HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 18 JULY 2018
 
ON CENTENARY, SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO NELSON MANDELA’S VISION, WISDOM

  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at an event to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s centenary. 
  • He said that he was fortunate to have met Mr. Mandela several times, and was tremendously impressed by his vision, his wisdom, his determination and his compassion.
  • The Secretary-General noted that very few people in history have captured the imagination of the world as he did, while even fewer have been able to provide such inspiration.
  • He honoured Madiba’s memory by calling on people around the world to make a difference.
  • Mr. Mandela, the Secretary-General said, understood that we each have in our hands the ability to create a better world, a world where people are treated equally and fairly, regardless of race, faith or gender.
  • Creating that better world is the job – indeed the duty – of our organization, the Secretary-General emphasized.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO PROMOTE 2030 AGENDA TO PROMOTE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
  • The Secretary-General is to address the closing session of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development this afternoon, and he will say that the past eight days of the Forum have been a time to recommit to the transformative vision 2030 Agenda and to assess where we are.
  • The Secretary-General will say that, although we see important progress in a number of areas around the world, the past week’s discussions have also made clear that we are lagging or even backtracking in other areas that are fundamental to our shared pledge to leave no one behind.  He will to assert that we need to embed the essence of the 2030 Agenda into everything that we do.
IN WAKE OF PROTESTS, U.N. ENVOY URGES IRAQI GOVERNMENT TO RESPECT PEOPLE’S LEGITIMATE CONCERNS
  • Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, in a statement yesterday urged the Iraqi Government to fully respect and address the people’s legitimate concerns, following recent demonstrations over the lack of services and job opportunities and the need for improved living conditions. He calls on the political actors to ensure that the next administration prioritizes good governance, reforms and the fight against corruption that will enable economic development and progress, job creation and delivery of critical public services.  
  • At the same time, the Special Representative is deeply concerned about violence as well as acts of vandalism, which accompanied some of the otherwise largely peaceful public protests. He regrets the loss of life and numerous injuries on the side of both protestors and security forces and the destruction of public and private property, including offices of Government institutions and political parties, as well as oil and public infrastructure.
  • Mr. Kubiš underscores the inalienable right of the people to freedom of expression, including to partake in peaceful demonstrations without fear and intimidation or arbitrary detentions while abiding by the law, and to have unfettered access to information. It is the duty of the authorities to enable such lawful demonstrations and to protect their participants. While maintaining law and order, he added, the security forces must exercise restraint and avoid use of excessive disproportionate, lethal force. He also warns against allowing intruders and opportunists to exploit the otherwise legitimate demonstrations for their political purposes, to trigger disturbances. 
U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT SAFETY OF CIVLIANS CAUGHT UP IN CLASHES IN SOUTHERN SYRIA
  • The United Nations is deeply concerned about the protection of civilians affected by hostilities in southern Syria, as military operations continue in the southwestern governorates of Dar’a and Quneitra.
  • Continued airstrikes and shelling on the town of Nawa, in western Dar’a governorate, reportedly resulted in further death and injury, in addition to rendering the only field hospital in the town inoperable.
  • In the meantime, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent delivered UN humanitarian assistance for nearly 10,000 people in six areas in parts of eastern Dar’a Governorate that have recently come under the control of the Government of Syria.
  • The United Nations continues to call on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with obligations under international humanitarian law. The United Nations also calls for safe, sustained and unimpeded access to all those in need through the most direct routes.
TIME RUNNING OUT TO REACH GLOBAL H.I.V. TARGETS, U.N. AGENCY WARNS
  • UNAIDS issued a stark wakeup call today, saying that time is running out to reach the 2020 targets for HIV.
  • New HIV infections are rising in some 50 countries, while AIDS-related deaths are not falling fast enough.
  • A new UNAIDS report has found that gains made for children are not being sustained. New HIV infections among children has declined only 8 per cent in the past two years, with just over half of all children living with HIV receiving treatment and 110,000 children dying from AIDS-related illnesses last year.
  • The report also noted that discrimination by health-care workers, law enforcement, teachers, religious leaders and others is preventing young people and people living with HIV, among others, from accessing HIV prevention, treatment and other sexual and reproductive health services.
SECRETARY-GENERAL MOURNS PASSING OF FORMER GENERAL ASSEMBLY HEAD THEO-BEN GURIRAB
  • The Secretary-General has written to the President of Namibia, to offer his condolences on the passing of Dr. Theo-Ben Gurirab, who had been the President of the 54th session of the General Assembly.
  • The Secretary-General recalled that Dr. Gurirab, when serving as SWAPO’s representative at the United Nations from the early 1970s, had been an untiring champion of self-determination and justice, leading the diplomatic efforts that eventually led to the establishment of an independent Namibia.
  • The Secretary-General said that his achievements will serve as a powerful reminder to the United Nations and the entire international community to persevere in the quest for a more peaceful and just world through diplomacy and peaceful engagement.  
 
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the situation in the north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon continues to deteriorate and that humanitarian needs are growing steadily.
  • An Emergency Response Plan was launched last May as the escalation of tension and upsurge in hostilities between non-state armed groups and defence and security forces triggered humanitarian needs across the two regions. The plan aimed to assist 160,000 displaced people for an initial period of three months and was seeking $15 million.
  • As of mid-June, it was estimated that 211,000 people were displaced because of the conflict: this is a 32% increase in the number of people in need. There have not been any financial commitments by international donors in support of the Emergency Plan. Donor funding is urgently required.

 U.N. RELIEF WING WARNS OF WORSENING HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN CAMEROON

  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the situation in the north-west and south-west regions of Cameroon continues to deteriorate and that humanitarian needs are growing steadily.
  • An Emergency Response Plan was launched last May as the escalation of tension and upsurge in hostilities between non-state armed groups and defence and security forces triggered humanitarian needs across the two regions. The plan aimed to assist 160,000 displaced people for an initial period of three months and was seeking $15 million.
  • As of mid-June, it was estimated that 211,000 people were displaced because of the conflict: this is a 32% increase in the number of people in need. There have not been any financial commitments by international donors in support of the Emergency Plan. Donor funding is urgently required.