HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 18 JANUARY 2018

WITH GROWING THREAT OF WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES CONFIDENCE-BUILDING MEASURES

  • This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council session on non-proliferation and confidence-building measures. He said that despite the Council’s efforts, the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction seems to be gathering force, with the situation in the Korean Peninsula being the most dangerous security challenge in the world today. He said he was encouraged by the recent reopening of inter-Korean communication channels and added that we need to build on these small signs of hope, and expand diplomatic efforts to achieve the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
  • He also reiterated his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, saying its preservation is in the interest of the Iranian people and the international community at large.
  • The Secretary-General noted that in an environment of increasing military budgets and over-accumulation of weapons, confidence-building measures are extremely important to help decrease tensions and avert conflict. “Going forward, the Security Council can provide leadership by demonstrating unity and continuing to highlight the importance of dialogue and diplomacy as an essential means for building confidence,” he said.
U.N. RELIEF WING VOICES CONCERN OVER FIGHTING IN SYRIA’S IDLEB
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is alarmed by continued reports of fighting in Syria’s Idleb Governorate which has resulted in the displacement of over 200,000 persons in the area since 15 December and has impacted civilian infrastructure, particularly medical facilities.
  • Between 5 and 8 January, attacks reportedly rendered three primary health care facilities inoperable. Yesterday, two ambulances were reportedly destroyed and a physician injured by explosive devices in the vicinity of Beir Jia’an.
  • The UN reminds all parties of their obligation to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities and medical workers, as required by international humanitarian law and human rights law.
  • Meanwhile, the Deputy Special Envoy for Syria, Ramzy Ezzeldin Ramzy, is in Damascus, where he met today with the Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister, Feysal Mekdad.
AID AGENCIES LAUNCH LARGEST-EVER FUNDING APPEAL FOR D.R. CONGO
  • Aid agencies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have appealed for US $1.68 billion for 2018, the largest-ever funding appeal for the country, to respond to the dramatic deterioration of the humanitarian situation. The funds are urgently required to help over 13 million people.
  • Kim Bolduc, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the DRC, said that the past year has been one of the most difficult for millions of civilians, with the unrelenting cycle of violence, diseases, malnutrition and loss of livelihoods taking a toll on families. The geographical expansion of humanitarian needs and worsening situations in existing crisis hotspots require a change in the response of the international community to address life-threatening humanitarian and protection needs.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: AID WORKERS MOBILIZED IN RESPONSE TO PAOUA CRISIS
  • In the Central African Republic, the humanitarian community is responding to the needs of tens of thousands of newly displaced people who have fled ongoing clashes between armed groups in the northern region of Paoua.
  • The UN and partners have provided food to displaced families and host families will also receive assistance. Free health care services are being offered to the displaced and host families. Humanitarian agencies are also distributing hygiene kits to contain the spread of contagious diseases, while the Government has provided soap and clothes. Yesterday, aid workers also began the construction of community hangars to temporarily shelter those displaced who are not staying with host families.
  • More displacement is expected as fighting continues. Paoua town, which previously had 40,000 inhabitants, has seen its population triple in a few weeks. Villages 50 kilometres north of Paoua are almost empty.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION WORKING TO CONTAIN CHIKUNGUNYA OUTBREAK IN KENYA’S MOMBASA
  • In Kenya, the World Health Organization is helping to contain an outbreak of Chikungunya in the city of Mombasa following reports of people showing symptoms for this mosquito-borne viral disease.
  • Chikungunya was first reported in mid-December and as of 4 January, the Ministry of Health had received 69 cases.WHO is providing technical support to the government and is closely monitoring the situation. The agency has also urged citizens to report to health facilities so they can be properly diagnosed and treated, as many people have been treating themselves, hampering containment efforts.
COLOMBIA: U.N. MISSION CONDEMNS KILLING OF FARC POLITICAL PARTY MEMBERS
  • The UN Verification Mission in Colombia has condemned the murder of Wilman Asprilla Allim and Ansel Montoya Ibarra, two FARC political party members who were participating in electoral activities in the municipality of Peque, in the department of Antioquia.
  • The Mission says the killings constitute the first deadly attack in the context of the 2018 electoral process in Colombia. It urges all the competent institutions to spare no effort in investigating and prosecuting those responsible for this crime.
  • Similarly, the Mission urges all necessary measures to be taken to guarantee the free exercise of political rights during the electoral process.
U.N.E.S.C.O. CHIEF SPEAKS OUT AGAINST KILLING OF MEXICAN JOURNALIST, CALLS FOR JUSTICE
  • Today, UNESCO’s Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, condemned the killing of Mexican journalist Carlos Domínguez Rodríguez who was murdered in the city of Nuevo Laredo on 13 January. He was an experienced reporter and columnist, who had denounced abuses by local and national government officials, political violence, corruption and failures of the justice system.
  • Ms. Azoulay urged authorities to ensure an effective investigation and said justice is crucial to end violence against those who defend the public’s right to know.
U.N. AID WING SUPPORTING MOZAMBIQUE AMID HEAVY RAINS IMPACTING 22,000 PEOPLE
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that a tropical depression has brought heavy rains into the northern parts of Mozambique, impacting over 22,000 people in the province of Nampula with one death reported. According to local authorities and humanitarian partners, several schools and health facilities and nearly 4,300 houses have been damaged in the districts of Mossuril, Monapo, Mozambique Island and Meconta. 
  • The UN and humanitarian partners are supporting the National Institute for Disaster Management to coordinate the response. Food, shelter kits, medicines and water purification tablets have been provided. Four assessment teams including UN and NGO partners have been deployed to support district authorities with rapid assessments.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SPEAK AT PARK EAST SYNAGOGUE
  • The Secretary-General will speak at the Park East Synagogue on Saturday as part of our commemoration of the Holocaust, and he will discuss the importance of countering all form of intolerance, including anti-Semitism and xenophobia. 
  • Holocaust survivors and members of the diplomatic corps will also attend the event at Park East Synagogue, which is located at 164 East 68th Street, and which begins at 10:45 am on 20 January. 
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND PAY FULL U.N. DUES
  • Australia and New Zealand have paid their 2018 regular budget dues in full, bringing the total number of Member States that have done so to 9.