HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 20 MARCH 2017
U.N. MISSION IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO CONCERNED BY RENEWED VIOLENCE IN KANANGA
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) expressed grave concern over the weekend regarding reports of renewed violence in Kananga.
- The Mission has received credible reports of high numbers of deaths in the context of clashes between Kamwina Nsapu militiamen and members of the Congolese security forces.
LIBYA: ONGOING FIGHTING CAUSE FOR ALARM, POSES CONTINUOUS RISK TO CIVILIANS
- Humanitarians in Libya are alarmed at the impact of the ongoing fighting in Tripoli on the civilian population. On 15 March, a mortar shell hit Tripoli’s Al-Hadbha Hospital, setting fire to the paediatric department. Three children received treatment for suffocation.
- As fighting continues in Tripoli and other parts of Libya, health facilities, health staff and patients are at continuous risk. A recent assessment by the World Health Organization shows that almost 75 per cent of health facilities are closed or only partially functioning.
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria Do Valle Ribeiro, and WHO have called on all warring parties in Libya to respect civilians, health facilities, and medical staff, according to international humanitarian law.
IRAQ: HUMANITARIAN AGENCIES BRACING FOR POSSIBILITY THAT UP TO 320,000 ADDITIONAL CIVILIANS MAY FLEE MOSUL IN COMING WEEKS
- The Government of Iraq is reporting that 180,000 civilians have fled western Mosul since mid-February, when military operations to retake the western districts of the city began. Humanitarian agencies are bracing for the possibility that an additional 300,000 to 320,000 civilians may flee in coming weeks.
- Humanitarian agencies are deeply worried that civilians are at grave risk in western Mosul. Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, says that the use of explosives in the densely populated Old City is likely to cause extensive damage. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped, she warned, and they are in terrible danger.
- The main supply route into western Mosul has been cut since mid-November. Families fleeing the city are reporting that shelves are empty and that the only food available is what they already have at home. Water and electricity supplies have been cut and medicines are running out. There’s a press release with more details.
DEATHS OF MORE THAN 40 PEOPLE OFF COAST OF YEMEN CONDEMNED BY UN REFUGEE AGENCY
- The UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, has condemned last Thursday’s incident in which 42 people, including refugees, were killed when a boat carrying around 145 passengers - among them women and children - came under fire off Yemen’s west coast, near Hudaydah.
- The High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, calls on all parties to the conflict to make proper inquiries to ensure accountability and to prevent this from happening again.
- While the circumstances surrounding Thursday’s attack are still unclear, according to international law, civilians must not be attacked and warring parties must do everything possible to protect civilians. UNHCR staff on the ground have been giving support to families of the victims and survivors of the attack.
- MONUSCO is concerned by the attacks of militiamen against State institutions and symbols, but also by the disproportionate use of force by the security and defense forces and the targeting of civilians, including women and children.
- Restrictions placed on the freedom of movement by security forces in Kananga in recent days also impede the ability of the Mission to implement its mandate.
COUNTRIES MUST DO MORE TO COMBAT HATE SPEECH, HATE CRIMES: HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER
- Ahead of tomorrow’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the High Commissioner for Human Rights is urging countries to do more to combat hate speech and hate crimes.
- Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein says the dangers of demonising particular groups are evident across the world. “Words of fear and loathing can, and do, have real consequences,” he said.
- This day reminds us that States have no excuse for allowing racism and xenophobia to fester, much less flourish, said the High Commissioner; stressing that States should adopt legislation expressly prohibiting racist hate speech as a fulfilment of their legal obligation to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination.