HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 13 JANUARY 2020
The Secretary-General is in France today, where he is about to attend a working dinner hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron along with the leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, otherwise known as the G5 Sahel countries.
The dinner, held in the city of Pau, aims to address the crisis in the Sahel by strengthening the international engagement and collaboration on security, governance, humanitarian and development issues.
The European Union’s Josep Borrell, Charles Michel of the European Council, the African Union’s Moussa Faki and Louise Mushikiwabo, of the International Organization of the Francophonie are also attending the dinner.
On Saturday, the Secretary-General was in Portugal, where he took part in the ceremony to mark Lisbon’s designation as the 2020 European Green Capital.
In his remarks, he said humanity had been waging a quote “suicidal war” against nature and emphasized that 2020 should be the year to tackle climate change.
The Secretary-General will be travelling back to New York tomorrow morning.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Colombia, Carlos Ruiz Massieu, briefed Security Council members. He said that last year, Colombia continued making significant strides in the peace process.
Mr. Ruiz Massieu stressed that these hard-won gains must be protected and built upon through the comprehensive implementation of the Peace Agreement, and he encouraged parties to deepen their dialogue to be able to implement this Agreement.
Regarding the recent violence in some communities, Mr. Ruiz Massieu said peace will not be fully achieved if the voices of social leaders continue to be silenced and if former combatants who laid down their weapons and are committed to their reintegration continue to be killed. He called for the perpetrators of these attacks to be brought to justice, and for more effective measures to protect these people and their communities.
The United Nations remain deeply concerned about the safety and protection of 3 million civilians in Idlib in northwest Syria, over half of whom are internally displaced, following continued reports of airstrikes and shelling over the weekend.
While a ceasefire that went into effect on 12 January has reportedly resulted in a degree of calm, intensive airstrikes on 11 January in towns in the area reportedly resulted in the deaths of 21 people, including eight children and five women, and the destruction of civilian infrastructure. Dozens more people were injured, many of them were women and children.
The UN urges all parties, and those with influence over those parties, to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
The humanitarian operation in Yemen remains the largest in the world, with 24 million people - about 80 per cent of the population - in need of life-saving support.
About 7.4 million people need nutrition assistance, including 2.1 million children under the age of five, and 1.1 million pregnant and breastfeeding women who need acute malnutrition treatment.
As of January 8th, almost 861,000 suspected cholera cases had been reported since 2019, impacting 324 of Yemen’s 333 districts.
Some 3.6 million people are internally displaced, with nearly 400,000 newly displaced in 2019 alone.
Today, the Security Council renewed the mandate of the UN Mission in support of the Hudaydah agreement for a further 6 months.
We are in touch with the Government of the Philippines, which is leading the response to the Taal volcano eruption in the Calabarzon region, some 70 kilometres south of the capital Manila.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that 18,000 people have taken shelter in evacuation centres, with the number expected to rise.
OCHA, along with the UN Migration Agency, IOM, have teams in the field providing technical advice to the Government. These teams will visit evacuation centres and review the needs in support of the Philippines’ authorities.
OCHA commends the Government’s swift assistance to the those affected by the volcanic eruption. The UN’s Humanitarian Country Team stands ready to provide additional support as needed or requested.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said today it is working with officials in Thailand and China after reports that the new coronavirus was confirmed in a person in Thailand.
The person traveled to Thailand from Wuhan, China, and is now recovering from their illness.
WHO says the case being identified in another country reinforces why the agency is calling for onging active monitoring and preparedness.
WHO has guidance on how to detect and treat people who are ill with the new virus. China has shared genetic sequencing, which allows countries to rapidly diagnose patients.
WHO also stresses that it is essential that investigations continue in China to identify the outbreak.
Dr. Tedros, the WHO Director-General, will consult with members of WHO’s Emergency Committee.
And yesterday, Haiti marked the 10th anniversary of the earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people, including 102 of our own UN colleagues.
In Port-au-Prince, at 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon, UN staff gathered for a ceremony at the site of the Christopher Hotel – the former headquarters of the peacekeeping mission, which as you will recall, collapsed during the earthquake.
In a press statement issued on behalf of the UN Country Team, Helen La Lime, the head of the UN Political mission, said that “while we honour the victims, the commemoration of this tragic event must also be a source of renewed engagement and a call to unite behind a vision of a stable, democratic, inclusive and prosperous Haiti.”
She reiterated the UN’s continued commitment to support the population and leaders of Haiti to fulfill these aspirations.
As we mentioned on Friday, there will be other events to mark the anniversary throughout the week. In Tunis, today, the UN inaugurated the Hedi Annabi hall – honoring the memory of the former head of the UN mission, who perished in the earthquake. Mr. Annabi was also a longtime Assistant Secretary-General for peacekeeping operations.
Commemorations are also planned in Geneva, on Wednesday, and the Secretary-General will host a commemoration here event, on Friday.
Over the weekend, we issued a statement saying that the Secretary-General was concerned about increased tensions in Western Sahara as the Africa Eco Race was about to cross Guerguerat. The Secretary-General calls on all actors to exercise maximum restraint and to defuse any tensions.
We also issued a statement in which the Secretary-General extended his profound condolences to the Royal family, the Government and people of Oman on the passing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said. The Sultan led Oman for 50 years and spearheaded the transformation of Oman into a prosperous and stable country.
Security Council report
The Security Council Affairs Division has come out with the latest edition of its online flagship publication – 2019 Highlights of Security Council Practice.
This year’s edition has been published in a brand-new platform, leveraging new technologies and visual design, as well as an expanded scope of data to enhance user interactivity and engagement. This year’s edition includes data on the meetings of the Security Council dating back to 1946.
The report is now available through the website of the Security Council affairs.
This morning, we were advised by the comptroller of the United Nations that Lebanon has just made a payment. With this payment, Lebanon’s voting rights have been fully restored under article 19.