HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ
 
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
 
FRIDAY, 08 FEBRUARY 2019

 
SG TRAVELS
The Secretary-General will arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia today. Over the weekend, he will participate in the African Union Summit there.
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will meet with Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, and participate in a joint meeting between the AU commissioners and senior UN Secretariat officials. And he will also attend an Africa Leadership Meeting on Investing in Health, hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.
On Sunday, he will hold more bilateral meetings before attending the Opening Ceremonies of the official session of the Assembly.
 
SYRIA
Following substantive consultations earlier this week in Iran, the Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, travelled to France yesterday for meetings with the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. He continues his meetings today with senior Government officials from the foreign ministry.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the flow of people fleeing from Hajin in Syria has slowed, but people continue to go to the Al Hol camp, in Al Hasakeh Governorate, where close to 27,000 people have arrived since December 2018. This has more than tripled the camp’s population to over 36,000 people, surpassing its maximum capacity.
The provision of assistance, in particular medical assistance for the most urgent cases, as well as food, water and other support along the route to Al Hol and closer to the Hajin area is a critical priority, but we continue to encounter access limitations and insecurity. The United Nations is working to urgently establish a transit centre closer to Hajin.
Pending the launch of the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan and funding requirements for the year, additional financial resources are urgently needed to expand the reception capacity and provide essential relief items and services, including family tents, non-food items, food and urgent health, nutrition, water and sanitation, hygiene, and protection interventions at Al Hol.
 
MYANMAR/BANGLADESH
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said it is concerned about the escalating violence in Myanmar’s Chin and Rakhine States which has reportedly led to internal displacement and to people fleeing to Bangladesh.
UNHCR stands ready to support the humanitarian response in the affected areas in Myanmar.
The agency has also offered its support to the Government of Bangladesh to assess and respond to the needs of people who have arrived and are seeking safety from violence in Myanmar.
UNHCR is grateful to Bangladesh for its generosity and the leadership it has shown in receiving more than 720,000 refugees from Myanmar since August 2017. The agency calls on the Bangladesh authorities to continue to allow people fleeing violence in Myanmar to seek safety in Bangladesh.
 
SUDAN
The Assistant Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Bintou Keita; the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Development Programme, Mourad Wahba; and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, will travel to Sudan starting tomorrow, until 12 February. Their visit will focus on the transition of the UN’s engagement in Darfur in the context of the drawdown of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur, known as UNAMID.
They will be in Darfur from 9 February and will meet with civil society, local government officials and UN personnel. They will then travel to Khartoum on 11 February to meet with senior Government officials and partners to discuss issues pertaining to the transition and the continued UN support for nationally-led peacebuilding and development efforts in Darfur.
This joint mission reflects the United Nations’ commitment to ensure a smooth drawdown of UNAMID and re-orientation of the United Nations’ support for peacebuilding and peace sustaining.
 
TANZANIA
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi ended a four-day visit to Tanzania today with a call for greater investment in the country’s northwest, which is host to some 330,000 refugees.
In a statement issued today, Mr. Grandi described Tanzania as “one of the most important refugee asylum countries in Africa,” and expressed his satisfaction with government assurances that the country would continue to be hospitable to refugees.
Mr. Grandi met with President John Joseph Magufuli, with whom he discussed the idea of establishing a regional framework to find solutions for Burundian and Congolese refugees, who make up the majority of refugees and asylum seekers in Tanzania.
He said UNHCR is prepared to work with the government to assist all those who wish to go home, noting that “it is important that nobody is forced back.”
 
LASSA FEVER
The World Health Organization says it has scaled up its efforts to support five western African countries as they respond to outbreaks of Lassa fever.
The largest outbreak thus far has affected 16 states in Nigeria, with 213 confirmed cases to date. WHO said 12 cases of Lassa fever have also been confirmed to date in Benin, Guinea, Liberia and Togo, including two deaths.
WHO is assisting health authorities in these countries with contact tracing and providing medical and non-medical supplies, as well as technical and financial resources as needed.
 
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENT
The Secretary-General has designated Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division in the Department of Global Communications, as Commissioner-General for the Organization’s participation in Expo 2020 the United Arab Emirates.
The theme of the Dubai Expo 2020 - “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” - is in line with the United Nations’ strategic focus on youth and innovation. The international exposition runs from 20 October 2020 to 10 April 2021. The Department of Global Communications, in close collaboration with other UN system entities, will leverage the opportunity of Expo 2020 to showcase the central role of the Organization as a proponent of ideas, a catalyst for action and a driver of multilateral solutions to global problems.
Mr. Nasser has over 30 years of experience working with the UN in multiple duty stations, and at the Department of Global Communications.