HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 16 JANUARY 2020
Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, briefed the Security Council on the situation in that country. He said that Yemen had been kept safe in recent weeks even as the wider region had been in crisis. Most importantly, he said, in this time of crisis, we have seen no major acts of military provocation in Yemen; and indeed, it has been one of the quietest weeks in the country since the war began.
Mr. Griffiths said the regional crisis has tested the resilience of the various efforts being undertaken by the parties and that these endeavours must make progress if we are to realize the ambition that 2020 will bring peace to Yemen.
Ramesh Rajasingham from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also briefed the Council and he said that Yemen is on the whole less dangerous for civilians than it was before the Stockholm Agreement, with civilian fatalities down by almost half. But it is still a very dangerous place, he said, adding that although clashes have mostly been contained, we continue to see mass-casualty incidents across the country.
Marta Ruedas, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the United Nations in Iraq, expressed her strong concern today over the suspension in granting access letters to humanitarian actors carrying out critical missions in support of Iraq’s vulnerable people.
Such permissions were previously issued every 30 days by the mandated governmental bodies. However, since November 2019, aid deliveries throughout Iraq have slowed considerably, due to the discontinuation of previously agreed-upon access authorization procedures, and the absence of viable alternative mechanisms.
Unless partners are allowed to immediately resume full, unimpeded movements of their personnel and supplies, humanitarian actor operations in Iraq may come to a complete halt in a matter of weeks.
Ms. Ruedas requested that the Government of Iraq provide clarity on the procedures for granting access authorizations for humanitarian organizations and to allow the UN to resume delivering aid effectively and efficiently for the people of Iraq.
In response to questions about the impact of the suspension of activity at two crossing points on humanitarian operations in Syria.
Tthe health sector is the one most affected by the suspension of the Al Yarubiyah border crossing in the northeast. In 2019, 1.43 million medical treatments were shipped across that crossing point to support people in need. These cross-border shipments have now come to an end.
WHO estimates that health service availability will be reduced in the medium term, and that gaps cannot yet be met through the other mechanisms. Services that are expected to be most affected include child health; reproductive health; secondary health care, including trauma care; mental health; and nutrition.
In addition, to allow for the extension of the border crossing points into northwest Syria for another six months, the Security Council in passing resolution 2504 tasked the Secretary-General on the feasibility of using alternative modalities for Yarubiyah by the end of February.
The Secretary-General reiterates the importance of sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access for all those who need it. The Secretary-General, supported by the Secretariat and the UN humanitarian agencies, will do everything possible to respond to the request of the Security Council.
Special Representative Ghassan Salamé continues engagements with Libyan and international stakeholders ahead of the Berlin Summit. The Special Representative met with Prime Minister Serraj in Tripoli yesterday to discuss the latest developments, and the ceasefire and the preparations for Berlin.
Also yesterday, together with the Head of the World Health Organization in Libya, Mr. Salamé visited a temporary shelter for Internally Displaced People in Tripoli and listened to their concerns and needs.
In the Philippines, the UN and its partners are assisting with technical and logistical needs of local and regional authorities. Although volcanic activity has decreased in the last 24 hours, authorities continue to evacuate people living within 14 kilometres of the erupting Taal Volcano, with over 57,000 people relocated as of today to 257 evacuation centres.
Humanitarian organizations are conducting assessments and have identified the need to support evacuees and host communities with water, sanitation and hygiene supplies, sleeping kits and health assistance. The UN stands ready to provide further assistance if needed.
SOUTHERN AFRICA/WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
The World Food Programme (WFP) today says that a record 45 million people – mostly women and children – are gravely food insecure following repeated drought, widespread flooding and economic disarray in southern Africa.
WFP warns that, as the crisis deepens, the world must now step up now to save lives and enable communities to adapt to climate change.
The agency is supporting 8.3 million people in eight countries – Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Madagascar, Namibia, Eswatini, Lesotho and Malawi.
WFP is urgently calling for an additional $284 million for food needs, stressing the need for more frequent funding as climate-related natural disasters are becoming more frequent.
In Nigeria, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the UN in that country, Edward Kallon, said today that he is deeply relieved that some civilians, including three aid workers, who were abducted by non-State armed groups in late December have been released.
He said that the humanitarian workers were providing life-saving support to Nigeria’s most vulnerable people in north-eastern Borno State and that they never should have been targeted.
Mr. Kallon also voiced concern over the fate of other civilians abducted in the December incident as well as others who were taken in earlier incidents.
The Secretary General’s Personal Envoy for Bolivia, Jean Arnault, issued a statement last night in which he commended the ruling by Bolivia’s Courts regarding the extension of the mandates of the Executive and Legislative branches and subnational authorities.
He stressed for the electoral process to continue it is essential that all parties refrain from violent action or threat of violence. In this context, Mr. Arnault joined the rejection expressed by many national actors to the recent statements made by former leader Evo Morales.
The Envoy also said that authorities have the obligation to protect and guarantee the full exercise of the political rights of all citizens, free from intimidation, regardless of political affiliation.
The Secretary-General met with Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi, the Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Secretary-General and the Foreign Minister exchanged views on developments in the region.
For his part, the Secretary-General reiterated the importance of maintaining peace and stability in South Asia through political dialogue, diplomatic solutions and respect for human rights.
DECADE OF ACTION
At 4 p.m. today, in the Economic and Social Council Chamber, there will be a screening of ‘Eyes on the Goals: A digital series premiere.’
This is a series of seven videos, each of them focusing on a particular Sustainable Development Goal. The videos will also be released online today and once each video hits 10,000 views, $10,000 will be donated to an organization achieving the SDGs. So please click often.
HAITI EARTHQUAKE COMMEMORATION
And tomorrow morning at 10 a.m, the Secretary-General will preside over a ceremony to mark the tenth anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, and to honour the memory of the hundreds of thousands of people who died that day.
UN staff, ambassadors, and family members of some of the colleagues we lost that day, will gather at the Memorial Wall outside the General Assembly, in front of the UN flag that flew over the headquarters of the peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Following the ceremony, participants will be invited to the North Lawn, to see the Haiti memorial originally set up at the UN mission in Port-au-Prince, and moved to New York recently.
Australia, Iceland, New Zealand and Poland have made their full contribution to the UN regular budget, which brings us to 10 Member States who have fully paid their dues.