12 June 2019

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 Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Security Council

Good afternoon, everyone.  This morning, the Secretary-General addressed a session of the Security Council on conflict prevention and mediation.  He urged all Member States to strive for greater unity to ensure that prevention and mediation efforts are as effective as possible.

“When we act early, and are united, we can successfully prevent crises from escalating, saving lives and reducing suffering,” he told Members of the Council.

The Secretary-General pointed out how efforts are leading to encouraging developments in countries such as Madagascar, Ethiopia, Eritrea and South Sudan.

But he also emphasized the enormous obstacles to peace that remain around the world and how ultimately, civilians pay the price.

“We cannot afford to reduce the energy and resources we invest in prevention and mediation,” he concluded.


This afternoon, the Security Council is expected to meet on Mali.  The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, will brief the Council.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General spoke by phone to the President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, and offered his deepest condolences to the people and Government of Mali following the tragic attack that took place in the village of Soubanou-Kou.  The Secretary-General reiterated the UN’s engagement to support the authorities in their search for solutions to intercommunal tensions in the country.

**Saudi Arabia/Yemen

We are deeply concerned over the missile attack on the Abha civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia.

We urge all parties to prevent any such further incidents, which risk escalating the current situation, pose a serious threat to the national and regional security and undermine the UN-led political process.

We echo the recent Security Council statement calling on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and critical civilian infrastructure, in accordance with international humanitarian law.

We urge both parties to exert more efforts to re-engage in the political process to end the conflict through an inclusive intra-Yemeni dialogue.


Close to 70,000 people across Yemen, including internally displaced people, have been affected by torrential rain and flash flooding in recent weeks, culminating in widespread flooding in the second week of June.  Hajjah is the most affected Governorate, where over 8,000 families (or almost 48,000 people) have reportedly been affected.

There are concerns that flash flooding could escalate the spread of cholera across the country.  Yemen is already experiencing a rise in cholera cases, with 364,000 suspected cases reported since the beginning of this year.

The UN and humanitarian partners are conducting assessments and scaling up humanitarian response, despite access constraints in many of the affected areas.  Preliminary information indicates that critical immediate needs are shelter, food, non-food items and cash assistance.

**Middle East

We have been asked a few times about UN participation in the workshop being held in Bahrain on 25-26 June.

As it stands, I understand that UNSCO (United Nations Special Coordinator’s Office) Deputy Special Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Coordinator Jamie McGoldrick will be representing the United Nations at the event.


Today marks the fifth anniversary of the murder by Da’esh of at least 1,500 unarmed Iraq Air Force cadets outside Tikrit Air Academy, formerly known as Camp Speicher.

In a statement, the head of the UN Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Da’esh (UNITAD), Karim Asad Ahmad Khan, remembered the lives of those killed in that massacre, as well as many members of the Christian, Yazidi, Sunni, Shia, Turkmen, Kakai and all other communities targeted by Da’esh.

Mr. Khan said that the UN is deploying its technical, legal and investigative resources pursuant to Security Council resolution 2379 of 2017, so that accountability is delivered for Da’esh crimes which may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide.

**Cyclone Idai

Wrapping up a week-long visit to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, today called on the world to address the challenges and risks posed by extreme weather events and climate change in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Idai.

Ms. Mueller said that, while the impact of Cyclone Idai was different in the three countries, the disaster gives us a clear picture of how the effects of climate change are increasing the humanitarian needs of people who are already extremely vulnerable.

She stressed that the climate crisis is hurting most those who have done the least to create it.

**Mental Health

More than 1 in 5 people living in conflict zones suffer from mental health disorders, according to a study released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) and published by the Lancet.  The new estimates indicate that more people than previously thought experience mental disorders, ranging from mild depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to severe mental illnesses.  As a result, WHO is calling for additional investment to increase the availability of mental health services in conflict-affected areas.  The study is available on WHO’s website.

**Child Labour

Today is the World Day against Child Labour.  This year’s theme is “Children shouldn’t work in fields, but on dreams”.

Today, 152 million children are involved in child labour.  Although child labour occurs in almost every sector, 7 out of every 10 of these children work in agriculture.

To mark the Day, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has released a report with a series of recommendations to end child labour by 2025.  You can find the report on ILO’s website.

**Press Briefing

And after I’m done, you will hear from Monica Villela Grayley and at 12:45, there will be a press briefing by Navid Hanif, Director of the Financing for Sustainable Development Office in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).  He will brief you on the launch of the World Investment Report 2019.

**Questions and Answers

That’s it for me.  Are there any questions?  Yes, please?

Question:  Farhan, it is being reported that members of the international community might be meeting tomorrow in Sweden with representatives of Turkey, China, Lima Group and other international partners, including Cuba, to talk about the future of Venezuela and the possibility of elections in the near future.  And the Norway Government might be present to be able to talk about those possibilities, as it’s been said that the elections will be before the end of the year, as the conversations advance.  Is the United Nations in any way part of these talks, will have somebody there to follow the progress?  Today, the Secretary‑General mentioned that you have been following the Norway talks, and then they… he offered, again, the offices of good services?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, I’m aware of the Secretary‑General’s remarks so I’d refer you to what he said at the Security Council about that.  I’m not aware of any UN representation in the talks tomorrow, but I’ll let you know if that changes.  Yes?

Question:  Farhan, concerning former Secretary‑General Ban Ki‑moon, he addressed the Council this morning, and I’m wondering what bilaterals he may have this afternoon here at Headquarters, probably in his capacity in The Elders group, because I know he’s been very busy in New York City, and I wonder if he’s touching base with anybody else here.

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah, ironically, after many years of knowing exactly what his daily schedule would be, I don’t have any particular way of knowing about his programme while he’s in New York this time around.  So, you could contact The Elders.  I believe they have a Spokesperson who’s with the group.  And with that, I wish you a good afternoon.  Oh, yeah.  One more?

Question:  The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) gave numbers last week about the 4 million Venezuelans.  The Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Mr. [Jorge] Arreaza, has been very outspoken about it and has said that those numbers are a lie and that they are a media campaign to give fake information about… or to discredit the Government of Nicolás Maduro.  Is the United Nations and the Secretary‑General has any response to this type of accusations?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the UN refugee agency stands by the numbers.  We’re not trying in any way to create any particular climate regarding the issues of Venezuela.  What we’re trying to do is tend to all of the needs of the people who are fleeing, one way or another, across borders.  Thank you very much.

For information media. Not an official record.