HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

FRIDAY, 8 JANUARY 2021

 

NOON BRIEFING GUEST AND SECRETARY-GENERAL VIRTUAL TRIP TO THE UNITED KINGDOM
Fabrizio Hoschchild, the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on preparations for UN75, was the guest at the noon briefing.
He briefed reporters on the findings of the UN75 Final report, launched on Friday.
Mr. Hochschild also provided a preview of “We the Peoples”, the event planned in London for Sunday, to mark the 75th anniversary of the first UN General Assembly session.
This event will kick off the Secretary-General’s first virtual official visit to the United Kingdom.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General is expected to highlight the importance of the work of the General Assembly throughout the UN’s history, as well as its relevance now, as the world is struggling to address challenges such as climate change, the pandemic and conflict.

SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS 
The Secretary-General is appointing Abdoulaye Mar Dieye of Senegal as the Special Coordinator for development in the Sahel.   
This follows calls by the Security Council, as well as the Economic and Social Council for strengthening collective and integrated engagement across the Sahel region. In response, the Secretary-General is appointing the Special Coordinator who will lead efforts, including financing, to implement the United Nations integrated strategy for the Sahel and its Support Plan - for a scaled-up UN development response for the Sahel, drawing on all the UN’s assets in the region, engaging and supporting efforts of the G5 Sahel, the Sahel-Alliance, the Ministerial Coordination Platform, ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union, the World Bank, and the African Development Bank. 
Abdoulaye Mar Dieye has 35 years of experience and he is currently the Special Adviser for the Administrator of UNDP. 

Also appointed was Volker Perthes of Germany as the Secretary-General's new Special Representative for Sudan and Head of the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan, which has a new acronym, UNITAMS. Mr. Perthes brings to this position over 25 years of experience in academia, research, international relations and diplomacy, including with the United Nations, as well as expertise in conflict resolution and regional geopolitics.   

And lastly, the Secretary-General appointed Mette Knudsen of Denmark as his new Deputy Special Representative for the UN Mission in Afghanistan. She will focus on political issues. Ms. Knudsen succeeds Ingrid Hayden of Australia, to whom the Secretary-General expresses his gratitude for her dedicated service. Ms. Knudsen brings to the post over 28 years of experience in diplomacy, international cooperation and economic development. Most recently, she served as Denmark’s Ambassador in Kabul.

ETHIOPIA 
The UN, along with its partners, has been able to access areas that have been previously inaccessible. Localized fighting and insecurity continues, with fighting reported in rural areas and around Mekelle, Shiraro and Shire, in the Tigray province.
Access to most parts of North Western, Eastern and Central Tigray remains constrained due to the ongoing insecurity and bureaucratic hurdles, and two of the four refugee camps in the region (Hitsats and Shimelba) are still not accessible. 
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as well as the World Food Programme, which leads the Logistics efforts coordinated approach, continue to work with the authorities to streamline the cargo clearance mechanism and ensure safe and secure access to Tigray and bordering areas. 
The UN estimates that 2.3 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance in Tigray, including 1.3 million additional people due to the conflict and over 950,000 people already there, including refugees. 
These figures are likely to change in the coming period as further information continues to become available. 

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic says that the three-day period to appeal provisional results of the presidential elections to the Constitutional Court ended yesterday. 
The Constitutional Court reportedly has until January 19th to examine the appeals and proclaim the election’s final results. 
The Mission continues its work to protect civilians and is deploying reinforcements to its Temporary Operating Base located in the town of Grimari, in the Ouaka Prefecture. This is happening as a coalition of armed groups, which includes UPC and Anti-Balaka, are continuing their attacks on Central African armed forces positions. Yesterday, in this area, some national security forces personnel as well as civilians have sought shelter at UN premises. 
In Bouar yesterday, peacekeepers and soldiers from the Central African Forces exchanged fire with armed elements prompting the displacement of hundreds of civilians. UN peacekeepers are continuing robust patrols in Bouar and other areas of deployment. 

And also from the Central African Republic, UNHCR says that violence and insecurity surrounding the elections forced over 30,000 people to flee into neighbouring Cameroon from the CAR. They also fled into Chad, the DRC, as well as the Republic of Congo. 
Most of them – that’s over 24,000 people - have crossed the Ubangui River into the DRC’s provinces of Bas Uele and North-Ubangui. 
UNHCR remains concerned about reports of human rights violations taking place inside the country and urges governments in all neighbouring countries to continue granting access to asylum and supporting local authorities by registering new arrivals. 

UGANDA 
The UN Human Rights Office is deeply concerned by the deteriorating human rights situation in Uganda ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for January 14th. 
Between the 18th and 20th of November, at least 54 people were killed during riots and protests in at least seven districts across the country over the arrest and detention of two opposition presidential candidates and members of the political opposition. 
The UN Human Rights Office called on authorities to protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to ensure a free and peaceful election that guarantees the right of the people of Uganda to participate in their country’s public affairs, including by taking measures to prevent instances of electoral violence.