26 November 2018

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.

**Security Council

Good afternoon, as you have seen, the Security Council is currently meeting on the Ukraine.  The Under‑Secretary‑General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, just briefed the members.  She said that a regrettable security incident took place yesterday in Crimea, involving three Ukrainian vessels and one Russian vessel near the Kerch Strait, and she noted the Ukrainian and Russian accounts of that incident.

Ms. DiCarlo reiterated the UN’s call for all parties to avoid unilateral steps.  Regrettably, she said, yesterday’s incident only causes the tensions to deteriorate further.  At this juncture, she said, the immediate de‑escalation of tensions at the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea is required.


On Syria, I would like to reiterate something we said over the weekend:  The Secretary‑General is following very closely the reports of alleged use of chemical weapons in Aleppo against civilians.

Any confirmed use of such weapons, by any party in the conflict under any circumstances, is abhorrent and a clear violation of international law.

Meanwhile, today a report on children and armed conflict in Syria says that parties to the conflict in that country exhibited a blatant disregard for the life and fundamental rights of children.  The report documents grave violations committed against boys and girls between 16 November 2013 and the end of June 2018.

“The report describes deeply disturbing violence against children, committed in a climate of widespread impunity,” said Virginia Gamba, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.  And that report is now available to you.


On Somalia, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative there, Nicholas Haysom, strongly condemned the terrorist attacks in the city of Galkayo and in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, which killed a prominent cleric and a number of other civilians.

Al-Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the early morning attack on a compound belonging to cleric Abdiweli Ali Elmi of Galkayo.  Later, in the early afternoon, a car bomb reportedly detonated in a busy market in Mogadishu.

In a statement, Mr. Haysom extended his condolences to the bereaved, and said the UN stands with the people and government of Somalia in their rejection of terrorism.  The full statement is available on the UN website.


Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, is in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, today, where he is meeting with Yemeni Government officials to prepare consultations with the parties.

You will recall that, in a visit to the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah on Friday, Mr. Griffiths welcomed the recent calls for a halt of the fighting in Hodeidah.  This is an essential step if we are to protect the lives of civilians and build confidence among the parties, he said.

On Thursday in Sana’a, the Special Envoy had talked with the Ansar Allah leadership about how the UN could contribute to keeping the peace in Hodeidah, and they agreed that the UN should now pursue actively and urgently detailed negotiations for a leading UN role in the port and more broadly.


Our colleagues at the World Health Organization (WHO) report that the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced today that a trial has begun to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of drugs used in the treatment of Ebola.  This is the first‑ever multi‑drug trial for an Ebola treatment.

In a statement, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus], said that while the focus remained on bringing an end to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in North Kivu Province, the new trial is an important step towards finally finding a treatment for Ebola that will save lives.  More details on the agency’s website.


The United Nations and international and local humanitarian partners in Iraq, including the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and the Iraqi Red Crescent, have joined the Government of Iraq’s specialized agencies in providing support for the tens of thousands of victims of the severe flooding which swept many areas of Salah Eddin and Ninewa Governorates on 22 and 23 November.


Turning to Venezuela, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that since August it had flown in nearly 130 tons of medicines, health and nutrition supplies for 350,000 women and children.  The supplies will boost Government efforts to alleviate the impact of the economic crisis on the most vulnerable.

The supplies are part of an agreement with the Government to expand UNICEF’s programmes in the country, including through technical cooperation and capacity‑building.

UNICEF has delivered 100 tons of nutritional supplies for 150,000 children, including food for the treatment of malnutrition, and deworming and water purification tablets.  The agency also provided 30 tons of medicines and health supplies that will be used in the treatment and care for 25,000 pregnant women, 10,000 newborns in neonatal wards and more than 2,300 children living with HIV.

**Violence against Women

And a study released today by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that out of 87,000 women that were killed around the world last year, some 50,000 – that’s 58 per cent of them – were killed by their partners or a member of their own family.  This amounts to six women being killed every hour by people they know.

The study, which was released for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, found that Africa and the Americas are the regions where women are most at risk of being killed by intimate partners or family members.  This was followed by Oceania and Asia.  And the lowest rate was found in Europe.

