HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2017
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET U.S. PRESIDENT TRUMP IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
- The Secretary General will travel to Washington, DC, later today for a meeting with President Donald J. Trump on Friday, 20 October.
- He will also attend a dinner hosted by the Kuwait-American Foundation this evening.
IRAQ: U.N. MISSION VOICES CONCERN OVER DESTRUCTION, FORCED DISPLACEMENT FROM DISPUTED AREAS
- The UN Mission in Iraq there is concerned about reports in regarding the destruction and looting of homes, business and political offices, as well as the forced displacement of predominantly Kurds, from disputed areas.
- The UN has received allegations of armed groups burning some 150 houses in Tuz Khurmatu on 16 and 17 October, as well as allegations that houses which reportedly belonged to Kurdish families and officials of Kurdish political parties were destroyed by explosives.
- The UN takes note of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's acknowledgement of incidents caused by what he described as extremist elements from both sides and his decision to send the Iraqi army to restore order in Tuz Khurmatu, as well as the calls by the political and security leaderships of the country requesting federal and local security forces to ensure and act in full respect for law and order and protect civilians and political leaders.
- The UN urges the Government of Iraq to take every action to halt any violations and ensure that all civilians are protected and that the perpetrators of acts of violence, intimidation and forced displacement of civilians be brought to justice.
- Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that more than 100,000 people are currently displaced from Kirkuk following the Iraqi military advances since the beginning of the week. Another 40,000 people who had left the area have since returned.
- Aid workers are monitoring the situation in northern Iraq closely, including parts of Ninewa where armed clashes have also been reported, and are mobilizing assistance to newly-displaced people.
INDIAN WORLD BANK OFFICIAL APPOINTED AS NEW HEAD OF U.N. PENSION FUND
- The Secretary-General has appointed Sudhir Rajkumar of India as his Representative for the investment of the assets of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund. He will succeed Carol Boykin of the United States, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.
- Mr. Rajkumar brings to the position more than twenty-eight years of broad-based global investment experience, covering formulation and implementation of investment policies, and hands-on experience with global bond markets, private equity and project finance transactions, and corporate finance and privatization advisory engagements.
- He is currently head of the global pension advisory programme at the World Bank Treasury. He also currently serves as a member on the External Advisory Committee on Investments of the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Investment Committee of the United Nations Office for Project Services, and as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the International Centre for Pension Management (ICPM).
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO PROTECT CIVILIANS IN SYRIA’S RAQQA
- In a statement issued last night on the situation in Raqqa, Syria, the Secretary-General recalled the obligation of all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and abide by international humanitarian and human rights law. He also urged the parties to facilitate humanitarian access in order to allow aid to reach those in need without delay.
- The latest developments in Syria point once again to the urgent need to reinvigorate the political process. The Secretary-General has directed his Special Envoy, Staffan de Mistura, to intensify his efforts, in consultation with all concerned, to reconvene the next round of the intra-Syrian talks on the basis of the Geneva communiqué and relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2254 (2015).
- Meanwhile, today, a UN-Red Cross-Syrian Arab Red Crescent inter-agency convoy entered hard-to-reach Dar Al Kabira in rural Homs with aid for 33,500 people in need. This is the third inter-agency convoy to the Dar Kabirs. The last time it was reached with humanitarian assistance was in July 2017.
AFGHANISTAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DEADLY ATTACKS IN PAKTYA, GHAZNI PROVINCES
- In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General condemned the attacks in Afghanistan’s Paktya and Ghazni provinces which left many dead and injured. He extended his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
- The UN Mission in Afghanistan also issued a statement condemning the attacks.
BLUE HELMETS TO LOOK INTO REPORTS OF WIDESPREAD VIOLENCE IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLC’S BASSE KOTTO
- This morning, peacekeepers arrived in Pombolo, in Basse Kotto prefecture, in the Central African Republic, following information received yesterday on widespread violence in the town.
- The UN Mission had also immediately sent a helicopter to the area for aerial reconnaissance. The peacekeepers intend to verify reports of violence that would have led to civilian casualties. The UN Mission did not have any peacekeepers on the ground before.
MADAGASCAR: NUMBER OF PLAGUE CASES DOUBLES IN RECENT DAYS – U.N. RELIEF WING
- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, over the last five days, the number of cases of the plague has almost doubled. As of 18 October, there were 1,032 cumulative cases, of which 67 per cent are pneumonic plague, which is more serious than the bubonic plague and highly challenging to control. So far, 89 deaths have been recorded, including 13 deaths on 17 October alone.
- The Country Team has stepped up its efforts to overcome some of the challenges of this escalation by strengthening the system of identifying contacts, monitoring the number of patients at hospitals, transportation of samples and addressing the transmission risks of traditional burial practices.
- Medical experts project that the situation will continue to deteriorate, with 1,000 cases per month expected if the response is not rapidly funded. The joint Operational Response Plan, which is seeking $9.5 million, is only 26 per cent funded.
U.N. AGENCY URGES AUSTRALIA TO ADDRESS IMMINENT REFUGEE CRISIS IN PAPUA NEW GUINEA
- Today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has urged Australia to address the imminent humanitarian crisis for refugees and asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea. The agency said it is profoundly troubled by the mounting risks of ‘offshore processing’ arrangements, and their extraordinary human toll, as Australia seeks to decrease its support these facilities by the end of October.
- The Agency said it is concerned for the health and well-being of refugees and asylum-seekers in Papua New Guinea as local emergency medical services are overstretched, and unable to meet the additional needs of the transferred population.
- UNHCR said that “having created the present crisis, to now abandon the same acutely vulnerable human beings would be unconscionable […] Legally and morally, Australia cannot walk away from all those it has forcibly transferred to Papua New Guinea and Nauru.”
NEW U.N. REPORT FINDS 7,000 NEWBORNS DIE DAILY WORLDWIDE
- A new UN report released today found that 7,000 newborns die every day, despite a steady decrease in under-five mortality.
- The report, which was jointly released by UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, reveals that although the number of children dying before the age of five is at a new low– 5.6 million in 2016, compared with nearly 9.9 million in 2000 – the proportion of under-five deaths in the newborn period has increased from 41 per cent to 46 per cent during the same period. Most of the deaths occur in Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and the three main causes are pneumonia, diarrhea and labor complications.
- If this situation continues, 30 million newborns will die within first 28 days of life between 2017 and 2030.
- The agencies called for increased support improve access to healthcare, immunization and, as well as increasing access to water and sanitation, which are currently beyond the reach of the world’s poorest communities.
U.N. CIVILIAN CASUALTIES DROP TO LOWEST LEVELS IN FIVE YEARS
- Despite the increasingly complex security environment and a rise in direct attacks against the United Nations, the number of casualties among UN civilian personnel has fallen to the lowest levels in the last five years, according to a new report (A/72/490) by the Secretary-General to the General Assembly.
- The report analyses global security and security incidents involving UN personnel and premises in 2016 and the first half of 2017.
- Direct attacks against UN premises rose to 56 in 2016 compared to 35 in 2015, making 2016 the worst year on record for these attacks.
- A total of 28 United Nations personnel lost their lives in 2016 and the first half of 2017 in acts of violence and safety-related incidents.