HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 29 AUGUST 2018
SECRETARY-GENERAL SOUNDS ALARM ON POTENTIAL HUMANITARIAN CATASTROPHE IN EVENT OF MILITARY OPERATION IN SYRIA’S IDLIB
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said that he is deeply concerned about the growing risks of a humanitarian catastrophe in the event of a full-scale military operation in Idlib province in Syria. The Secretary-General once again reaffirms that any use of chemical weapons is totally unacceptable.
- The Secretary-General urgently appeals to the Government of Syria and all parties to exercise restraint and to prioritize the protection of civilians.
- He calls on the Astana guarantors to step up their efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Idlib, the last remaining de-escalation zone.
- The Secretary-General further calls on all parties to take all necessary measures to safeguard civilian lives, allow freedom of movement, and protect civilian infrastructure, including medical and educational facilities, in accordance with international humanitarian law and human rights law.
- For its part, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today reiterated its concern about the situation in Syria’s Idlib and the potentially catastrophic humanitarian consequences of further military escalation in the area.
- Nearly 3 million people are believed to be in Idlib’s de-escalation zone, comprising parts of Idlib, western Aleppo, northern Hama and eastern Latakia governorates. This includes nearly 1.4 million internally displaced people and 2.1 million people in need of humanitarian aid.
- As OCHA’s John Ging told the Security Council yesterday, the UN and its partners are continuing to respond to needs in Idlib and across north-west Syria through cross-border assistance deliveries. Some 680,000 people received food delivered by the UN from Turkey in July alone. Aid organizations are prepositioning aid to prepare for a further deterioration in the area.
- The United Nations continues to remind all parties to the fighting in Idlib and the north-west of their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure safe, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access and to ensure the protection of civilians.
- OCHA also continues to be concerned about the welfare of civilians in eastern Deir-Ez-Zor governorate.
- On Monday, 53 people were reportedly killed and 100 injured in airstrikes on residential areas in Abu Kamal district.
- Some 200,000 displaced people have now returned to Deir-ez-Zor since November 2017. Humanitarian aid is being provided in a number of locations, but fighting continues to impact civilians in the eastern part of the governorate in recent months, reportedly causing 20,000 people to flee to makeshift camps between July and early August.
- The United Nations reminds on all parties of their obligation to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure under international humanitarian and human rights law.
U.N. ENVOY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST TERRORIST ATTACK IN IRAQ’S ANBAR
- The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Jan Kubis, has strongly condemned today’s deadly terrorist bombing in the Al-Qaim area of western Anbar province.
- Mr. Kubis said that, although Da’esh has been defeated on the battlefield, it continues to pose a threat to peace in Iraq, using cowardly and indiscriminate attacks to terrorize people in an attempt to destabilize a country that is recovering from conflict.
- He added that today’s attack is a reminder to Iraqis that the struggle for peace is not yet over, stressing the key role of the resilience and unity of all Iraqis in thwarting the terrorists’ schemes and consolidating stability and achieving prosperity.
AT SECURITY COUNCIL, SECRETARY-GENERAL HIGHLIGHTS CRUCIAL ROLE OF MEDIATION
- This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council’s open meeting on mediation.
- He told the Council that both war and mediating peace are becoming increasingly complex, noting that, since the beginning of his tenure, one of his key priorities has been a surge in diplomacy for peace.
- The Secretary-General said that prevention includes investment in mediation, peacebuilding and sustainable development. We must be bold and creative in bringing together the avenues and capacities that are available for mediation, he said.
- He said that the United Nations has a number of mediation resources that are deployed in various ways, including the Secretary-General’s special envoys and representatives, as well as good offices, and formal talks, often alongside envoys and mediators from regional organizations or Member States.
SENIOR U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICIAL VISITS MALI
- Yesterday, Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller began a four-day visit to Mali to raise awareness of the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country and to find ways to enable an increased and timely humanitarian response, including by addressing the significant funding gap.
- Today, Ms. Mueller is in the capital, Bamako, where she is meeting with governmental officials, humanitarian partners and others.
- While in Mali, she will also meet with internally displaced people in one of the most affected communities in central Mali
- Currently, some 5.2 million people, or 1 in 4 Malians, are in need of humanitarian assistance, compared to 3.8 million in 2017 and 4.1 million in early 2018. The level of need is higher than at any point since the beginning of the crisis in 2012.
- As of today, only 31 per cent of the $330 million sought by the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan has been received, making Mali one of the 10 least-funded plans globally.
FOUR MILLION REFUGEE CHILDREN OUT OF SCHOOL – NEW U.N. REPORT
- A new report released today by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that four million refugee children do not attend school. This is an increase of half a million of out-of-school refugee children in just one year.
- The report shows that, despite the efforts of governments, UNHCR and its partners, enrolment of refugee children in school is failing to keep pace with the growing refugee population. Only 61 per cent of refugee children attend primary school, compared to 92 per cent of children globally. As refugee children get older, this gap grows, with only 23 per cent of refugee children attending secondary school.
- The report highlights progress made by those committed to the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants in enrolling an additional 500,000 refugee children in 2017. At the same time, it calls for more to be done to ensure all refugees get the quality education they deserve.
U.N. OFFICE CALLS FOR URGENT MOVES TO ADDRESS NICARAGUA’S HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS
- The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) said today that urgent action is needed to address the human rights crisis in Nicaragua, where the level of persecution is such that many of those who participated in the protests that erupted in April, defended protesters’ rights, or simply expressed dissenting views, have been forced to hide or leave the country.
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that the violence and impunity over the past four months have created a climate of fear and mistrust, and he urged the Human Rights Council and the international community, to take concrete action to prevent the current crisis from descending into deeper social and political turmoil.
SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES CONCERN OVER HEALTH OF UKRAINIAN HUNGER STRIKER
- In response to a question, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General remains concerned about the health of Oleh Sentsov, who has now been on hunger strike for more than 100 days and is reportedly in critical condition.
- The issue has been part of the Secretary-General’s conversations with Russian authorities.
ON INTERNATIONAL DAY, SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS NEED FOR ENTRY INTO FORCE OF COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST BAN TREATY
- Today is the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. In his message, the Secretary-General said that the history of nuclear testing is one of suffering, with the victims of more than 2,000 nuclear tests often from the most vulnerable communities around of the world.
- He stressed that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has an essential role within the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. It fosters international peace and security and we should make every effort to bring it into force.
BELARUS BECOMES 125TH MEMBER STATE TO PAY U.N. DUES IN FULL
- Belarus, which has paid its regular budget dues in full, making it the 125th Member State to do so.