HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 9 JANUARY 2020
The Secretary-General spoke earlier today at the Security Council meeting on upholding the UN Charter. He told members of the Council that, unfortunately, the New Year has begun with fresh turmoil and long-standing suffering. Geopolitical tensions have reached dangerous levels, most recently in the Gulf, as well as from traditional military threats to the economy, to cyberspace. He added that conflicts that no one is winning grind on and on, from Libya, to Syria to Afghanistan and the Sahel.
The Secretary-General asserted that in a time of rapid transformation and technological change, the UN Charter’s values and objectives endure: the peaceful settlement of disputes; and equal rights of men and women; non-intervention, self-determination and the sovereign equality of Member States; and clear rules governing the use of force, as set out in Article 2, paragraph 4, and Chapter VII of the Charter.
He reminded the members of the Council that war is never inevitable; it is a matter of choice – and often the product of easy miscalculations. And he added that peace, too, is never inevitable; it is the product of hard work and we must never take it for granted.
Ghassan Salame, the Special Representative and head of the UN mission in Libya, welcomed the recent calls for a ceasefire in Libya by a number of countries and international and regional organisations, the most recent of which was the joint call yesterday by the Presidents of Turkey and the Russian Federation.
Mr. Salame urged international and Libyan parties to respond positively to these calls and cease all military operations across Libya immediately - to spare the country from further bloodshed and provide relief to its people who are suffering the woes of this war.
The Special Representative encourages the international community, especially countries concerned with the Libyan crisis, to seize the current momentum and push the Berlin Process forward in order to reach the international consensus.
Turning to Syria, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs remains deeply concerned about the safety and protection of over three million civilians in the area around Idlib, and over half of whom are internally displaced, following ongoing reports of airstrikes and artillery shelling.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recorded a total of 1,460 civilians who have been killed between April 29th of last year through January 5th of this year, due to military hostilities in the north-west of Syria. Of those killed, 417 were children and 289 were women.
More than 312,000 people have been displaced since the 2nd of December, mainly from southern Idlib, moving north, away from the hostilities.
Most of the recently displaced people moved to urban areas and camps for internally displaced people in northwestern Idlib, although tens of thousands have reportedly also moved [from] to Afrin and A’zaz in northern Aleppo Governorate in search of safety and access to services. About 80 per cent of the newly displaced are women and children.
We again urge all parties, and those with influence over those parties, to ensure the protection of civilians, and to allow sustained, unhindered access by all humanitarian parties to provide life-saving assistance to all who need it.
The UN peacekeeping Mission in Mali reports that this morning, several mortars and/or rockets were fired at its camp in Tessalit, in the Kidal region. The UN mission shares the camp with Malian and international forces.
Initial reports indicate that 18 UN peacekeepers from Chad were wounded, including six who have suffered serious injuries.
We wish them a speedy recovery.
The Mission immediately organized medical evacuations and security reinforcements. We strongly condemn the attack that took place on the camp.
In Nigeria, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the UN and its partners are working with community organizations to help families affected by recent armed attacks targeting communities in the Michika and Madagali Local Government Areas in Adamawa State.
While most civilians who had fled to the mountainside in Adamawa and to neighbouring Borno State following the attacks on January 2nd have returned to their homes, hundreds of people could possibly still be displaced.
As a reminder, the Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria for 2019 requested $848 million to help 6.2 million people and was 66 per cent funded. In 2020, we are asking for $789 million to assist 5.7 million people.
In Sudan, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, and the Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, visited Kauda in South Kordofan today.
This marks a new milestone in the gradual expansion of humanitarian access in contested areas of Sudan.
Mr. Beasley had used his good offices to facilitate the first visit of Sudanese officials to non-governmental-controlled areas in South Kordofan in more than nine years.
Today’s visit comes on the heels of Mr. Beasley’s missions to Kauda and Yabus in Blue Nile state, signaling access of aid workers to conflict-torn areas which had been cut off from humanitarian assistance since 2011. This follows commitments made by the Sudanese Government to allow unfettered humanitarian access.
In the Philippines, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF are continuing to help the Government vaccinate nearly half a million children under 10 in remote islands against polio.
And regarding China, the World Health Organization (WHO) said today that Chinese authorities have preliminarily determined that there is a new coronavirus, which was identified in a person with pneumonia in a hospital in Wuhan, in China.
Following tests, the authorities have ruled out SARS, and MERS, as well as influenza and avian flu and other common respiratory pathogens.
WHO is continuing to closely monitor the situation and, together with its partners, is ready to provide technical support to China to investigate this outbreak and respond.
And WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travelers and advises against any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available.
World Food Prices
The food price index from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) states that food prices around the world are at their highest levels in five years.
According to FAO, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of food commodities - in December, prices rose for the third consecutive month.
Vegetable oil, sugar, dairy and cereals were among the commodities driving world food prices up.