HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 13 JUNE 2017
IN TURKMENISTAN, U.N. CHIEF CALLS FOR ACTION TO COMBAT VIOLENT EXTREMISM IN CENTRAL ASIA
- The Secretary-General is in Turkmenistan, where he participated in a high-level dialogue on implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy in Central Asia. He highlighted the acute and growing regional threat posed by terrorism and violent extremism in the region, with extremist organizations actively seeking to recruit citizens of Central Asia.
- He stressed that, as the threat of violent extremism grows around the world, it is critical to ensure that attempts to prevent or curtail violent extremism do not backfire. That means we need policies that are not only strong, but smart, the Secretary-General said, adding that policies that limit human rights only end up alienating religious and ethnic communities, who would normally have every interest in fighting extremism.
- And there is also a press release from our colleagues at the Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force Office with more details about the Declaration adopted today at the conclusion of the High-level Dialogue in Ashgabat.
MINE ACTION IS ACHIEVING RESULTS IN DIFFICULT ENVIRONMENTS AND MUST CONTINUE, U.N. OFFICIAL TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), Alexander Zouev, just briefed the Security Council on mine action. In his remarks he said that the threats posed by landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices exacerbate humanitarian crises and hinder emergency responses.
- Mr. Zouev said that mine action is achieving results in the most difficult operating environments, including Iraq, Mali, and South Sudan, and he added that the strong leadership and coordination role of the United Nations Mine Action Service underpins and advances these achievements. This was the first Security Council debate on mine action since 1996.
FAILURE TO IMPLEMENT CEASEFIRE IN EASTERN UKRAINE HAS LED TO ESCALATION OF HOSTILITIES – U.N. REPORT
- The latest UN human rights report on Ukraine says that parties to the conflict in the country’s east have repeatedly failed to implement ceasefire agreements, allowing hostilities to escalate and claim more lives as the fighting entered its fourth year.
- Covering the period from 16 February to 15 May, the new report recorded 36 deaths and 157 injuries, a nearly 50 per cent increase from the previous reporting period.
- It also says that from the start of the conflict in April 2014, more than 10,000 people have been killed, stressing that these are conservative estimates. More than 1.6 million people have fled their homes.
- The report also finds that the socio-economic deprivation in the east of the country has been deepening.
- And our humanitarian colleagues say that the conflict continues to detrimentally impact the lives of millions of people in eastern Ukraine.
- The shelling in Donetsk last month affected more than 70,000 people, with a hospital, homes and schools sustaining damage. The UN and its partners have stepped up their response efforts and support to authorities by providing constructional materials and other items.
U.N. EXTREMELY CONCERNED BY FOOD POISONING OUTBREAK IN CAMP HOUSING IRAQI REFUGEES
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that it is extremely concerned by the outbreak of food poisoning in a camp housing thousands of people who have fled the fighting in Iraq’s Mosul.
- UNHCR staff members have been working with other aid agencies and authorities to help the sick receive swift medical treatment, and extra clean water is being provided at the camp.
- UNHCR said that it is waiting for police investigations to understand the chain of events and to draw lessons from this tragic incident which will allow agencies to reinforce public health protocols to prevent such situations in the future.
U.N. FOOD AGENCY APPEALING FOR $172 MILLION TO ASSIST PEOPLE IN NIGERIA
- Our colleagues at the World Food Programme say they urgently need US$172 million for their operations in northeastern Nigeria as the lean season begins, driving up food prices, depleting the meagre resources of millions of people affected by conflict and intensifying hunger.
- In the hardest-hit states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, an estimated 5.2 million people are hungry; more than one-third of them are on the brink of famine, and tens of thousands are experiencing either outright famine or something very close to it. A funding shortfall has forced WFP to suspend plans to ramp up assistance during the June-August lean season. They now plan to reach only 1.36 million people monthly during this crucial period, down from previous target of 1.8 million.
- Even those receiving food, nutrition and cash assistance are getting less of it. WFP is helping only the very hungriest and most vulnerable. This is a brutal form of triage but the agency says that given adequate resources, it could do much more.
