HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 5 FEBRUARY 2020

OCEANS
This afternoon at 4 p.m. the Secretary-General will meet with members of civil society and philanthropic organizations who will hand over a call to urge governments and corporations to take bold actions to safeguard the ocean at the next UN Ocean Conference that takes place in Lisbon from 2-6 June.
At 1:15 p.m., there will be a briefing on the Ocean Conference. The speakers will include the Ambassadors of Palau and Denmark, along with Peter Thomson, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, and Karen Sack, the Managing Director of Ocean Unite.
 
SECURITY COUNCIL
Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefed the Security Council in its open debate today on small arms and light weapons, and she said that the destabilizing accumulation, illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons continue to initiate, sustain and exacerbate armed conflict and pervasive crime.
On a global scale, she said, small arms were used in nearly 50 per cent of all violent deaths between 2010 and 2015. This translates to more than 200,000 deaths each year. She added that diversion remains a major source of weapons and their ammunition for gangs, criminal organizations and terrorist groups.
Ms. Nakamitsu added that the negative impact of illicit small arms and light weapons flows is cross-cutting and multi-dimensional. Illicit small arms and light weapons have a multitude of implications for security, human rights, sustainable development, gender equality and conflict prevention.
 
SYRIA
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs today said the humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate in the northwest as airstrikes and shelling continue to be reported.
Some 586,000 people have been displaced since 1 December, with over 100,000 others facing an immediate risk of displacement.
Many of those affected are living in particularly appalling humanitarian conditions and most of the displaced are moving north and west away from the conflict in search of safety.
Food, shelter, water and sanitation hygiene, health, education and protection assistance are all urgent priorities as many of the displaced left with nothing more than the clothes on their back.
The humanitarian community has released an emergency response plan to address the needs of up to 800,000 people in the north-west of Syria over a six-month period. The requirement of the plan is about $336 million.
 
LIBYA
Despite political efforts and commitments, civilians continue to suffer the brunt of the fighting in and around Tripoli.
Yesterday, two more children were killed in shelling on the residential neighbourhood of al-Karamiya al-Sharqiya in Tripoli. The medical team trying to rescue those injured in the attacks were themselves affected by shelling near a local hospital.
This is the third attack to affect health personnel and facilities this year – two health workers have been killed and five others injured in such attacks since the beginning of the year, that’s according to the World Health Organization.
Around 749,000 people are estimated to be in areas impacted by clashes in and around Tripoli, including almost 345,000 people in frontline areas.
Humanitarians continue to call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Where access and capacities allow, humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance to the internally displaced, to returnees, migrants, refugees and other vulnerable and conflict-affected groups.
The Libya Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2020 was published last week and estimates that 900,000 people are in need of assistance in Libya. This is over 13 per cent of Libya’s population.
 
CAR
In a press conference in Bangui in the capital of the Central African Republic, the Government and the UN Peacekeeping Mission have reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the Peace agreement, that was signed on February 6th 2019, exactly a year ago tomorrow.
The Mission highlighted progress achieved in the past year, but also urged armed groups – some of whom are still committing violations and human rights abuses – to honour their commitments under the peace agreement.
The UN reaffirmed its commitment to work with the guarantors - the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Government and other partners to implement the Agreement and to protect civilian population.
 
CORONAVIRUS
The World Health Organization today launched its Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan, to support countries to prevent, detect and diagnose the transmission of the virus.
WHO is requesting $675 million to fund the plan for the next three months. $60 million of that is to fund WHO’s operations – the rest is for the countries that are especially at risk.
WHO has already released $9 million from its own Contingency Fund for Emergencies.
The Organization is also sending half a million masks, 350,000 pairs of gloves, 40,000 respirators and almost 18,000 isolation gowns from its warehouses in Dubai and Accra to 24 countries, with more countries to be added. It is also sending 250,000 tests to more than 70 reference laboratories globally to facilitate faster testing.
The Director-General of WHO stressed that the greatest concern is about the potential for spread in countries with weaker health systems, and that WHO is asking countries for political, technical and financial solidarity.
 
REFUGEES
The UN Refugee Agency said today that only 4.5 per cent of the global resettlement needs were met last year.
Out of 1.4 million refugees estimated to be in urgent need of resettlement worldwide, only about 64,000 were resettled through UNHCR. Most of them went to Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and the US.
The agency says that while the number of resettlements achieved last year is in line with their targets, they worry that based on current projections, fewer refugees will be able to rebuild their lives in new countries.
 
APPOINTMENTS
Selwin Hart of Barbados was appointed as the Special Adviser and Assistant Secretary-General of the Climate Action Team, and Mahmoud Mohieldin of Egypt as the Special Envoy on Financing the 2030 Agenda.
Mr. Hart is currently the Executive Director for the Caribbean region at the Inter-American Development Bank. He was previously the Ambassador of Barbados to both the US and the Organization of American States and he also had worked here on climate change under the previous Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Mr. Mohieldin, an economist, was the former Minister of Investment of Egypt from 2004-2010, and most recently, served as the World Bank Group Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda, UN Relations and Partnerships.
 
LOCUSTS
On Monday, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Director of Emergencies, Dominique Burgeon, will be here to brief you on the impact of the locust upsurge in the Greater Horn of Africa and elsewhere, and how the UN is responding to support impacted governments.
 
HONOUR ROLL
Slovakia, Bhutan, Morocco and Samoa have paid its budget dues in full.