HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2019

 
MIDDLE EAST
In response to questions on the announcement made yesterday by the Secretary of State of the US regarding the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, the UN position remains unchanged.
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S REMARKS
The Security Council is holding an open debate today on the role of reconciliation processes in the maintenance in the maintenance of peace and security.
Briefing the Council, the Secretary-General said that successful reconciliation contributes to preventing a recurrence of conflict and building more peaceful, resilient and prosperous societies, pointing to examples such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Northern Ireland and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
On the current wave of protests around the world, he said that while each is unique, they share common features: a deficit of trust between people and political institutions, as well as deepening inequalities.
The Secretary-General urges governments to respond to these protests with respect for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and to address people’s grievances through dialogue and reconciliation to counter deep polarization.
And this afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Secretary-General will speak at the high-level event between the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization on the theme, “preventing the linking of terrorism with organized crime and its financing through drug trafficking.”
He is expected to say that security measures are just one part of addressing terrorism and its links with transnational crime and drug trafficking. The UN system is working with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to support holistic efforts to prevent and counter terrorism by dealing with root causes, with full respect for human rights and the rule of law.
 
SAHEL
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that violence and insecurity have sparked an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and western Niger.
The number of internally displaced persons has now risen to more than 750,000. This is ten times more people than a year ago.   
According to the World Food Programme, 2.4 million people need food assistance in Central Sahel - a figure that could rise due to continued displacements.
In a statement, the head of WFP, David Beasley, said teams on the ground in Burkina Faso are seeing malnutrition levels pushed well past emergency thresholds.
As you can imagine, the crisis is affecting the most vulnerable families, compounding the impact of food insecurity, malnutrition and epidemics.
This year, 6.1 million people in the affected regions need urgent assistance, including 3.9 million in Mali, 1.5 million in Burkina Faso, and 700,000 people in western Niger.
The UN and humanitarian organizations, in support of national and local authorities, are scaling up their assistance and need over 700 million to help 4.7 million people in the three countries. This appeal is only 47 per cent funded.
 
AFGHANISTAN
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that one third of the country’s population – or just over 10 million people – experienced severe acute food insecurity between August and October of this year, requiring urgent humanitarian action.
Between now and next March, severe acute food insecurity may increase to affect around 11.3 million people, or 37 per cent of the total population.
At the end of September, the UN and its humanitarian partners had reached nearly 5.4 million people with assistance.
The Humanitarian Response Plan for Afghanistan for 2019, which calls for $612 million to help 4.5 million people, is nearly 70 per cent funded so far.
 
SYRIA
According to the UN Children’s Fund, nearly 28,000 foreign children from over 60 countries, including almost 20,000 from Iraq, remain trapped in north-eastern Syria, largely in displacement camps. Some 80 per cent of these children are under the age of 12, and 50 per cent of them are under the age of five.
At least 17 countries have also already repatriated at least 650 children.
The UN commends the leadership of the countries who have repatriated civilians. Their actions, and UNICEF’s long experience of supporting children, families and communities impacted by armed conflict around the world, show us that where there is a will, there is a way.
It is imperative for Member States to take responsibility for children who are their citizens or born of their nationals, and to take measures to prevent children from becoming stateless.
In line with the best interests of the child and in compliance with international standards, governments should ensure the safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of foreign children back to their countries of origin. The preservation of family unity and the principle of non-refoulement are also critical for protecting children.
The UN urges all Member States to find durable solutions for all their nationals living in displacement camps in Syria, through repatriation, reintegration or prosecution, as appropriate, in line with international law.
 
TOILET DAY
Today is World Toilet Day, marking this year will be the theme: Leaving no One Behind.
Close to half of the world’s population- or to be exact 4.2 billion people – are still living without safely managed sanitation. This is not without consequences and it is estimated that inadequate sanitation causes over 400,000 diarrheal deaths every year.
World Toilet Day aims to remind all of us that we need to do much more to achieve Sustainable Goal 6 – or sanitation for all, by 2030.