HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 3 JUNE 2021
The Spokesman said he was sad to report another attack on peacekeepers in Mali. Unfortunately, two peacekeeping colleagues were killed this morning in Mali after their vehicle – an Armoured Personnel Carrier- hit an improvised explosive device. This happened outside of the town of Douentza, in the Mopti region. One other peacekeeper was injured in the attack. UN Peacekeepers have managed to secure the area. This is the sixth incident in which a Mission convoy was hit since 22 May. It is the second fatal attack on a UN peacekeeping convoy just this week.
The Secretary-General condemns this new attack on UN peacekeepers, who are fulfilling the mandate in Mali given to them by the Security Council in extremely challenging conditions. The Secretary-General wishes a prompt recovery to the injured peacekeepers.
The Head of the UN mission in Mali, El-Ghassim Wane, also condemned this new attack. He also condemned the attack in the Kayes region earlier this week, in which 2 members of the Malian Red Cross were killed.
Despite these challenging circumstances, it is also important to note that UN colleagues are continuing their mandated work. As an example, the UN Peacekeeping Mission helped to rehabilitate two bridges in the Mopti region, which had been destroyed in earlier attacks. The restoration of these two bridges will bring relief to the people of the region and will facilitate the resumption of travel, commerce and activity, including between Mopti and Bandiagara.
Meanwhile, in the Kidal region and Gao region, peacekeepers assisted the populations of Anefis and Tanbankort towns, as part of their ongoing support to the populations in the North.
The UN is deeply troubled by the Myanmar military's decision to proceed with the execution of two pro-democracy activists after they received death sentences. This is a blatant violation to the right to life, liberty and security of person as per Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Secretary-General reiterates his calls for the respect of people’s rights to freedom of opinion and expression; and also to drop all charges against those arrested on charges related to the exercise of their fundamental freedoms and rights, and for the immediate release of all political prisoners in Myanmar.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the principles of equality before the law, the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, and all of the guarantees necessary for a person’s defense.
The Secretary-General considers that the death penalty cannot be reconciled with full respect for the right to life. Abolition is necessary and desirable for the enhancement of human dignity and the progressive development of human rights.
In Haiti, UN humanitarian agencies say that their ability to provide life-saving assistance is severely limited by worsening gang violence, especially in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
At least 188 people have been killed, including 96 suspected gang members, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as the UN Integrated Office in Haiti. Almost 17,000 people have been displaced from Port-au-Prince since 24 April alone. Incidents of kidnapping for ransom have increased dramatically with some 200 cases in Port-au-Prince, recorded in the month of May, according to the UN Mission.
Access to vulnerable communities is acutely restricted due to gang activity, hampering the implementation and monitoring of humanitarian interventions.
UN partners have also been unable to collect and deliver relief supplies due to lack of access to the port area.
This week also marks one year since transportation links to the south of the country were closed down by gang activity. Reaching the north is also problematic.
Malnutrition rates in the Cité Soleil neighbourhood of Port-au-Prince have risen with 20 per cent of children under five now suffering from acute malnutrition, a key indicator of a crisis situation.
In spite of security constraints, UN agencies and partners continue to deliver relief items where possible. In 2022, the humanitarian community estimates that 4.9 million men, women and children need humanitarian assistance. So far, US$73 million has been received for Haiti's Humanitarian Response Plan against an appeal of US$373 million.
In northern Ethiopia, the UN and its partners are continuing to provide humanitarian assistance across Tigray, Afar, and Amhara.
In the past week, 320 trucks carrying food, nutrition supplies, and household items arrived in Tigray via the Semera-Abala-Mekelle road.
Since the resumption of convoys at the beginning of April, food has now been sent to 68 priority districts across Tigray, and more than 500,000 people have received assistance. But this needs to be sustained, as only about one third of the people targeted have received assistance under the current round of distributions, which began in October.
The supply of fuel continues to constrain our operations, with no additional supplies brought in during the past week. Reserves are running low again.
In the neighboring Afar and Amhara regions, humanitarian needs also remain extremely high.
In Amhara, we and our partners have helped more than one million men, women and children in the latest round of food distribution that began in mid-March.
We have also been working with partners to conduct nutrition screening alongside a measles vaccination campaign, screening close to a million children in recent weeks.
Efforts to increase assistance continue in Afar. Some 924,000 people have received food assistance since late February.
