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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 FARHAN HAQ,

DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

WEDNESDAY, 1 JULY 2015

 

ON GENOCIDE ANNIVERSARY, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO PROMISE SREBRENICA VICTIMS TO ‘MAKE RIGHT WHAT WAS DONE WRONG’

  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at a high-level event to remember and honour the victims of the genocide at Srebrenica.
  • He said that the atrocious murder of Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica will forever weigh on the collective conscience of the international community.
  • The United Nations, which was founded to prevent such crimes from recurring, failed in its responsibilities to protect the lives of innocent civilians seeking protection from the conflict and violence around them, the Secretary-General said. The UN Secretariat, the Security Council and Member States share the blame.
  • The Secretary-General said that the international community has its own responsibility to learn from the massacre. In the two decades since, we have taken many steps to fulfil this fundamental obligation, with the United Nations having strengthened its work for prevention.
  • At the same time, the Secretary-General said, it is clear we must do more.  The international community is still failing too many people in desperate need in places such as Syria and South Sudan.
  • He said that we need to promise the victims of Srebrenica to make right what was done wrong.

YEMEN: U.N. STEPS UP EMERGENCY HUMANITARIAN CLASSIFICATION LEVEL

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, convened an ad hoc Principals meeting to discuss the activation of an Inter-Agency Standing Committee system-wide level 3 emergency response for Yemen today. All agencies agreed to declare the level 3 for a period of six months, with an interim review planned for September.
  • More than 21.1 million people - over 80 percent of Yemen's population - now need some form of humanitarian assistance with 11.7 million targeted for assistance under the Revised Humanitarian Response Plan.
  • Nearly 13 million people face a food security crisis and 9.4 million people have their access to water cut or severely disrupted, raising the risk of outbreaks of water-borne diseases including cholera. There are reports of dengue fever and malaria in the south and areas bordering Saudi Arabia. The health system is facing imminent collapse, with the closure of at least 160 health facilities due to insecurity and lack of fuel or other critical supplies.

WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME TO SLASH AID TO SYRIAN REFUGEES IN LEBANON, JORDAN DUE TO FUNDING SHORTAGE

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) is being forced to implement deeper cuts in food assistance for vulnerable Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan because of a severe lack of funding.
  • In July, WFP will cut in half the value of food vouchers, or “e-cards,” in Lebanon, providing only $13.50 per person per month. In Jordan, WFP fears that if it does not receive immediate funding by August, it will have to suspend all assistance to Syrian refugees living outside camps, leaving some 440,000 people with no food.
  • WFP is funded entirely by contributions from governments, companies and private individuals. But its regional refugee operation is currently 81 percent underfunded and immediately requires $139 million to continue helping desperate refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey and Iraq through September.
  • Limited resources have already forced WFP to reduce its assistance to 1.6 million Syrian refugees in the five countries.

MIDDLE EAST QUARTET ENVOYS MEET IN CAIRO

  • On 29 and 30 June, Envoys of the Middle East Quartet met in Cairo as the first step in their regular and direct outreach to Arab states. Over the last two days, the Envoys from the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, Nabil el-Araby, and National Security Advisor Fayza Abou el-Naga.  Discussions focused on ways to advance the two-state solution, and on how to create the conditions for the return to meaningful negotiations.
  • The Quartet Envoys underlined the pivotal role Egypt plays in achieving a sustainable and just Israeli-Palestinian peace and noted the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative for a comprehensive resolution of the conflict.

SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST WEST BANK SHOOTING ATTACKS

  • In response to a question about the recent shootings in the West Bank, the Deputy Spokesperson said that the Secretary-General condemns the latest shooting attacks in the West Bank. He notes with concern the high number of violent incidents over the past two weeks. He also calls on all sides to exercise restraint, remain calm and promptly bring the perpetrators of the violence to justice.

IRAQ: NEARLY 1,500 PEOPLE KILLED IN JUNE, U.N. MISSION REPORTS

  • According to casualty figures released today by the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), a total of 1,466 Iraqis were killed and another 1,687 were wounded in acts of terrorism, violence and armed conflict in June. Of those numbers, 665 civilians were killed and more than 1,000 wounded. Those figures have to be considered as an absolute minimum, given the difficulty the Mission has in gaining access to conflict areas.

