HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2021 

PEACEBUILDING COMMISSION  
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the Peacebuilding Commission on his Common Agenda Report and the New Agenda for Peace, the Secretary-General said the choices we make today could result in further breakdown, or a breakthrough to a better, more sustainable future.  
He highlighted areas that require particular effort and attention, such as a re-commitment to the non-use of nuclear weapons and a timetable for their progressive elimination. He also told members of the Commission that we need to recognize the links between all forms of violence, as well as to strengthen strategic foresight and capacities to identify and manage new risks.  The Secretary-General also said that we need to massively invest in prevention and peacebuilding, and also to put women and girls at the centre of our efforts.   

SYRIA  
Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, spoke to journalists in Geneva just a few moments ago, and he detailed the agreements reached over the course of the past five days and said that there were ups and downs over the week, and he called today’s discussion a big disappointment in which, he said, “we did not achieve what we hoped to achieve.” 
The Special Envoy said that all sides did not come to a common understanding today, adding that in the end, we would need an understanding among all three delegations on commonalities, which has not been reached. There has also been no agreement to a date of the next discussions. 

DR CONGO 
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the head of the UN Peacekeeping Department is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He is in Goma today where he is meeting with the military governor of North-Kivu to discuss the political and humanitarian situation and the mission’s support to the Congolese Army against armed groups to address the security challenges. He is also meeting with Mission staff to express his support and appreciation for their work.
In Kinshasa earlier in the week, Mr. Lacroix met with President Felix Tshisekedi to discuss the security and political situation in the country. In his meetings with representatives from civil society organizations and political parties, he reiterated the hope for a transparent and appeased process towards the 2023 presidential elections.  
Mr. Lacroix will conclude his visit to the DRC in Beni on Sunday, where he will meet with peacekeepers in charge of the operations there.

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenča today wrapped up a four-day visit to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

He met with members of the Presidency, as well as the Foreign Minister, leaders of political parties, civil society organizations, independent analysts and media, as well as representatives of the international community.
Mr. Jenča reiterated the Secretary-General’s call for a redoubling of efforts towards strengthening reconciliation, trust, mutual understanding and social cohesion both in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in the region.
In particular, he stressed the need to enhance constructive dialogue among all communities as a necessary basis for finding sustainable solutions for the peaceful and prosperous future of the country. He urged political leaders to refrain from unilateral actions that could undermine the achievements recorded since the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Annexes were signed nearly 26 years ago.
Mr. Jenča also stressed the Secretary-General’s call to all those in a position of power to refrain from denying the seriousness of all atrocity crimes, including genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, that have been adjudicated by international justice institutions. He also noted the importance of individual accountability, without attributing collective guilt, as an essential step toward a more durable reconciliation in the country.

AFGHANISTAN 
Our humanitarian colleagues are telling us that between 1 September and 15 October - just a few days ago - we, along with our partners, have provided four million people with food assistance in the country. We have also reached 790,000 people with primary health care, provided treatment for acute malnutrition to more than 85,000 children and supported more than 27,000 people with psychosocial services. 
In addition, we assisted 165,000 drought-affected people with water trucking, reached more than 39,000 children with community-based education activities and supported nearly 54,000 people with standard non-food assistance.  
The humanitarian community in Afghanistan remains concerned about attempts to leverage humanitarian assistance for political purposes. Humanitarian action should never be conditioned to political, development, human rights or other non-humanitarian objectives.  
Donors are urged to ensure that transactions and other activities required for humanitarian operations are excluded from the scope of sanctions regimes to allow humanitarian activities to continue without any impediments. 
The Flash Appeal we’ve been telling you about remains about 45 per cent funded. We continue to urge donors to convert pledges into hard cash.
 
HAITI 
UNICEF says that more children and women have been abducted for ransom between January and August this year, than during the entire year in 2020.  
According to UNICEF estimates, based on official sources, 71 women and 30 children were abducted in the first eight months of this year. Last year, 59 women and 37 children had been abducted.  
If we look at total numbers – so far this year, according to UNICEF, 455 kidnappings have been reported. As a comparison, in all of 2020, there were 234.
Most of the kidnappings are taking place in Port-au-Prince, and the vast majority of them are Haitians. 
UNICEF said to improve the reporting of incidents and the assistance to children in need, they supported the reactivation of a free hotline, operated by the national child protection agency. This line is to be used alongside a helpline for the Brigade for the Protection of Minors. 
The agency urges all relevant actors to refrain from targeting children and women and calls upon the Government of Haiti to take action needed to address gang violence against children. 

