HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 6 MARCH 2018
U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY MEETS REPRESENTATIVES FOR IRAN, RUSSIA AND TURKEY TO DISCUSS CONFLICT IN SYRIA
- The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, attended a meeting today with representatives of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Russian Federation, and the Republic of Turkey, hosted by the Russian Federation at its permanent mission in Geneva. He discussed with the three guarantors important follow-up to the Sochi Final Statement and the further advancement of the Geneva political process towards the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). In light of Security Council resolution 2401 (2018), discussions also emphasised the situation on the ground and the immediate priority of de-escalation, also in view of the forthcoming Astana meeting. Discussions also addressed the file of detainees, abductees and missing persons.
- Yesterday, the UN and partners’ mission to deliver assistance to people in Douma, in Eastern Ghouta, was forced to be cut short due to escalating violence and insecurity. Airstrikes and shelling in Douma and shelling of Damascus continued for hours while the inter-agency convoy was delivering food for 27,500 people, in addition to health and nutrition supplies. After nearly nine hours inside, the decision was made to leave for security reasons and to avoid jeopardizing the safety of humanitarian teams on the ground. As a result, 14 of the 46 trucks in the convoy were not able to fully offload critical humanitarian supplies. Of the 14, four were partially offloaded.
YEMEN: U.N. WARNS SOME 77,000 PEOPLE HAVE BEEN NEWLY DISPLACED OVER PAST FOURS MONTHS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that hostilities continue in Yemen’s southern Hodeidah governorate, about 100 km south of Hodeidah port.
- The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that about 77,000 people have been newly displaced in Hodeidah and neighbouring Taiz since December 2017. As of late February, humanitarian partners had reached about 54,000 people with emergency assistance and response efforts are continuing.
- Over two million people remain displaced across the country due to the conflict, 90 per cent of whom fled their homes more than a year ago.
U.N. LAUNCHES $569 MILLION HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE PLAN FOR IRAQ
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) together with authorities in Iraq today launched the 2018 humanitarian response plan, which is seeking $569 million to assist 3.4 million highly vulnerable people still struggling in the aftermath of the conflict with Da’esh.
- Humanitarian operations in Iraq are contracting significantly in 2018 compared with last year, when 6.2 million people were targeted with humanitarian assistance. This reflects the changing nature of needs of the population, as displaced people return to their areas of origin. It also reflects the growing capacity and reach of national institutions and the expanding role of development actors.
U.N. SENIOR OFFICIAL TO VISIT SRI LANKA THIS WEEK
- Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will visit Sri Lanka from 9 to 11 March. He will meet with a wide range of Sri Lankan leaders -- including the President, the Prime Minister and other senior officials -- political parties and civil society groups.
- The visit is part of ongoing UN engagement with Sri Lanka.
ETHNIC CLEANSING OF ROHINGYA FROM MYNAMAR CONTINUES – U.N. OFFICIAL
- At the conclusion of his visit to Bangladesh, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said that the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya from Myanmar continues.
- The rate of killings and sexual violence in Rakhine State has subsided, but recently arrived Rohingya interviewed by Mr. Gilmour and other UN officials in Cox’s Bazar provided credible accounts of continued killings, rape, torture, and abductions, as well as forced starvation.
- Mr. Gilmour said that the nature of the violence has changed from the frenzied blood-letting and mass rape of last year to a lower intensity campaign of terror and forced starvation that seems to be designed to drive the remaining Rohingya from their homes and into Bangladesh.
- He underlined the broad consensus that it is inconceivable to expect refugees to return to Myanmar at this point.
- However, he stressed that ultimately, the world cannot allow the authors of this brutal case of ethnic cleansing – which many believe may constitute genocide – to be rewarded. Repatriation of the Rohingya to their homes and their country will be necessary, as will accountability for the crimes against humanity that may have been committed against them.
- Mr. Gilmour also stressed that the Bangladeshi and international humanitarian response to the Rohingya crisis has been very impressive but that the rainy season is likely to have a devastating effect on refugee camps.
U.N. TEAMS UP WITH NATURE CONSERVATION ORGANIZATION TO PROTECT ROHINGYA REFUGEES FROM ELEPHANTS NEAR SETTLEMENT
- The UN Refugee Agency warned today that wildlife risks add challenges to refugee response in Bangladesh.
- The area now occupied by the Kutupalong refugee settlement in Cox’s Bazar has long been an important habitat for Asian Elephants. There are about 40 elephants in the area and they move between Bangladesh and Myanmar in search of food.
