HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 16 APRIL 2018
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO MEET WITH KING SALMAN IN SAUDI ARABIA
- The Secretary-General arrived in Riyadh today. He stayed back in New York over the weekend to address the Security Council on Saturday. His Under-Secretary-General of the UN Counter Terrorism Office, Vladimir Voronkov, was at the Arab League Summit in his absence.
- This afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the King Salman Humanitarian Centre and met with the UN Country Team.
- Tomorrow, he will attend the 16th meeting of the United Nations Counter Terrorism Centre Advisory Board. He is also expected to meet with His Majesty King Salman and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.
- The Secretary-General is still expected to be back in New York on 18 April.
SYRIA: 3,800 PEOPLE FROM DOUMA ARRIVE IN AL-BAB – U.N. RELIEF WING
- Over the weekend, close to 3,800 people from Douma city in Syria arrived in Al-Bab District in rural Aleppo Governorate, in what is expected to be the last movement of people from the city. Close to 63,000 people, mostly civilians, were evacuated to north-western Syria in recent weeks. The recent displacement, in addition to the displacement of nearly 400,000 people from southern Idleb since 15 December, is stretching the capacity of the local host communities, the UN and its humanitarian partners in north-western Syria to their limits.
- In total, more than 155,000 men, women and children are estimated to have left eastern Ghouta since 9 March. Approximately half of the over 92,000 people who have arrived at internally displaced people sites in rural Damascus remain at those sites. The sites, which are meant to host just over 25,000 people, are operating well beyond their capacity.
- The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to allow for safe, sustained and unhindered humanitarian access to provide life-saving assistance to all in need.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON SECURITY COUNCIL TO UNITE ON ACCOUNTABILITY MECHANISM FOR CHEMICAL ATTACK IN SYRIA
- The Security Council held an emergency session on Saturday following the air strikes conducted by the US, UK and France on Syria.
- The Secretary-General reminded Member States that there is an obligation, particularly when dealing with matters of peace and security, to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nations and with international law in general. He said that the Security Council has primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and he called on the members of the Security Council to unite and exercise that responsibility.
- As he also did in a statement on Friday, the Secretary-General told the Council that there is a need to avoid the situation from spiraling out of control.
- Any use of chemical weapons is abhorrent, he said. The suffering it causes is horrendous. The Secretary-General has repeatedly expressed his deep disappointment that the Security Council failed to agree on a dedicated mechanism for effective accountability for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. He urged the Security Council to assume its responsibilities and fill this gap. If the law is ignored, it is undermined, he warned.
IN SECURITY COUNCIL, DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES ACCOUNTABILITY FOR SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN CONFLICT
- This morning the Security Council held an open debate on sexual violence in conflict. The Deputy Secretary-General said that this year the widespread threat and use of sexual violence has, once again, been used as a tactic to advance military, economic and ideological objectives.
- She said gender-based discrimination is the invisible driver of most crimes of sexual violence, and the lower a woman’s status, the greater her vulnerability and exposure to harm. Ms. Mohammed told Council members that our responsibility must be to bring justice, recognition and reparations to the survivors of these horrendous crimes. Not only justice in the courtrooms, she said, but also social justice and economic empowerment.
- And the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, also spoke. She said that while significant normative progress has been achieved, we must urgently consolidate it by ensuring accountability or risk a reversal, resulting in wartime rape being once again "normalized", due to the frequency and impunity with which it is committed. She said wartime rape is preventable, and not inevitable, and addressing it is our collective responsibility.
MALI: SECRETARY-GENERAL SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACK ON U.N., FRENCH CAMPS IN TIMBUKTU
- Yesterday the Secretary-General condemned the attack on the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and French operation Barkhane’s camps in Timbuktu on 14 April, during which one peacekeeper from Burkina Faso was killed, and seven peacekeepers, seven French soldiers and two Malian civilians were injured. It was the largest attack on MINUSMA since its deployment and the third attack against the Mission this month.
- The Secretary-General conveyed his condolences to the Government of Burkina Faso, and the family and loved ones of the deceased peacekeeper, and wished a swift recovery to the injured. He paid tribute to the courage of the men and women serving in MINUSMA, Malian and international forces at great personal risk and sacrifice.
- He also called on the Malian authorities and the signatory armed groups to the peace agreement to spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of this attack so that they can be brought to justice as swiftly as possible. The Secretary-General recalled that attacks targeting peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law and that those trying to obstruct the peace process may be subject to sanctions. These acts will not deter MINUSMA’s determination to support the Malian people in their quest for peace and stability.
U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC IN DIALOGUE WITH COMMUNITY LEADERS TO RESTORE CALM
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that following violence last week, the overall security situation in the country remained relatively calm over the weekend, although tensions persist in Bangui and in other towns. Road blockages have been removed in the PK-5 area of Bangui and in Bria. Over the weekend, the Mission continued to engage community leaders to calm the situation, while the UN Force reinforced positions in Bangui and beyond.
- Also on the CAR, the UN Mission issued a statement on Saturday on the apprehension of a peacekeeper from the Gabonese contingent by Central African gendarmes on Friday in possession of ammunition. Cooperation is ongoing with the Gabonese authorities and the Mission reports that both the Foreign Affairs and Defence Ministers of Gabon have called the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the CAR to regret and strongly condemn the criminal act perpetrated by their soldier. On the ground, the Mission is making progress to complete the preliminary investigation into this allegation.
SOUTH SUDAN: 7 AID WORKERS RELEASED AFTER 20-DAY DETENTION – U.N. RELIEF WING
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that seven aid workers from a South Sudanese humanitarian organization have been released 20 days after being detained by forces from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition in Morobo County in Central Equatoria. The aid workers were in good health when they were handed over to an international humanitarian organization yesterday. The seven national staff from the South Sudan Health Association, a national aid organization, were delivering supplies to health centres serving thousands of people in need.
- This is the second incident in six months in which aid workers have been taken captive by armed groups in South Sudan. Aid worker security in Africa’s youngest nation remains a key concern with humanitarian workers being harassed, intimidated, beaten and killed. Since the conflict began in 2013, at least 99 aid workers have been killed in the line of duty in South Sudan, including two in April.
SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL COMMENDS NEPAL ON SUCCESS OF PEACE PROCESS
- The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Miroslav Jenča, completed his visit to Nepal today. He met with the Speaker of House of Representatives, Krishna Bahadur Mahara; Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawal; the Chief of Army Staff General, Rajendra Chhetri; former Prime Ministers Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sher Bahadur Deuba; Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission Arup Sharma, as well as other high-level government officials, and other political party leaders, women and civil society representatives.
- In his meetings, Mr. Jenča commended the Government and the Nepali people on the success of the homegrown peace process, as laid out in the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and the political transformation Nepal has undergone over the last two decades. He also congratulated the Government on holding the local, state and federal elections last year in line with Nepal’s new Constitution.
U.N.E.S.C.O. CHIEF CONDEMNS KILLING OF ECUADORIAN MEDIA WORKERS
- The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, today condemned the killing of three Ecuadorian newspaper staff workers: reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas and driver Efrain Segarra.
- She welcomed the decision of authorities to investigate into the case and said that no effort must be spared to bring the culprits of this crime to justice.
- The three media workers, employees of Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio, were kidnapped on 26 March, close to the border between Ecuador and Colombia.
KAZAKHSTAN PAYS U.N. DUES
- Kazakhstan has paid its full regular budget dues in full. This brings the Honour Roll to 79.