This afternoon, the Secretary-General Mr. Guterres will speak in person at the closing session of the 74th General Assembly. He will also speak at the first plenary meeting of the 75th session of the General Assembly.
Tomorrow, at noon, the Secretary-General will brief the press on the start of the 75th session. That press conference will replace the Spokesman’s noon briefing.
Earlier today, the Secretary-General laid a wreath in memory of the Organization’s second Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, who died 59 years ago in a plane crash.
The Secretary-General said he welcomed the General Assembly’s resolution passed in December 2019 to continue the inquiry into the causes of the plane crash. We have a responsibility to all the victims and their loved ones to learn the truth of what happened, and the Secretary-General reiterated his personal commitment to that quest.
He added that today, Dag Hammarskjöld’s words and vision are more timely than ever. As the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our world, the Secretary-General said, we have once again seen that international solidarity is no longer a choice, but an obligation.
In response to a question about Cameroon, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General strongly condemns the suicide bombing last week in the border village of Zeleved in the Far North region of the country.
He expresses his deep sympathies to the families of the victims and the Government and people of Cameroon. It is essential to hold those responsible for the attack to account.
The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations’ unwavering support to the countries of the Lake Chad Basin and their collective fight against Boko Haram and other terrorist organizations, as well as their efforts to address the security, humanitarian and socioeconomic needs of the affected populations.
He calls on the countries of the Lake Chad Basin, with the support of the broader international community, to maintain their resolve and find a sustainable solution to the crisis and address its root-causes.
Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, briefed Security Council members via videoconference this morning, and he told them that increased fighting, greater humanitarian needs, and the COVID-19 pandemic are still taking their toll on the country.
Now is the time for the parties to swiftly conclude negotiations and finalise the Joint Declaration, he told members of the Council. He urged the parties to choose peace, end this conflict and work with us urgently on the Joint Declaration.
He added that the current situation in Marib is concerning in a number of ways, with a high level of loss of life and a real threat to hundreds of thousands of displaced people and people in need. In Hudaydah, meanwhile, reports of ceasefire violations continue daily, he added, saying that the UN Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement continues to experience restrictions that hamper the Mission’s work.
For his part, Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, who also briefed the Council, warned that the spectre of famine has returned to Yemen. He added that he is deeply concerned that the Ansar Allah authorities have closed Sana’a airport to UN and humanitarian flights.
Regarding the SAFER oil tanker, Mr. Lowcock said the UN team has submitted a revised proposal for the assessment and initial repair mission and held several rounds of constructive technical discussions with the de facto authorities. Frustrating as the endless delays have been, he added, we are not giving up, and we hope the new proposal will be quickly approved so the work can start.
Yesterday, 36 people were rescued by a ship from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon Maritime Task Force. They were transferred to the Lebanese Armed Forces Beirut Naval Base.
During the trip back to Beirut, the 36 individuals were provided with immediate assistance.
The Maritime Task Force has rescued 21 men, 10 women - including one pregnant woman - and five children, among them one in critical condition.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that yesterday, unknown armed men reportedly attacked a Turkish Red Crescent vehicle near the al-Bab town in the northern part of Aleppo governorate, killing an aid worker and wounding another.
The UN condemns any attacks against humanitarian workers and reminds all parties, and those with influence over the parties, of their obligations to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, as required by International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law.
SECRETARY-GENERAL/COLLECTIVE SECURITY TREATY ORGANIZATION
A joint statement was issued earlier this morning by the Secretary-General and the Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Stanislav V. Zas. They jointly welcomed the steady progress and positive dynamic in the strengthening of relations between the Secretariats of the two Organizations in the 10 years since the signing of a Joint Declaration on Cooperation.
They also noted the importance of cooperation, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, to advance global and regional peace and security.
As the international community commemorates the 75th anniversary of the UN, the Secretaries-General reiterated their strong commitment to the Joint Declaration and their intention to further enhance the scope of cooperation at all levels. These include key areas such as early warning, conflict prevention and resolution, peacekeeping, and preventing and countering terrorism, the fight against international crime and illicit arms trafficking, as well as disaster preparedness and response, and information-sharing.
A record 13.4 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali and western Niger need humanitarian assistance and protection this year, as complex and fast-growing crises continue to cause record levels of suffering in the Central Sahel region.
That’s according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The number of internally displaced people has increased by 20, going from 70,000 to 1.4 million in less than two years.
