HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 16 OCTOBER 2019
This morning, the Secretary-General held the inaugural meeting of the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance, which was launched today. Some of you may have been here a little earlier for briefing by the Alliance co-chairs and the UN’s Chief Economist, Elliot Harris.
The Alliance is made up of 30 globally prominent CEOs and other leaders in the world of business and finance and will work with the Secretary-General on scaling up long-term financing and investment from the private sector towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
At the official launch which took place just a few minutes ago, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the Alliance’s work can take concrete actions to increase the supply of resources available for investment in sustainable development, channeling capital to countries and sectors where it is most needed. The potential is enormous, she said and added that the demand for sustainable investment is growing.
Tribute to a former President of the U.N. General Assembly
This afternoon, at 3 p.m., in the General Assembly Hall, the Secretary-General will deliver remarks during the tribute to the memory of Diogo Freitas do Amaral, the President of the 50th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Mr. Freitas do Amaral passed away ltwo weeks ago.
He also served in numerous positions in the Portuguese Parliament and Government including Deputy to the Assembly of the Republic, Minister of Foreign Affairs on two occasions, Minister of National Defense and Deputy Prime Minister.
The Secretary-General has asked his Chef de Cabinet, Ms. Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, to represent him at the Ceremony of Enthronement of His Majesty the Emperor of Japan, that will take place on the 22nd of October.
On Syria, Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, met in Damascus with Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Muallem today and, in comments to the press afterwards, he said that they had discussed the situation in northeastern. Mr. Pedersen repeated the Secretary-General’s strong appeal that we should end the fighting immediately, that there should be a cessation of hostilities while we are extremely alarmed by the humanitarian consequences of the crisis.
He said that he and the Deputy Prime Minister had also discussed the launching of the Constitutional Committee and had detailed discussions on how to move forward with the launch of the committee by the end of this month, which remains unscheduled. Mr. Pedersen will continue to have discussions with the co-chairs from the government list and the co-chair from the opposition.
Humanitarian Assistance in Syria
And on the ground, in the Northeast, despite very difficult challenges, the UN and our humanitarian partners continue to deliver aid and provide basic services to people in need where access allows throughout the northeast of the country. United Nations staff remain in the northeast part of Syria.
Emergency food rations for 83,000 newly displaced people, hygiene kits and drinking water have been provided as a priority and efforts continue to keep pipelines open to ensure the continuation of assistance. A polio vaccination campaign is also being conducted in camps.
The environment has been made more complex as areas change control after agreements and military advancements. Due to changes on the ground and ongoing insecurity, some NGO partners have had to transfer international staff who were operating in the northeast out of the area, others have had to temporarily suspend operations.
The 1.8 million people in need in the northeast have been supported through a complex system that combines humanitarian aid deliveries from within Syria, and with cross-border operations from Iraq delivering aid and providing basic services.
Humanitarian workers are committed to stay and deliver – as much as possible – for people in need, minimizing service disruptions. The UN continues to reiterate that this requires safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need. The UN also reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.
Yesterday, in Lebanon firefighters from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) joined the Lebanese Civil Defense and the Lebanese Armed Forces in putting out raging fire in the Mazraat El Dahr village, about 15 kilometers northeast of Saida.
UNIFIL firefighters from Austria, supported by Tanzanian Military Police personnel, joined the Lebanese emergency services with fire trucks and water tankers, following requests from the Lebanese authorities.
Indian and Indonesian peacekeepers from UNIFIL Hospital in Naqoura also provided a standby ambulance and medical services.
UNIFIL sent the emergency assistance because of the damage that the inferno can cause on local communities.
Central African Republic
Turning to the Central African Republic, the UN Peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic has released its most recent human rights report.
In September, 173 civilians were victims of abuse and human rights violations, an increase compared to last month. Armed groups were responsible for over 90 per cent of violations.
The mission says that it is continuing its advocacy and sensitization on human rights and the implementation of the peace agreement with armed groups, the government and the general public.
We also have an update on the situation in Birao, the town located in the country’s northeast hit by violence last month. The mission announced a new joint mission this week, with representatives of the Government, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States and the UN, to help bring back calm and stability to the city. In another development, 14 ex-combatants from an armed group involved in the September clashes were handed over to judicial authorities. Others, who did not face prosecution, were relocated to another city.
World Food Day
Today is World Food Day. In his message, the Secretary-General highlights this observance as a global call for Zero Hunger, for a world where nutritious food is available and affordable for everyone, everywhere.
However, more than 820 million people do not have enough to eat and climate emergency is an increasing threat to food security, he said.
This year's World Food Day theme day is "Our actions are our future. Healthy diets for a #ZeroHunger world".
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its partners believe that affordable solutions to reduce all forms of malnutrition exist, but they require global commitments of actions.
There are a few budgetary updates for you, I think I was asked about some of Peacekeeping cost saving measures taken outside of the UN Headquarters.
In Geneva, temporary press officers are not being recruited. The regular press officers and editors will ensure that coverage is provided to meetings of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies until the end of the year – those staff are voluntarily giving up taking annual leave during the Bodies’ sessions.
Recruitment of temporary audio-visual staff will be discontinued, with the result that TV coverage of mandated meetings will be restricted.
The Photo coverage will no longer be ensured, as the UN in Geneva only hires contract photographers.
Staff will not pursue procurement activities and non-obligated travels will be cancelled.
Just like in New York, meetings and events will not take place after 6pm or on weekends; energy saving measures will be put in place throughout the building and elevators services and others will be cut back.
And Nairobi, any purchase of any new equipment will be suspended; individual contractors will not be hired, and staff have suspended any Outreach activities outside of Nairobi. And our colleagues in Vienna are also undertaking cost-saving measures.
Lastly on a musical note, our very talented colleagues in UN Chamber Music Society are organizing a concert for the Bahamas and that will take place in All Saints Episcopal Church, on Sunday, at 7 p.m. and there will be more information in my office.