HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 12 OCTOBER 2016
IMPACT OF HURRICANE UNDERSCORES NEED TO EXTEND U.N. MISSION IN HAITI – U.N. ENVOY
- Yesterday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Haiti, Sandra Honoré, told the Security Council that the impact of Hurricane Matthew on the political process and on stability in the country can only serve to reconfirm the recommendation of the Secretary-General for a six-month extension, at the current force and police strength, until 15 April 2017.
- She said that the health impact of this disaster cannot be overestimated, in a country where water and sanitation infrastructure, already fragile, has been severely damaged.
- The United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH)’s civilian and uniformed personnel and capacities are being put to full use in support of the humanitarian efforts, by opening up access to roads, providing airlift and supporting the Haitian National Police in securing humanitarian workers and stocks, among other tasks.
- The Deputy Special Representative for MINUSTAH, Mr. Mourad Wahba, who also serves as Humanitarian Coordinator, will brief via telephone after this briefing.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF TALKS BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND REBEL GROUP IN COLOMBIA
- In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General welcomes the announcement that the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) will begin formal negotiations on 27 October, in Quito, Ecuador, following more than two years of exploratory conversations. This is a source of encouragement to the Colombian people and all those involved in supporting a peaceful and comprehensive end to conflict.
- The Secretary-General hopes the Government and the ELN will work with determination to reach a sustainable peace agreement as soon as possible. He commends the governments of Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Norway and Venezuela for accompanying this process.
U.N. RELIEF WING APPALLED BY UPSURGE IN VIOLENCE IN ALEPPO, SYRIA
- In response to questions, the Spokesman informed that Ali al-Zaatari arrived in Damascus a few days ago and that, as of today, he has been fully accredited by the Government of Syria as the new Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the country.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said they are appalled by the brutal upsurge in violence and relentless bombardment in eastern Aleppo in recent weeks. Some 275,000 civilians there remain trapped, including more than 100,000 children.
- Today, the Office has received reports of an attack on a food market in the Al-Ferdous area of eastern Aleppo, which has resulted in dozens of casualties and injuries.
- The Office once again calls for an end to the fighting and for the parties to cease attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in line with international legal obligations.
- The UN and its partners are ready to provide urgently needed assistance to the trapped population as soon as the situation allows.
- UNICEF deplores yesterday’s attack on a primary school in the Syrian city of Daraa which killed five children between the ages of four and 16 and also injured 15 other children. UNICEF says that the conflict in Syria has plummeted to such lows that children are now risking their lives just to attend school.
U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLENCE ACROSS THE COUNTRY
- The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) is extremely concerned over increased reports of violence and armed conflict in various parts of the country in the last few weeks.
- The peacekeeping force in Leer town has reported heavy artillery and gunfire exchanges between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA in Opposition. These reportedly led to several deaths and the continued displacement of the civilian population. The UN Mission has also received continued reports of clashes in the Equatorias. Attacks by unidentified armed men have been reported on a civilian convoy travelling from Yei to Juba, leading to the death of over 20 people. The Mission is yet to be granted access to these areas to verify the reports on the ground.
- The peacekeeping Mission condemns these acts of violence and attacks against non-combatant civilians, and reiterates its urgent call for an immediate and complete cessation of hostilities. It reminds all parties that such attacks may constitute serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity and war crimes.
PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC REINFORCES PRESENCE IN KAGA BANDORO AFTER VIOLENT INCIDENTS
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) today reports a serious incident in Kaga Bandoro, where UN peacekeepers took action to protect civilians, including by exchanging fire with ex-Seleka fighters. This morning a large number of armed ex-Seleka gathered near the internally displaced persons’ camp in the town and began firing at civilians and peacekeepers. In support of their protection of civilians mandate, UN peacekeepers returned fire, resulting in ex-Seleka retreating from the area. The confrontation follows a series of ex-Seleka shootings overnight.
- No peacekeepers were wounded but an unconfirmed number of ex-Seleka fatalities and casualties are reported and the UN Mission has evacuated several injured civilians to its local hospital. The UN Mission further reports that internally displaced people have taken refuge near the UN camp in Kaga Bandoro. The peacekeeping force has reinforced its presence while maintaining a robust posture in the area.
- Peacekeepers also reinforced patrols in Koui after clashes between armed groups yesterday. 200 people have sought refuge in UN facilities.
U.N. MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN CONDEMNS ATTACK ON KABUL MOSQUE
- The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today condemned yesterday’s attack on a Kabul mosque that killed at least 18 civilians and injured more than 50 other people, calling it an atrocity.
- An attacker wearing a uniform of the Afghan security forces opened fire on a congregation in a Shia mosque on the eve of Ashura, the Shia day of remembrance.
- Among those killed were four women and two children.
- The Mission stressed that international humanitarian law prohibits deliberate attacks against civilians and civilian property, including places of worship, and places a specific obligation on parties to enable religious personnel to carry out their work.
UNDERNUTRITION NEGATIVELY AFFECTS ECONOMY IN CHAD - REPORT
- The World Food Programme today issued a new study showing the toll of undernutrition on the economy of Chad. It says the country is losing 9.5% of its Gross Domestic Product to the effects of child undernutrition.
- The study reveals that 56.4 percent of adults suffered from stunting as children, which represents more than 3.4 million people of working age who are not able to achieve their full potential.
- The study emphasizes that Africa - and Chad in particular - has the potential to reap a demographic dividend from a young, educated and skilled work force. But this potential can only be harnessed if the gains of early investments in the health and nutrition of its people, particularly its women and children, are maintained.
REGIONAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT FOR EASTERN EUROPE, TURKEY AND CENTRAL ASIA LAUNCHED TODAY
- The regional Human Development Report for Eastern Europe, Turkey and Central Asia was launched today in Brussels.
- It finds that the advantages of the region’s largely post-socialist heritage – which left relatively equal distributions of income and access to social services – are being lost.
- The report notes that concerns about inequalities, in terms of income and wealth, but also equality before the law, seem to be on the rise in many countries.
- The guest at the Noon Briefing tomorrow will be Under-Secretary-general Yukio Takasu, who will speak to the press following his briefing to the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee on the Organization’s financial situation.
- At 1 p.m. tomorrow, there will be a press briefing by Benyam Dawit Mezmur, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, who will speak to the press following his briefing to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.