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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 STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

THURSDAY, 11 FEBRUARY 2016

 

IN CANADA, SECRETARY-GENERAL DISCUSSES CLIMATE CHANGE, HUMAN RIGHTS WITH PRIME MINISTER

  • The Secretary-General this morning arrived in Ottawa, Canada, to begin his two-day visit to the country.
  • He met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and they discussed various issues, including ways to further strengthen the partnership between Canada and the United Nations.
  • The Secretary-General stressed Canada’s contributions to the UN, including on climate change, peace efforts, human rights and the refugee/migrant issue. The Secretary-General also discussed Canada’s role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
  • Later today, the Secretary-General will travel to Glebe Collegiate Institute to speak to a group of high school students with Prime Minister Trudeau. The Secretary-General will also visit the Catholic Centre for Immigrants in Ottawa, where he will have a chance to meet families who have arrived from Syria and the region and who are now a part of Canada’s resettlement programme.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF VOICES ALARM AT ‘GROTESQUE’ SITUATION IN SYRIA’S ALEPPO

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, today expressed his “utmost alarm” at the rapidly worsening human rights situation in and around the city of Aleppo and other parts of Syria, where he said that shocking violations and abuses are being committed on a daily basis. He condemned these acts unequivocally.
  • The High Commissioner said that women and children, the elderly, the wounded and sick and people with disabilities are being used as bargaining chips and cannon fodder day after day, week after week, month after month. He said the situation was “grotesque.”
  • High Commissioner Zeid stressed that hundreds of thousands of civilians in other parts of Syria are also facing dire humanitarian conditions, particularly those under sieges imposed both by Government forces and affiliated armed groups, and by armed opposition groups, including Da’esh. He said that the deliberate starvation of civilians as a method of warfare constitutes a clear violation of international humanitarian law, and those responsible for such acts, including under command responsibility, must be brought to justice.

SYRIA: MORE THAN 51,000 PEOPLE NEWLY UPROOTED FROM ALEPPO IN WAKE OF CLASHES, BOMBINGS – U.N.

  • Humanitarian agencies now estimate that there are over 51,000 newly displaced people from Aleppo city and other areas in northern Syria, following heavy clashes and aerial bombardment by the Government of Syria, allied forces and armed groups. This includes some 8,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) at the camp in the Bab Al Salam border crossing. It is believed that the majority of those displaced are women and children.
  • Sources on the ground report that people are moving north towards the border and population movement to and from other areas of Aleppo and Idleb remain extremely dynamic. In addition to the ongoing response, the United Nations has also reiterated its request for access for cross-line deliveries to reach people in need in eastern parts of Aleppo City, western rural Aleppo and Afrin, and urges the Government of Syria to grant access without delay.
  • Also, an estimated 120,000 people are trapped in northern rural Homs after supply roads were cut in mid-January. Several cases of acute malnutrition among pregnant women and children have been reported, as well as deaths related to lack of medical care. The last UN aid convoy reached rural northern Homs in October. We call on access to these areas to be granted without delay.

U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF STRESSES NEED FOR ACTION TO UPHOLD HUMAN RIGHTS OF VICTIMS OF TERRORISM

  • The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, spoke this morning at the UN Conference on the Human Rights of Victims of Terrorism, which you were briefed extensively on yesterday in this room by Jehangir Khan, Director of the UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF).
  • Mr. Feltman noted that terrorist groups are flouting international human rights and humanitarian law, with some of the activities reported potentially constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity.
  • He emphasized that existing legal frameworks must be strengthened to take into account the specific needs of victims of terrorism and that we need to do better in addressing victims’ needs in criminal justice processes.

CLIMATE-RELATED DISASTERS DOMINATE NATURAL HAZARD TRENDS, U.N. AGENCY FINDS

  • The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said today that the hottest year on record, 2015, has confirmed that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards.
  • The top five most disaster-hit countries last year were China, the United States, India, the Philippines and Indonesia.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Robert Glasser, said that nearly 100 million people were affected by disasters in 2015. Climate, aided by a strong El Niño, was a factor in more than 90 per cent of those events, which included dozens of major droughts.
  • Mr. Glasser stressed that reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to climate change is vital for countries seeking to reduce disaster risk now and in the future.

