NOON BRIEFING GUEST TODAY
Today, we are honouring what day? International Mine Awareness Day, so, in a short while, I will be joined by Agnès Marcaillou, who, as you well know, is the Director of the UN Mine Action Service. She will be joined by Ambassador Fatima Kyari, the Permanent Observer of the African Union to the United Nations, addressing the situation of landmines and explosive hazards in Africa, as well as Ambassador Mona Juul, the Permanent Representative of Norway to the United Nations, representing the Presidency of the 4th Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC). So, as soon as we are done here.
SECRETARY-GENERAL IN LIBYA
As you all well know, the Secretary-General is in Tripoli today, and you will have seen that, in light of recent developments this morning, he tweeted out that he was deeply concerned by the military movement taking place in Libya and the risk of confrontation. “There is no military solution,” he said. “Only intra-Libyan dialogue can solve Libyan problems. I call for calm and restraint as I prepare to meet the Libyan leaders in the country,” the Secretary-General said.
In about an hour or so, we expect him to have some sort of a press encounter with the media there, and we will be sending you a transcript as soon as we have that.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL’S TRAVELS
And later today, the Deputy Secretary-General will depart for Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, where she will meet with Senior Government officials and United Nations colleagues and will also speak at the 2019 Ibrahim Governance Weekend.
On 7 April, she will be in Beirut in Lebanon, to attend the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia’s (ESCWA) Arab Forum for Sustainable Development and the Regional Coordination Mechanism, as well as meet with the Resident Coordinators from the Arab and Middle East region.
The Deputy Secretary-General will be back in New York on 10 April, and, as you just saw, she launched the Financing for Sustainable Development Report 2019 and we will be putting out her remarks shortly on that.
From Mali, the UN peacekeeping mission in that country reports that its premises in Kidal city were targeted yesterday by unknown assailants.
Nine mortar rounds were fired, with seven exploding within camp premises.
Two Chadian peacekeepers sustained slight injuries and two helicopters were damaged, and the Mission is monitoring the situation.
And, in Burkina Faso, our humanitarian colleagues say that more than 60 civilians have been killed in recent clashes between communities in the north of the country, and that’s according to the government.
In Abinda, a city in Som province, the security and humanitarian situation has deteriorated in the last few days, with the city hosting over 14,000 internally displaced people. Priority needs include food, non-food items, water and sanitation hygiene and protection.
Humanitarian organizations are scaling up operations to support the Government-led response and to provide life-saving assistance and protection to the displaced and other people in need.
In total, some 136,000 people have so far been displaced in Burkina Faso, over half of them since January. Population displacement is accelerating because of the surge in violence,
resulting in increased humanitarian challenges along the border with Mali and Niger.
The UN Central Emergency Response Fund, otherwise known as CERF, today announced an allocation of $11 million to help 268,000 women, men and children who have been displaced by fighting in South Sudan return to their homes.
Announcing the funding today through a press release, Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the CERF allocation would ensure these families have food, farming tools and seeds, shelter items and other basic necessities ahead of the rainy season starting in May, when access to many areas will be cut off. Protection services will be provided as a central component of the plan.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday launched an appeal for $122 million to provide 2.6 million children with humanitarian assistance in Sudan through this year. Sudan hosts 1.2 million refugees and has 1.8 million internally displaced persons, the majority of whom are children.
According to UNICEF, children in Sudan continue to suffer [from] the long-term conflict, displacement, natural disasters, epidemics and malnutrition, all of which have been made worse by the economic crisis of 2018. Child malnutrition is widespread, with some 2.4 million children affected by malnutrition.
And from Syria, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, yesterday, four internally displaced people, including three women and a 13-year-old girl, were reportedly killed, and six others injured following shelling in the non-state armed group-controlled town of Khan Al-Asal in Syria’s northwestern rural Aleppo Governorate. A 15-year-old boy was also reportedly injured after being struck by a stray bullet in a school in Aleppo.
The UN is alarmed by continued reports of civilian casualties due to hostilities in or around demilitarized zones.
The United Nations continues to call on all parties to the conflict to cease all violence and reminds them of their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.
The Secretary-General issued a message on sanitation and water for all to a meeting of dozens of ministers that started today in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose.
He said that achieving safe water and access for all is an urgent challenge, pointing out that two billion people today live without safe water at home and 4.5 billion do not have safely managed sanitation.
WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS
And, from the WHO’s annual snapshot of the state of the world's health, they tell us that women outlive men everywhere in the world, particularly in wealthy countries.
The World Health Statistics 2019 report, which was disaggregated by sex for the first time this year, found that the gap between men’s and women’s life expectancy is narrowest where women lack access to health services.
Published to coincide with World Health Day on 7 April, the report aims to highlight the need to improve access to primary health care worldwide.
In his message ahead of World Health Day, the Secretary-General said primary health care is the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and universal health coverage. Universal Health Coverage, he said, is about ensuring equitable access to health services for all, without people experiencing financial hardship as a result.
The report is on the Interweb should you want to take a look at it and I’m happy to take some questions before we go to our guests.