HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 12 APRIL 2019
The Secretary-General is shocked at today’s attack in Quetta, in Pakistan. He strongly condemns this cowardly act and extends his condolences to the families of the victims and the Government and people of Pakistan. He wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
The United Nations expresses its full solidarity with the Government of Pakistan in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the first-ever United Nations Model UN Summit.
Addressing students between the ages of 15 and 24, he noted that there are three main challenges that we must address: climate change, inequality, as well as xenophobia and hate speech.
Emphasizing the importance of diversity, the Secretary-General stressed that it is the youth who must address these issues, given that his generation has failed to do so.
The goal of today’s Summit is to get young people thinking about how to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals into their Model UN conferences and take real action to help implement the Goals in their communities.
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at an event to mark the 25th Anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda.
Expressing his solidarity with the people of Rwanda, he honoured those who were murdered and reflected on the suffering and resilience of those who survived.
The Secretary-General noted that while the capacity for evil resides in all societies, so too, do the qualities of understanding, kindness, justice and reconciliation. Rwanda’s experience, he added, holds so many lessons for humanity.
The Secretary-General commended Rwanda for its exemplary role in the international community; the country is today the fourth-largest contributor to UN peacekeeping, is a pioneer in environmental sustainability, and – having suffered unspeakable gender-violence – Rwandan women now hold 60 percent of the seats in the parliament.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, is in Washington today for the World Bank-International Monetary Fund meeting.
She told a breakfast meeting on financing for education that 263 million children are out of school, and 617 million children and adolescents lack even minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. We must act urgently if we are to uphold our promise to leave no one behind, she said.
In the coming hour, she will speak at a ministerial lunch on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), called, “Building Bridges: An Open Dialogue on Financing for Development”. She will also discuss what will it take to unlock private investments for the SDGs.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
On the Central African Republic, a joint high-level mission of the African Union, United Nations and the European Union, composed of the AU Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and the European External Action Service Managing Director for Africa, Koen Vervaeke, will visit the Central African Republic from 14 to 18 April.
The objective of the mission is to support the Central African parties in the initial phase of implementation of the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation, which was signed in Bangui [on April 6 -] on February 6, excuse me.
The delegation will hold meetings with the President, the Prime Minister as well as the President of the National Assembly in Bangui. They will also meet with representatives of political parties, civil society as well as the guarantors and facilitators of the Political Agreement.
The delegation will participate in a meeting of the International Support Group for the Central African Republic on 17 April, aimed at strengthening the support of the international community around the implementation of the Agreement.
We are continuing to closely monitor developments on the ground in Libya, as fighting continues on the outskirts of Tripoli, with reports of increased use of heavy artillery. We are concerned about the impact of these clashes on the already difficult living conditions of ordinary Libyans.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Libya, Ghassan Salame, and his team, continue to work in Tripoli and they are having intensive outreach to national and international actors to seek to urgently de-escalate the situation. The Special Representative and his team also met today with mayors from conflict-affected areas to discuss the humanitarian situation, including ways in which the UN can assist civilians trapped in those areas.
The fighting is also impacting the economic situation, with increasing cash withdrawals from banks and the hoarding of goods anticipated to exacerbate the liquidity shortages and high commodity prices.
Our humanitarian colleagues say almost 10,000 people have now fled their homes in areas affected by the ongoing fighting in and around the Libyan capital.
Local evacuation teams have received requests to move some 3,800 people to safer areas, but only 550 people have been evacuated so far due to access restrictions caused by hostilities.
Health partners have verified 17 civilian casualties so far, with seven fatalities, including three medical staff. At least five ambulances have been hit since the onset of the conflict.
We continue to call for a humanitarian pause to allow people to safely evacuate and emergency services to get through, and for all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. Medical facilities, medical personnel and medical transport must be respected and protected at all times.
The arrest and detention by the Tunisian authorities of Moncef Kartas, a member of the Security Council Sanctions Panel of Experts on Libya, while he was performing his official functions is a matter of very grave concern.
We are aware that as of yesterday, 11 April, Mr. Kartas was brought before an investigative judge and understand that the judge has decided to continue the detention of Mr. Kartas. The continued detention is in violation of the privileges and immunities that Mr. Kartas enjoys, which are held in the interests of the United Nations. Mr. Kartas is an expert on mission for the UN and enjoys specific privileges and immunities under Article VI, Section 22 of the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the UN. The procedure for addressing his immunity is clearly spelled out in the Convention.
Since 29 March, we have sought to engage with the Government of Tunisia, including through 4 successive Notes Verbales that explained our legal position and invited the Government to share relevant information with the United Nations regarding the basis for his arrest and continued detention. We are very concerned that, to date, the Government has failed to provide an adequate response in line with the international legal obligations under the Convention.
A United Nations official has visited Mr. Kartas in detention to ascertain his health and wellbeing and will seek to do so periodically. Mr. Kartas has legal representation with whom the UN is in close contact.
We have engaged with the Government at the highest levels and will continue to urgently seek constructive engagement by the Government of Tunisia on this very serious matter.
CENTRAL EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND
The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, yesterday approved the allocation of $125 million from the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) – that’s the largest-ever allocation in the Fund’s history – for 13 emergencies.
The UN and its partners will use these funds to help more than 9 million people in Cameroon, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Haiti, Honduras, Madagascar, Niger, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine, and the occupied Palestinian territory.
Mr. Lowcock also released $26.5 million to help 800,000 people affected by a worsening economic situation and food insecurity across seven states in Sudan for six months.
Najat Rochdi, the Senior Humanitarian Adviser to Geir Pedersen, the UN Special Envoy for Syria, convened a meeting of the Humanitarian Task Force in Geneva today. She said that the group was deeply concerned about reports over the past weeks on the intensification of military activities in Idlib. She said that since February, 106,000 people have fled their homes and at least 190 people have been killed as a direct result of increased military clashes and attacks.
She added that the Task Force remains concerned about the welfare of the tens of thousands of internally displaced people in the Al Hol camp in northeast Syria.
This Sunday, 14 April, will mark one month since Cyclone Idai made landfall in southern Africa.
Our humanitarian colleagues say that in Zimbabwe, at least 299 deaths have been reported, and 329 people have been reported missing, according to the government.
The livelihoods of more than 270,000 people have been affected, with 4,000 households displaced.
In Mozambique, 1.85 million people are in need of assistance, with over 73,000 people in collective sites. The official death toll remains at 602 people.
An Oral Cholera Vaccination campaign has been completed, with 803,125 people vaccinated.
In Malawi, more than 730,000 are in need of assistance. UN agencies and partners have provided some 90,000 households with assistance including food, water and sanitation, health, nutrition, shelter and protection.
Funding towards the revised Humanitarian Response Plan, which calls for US$337.2 million, including $282 million for the Cyclone Idai response, is just over 22 percent funded.
Carlos Ruiz Massieu, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Colombia, briefed the Security Council this morning and he noted that recent weeks have been dominated by divisive debates regarding transitional justice, a contentious issue in most peace processes.
He told Council Members that we continue to stress the Secretary-General’s call for prompt action by all concerned to ensure that a Statutory Law consistent with the Peace Agreement is put in place as soon as possible.