- Tragically ten refugees have been killed by frightened elephants inside the settlements. Other people have been injured and lost the little property they had.
- UNHCR teamed up with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to bring about safe coexistence with wildlife in the refugee settlements.
- The main project already in action is the creation of 17 Elephant Response Teams (ERTs), groups of trained people who know how to respond appropriately to an approaching elephant and who can deter it from entering the camp.
- UNHCR hopes to see more support for these kinds of interventions in humanitarian contexts globally.
AUSTRALIA AND EAST TIMOR TO SIGN MARITIME BOUNDARIES TREATY UNDER U.N. AUSPICES
- This afternoon at 5 pm, senior officials from Australia and Timor-Leste are to sign the Treaty Between the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and Australia Establishing their Maritime Boundaries in the Timor Sea. The Treaty will be signed in the Secretary-General’s presence in the General Assembly building.
- The signing of this new maritime boundaries treaty would mark the successful conclusion of the first-ever recourse by States to conciliation proceedings under Annex V to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
- The Comprehensive Package Agreement of 30 August 2017, which includes the new Treaty, puts an end to a decade-long maritime dispute between Timor-Leste and Australia.
U.N. OFFICIAL PRAISES REFORM EFFORTS BY FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Miroslav Jenča visited the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia from 4 to 6 March.
- In Skopje, Mr. Jenča met with Prime and Foreign Ministers, the Speaker of Parliament and Parliamentary Committees leaders, civil society, diplomatic Community, and the UN Country Team.
- Mr. Jenča commended the Prime Minister for undertaking reforms and welcomed the Government’s commitment to democracy, rule of law, human rights, and ethnic diversity.
- Mr. Jenča appreciated the Government’s commitment and steps taken so far to improve relations with its neighbours, stressing that this sends an important message for increased regional cooperation and overcoming the legacies of the past at a challenging time. The United Nations fully supports those efforts.
CHILD MARRIAGE DECREASING GLOBALLY – U.N.I.C.E.F.
- UNICEF said today that child marriage is decreasing globally with several countries seeing significant reductions in recent years.
- Overall, the proportion of women who were married as children decreased by 15 per cent in the last decade, from 1 in 4 to approximately 1 in 5.
- South Asia has witnessed the largest decline in child marriage worldwide in the last 10 years.
- According to new data from UNICEF, the total number of girls married in childhood is now estimated at 12 million a year.
- However, to end the practice by 2030 – the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals – progress must be significantly accelerated.
- Worldwide, an estimated 650 million women alive today were married as children. The global burden of child marriage is shifting to sub-Saharan Africa, where rates of progress need to be scaled up dramatically to offset population growth.
37 COUNTRIES IN NEED OF FOOD ASSISTANCE – U.N. AGENCY
- A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which underlines that some 37 countries are in need of external assistance for food, a number unchanged from three months ago.
- The Crop Prospects and Food Situation report issued today shows that civil war and insecurity are direct reasons for high hunger rates in 16 countries, ranging from Burundi to Yemen.
- Conflict is displacing millions of people, hampering agricultural activities and, in many cases, also driving basic food prices up sharply. Inflation in the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2017 to a 42 percent annual rate.
- Violence has also disrupted traditional trade routes around the Sahel, driving up prices, while food shortages are reported around southern and eastern Libya.
- Meanwhile, inadequate and erratic rainfall poses a growing threat to food security in Southern Africa as well as in Eastern Africa, where many rural households have suffered from four consecutive drought-affected agricultural seasons.
ANITA KOKUI GBEHO OF GHANA APPOINTED AS DEPUTY JOINT SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR A.U.-U.N. MISSION IN DARFUR
- The Secretary-General and African Union Commission Chairperson appointed Anita Kokui Gbeho of Ghana as Deputy Joint Special Representative for the AU-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID.
- Ms. Gbeho succeeds Bintou Keita of Guinea, to whom the Secretary-General and the Commission Chairperson are grateful for her dedicated service during her tenure with UNAMIMs. Gbeho brings to the position a wealth of experience from her distinguished career in the United Nations. Since 2015, she has served as Resident Coordinator in Namibia, and previously, she worked with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
MALTA AND SAINT LUCIA PAY THEIR U.N.BUDGET DUES IN FULL
- Today, Malta and Saint Lucia paid their budget dues in full. This brings the Honour Roll up to 65 Member States.