HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2020
SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVELS TO PAKISTAN
Starting this weekend, the Secretary-General will be in Pakistan. He will be arriving on Sunday in Islamabad, and will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan, Foreign Minister Hussain Qureshi and he will also speak at an event on sustainable development and climate change. That is all on Sunday.
On Monday, the Secretary-General will speak at the International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan. That event is being organized by the Government of Pakistan as well as UNHCR. The Secretary-General, along with the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Foreign Minister, will also hold a press event.
He will also meet with the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, on Monday.
And on Tuesday, he will be in Lahore, where he will meet with students and attend an event on Pakistan’s polio vaccination campaign. He will also travel to Kartarpur to visit a holy site, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
The Secretary-General will be back in New York on Wednesday.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVEL
The Deputy Secretary-General will be travelling to London from the 15th to the 17th of February 2020, to meet with the UK leadership team preparing the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), which is scheduled for late November in Glasgow.
On the 17th, she will travel to Brussels, to meet with the newly appointed EU leadership, also on Climate and International Partnership
And she will be back in New York on 19th.
Overnight hostilities have continued across most of Idleb and Aleppo, especially in Idleb City, Sarmin and Atareb. Over 830,000 people have now been displaced since the beginning of December, and that includes 143,000 displacements of people in the last three days.
Women and children are among those that are suffering the most - they make up about 81 per cent of the recently displaced people.
Temperatures across the northwest Syria have been below freezing for several days, leaving families exposed to increasingly harsh conditions.
Humanitarian needs are increasing exponentially. The ongoing emergency compounds the already dire humanitarian situation for people in the northwest, who have been made vulnerable by years of crisis, violence, economic downturn and, of course, multiple displacements.
Shelter is the most urgent need, as millions of people have been pushed into small areas not equipped to support so many people, especially during the cold winter.
As of Tuesday of this week, some 72 health facilities have reportedly suspended operations in the impacted areas of Idleb and Aleppo. And that’s due to insecurity, the movement of civilians and other operational requirements. Those 72 facilities had the capacity to assist, on average, 106,000 outpatient cases per month.
We continue to scale up the response, along with our humanitarian partners to support all people in need, including in the provision of emergency food assistance, medical support and temporary shelter. The growing needs on the ground, however, continue to exceed the capacity of our humanitarian partners to deliver.
Also, just a note from the World Food Programme in Syria. They say they, of course are continuing to provide emergency food assistance to people in the northwest, but escalating hostilities this week have caused a 24-hour break in distributions. Fighting disrupted the movement of trucks carrying supplies into the region from Turkey.
WFP has prepositioned food inside the area to support growing needs. In December, they had launched an immediate response operation to provide food to all those displaced. Since January, they managed to provide ready-to-eat food rations to more than 300,000 displaced people. This food can be eaten without cooking and is light to carry, so it supports families as they move from towns to camps in search of safety and shelter.
In addition, WFP partners have distributed monthly food assistance to nearly 900,000 people.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In the Central African Republic, fighting has broken out again yesterday, about fifteen kilometers outside of Birao, in the country’s northeast.
In a joint statement, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States and the UN Mission in the country have condemned the violence and remind the armed groups involved that this is a flagrant violation of the Peace Agreement, to which they are signatories.
They call on the armed groups to immediately abandon their attempts to attack the city of Birao and to avoid any act that could lead to an unjustified escalation.
The head of the Mission, Mankeur Ndiaye, asked the armed groups involved in the violence to immediately begin negociations for a ceasefire.
The UN mission reports that this morning, the village of Ogossagou, in the Mopti region, the village was attacked, claiming the lives of many villagers and leaving several wounded. Houses were also burned.
The UN Mission has deployed a rapid reaction force to the scene and provided air support to prevent further attacks and to evacuate the wounded.
The Head of the Mission, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, strongly condemned the attack and noted the urgent need to break the spiral of violence in the region.
He has also reiterated the UN readiness to support the Malian government in its investigation and to appease the situation.
And we have been keeping you updated on the locust situation. And today, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that Kenya is currently experiencing its worst Desert Locust infestation in 70 years. It is also the worst that Somalia and Ethiopia have experienced in 25 years.
Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda and Tanzania are also experiencing swarm activity and locust breeding, while the risk of spread to South Sudan is high.
Left unchecked, and with expected additional rains, the scale of the locust upsurge could grow 500 times by June. This would have a devastating impact on food security and livelihoods in the affected countries with knock-on effects on health, nutrition, education and protection.
Humanitarian needs are also high in the affected and high-risk countries, with millions of people already severely food insecure.
As a result, more funding is urgently needed so that control operations can be massively scaled up.
So far, only $20 million of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s appeal for $76 million has been pledged.
The speed of the locust spread and the size of the infestations are beyond the norm and have stretched the capacities of local and national authorities to the limit. The window to contain the crisis is closing. We only have until March to bring this infestation under control- and that is when the rain and planting season begins.
Taking swift action now will cost the international community far less than waiting to respond to a complex, expensive crisis in several months’ time.
At the Security Council, Rosine Sori-Coulibaly, the head of the UN mission in Guinea-Bissau said that ahead of the reconfiguration of the UN presence in the country, with the Mission working towards its exit at the end of the year, we have a collective responsibility to safeguard the democratic and peacebuilding dividends.
Guinea-Bissau needs to remain high on the agenda of the regional and international community – including the peacebuilding commission.
Turning to the current developments in the country, Ms. Sori-Coulibaly said that despite the challenges to the outcome of the presidential election, Guinea-Bissau should be commended for completing its electoral cycle within the legally-mandated timeline.
She added that with political will and commitment, the upcoming post-electoral period could present a window of opportunity for sustainable peace and stability, national cohesion and reconciliation.
IPU ANNUAL PARLIAMENTARY HEARING
On the 17th and 18th, the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and the UN will bring together close to 200 parliamentarians from over 60 countries, as well as diplomats, representatives from civil society and experts, for the IPU Annual Parliamentary Hearing in New York.
This year, the hearing will focus on SDG 4.