HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

MONDAY, 19 AUGUST 2019

 
WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY
As you know, in 2003, 22 of our colleagues were murdered when terrorists targeted the UN compound in Baghdad. Today, on World Humanitarian Day, we honor their memory as we recall their courage and dedication to improving the lives of the Iraqi people who had suffered so much.
We also think of our colleagues who survived the bombing. Many of them quietly returned to, serving at Headquarters and in the field, further keeping alive the memory of our friends who never came back.
This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General laid a wreath a memorial in the Visitors’ lobby. Speaking to theme of this year’s Day, she stressed how the presence of women makes UN efforts more effective, from addressing health epidemics to providing support to victims of gender-based violence. Thanks to their efforts, millions of people have found protection from conflict and had hope itself rekindled, the Deputy Secretary-General said. Her remarks have been distributed.
In his message, the Secretary-General outlined their role in supporting civilians caught up in crisis and addressing disease outbreaks. He calls on world leaders and parties to conflict everywhere to live up to their legal obligations to protect all humanitarians from harm. His message was distributed over the weekend.
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL
The Secretary-General will be back in the office late tomorrow afternoon.
He has a meeting scheduled late in the afternoon with the US Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, who he will meet here in New York.
On 18 September, we have a press conference scheduled by the Secretary-General in advance of the General Assembly.
 
FOOD AND AGRIGULTURE ORGANIZATION
The Secretary-General joins the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in expressing condolences to the family of former Director-General Jacques Diouf who passed away last Saturday, at the age of 81.
Diouf began his first term at the helm of FAO in January 1994 and held the position until 2011.
Diouf’s efforts towards ending hunger and boosting food security and sustainable agriculture will continue to be remembered through the FAO Jacques Diouf Award. The prize awarded recognizes the best contribution to global food security.
 
AFGHANISTAN
In a statement we issued yesterday, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the horrific 17 August terrorist attack on a wedding ceremony in Kabul, claiming the lives of 63 people and injuring over 180.
The Secretary-General also expressed his deepest sympathies to the families of the victims and the Government and people of Afghanistan. He wishes a swift recovery to those injured.
 
SUDAN
On Saturday, we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General warmly congratulated the Sudanese people on the important signing ceremony of the documents on transitional civilian authority in the Republic of Sudan. He applauded the role of the African Union and Ethiopia in having mediated the Sudanese-led talks.  
The Secretary-General looks forward to engaging with and supporting the transitional [governing] institutions. He reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to assist the transition process as it seeks to achieve the long-standing aspiration of the people of Sudan for democracy and peace.
The Secretary-General also underscored the importance of paving the way for Sudan’s socio-economic recovery and setting the country on a path of sustainable development benefiting Sudan’s [diverse] and vibrant society. The UN stands ready to work with international partners and assist Sudan in this endeavour.
 
EBOLA
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ebola has now spread to South Kivu, with cases confirmed in the village of Chowe Mwenga – that’s just south of Bukavu.
A woman, previously identified as a contact for 2 people who had contracted Ebola, travelled from Beni to South Kivu last week. She and her 17-month old baby have now died from the disease and her 7-month-old baby is receiving treatment.
The World Health Organization reports that a rapid response team was sent to the village. They quickly isolated and treated people with Ebola, traced contacts, began vaccinating and raising awareness about the disease.
In North Kivu and Ituri provinces, the outbreak transmission continues with an average of 81 new cases per week. There are currently no confirmed cases of Ebola outside of the DRC.
 
BRAZIL/VENEZUELA
The High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, just concluded a four-day visit to Brazil. He appealed for increased international engagement, including by financial institutions and development actors, in the communities hosting Venezuelan refugees and migrants.
There are over 180,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Brazil. An average of 500 arrive every day, most in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.
 
WILDLIFE
In Geneva, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, better known as CITES, is having its annual conference to strengthen global wildlife trade rules.
The Conference received 56 proposals to change the levels of protection for wildlife species. Twenty of them are concerned with the growing appetite of the exotic pet trade for amphibians and reptiles. Others pertain the debate over how best to manage the African elephant populations and what to do with the ivory produced by these animals. Delegates at the conference will also decide whether musical instruments made of precious wood from trees regulated by the Convention should be exempted from controls.
Governments will evaluate each listing proposal and decide to adopt it by consensus or, if necessary, by vote.
 
SRI LANKA
I’ve been asked by some of you about the appointment of Lieutenant-General Shavendra Silva to the position of Army Commander in Sri Lanka, and you will have seen on that issue the statement already issued by the High Commission for Human Rights.
We are concerned about the appointment. The United Nations remains committed to the highest human rights standards for all personnel deployed as part of UN peace operations. All Sri Lankan uniform personnel participating in UN peace operations undergo extensive human rights screening.