HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2015
[There will be no noon briefing on Thursday, 26 November, and Friday, 27 November, but this page will be updated to reflect latest events in the UN System on Friday. The noon briefing will resume on Monday, 30 November.]
MARKING INTERNATIONAL DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS NEED TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN TO ACHIEVE PEACE
- Today marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the launch of UN Women’s civil society-driven 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign which will last until Human Rights Day on 10 December.
- Speaking at a commemorative event this morning, the Secretary-General said that ending violence against women and girls is a top priority for achieving the UN’s founding mission of peace, development and human rights.
- The Secretary-General said that he remains committed to do everything possible to advance women’s leadership in classrooms, boardrooms and negotiating rooms. He added that he counts on all of us to join him in pressing men to understand that women’s safety and equality are in everyone’s interest.
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Hawa Bangura, has also issued a message urging everyone to be the voice of those who have been silenced by the violence, and to take action against this atrocity.
U.N. ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL OF SECURITY THREATS IN SAHEL
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Sahel, Hiroute Guebre Sellassie, told the Security Council this morning that security threats continue to be the main preoccupation in the region.
- She said that increasingly the countries of the region, among the poorest and least developed in the world, were forced to dedicate important percentages of their budgets to address security threats.
- She added that if nothing was done to improve access to education, increase employment and integration opportunities for the youth, the Sahel would become a hub of mass migration and of recruitment and training of terrorist groups and individuals.
- She called on the Security Council to fully use the existing mechanisms and expand their mandates to better monitor, report on and prevent drug trafficking in the region. She also asked the Council to remain engaged in support of the Sahel.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST SEPARATE ATTACKS IN TUNISIA, EGYPT, AND MALI
- The Secretary-General has condemned the Tuesday attack in Tunis against a bus carrying Presidential Guards, which resulted in many deaths and injuries.
- He has also condemned the terrorist attack in North Sinai’s al-Arish City, Egypt, which reportedly killed a number of Government officials, security personnel and civilians. The Secretary-General reiterates his strong belief in the need for a holistic approach to preventing and countering the scourge of terrorism, stressing due regard for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law.
- Also yesterday, the Secretary-General condemned an explosive attack against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which was travelling in the Timbuktu region. That attack resulted in the death of one civilian staff member.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SERIOUSLY CONCERNED OVER PROFILING OF ASYLUM-SEEKERS BY BALKAN STATES
- In a statement on the situation of refugees and migrants in the Balkan States issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General expressed his serious concerns on the recent border restrictions imposed by a number of States in the Balkans. Profiling asylum seekers on the basis of their alleged nationality infringes the human right of all people to seek asylum, irrespective of their nationality and to have their individual cases heard.
- The Secretary-General calls on all States in the region to respond effectively to the mounting humanitarian challenges and to ensure that their policies on screening asylum seekers are in line with international refugee and human rights law. He urges European governments to significantly improve their capacities for reception and to speed up implementation of the relocation programmes for refugees. He recalls that collective expulsion and refoulement are strictly prohibited under international law.
- The Secretary-General further reiterates his call on all States in the region to respond with compassion, solidarity and shared responsibility, and notes that the current situation highlights the urgent need for coordinated border management.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF DEPLORES N.G.O CRACKDOWN IN BURUNDI
- The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein deplored the decision by Burundian authorities to suspend ten non-governmental organisations, including several organizations working on peace and human rights issues, including torture and the rights of women and children.
- This suspension appears to be an attempt by Burundian authorities to silence dissenting voices and to limit the democratic space, he said, adding that it reduces the chances of success of the proposed inter-Burundian dialogue, a key step to moving the country away from the increasingly bloody path it has been following over the past few months.
- He also said that none of the five media outlets that were suspended last June pending investigation have yet been able to resume their activities. There are fears that the suspension of these ten NGOs will have a similar, prolonged effect, the High Commissioner for Human Rights stressed
- The High Commissioner also warned about the worsening human rights and security situation in Burundi and the risk of regional repercussions.
QUICK REACTION FORCE DEPLOYS TO U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) says that the Quick Reaction Force from the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) has now fully deployed to Bangui.
- Over the past few days, cargo flights have also brought in equipment for the force.
- This deployment comes less than a week after the Secretary-General submitted a letter to the Security Council requesting approval for the temporary re-deployment of the Quick Reaction Force to MINUSCA for a period of eight weeks under inter-mission cooperation arrangements.
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF VOICES CONCERN OVER ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN YEMEN’S TAIZZ CITY
- The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said that he was deeply concerned by the worsening humanitarian situation for people living in the central Yemeni city of Taizz. Since September fighting has intensified there, and some 200,000 vulnerable civilians are living under a virtual state of siege, in dire need of drinking water, food, medical treatment and other life-saving assistance and protection. Civilian neighbourhoods, medical facilities and other premises around the city are continually hit by shelling, while checkpoints are preventing people from moving to safer areas and seeking assistance.
- Despite repeated attempts by UN agencies and our humanitarian partners to negotiate access and reach people, he said, trucks have remained stuck at checkpoints and only very limited assistance has been allowed in. He called the situation unacceptable and called on all parties to work with the United Nations and other neutral and impartial organizations to urgently facilitate the delivery of life-saving assistance and protection to civilians and the safe and unhindered access of humanitarian workers to Taizz City, without further delay.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME RESUMES FOOD DELIVERY TO NON-GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED PARTS OF EASTERN UKRAINE’S LUHANSK
- The World Food Programme (WFP) today delivered food to non-government controlled areas of Luhansk in eastern Ukraine for the first time since the suspension of humanitarian activities four months ago.
- A 12-truck convoy reached Luhansk earlier this week, carrying enough WFP food supplies to feed more than 7,000 people for one month. More convoys bringing food to Luhansk are planned, with the next one scheduled to arrive later this week.
- The World Food Programme did not have access into non-government controlled areas since the end of July 2015. The agency is seeking to provide food assistance to more than 100,000 people affected by the conflict in non-government controlled areas in both Luhansk and Donetsk regions by the end of 2015.
2015 ON TRACK TO BE WARMEST EVER, NEW U.N. REPORT SAYS
- A five-year analysis released today by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warns that the global average surface temperature in 2015 is likely to be the warmest on record and to reach the symbolic and significant milestone of 1° Celsius above the pre-industrial era.
- This is due to a combination of a strong El Niño weather pattern and human-induced global warming, according to the Organization.
- The years 2011-2015 have been the warmest five-year period on record, with many extreme weather events - especially heatwaves.
- The World Meteorological Organization issued its provisional statement on the status of the climate in 2015, and an additional five-year analysis for 2011-2015, to inform negotiations at the UN Climate Change Conference starting in Paris next Monday.
U.N. AGENCIES UPDATE PESTICIDE GUIDELINES
- The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) released today updated guidelines for countries on pesticide legislation and labelling.
- Some thirty years after FAO first launched its International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, the Agencies say that pesticide legislation formulated in the 1980s and 1990s needs a health check-up to ensure that countries are effectively protecting people and the environment.
- Globally, the use of pesticides has continued to grow: industry data suggest that the size of the global pesticide market has doubled over the past 15 years and currently exceeds $50 billion in annual sales.
***The guest at the noon briefing was Kyung-wha Kang, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). She spoke to reporters on her recent trip to Ethiopia.