HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

MONDAY, 18 JANUARY 2021

LIBYA 
The Secretary-General is appointing Ján Kubiš of Slovakia as his Special Envoy on Libya and Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).   
The Secretary-General is grateful for the commitment and outstanding leadership of the Acting Special Representative Stephanie T. Williams of the United States in moving the political process forward in Libya.   
Mr. Kubiš has served as the Special Coordinator for the UN Lebanon since 2019. He also led the UN mission in Iraq, and he brings with him many years of experience in diplomacy, foreign security policy, and international economic relations, both internationally and in at home in Slovakia. 
Mr. Kubiš will take up his function in early February. Ms. Williams will continue as Acting Special Representative through January to ensure a smooth transition. 
 
The Secretary-General commends the Advisory Committee of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum for its constructive discussions during its meeting in Geneva, that took place from the 13th  to the 16th of  January. The Secretary-General commends in particular the decisive role played by women representatives and the Southern members to forge a consensus on a recommended mechanism for the selection of the executive authority, in accordance with the Roadmap adopted in Tunis last November. 
The Secretary-General calls on the members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum to participate constructively in the vote on the selection mechanism and press ahead on the path to national elections on the 24th of December this year. 
He reiterates the support of the UN to the Libyan people for their efforts to advance peace and stability. 
  
Stephanie Williams also told the press on Saturday that she was pleased that the Advisory Committee members had risen to the occasion.  They met their responsibility with a constructive spirit, cooperative efforts, and a great deal of patriotism, she said. She congratulated them on reaching an agreement on a recommended selection mechanism, which is being voted on today. They have taken a decisive step towards meeting the goals that were set in Tunis, she added. 
And yesterday, on Sunday, Ms. Williams logged in to a virtual chat with 1,000 Libyans, the majority of whom hailed from all regions of the country. 
 
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 
In the Central African Republic, two United Nations peacekeepers lost their lives today.   
This happened on the Bangassou-Gambo axis, after peacekeepers came under fire. More details will be available shortly, including a statement from the Secretary-General. 
The Mission also reported in a statement that combatants have left the city of Bangassou, in Mbomou prefecture, on Friday and that UN peacekeepers are now fully in control of that city. The Mission also reports that it escorted a convoy of 30 commercial vehicles from Bangui to the border with Cameroon yesterday; that’s the first since the free movement of vehicles was halted on 19 December due to the security situation along that route. 
And finally, the Constitutional Court in Bangui confirmed President Touadéra’s victory in the presidential elections, that were held on the 27th December. We expect a joint statement from the United Nations, the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States and the European Union on this issue shortly. 
 
MALI 
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Head of Peace Operations, has arrived in Mali yesterday and will be there until Thursday. 
You will have seen that the Secretary-General strongly condemned another attack against a UN convoy in the country. That attack took place on Friday, near Tessalit in the Kidal region.  It resulted in the death of one Egyptian peacekeeper and serious injuries to another.  
The Secretary-General expressed his deepest condolences to the bereaved family, as well as to the people and Government of Egypt. He wishes a speedy and full recovery to the injured peacekeeper.   
He added that the UN will spare no efforts in supporting the Malian authorities in identifying and promptly bringing to justice the perpetrators of this heinous attack.  
 
Between the events in the Central African Republic and Mali in the last week, the UN has lost 9 peacekeepers, killed in hostile incidents. 

THE SAHEL 
In the Sahel, where the situation continues to deteriorate, our humanitarian colleagues report that at the end of last year, 31.4 million people needed humanitarian assistance. This included 22.2 million who were targeted for assistance by aid agencies. COVID-19 is compounding that crisis. 
Food insecurity has doubled in just one year.  More than 14 million people are now acutely food insecure.   
The people in central Sahel - which includes Burkina Faso, Mali and western Niger - are fleeing growing insecurity. The number of internally displaced people in this region has increased twentyfold in the past 2 years. 
In the Lake Chad Basin region, violent incursions continue to push internal displacement and humanitarian needs. Currently, north-eastern Nigeria and Burkina Faso are also facing a risk of famine.  This is according to early warning analysis by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme. 
Despite the massive level of humanitarian needs in the Sahel, less than half, that is 46 per cent, of the US$6.3 billion required to respond to immediate needs - including the pandemic response - was funded last year. 
This year, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs expect needs to increase yet again. 
  
BURKINA FASO  
In Burkina Faso, insecurity and conflict have forced a million people to flee their homes in the past two years. 
About 10 per cent of the population, that’s over 2 million people, are struggling to feed themselves.  
OCHA said that this year, 3.5 million people will require humanitarian support to maintain basic living conditions. US $607 million will be required for the response, targeting 2.9 million people.   

