HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 14 JANUARY 2021

PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS 
The Secretary-General is appointing Bintou Keita of Guinea as his Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She will head up the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission better known as MONUSCO. 
Ms. Keita succeeds Leila Zerrougui of Algeria, who will complete her assignment next month. The Secretary-General is deeply grateful to Ms. Zerrougui for her important contribution and service to MONUSCO. 
Ms. Keita brings to the position more than 30 years of experience in peace, security, development, humanitarian and human rights, working in conflict and post-conflict environments.
We congratulate our friend Bintou for this very important assignment and also express our thanks to Leila Zerrougui whom we have worked here quite a bit and whose work we appreciated deeply.
 
RESIDENT COORDINATORS 
The UN Development Coordination Office said we have three new UN Resident Coordinators - in Benin, Egypt and Nepal.   
The Secretary-General has appointed Salvator Niyonzima of Burundi to serve in Benin; Elena Panova of Bulgaria will lead the UN team in Egypt; and Sara Beysolow Nyanti of Liberia will head the UN office in Nepal. This follows confirmation from the respective host governments. 
As you know, Resident Coordinators are the Secretary-General’s designated representatives for development at the country level. They lead UN teams in supporting countries to respond to and recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic. 
We remain happily with full gender parity and North-South balance among all our Resident Coordinators who cover 162 countries and territories around the world.

MALI 
In a statement we issued last night, the Secretary-General strongly condemned yesterday's attack by unidentified armed combatants against a UN convoy in the Timbuktu region of Mali.
This morning, we have learned from the Mission that sadly, a fourth Ivorian peacekeeper has died from his injuries overnight in Bamako. 
Five peacekeepers were injured in the attack, three of them are being evacuated to Dakar for further medical treatment.  
The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the bereaved families as well as to the people and Government of Côte d'Ivoire. He wishes speedy and full recovery to the injured peacekeepers.
The Secretary-General said that attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime. He calls on the Malian authorities to spare no effort in identifying and promptly bringing to justice the perpetrators of this heinous attack.  
The Secretary-General reaffirms the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and Government of Mali.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 
Following yesterday’s attacks by armed combatants near the capital, Bangui, that as you will recall left one UN peacekeeper killed and another injured, the UN Mission in the country has conducted additional operations on the outskirts of Bangui in coordination with national defense and security forces. Dozens of weapons, including rocket propelled grenades, machine guns, ammunition, magazines, radio chargers, telephones and some military uniforms were seized from armed groups. 
The Mission said this operation further prevented armed groups from marching to the capital with a view to destabilizing national institutions. 
Today, the situation in the capital and the countryside remains calm, but unpredictable. 
The UN Mission also announced that it will assist Central African authorities, including by providing security, to facilitate the reopening of the Bangui-Douala axis, Douala being in Cameroon of course, which is currently closed – due of course as you can imagine – to issues of insecurity. This supply road is essential to ensure continued availability of food and other provisions in the Central African Republic. 

YEMEN  
Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, told Security Council members that the most urgent priority in Yemen right now is to prevent a massive famine, with the data showing that 16 million people will go hungry this year. Already, he warned, about 50,000 people are essentially starving to death in what is essentially a small famine.  
He noted that on Sunday, the United States announced that it will designate Ansar Allah as a specially designated terrorist entity and foreign terrorist organization under US domestic law. Mr. Lowcock said that aid agencies have unanimously opposed this designation because they believe it will accelerate Yemen’s slide into a large-scale famine. And he said that Yemeni families are terrified that no more food or other supplies will now make it into the country. 
Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, also expressed his concerns about the designation, adding his fear that there will be inevitably a chilling effect on the efforts to bring the parties together. He also warned that the recent attacks at Aden airport cast a shadow over what should have been a moment of hope in the efforts to bring peace to Yemen.  
The Special Envoy said that we need to maintain our focus and that of the parties on the primary goal, which is to resume an inclusive political process designed to comprehensively end the conflict. 
Also briefing was David Beasley, the head of the World Food Programme, and he said that 11 million people in Yemen are already at a crisis level for hunger, of whom 5 million people are at an emergency level. With the US designation, he said, the situation will be catastrophic. 
 
LIBYA 
Regarding Libya, the Advisory Committee for the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum continued its deliberations in Geneva for the second day.  
We are encouraged by the seriousness of the discussions and the commitment of its members, who are working long hours with the active facilitation of the UN Mission to agree on a common proposal for the selection mechanism of unified executive authority, in line with the Tunis Roadmap. 

TUNISIA  
The Secretary-General congratulates the Tunisian people and their leaders on the tenth anniversary of the January 14th revolution. In the years since, Tunisia has achieved significant progress in consolidating democracy and promoting socio-economic development. 
The Secretary-General encourages the Tunisian people to further advance democratic reforms, build consensus on national development priorities and promote dialogue to address inequalities that have increased following the COVID-19 pandemic. He reiterates the firm commitment of the United Nations to support an inclusive democratic process that meets the aspirations of all Tunisians. 

ETHIOPIA 
The High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said today he continues to be extremely troubled by the plight of civilians, particularly Eritrean refugees.  
He said while there has been some positive recent developments, UNHCR and its partners have not had access to the Shimelba and Hitsats refugee camps, stressing that Eritrean refugees in these camps have been without aid for many weeks. 
The agency is also distressed that it is unable to help the thousands of Eritrean refugees who continue to flee camps in search of safety. Some of these refugees have arrived by foot to the town of Shire in Tigray are emaciated and begging for aid that is just not available. 
Mr. Grandi said that refugees who reach Addis [Ababa] are being returned to Tigray, some against their will.  
He reiterated the UN-wide call for full and unimpeded access and for exploring all options to safely provide desperately needed assistance.  

CLIMATE ADAPTATION 
In new report released today by the UN Environment Programme, they warn that if countries don’t step up their actions to adapt to the new climate reality, they will face serious costs and damages and losses. 
The UNEP Adaptation Gap Report found that while nations have advanced in planning, huge gaps remain in finance for developing countries to get adaptation projects to the stage where they bring real protection against climate impacts such as droughts, flood and sea-level rise. 
Almost three-quarters of nations have some adaptation plans in place, but financing and implementation fall far short of what is needed. 
Annual adaptation costs in developing countries are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to reach between $140-300 billion in 2030 and up to $500 billion in 2050. 
More information on UNEP.

BRIEFINGS TOMORROW 
The President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, will be holding his press conference at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.
At noon I will be joined by guests from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. John Wilmoth, the Director of the Population Division and also Clare Menozzi, Population Affairs Officer will join us virtually. They will discuss the release of the International Migration 2020 Highlights report.