HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 09 NOVEMBER 2021
Speaking to a high-level meeting of the Security Council on exclusion, inequality and conflicts, the Secretary-General first reminded all Council members that for the poorest and most vulnerable people, the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified misery and inequalities.
Exclusion and inequalities of all kinds, he added, come with a devastating toll to security.
The Secretary-General said that as we face the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, a dangerous sense of impunity is taking hold —seen in the recent seizures of power by force, including military coups.
Peace has never been more urgent, Mr. Guterres said, but humanitarian funding, assistance and conflict management tools — the very kind that the UN provides around the world — are all under tremendous strain.
In his remarks, he also outlined a roadmap to promote inclusion, built around four key pathways: people, prevention, gender and institutions.
In every society, diversity of culture, religion and ethnicity should be viewed as a powerful benefit, rather than a threat. Without full inclusion and equality, he concluded, peace is a job half done.
Also today, the Secretary-General met with H.E. Mr. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, President of Mexico. The Secretary-General thanked Mexico for its support to the work of the Organization, including as an elected member of the Security Council.
The Secretary-General and the President discussed the impact of economic inequality and corruption on development and peace, as well as efforts to address climate change and the global economic recovery from COVID-19.
On Ethiopia, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, wrapped up a four-day visit to the country yesterday. He met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen.
Mr. Griffiths also met with the African Union’s High Representative for the Horn of Africa, former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Mr. Griffiths also held talks with representatives of non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, donors and Member States.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator also made a one-day visit to Mekelle, in Tigray.
While in Ethiopia, Mr. Griffiths addressed challenges related to the suspension of the UN Humanitarian Air Service flights; the availability of fuel, cash and supplies; the bureaucratic impediments, including visas for humanitarian staff; and the treatment of humanitarian personnel.
He stressed that we, along with its partners, will continue to work with the Government of Ethiopia and with local and international partners to support millions of people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance across the country.
The funding gap for the humanitarian response plan for Ethiopia in 2021 stands at more than $1.3 billion.
Yesterday, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, told the Security Council in the afternoon that there must be an immediate cessation of hostilities in Ethiopia.
In response to questions about detained UN staff in Ethiopia, I can tell you that the current numbers are that 16 national staff have been detained, while 6 have been released. We are actively working with the government to secure their immediate release.
Today, a three-member Panel of Electoral Experts began deploying in Venezuela. The Panel will undertake an independent technical assessment of the electoral system in the context of the 21 November regional and municipal elections, which will take place in Venezuela. The Panel will remain in the country until shortly after polling day. Panel members will meet with a wide range of political and civil society actors, as well as electoral authorities and experts.
This type of electoral assistance has been provided by the UN in the past to other countries upon their request. Unlike UN electoral observation missions, which require a specific mandate by the Security Council or the General Assembly, the Panels of Electoral Experts do not issue evaluative public statements on the overall conduct of the electoral process or their results.
The Panel will however provide an internal report to the Secretary-General with recommendations to strengthen future election processes. At the discretion of the Secretary-General, recommendations formulated by the Panel may be transmitted back to national authorities.
The members of the Panel of Experts all have extensive electoral experience working for the United Nations in other contexts.
On Niger, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Mahamat Annadif, expressed his solidarity with the families of the victims, the Government and the people of Niger following the horrendous fire that took place in a school in Maradi, where more than 20 children died.
The UN Children’ Fund (UNICEF) also expressed its sadness, noting it will
continue to work with the national authorities and partners across the country to ensure that children can attend school and learn in safe environments.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said that since Sunday night, at least 11,000 people have fled fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo and sought refuge across the border into Uganda.
This is the largest refugee influx of people in a single day in more than one year. The vast majority of those who crossed the border are women and children.
Working in coordination with local authorities, UNHCR has already relocated about 500 asylum seekers to the nearby Nyakabande transit centre, which can accommodate up to 1,500 people.
The agency is also concerned that local capacity and services may be soon overwhelmed and they are requesting urgent resources to address the needs of the new arrivals.
From South Sudan, the World Food Programme (WFP) is ramping up its support for people affected by the third consecutive year of record floods in the country.
The flooding could potentially swallow up large swaths of farmland and pastures, destroy crops, and drown livestock and entire villages.
More than 750,000 people in 31 counties across eight states have been affected by the floods. For example, nearly 90 percent of Unity state is under water,
WFP says the climate emergency is very real in South Sudan, causing unspeakable suffering, destroying people’s livelihoods and pushing them deeper into poverty and hunger.
It is reaching 300,000 people with food and nutrition assistance and needs $568 million for the next six months to maintain its operations.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), along with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) today said that they are alarmed by the latest reports from the Belarus-Poland border. The two Agencies said that yesterday, reports surfaced of a large group of migrants and refugees, among them women and children, on the Belarusian side of the border moving towards the international border crossing with Poland - named “Bruzgi”. They allegedly settled in a makeshift camp in the vicinity of the border overnight.
The two Agencies have been in contact with both governments and are calling for an urgent resolution of the situation and immediate and unhindered access to the group of people seeking help.
With several tragic deaths recorded in the border area in recent weeks, UNHCR and IOM remind states of the imperative to prevent further loss of life and ensure the humane treatment of migrants and refugees as the highest priority.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that it is deeply concerned about the dire situation by the asylum-seeking children in Europe and at its borders. UNICEF said that reports of children living in appalling conditions, being pushed back or detained at the eastern borders of the European Union are shocking and a direct violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
SECRETARY-GENERAL/WOMAN POLICE OFFICER OF THE YEAR
This afternoon, the 11th UN Woman Police Officer of the Year will be awarded to Superintendent Sangya Malla of Nepal. She currently serves with our peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Secretary-General will address the ceremony by video message and will recall how Superintendent Malla helped establish - and now leads - the Mission’s Health and Environment Unit. This unit promotes the safety and welfare of our peacekeepers by mitigating the risks from COVID-19 and other threats.
HYBRID PRESS BRIEFING TOMORROW
Tomorrow at 11 a.m., there will be a hybrid briefing sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Spain entitled “Multilateralism must deliver: Club de Madrid's contributions to the OCA”. Speakers will be Danilo Türk, the President of Club de Madrid, and Danilo and Yves Leterme, a member of Club de Madrid.