HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC, SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 27 MAY 2015
IN DEALING WITH MIGRATION, SAVING LIVES SHOULD BE A PRIORITY, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT
- The Secretary-General continued his visit to Brussels today, where he addressed the European Parliament and spoke, among other things, about the challenges posed by migration.
- He said that, in dealing with migration, saving lives should be the top priority. While we need to see more effective law enforcement actions against traffickers and smugglers, he added, we also need to see safer alternatives to dangerous voyages, as well as legal channels such as resettlement, family reunification and work and study visas.
- The Secretary-General began his day with a meeting with European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini. He welcomed a proposal by the European Commission for the relocation of 40,000 asylum-seekers as a step in the right direction and expressed hope that it would be accepted by EU Member States.
- He also met separately with Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, and Martin Schulz, the President of the European Parliament.
- The Secretary-General also spoke at an event called "Our World, Our Dignity, Our Future: the post-2015 agenda and the role of youth."
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO CONVENE CONSULTATIONS ON YEMEN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
- The Secretary-General yesterday asked his Special Envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, to postpone the consultations in Geneva, which had been planned for 28 May, following a request from the Government of Yemen and other key stakeholders for more time to prepare. The Secretary-General is actively working to convene the talks at the earliest possible time.
- The Secretary-General is disappointed that it has not been possible to commence such an important initiative at the soonest possible date and reiterates his call for all parties to engage in UN-facilitated consultations in good faith and without pre-conditions. He also reiterates that the only durable resolution to the crisis in Yemen is an inclusive, negotiated political settlement.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) said today that the conflict in Yemen is entering its 10th week and the numbers of dead and injured continue to grow. It estimates that almost 2,000 people have been killed and 8,000 injured so far, including hundreds of women and children. Almost 7.5 million people are in urgent need of medical help.
- WHO said that the health system must be allowed to function, unimpeded by the insecurity. All parties must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians, health facilities and health staff during conflict and to permit the supply of vital humanitarian aid, such as medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to areas where it is needed most, and ensure the right to urgently-needed lifesaving health care.
DEPUTY U.N. CHIEF CALLS ON SECURITY COUNCIL TO ADVANCE AGENDA TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS
- The Security Council adopted a resolution today reaffirming its commitment to the protection of civilians in armed conflict as well as to the protection of journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.
- Speaking at the open debate, the Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, said that issue of protection of journalists is fundamentally about the right to information, respect for human rights and about not giving in to threats and intimidation from those who advocate and practice violence and intolerance.
- He added that armed conflict not only endangers the life and safety of journalists, it also limits the free flow of information, eroding the rule of law and democracy.
- The DSG highlighted the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, which is being piloted in several countries, including Iraq, Nepal, Pakistan and South Sudan. He urged the Security Council to continue helping to advance this agenda by endorsing the UN plan.
- Nearly 600 journalists were killed between 2006 and 2013, and nearly half of them were in conflict zones. Mariane Pearl, the wife of the Wall Street journalist, Daniel Pearl, who was killed in Pakistan, also briefed the Council.
U.N. ENVOY FOR GREAT LAKES TO BRIEF SECURITY COUNCIL ON BURUNDI
- The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Great Lakes region, Said Djinnit, is expected to brief the Security Council today on Burundi, in closed consultations. The consultative political dialogue was suspended at the request of the parties on 24 May after the killing of Zedi Feruzi, an opposition leader.
- The UN reiterates its calls for calm and restraint, and on all Burundian authorities to uphold the human rights of all Burundians, and to take concrete steps to prevent political killings and further violence.
- Mr. Djinnit continues to consult Burundian stakeholders to encourage them to resume the dialogue, and agree on concrete steps to create a conducive environment for peaceful, credible and inclusive elections in Burundi.
- The UN hopes that the upcoming East African Community Summit on 31 May can help chart a way forward for a strengthened dialogue among Burundians.
NIGERIA: ALARMING SPIKES IN SUICIDE ATTACKS BY WOMEN AND GIRLS, WARNS U.N. CHILDREN’S FUND
- The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reported that more women and children have been used as suicide bombers in Northeast Nigeria in the first five months of this year than during the whole of 2014.
- As of May 2015, there have been 27 attacks and in at least three-quarters of these incidents, women and children were reportedly used to carry out the attacks.
- UNICEF remains concerned that the increasing use of children as suicide bombers could lead to children being perceived as potential threats, and stresses that they are first and foremost victims not perpetrators.
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Zainab Bangura, also condemned in a statement a wider pattern of women and girls being deliberately targeted by interlinked extremist groups, who share an ideological opposition to the education, rights and freedoms of women.
- Ms. Bangura also issued a statement following her visit this week to Cuba to discuss conflict-related sexual violence with the delegations of the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP.
- She urged all parties to the peace dialogue to listen to the voices of women and put their protection and empowerment at the heart of the discussions. She also urged them to do everything possible to ensure that the gains that have been made at the peace table are not lost.
HUMANITARIAN ENVOY IN SUDAN CONCERNED OVER REPORTS OF MASS DISPLACEMENT
- The Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Geert Cappelaere, expressed concern today over reports of large-scale displacement, including possible forced relocations.
- He said that as conflict has increased in Blue Nile State, civilians continue to bear the brunt of fighting, while aid agencies are often not permitted to independently assess humanitarian needs and respond accordingly.
U.N. FOOD AGENCY WARNS THAT HUNGER LEVELS REACH RECORD HIGH IN SOUTH SUDAN
- The World Food Programme (WFP) warned today that about 4.6 million people, or 40 percent of South Sudan’s estimated population, face acute hunger in the next three months and will require urgent lifesaving food or livelihoods assistance.
- Unrelenting conflict and the onset of the lean season are intensifying alarming levels of hunger – both in conflict-affected areas and in other parts of the country.
- The lack of funding and limited humanitarian access continues to affect relief agencies’ ability to meet the escalating needs. Currently, the funding shortfall for WFP only amounts to U.S. $230 million for food and nutrition assistance.
WORLD HUNGER FALLS TO UNDER 800 MILLION PEOPLE, SAYS NEW REPORT
- According to the latest annual UN hunger report called “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015,” the number of hungry people in the world has dropped to 795 million.
- In the developing regions, the prevalence of undernourishment has declined to 12.9 percent of the population, down from 23.3 percent a quarter of a century ago. An estimated 72 countries have achieved the Millennium Development (MDG) target of halving the proportion of chronically undernourished.
- The developing regions as a whole are missing the target by a small margin, as progress was hampered in recent years by challenging global economic conditions, extreme weather events, natural disasters and political instability.
- Large reductions in hunger were achieved in East Asia and very fast progress was posted in Latin America and the Caribbean, southeast and central Asia, as well as some parts of Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is still the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world – almost one in every four people.
- African nations, however, that invested more in improving agricultural productivity and basic infrastructure also achieved their MDG hunger target, notably in West Africa.
- Some 24 African countries currently face food crises, twice as many as in 1990, and around one of every five of the world's undernourished lives in crisis environments characterized by weak governance and acute vulnerability to death and disease.
NEW U.N. FORUM TO FOCUS ON PARTNERSHIPS AND EBOLA RESPONSE
- The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) Partnership Forum, entitled “Partnerships in Support of Strengthening Health Systems: Building Resilience to Pandemics,” will take place on 28 May.
- The focus of the Forum will be on areas where partnerships are required to ensure that lessons are learned from the Ebola response in West Africa.
- Participants will include Bill Clinton, Founder of the Clinton Foundation and 42nd President of the United States, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, and high level government representatives from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
***The guest at the noon briefing was Peter Sutherland, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Migration and Development.