HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

WEDNESDAY, 6 NOVEMBER 2019

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East
A short while ago, UNRWA’s Commissioner-General, Pierre Krähenbühl, informed the Secretary-General that he was resigning, effective immediately.
The Secretary-General thanked Mr. Krähenbühl for his commitment and constant dedication to UNRWA and to Palestine refugees. The Secretary-General reiterates his appreciation to UNRWA for their excellent work, which is essential to the well-being of Palestine refugees.
Christian Saunders was named Officer-in-Charge of UNRWA earlier today.
At this time, it is vital that Member States and other partners remain committed to the agency and the services it provides.
It is also critical for the international community to support the crucial work performed by the Agency in the areas of health, education, and humanitarian assistance, which is a source of stability in a volatile region.
 
Venezuela
The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, concluded a three-day visit to Venezuela today. Yesterday, he met with officials from the Government of Venezuela, including the Vice-President, and members of the National Assembly. He also met with UN and NGO humanitarian partners, in addition to members of the diplomatic community present in Caracas.
Mr. Lowcock also visited patients in a local hospital in Caracas that currently serves one million people. The hospital has received funds from the Central Emergency Response Fund for much-needed medical supplies.
 
Syria
Unexploded ordnance continues to put civilians at risk of death and injury in Syria. An estimated 11. 5 million people live in areas affected by explosive hazard contamination.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that on the 4th of November, there were four incidents of improvised explosive devices or unexplored ordnance injuring eight children.
The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to allow clearance of explosive remnants of war and to safely conduct risk education activities and ensure the respect and safety for humanitarian staff conducting clearance activities. 
 
Haiti ECOSOC
The Economic and Social Council’s Ad Hoc Advisory Group on Haiti issued an official statement today urging the international community to remain collectively engaged in support of the country.
The Group expressed its concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Haiti.
 
International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict
Today is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.
According to the UN Environment Programme, over the last 60 years, at least 40 per cent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources, whether high-value resources such as timber, diamonds, gold and oil, or scarce resources such as fertile land and water. Conflicts involving natural resources have also been found to be twice as likely to relapse.
This day is a reminder that taking action on the environment is part of our conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding strategies, because there can be no durable peace if the natural resources that sustain livelihoods and ecosystems are destroyed.

Malawi
In Malawi, the UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, said she is concerned by the violence that took place in Balaka on Monday, 4 November, between Christian and Muslim groups, with at least two people seriously injured.
She is particularly worried by reports that the violence started after two girls were prevented from attending school for wearing a hijab.
The Resident Coordinator called on all Malawians to respect each other’s religious beliefs and engage in peaceful dialogue to resolve differences, as well as on State authorities to ensure that all people of Malawi are able to exercise their beliefs and cultural practices free from persecution and discrimination.