HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 19 JANUARY 2021


CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In the Central African Republic, today, the peacekeeping mission on the ground (MINUSCA) tells us that the security situation remains fragile throughout the country. Peacekeepers continue to maintain a robust posture to ensure the protection of civilians.
You will have also seen that, yesterday afternoon, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the head of Peace Operations, joined senior officials from the African Union, the Economic Commission of Central African States (ECCAS) and the European Union, in issuing a joint statement. The statement took note of the decision of the Central African Constitutional court, which proclaimed the final results of last month’s presidential election.
In their joint statement, they called on all actors to accept the results of the elections as certified by the Court, and reaffirmed their commitment to political dialogue, the consolidation of peace and democracy.
The UN mission will continue to provide its multifaceted support to complete the electoral process, particularly the legislative elections. 
Also on the Central African Republic, we have a few more details on yesterday’s attack in the country. Two peacekeepers – one from Gabon and one Morocco – were killed near Bangassou, in the Mbomou prefecture, by alleged combatants from the Coalition of Patriots for Change, the CPC.
The Secretary-General expressed his deep condolences to the families of the peacekeepers, and to the people and Governments of Gabon and Morocco.
The Secretary-General also reiterated his grave concern over the escalation of violence in the Central African Republic, and called on all parties to immediately cease hostilities, to engage in dialogue to advance the political process, preserve fragile gains and fulfil the country’s aspirations for lasting peace. 
Already this year, as you will have noted, nine UN peacekeepers have been killed in incidents around the world. The Secretary-General said this demonstrates, yet again, the perilous environment in which peacekeepers carry out their mandates to protect people and support peace processes. The task is made harder by the global pandemic. While progress has been made in reducing casualties among UN peacekeepers, recent incidents show that the threat continues. Our collective efforts to ensure the safety of peacekeepers, including through the Action for Peacekeeping initiative, need to keep pace.
The Secretary-General salutes the service, the sacrifice and the selflessness of the women and men who are serving, or have lost their lives while serving, under the flag of the UN in some of the world’s most dangerous places.

MALI
The Head of Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix is still in Mali today.
We wanted to note that, this morning, at the headquarters of the UN Mission (MINUSCA) in Bamako, he took part in a ceremony to honour the memory of the peacekeepers killed last week. 
The head of the Peacekeeping Mission in Mali, Mahamet Saleh Annadif, also attended the ceremony.
Since his arrival in the country, Mr. Lacroix has had a series of meetings with political leaders and the UN’s partners. His visit will continue tomorrow.

SOUTH SUDAN
From South Sudan, the UN Mission (UNMISS) says it is deploying additional troops and resources to Bunj in the Upper Nile region following recent clashes.
The Mission said it is enhancing its peacekeepers’ ability to conduct more frequent patrols.
Peacekeepers recently assessed the security situation in the area. They met with county commissioners and others to understand what the community is experiencing, given the current instability and tensions.
The Mission is also helping to deliver humanitarian aid to those in need.

ETHIOPIA
Turning to Ethiopia, our humanitarian colleagues say that, although there have been substantial improvements to movement of aid in Tigray, requests to the Federal Government for critical staff deployment and surge requests have been pending clearances for several weeks.
Overall, the humanitarian situation in Tigray is increasingly severe, with reports of fighting, human rights violations and abuse and increasing hunger and malnutrition affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Most of them have not received any assistance to date.
The Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia, Wafaa Saeed, and other UN staff have been deployed Mekelle, the capital of Tigray. The team is working with aid agencies and local authorities to carry out assessments and coordinate the humanitarian response.
Our colleagues at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today it had regained access last week to two refugee camps in Tigray. This is the first time in two months since the fighting forced aid workers to withdraw from the region.
UNHCR led the first humanitarian mission since November to the Mai Aini and the Adi Harush camps. Eritrean refugees were found in desperate need of supplies and services. The agency was granted one-time access by the Ethiopian authorities to assess the needs in the camps.
The only assistance refugees have received since the start of the conflict was a one-time food distribution conducted by the World Food Programme (WFP) nearly a month ago. A second delivery is hopefully expected soon.

LIBYA
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) conducted a one-day voting process yesterday. In it, members of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum were asked to cast their vote on a proposal for the selection mechanism of a unified executive authority.  
Seventy-two Political Dialogue Forum members engaged in the process. Fifty-one voted in favour of the proposed mechanism - representing almost 73 per cent of the votes cast, and 19 members voted against. Two members abstained and two others did not engage in the process.  The proposal, therefore, passed.
The Mission commends the Forum members who engaged in the process for their commitment to the UN facilitated intra-Libyan dialogue and for upholding their responsibilities before the Libyan people.

