HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 20 JANUARY 2020
The Secretary-General is now on his way back to New York.
He was in Berlin, and yesterday, he took part in the Libya Conference hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Secretary-General welcomed the commitment by the Member States present, including all five permanent members of the Security Council, to refrain from interfering in the armed conflict or Libya’s internal affairs.
He said that countries – along with regional and international organizations – sent a strong signal that they are “fully committed to supporting a peaceful resolution to the Libyan crisis.”
He reiterated that there is no military solution for the Libyan conflict and urged all Libyan parties to engage in a Libyan-owned and Libyan-led dialogue under the auspices of the United Nations, paving the way for a political solution.
At the Conference, all participants committed to supporting the ceasefire and to put pressure on the parties to the conflict for a full ceasefire to be reached.
In Yemen, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, condemned the escalation in military activities. He said he was particularly concerned by the aerial attack that reportedly hit the Al-Estiqbal military camp in Marib city, which reportedly killed dozens of people.
Mr. Griffiths reiterated that the hard-earned progress that Yemen has made on de-escalation is very fragile, stressing that such actions can derail this progress. He urged all parties to stop the escalation now and to direct their energy away from the military front and into the politics.
Mr. Griffiths has been actively engaged in the last 24 hours with all parties. He has expressed his alarm over the tragic events and urged the participants to remain calm and avoid any further escalation.
In a statement issued earlier today, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Iraq, urged the Government of Iraq to initiate a renewed push for reform and expressed concern about ongoing human rights violations.
With demonstrations across many parts of Iraq in their fourth month, she emphasized the importance of pressing ahead to meet the needs of the Iraqi people. The killing and injury of peaceful protesters, combined with years of undelivered promises, have resulted in a major crisis of confidence, she said, adding that the violent suppression of peaceful protests is intolerable and must be avoided at all costs.
The Special Representative said that geopolitical developments – namely the escalation in regional tensions - must not eclipse the rightful demands of the Iraqi people.
The Security Council held closed consultations this morning on Cyprus.
Council members were briefed by Elizabeth Spehar, the Special Representative and head of the mission in Cyprus.
ISRAEL/OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
Following a six-day visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, Ursula Mueller, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator and Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, called on the international community to ensure continued commitment and sustained funding to help alleviate the challenges faced by Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Ms. Mueller was the keynote speaker at the sixth international conference on preparedness and response to emergencies and disasters, that was held in Tel Aviv. During her visit, she met with Israeli authorities, and commended Israel on its contributions to global emergency relief efforts.
In the occupied Palestinian territory, Ms. Mueller met with the Prime Minister of the State of Palestine and the Director General of Palestinian Civil Defense, to identify areas for strengthened cooperation. She visited the central West Bank, where she met with vulnerable communities who are exposed to a coercive environment that reduces their access to shelter, basic services and natural resources, placing them at risk of forcible transfer.
And she was also in Gaza, she visited Al-Shifa hospital, a women’s centre where vulnerable women and men receive support and she also met youth leaders.
She said that “Member States must continue to support humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank. At the same time, they must work to rekindle a robust political dialogue and promote long-term solutions to address the root causes of the crisis.”
ROSEMARY DICARLO IN WEST AFRICA
And over the weekend, Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs concluded a visit to five African countries: Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
In meetings with national and regional leaders, she discussed the pressing issues of peace and security and development.
She held consultations with the UN Country teams on the humanitarian situation and ways to further strengthen our support through an enhanced strategic partnership with regional organizations such as the Economic Community for West Africa and the G5 Sahel.
More information on a press release and Ms. DiCarlo joined the Secretary-General in Berlin for the Libya conference.
The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, has strongly condemned the attack on Saturday evening by non-State armed groups against the main accommodation for aid workers in Ngala in the north-eastern state of Borno.
Five UN staff were staying there at the time of the attack.
Aid workers are providing assistance to more than 55,000 people in Ngala, which borders Cameroon. And we are continuing with our partners to help more than seven million people in the crisis-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, but humanitarian workers are increasingly the target of attacks.
UNESCO said that, while the number of journalists killed worldwide dropped by nearly half in 2019, they continue to face risks and perpetrators enjoy almost total impunity for these crimes.
UNESCO recorded 56 killings of journalists last year, the lowest annual toll in more than a decade. In total, 894 journalists have been killed in the decade from 2010 to 2019.
Most journalists have been killed outside conflict zones.
Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s Director-General, said that the agency remains deeply troubled by hostility and violence directed at all too many journalists around the world. She added that, as long as this situation lasts, it will undermine democracy.
The World Health Organization said that tobacco smokers who undergo surgery face higher risks of post-surgical complications than non-smokers. These complications include impaired heart and lung functions, infections and delayed or impaired wound healing.
However, a new joint study done by WHO and a number of partners shows that smokers who quit approximately 4 weeks or more before surgery have a lower risk of complication and better results 6 months afterwards.
And UNICEF today launched a paper that says that nearly 1 in 3 adolescent girls from the world’s poorest households have never been to school.
The paper, entitled “Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children”, highlights major disparities in the distribution of public education spending and calls for a more equal allocation of resources.
Looking at 42 countries, the paper finds that education for children from the richest 20 per cent of households are allocated nearly double the amount of education funding than children from the poorest 20 per cent of households.
Canada, the Netherlands and Switzerland have paid their contribution to the UN's regular budget, which brings us up to 14 Member States who have fully paid up.