TOP U.N. OFFICIAL SPOTLIGHTS NEED FOR GREATER FOCUS ON HUMAN RIGHTS BY MILITARY, POLICE IN ADDRESSING BOKO HARAM

  • The UN Human Rights Commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, gave an update to the Human Rights Council today in Geneva, on Boko Haram. He said that interviews with former captives and survivors of Boko Haram attacks in northeast Nigeria indicate a pattern of vicious and indiscriminate attacks stretching back months, and even years.
  • Zeid also said that it was vital for regional security forces to refrain from adding to the suffering of the people in the conduct of their operations. He insisted on the need for greater attention to human rights by both the military and the police forces in concerned countries when carrying out security operations against Boko Haram.
  • He said he was dismayed by reports that adults, and even children, who have been held captive and even enslaved by Boko Haram for months – and who have been delivered from captivity by government forces – are being subjected to detention, sometimes for lengthy periods, without charges. He also strongly urged for the most compassionate possible interpretation of the current regulations in Nigeria on abortion in the case of formerly captive women and girls who are pregnant.

MOST PEOPLE TRYING TO CROSS MEDITERRANEAN INTO EUROPE ARE REFUGEES, U.N. AGENCY FINDS

  • The large majority of the 137,000 people who crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe during the first half of this year were fleeing from war, conflict or persecution, making the Mediterranean crisis primarily a refugee one, according to a new report by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
  • The report also finds that one third of people arriving in Italy or Greece were from Syria, whose nationals are almost universally deemed to qualify for refugee status or other forms of protection. The second and third most common countries of origin are Afghanistan and Eritrea, whose nationals are also mostly considered to qualify for refugee status.
  • There was an 83 per cent increase in refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean from January to June – 137,000 compared to 75,000 in the same period last year.
  • The number of deaths at sea rose to record levels in April of this year, when more than 1,300 people drowned or went missing in a single month, compared to 42 last April.

SENIOR U.N. OFFICIALS CALL FOR COMPREHENSIVE, PEOPLE-ORIENTED APPROACH TO MIGRANTS, REFUGEES IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

  • The heads of UN agencies today issued a call for a comprehensive people-oriented approach to the irregular movement of migrants and refugees in Southeast Asia ahead of a ministerial meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) later this week.
  • The High Commissioner for Refugees, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Migration and Development, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also urged States to expand avenues for safe and legal migration while stepping up law enforcement, including the prosecution of those involved in human trafficking and migrant smuggling syndicates.
  • They also continue to urge intensified efforts to identify and respond to the root causes of the irregular movement, and therefore call for the protection of the human rights of all migrants and refugees at places of origin, transit and destination.

U.N. AGENCY TO SCALE UP FOOD AID IN EASTERN UKRAINE

  • The World Food Programme (WFP) said today it will scale up its emergency operation in eastern Ukraine to provide 500,000 people affected in the region with food assistance until the end of the year.
  • This is nearly triple the number of people that WFP has been reaching since November 2014 through food distributions in Donestsk and Luhansk. WFP will now also distribute food in three additional regions
  • There is more information on this on WFP’s website.
  • Also, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that several aid convoys have reached non-Government controlled areas of Ukraine following the opening of a checkpoint in Donetsk region.
  • Access for humanitarian cargo to cross the contact line between Government-controlled areas and non-Government controlled areas has been suspended for three weeks.

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION SAYS CUBA FIRST COUNTRY TO ELIMINATE MOTHER-TO-CHILD TRANSMISSION OF H.I.V., SYPHILIS

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) says that Cuba has become the first country in the world to receive validation from WHO that it has eliminated mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis.
  • Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO’s Director General, said it was one of the greatest public health achievements possible, and a major victory against HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
  • As treatment for prevention of mother-to-child-transmission is not 100% effective, elimination of transmission is defined as a reduction of transmission to such a low level that it no longer constitutes a public health problem.
  • The announcement comes after an international expert mission visited Cuba in March 2015 to validate the progress made in the country.

WORLDWIDE, ONE OUT OF THREE PEOPLE LACK SANITATION FACILITIES, U.N. REPORT FINDS

  • The Joint Monitoring Programme report, Progress on Sanitation and Drinking Water: 2015 Update and MDG Assessment, was published yesterday by UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO).
  • It says that worldwide, 1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are still without sanitation facilities, including 946 million people who defecate in the open.
  • The report warns that lack of progress on sanitation threatens to undermine the child survival and health benefits from gains in access to safe drinking water.
  • Access to improved drinking water sources has indeed been a major achievement for countries and the international community.
  • With some 2.6 billion people having gained access since 1990, 91 per cent of the global population now have improved drinking water – and the number is still growing.

NEW U.N.-BACKED REPORT POINTS TO DROP IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS IN COMING DECADE

  • The latest Agricultural Outlook report produced by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), says that strong crop yields, higher productivity and slower growth in global demand should contribute to a gradual decline in real prices for agricultural products over the coming decade.

MAURITIUS BECOMES 102ND MEMBER STATE TO PAY DUES IN FULL

  • Only 91 Member States have not yet paid their regular budget dues in full, with Mauritius becoming the 102nd country to pay its dues.