HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 9 JANUARY 2019

 

APPOINTMENT
Today, the Secretary-General appointed Ján Kubiš of Slovakia as his new Special Coordinator for Lebanon.
Mr. Kubiš succeeds Acting Special Coordinator Pernille Dahler Kardel of Denmark, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her dedication and leadership of UNSCOL.
Mr. Kubiš, who served as the Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq from 2015 to 2018, brings with him many years of experience in diplomacy, foreign security policy, and international economic relations, both internationally and in his own country.
 
YEMEN
Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, briefed the Security Council this morning on the follow-up to the Stockholm Agreement between the Yemeni parties. He said that both sides have largely adhered to the ceasefire agreed to in Stockholm on the Hodeidah governorate and there has been a significant decrease in violence since then. This relative calm indicates the tangible benefits of the Stockholm Agreement for the people of Yemen, he added.
He noted the work being done by the team led by Gen. Patrick Cammaert, which has been rapidly deployed in Hodeidah. The activation of the Redeployment Coordination Committee is very welcome, Mr. Griffiths said, urging both parties to work in good faith with Gen. Cammaert’s team. He also discussed efforts to achieve progress on prisoner exchanges and addressing the situation in Taiz.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock briefed Council members on the humanitarian situation in Yemen. He said the situation remains catastrophic, with 24 million people – or 80 per cent of the population – needing humanitarian assistance.  He said that millions of Yemenis are hungrier, sicker and more vulnerable now than they were a year ago, but he also said that the World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding assistance so that it can soon reach 12 million people a month. Agencies are also preparing for large-scale returns to Hodeidah as and when conditions allow.
The Security Council members have moved into the consultations room to continue their discussion on Yemen.
 
MADAGASCAR
Yesterday a statement was issued on the situation on Madagascar on the elections. The Secretary-General noted the announcement of the final results of the presidential election as done by the High Constitutional Court of Madagascar. The Secretary-General congratulates President-elect Andry Rajoelina. He also commended all stakeholders for the peaceful and orderly conclusion of the presidential elections.
The Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) and the High Court (HCC), civil society and religious leaders, as well as the leadership of the Government, should also be commended for being part of this historic milestone.
The Secretary-General will continue to follow developments in the country through his Special Adviser, Mr. Abdoulaye Bathily, with the support of the UN Country Team, and in close coordination with the African Union, the Southern African Development Community and other international partners. The UN remains fully committed to supporting the Government and the people of Madagascar and the constitution in the consolidation of democracy, human rights and sustainable development.
 
SYRIA
The United Nations remains concerned by reports that civilians, including women, children and medical workers, have been killed and injured due to ongoing intense hostilities between non-state armed groups in the northwest part of the country since late December. Recent fighting has been reported in northern Hama and in the southern part of Idleb governorate. 
There are indications that some of the fighting between these non-state armed groups has taken place near the sites of internally displaced people, with reports that some displaced people, as well as other civilians, have been forced to flee to other areas. The violence is also reported to have affected several medical facilities.
The humanitarian situation in the northwest of the country has been further complicated by severe weather, including flooding in several areas and increasingly cold weather. Flooding is estimated to have affected some 23,000 internally displaced people, with more than 3,000 temporary shelters damaged or destroyed due to the flooding.
The UN continues to strongly urge all parties to take all feasible precautions to avoid harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities, and this to facilitate humanitarian access to people in need, in line with their obligations under international law.
 
POLIO
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that while on a four-day visit to Pakistan and Afghanistan this week, the Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros, highlighted the organization’s full support for their final push to eradicate polio. Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only two countries where wild poliovirus cases were reported last year.
Dr. Tedros also commended the governments of both countries for their efforts to provide universal access to health services. He met with the Heads of State and senior government officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan and visited a number of WHO-supported health projects.
As recently as 30 years ago, wild poliovirus paralyzed more than 350,000 children in 125 countries every year; last year, there were fewer than 30 reported cases – as mentioned both of those cases were in either in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
 
REFUGEES
The UN Refugee Agency today welcomed the safe disembarkation in Malta of 49 people on board the Sea Watch 3 and Sea Eye passengers vessels.
In a statement, they commended the Maltese authorities for having provided safe port and the decision of the eight European States to receive the migrants. It also commended the European Commission for their role in coordinating the response with Member States.