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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

FRIDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2016

 

SPEAKING IN LONDON’S WESTMINSTER, SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO UNITED KINGDOM’S HUMANITARIAN LEADERSHIP

  • The Secretary-General is returning to New York from London, where today he spoke to the United Nations Association of the United Kingdom in Central Hall Westminster, the same place where, 70 years ago today, Trygve Lie was elected the first UN Secretary-General.
  • In his remarks, the Secretary-General honoured the UK's leadership in humanitarian and development aid. He raised attention to the plight of migrants and refugees worldwide, saying that people who cross the waters in search of better lives are symptoms of wider problems and are not themselves a cause for suspicion. He affirmed that the world faces great challenges, but our capacity to solve them is even greater if we work and build together.
  • The Secretary-General also took questions from the audience, and was asked about LGBT rights. He responded that, when he first became Secretary-General he had reached out to the LGBT staff at the UN and has always supported their rights.

SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT CANADA

  • The Secretary-General will travel to Canada next week.
  • In Ottawa, on Thursday 11 February, the Secretary-General will meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and members of his cabinet. Along with the Prime Minister, he will then attend a youth event at a high school.
  • The Secretary-General will also meet Syrian refugees who have recently arrived in Canada.
  • He will also meet the Governor-General of Canada, David Johnston.
  • On Friday, 12 February, the Secretary-General will visit Montreal, where he will be welcomed by the Mayor, Denis Coderre, and will meet the Prime Minister of the province of Quebec, Philippe Couillard.
  • He will also give a lecture to students at McGill University, visit the Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization and visit the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is based in the city.
  • The Secretary-General will return to New York on Saturday, 13 February.

MEETING SYRIAN WOMEN’S GROUP, U.N. ENVOY STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF CIVIL SOCIETY ENGAGEMENT

  • The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met in Geneva today with members of the newly established Syrian Women’s Advisory Board. The Special Envoy has always stressed the importance of engaging with Syrian women and civil society organisations. Several civil society groups will be invited to Geneva on a rotational basis in order to give the opportunity to as many organisations as possible to share their views with Mr. de Mistura’s office.
  • The Special Envoy also met Qadri Jamil and a delegation of political figures who had participated in meetings in Moscow and Cairo.
  • Mr. de Mistura just briefed the Security Council in closed session by video conference from Geneva, at the request of the President of the Council. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Ging also addressed the Council.
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that an inter-agency convoy to the Al Waer neighbourhood of Homs City in Syria delivered assistance for some 40,000 people yesterday. The convoy included food, health, education, basic household items, nutrition and water and sanitation supplies. Syrian authorities removed several medical and midwifery kits from the convoy.
  • Meanwhile, military operations around Aleppo have reportedly triggered the displacement of thousands of people, mainly from the Tel Rifaat, Hariyatan and Azaz sub-districts. It is estimated that up to 20,000 people have gathered at the Bab al Salam border crossing and another 5,000 to 10,000 people have been displaced to Azaz city. A further 10,000 people are estimated to have been displaced to Afrin following heavy fighting. There is currently one IDP camp in Afrin district and plans are underway to expand the camp.
  • The fighting has also disrupted major aid and supply routes from the Turkish border.  Humanitarian organizations are responding to the needs of those displaced, but ongoing conflict is making access to populations in need increasingly difficult.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY CONCERNED BY ‘DIRE’ CIRCUMSTANCES OF THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES, MIGRANTS IN FRANCE’S CALAIS, DUNKERQUE

  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today expressed concern over the reportedly dire living circumstances in France of some 4,000 refugees and migrants in what it calls the Calais "jungle" and nearly 2,500 others on the edges of Dunkerque.
  • The Agency said it is particularly concerned by the living conditions of children, many traveling by themselves, and that it would welcome the establishment of additional emergency reception places.
  • It welcomed the steps – including setting up temporary centers – taken by French authorities to provide emergency help to refugees and migrants in Calais and by Dunkerque.
  • UNHCR said that these people would benefit from more legal advice, as currently, they receive mixed and sometimes inaccurate information from a variety of different sources.