D.P.R. KOREA: MODERATE TO HIGH LEVELS OF STUNTING AMONG CHILDREN DUE TO LACK OF DIVERSITY IN DIET - U.N.

  • A new assessment by the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has found moderate to high levels of stunting among children under the age of five in nurseries assisted by WFP.
  • This assessment confirms that many households in areas where WFP operates do not have enough diversity in their diet.
  • These findings also come against a backdrop of deteriorating overall food security in the DPRK, where there has been decreased rainfall and lower crop yields in the past two years.
  • WFP’s operation is currently only 48 per cent funded, and the shortfall has forced it to reduce the geographic scope of its operation.

U.N.I.C.E.F., WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION HELPING TO PREVENT SPREAD OF LASSA FEVER IN BENIN

  • Alarmed by an outbreak of deadly Lassa Fever, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) in Benin are scaling up an emergency response to help prevent further spread of the disease.
  • Lassa Fever is transmitted through bodily fluids such as blood, urine or saliva.
  • In Benin, there have been four confirmed and 52 suspected cases, and 17 people have died – two of them health workers.
  • With the support from the World Health Organization, UNICEF and humanitarian partners, national authorities have taken emergency measures in response to the outbreak.

SECRETARY-GENERAL NAMES NEW FORCE COMMANDER FOR U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

  • The Secretary-General today announced the appointment of Lieutenant General Balla Keïta of Senegal as the Force Commander of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).
  • Lieutenant General Keïta succeeds Major General Martin Chomu Tumenta of Cameroon, who passed away on 30 November 2015. The Secretary-General was deeply saddened by Major General Tumenta’s untimely death and reiterates his appreciation for the late Force Commander’s contribution to the work of the United Nations.
  • Lieutenant General Keïta brings with him over 40 years of national and international military experience.

U.N. RADIO’S 70TH ANNIVERSARY COINCIDING WITH WORLD RADIO DAY

  • This Saturday, UN Radio will be celebrating its 70th anniversary, a day that also marks World Radio Day. 
  • UN Radio, in partnership with UNESCO, is celebrating the Day under the theme, “Radio in emergency and disaster situations” with the hashtag, #RadioSavesLives.
  • Today, as part of the World Radio Day celebrations, UN Radio is organising in their studios in the First Basement (Room CB-1B81) an open house for both UN staff and media.

U.N. NOTES SOUTH SUDAN’S RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT ENDANGERED SPECIES

  • In response to questions on South Sudan, the Spokesman said that regarding elephants and the protection of endangered species in South Sudan, the UN Mission in the Country (UNMISS) has seen the report. The UN panel of experts on sanctions, which has visited South Sudan a few months ago, has been looking into illegal financial resources that could have an impact on the conflict. This research included poaching.  It is the primary responsibility of the South Sudan Wildlife Service to ensure that no illegal activities related to wildlife, including poaching, take place in South Sudan.
  • On reports of violence in Maridi, the Spokesman said that UNMISS has a Temporary Operating Base in Mundri, and troops there are conducting patrols; however, denial of access continues to be a major issue. The Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism (CTSAMM) is in charge of monitoring the ceasefire on the ground. Their report can be found on the Joint and Evaluation Monitoring Commission (JMEC) website, where all violations are documented.
  • In response to a question about two Darfuri students being held in Khartoum, the Spokesman said that the UN-AU Mission (UNAMID) is concerned by reports of the detention of students of El Geneina University. The Mission continues to regularly follow up on this matter with the appropriate Sudanese Government authorities.
  • In response to an earlier question, the Spokesman confirmed that Karen Abuzayd has taken a leave of absence from her role on the Syrian Independent Commission to serve as the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants.

MONACO BECOMES 29TH MEMBER STATE TO PAY U.N. DUES IN FULL

  • Monaco has become the 29th United Nations Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full.