MYANMAR 
UNICEF continues to step up its efforts to help tens of thousands of women and children.  
Across the country, UNICEF and its partners have reached nearly 47,000 children under the age of five, as well as thousands of pregnant and lactating mothers, with nutritional supplements, including in camps for internally displaced people. 
UNICEF continues to seek humanitarian access to all areas affected by conflict - to provide health and nutrition assistance. We again call on all parties concerned to ensure humanitarian access so that people who have been displaced or are otherwise impacted can receive help. 

IRAN/COVID-19 
The UN team in Iran, led by Resident Coordinator Stefan Priesner, continues to support authorities’ response to the health, humanitarian, and socio-economic needs of those impacted by the pandemic. 
We are also focusing on helping the most vulnerable people, including refugees, undocumented Afghans who have been living in Iran for years, and thousands of people who have recently crossed into Iran from Afghanistan.   
Our team says that daily death rates are declining as more people are getting vaccinated. WHO says more than 72 million vaccines have been administered so far, easing pressure on hospitals and health care.  
The UN team helped to deliver more than 12 million doses of vaccines through COVAX.
Iran also received more than 1 million doses bilaterally. We are working to secure the donation of more vaccines, including a significant number for Afghan refugees through COVAX. And we are there to help with the logistics to store vaccines. 
  
MALI 
The Mission in Mali is telling us that its Human Rights and Protection Division has concluded a three-day visit to Gao yesterday. Our colleagues were there to assess the deterioration of the security situation and the impact on human rights, with a particular focus on the violations and abuses committed against civilians.  
The Delegation met with regional authorities, traditional and religious leaders, as well as members of civil society and young people.  
The goal of the visit was to find consensus on the need to work in synergy to avoid a protection crisis and improve the protection of civilians. 

LIBYA  
I was asked two questions on Libya yesterday. One on monitors and I can tell you that yesterday on the 21st we proceeded with the initial deployment to Tripoli of a small team of UN ceasefire monitors tasked with supporting the Libyan Ceasefire Monitoring Mechanism. They will work in concert with Libyan monitors assigned by the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC).  Additional monitors will be deployed incrementally in tandem with the Libyan monitors of the Libyan-led monitoring mechanism, including in Sirte, once the necessary security and logistical arrangements are in place.  
And on foreign fighters, following the Following the 8 October agreement of the 5+5 JMC on a comprehensive Action Plan for the gradual, balanced, and sequenced process of the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters and foreign forces from Libya, and further to the 21 October ministerial meeting chaired by the Foreign Minister in Tripoli, we hope that the international community will offer strong support for the implementation of the Action Plan, including from countries in the region.

WORLD DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION DAY 
Sunday is World Development Information Day. The Day aims to draw the attention of the world to development problems and the need to strengthen international cooperation to solve them.  
And I want to flag too that Sunday is also the first day of Disarmament Week, as well as the start of the Global Media and Information Literacy Week. 

UNITED NATIONS DAY 
October 24th is United Nations Day. In his message for the Day, the Secretary-General highlights that seventy-six years ago, the UN was created as a vehicle of hope for a world emerging from the shadow of catastrophic conflict. Today, he said, the women and men of the UN carry this hope forward around the globe. 
The Secretary-General noted that COVID-19, conflicts, hunger, poverty and the climate emergency remind us that our world is far from perfect. But they also make clear that solidarity is the only way forward.  
The Secretary-General says that the values that have powered the UN for the last 76 years — peace, development, human rights, and opportunity for all — have no expiry date. Mr. Guterres calls on all to unite behind these ideals, and live up to the full promise, potential and hope of the United Nations. 

NOON BRIEFING GUEST MONDAY 
On Monday, we will have a briefing by the United Nations Development Programme Administrator, Achim Steiner, who will brief on the results of UNDP’s People's Climate Vote, and new insights from G20 countries.