HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 18 MAY 2017
U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY URGES RESOLUTION TO PALESTINIAN DETAINEES’ HUNGER STRIKE
- The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, said today that, as the hunger strike by Palestinian detainees protesting against their conditions in Israeli jails enters its second month, it is imperative that a resolution be found as soon as possible, in line with International Humanitarian Law and Israel's human rights obligations.
- With growing tensions on the Palestinian streets, Mr. Mladenov hopes that current efforts will result in an immediate resolution to the matter, which is in the interest of peace and ongoing initiatives to revive a political process.
- He calls on all actors to exercise maximum restraint, show responsibility and take all necessary steps to avoid escalating tensions.
SYRIA: U.N. RELIEF WING VOICES CONCERN OVER REPORTS OF ATTACK ON AQAREB AL-SAFYIEH
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is alarmed by reports of an attack on the Aqareb Al-Safyieh village in the eastern countryside of Hama today, reportedly resulting in the death of dozens of civilians, the majority of whom are women and children. A large number of people were also reportedly injured due to missile shelling. In addition to the people killed and injured, several people are reportedly missing and believed to have been kidnapped. We do not have further information at this time on the incident or who was responsible.
- Meanwhile, the Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, continues to facilitate the intra-Syrian talks in Geneva. He issued a press release today on his intention to establish a technical process to address constitutional and legal issues in the context of the talks.
IRAQ: U.N. SENIOR OFFICIAL WARNS OF ‘OVERWHELMING’ NUMBER OF PEOPLE FLEEING WESTERN MOSUL
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warns that there has been a sharp increase in the number of people fleeing western Mosul, in Iraq, as fighting has intensified there.
- Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said that the numbers of people fleeing their homes in western Mosul are overwhelming. Large numbers of families are on the move and are leaving everything behind. She added that the numbers of people who are moving are now so large that it’s becoming more difficult to ensure that civilians receive the assistance and protection they need.
- As military operations intensify and move closer to Mosul’s old city area, we expect that up to 200,000 more people will flee. She also said that without the generosity of people in other parts of Mosul city who are opening their homes and looking after displaced families from western Mosul, the camps would have been overwhelmed long ago.
- As of 18 May, the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for Iraq, requesting $985 million, is currently only 28 per cent funded. Under the 2017 Plan, approximately $331 million is being sought for the Mosul operation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO BELGIUM AND SWITZERLAND
- This afternoon, the Deputy Secretary-General will depart New York for Brussels.
- Tomorrow, she will participate in the Foreign Affairs Council on Development, and meet with Senior European Union Officials, as well as with heads and staff of UN system entities.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will travel further to Switzerland tomorrow, where she will join the Thirteenth Seminar for Special and Personal Representatives and Envoys of the UN Secretary General. She will return to New York the following day.
MEDICAL EXPERTS RACING TO CONTAIN OUTBREAK OF EBOLA IN D.R. CONGO
- The World Health Organization said today that medical experts are racing against the clock to contain the outbreak of Ebola in the Likati Health Zone, a remote area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, bordering the Central African Republic. The zone is 1,400 kilometres from Kinshasa and 350 kilometres from the nearest major town, Kisangani. There are only 20 kilometres of paved roads in this area and virtually no functional telecommunications.
- Speaking to the press in Geneva, the Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr. Peter Salama, said that the first Ebola treatment centre in Likati General Hospital has been established. Protective gear has been dispatched to health workers and a mobile lab is being constructed and will be deployed to the area. Immediate repairs to air strips and telecommunications are being carried out to allow the operation to continue successfully.
NUMBER OF REFUGEE AND MIGRANT CHILDREN TRAVELING ALONE INCREASED FIVE-FOLD SINCE 2010 - UNICEF
- UNICEF reports that the global number of refugee and migrant children moving alone has reached a record high, increasing nearly five-fold since 2010.
- According to UNICEF’s latest report which was released today, at least 300,000 children were unaccompanied or separated from their families while on the move during the years of 2015 and 2016, up from 66,000 in 2010.
- The report shows that an increasing number of these children are taking highly dangerous routes, often at the mercy of smugglers and traffickers, to reach their destinations, clearly justifying the need for a global protection system to keep them safe from exploitation, abuse and death.
NEW U.N. REPORT RANKS DEADLIEST WEATHER EVENTS, HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR RESILIENCE MEASURES
- The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has issued a report ranking the deadliest weather events such as cyclones, tornadoes, lightning and hailstorms.
- Cyclones top the list, the deadliest one being a tropical cyclone in Bangladesh in 1970, which killed 300,000 people. Tornadoes come in second, followed by lightning strikes and hailstorms.
- This is the first time that the WMO is highlighting the impact of specific weather events, and the agency said that it is doing so to raise awareness of the impacts of climate change and the need to increase resilience measures.
BARBADOS AND INDONESIA PAY FULL U.N. DUES
- Barbados and Indonesia have paid their regular budget dues in full, bringing to 101 the number of Member States that have done so.