iraqis often have only limited access to information regarding the provision of and access to basic services.
- The report also calls on aid agencies to strengthen their information sharing and their ability to listen to those affected.
U.N. YEMEN ENVOY URGES IMMEDIATE CESSATION OF VIOLENCE
- The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Yemen, Jamal Benomar, reiterated the need to cease all violent acts immediately in the country and expressed hope that the relevant parties would exercise restraint and act in a manner that achieves the highest national interests of Yemen.
SYRIA: HUMAN ERROR BEHIND DEATHS OF CHILDREN DURING VACCINE CAMPAIGN – WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
- In today’s Geneva press briefing, the World Health Organization (WHO) provided further details about an incident during a recent measles vaccination campaign in Syria. Information collected by a three-member WHO team indicated that human error was behind the deaths of 15 children during a vaccination campaign in Idlib, in northern Syria, on 16 September.
- A diluent that was to be used with the measles vaccine had been kept in a fridge with a muscle relaxant – Atracurium - which was normally used for anaesthesia.
- WHO says that the biggest challenge now is to continue the investigation. The Measles Task Force on the ground had immediately suspended the vaccination campaign, but it remains important to continue immunization as soon as possible and rebuild trust with the community.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF URGES SMUGGLERS BEHIND DEADLY SINKING OF SHIP CARRYING REFUGEES TO BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights today urged Egypt and other North African States, as well as European countries, to bring to justice those smugglers who allegedly deliberately sank a boat causing the deaths of between 300 and 500 refugees and migrants in the Mediterranean last week.
Calling this a truly horrendous incident, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stressed that it was crucial to bring to an end the prevailing impunity surrounding such crimes.
He urged States to do more to address the root causes driving people to make such dangerous journeys.
- The High Commissioner said that all the countries in the Mediterranean must make a concerted effort to clamp down on the smugglers who are exploiting one of the most vulnerable groups on the planet and endangering their lives, purely for financial gain.
BAHRAIN: U.N. WELCOMES RELEASE OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER
- The Human Rights Office today they issued a statement welcoming the conditional release of Bahraini human rights defender Maryam Al-Khawaja, who had been in detention since her arrest at Manama airport on 30 August. The Office will be closely watching the results of the judicial hearing on her case, which is scheduled to take place at the High Court of Bahrain on 1 October.
- The Human Rights Office is concerned that Ms. Al-Khawaja's detention was related to her work to promote human rights in Bahrain through the Gulf Centre for Human Rights, of which she is co-director. The UN Human Rights Office has been in touch with the authorities to raise its concerns on the case, and on other cases where individuals may have been detained for the peaceful exercise of their rights.