HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 17 OCTOBER 2017
WRAPPING UP VISIT TO MYANMAR, U.N. POLITICAL CHIEF CALLS FOR FULL ACCESS TO RAKHINE STATE FOR AID WORKERS
- The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, wrapped up a five-day visit to Myanmar today.
- In Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, he met with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Tatmadaw Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, among other officials, as well as with representatives of Myanmar's civil society.
- Most of Mr. Feltman’s discussions focused on the situation in Rakhine State and the plight of the hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled to Bangladesh in the aftermath of the 25 August attacks on security positions and subsequent military action. He reiterated the Secretary-General’s call that aid workers be given full and unhindered access to northern Rakhine State and that refugees be allowed voluntary, safe and dignified return to their place of origin.
- Acknowledging the announcements by the Government of Myanmar on addressing humanitarian concerns in Rakhine and the return of refugees from Bangladesh, Mr. Feltman encouraged the authorities to utilize the capacities, best practices, and extensive experience of the UN to help assure that stated intentions could be implemented in a timely and effective manner.
- In northern Rakhine, he saw dozens of burned and destroyed villages by air and visited several communities affected by the recent violence. He also visited internally displaced persons’ camps outside Sittwe, set up in 2012. He saw how, in addition to the documented endemic discrimination against the Rohingya population, socio-economic challenges adversely affect all communities.
- In talks with Tatmadaw officials, Mr. Feltman noted that, in the UN's experience, successful counter-terrorism efforts do not rely exclusively on security measures, stressing the importance of accountability and non-discriminatory rule of law and public safety as part of the comprehensive approach needed to address the fears and distrust among communities in Rakhine.
- The UN is committed to supporting Myanmar and Bangladesh in their efforts to find a sustainable solution to the plight of the refugees and people affected by the recent violence and mass displacement.
WITH 582,000 ROHINGYA REFUGEES IN BANGLADESH, U.N. AGENCIES WARN NEEDS FAR OUTPACE RESOURCES
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh since 25 August has reached 582,000. The increase from yesterday (537,000 refugees) is due to strengthened assessments of people coming across the border.
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that it is concerned about the thousands of newly-arrived Rohingya refugees stranded in Bangladesh near its border with Myanmar.
- Since Sunday evening, up to 15,000 refugees have entered Bangladesh. Many of them say they had initially chosen to stay in their homes in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State despite repeated threats to leave or be killed, and finally fled when their villages were set on fire.
- Many of the refugees are still waiting for permission to move away from the border. The Agency is advocating with the Bangladesh authorities to urgently admit these refugees.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) says that, in the first phase of its joint oral cholera vaccine campaign with the Government and UNICEF in Cox’s Bazar, nearly 680,000 people over the age of one year were covered. The second phase of the campaign, the second largest of its kind ever, will begin on 31 October.
- For its part, UNICEF today warned that, without immediate additional funding, it will not be able to continue providing lifesaving aid and protection to Rohingya children. Nearly 60 per cent of refugees who have fled Myanmar since 25 August are children.
- The growing needs are far outpacing resources, with the agency having received just 7 per cent of the $76 million it needs to, among other activities, treat and truck water to 40,000 people, procure 15,000 children suffering from acute severe malnutrition and help unaccompanied and separated children.
- The Director-General of the UN Migration Agency (IOM), William Lacy Swing, is in Bangladesh, where he visited camps and met with officials.
- The Government, IOM and other agencies are working to set up a new 3,000-acre camp.
U.N. READY TO DELIVER AID TO SYRIA’S RAQQA CITY
- The UN is aware of reports that the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) have reportedly taken full control of Raqqa city, with the last remaining civilians evacuated over the past few days. The UN is not able to verify first-hand the situation in the city due to lack of access, but has received reports that much of the city has been damaged or destroyed due to the fighting. We are closely monitoring the situation and stand ready to deliver life-saving assistance to those in need as soon as access is granted and security conditions permit.
- The overall humanitarian and protection situation for civilians, including those displaced, remains of high concern in Raqqa Governorate and, more broadly, across north-eastern Syria.
- Already, the UN and its partners are reaching 330,000 men, women and children in need across northeastern Syria each month, including 56,000 people in 48 temporary shelters and camps in Raqqa, Al-Hassekeh, Aleppo and Deir Ezzour governorates.
IRAQ: 61,000 PEOPLE HAVE LEFT KIRKUK IN 48 HOURS – U.N. MIGRATION AGENCY
- On Iraq, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that there has been no major displacement of civilians since yesterday’s advances by the Iraqi military in Kirkuk.
- Some people are returning to Kirkuk, but we cannot verify exact numbers.
- In the past 48 hours, the UN Migration Agency (IOM) says that some 61,000 people have left Kirkuk city and surrounding areas, most of them heading north and east towards Erbil and Sulaymaniyah governorates.
- Aid workers are providing assistance where needed and can reach all of those in need. They call on all parties to ensure that civilians are protected and can leave affected areas if they choose.
