HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 20 DECEMBER 2017
DATO’ MAIMUNAH MOHD SHARIF OF MALAYSIA APPOINTED AS HEAD OF U.N. HABITAT
- Following consultations with the Chairpersons of the regional groups, the Secretary‑General today informed the General Assembly of his intention to appoint Dato’ Maimunah Mohd Sharif of Malaysia as the next Executive Director of the UN Human Settlements Programme, known as UN-Habitat.
- Ms. Sharif is currently Mayor of the City Council of Penang Island, Malaysia. Prior to her appointment as a Mayor, she was the first woman to be appointed as Seberang Perai Municipal Council President.
U.N. CHIEF STRESSES NEED FOR CONFLICT PREVENTION TO TACKLE THREATS TO PEACE AND SECURITY
- This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council debate on maintenance of international peace and security. He told Council members that conflicts today are more complex, longer and intractable, and that given their changing nature it’s necessary to “rethink our approach to how we work and how we work with others.”
- He emphasized that prevention is key to avoid human suffering and is also a sound investment that will save money for countries, and stressed that working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals can help build peace around the world.
- In particular, he pointed to the importance of respecting human rights, empowering women, and using diplomacy to prevent conflict, and called on the Council to act with unity. Without it, the drivers of conflict will push situations to the point of no return, again and again, he said.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. MISSION SUCCESSFULLY CLOSES FIRST PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS SITE
- The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan says that the first protection of civilians site has been successfully closed in the country after internally displaced families expressed the desire and confidence to return to their former homes.
- The site, next to the UN base in Melut, in the Upper Nile region, had provided sanctuary to hundreds of families since the civil war broke out four years ago. Over the past week, these families have returned to their homes with the assistance of the UN mission and the UN Refugee Agency, in partnership with other humanitarian organizations.
- The Head of the UN mission, David Shearer, said the UN would look at every camp individually to see if the conditions allow people to return home voluntarily and safely. Where these conditions exist, we will try to assist people back, he added.
IRAQ: U.N. CONCERNED ABOUT REPORTED CASUALTIES DURING DEMONSTRATIONS IN KURDISTAN REGION
- The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said it’s deeply concerned about the violence and the reported casualties during demonstrations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq in the last two days, and calls for restraint and calm on all sides.
- The people have the right to partake in peaceful demonstrations, and the authorities in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq have the responsibility of protecting their citizens, including peaceful protestors. Security forces are also urged to exercise maximum restraint in dealing with the demonstrators. The Mission also calls on the demonstrators to avoid any act of violence, including the destruction of public and private properties.
- UNAMI calls upon the authorities to respect and protect the media, after one outlet, NRT TV, was ordered to suspend its broadcasts because of the content of its reporting on the demonstrations.
SYRIA: U.N. REITERATES CALL FOR URGENT MEDICAL EVACUATION OF 500 PEOPLE IN EASTERN GHOUTA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) remains very concerned about the situation inside besieged eastern Ghouta in Syria, where airstrikes are being reported daily and where citizens remain in desperate need of humanitarian aid and medical evacuation.
- On 18 December, an infant girl reportedly died in eastern Ghouta due to a critical health condition and lack of appropriate medical treatment.
- The UN continues to call for the urgent medical evacuation of some 500 people in besieged eastern Ghouta. Civilians must be able to seek medical care. The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to facilitate immediate medical evacuation of the sick and wounded in a safe, timely and systematic manner, everywhere in Syria. The UN also continues to call for safe, unimpeded and sustained access to all people in need.
U.N. HONOURS INITIATIVES THAT HELP WOMEN AND GIRLS TAKE PART IN TECHNOLOGY FIELD
- Today, at the Internet Governance Forum in Geneva, initiatives offering opportunities in the technology field for women in Lebanon, Afghanistan and Costa Rica have been recognized at the UN EQUALS in Tech Awards.
- In her message to this year’s winners, the Deputy Secretary-General said that “new tech needs to be available to all for the benefit of all, our sustainable future depends on bridging the digital gender divide.” The Awards are given to initiatives that improve social, political and economic outcomes for women and girls, and recognize the value that they bring to the technology sectors.
U.N. AGENCIES TO BOOST EFFORTS TO ALLEVIATE HUNGER IN DR CONGO
- The World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today that they will step up efforts to alleviate hunger in Greater Kasai, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- A new WFP project will benefit some 18,000 households – displaced, returnee or host families. Children aged 6 to 59 months, and pregnant and breastfeeding women, will be treated for three months with special nutritious supplements.
- For its part, FAO will supply vegetable-growing kits that will allow each family to eat for two months and sell what they don’t eat. There will also be training in raising guinea pigs as a source of protein and in processing and marketing bamboo.
- The joint initiative will be rolled out in partnership with the DRC Ministry of Agriculture and local NGOs.
- The conflict in Kasai, formerly a maize-producing region, has forced a million people out of their homes and off their land. Some 3.2 million are now severely hungry and child malnutrition is widespread.
ON INTERNATIONAL DAY, U.N. HIGHLIGHTS SOLIDARITY AS KEY TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS