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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 STEPHENE DUJARRIC, SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

MONDAY, 23 MAY 2016

 

SYRIA: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS TODAY’S TERRORIST ATTACKS, CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS

  • In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General condemned the terrorist attacks today that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians in the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartous.
  • The Secretary-General also took note with great concern of the escalating military activity in many areas in and around Damascus. The violence, particularly in Daraya, Aleppo and Idlib, and in the northern countryside of Homs, especially Al-Houla, is causing mounting civilian casualties.
  • The Secretary-General reiterated his call on all parties to the Syrian conflict to refrain from attacks on the civilian population. Those perpetrating such attacks must be held accountable for their crimes.
  • The Secretary-General reminded all parties to the cessation of hostilities of their duty to abide by its terms, in accordance with Security Council resolution 2268 (2016). He called on upon all Member States to take immediate, collective and decisive action to bring the tragedy unfolding in Syria to an end, in line with their commitments in accordance with Security Council resolutions 2254 (2015) and 2268 (2016).
  • On the humanitarian front, on 22 May, a joint United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent convoy delivered much-needed humanitarian assistance to Qudsaya and Hameh in Syria’s Rural Damascus. This is the first time the UN has reached East Harasta since July 2015.
  • Food, nutrition, hygiene and medical items were delivered to 25,000 people in need in Qudsaya, while medical supplies were delivered to 15,000 people in Hameh. Technical teams also conducted initial rapid needs assessments.
  • The Government of Syria did not permit the inclusion of some medical items and medicines on the planned convoy. This practice continues to lead to unnecessary suffering and loss of life and the UN continues to press the Syrian Government to allow the inclusion of all necessary medical supplies and medicines in convoys.

SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES SUPPORT FOR AGENDA FOR HUMANITY AT OPENING OF WORLD HUMANITARIAN SUMMIT

  • In his opening remarks at the opening of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) today, the Secretary-General recalled that he proposed this Summit four years ago out of concern for rising humanitarian needs and declining political will, and that today, the urgency had only grown with a record number of people – 130 million – needing aid to survive.
  • In a meeting with participating leaders, the Secretary-General urged them to make a commitment today to support and take forward the Agenda for Humanity, and to use it to measure progress. He also spoke at two high-level events – one on political leadership to prevent and end conflict and another on Humanitarian Financing.
  • During a bilateral meeting, the Secretary-General and President Recep Tayip Erdogan of Turkey discussed the situation in Syria, including on the root causes of the refugee crisis, enhancing international efforts to combat the threat posed by Da’esh.
  • The Secretary-General stressed the need for improved humanitarian access, as well as actions against persistent violators of the cessation of hostilities, in the hope that the next round of talks in Geneva could take place soon and focus on transition arrangements.
  • The Secretary-General also condemned the recent terrorist attacks in Turkey, urging due diligence with regard to civilians and adherence to international human rights principles during the course of any counter-terrorism operations.
  • Before Istanbul, the Secretary-General was in Qatar for the Doha forum, where he stressed that in the Middle East and Gulf region, millions of people are suffering the consequences of conflict, terrorism, inequality, regional rivalries and severe deficits in basic freedoms. He said that as we set our sights on the year 2030, we must do far more to end conflict and suffering in 2016.
  • He also said he was profoundly concerned about new laws and attacks that infringe on the rights of NGOs, human rights defenders and the media. In the Middle East and elsewhere, excessively broad definitions of security end up undermining security, he warned.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO KENYA TO ATTEND U.N. ENVIRONMENT ASSEMBLY

  • The Deputy Secretary-General left New York this weekend for Istanbul, Turkey, to attend the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS). He gave a press conference there after his arrival, talking about the need to deal with the root causes that lead to mass displacement and other humanitarian crises.
  • On 25 May 2016, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Nairobi, Kenya, to participate in the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-2). He will return to New York next weekend.

YEMEN: SECRETARY-GENERAL UNDERLINES NEED FOR COMMITMENT AND PERSEVERENCE BY ALL SIDES

  • In Kuwait today, the Government of Yemen delegation returned to the negotiating table. The Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, held a plenary this morning with both delegations.
  • While in Qatar this weekend, the Secretary-General had a trilateral meeting with the Amir of Qatar and President Hadi of Yemen, which Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed also attended.
  • To President Hadi, the Secretary-General underlined that peace negotiations are rarely smooth but that there was a need for commitment and perseverance by all sides. He added that, in parallel to the peace talks, all parties needed to redouble their efforts to provide and facilitate humanitarian and other supplies, including fuel, to alleviate the appalling living conditions of millions of Yemeni citizens.

U.N. SPECIAL COORDINATOR IN MIDDLE EAST WELCOMES DECISION TO RESUME PRIVATE IMPORT OF CEMENT INTO GAZA

  • The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, today welcomed Israeli’s decision to resume the private import of cement into Gaza after nearly 45 days of suspension.
  • This has become possible because of the efforts by both the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. He said that all sides need to ensure that cement deliveries reach their intended beneficiaries and are used solely for civilian purposes.
  • The United Nations continues to call for the full lifting of all closures on Gaza, as envisioned in Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009). Mr. Mladenov said that a permanent end to the suffering of the Palestinian people can only be achieved through reuniting Gaza and the West Bank under a single, legitimate and democratic Palestinian national authority and the realization of the two-state solution.

