HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 29 JUNE 2021
We have been advised that the Fifth Committee has reached an agreement on the peacekeeping budgets late last night. The Committee is expected to formally approve the resolutions shortly, if it has not already done so, and that will then go on to the General Assembly for formal adoption.
Based on this scenario, we will have the necessary spending authority from 1 July without any operational shutdowns, which is good news.
Curtailment of operations, as you know, will have limited the ability of the Missions to implement their mandates, including, for example, supporting host countries in COVID response, protection of civilians, and other critical activities.
On Ethiopia’s Tigray, the consequences and impact of the declaration of an immediate ceasefire remain unclear.
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us there has been a breakdown of telecommunications and Internet services in Tigray as of today, so the impact of the current situation on the humanitarian operations remain unknown at this moment.
Humanitarian operations have been constrained in the past few days due to the ongoing fighting. We are ready to resume full operations, pending security and access assessment as to the new current conditions on the ground.
We, along with our partners, are looking at options to scale up the humanitarian relief operations in light of what we find following the assessment. We are also looking into the supply routes into Tigray in consultations with our security colleagues and logistics experts.
We are staying and delivering for the people of Tigray, but we will need access to vital supplies that are currently not available.
Staffing levels at the moment remain the same, as the airport in Mekelle is closed and routes are not open.
As for the cessation of hostilities, the Secretary-General spoke to Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed yesterday. He expressed his hope for a cessation of hostilities.
At this point, the Secretary-General wants to make sure that all actors and everyone involved commit to peace and a real cessation of hostilities. This will obviously we hope help improve humanitarian access and the assistance we are able to deliver.
It is very important for steps to be taken for unity through political dialogue and of course we continue to offer the full support of the United Nations in this regard.
From Myanmar, I have an update from our colleagues on the ground who tell us, based on numbers received from the human rights component of the office, that a total of 5,202 people are in detention as a result of their opposition to the military takeover.
Of these people, more than 200 have been subjected to questionable judicial processes and sentenced under various laws without due process, while 26 people have been sentenced to death.
Nearly 2,000 people for whom there are arrest warrants are currently in hiding. Dozens of these people have been tried in absentia, with some having been sentenced to life in prison, hard labour or even death.
The UN Country Team says there are reports that security forces have killed what we believe is a minimum number of 883 unarmed people, of whom at least 40 have reportedly died while in custody.
The team also tells us that 60 children have been killed since the military takeover on 1 February. There have been at least 59 attacks against hospitals and health workers and at least 163 against schools and teachers.
The UN team in Myanmar continues to strongly condemn the widespread use of lethal force and other serious violations of human rights. Our colleagues underscore that the use of excessive force by security forces, including the use of live ammunition, must stop and must stop now. They are particularly concerned by reports of the use of heavy artillery against civilians.
Turning to Mali, another grim human rights update: our colleagues in the Human Rights component of the peacekeeping mission on the ground recorded 617 human rights abuses, including 165 killings by armed groups. This is an increase of 37 per cent compared to the previous 6 months.
A striking example of the deterioration of the human rights situation across the country is a steep rise in abductions, largely by community-based armed groups and militias in central Mali.
In addition, the Mission recorded a sharp increase in violations by State actors in the first half of 2021. Our colleagues recorded 213 violations between January and June, up from 53 violations seen between August and December of last year. Of these, 155 violations were perpetrated by the Malian Defence and Security Forces, including extrajudicial killings, summary or arbitrary executions of 44 people.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in the city of Beni, over the weekend, three devices exploded inside or close to places of worship.
Following the explosions, markets, schools and churches in the city have been ordered shut for 48 hours.
The blasts have also led to restrictions of movement for humanitarian organizations.
The population of the Beni territory is already severely suffering as they are food insecure and are in the IPC Phase 3 category. Currently, there are nearly 700,000 internally displaced people in Beni territory. About 57,000 of those people are in the town of Beni.
Yesterday, the Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission in the country, Bintou Keïta, condemned these attacks which, she said, aim to sow terror and confusion among the civilian population.
The Mission reiterated its commitment to support the Government and Congolese people in their efforts to secure the civilian populations and neutralize armed groups.
At the Security Council Open Debate on Cybersecurity this morning, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, said that, as advances in digital technologies continue to revolutionize human life, we have also seen a dramatic increase in the frequency of malicious incidents, from disinformation to the disruption of computer networks.
She said that the scale and pervasiveness of cyber “insecurity” is now recognized as a major concern. The political and technical difficulty of attributing and assigning responsibility for cyberattacks could result in significant consequences, she added, including in unintended armed responses and escalation.
Ms. Nakamitsu said the UN stands ready to support States, together with other stakeholders, to promote a peaceful ICT environment.
Given these implications for the maintenance of international peace and security resulting from cyber threats, she concluded, engagement by the Security Council is paramount.
The African Union-UN hybrid peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s Darfur will wrap up its drawdown tomorrow As you will recall, the Security Council ended the Mission’s mandate last year.
Assistant Secretary-General M’Baye Babacar Cissé oversaw the drawdown.
In the past four months, the Mission handed over 14 team sites to the Government, which committed to using them for health care, education and other social services such as vocational training.
The Mission worked with communities and identified ways to meet their needs, including providing water treatment equipment, generators and other supplies.
It is the Central Government’s responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of the sites, while the Darfur state governments remain responsible for ensuring the facilities are being used as intended.
The Mission was one of the largest peacekeeping operations in the history of the United Nations.
During its 13-year mandate, the Mission had more than 100,000 military and police peacekeepers from dozens of countries. At its peak deployment in 2011, it nearly had 23,000 troops and police.
HYBRID BRIEFING/GUEST TOMORROW
Tomorrow at 9:00 a.m., there will be a briefing in this room by the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia.
At noon, I will be joined here by the Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov. He will brief you on this week’s High-Level Conference on Counter-Terrorism.