U.N. HEALTH AGENCY DELIVERS AID TO SOMALIA AFTER MOGADISHU BOMBINGS
- In Somalia, the World Health Organization has been delivering lifesaving blood supplies and trauma care medicines as part of the emergency response to the bombings in Mogadishu.
- The supplies include blood group testing kits, drug supplies, first aid medicines and medical supplies to hospitals.
- WHO is also supporting the Ministry of Health and Human Services with emergency health kits to respond to common illness needs of 10,000 people for a duration of three months. Additional supplies are being pre-positioned for deployment as needed.
U.N. AGENCIES ASSIST MIGRANTS, REFUGEES IN LIBYA’S SABRATHA AFTER ABUSE ‘ON A SHOCKING SCALE’
- From Libya, the UN Migration Agency, IOM, reports that in the aftermath of weeks of conflict in Sabratah, it is providing support to more than 14,000 migrants, previously held in numerous informal detention centres and camps. Since the outbreak of the crisis, 6,700 migrants have received relief packages, which include mattresses, blankets, pillows and hygiene kits at six separate locations, and more than 100,000 meals have been provided in Zuwara and Sabratha. IOM has also responded to the vast health needs and conducted 1,631 medical interventions. The agency is concerned about the large number of migrants transferred to detention and strongly advocates for alternatives.
- For its part, UNHCR has delivered more than 15 truckloads of relief items, including sleeping mats, mattresses, blankets, hygiene kits and winter jackets. UNHCR colleagues on the front lines describe a picture of human suffering and abuse on a shocking scale. Amongst the refugees and migrants who suffered abuse at the hands of smugglers, there are pregnant women and new born babies. Scores of them are in need of urgent medical care, with some suffering from bullet wounds and other visible signs of abuse. Most of them say that they were subjected to numerous human rights abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, forced labour and sexual exploitation.
U.N. PEACEKEEPING CHIEF VOICES CONCERN OVER SITUATION IN SOUTH SUDAN, CALLS FOR END OF CONFLICT, BETTER ACCESS
- The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, briefed the Security Council on South Sudan this morning. He said that the security and human rights situation in the country remain extremely concerning and that within the tense environment, the government’s security institutions as well as opposition forces continue to restrict the UN Mission’s freedom of movement. He added that despite a highly effective humanitarian operation, without a reduction in conflict and improved access, humanitarian indicators are likely to continue to deteriorate.
- With regard to the political process, Mr. Lacroix said that the conflict is a direct outcome of a prolonged disproportionate access to power and wealth. He said that all future dispensations must therefore rest on the principle of inclusivity that leads to equitable power and wealth-sharing. He added that South Sudan has been held hostage to personality politics and conflicts and that all processes and international support must strive to build institutions so that politics shifts from ownership by individuals to those institutions that must be accountable to the people of South Sudan.
UNESCO CHIEF CONDEMNS KILLING OF MALTESE JOURNALIST
- The Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the killing yesterday of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta.
- She welcomed the pledge by the Prime Minister of Malta to bring to justice this crime committed not just against a person but against the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of information, which are essential to democracies everywhere.
U.N. ENVIRONMENT AGENCY ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH RABOBANK TO SUPPORT CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE
- The UN Environment Programme today announced a billion-dollar partnership with Rabobank to support climate smart agriculture.
- The partnership consists of the creation of a new facility to provide grants and credit to clients involved in sustainable agricultural production, processing or the trade of commodities who adhere to strict provisions for forest protection, restoration and the involvement of small land holders.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES ESTABLISHMENT OF NEW U.N. MISSION IN HAITI
- Yesterday, in a statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the establishment of the UN Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH), following the end of MINUSTAH.
- The closure of MINUSTAH is a testament to Haiti’s progress over the past 13 years and MINUJUSTH reflects the commitment of the UN to continue supporting the consolidation of peace and promotion of stability in Haiti.
- MINUJUSTH will assist the Haitian Government to strengthen rule of law institutions, further develop the capacities of the national police and advance human rights. The national police can rely on operational support from MINUJUSTH, when needed, to maintain law and order throughout the territory.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ‘ENCOURAGED’ BY AGREEMENT TO INTENSIFY NEGOTIATION PROCESS ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH
- In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the summit held yesterday in Geneva between the President of the Republic of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, and the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, organized under the auspices of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.
- He is encouraged by the Presidents’ agreement to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the Line of Contact.
- The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations’ support for the ongoing mediation efforts of the Co-Chairs and encourages the sides to build on the positive momentum created by this summit to reach a peaceful negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS FOR INCREASED EFFORTS TO ERADICATE POVERTY, ADDRESS ROOT CAUSES
- Today is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year’s theme is Answering the Call of October 17 to end poverty: A path toward peaceful and inclusive societies.
- In a video message to mark the Day, the Secretary-General called on countries to redouble efforts to eradicate poverty in its entirety by working to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.
- In particular, he called for addressing the root causes of poverty, and in doing so to listen to the views and guidance of people living in poverty and acting together with them.