WITHOUT NEW FUNDING, U.N. AGENCY MAY BE FORCED TO SUSPEND FOOD ASSISTANCE FOR THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN GAZA
- Unless new funding quickly arrives, the World Food Programme (WFP) may be forced to suspend its voucher food assistance in July for nearly 150,000 people in Gaza and the West Bank, the majority of whom are women and children.
- At the same time as a major energy crisis is affecting the impoverished Gaza Strip.
- WFP urgently requires $6.6 million to provide food assistance through vouchers for the next three months to the poorest non-refugee families in Gaza and the West Bank.
- A disruption of WFP assistance would further undermine food security and deepen the dire living conditions of the poorest families, most of whom live on less than $3.20 per day. WFP has more information online.
JOINT U.N. – AFRICAN UNION MISSION PLEDGES TO SUPPORT HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE IN HORN OF AFRICA
- Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that participants in a joint UN-African Union mission wrapped up their Horn of Africa tour in Nairobi today with financial pledges to support the humanitarian response in the drought-hit region.
- During their trip, participants met with Government representatives, local authorities and humanitarian partners in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. The delegation visited Koracale camp in Ethiopia’s Somali region which hosts 200,000 displaced people in dire need of food and safe water to survive. In Somalia, they met with displaced families and toured a cholera treatment centre in Kabasa, a settlement housing 200,000 displaced persons in Gedo region.
- Ahmed al-Meraiki, the Humanitarian Envoy of the Secretary-General, said that the communities they visited in Somalia and Ethiopia expressed a deep desire to build their own resilience and not to rely on aid efforts indefinitely.
U.N. INFORMATION SOCIETY FORUM TO FOCUS ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS
- In Geneva, more than 2,500 information and communication technology (ICT) experts and advocates from around the globe are taking part this week in the World Summit on the Information Society Forum 2017 (WSIS Forum 2017).
- This year's forum will focus on sustainable development trends and inclusive ICT initiatives in areas such as health, education, gender empowerment, the environment, infrastructure and innovation.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY AND FC BARCELONA FOUNDATION JOIN FORCES TO SUPPORT REFUGEE CHILDREN
- Our colleagues at the UN Refugee Agency today announced a joint campaign with the Football Club Barcelona Foundation to rally support for refugee children.
- The campaign called #SignAndPass invites people to digitally sign a football online and then pass it to their friends via social media. By signing the ball, supporters add their name to UNHCR’s #WithRefugees petition calling on governments and fellow citizens to ensure refugees have a safe place to live, receive education ,and are able to work.
- FC Barcelona players Lionel Messi and Neymar Junior were the first to pledge their support for refugees and to join the campaign in an exclusive video.
- UNHCR and FC Barcelona Foundation are also holding a forum today to raise awareness of refugee around the world.
U.N. ALBINISM AWARENESS DAY HIGHLIGHTS DISCRIMINATION FACED BY PERSONS WITH ALBINISM
- Today is International Albinism Awareness Day.
- The Day highlights the plight of persons with albinism, who face stigma and discrimination in many countries because of their appearance.
- In some communities, erroneous beliefs and myths, heavily influenced by superstition, put the security and lives of persons with albinism at constant risk. These beliefs and myths are centuries old and are present in cultural attitudes and practices around the world.
- More information on the Day is available online and on social media by following the hashtag #NotGhosts.
FORMER PRESIDENT OF U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY, FATHER MIGUEL D’ESCOTO BROCKMANN OF NICARAGUA HAS PASSED AWAY
- The Permanent Mission of Nicaragua has informed Member States that Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, the former President of the General Assembly, passed away last week and a book of condolences is open for signing through Thursday at the Nicaraguan Mission. We offer our condolences to Father D’Escoto’s family and friends, and to the people and Government of Nicaragua, on their loss.
U.N. RIGHTS OFFICE CONCERNED OVER RISE IN LÈSE MAJESTÉ PROSECUTIONS IN THAILAND
- The UN Human Rights Office today expressed its concern over the rise in the number of lèse majesté prosecutions in Thailand since 2014 and the severity of the sentencing.
- The UN Human Rights Office says that while it appreciates the complexity and sensitivity of the issue surrounding lèse majesté in Thailand, it is deeply troubled by the high rate of prosecutions and the courts’ persistence in handing down disproportionate sentences for the offence.
- The Office stressed that all people have the right to freedom of expression, including when it comes to criticising public figures.