HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC
 
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
 
THURSDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2019

  
BURKINA FASO
The Secretary-General strongly condemns yesterday’s attack on a convoy of a mining company in the East region of Burkina Faso, resulting in dozens of casualties and leaving scores more injured. He calls on the Burkinabe authorities to do everything in their power to bring to justice to the perpetrators of this heinous act against civilians.
The Secretary-General conveys his condolences to the families of the deceased, as well as to the people and Government of Burkina Faso and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured. He reiterates the full support of the United Nations to the Government of Burkina Faso in its continuing efforts to ensure peace and stability in the country.
 
CAMBODIA
The Secretary-General is closely following developments in Cambodia related to the announced return of Sam Rainsy and other opposition leaders. He is concerned over the restrictions imposed by the authorities on freedom of movement and assembly, as well as reported military deployments along the Thai border. 
The Secretary-General emphasizes the need for peaceful dialogue among all stakeholders and for a conducive political environment free of intimidation, harassment or fear.
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL
This evening at 6:30 pm, the Secretary-General will deliver a keynote address at the 81st Anniversary Commemoration of Kristallnacht at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, downtown in New York. He will also have the opportunity to visit the exhibit entitled “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” the most comprehensive Holocaust exhibition about Auschwitz ever presented in North America.
In his remarks the Secretary-General is expected to highlight that decades after the Holocaust, the world’s oldest hatred is still with us and other forms of intolerance are also taking a deadly toll.
He will stress that hatred also works in insidious ways to undermine relations between people and on the foundations of society.
The Secretary-General will also recall how the UN is fully engaged in this fight with the launch of the UN Strategy and Plan of Action to confront and address hate speech.
Additionally, he is also expected to announce that a conference on the role of education in addressing and building resilience against hate speech will be convened by the UN.
Before that, late this afternoon, the Secretary-General will deliver some remarks to the Forum of Small States that is taking place at UN Headquarters.
 
HIGH SCHOOL WORKSHOP
Tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. in Conference Room 12, a hundred high school students will participate in an interactive workshop organized by the Holocaust and the United Nations Outreach Programme, together with the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect and Facing History and Ourselves. Students will consider Anne Frank’s writing and legacy and the testimonies of other young people affected by more recent atrocity crimes, and the experiences of refugees caught up in the contemporary crises.
 
SYRIA
The UN remains gravely concerned over the safety and protection of some 4.1 million women, children and men in north-west Syria, including some 2.1 million internally displaced people, following an intensification of airstrikes and shelling in recent days in Idlib.
Yesterday, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that shelling was reported in 13 communities inside Idlib Governorate, reportedly killing at least two people and injuring 20. Shelling was also reported in several neighbourhoods in west Aleppo city, resulting in the [death] of a least one man and wounding of six people.
An airstrike yesterday reportedly impacted the Orient hospital in the town of Kafr Nobol, injuring several people and rendering the hospital inoperable.
Since the end of April, over 400,000 women and children and men have been displaced by the violence in the north-west, many of them multiple times. Over 1,000 have lost their lives, many of them children.
The UN continues to remind all parties of their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in line with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.
 
LEBANON
Major General Stefano Del Col, Head of the UN Mission and Force Commander of the UN Forces in Southern Lebanon, UNIFIL, today chaired a regular Tripartite meeting with senior officers from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). This took place at a UN position in Ras Al Naqoura. The General underlined the challenges posed by the ongoing political and security developments in Lebanon, Israel and the wider region.
“These are very sensitive times,” General Del Col said, adding that as uncertainties multiply, extra efforts are required by all concerned to preserve the stability along the Blue Line. He warned that provocative actions of any kind could trigger incidents endangering the cessation of hostilities.
He further said that, “it is important that all concerned avoid unilateral action, refrain from rhetorical exchanges and uphold the spirit of this tripartite engagement that has served us well through very challenging circumstances.”
 
IRAQ
In a statement issued last night on Iraq, the Secretary-General expressed his serious concern over the rising number of deaths and injuries during the ongoing demonstrations in Iraq. Reports of the continued use of live ammunition against demonstrators are very disturbing.
The Secretary-General urges all actors to refrain from violence and to investigate all acts of violence seriously. He renews his appeal for meaningful dialogue between the Government and demonstrators.
 
SMOG
With 620 million children in South Asia breathing polluted, toxic air, the head of UNICEF today called for urgent action to address this air quality crisis.
Henrietta Fore, who recently visited the region, said that children breathe twice as quickly as adults do because they have smaller lungs and therefore endure the damaging health and neurological impacts of air pollution the most.
 
FOOD PRICE INDEX
The Food and Agricultural Organization reports that food prices rose in October for the first time in five months, as international quotations for sugar and key cereals increased significantly. According to FAO, the Food Price Index averaged was 1.7 per cent higher in October than the previous months and six per cent higher than during October last year.
Cereal prices increased as wheat and maize export prices moved up sharply on the back of reduced crop prospects in several major producing countries. By contrast, rice prices slipped, driven by subdued demand and prospects of an abundant basmati harvest.