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will be travelling to Central Asia from 5-12 June to represent the Secretary-General at the Second International High-Level Conference on the International Decade for Action. This is entitled “Water for Sustainable Development”, 2018-2028. That will take place in Tajikistan on the 7th and 8th of June. Following invitations from other countries in the region, the Deputy Secretary-General will also visit Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
During her visits, she will engage firsthand with national authorities, UN staff and other partners – including youth and women representatives and civil society organisations - on how these counties are dealing with the three-dimensional crisis affecting food, energy and finance, efforts towards rescuing the Sustainable Development Goals and leaving no one behind.
In Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, the Deputy Secretary-General will also participate in the signing ceremony of the first UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks, developed as part of the repositioning of the UN development system.
She will be returning back to New York on 12 June.
In a statement issued today, Amin Awad, the UN Crisis Coordinator for Ukraine, noted that we are marking 100 days since the start of the Russian invasion in Ukraine – that started on 24 February. One hundred days of suffering, devastation, and destruction on a massive scale. One hundred days of unabated warfare, including indiscriminate bombardments terrorizing civilians and shelling of hospitals, schools, and homes. One hundred days of lives lost and people uprooted; the lives of millions shattered. This war’s toll on civilians is unacceptable, he said, stressing that this war has no winner.
Mr. Awad noted that at least 15.7 million people in Ukraine are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and protection and numbers are rising by the day as the war continues to ravage.
He did point out that more than 5 million children had their education suspended, 14 million people have been forced to flee, more than 260 health facilities have come under attack and severe damage to water systems has left millions of people without regular access to water and energy, and with winter coming, risks to people’s lives are severe.
Mr. Awad said that we, along with more than 260 humanitarian partners in Ukraine, have scaled up at record speed and deployed additional staff across the country to support the humanitarian response. Our colleagues tell us that so far, nearly 7.8 million people have been reached so far [with life-saving assistance]. This includes an increase of almost 190,000 more people reached last week.
By now, more than 6.6 million Ukrainians have received food and livelihood assistance, and more than 2.7 million have been able to access health services and supplies. More than 1.6 million have received cash assistance, which is so critical for people as job opportunities continue to shrink, and prices increase.
On funding, as of today, the Flash Appeal is 72 per cent funded - with $1.6 billion out of the $2.24 billion required. We thank our donors for their contributions and count on their continued support.
In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General welcomed the agreement by the Government of Yemen and the Houthis to renew the truce in Yemen for an additional two months under the same terms as the original agreement.
Mr. Guterres strongly urged the parties to complete the full implementation of the terms of the truce without delay in order to uphold the interests of all Yemenis, who continue to suffer from one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.
The UN Human Rights Office in Yemen said that for the past two months, a truce has meant that people of Yemen have seen violence and hostilities decrease. But even so, between 2 April and 1 June, the Human Rights Office gathered preliminary information indicating that at least 19 civilians were killed and 32 injured in some 20 incidents of conflict-related violence.
The majority of these casualties were caused by landmines, including improvised mines, and explosive remnants of war.
In response to questions about Brazil, the Spokesman said that the UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Silvia Rucks, offered solidarity to the victims of the heavy rains that caused destruction in the metropolitan area of Recife, in the Northeastern region.
Our UN team is monitoring the situation with concern and recognizes the efforts of authorities at different levels to rescue people and minimize the immediate impacts of the disaster. On the ground in Recife, the UN team is working with local authorities to assess the impacts of the disaster, especially on children, pregnant and lactating women, and also providing psychosocial support.
We are also supporting local authorities and partners to raise donations and share information with the impacted population. In the post-disaster reconstruction period, the UN team will offer support to authorities to boost resilience in the city, with UNICEF, UN-Habitat and the Office for Disaster Risk Reduction fully engaged with local authorities.
Today is World Bicycle Day, which highlights the uniqueness, longevity and versatility of the bicycle - a simple, affordable, reliable, clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transport.
Tomorrow is the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression and Sunday is the International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing, and it is also World Environment Day.
In a message for the day, the Secretary-General notes that the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, “Only One Earth”, is a simple statement of fact. He stresses that this planet is our only home, adding that it is vital we safeguard the health of its atmosphere, the richness and diversity of life on Earth, its ecosystems because they are finite resources.
NOON BRIEFING GUEST TODAY
Máximo Torero, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Chief Economist, briefed reporters on the FAO Food Price Index.
BRIEFING ON MONDAY
On Monday, at 3 p.m., the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, is scheduled to brief reporters on Ukraine.