HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 1 MAY 2017
U.N. AID OFFICIAL URGES GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE SAFETY OF THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS IN SOUTH SUDAN’S ABUROC
- Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator ad interim for South Sudan, Serge Tissot, called on the Government to ensure that the thousands of civilians sheltering in and around Aburoc are not subject to attacks. He also called on the opposition forces to ensure that areas highly populated by civilians are, and remain, demilitarised. An inter-agency mission travelled to Aburoc on Saturday and found about 30,000 Shilluk civilians including new arrivals and those displaced during the earlier offensive on Wau Shilluk. Displaced people are in urgent need of clean water and other life-saving assistance.
- A statement issued over the weekend urged the Government and other warring parties to cease hostilities, uphold their responsibility to protect civilians and cooperate with the United Nations and other humanitarian actors to ensure safe access to all civilians in imminent danger along the West Bank of the River Nile.
- The UN Mission in South Sudan said on Saturday that the first elements of the Regional Protection Force (RPF) have started to arrive in the country. The RPF Headquarters has already been established in Juba under the leadership of Brigadier General Jean Mupenzi from Rwanda.
U.N. CONCERNED BY DETERIORATING SECURITY, HUMANITARIAN SITUATION IN SYRIA’S EASTERN GHOUTA
- The UN remains deeply concerned by the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in eastern Ghouta in Rural Damascus, including reports of intensified fighting among non-State armed groups in the enclave over the past few days. Commercial and humanitarian supplies continue to be prevented from entering eastern Ghouta since March, resulting in significant price hikes of basic staple goods for some 400,000 people trapped in the area. Civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities and schools, continue to be affected by the tight restrictions and reports of shelling, airstrikes, and ground fighting.
- The UN has not reached any part of eastern Ghouta since October last year. The UN stands ready to immediately deliver life-saving assistance to those in need of assistance in eastern Ghouta should the pause be established and abided by all parties to the conflict.
- The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, will make an official visit to Lebanon and Syria. This is the first visit of the newly-appointed Executive Director since he assumed office earlier this month. Mr. Beasley will be in Lebanon and Syria through 3 May to meet Syrians affected by the ongoing crisis and to witness the profound humanitarian crisis first-hand.
IRAQ: DOZENS OF YAZIDI SURVIVORS OF DA’ESH PROVIDED WITH U.N. ASSISTANCE
- A group of 36 Yazidi survivors, including women, men and children, have recently been rescued from slavery, having been held in captivity by Da’esh for nearly three years. The Yazidi women and girls are currently being cared for at dedicated service points set up by the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) with the support of the Dutch Government. They have been provided with first response assistance, including lodging, clothing, medical and psychological first aid, even as they are being reunited with their families.
- It is assessed that up to 1,500 women and girls remain in captivity and may be exposed to protracted sexual abuse by Da’esh.
- “What these women and girls have endured is unimaginable," said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande. She added that the UN, through UNFPA, is going to do everything possible to provide the kind of specialised medical and psychological support they need.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that there was a big spike in the number of people fleeing western Mosul yesterday, with double the number of people transiting through a screening site located south of Mosul. These numbers may rise further in the coming days.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF TO VISIT ETHIOPIA
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein will visit Ethiopia, at the invitation of the Government, from 2 to 4 May 2017.
- Zeid will meet Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Speaker of the House of People’s Representatives Abadula Gemeda and other high-ranking Ethiopian officials.
- He will also meet with the Chairperson of the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, members of Ethiopian civil society organisations and political parties, as well as African Union officials, including the Chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat.
- The High Commissioner gave an extensive press conference today in Geneva on a number of human rights issues around the world.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY AIRLIFTS SUPPLIES TO CONGOLESE REFUGEES FLEEING TO ANGOLA
- A plane carrying core relief items arrived yesterday in Luanda, Angola, to assist over 11,000 people who fled a recent surge of violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) will be airlifting more relief items to Angola in coming days.
- The brutal conflict in DRC’s previously peaceful Kasai region has already displaced more than one million civilians within the country since it began in mid-2016.
- Humanitarian assistance to the most recent arrivals will be distributed in Dundo area where refugees have been accommodated in makeshift reception centres since early April.
- Refugees, including some 4,000 children, are arriving exhausted, many with visible signs of violence, and bringing very little resources with them.
- Angola is currently hosting some 56,700 refugees and asylum-seekers, of whom close to 25,000 are from the DRC.
U.N. WELCOMES FRENTE POLISARIO’S WITHDRAWAL FROM GUERGUERAT
- In a statement issued on Friday, we welcome the withdrawal of all Frente Polisario elements from the Guerguerat area, between the berm and the border with Mauritania, as confirmed by MINURSO observers on 27-28 April. Together with the earlier withdrawal of Moroccan elements from the area, in response to the urging of the Secretary-General, this action should improve the prospects of creating an environment that will facilitate early implementation of the Secretary-General’s determination to relaunch the negotiating process with a new dynamic and a new spirit that reflect the Security Council’s guidance and resolutions, with the aim of reaching a “mutually acceptable political solution which will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara”.
- We continue to call on the parties to adhere to their obligations under the ceasefire agreement and to respect both its letter and spirit, and to cooperate fully with MINURSO. The need to ensure that tensions do not erupt anew in the Guerguerat area remains vital. To this end, MINURSO intends to maintain the position it has held in the Buffer Strip since August 2016 and further discuss the Mission’s future monitoring of the area and the full range of issues related to the Buffer Strip with the parties.
GUATEMALA, UNITED KINGDOM LATEST U.N. MEMBER STATES TO PAY DUES IN FULL
- Guatemala and the United Kingdom have paid their Regular Budget dues in full, bringing the total number of Member States which have done so to 92.