This morning the Security Council held closed consultations on Myanmar.
In her briefing to Council members, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, strongly condemned the recent steps taken by the military. She urged Council members to collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar.
The Special Envoy said that, given the apparent commitment by the military to safeguard the rule of law following the November 8th elections, this turn of events was surprising and shocking.
She said she had been in contact with the military leadership as recently as one day before the takeover. They said that communication had been ongoing with the Government and Union Election Commission.
The Special Envoy also called for the immediate release of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, President U Win Myint, and dozens of political leaders, family members and activists who have been detained.
She reiterated that this is a serious blow to democratic reforms in Myanmar.
Ms. Schraner Burgener said that the declaration of the Statement of Emergency and the arrest of civilian leadership are unconstitutional and illegal.
It will be crucial for all to refrain from violence, fully respecting human rights and
fundamental freedoms, she said, stressing that we cannot allow for a full backsliding since Myanmar opened up in 2011.
The head of the new UN Integrated Transitional Assistance Mission in Sudan, that’s UNITAMS, has arrived in the country.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Volker Perthes, said he looked forward to working with the transitional authorities and the people of Sudan.
He added that he will devote his energy to supporting Sudan to achieve its goals of democratic transformation, peace, and economic recovery.
Both the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and the UN Human Rights Office today welcomed the Government’s decision to set up transitional justice institutions.
The Special Adviser, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, said this is a crucial step towards establishing accountability for serious human rights violations. Many of these may constitute atrocity crimes that took place since the conflict started in December 2013.
The Government’s decision also includes setting up the African Union Hybrid Court for South Sudan.
For its part, the UN Human Rights Office said that, over many years, victims of extremely grave human rights violations have awaited the implementation of these key mechanisms of justice, truth, and remedy.
Today, the UN mission in Mali said that close to 500 human rights violations and abuses were documented between June and September of last year. These violations have led to the death of 176 people, including 13 children and eight women.
The data presented in this new human rights report shows a 23 per cent decrease compared to the previous period.
The human rights situation was also affected by violations attributable to the Malian defense and security forces, as well as to international forces in the context of military operations and the fight against terrorism taking place in the central and northern regions.
Close to 200 of the violations documented are attributable to the Malian defence and security forces - seven to the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, visited Tehran on 31 January to 1 February where she held talks with Iranian officials on regional issues as part of efforts to support stability in Iraq.
She has visited a number of regional countries, including Iran, before. This is part of her efforts to further UNAMI’s mandate under Security Council Resolution 2522, which includes the facilitation of regional dialogue and cooperation.
The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Issa Sanogo, continues to support national efforts.
The team is focusing on protecting children and vulnerable families. The UN provided $1.5 million towards primary health care, benefiting one million children under the age of five.
More than 600,000 children received self-learning booklets as part of the back-to-school programme. Meantime, more than 100,000 classrooms have been disinfected.
On the social protection front, the UN team provided more than 400,000 families with cash to help cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
Also, we delivered 40 cisterns as part of efforts to improve access to drinking water and improve hygiene conditions. Some 800,000 people in the areas worst affected by COVID-19 in five cities have been reached.
Tropical Cyclone Ana made landfall in the island nation two days ago.
In support of the Government-led response efforts, 39 assessment teams supported by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs were deployed to affected areas to start collecting more information on the impact of the Cyclone.
No request for international assistance has been made at this stage. We of course stand by ready to support further with the humanitarian response.
CHILDREN ON THE MOVE
The UN Refugee Agency, the UN Children’s Fund and the European Union today announced the launch of a joint programme to protect children on the move in Central America, Mexico, and Southern Africa.
The 30-month programme, which has received $8.4 million from the EU, will be implemented across four countries in two regions.
UNICEF and UNHCR will jointly work with national governments and civil society organizations in those areas to ensure that children are protected and to provide alternative care options to immigration detention.
A new report released by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime says the number of children among detected trafficking victims has tripled in the last 15 years. During this same period, the number of boy victims has increased five times. Girls are mainly trafficked for sexual exploitation, while boys are used for forced labour.
In 2018, according to UNODC, about 50,000 human trafficking victims were detected and reported by 148 countries. However, given the hidden nature of this crime, the actual number of victims trafficked is expected to be far higher. The report also said that the COVID-19-induced recession is likely to expose more people to the risk of trafficking.
A report by the Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome says that global fisheries and aquaculture have been hard hit by the pandemic. These could face further disruption this year as lockdowns affect supply and demand.
The impact has been significant in developing countries, especially those with large informal sectors.
I think you also heard the sad news, that we learned a short while ago about the passing of Sir Captain Thomas Moore. On behalf of the Secretary-General, I wanted to express our deepest condolences to the family of the late Captain Thomas Moore. During this pandemic, his selflessness, compassion, and determination to help others was an inspiration to people everywhere and will remain so.
As you may recall the Secretary-General spoke to Captain Tom on 30 April last year to wish him a happy 100th birthday and to congratulate him on his record-breaking campaign in the UK to raise funds for COVID care.
Lastly, I want to say a big thank you to our friends in Manama in Bahrain as they become the 26th country to join the Honour Roll.