We’ll start off with a statement on the plane crash that took place in Iran:
The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the crash of a Ukrainian airliner near Tehran today.
He expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Governments of all the countries whose nationals lost their lives in this tragedy.
Earlier today, we issued a statement from the Secretary-General in which we said that, on Monday, the Secretary-General had made a passionate appeal for peace. His message to world leaders was simple: Stop escalation. Exercise maximum restraint. Re-start dialogue. And renew international cooperation.
This appeal remains as important today as it was on Monday.
For his part, the Secretary-General will continue his active engagement with relevant actors. It is our common duty to make every effort to avoid a war in the Gulf that the world cannot afford. We must not forget the terrible human suffering caused by war. As always, ordinary people pay the highest price.
In addition to the statement, I just want to add that the Secretary-General has been continuing with his calls to world leaders over the past few days. Yesterday, he spoke by phone with Iraqi President Barham Salih, to whom he expressed the solidarity of the United Nations and continuing support for the Iraqi people.
For the Secretary-General, it is important that everyone respect the sovereignty and unity of Iraq. The international community should support the Iraqi people as they seek to create the conditions for political dialogue.
Iraq should not pay the price for external rivalries.
Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Lizbeth Cullity of the United States as the new Deputy Special Representative and Deputy Head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, known as MINUSCA.
Ms. Cullity succeeds Kenneth Gluck, also of the US, who completed his assignment in December of last year. The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Gluck’s dedicated service in the Central African Republic during this crucial period in the political process.
Ms. Cullity brings over 25 years of leadership experience in the UN – in Africa, the Americas and the Pacific. Most recently, she served as Chief of Staff of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali.
In Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger, more than 4,000 people have died as a result of terrorist attacks last year, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the head of the UN office for West Africa and the Sahel, told members of the Security Council this morning.
The number of displaced people has increased ten-fold to about half a million, and, he added, the geographic focus of terrorist attacks is increasingly threatening West African Coastal states.
Mr. Chambas pointed out that relentless attacks on civilian and military targets have shaken public confidence.
Governments, local actors, regional organizations and the international community are mobilizing across the region to respond to this threat, but, he said, now is the time for action.
Mr. Chambas called on regional and sub-regional leaders to follow through on their pledges and on international partners to fully support the governments in the region.
Turning to Sudan, the Government and the UN have wrapped up a joint two-day visit to El Geneina in West Darfur, the site of deadly recent intercommunal violence.
The delegation assessed the situation to see how to provide immediate humanitarian aid to the most vulnerable people, including women, children and people with disabilities.
It is estimated that approximately 40,000 people have been internally displaced, with thousands having already crossed the border into Chad.
Humanitarian agencies and partners, together with the Government, are currently assisting people with food, water, and emergency household supplies. Health, nutrition and protection services are also being provided.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that its police component is supporting Central African authorities to carry out investigations, including interviewing victims and witnesses, into clashes late last year between criminal gangs and traders in Bangui’s PK5 district that had resulted in dozens of people killed.
The UN Peacekeeping mission is working with local authorities and community leaders, including representatives of groups involved in the violence, to find a sustainable solution through disarmament and dialogue.
The Mission continues to conduct joint patrols with Internal Security Forces in the PK5 neighbhourhood to help protect civilian and ensure that arms do not flow into the area that was recently declared “weapons-free” by the Government and the United Nations.
Turning to Zambia, our humanitarian colleagues say that a combination of drought in the west and south and floods in the north have increased hunger, with more than 2.3 million people expected to be severely food insecure through March.
Four districts are facing emergency levels of food insecurity, and decreased access to clean water has also increased the risk of communicable disease outbreaks, such as typhoid and cholera.
As of December, the Humanitarian Country Team had mobilized $38 million – that’s including $8 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund – towards the Humanitarian Appeal which has a total requirement of $90 million.
More funding is required urgently to prevent the humanitarian situation from deteriorating as the country approaches the peak of the lean season.