YEMEN 
In Yemen, the UN continues to be deeply concerned that the US Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) designation of the Houthis will push Yemen into a large-scale famine. Given the dangerous situation right now with the risk of famine, the policy should be reversed.  
Details on planned licences for aid agencies have not been published yet, although the designation is to take force tomorrow, on January 19th. Given this uncertainty, the UN is expecting major disruptions to the world’s largest aid operation just as famine starts to take hold in the country.  
Even if licences come through for aid agencies, these won’t address the main problem, which relates to commercial imports. Nearly all of Yemen’s food, medicine, fuel and everything else is brought in by commercial importers.  
The long-standing UN Security Council position is that commercial imports to Yemen must be protected and must continue to flow through all ports in the country.  
We will also need to review the potential consequences of the designation for the Safer tanker mission.
  
SUDAN 
The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about clashes in West Darfur that took place over the weekend. 
Escalating inter-communal violence has resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, the displacement of nearly 50,000 people and the destruction of property.  
The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the bereaved families and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.  
The Secretary-General also calls on the Sudanese authorities to expend all efforts to de-escalate the situation, bring an end to the fighting, restore law and order and ensure the protection of civilians, in accordance with the Government’s National Plan for Civilian Protection. 
 
PALESTINE 
In a statement issued over the weekend, the Secretary-General welcomed the Presidential decree issued by President Mahmoud Abbas to hold legislative, presidential and Palestine National Council elections later this year, beginning in May. 
The Secretary-General hopes that the holding of the elections will contribute to the restarting of a  a process towards a negotiated two-State solution based on the pre-1967 lines, and in accordance with relevant UN resolutions, bilateral agreements and international law. The full statement is online. 
  
SECRETARY-GENERAL/GROUP OF 77 
The Secretary-General spoke live at the handover ceremony of the Chairmanship of the Group of 77 and China. 
He congratulated the Republic of Guinea as it assumes the Chairmanship, stressing the UN Secretariat’s continued support for the G77 and China. 
The Secretary-General also thanked the entire G77 membership for the crucial role it played in responding to the immediate COVID-19 health, humanitarian and development emergencies, while maintaining a focus on the Sustainable Development Goals.   
  
COVID-19/ BRAZIL 
In Brazil, the UN team, headed by Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic, is supporting the health system in the northern state of Amazonas to address the pandemic.  
A team from the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), is in the capital city Manaus.  They are supporting efforts to tackle COVID-19 with local, state and national authorities. This week an expanded PAHO/WHO team is also arriving in Manaus to boost support, following the extensive work from the entire UN team focusing on the northern region.  
For its part, the UNFPA purchased 60 oxygen cylinders last Friday, in response to local authorities’ requests. The aim is to care for newborns and women admitted to maternity hospitals and in dire need for oxygen there.  
UNICEF has delivered 250 hygiene kits and 250 food baskets to indigenous people in Manaus. UNICEF has also delivered more than 60 thousand hygiene kits, 101 thousand masks and 575 thousand soap bars.  They are destined for vulnerable people, people living on the streets, riverside dwellers, indigenous people, elderly people and those living in shelters. Venezuelan families of refugees and migrants in the state of Amazonas are also benefiting from this distribution.  
For its part, the International Organization for Migration has been working to mitigate the transmission of COVID-19 between indigenous and riverside communities. Since the beginning of the year, 2,600 hygiene and cleaning kits have been distributed to health networks in two Amazon regions of Amazonas and Roraima.  
 
DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY
This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, took part in The King Center’s Beloved Community Global Summit in celebration of Martin Luther King Day, which is marked here in the US today. In a video message, she said that even before the pandemic, the world was facing a surge of hate speech, racism, xenophobia, neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other forms of discrimination. And now we see that the pandemic has impacted racial minorities disproportionately. 
Ms. Mohammed stressed that to recover, we need unity, solidarity and compassion. Dr. King embodied the ideals of the UN: peace, social justice and human rights, she said. He lived and died defending human dignity and believing in the equal worth of every human being. 
The Deputy Secretary-General also told the King Center that the United Nations will continue to be a strong partner in this essential mission of the important work of Martin Luther King Jr. 
   
NOON BRIEFING GUESTS TOMORROW 
Tomorrow, the guests at the Noon Briefing will be Dominique Burgeon and Keith Cressman, both experts from the Food and Agriculture Organization.  They will brief reporters on the current desert locust situation, as well as on FAO’s response.  
 
HONOUR ROLL 
Canada and Latvia have paid their regular budget dues in full. There are now three members of the Honour Roll.