Compared to last year, the number of severely food-insecure people has almost quintupled in Burkina Faso, almost doubled in Mali and increased by 77 per cent in Niger. There are now 6.6 million severely food-insecure people in the region.
While needs are at an all-time high, it is increasingly difficult to access vulnerable people due to insecurity, including attacks on civilians and humanitarian workers as well as their assets.
The effects of climate change are also complicating an already dramatic humanitarian situation. As of today, more than 500,000 people have been affected by floods in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The Humanitarian Response Plans for the three countries seeking $1.4 billion is severely underfunded. A ministerial-level pledging event is scheduled for 20 October in Denmark.
The UN and international partners welcome the resumption of dialogue between the Federal Government and the five Federal Member States.
The UN urges all Somali leaders to engage fully in serious dialogue aimed at reaching broad agreement on a credible and implementable electoral model.
The UN also appeals to Somalia’s leaders to be guided by the national interest and the democratic aspirations of the Somali people at this historic moment.
The UN team in Timor-Leste, led by Resident Coordinator Roy Trivedy, has mobilized $18 million to respond to COVID-19 and has provided essential medical supplies, including 180,000 masks and 100,000 items of personal protection equipment, that was done through the World Health Organization.
Through seven World Food Programme charter flights, more than 300 aid workers and nearly four tonnes of life-saving goods have been transported in the past two months.
The UN is also rolling out a back-to-school campaign with messages on handwashing, social distancing and ensuring continued learning, with nearly all schools having reopened to date.
The UN Children’s Fund is delivering 13,000 handwashing buckets for schools and led UN’s efforts to collect data on food and nutrition.
The UN has also focused on preventing violence against women and girls as part of the Spotlight Initiative, and UN agencies are also working together to assess the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods.
The World Food Programme has signed an agreement with the Government in Rakhine State to provide short-term food aid at quarantine centres in eight townships.
Since mid- August 2020, Rakhine State has seen an increase in local transmission of COVID-19. As of September 10th, some 1,500 people are under quarantine at government-managed centres across the state.
The agency stands ready to expand its support, if necessary, to Government efforts as it deals with food and nutrition needs of the people in Rakhine and elsewhere in Myanmar.
The UN Refugee Agency said today that it is stepping up its support to help 11,000 asylum seekers who are without adequate shelter, after the Moria Reception and Identification Centre burned down last week on the island of Lesvos, Greece.
Greek authorities have identified a location on the island to temporarily house the most vulnerable people. UNHCR is helping to set up this new temporary tented facility and has provided 600 family tents, chemical toilets and handwashing stations.
For its part, the UN Migration Agency is calling on European states and the EU to both urgently support the immediate shelter and other needs while also finding longer-term solutions rooted in European solidarity.
Today, the Fashion Industry Charter, convened by the UN Climate Change secretariat, released a Playbook to help businesses in the fashion industry take climate action.
This Playbook is primarily intended for less experienced fashion companies that have not yet taken action on climate change but want to join the sector to deliver net zero emissions by 2050.
The Playbook is also valuable for more experienced companies as they need to bring their suppliers along on their journey.
The fashion sector as you know is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions and faces growing risks from increasing emissions and the resulting changes in climate, such as water scarcity, facilities and infrastructure threatened by more frequent and severe climate events, price volatility of raw materials, and much more.
The World Tourism Organization said today that international tourist arrivals dropped by 65 per cent during the first half of the year. This represents an unprecedented decrease, as countries around the world closed their borders and introduced travel restrictions in response to the pandemic.
According to the World Tourism Organization, the massive drop in international travel translates to a loss of 440 million international arrivals and about $460 billion in export revenues from international tourism.
They’ve also noted that over recent weeks, a growing number of destinations have started to open up again to international tourists. As of early September, 53 per cent of destinations had eased travel restrictions, but many governments remain cautious.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY
Today is the International Day of Democracy. In a message for the Day, the Secretary-General said that as the world confronts COVID-19, democracy is crucial in ensuring the free flow of information, participation in decision-making and accountability for the response to the pandemic. Yet since the beginning of the crisis, we have seen the emergency used in a range of countries to restrict the democratic processes and civic space.
The Secretary-General noted this is especially dangerous in places where democracy’s roots are shallow and institutional checks and balances are weak. He added that the crisis is also highlighting – and aggravating – long-neglected injustices and that along with the profound human toll, these inequalities are themselves a threat to democracy.