HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 7 APRIL 2021
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF REFLECTION ON THE 1994 GENOCIDE AGAINST THE TUTSI IN RWANDA
This morning, in a pre-recorded address for the commemoration of the International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi in Rwanda, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the victims and survivors of the genocide. He recalled how those days remain in our collective conscience as among the most horrific in recent human history.
But, the Secretary-General added, we must also take a hard look at today’s world and ensure that we heed the lessons of 27 years ago. Around the globe, he said, people are threatened by extremist groups determined to boost their ranks through social polarization, political and cultural manipulation.
To prevent history from repeating itself, we need to counter these hate-driven movements that have become a transnational threat, Mr. Guterres said. We must forge a Common Agenda, to renew and reinvigorate our collective actions going forward.
The people of Rwanda have shown us the power of justice and reconciliation, and the possibility of progress. On this solemn Day, the Secretary-General concluded, let us all commit to building a world guided by human rights and dignity for all.
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke to youth leaders, activists and youth-led organizations at the virtual ECOSOC Youth Forum.
He said he was immensely saddened by what the pandemic has done to the world’s young people - disrupting their education, increasing youth unemployment, and worsening their mental health.
The Secretary-General said we should not be surprised that both online and, in the streets, young people have been expressing their impatience with the pace of change, their alarm at the war on nature, and their frustration with injustice and poor governance. He added that we listen to them, rebuild trust and find ways to engage them in the governance systems and democratic processes strengthening work with and for youth. He asked young people to continue showing the way on critical issues such as racial justice, gender equality and the climate crisis.
The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, also spoke at the Forum.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) will facilitate a three-day direct meeting of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s Legal Committee in Tunis from 7 to 9 April. That meeting is intended to finalize discussions on a constitutional basis which will pave the way for national elections on 24 December 2021.
In his opening remarks today, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Ján Kubiš, welcomed the members of the Legal Committee and underscored the importance of efforts to achieve the objectives of the Roadmap adopted in Tunis last November.
The UN Mission is fully committed to support the holding of national elections on 24 December 2021, in accordance with the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap and the overwhelming request of the Libyan people. The deliberations of the Legal Committee are a critical element to move the elections preparations forward.
In Ethiopia, the humanitarian situation in Tigray remains dire. While there has been substantial improvement in humanitarian access, active hostilities have been reported in the north-western, central, eastern, south-eastern and southern zones.
Some humanitarian partners have accessed the towns of Gijet and Samre, in the southern and south-eastern zones. They reported that most of the population in these towns has fled. The Alamata-Mekelle-Adigrat-Shire road remains partially accessible.
According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) an estimated 2.5 million people in rural Tigray have not had access to essential services over the last five months. The conflict continues to drive massive displacement across the region, with tens of thousands of people moving towards urban areas, including to Mekelle and Shire. According to a recent assessment report, there could be as many as 450,000 people displaced in Shire.
The UN humanitarian partners are grappling with capacity and resource challenges as they scale up the response, which remains inadequate for the estimated 4.5 million people who need life-saving assistance.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) today said that peacekeepers have just conducted a long-range patrol covering over 1,200 km from Goa to Tassinga, in the centre of the country. This patrol is part of the Mission’s efforts to provide security and protect civilians in the region that is also known at the 3-border area.
The day and night patrols were conducted over a period of 28 consecutive days.
Throughout this mission, peacekeepers maintained constant contact with the Malian Armed Forces. They also engaged with communities to discuss their concerns to better protect local populations.
Local community members between Ansongo and Tassiga reported back to the Mission that cases of robbery and theft have not been recorded in the two-week period coinciding with the peacekeepers’ continuing patrol of their region.
To find out more, the Mission has also produced a video on this patrol.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Bintou Keita, the head of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) has expressed her concern at the increasing calls for violence and hatred in the areas of Beni, Butembo and Lubero. The calls have been aimed at humanitarian workers and national and international institutions, in particular the UN mission.
The UN is committed to freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful demonstration but stress that the latter can be exercised in a legitimate way without any call to violence against individuals or organizations.
The UN is concerned about another report of an incident in the Red Sea yesterday, involving a vessel flying the flag of the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the fourth such incident in the region in just over a month. Although the circumstances around the incident remain unclear, we wish to underscore the importance for the concerned parties, including countries in the region, to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from taking any escalatory actions and, in particular, to respect their obligations under international law.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that yesterday shelling damaged a power line near a main lift pumping station of the South Donbas Waterway, in eastern Ukraine. This interrupted safe water supply for 1.1. million people in 50 nearby settlements on both sides of the “contact line”.
While repair teams were able to quickly fix the damaged power lines today, the UN reiterates its call for all involved to avoid targeting critical water infrastructure in eastern Ukraine.
This year the UN and its humanitarian partners in Ukraine require $168 million to help 1.9 million of the most vulnerable 3.4 million people in the east. Only 5.5 per cent of this funding has been received.
The UN also urges all concerned to provide unconditional access to those in need.
This morning, Costa Rica received more than 43,200 doses of COVID-19 vaccines. This is the first shipment of nearly 220,000 doses expected to arrive soon. Our colleagues in Costa Rica hailed the arrival as a historic step towards the goal of ensuring access to and equitable distribution of vaccines globally.
Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic received more than 91,000 doses last night. This is the first batch of more than 2 million doses of vaccines the country expects to receive through COVAX. The UN team has been supporting authorities to address the pandemic, helping to deliver more than 60 tons of protective equipment to health personnel.
WORLD HEALTH DAY
Today is also World Health Day, and the theme this year is “Together for a fairer, healthier world”. In his message, the Secretary-General notes that the COVID-19 crisis has revealed how unequal our societies are. He points out that thanks to the COVAX initiative, more nations are now beginning to receive vaccine supplies, but most people in low- and middle-income countries still must watch and wait.
The Secretary-General stresses that such [inequities] are immoral, and they are dangerous for our health, our economies and our societies. He says that as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must implement policies and allocate resources so we can all enjoy the same health outcomes.