HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 17 JANUARY 2018

SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES SECOND ANNIVERSARY OF IMPLEMENTATION OF JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION

  • In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the second anniversary of the achievement of “Implementation Day” under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on 16 January 2018. This marks another significant milestone in the historic agreement reached by the E3/EU+3 and Iran, and endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 2231 (2015).
  • The JCPOA constitutes a major achievement of nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy, and has contributed to regional and international peace and security. The Secretary-General remains convinced that the JCPOA is the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme and to realize the promised tangible economic benefits for the Iranian people. He notes that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly confirmed that Iran is fulfilling its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA.
  • The Secretary-General calls for concerns regarding its implementation to be addressed through the mechanisms established by the agreement. He believes that issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments.
U.N. ENVOY INVITES SYRIAN DELEGATIONS TO VIENNA FOR SPECIAL MEETING
  • The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, today sent separate invitations to the Syrian Government and the Syrian Negotiation Commission to a special meeting with the United Nations in the framework of the United Nations-facilitated Geneva political process on 25 and 26 January 2018. Owing to logistical reasons, this special meeting will be held on the UN premises at the International Vienna Centre in Austria.
  • The Special Envoy looks forward to the participation of both delegations in this special meeting.  He expects that delegations will be coming to Vienna prepared for substantive engagement with him and his team with a specific focus on the constitutional basket of the agenda towards the full implementation of Security Council resolution 2254 (2015), and bearing in mind the parameters and observations he laid out in his briefing to the Security Council on 19 December 2017. As he prepares for the session in Vienna, the Special Envoy reiterates the view of the United Nations that any political initiative by international actors should be assessed by its ability to contribute to and support the United Nations-facilitated Geneva political process and the full implementation of resolution 2254 (2015).
U.N. URGES END TO VIOLENCE, HUMANITARIAN ACCESS IN SYRIA AMID INCREASED FIGHTING
  • The United Nations in Syria has issued a statement today urging all parties, inside and outside of the country, to prevent further violence and enable humanitarian organizations to access and assist people in need.
  • Escalating violence in Aleppo, Damascus, Daraa, Deir Ezzour, East Ghouta in Rural Damascus, Hama, Hassakeh, Idleb and Raqqah has resulted in the deaths and injuries of hundreds of civilians, including women and children.
  • Meanwhile, the UN and its partners are increasing the humanitarian response in northwestern Syria following an influx of tens of thousands of newly displaced persons, due to increased fighting and heavy aerial bombardment in southern Idleb, northern rural Hama and southern rural Aleppo. 
  • Since 15 December, some 212,140 men, women and children have been displaced in Idleb. Many of those displaced, have now been displaced more than once, and are scattered across open areas of the central, western and northern parts of the governorate, including around overcrowded informal sites.
HEAD OF U.N.R.W.A. CALLS ON PARTNERS TO SUPPORT AGENCY IN WAKE OF REDUCED U.S. CONTRIBUTION
  • Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) confirmed that the US Government yesterday announced a contribution of $60 million in support of its work. While important, this funding is dramatically below past levels. The total US contribution in 2017 was above $350 million.
  • Mr. Krähenbühl noted that the US has consistently been UNRWA’s largest single donor, something he sincerely thanked the American people for. But he added his concern that this reduced contribution threatens one of the most successful and innovative human development endeavors in the Middle East.
  • He said that he is now confronted with the most dramatic financial crisis in UNRWA’s history, and he called on the Agency’s partners to rally in support and join UNRWA in creating new funding alliances and initiatives to ensure Palestine refugee students continue to access education in its schools and the dignity of Palestine refugee children and their families is preserved through all its services. Mr. Krähenbühl will launch in the next few days a global fundraising campaign to capture the large-scale commitment to keeping UNRWA schools and clinics open throughout 2018 and beyond.
U.N. ENVOY WARNS SECURITY COUNCIL SPECTRE OF VIOLENCE REMAINS IN LIBYA
  • This morning, the Security Council met on Libya. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the country, Ghassan Salamé, warned Council members that the spectre of violence remains present in the country, that military forces are flexing their muscles, and he stressed that we must remain alert.
  • He said that the fragile and shaky status quo is not sustainable and that Libya needs a competent and efficient government that can deliver the public services people desperately need. Amending the Libyan Political Agreement is the most appropriate means to achieve this endeavour, he added.
  • Mr. Salamé also said that the political crisis in Libya has been accompanied by an equal humanitarian crisis, including the dire situation many migrants continue to face, and that only a strong effective government can turn the tide and put an end to the suffering.
D.R. CONGO: NIGERIAN LIEUTENANT-GENERAL TO LEAD INVESTIGATION INTO KAMANYOLA INCIDENT
  • You will have seen the note we issued yesterday on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, has appointed Lieutenant-General (Rtd) Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor of Nigeria to lead a special investigation following the 15 September 2017 incident in Kamanyola, in South Kivu. The special investigation will look into the challenges facing the UN Mission in the DRC, MONUSCO, in discharging its mandate to protect civilians and provide recommendations on improving the performance of its troops.
  • Lieutenant-General Obiakor has had a long and distinguished career in the Nigerian Army and was the Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia from 2006 to 2008. He also served as Military Adviser for Peacekeeping Operations at United Nations Headquarters in New York from 2008 to 2010.
  • The UN Migration Agency warned today that the humanitarian situation in the country has deteriorated dramatically over the past year due to a massive escalation of conflict and widespread insecurity. However, IOM’s humanitarian appeal remains vastly underfunded. The agency is appealing for USD 75 million to urgently meet the growing needs of displaced Congolese and the communities hosting them in North and South Kivu, Tanganyika and the Kasai.
$1.6 BILLION NEEDED TO PROTECT 5.4 MILLION PEOPLE IN SOMALIA – U.N. RELIEF WING
  • Today, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs launched the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia, which calls for $1.6 billion dollars to protect 5.4 million people. The Response Plan is an extension of last year’s famine prevention efforts and prioritizes immediate relief operations to help the most vulnerable, such as the internally displaced, women and children.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, Peter de Clercq, said that while famine was averted last year, food security needs have nearly doubled the five-year average, with some 2.4 million people still in need of aid, and an estimated 1.2 million children who are projected to be malnourished this year. He called for continued support for immediate and long-term needs in the country.
U.N. IN MYANMAR VOICES CONCERN OVER VIOLENT CLASHES IN RAKHINE STATE
  • The United Nations in Myanmar is following with concern the reports of violent clashes between the police and protesters in Mrauk U in Rakhine State.
  • The UN Office deplores the loss of life and injuries that have been reported. It urges respect for the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and calls for the security forces and demonstrators to act with restraint and to avoid further violence. The UN Office urges authorities to investigate any disproportionate use of force or other illegal actions that may have occurred in relation to this incident. 
IRAQ: U.N. RELIEF WING RESUMES ACTIVITIES IN KIRKUK’S HAWIJA DISTRICT
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that it resumed its activities in Kirkuk’s Hawija district yesterday, after security operations targeting suspected Da’esh militants in the area concluded on 15 January.
  • Humanitarian activities had been suspended since 4 January, out of security concerns related to the operations.
  • The return of displaced people from Kirkuk’s camps to Hawija’s retaken areas has also resumed.