HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

WEDNESDAY, 21 APRIL 2021

 

CYPRUS/ 5+1 MEETING 
The Secretary-General will go to Geneva for the informal 5 + 1 meeting on the Cyprus issue, which will be held from the 27th to the 29th of April. 
As we told you on February 24th, he is convening this informal meeting following consultations conducted on his behalf by a senior UN official, Ms. Jane Holl Lute. Those consultations were being done over the past several months.  
The purpose of the meeting, as we said at the time, will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus issue within a foreseeable horizon. 

AFGHANISTAN 
In a joint statement, the co-conveners of the Istanbul conference on the Afghanistan peace process said that in view of the recent developments, and after extensive consultations with the parties, it has been agreed to postpone the conference to a later date when conditions for making meaningful progress would be more favourable. 
The statement notes that Turkey, Qatar and the United Nations had planned to co-convene a high-level conference in Istanbul, from the 24th of April to the 4th of May, with the participation of the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. The aim was to add momentum to the negotiations that started in Doha last September to achieve a just and lasting peace in Afghanistan. 
The statement stresses that Turkey, Qatar and the UN will resolutely continue their earnest efforts to achieve peace in Afghanistan. 

MYANMAR 
The Secretary-General welcomes the convening of the upcoming ASEAN Leaders' Meeting on April 24th, which is set to discuss the current situation in Myanmar.  
As the Secretary-General highlighted in his remarks to the Security Council this week, he continues to appeal for a resolute international response grounded on a unified effort. He urges ASEAN leaders to help prevent an escalation of the crisis and possible grave humanitarian implications beyond Myanmar's borders.  
The UN will remain a vital partner of ASEAN and will lend its full support to its efforts on Myanmar. The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, remains in the region and will be in Jakarta to engage ASEAN leaders on the sidelines of Saturday’s meeting, focusing on a political solution.   

Also on Myanmar, the UN Population Fund in the country today said that the rights of women and girls in Myanmar, including their right to live a life free from violence and intimidation, must be upheld at all times. The agency stressed that military and security forces must refrain at all times from all forms of violence against women, girls and young people.  Perpetrators must be held accountable. 
As of Monday, the UN Human Rights Office said that at least 741 women, and children and men have been killed since February 1st. This includes 52 children.  

CLIMATE 
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be taking part in the Climate Summit organized by the United States President Joseph R. Biden.
And on related news, today, the Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, Mark Carney, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Climate Champions and the COP26 Presidency launched the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. The Alliance unites over 160 firms from new and existing initiatives, including the Net Zero Asset Managers and Asset Owners Alliances, to accelerate the transition to net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.   

OCEANS 
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke, by pre-recorded video message, at the launch of the Second World Oceans Assessment.  
He said that we must transform our relationship with the ocean, the life support system of our planet. The findings by scientists are alarming, he said, adding that the Second Assessment warns that many benefits that the ocean provides to humankind are increasingly being undermined by our own actions. 
He urged countries to heed this warning and to work together through joint research, capacity development and the sharing of data, information and technology to sustain and manage our oceans. 
Together, we can foster not only a green — but also a blue — recovery from the pandemic and also help ensure a long term resilient and sustainable relationship with the ocean. 

SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES 
Quick update on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, following yesterday’s briefing. In response to the Government’s request for international assistance, and in coordination with the UN Resident Coordinator’s office and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, a 13-person joint environment mission from the UN Environment Programme and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is deploying to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The team, which should be deployed for three weeks, is made up of six environmental specialists, with expertise in geology, ash management, environmental pollution, ecology and green response. Other team members will assist with liaison, team management and logistics. Plans are also underway to dispatch additional experts to Barbados to work closely with the team deployed in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. 
The UN presence is growing gradually in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but access remains difficult requiring support from military aircraft and other types of vessels. 

ETHIOPIA  
In Ethiopia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that while there have been some recent improvements in the humanitarian access in Tigray, the situation in the region remains alarming with active conflict in some areas restricting humanitarian movement and response. 
Last week, insecurity in the Adigrat area, in Tigray’s East zone, reportedly impacted the movement of more than 20 relief trucks.   
We are also concerned about worsening food insecurity if conflict continues and disrupts the next planting season, which is coming up.  
Despite challenges, humanitarian partners are scaling up the response. So far, more than 1.5 million people have received double allocations of food rations in 12 targeted districts and nearly 246,000 people have been supplied with emergency shelter and non-food items.  
We urgently need more funding and safer, unimpeded access to scale up the humanitarian response to help all impacted people.  
An estimated 4.5 million people need lifesaving assistance in Tigray. These estimates are according to the Tigray interim administration.  

LIBYA 
Yesterday, the Secretary-General met virtually with counterparts in the African Union, the European Union and the League of Arab States, gathering as the Libya Quartet. 
The Quartet, in a communiqué issued afterward, expressed its full support for the efforts of the Presidency Council, the Government of National Unity and other unified national institutions to implement the Libya Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap and successfully complete Libya’s democratic transition. 
The Quartet condemned the continuing violations of the UN arms embargo and emphasized that all external military intervention in Libya is unacceptable. They called in this regard for full compliance with the arms embargo and the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from the entirety of Libya’s territory. 

CÔTE D’IVOIRE 
In response to questions about an attack in Côte d’Ivoire that took place earlier today, the Spokesman said the Secretary-General notes with concern the attack perpetrated by unknown individuals against an Ivorian military base in Abidjan in the early hours of April 21, today. He condemns the attack, as well as any attacks against state institutions.  
   
COVAX 
UN teams are supporting vaccination efforts across the Pacific. 
Fiji received its second batch of 24,000 vaccines just two days ago, with more on the way.  
Samoa has kicked off its vaccination campaign, with the country’s Prime Minister receiving his first dose. Samoa received 24,000 doses through COVAX earlier this month.  
Earlier this week, the Democratic Republic of the Congo kicked off its vaccination campaign, beginning with high priority groups. The country received more than 1.7 million doses of the vaccine last month. The UN team in the country is supporting authorities - with  vaccinations and addressing the wider impacts of the pandemic. 
As of today, nearly 41 million doses have been shipped to 118 countries and territories through the COVAX facility. WHO, UNICEF and others are helping with the logistics. 
 
WORLD CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION DAY  
Today is World Creativity and Innovation Day. The day aims to raise awareness of the role that creativity and innovation play in all aspects of human development. 
UNESCO stresses that cultural and creative industries should be part of economic growth strategies. UNESCO also notes that these industries are among the most dynamic sectors in the world economy, generating $2.25 billion in revenue and 29.5 million jobs worldwide.