HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 17 JANUARY 2020

 
JAVIER PEREZ DE CUELLAR
This Sunday, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, the fifth Secretary-General of the United Nations, will celebrate his 100th birthday, and Secretary-General António Guterres written him a letter to extend his best wishes on that celebration.
In his letter, the Secretary-General said that Mr. Pérez de Cuéllar held the office of the Secretary-General with dignity and commitment starting in the 1980s and, indeed, through his last moments as Secretary-General in 1991 with the historic El Salvador peace accords, which were signed at the last minute of his term.
Antonio Guterres wrote that, as the United Nations now marks its 75th anniversary, we who work for the Organization today strive every day to build on Mr. Pérez de Cuéllar’s impressive legacy. We all wish him a happy birthday.
 
HAITI COMMEMORATION
At an event organized today to mark the 10th anniversary of the Haiti earthquake, the Secretary-General laid a wreath and paid tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Haitians who lost their lives on January 12, 2010. He also expressed his solidarity with the millions more whose lives were forever changed and who, a decade later, are still struggling to recover from that tragic day.
A loss of this scale leaves permanent reminders and scars on Haiti and the United Nations, he said, adding that the loss of 102 colleagues that day amounted to the single greatest loss in one day in the UN’s history.
The Secretary-General renewed his commitment to honour the legacy of those lost, by working alongside the people and Government of Haiti, and with the country’s friends and supporters throughout the international community.
He also took a moment to pay his respects at the memorial brought from Port-au-Prince and installed on the North Lawn earlier this week.
 
MALI
Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali, condemned the new attack the Mopti region, during which 14 people were killed and 2 more were injured.
The UN has sent a fact-finding team to the village of Sinda, where the attack took place. Mr. Annadif also offered the Malian authorities the UN’s support to determine what exactly happened and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Initial reports indicate that armed men on motorbikes raided the village in the early hours of Thursday.
 
LIBYA
Turning to Libya, the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) today called for the immediate release of Siham Sergewa, an elected member of the House of Representatives, who was seized at night from her home in Benghazi six months ago. Since her violent abduction, her fate remains unknown.
UNSMIL continues to follow up on the enforced disappearance of Ms. Sergewa and reiterates that the authorities in eastern Libya are responsible for respecting international human rights law and are legally obliged to establish the fate and whereabouts of Ms. Sergewa.
The United Nations condemns the abduction and her disappearance. We demand the immediate release for her and for all victims of forced disappearance and that all those responsible be held accountable. And, as a reminder, as you know, the Secretary-General will be heading off to Berlin today to attend the Berlin Conference on Sunday being organized by the Germans.
 
SUDAN
Turning to Sudan, the UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) co-hosted a high-level meeting in London in which 19 donors affirmed the importance of scaling up aid to Sudan this year.
The other co-hosts were the United Kingdom and Sweden, with participation of the Sudanese Government.
Sudan also received assurances from the UN and NGOs to scaled up the response to address the country’s urgent humanitarian needs.
Some 9.3 million people – one in four people in Sudan – will need humanitarian assistance this year, and that’s up from 8.5 million last year.
The UN-coordinated Humanitarian Response Plan 2020 for Sudan appeals for $1.4 billion to assist 6.1 million people, complementing the transitional Government’s own response.
It is critical for funding to be made in the first half of the year to sustain the response in conflict-impacted areas and help families hit by economic crisis, but also to reach people before the lean season starts in May and the rainy season in June.
 
ANTIBIOTICS
From Geneva, our colleagues at the World Health Organization (WHO) today warned that the fall in private investment and the lack of innovation in developing new antibiotics are undermining efforts to combat drug-resistant infections.
There are currently 60 products in development, but they will bring little benefit compared to existing treatments and very few of these new products will target the most resistant bacteria.
There are others in the early stages testing, but it would be years before they reach patients.
The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros, said the threat of antimicrobial resistance has never been more immediate and the need for solutions more urgent, stressing the need for countries and the pharmaceutical industry to step up and contribute with sustainable funding and innovative new medicines.
 
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS
And today we say thank you to our friends in Dublin and welcome the Republic of Ireland to the Honour Roll. With its full payment to the 2020 budget, it means we have reached the wonderful number of 11.