SYRIA
Turning to Syria, we are following with concern the winter storms in the northwest of the country, which are reportedly the biggest so far this season.
The heavy rainfall across western Aleppo and Idlib governorates in northwest Syria has reportedly caused damage to sites for internally displaced people. It has damaged tents and cut off roads leading up to the camps.
While the damage continues to be assessed, there are reports of more than 1,700 households in northwest Syria that have been affected by the flooding. More than 200 tents were destroyed and more than 1,400 were damaged. 
Humanitarian workers have distributed winter assistance to 2.3 million people across Syria.  This includes essential assistance to protect against the cold, including sleeping bags, winter clothing, heating fuel, as well as assistance to repair and replace tents. But there remains a $32 million gap in the funding for these basic items.
  
ISRAEL/PALESTINE
Yesterday evening, we issued a statement from the Secretary-General in which he expressed his deep concern at the decision of the Israeli authorities to advance plans for some 800 settlement units, most of which are located deep inside the occupied West Bank.
The Secretary-General reiterates that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.
Tor Wennesland has now started his work as the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process; yesterday was his first day officially on the job.

INDIA
Turning to India, where our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien, is supporting the Government and our partners in the massive COVID-19 vaccination programme.
UN agencies are working closely with authorities to prepare and launch what is currently the world’s largest vaccination drive. As of today, the Government has vaccinated nearly half a million people.
UN teams have monitored more than 4,000 vaccination sessions so far and we have helped to train more than 300,000 vaccinators and healthcare workers. We are also providing technical assistance, including helping to ensure cold-chain equipment for the vaccines.
Also, in India, the UN team’s work has led to a five-fold increase in investments to address gender-based violence since the start of the pandemic.
UN agencies have helped to train hundreds of crisis centre workers who support thousands of survivors of gender-based violence every month. We have also trained 47,000 nurses and others to address violence against women, girls and others. UNICEF has helped nearly half a million children in institutions and foster care.
We have also helped nearly 5 million children and women receive health care.
The UN has trained law enforcement agency officials to prevent and counter human trafficking. A campaign by UNAIDS to build solidarity for the LGBTQI community has reached millions of people.

MOZAMBIQUE
In Mozambique, tomorrow, the UN Regional Directors for Southern and Eastern Africa will hold a virtual press conference. They will voice their extreme concern about the dire humanitarian and food security situation in the northern region of Mozambique. This was brought on by the escalating violence and displacement of more than 565,000 people from the Cabo Delgado province. This press event will be at 10:00 am, Southern African Time; 3:00 am in New York.
Meanwhile, the World Food Programme (WFP) said that Regional Directors recently concluded a joint mission to assess the plight of displaced people and host communities in the conflict-affected region. The mission met with internally displaced people who have been victims of attacks, continue facing insecurity and who have lost everything - including their agricultural land, livelihoods and homes.
  
MADAGASCAR
From Madagascar, we are issuing a Flash Appeal asking for $76 million. This is to support more than 1 million people who face a potentially life-threatening lack of food, nutrition, water and sanitation and health assistance.
The flash appeal will focus on the country’s south – known in French as Grand Sud. The agricultural season in this region has suffered the worst drought in 10 years. COVID-19 and associated lockdowns are also affecting a large part of the country. One in three people in the south is now severely food insecure.

U.N. CONFERENCE ON TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
Yesterday, we announced that the Secretary-General of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mukhisa Kituyi, informed the Secretary-General that he would resign, effective 15 February.
The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Kituyi’s service and his commitment for the remainder of his term to the functions entrusted to him as a UN international civil servant. 
The Deputy Secretary-General of UNCTAD, Isabelle Durant of Belgium, will be appointed as Acting Secretary-General. Our Secretary-General, meanwhile, will launch a recruitment process, in consultation with Member States, to find a successor to Mr. Kituyi.

***The guests at the Noon Briefing were from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO): Dominique Burgeon, Director of Emergencies and Resilience; Keith Cressman, Senior Locust Forecasting Officer; Cyril Ferrand, Resilience team leader for Eastern Africa; and Rosanne Marchesich, Senior Emergency and Rehabilitation Officer. They spoke to reporters about the current desert locust situation, as well as the FAO’s response.