U.N. ENVOY IN IRAQ CALLS FOR DIALOGUE FOLLOWING CONFRONTATION DURING DEMONSTRATIONS

  • The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) expressed deep concern over the weekend about the escalation of confrontation during the Friday demonstrations that once again targeted Baghdad’s International Zone.
  • “What happened on Friday shows how events could take a different turn and escalate, causing casualties,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš.
  • He urged Iraqi political forces to immediately engage in dialogue to de-escalate the situation and search for political solutions, saying that only the enemies of Iraq, including Da’esh, benefit from chaos.

SUDAN: U.N. HUMANITARIAN TEAM CONCERNED OVER DE FACTO EXPULSION OF SENIOR OFFICIAL

  • The Humanitarian Country Team in Sudan has expressed shock and disappointment yesterday at the de facto expulsion by the Government of Sudan of one of its senior United Nations officials, the Head of Office of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Ivo Freijsen.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has informed the UN in Sudan that Mr. Freijsen's annual stay permit will not be renewed when it expires on 6 June 2016, but has provided no official explanation in writing for this decision.
  • The members of the Humanitarian Country Team expressed deep concern about the impact of this decision on the operating environment for all humanitarian organizations in Sudan.
  • In 2015, the Humanitarian Country Team and partners coordinated and implemented the delivery of over US$600 million worth of aid to hundreds of thousands of people across the country.
  • The Humanitarian Country Team remains committed to supporting the Government and the people of Sudan in providing humanitarian assistance. The Humanitarian Country Team calls upon the Government to ensure a fully conducive environment for delivering timely, principled and quality humanitarian assistance.

VENEZUELA: SECRETARY-GENERAL ENCOURAGED BY INITIATIVES TO PROMOTE DIALOGUE

  • In a statement issued on 21 May, the Secretary-General said that he continues to follow events in Venezuela and is encouraged by the ongoing initiatives by former Heads of State and Government to promote dialogue between the Government of Venezuela and the opposition, under the auspices of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
  • The Secretary-General has also taken note of regional calls for dialogue. He reiterated his strong conviction that the Government and the opposition should address the country’s current challenges through meaningful dialogue, adhering to the rule of law and the Constitution, for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR END TO FISTULA WITHIN A GENERATION

  • In his message for the International Day to End Obstetric Fistula, the Secretary-General called for an end to fistula within a generation.
  • Today, an estimated two million women and girls around the world continue to live with fistula, and there are between 50,000 and 100,000 new cases every year. Most of them can die without ever receiving treatment, mostly due to very poor access to quality maternal health services.
  • The Secretary-General expressed great concern that such a preventable and treatable condition still exists in our world, mainly affecting the poorest and most marginalized women and girls, causing them even greater suffering and isolation.

U.N. AGENCIES AND PARTNERS LAUNCH JOINT NETWORK FOR RESPONSE TO FOOD CRISIS

  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the European Union (EU) launched today a joint network for response to food crises.
  • The Global Network for Food Insecurity, Risk Reduction and Food Crises Response will produce reports based on key analyses and containing timely response options. This will prompt coordination among stakeholders and promote joint planning and joint responses to food crises.
  • At present 240 million people in 70 countries are in a food stress situation, including 80 million people in food crisis. Nearly half of those people are in countries affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
  • Last week, the Secretary-General announced the appointments of Mary Robinson of Ireland and Macharia Kamau of Kenya as his Special Envoys on El Niño and Climate.

NEW U.N. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS IMPACT OF ENVIRONMENTAL DEGRADATION ON HUMANS

  • The UN Environment Agency (UNEP) released a new report today highlighting the impact of the environmental degradation on humans. According to the report, environmental degradation and pollution is estimated to cause up to 234 times as many premature deaths as occur in conflicts annually.
  • Environmental impacts are also responsible for the deaths of more than one quarter of all children under the age of five, the report says.
  • Speaking on the launch of the report, UNEP’s Executive Director Achim Steiner stressed the importance of healthy environment to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

MEETING ON CRIME PREVENTION AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE OPENS IN VIENNA

  • The 25th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) opened at the United Nations in Vienna today. Running until 27 May, it will examine how criminal justice responses can prevent and counter terrorism.
  • On the margins of the Crime Commission, Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and, John Scanlon, the Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), will launch UNODC‘s first World Wildlife Crime Report.

NEW CENTRE FOR LEARNING OPENS AT U.N. HEADQUARTERS

  • The new United Nations Learning Centre for Multilingualism and Career Development has been officially opened today by the Under-Secretary-General for Management, Yukio Takasu.
  • The centre is located in the basement under the former North Lawn Building and serves as the home of the Language and Communications Programme and the Career Resource Centre, both managed by the Department of Management’s Office of Human Resources.
  • More than 2,000 people from within the global Secretariat and the 193 Permanent Missions will use the facility each trimester as they participate in language and communication skills training in the six official UN languages.