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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 SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

FRIDAY, 29 JULY 2016

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR OLYMPIC TRUCE

·         The Secretary-General today called for a worldwide cessation of hostilities in observance of the Olympic Truce during the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

·         He said, “While such an ambitious vision may seem impossible to realize, the Olympic spirit calls on us to rise to the challenge.”

·         Noting that the Olympic Committee has taken the unprecedented step of including a refugee team, he said, “This initiative will showcase the strengths of refugees while reminding the world that we must do more to tackle the root causes of their plight.”

·         “A respite in fighting would manifest the values that the Games seek to promote: respect, friendship, solidarity and equality,” he said.

U.N. SYRIA ENVOY SAYS 48 HOUR FIGHTING PAUSE “IMPERATIVE” TO ALLOW HUMANITARIAN ACCESS


·         The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, spoke to press in Geneva today to say that the UN has been studying with great attention and interest the Russian initiative that was outlined yesterday.  He said that, while we await more information on that initiative, we are seeking some key improvements.

·         The Special Envoy said it is imperative that the 48 hours pause for humanitarian access that was discussed last week in the Security Council be put in place on a sustainable basis.  He asked how people could be expected to use a humanitarian corridor while fighting is still going on.

·         Mr. de Mistura suggested that the delivery of aid through corridors should be left to the UN and its humanitarian partners.  He noted that bringing humanitarian supplies and assistance to civilians, wherever they decide to be, is what the UN is there for.   

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF TO VISIT SOUTH SUDAN

·         UN humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien will visit South Sudan from 1-3 August to see at first hand the appalling humanitarian situation and call for urgent action to alleviate suffering. 

·         Tens of thousands of civilians have been displaced after recent fighting in Juba and Wau. There is escalating food insecurity and malnutrition across the country, and a cholera outbreak has erupted in Juba and Jonglei.

·         During the three-day mission, Mr. O’Brien is expected to meet with people affected by the humanitarian crisis, senior Government officials and humanitarian partners. 

U.N. HUMANITARIAN CONVOY ATTACKED IN NIGERIA

·         Yesterday, unknown assailants attacked a UN humanitarian convoy that was traveling from Bama to Maiduguri in Borno State, Nigeria. The convoy was returning from delivering desperately needed humanitarian assistance.

·         The UN Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), reported that a UNICEF employee and a contractor for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were injured in the attack and were treated at a local hospital. 

·         UNICEF said that this was not only an attack on humanitarian workers.  It is an attack on the people who most need the assistance and aid that these workers were bringing. 

U.N. AGENCIES REPORT CONFLICTS CAUSING FOOD INSECURITY IN 17 COUNTRIES

·         The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), have submitted to the Security Council a new series of 17 country briefs which show that conflicts have driven millions of people into severe food insecurity and are hindering global efforts to eradicate malnutrition, with over 56 million people pushed into either "crisis" or "emergency" levels of food insecurity.

·         Topping the list in terms of the sheer numbers of people whose food security is being negatively impacted by ongoing conflict are Yemen and Syria, followed by South Sudan where the situation is rapidly deteriorating.

·         In countries coming out of extended periods of civil strife such as the Central African Republic and Colombia, millions of people are still wrestling with high levels of food insecurity.

U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS ‘CONCERNED’ WITH OPPOSITION PRISON SENTENCES IN GAMBIA

·         The UN Human Rights agency has expressed concerned today at the three-year prison sentences handed down last week to 30 members of the main opposition party in Gambia, including its leader Ousainou Darboe, following their participation in peaceful protests in mid-April.

·         They also remain deeply concerned that there has yet to be an impartial, independent and thorough investigation into allegations of excessive use of force in the context of the demonstrations, and into the arrest and death in State custody of the former secretary of the party.

“INHUMANE CONDITIONS” IN AUSTRALIAN DETENTION CENTRE CITED BY U.N. RIGHTS AGENCY

·         The Human Rights agency said they were shocked by the video footage that has emerged from a youth detention centre in the Northern Territory in Australia, showing children as young as 10, many of whom are Aboriginal children, being held in inhumane conditions and treated cruelly.

·         The announcement by the Government of an investigation is an important step.

·         The Human Rights Office encourages the Government to extend the scope of the investigation beyond the Northern Territory in order to establish that such appalling treatment is not taking place in any other place of detention in Australia.

·         They also called on Australia to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY WELCOMES U.S.. INITIATIVES ON DISPLACED PERSONS IN CENTRAL AMERICA

·        The UN Refugee agency welcomed today the U.S. Government’s initiatives announced earlier this week to address the pressing forced displacement challenge in Central America. These measures include an arrangement offering safe, legal alternatives for people to seek protection abroad via a third country, increased resettlement opportunities, and expansion of a program providing life-saving help and protection to children fleeing affected countries.

·         The number of people fleeing violence and human rights violations in Central America has surged to unprecedented levels.

·         In 2015, asylum-seekers from this region topped nearly 110,000 – a more than five-fold increase over three years – with most of them seeking safety in Mexico and the United States, as well as Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama.

HUMAN TRAFFICKERS TURNING MISERY INTO PROFIT: U.N. DRUG AND CRIME CHIEF  

·         Tomorrow is World Day against Trafficking in Persons. Yuri Fedotov, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime marked the occasion by calling on governments to ratify and effectively implement the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

·         He said, while the international community struggles with   the biggest refugee and migration crisis since World War Two, human traffickers and migrant smugglers are taking advantage of misery to turn a profit. He also urged   governments, companies, and individuals to support the United Nations Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons.