DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 15 FEBRUARY 2021
A statement was issued yesterday on Myanmar. In it, the Secretary-General said he is deeply concerned about the situation in the country, including the increasing use of force and the reported deployment of additional armoured vehicles to major cities.
He calls on Myanmar’s military and police to ensure the right to peaceful assembly is fully respected and demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals. Reports of continued violence, intimidation and harassment by security personnel are unacceptable.
Ongoing arrests of political leaders, government officials, civil society actors and media representatives are deeply concerning, as are the restrictions on the internet and communication services. They must not be disrupted to ensure the right to freedom of expression, which includes access to information.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call on Member States collectively and bilaterally to exercise influence regarding the protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Myanmar.
The Secretary-General reaffirms the unwavering support of the United Nations to the people of Myanmar in their pursuit of democracy, peace, human rights and the rule of law.
The Secretary-General calls on the military authorities urgently to allow the Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, to visit Myanmar under agreeable conditions and to assess the situation first-hand.
Ms. Schraner Burgener spoke again this morning with the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Soe Win, to amplify the Secretary-General’s statement overnight and to again press for a visit under agreeable conditions.
The Special Envoy will maintain this channel for frank and open dialogue so long as she assesses that it provides space for reversing the current situation and upholding the will of the people of Myanmar.
Democratic institutions and processes need to be upheld and the Special Envoy continues to stress to the military that it must refrain from violence and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.
In her advocacy, Ms. Schraner Burgener has reinforced that the right of peaceful assembly must fully be respected and that demonstrators are not subjected to reprisals.
She has conveyed to the Myanmar military that the world is watching closely, and any form of heavy-handed response is likely to have severe consequences.
This weekend, a statement was issued in which the Secretary-General condemned the complex attack by unidentified armed elements against a temporary operating base of the United Nations Integrated Stabilization Mission for Mali in Kerena, in the Douentza region. The attack, which took place on 10 February, resulted in the wounding of 27 Togolese peacekeepers and the death of one peacekeeper.
The Secretary-General expressed his deep condolences to the family of the victim, and to the people and Government of Togo. He wished a full recovery to those injured.
The Secretary-General also emphasized that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime. He called on the Malian authorities to spare no efforts in promptly holding to account the perpetrators of this heinous attack.
Last week, the Special Envoy for Libya, Ján Kubiš, conducted his introductory calls with key Libyan interlocutors, including the President of the High Council of State, the Deputy President of the Presidency Council, and the Minister of Interior. He acknowledged their work to achieve progress in political, economic, and security files and thanked them for their active participation in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum.
Special Envoy Kubiš also spoke to General Khalifa Haftar to discuss developments and priorities, in particular in the security file, where he welcomed the General’s support to the implementation of the ceasefire.
We confirm that on 1 March, the UN will convene a virtual high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, to be co-hosted by the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland. Pledges to address the dire needs in the country will be announced at the event.
The Secretary-General will address the opening.
There will be a press conference immediately after the event with Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, and the co-hosts.
A new report issued today by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan warns that the period following the start of Afghanistan Peace Negotiations in September 2020 has witnessed a sharp number of killings of human rights defenders and media professionals in the country.
The report records a total of 65 human [rights] defenders and media professionals killed in the period from 1 January 2018 – 31 January 2021. Of these, 11 were killed in the four-month period from 1 October of last year until 31 January of this year.
According to the UN Mission, human rights and media space has contracted as a result, with many professionals exercising self-censorship in their work, quitting their jobs, and leaving their homes and communities with hopes it will improve their safety. Many, including high profile personalities, have fled the country.
On Somalia, the Federal Government and the United Nations are asking for $1 billion to provide life-saving assistance to 4 million people across Somalia this year.
Speaking at the launch of Somalia’s Humanitarian Response Plan, Humanitarian Coordinator Adam Abdelmoula said that multiple crises – including climate shocks and protracted conflict – have driven millions of people to the brink of survival.
The humanitarian situation in Somalia worsened in 2020, compounded by the triple threat of floods, COVID-19 and desert locusts.
In 2021, the country is projected to face more significant humanitarian challenges. The Humanitarian Response Plan estimates that 5.9 million people will need humanitarian assistance this year, an increase from 5.2 million last year.
Despite enormous operational and access challenges, our aid partners reached 2.3 million people out of 3 million targeted in 2020. This is thanks to the generosity of donors and the dedication of national and international aid workers who continue to risk their lives to provide assistance to those who need it most.
The World Health Organization today said that health authorities in Guinea have declared an Ebola outbreak in the rural community in N’Zerekore prefecture.
This comes after three Ebola cases were confirmed by the national laboratory. It marks the first time the disease has been reported in the country since an outbreak ended in 2016.
Guinea was one of the three countries most affected during the West Africa Ebola outbreak from 2014 to 2016.
Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said that health teams in Guinea are building on the expertise and experience from the previous outbreak to quickly trace the path of the virus and curb further infections.
WHO is supporting authorities to set up testing, contact-tracing and treatment structures and to bring the overall response to full speed.
U.N. RESIDENT COORDINATORS
The Secretary-General has appointed Peter Grohmann of Germany as the new Resident Coordinator in Mexico and David Gressly of the United States as the Resident Coordinator in Yemen. These appointments follow the confirmation from the respective host governments.
Mr. Gressly will also take on the role of Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen.
As you know, Resident Coordinators lead the UN teams on the ground, including in responding to and recovering from COVID-19 and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. They are the designated representatives of the Secretary-General for development at the country level.
We remain at full gender parity and North-South balance among all of our Resident Coordinators covering 162 countries and territories. More information is available on the UN Sustainable Development Group website.
We received two more payments to the regular budget. For these, our thanks go to Australia and Estonia. So far, 43 Member States have paid their regular budget assessment in full.