HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 20 OCTOBER 2017
AHEAD OF PLEDGING CONFERENCE, U.N. ANNOUNCES NUMBER OF ROHINGYA REFUGEES FLEEING MYANMAR NEARS 590,000
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since 25 August has reached approximately 589,000.
- Just over half of these new arrivals are staying in a single large site called the Kutupalong Expansion, where aid partners are working with authorities to improve road access, infrastructure and basic services.
- On Monday, 23 October, there will be a high-level pledging conference in Geneva co-chaired by the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the heads of the UN Migration Agency and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and will be co-hosted by the European Union and Kuwait.
- The conference aims to mobilize resources for the Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response Plan, which calls for $434 million to help 1.2 million people through next February 2018. It is currently only 26 per cent funded.
- UNHCR said today that nearly 7,000 of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar have been admitted to Bangladesh after spending up to four days stranded near the border. Thousands more are believed to be on their way from Myanmar.
- The most vulnerable among the new arrivals are bussed from the border to a transit centre, where UNHCR and its partners provide food, water, medical checks and temporary shelter.
- UNHCR is also taking part in efforts to count families, with nearly 250,000 refugees have so far been tallied.
- UNICEF today said that desperate living conditions and waterborne diseases are threatening more than 320,000 Rohingya refugee children.
- A new report by UNICEF says that most of the refugees are living in overcrowded and unsanitary makeshift settlements. Despite an expanding international aid effort led by the Government of Bangladesh, the report says that the essential needs of many children are not being met.
- UNICEF is also calling for an end to the atrocities targeting civilians in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, as well as for humanitarian actors to be given immediate and unfettered access to all children affected by the violence there. At present, UNICEF has no access to Rohingya children in northern Rakhine.
TWO BLUE HELMETS INJURED AFTER CLASHES IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic reports that two peacekeepers were wounded in Pombolo yesterday in clashes with anti-Balaka fighters who attacked the town. The peacekeepers arrived in the town yesterday to protect civilians in response to widespread violence that has reportedly killed at least 26 civilians and injured dozens. The wounded peacekeepers are in stable condition and are being evacuated for medical treatment to Bria.
- Additional peacekeepers are in the process of being deployed to Pombolo to reinforce the UN’s presence in the area.
U.N. RELIEF WING VOICES CONCERN OVER CIVILIANS UPROOTED BY TALIBAN-DA’ESH FIGHTING
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is concerned by the intensified fighting between the Taliban and ISIL-affiliated Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) in Khogyani district, eastern Nangarhar province, which have triggered new displacements.
- According to local sources, there are more than 2,000 newly displaced people, adding to the 5,000 people that were displaced by the fighting that started five days ago.
- Ambulances are currently on standby in Khogyani District Hospital and the World Health Organization has dispatched additional supplies to cover a total of 2,000 patients. OCHA said it will continue to provide humanitarian assistance, wherever access permits.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY ASSISTS FAMILIES FLEEING DISPUTED AREAS FEARING LARGE-SCALE CLASHES
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners in Iraq have been helping families who, fearing large-scale military clashes, have fled Kirkuk and other disputed areas pre-emptively in recent days.
- UNHCR and its partners have been providing food, water and shelter to these families.
- The agency believes the majority of these families will return to their homes in the coming days, but also says that there will be groups who are likely to remain uprooted.
U.N. SYRIA ENVOY MEETS RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER
- The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow yesterday and he said before the meeting that this is now the time for the political process to move ahead once more.
- He said that he will consult the Secretary-General next Monday in New York before meeting with the Security Council on Thursday. Mr. de Mistura added that he is determined to relaunch the Geneva negotiations in November.
- Meanwhile, the UN continues to follow closely the situation in Raqqa, where we have received reports that most of the city has been damaged or destroyed due to the fighting. The main and immediate concern is for the protection and safety of civilians from Raqqa, and more broadly across north-eastern Syria.
- To ensure access for humanitarian partners, explosive remnants of war contamination must be mapped and cleared to create a safe environment that would allow for the voluntary return of civilians.
- Already the UN and its partners are reaching 330,000 men, women and children in need across northeastern Syria each month.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF TO VISIT PERU, URUGUAY
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, will visit Peru and Uruguay next week to discuss progress and challenges concerning human rights in these countries. He will also launch a joint plan of action by the UN Human Rights Office and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to address the protection of human rights defenders in the Americas.
- In Peru, the High Commissioner will meet President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, the Cabinet Chief and several ministers, as well as the presidents of Congress and the Supreme Court. He will also meet civil society representatives and business leaders.
- And in Uruguay, he will have meetings with President Tabaré Vázquez, several cabinet ministers, the presidents of Congress and the judiciary, and civil society representatives.