U.N. POLICE OFFICER WOUNDED IN ATTACK ON CAMP IN MALI’S TIMBUKTU

  • The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) reports that this morning, a former UN Police camp in Timbuktu was attacked by unknown assailants.
  • A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device was detonated at the entrance of the camp which was followed by exchange of fire.
  • The Malian Armed Forces have recaptured the camp.
  • The Mission flew two attack helicopters and drones over the site.
  • During the attack one member of the UN Police was slightly wounded.

U.N. AID OFFICIAL TROUBLED BY POTENTIAL NEW LAW LIMITING NUMBER OF FOREIGN AID WORKERS IN SOUTH SUDAN

  • The Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan, Eugene Owusu, voiced his concern over the recent passing of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Bill by the country's legislature, which limits the number of foreign aid workers eligible to work in the country. The Bill is pending presidential approval.
  • He said he was deeply concerned that the adoption of this Bill would have wide-ranging and negative ramifications for the humanitarian operation at a time when needs are higher than ever.
  • He urged the Government to uphold both the letter and spirit of the peace agreement on this critical issue.
  • Aid agencies in South Sudan recently appealed for $1.3 billion to provide vital assistance to 5.1 million people throughout 2016.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF TO MEET GOVERNMENT LEADERS, CIVIL SOCIETY IN SRI LANKA

  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, will begin a four-day official visit tomorrow to Sri Lanka at the invitation of the Government.
  • During his visit, the High Commissioner will discuss a range of current challenges and opportunities for strengthening the rule of law and protection of human rights in Sri Lanka, including reviewing the implementation of the recommendations made in his report to the Human Rights Council, and in its subsequent Resolution 30/1 on “promoting reconciliation, accountability and human rights in Sri Lanka.”
  • The High Commissioner will meet with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, as well as other high-level Government officials. 
  • He will also hold talks with the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka, representatives of civil society, victims of human rights violations, and religious leaders.
  • In addition to the capital Colombo, the High Commissioner will also visit Jaffna, Trincomalee and Kandy.

WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS MUST BE UPHELD IN RESPONSE TO ZIKA EMERGENCY, SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL STRESSES

  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said today that upholding women’s human rights is essential if the response to the Zika health emergency is to be effective.
  • He added that laws and policies that restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services in contravention of international standards must be repealed and concrete steps must be taken so that women have the information, support and services they require to exercise their rights to determine whether and when they become pregnant.
  • Acknowledging that Zika is a major challenge to the governments in Latin America, Mr. Zeid said the advice of some governments to women to delay getting pregnant, ignores the reality that many women and girls simply cannot exercise control over whether or when or under what circumstances they become pregnant, especially in an environment where sexual violence is so common.
  • The head of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), Babatunde Osotimehin, said that the agency is closely monitoring the Zika outbreak and warning about its potentially adverse effects on the health of women and babies, particularly in Latin America. UNFPA will continue to lead efforts to promote widespread information about the virus and about voluntary family planning.

AHEAD OF INTERNATIONAL DAY, TOP U.N. OFFICIALS CALL FOR PROTECTION OF GIRLS’ DIGNITY, END TO FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

  • Tomorrow will mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The heads of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have issued a joint statement today calling on the global community to do more to protect the wellbeing and dignity of every girl, and to end the practice of FGM.
  • Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin of UNFPA and Anthony Lake of UNICEF stressed that here simply is no place for FGM in the future we are striving to create: a future where every girl will grow up able to experience her inherent dignity, human rights and equality by 2030.
  • According to UNICEF’s new statistical report, at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM in 30 countries.
  • Called the Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: A Global Concern, the report notes that half of the girls and women, who have been cut, live in three countries: Egypt, Ethiopia and Indonesia.
  • Moreover, girls aged 14 and younger represent 44 million of those who have been cut. In most of the countries the majority of girls were cut before reaching their fifth birthdays.

BULGARIA BECOMES 27TH U.N. MEMBER STATE TO PAY FULL DUES

  • Bulgaria has become the 27th Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full.