And on Sunday, the UN kicked off its 16 days of activism to end gender‑based violence.  In a tweet, the Secretary‑General encouraged the public to speak out and take action.  And the heads of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), UNICEF, UN‑Women and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) also issued [a statement] calling for solidarity with survivors and survivor advocates and women’s human rights defenders who are all working to prevent and end violence against women and girls.  More information should be online.  Don’t worry, I’ll get to you.

**Global Wage Report

Our colleagues from the International Labour Organization (ILO) today released a report that says global wage growth last year fell to its lowest rate since 2008, far below the levels before the global financial crisis.

The Global Wage Report as it is entitled found that the global wage growth declined to 1.8 per cent in 2017 from 2.4 per cent in 2016.  The findings are based on data from 136 countries.

The report also found that globally women continue to be paid approximately 20 per cent less than men.  In high‑income countries it is at the high end of the pay scale that the gender pay gap is wider, while in low‑ and middle‑income countries, the gender pay gap is wider amongst the lower paid workers.  You can find the full report online.


Last night we issued a statement in which the Secretary‑General condemned the recurrent attacks by terrorists and other extremist groups in the northern part of the country.  He said these were causing heavy casualties among the civilian population and the security forces and disrupting normal life.

The Secretary-General added that those who violate international humanitarian, human rights and refugee laws must be held accountable and that the United Nations stands in solidarity with the Government of Nigeria in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

**Noon Guest

After we are done, I will be joined by Jorge Chediek, who is the head of Office and the Envoy of the Secretary‑General on South‑South Cooperation and he’ll be here to brief you on the upcoming expo, which I believe opens Wednesday.

**Questions and Answers

Spokesman:  Mademoiselle?

Question: Thank you.  Obviously, I was gonna ask about official position of Secretary‑General in newest news in Ukraine and position about new act of aggression now in sea territory.  Is there any statement available already?  And could we wait for more further steps which could push on Russia more hardly?

Spokesman:  Well, you know, I think Ms. Rosemary DiCarlo expressed the opinion of the Secretariat.  She just briefed the Security Council.  We're, obviously, all very deeply concerned about the tensions and the broader context of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea.  And we would wish to reiterate our call for renewed and constructive action by all concerned to overcome the apparent impasse on the diplomatic negotiations.  But Ms. DiCarlo spoke on behalf of the Secretariat and very clearly to that.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Thank you.  On… also, I'm… on the same topic, Ukraine, it seems that though… everything is falling apart, and that country is ready to go on war footing.  What is it that…

Spokesman:  Where is everything falling apart?  Sorry.

Question:  What's that?

Spokesman:  Where is everything falling apart?  Where is everything falling apart?

Question:  In Ukraine.  In Ukraine.  What is happening in Ukraine and… and with this Soviet… I mean, sorry, Russian - what do you call - interventions and so forth.  So, what is it that the Secretary‑General is doing to somehow… somehow bring the situation to… from the boiling situation down?  Is the Secretary‑General making any efforts to go to…

Spokesman:  You know, obviously… the Secretary‑General is on plane on his way back to New York as we speak.  He is being fully briefed on the situation.  Contacts are being had at various levels.  But, again, I would urge you to look back to what Ms. DiCarlo said, and I think she explained it in a way that's much clearer than I can.  Yes, madame?  Then I'll come to you.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Today is the tenth anniversary of the Mumbai terror attacks that were conducted by Pakistani terrorists.  Does the SG have any message for that?  And, also, the US announced another $5 million for information on those who carried out these attacks, because they are still at large.  Any comment on that, as well?

Spokesman:  Well, you know, as a matter of principle, we always believe that those who are responsible for violence… random violence for acts of terrorism should be brought to justice.  Yes, Carla?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I was a little bit nonplussed by the statistic you gave.  Did you actually say 58 per cent of the women that are killed are in… in domestic situations?

Spokesman:  What I said is 58 per cent of the women who were killed, if I recall properly what I just said, over the last year - that's 50,000 - were killed by partners or a member of their own family.  Yeah.  Yes, ma'am?

Question:  Following up on Carla's question, since 58 per cent were killed by partners or family… what… whoever, what about the other 42 per cent?  Is there a sense of, were they killed just in burglaries and war, by terrorists?

Spokesman:  It was, from what I understand - and we'd have to look at the report - it was women… this was gender‑based violence.  This was violence targeting women in other… outside of the home.

Do you want to be brief?  Okay.  So, we'll go to Monica [Grayley], and then please stay for our guests.  Thank you.

For information media. Not an official record.