HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 3 MARCH 2020

 
GABON/EQUATORIAL GUINEA
The Secretary-General took part in a ceremony to mark the Special Agreement on the border dispute between the Gabonese Republic and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
The Secretary-General congratulated the two countries for demonstrating the political will, courage and perseverance necessary to put in place domestic measures to make this agreement possible.
The ceremony marked the successful conclusion of a United Nations mediation process, which aimed at facilitating a peaceful solution to the longstanding border dispute between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The Special Agreement will allow both countries to submit their dispute to the International Court of Justice.
The Secretary-General said he hopes the steps taken by these two countries will be an inspiration for others facing similar challenges. By submitting their dispute to the International Court of Justice, he added, they are now showing the world that it is possible to find peaceful solutions, in accordance with international law.
 
COVID-19/CSW
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros said today that there are now 90,893 reported cases globally and 3,110 deaths.
Twelve new countries have reported their first cases, with 21 countries having one case only.
Dr. Tedros stressed the actions newly-affected countries take today will be the difference between a handful of cases and a larger cluster.
He said that while containment is not possible for seasonal flu, it is possible for COVID-19, with contact tracing helping to prevent infections and save lives.
He also voiced concern over how countries’ abilities to respond are being compromised by the severe and increasing disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment due to rising demand, hoarding and misuse.
He emphasized that this is a question of solidarity and cannot be solved by WHO or one industry alone – it requires all of us working together to ensure all countries can protect the people who protect the rest of us.
On the Commission on the Status of Women: following the Secretary-General’s recommendation to Member States to amend the format of the 64th session of the CSW in light of the current concerns regarding COVID-19, the Commission decided that the 64th session will convene at 10:00am on 9 March for a procedural meeting.
The meeting will include opening statements, followed by the adoption of a draft Political Declaration and action on any other draft resolutions. The session will then suspend until further notification. No general debate will take place and all side events planned by Member States and the UN system in conjunction with CSW 64 will be cancelled for next week. The Secretary-General will address, as scheduled, he will address the ceremony.
 
SYRIA
Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock visited the Syria-Turkey border today, and in a statement, he said that civilians across northwest Syria are experiencing a grave humanitarian crisis, and what they need is a ceasefire and for international humanitarian law to be respected.
He said that an estimated 2.8 million people in northwest Syria need humanitarian assistance. With $500 million of funding, we will be able to reach 1.1 million of the most vulnerable, he added. Mr. Lowcock said that, with today’s generous $108 million contribution from the United States, more than $300 million has been received or pledged by donors.
Meanwhile, Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, saw the Turkish Foreign Minister and other senior Turkish officials in Ankara yesterday. Mr. Pedersen is now in Cairo to brief Foreign Ministers of the League of Arab States on the situation in Syria.
He continues to strongly underline the desperate need for an immediate ceasefire and the protection of civilians. Beyond that, what is needed are arrangements for Idlib that could ensure some stability and help create more conducive conditions for a political process.
Mr. Pedersen today announced today the appointment of Marianne Gasser of Switzerland as the Head of the Envoy’s office in Damascus. Ms. Gasser has had a long career with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), including as head of its delegation in Syria.
 
IRAQ
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, told Security Council members that the country’s political leaders and communities will have to step up to the plate, placing the country’s interest above all else.
She discussed the recent killings of and attacks on protestors, saying that these abhorrent human rights violations are ongoing and fly in the face of all that is decent. She said they have no place in a democracy, any democracy, and it is therefore imperative to put an end to these abuses and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
She added that Iraqi leaders must dismantle or formally integrate their armed entities under full state control without delay. And she added that after five months of protests, and the many injured and killed, it should be clear that peaceful protesters - backed by a silent majority - will not budge on their aspirations.
The Special Representative also told the Council members that the ongoing political indecision and dissension in Iraq does not give cause for immediate optimism. She said Iraqis must find strength in diversity, recognizing a cohesive society as more than the sum of its parts.
 
ROHINGYA
UN agencies and their partners today launched an appeal for $877 million to help some 855,000 Rohingya refugees from Myanmar who are in Bangladesh, as well as more than 444,000 vulnerable Bangladeshis in the communities which are generously hosting these refugees.
More than half of this funding will go towards vital services and assistance, such as access to food, shelter, clean water and sanitation.
This marks the third year of exile for most Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. They are clear that they want to return home, but only when they and their families will be safe, can access basic rights and see a pathway to citizenship in Myanmar.
 
LIBYA
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says it is deeply concerned by the escalation in fighting around Tripoli since the end of February.
On 1 March, shelling in Ain Zara reportedly killed a child and injured three civilians. Shelling around Mitiga Airport, on 28 February, hit an ambulance affiliated with a local hospital and prompted the evacuation of the hospital.
Aid workers continue to call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and protect civilian infrastructure and avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas given their likely indiscriminate effects.
 
SOMALIA
It is reported that 9,000 households – or about 56,000 people – have been displaced in the Jubaland State due to clashes that broke out in early February.
The Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, Adam Abdelmoula, stressed that all efforts must be made to minimize harm to civilians and damage to schools, health centres and homes.
He also said that it is imperative for all parties to safeguard the movement of civilians out of conflict areas in safety and dignity so that they may have unobstructed access to humanitarian protection and assistance.
Some 2.6 million people are currently displaced within Somalia due to conflict and climatic shocks.
 
WILDLIFE
Today is World Wildlife Day. This year’s theme is “Sustaining all life on Earth.” In his message, the Secretary-General said that by overexploiting wildlife, habitats and ecosystems, humanity is endangering both itself and the survival of countless species of wild plants and animals. He stressed the need to remind ourselves of our duty to preserve and sustainably use the vast variety of life on the planet. “A world of thriving biodiversity provides the foundation we need to achieve our Sustainable Development Goals of a world of dignity and opportunity for all people on a healthy planet,” he said
 
NOON GUEST TOMORROW
Tomorrow, I will be joined at this daily briefing by the Humanitarian Coordinator for Haiti, Bruno Lemarquis, and he will brief on the humanitarian situation in Haiti.
 
HONOUR ROLL
Namibia has now paid its budget dues in full, which brings the Honour Roll up to 63.