HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 15 MARCH 2017
AS SYRIAN WAR ENTERS SEVENTH YEAR, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES MORAL, POLITICAL IMPERATIVE FOR PEACE
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said that: “For six years now, the Syria people have been victims of one of the worst conflicts of our time.
- As the war enters its seventh year, I issue two urgent appeals to all parties.
- First, make the most of the 30 December 2016 ceasefire established by the guarantors of the Astana meetings, enhance it further, and ensure that humanitarian aid can reach all those in need in Syria without any obstacles and impediments.
- Second, all those with influence on the parties to the conflict must strive to overcome their differences and work together to put an end to the conflict, namely contributing to the success of the intra-Syrian negotiations in Geneva on the basis of the Geneva communique and relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolution 2254 (2015).
- Peace in Syria is a moral and political imperative both for the Syrian people and for the world – an imperative that cannot wait.”
TOLL TAKEN ON SYRIAN CIVILIANS SIX YEARS AFTER START OF CONFLICT ‘INEXCUSABLE,’ SAYS U.N. RELIEF CHIEF
- Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O‘Brien said in a video statement today that the toll taken on civilians in Syria after six years of conflict is inexcusable.
- He said that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed, while almost five million people – the majority of them women and children – have fled the grotesque violence and deprivation and are now living as refugees. Another six million people are displaced within Syria.
- He said even if a political agreement were to succeed tomorrow, millions of Syrians will still require critical humanitarian assistance for months and likely years to come.
- Also today, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that over the past six years, access to health services for the civilian population in the country has seriously deteriorated. More than half of public hospitals and primary health centres in the Syrian Arab Republic have either closed or are only partially functioning. Almost two–thirds of health care workers have fled. Many health care facilities that are open lack clean water, electricity, and sufficient medical and surgical supplies.
U.N., PARTNERS DELIVER HUMANITARIAN AID TO 60,000 PEOPLE IN FOUR BESIEGED TOWNS OF SYRIA
- Yesterday, the UN, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syria Arab Red Crescent delivered humanitarian assistance, including food, nutrition and medical assistance, for 60,000 people in need in the besieged four towns of Madaya and Az-Zabadani in Rural Damascus) and Foah and Kafraya in Idleb.
- The teams encountered multiple challenges along the way, including insecurity in addition to delays imposed by security forces and the conditional nature of the Four Towns agreement. Delays in the arrival of the convoys into the towns also restricted the ability of the UN team to undertake technical assessments, as the teams arrived too late to implement them.
- The UN is concerned because medical items were removed from the convoys. We continue to press for the delivery of medical equipment and supplies based on need, and stress that the removal of such items is in contradiction with the provisions of international humanitarian law. The last inter-agency mission reached these towns on 28 November 2016.
- The UN continues to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all in need in Syria particularly those in hard-to-reaches and besieged areas.
U.N. STAFF WORLDWIDE MARK SIX YEARS SINCE START OF SYRIAN CONFLICT
- Today, staff at UN Headquarters are gathering at the "Knotted Gun" sculpture in the Visitor's Centre Plaza. They are marking six years of brutal war in Syria and will be holding photos of a six-year-old Syrian child.
- UN Staff around the globe will collectively observe a moment of silence to give a voice to those affected by the conflict and send a message to Member States and world leaders to put an end to the carnage that has ravaged Syria for the last six years.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING NOT ‘A THING OF THE PAST,’ SECRETARY-GENERAL TELL SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Security Council is holding a ministerial open debate today on the theme “Trafficking in Persons in Conflict Situations: Forced labour, slavery and other similar practices.”
- Addressing the Council, the Secretary-General noted that human trafficking is not a thing of the past, with trafficking networks having gone global and victims being found in more than 100 countries.
- He said that the modern manifestations of servitude may touch and even implicate us all, pointing to examples of how consumer goods, such as smartphones and food, may bear traces of exploitation.
- The Secretary-General noted that in some of today’s conflicts, armed groups – such as Da’esh – not only openly engage in enslavement and forced labour, but actually argue that it is legal.
- He stressed that there is much that can be done to both punish human trafficking and to prevent it in the first place, calling for increased international cooperation to fight the scourge.
YEMEN: MORE THAN 17 MILLION FACING FOOD INSECURITY, NEW U.N.-BACKED REPORT FINDS
- Severe food insecurity threatens more than 17 million people in conflict-ridden Yemen, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis released by the United Nations and its humanitarian partners today. The World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNICEF all participated in the analysis.
- Twenty of the country’s 22 governorates are in ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’ food insecurity phases and almost two-thirds of the population are now facing hunger and urgently require life and livelihood-saving assistance.
- Without additional humanitarian and livelihoods support, Taiz and Hodeidah, two governorates accounting for almost a quarter of Yemen’s population, risk slipping into famine.
- With an estimated 17 million people at ‘emergency’ or ‘crisis’ levels of food insecurity, Yemen is currently one of the worst hunger crises in the world. These numbers represent a 21 percent increase since June 2016.
COMMISSION ON STATUS OF WOMEN TO INTERRUPT WORK TO SPOTLIGHT GLOBAL GENDER PAY GAP
- Later today, the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will symbolically mark the global gender pay gap of 23 per cent by interrupting work at 4:10 pm.
- Female delegates will gather in Conference Room 4 and the General Assembly Hall to undertake their after-work activities when there is still 23 per cent of the work day left to highlight the disparity in pay for women who only make 77 cents for every dollar men earn.
- The event is part of the CSW's and UN Women's efforts to champion the economic empowerment of women through equal pay for work of equal value.
U.N. MISSION FINDS NO EVIDENCE OF WRONGDOING BY CAMEROONIAN TROOPS IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- In response to questions on the Central African Republic, the Spokesman said that the UN Mission in the country conducted investigations in July 2016 on a Cameroonian contingent that was allegedly involved in illegal activities. The investigation concluded that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.