HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 14 DECEMBER 2017
 
BY INVESTING IN HEALTH, WE BUILD MORE INCLUSIVE SOCIETIES, SECRETARY-GENERAL TELLS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE FORUM

  • The Secretary-General left Tokyo earlier today and is on his way back to New York after a full day of meetings.
  • He spoke at the opening of the High-Level session of the Universal Health Care forum organized by the Government of Japan, and he stressed that universal healthcare is just that – care and services for everyone. This vision, he said, is at the centre of a more sustainable, inclusive and prosperous future. By investing in health, he explained, we build more inclusive and resilient societies.
  • Later, the Secretary-General held a bilateral meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. In speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-General said that Japan is a pillar of the international system and thanked the Government for the very strong support it gives to the UN in many fields.
  • Speaking about the situation in the Korean Peninsula, the Secretary-General underscored the need for the full implementation of Security Council resolutions. He called for unity of the Security Council on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to achieve the objective of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
  • While in Tokyo, the Secretary-General also delivered a lecture to students at Sophia University. He outlined the global challenges that the world faces today - from the nuclear threat to the mass movement of people to increased inequality, among others. He then met with about forty students from Japanese universities linked with the UN’s Academic Impact programme.
  • Prior to leaving Tokyo, the Secretary-General held a press conference during which he took another opportunity to thank Japan for being a pillar of the international system. 
YEMEN: U.N. RELIEF WING WARNS INCREASING NUMBER OF DISTRICTS FACE RISK OF FAMINE
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is concerned by the increasing number of districts in Yemen that are at risk of sliding into famine as the situation rapidly deteriorates, aggravated by the protracted conflict, limited imports of critical commodities necessary for the basic survival of the Yemeni people, lack of salaries, and collapsing basic services, especially health, water and sanitation services. 
  • A third of Yemen’s districts, where 10.4 million people live, are at heightened risk of famine. This means that the people do not know where their next meal will come from, leaving them more vulnerable to malnutrition and disease. Children who are malnourished are nine times more likely to die.
  • We also reiterate the call to the Saudi Arabia-led Coalition to expedite the delivery of commercial food and fuel imports to Yemen’s Hodeidah and Saleef ports. Since the start of the blockade, on 6 November, the Coalition has not cleared any commercial fuel imports to Hodeidah.
  • Since the easing of restrictions on 26 November five commercial vessels carrying 116,070 metric tons of goods discharged at Hodeidah and Saleef, meeting a third of the food requirements for Yemen. Six commercial vessels have cancelled their requests to enter Hodeidah or Saleef due to long wait times.
U.N. MISSION URGES IRAQIS TO SEIZE MOMENTUM OF VICTORY OVER DAESH TO BUILD BETTER FUTURE
  • The UN Mission in Iraq, UNAMI, said that Iraq’s victory over the Daesh terrorists provides an opportunity for the country to shed its painful past and confidently embark on the road to peace and development, and it urged Iraqis of all affiliations to seize the momentum and build on it to ensure a prosperous future for the younger generation.
  • The call came at a roundtable discussion in Najaf yesterday that brought together tribal, religious, academic, political party and civil society actors from the Najaf and Diwaniyah Governorates to gauge the opinion of Iraqis from all corners of the country. 
U.N. DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME SUPPORTS RECOVERY EFFORTS IN WAKE OF HURRICANE MARIA
  • The UN Development Programme reports that over 800 Dominicans—nearly half of them women—have received training and are being temporarily employed as part of the National Employment Programme, following Hurricane Maria.
  • This programme is a UNDP-backed strategy to place affected people at the centre of the recovery process.
  • National authorities, civil society organization Engineers Without Borders and UNDP have also developed new, more earthquake and hurricane-resilient housing standards.
  • UNDP Regional Director Jessica Faieta just wrapped up a four-day visit to Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda where she witnessed these efforts.
  • In Antigua and Barbuda, a Building Damage Assessment indicated that all structures were damaged to some extent in Barbuda, especially roofs. 23 per cent were completely destroyed.
  • The initiative was also supported by Microsoft, which has been providing apps and tablets to assess damages in the two Caribbean countries.
  • This week, during the One Planet Summit in Paris, UNDP backed the Caribbean leaders’ announcement to create the world’s first “climate-smart zone”, aiming to gather US$8 billion in investments for a more resilient region, focusing on energy and infrastructure.  
UP TO 650,000 PEOPLE DIE OF RESPIRATORY DISEASES LINKED TO SEASONAL FLU EVERY YEAR – U.N. AGENCY, PARTNERS
  • The World Health Organization published new estimates on seasonal influenza today, along with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC) and global health partners.
  • They say that up to 650,000 people die of respiratory diseases linked to seasonal flu each year, which marks an increase on the previous global estimate dating from over ten years ago.
  • The new figures are based on more recent data from a larger, more diverse group of countries, including lower middle-income countries, and exclude deaths from non-respiratory diseases.
  • Most deaths occur among people aged over 75 years, and in the world’s poorest regions. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for the world’s greatest flu mortality risk, followed closely by the Eastern Mediterranean and Southeast Asia.
  • Among children under five, nearly all deaths occur in developing countries.
SEYCHELLES PAYS FULL U.N. DUES
  • Seychelles has paid its regular budget dues in full, becoming the 144th Member State to have done so.