HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 22 APRIL 2019
The Secretary-General will depart New York on Wednesday, 24 April, to travel to Beijing in China, to take part in the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
On the morning of Friday, 26 April, he will deliver remarks at the Forum’s opening ceremony.
The following day, on the 27th, he will deliver remarks and participate in a Leader’s Roundtable on “Promoting green and sustainable development to implement the 2030 Agenda.”
While in Beijing, the Secretary-General is expected to meet with President Xi Jinping, the Premier of the State Council, Li Keqiang, and State Councilor and Minister for Foreign Affairs Wang Yi, and other senior officials, as well as with leaders also attending the Forum.
The Secretary-General will return to New York late on Saturday.
Today is Mother Earth Day.
The Secretary-General urged people to take climate action in every way they can, not just on Earth Day but every day. He also linked to a video which stresses that we only have one Earth and we need to protect it.
This year’s theme is ‘Education and Climate Change’, and this morning there was an interactive dialogue to discuss the theme, and that was attended by the President of the General Assembly as you heard.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ghassan Salame, is continuing his efforts to advocate for de-escalation in Libya. Earlier today, he met with Tunisian Foreign Minister Khamis Jhinaoui in Tunis, with whom he discussed developments related to the clashes in southern Tripoli. Both asserted that the UN-facilitated political process is the ideal and only way to solve the Libyan crisis.
The Secretary-General joins the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali in condemning in the strongest terms the attack perpetrated yesterday against Malian armed forces in Guiré, in Koulikoro region, approximately 360 kms from Bamako. Eleven Malian soldiers and 15 assailants died as a result of the fighting, which also saw several Malian soldiers wounded.
The Secretary-General conveys his condolences to the Government of Mali and the families of the deceased and wishes a swift recovery to those injured.
On Saturday, the Secretary-General also condemned an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack against a UN Peacekeeping convoy in the Mopti region of Mali. A peacekeeper from Egypt was killed and four were wounded.
He reaffirmed that such acts will not diminish the resolve of the UN to continue to support the people and Government of Mali in their quest for peace and stability.
The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, will represent the Secretary-General at the 8th Moscow Conference on International Security, which is taking place from 23-25 April.
Mr. Lacroix will speak at the opening of the conference, which traditionally brings together government representatives, heads of international organizations and non-governmental experts, among others. He will also participate in a plenary session on peacekeeping, in which he will highlight our efforts to enhance UN Peacekeeping.
Mr. Lacroix is also expected to hold meetings with Russian officials, including with the deputy foreign and defence ministers, to thank them for Russia’s support and contributions to peacekeeping and to update them on issues related to peacekeeping.
The top UN officials for refugees, migration and humanitarian affairs will jointly visit Bangladesh this week from Wednesday to Friday to highlight the ongoing need to support the humanitarian needs of nearly one million Rohingya refugees, as well as people living in host communities.
The three officials are the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi; the Director General of the International Organization for Migration, António Vitorino; and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock.
In the capital, Dhaka, they will hold talks with senior government officials, including the Prime Minister [Sheikh Hasina] and Foreign Minister [Dr. A.K Abdul Momen], to explore ways the international community can provide further support to Bangladesh as hosts to the Rohingya.
They will then travel to Cox’s Bazar to meet with refugees, assess preparations underway ahead of the monsoon season and visit projects, including those involving food distribution and shelter. They will also meet refugees who are working as volunteers and observe a joint UNHCR-Government of Bangladesh registration exercise, which is designed to provide identity cards to all refugees, ensuring their access to aid services and protection as well as establishing their right of return to Myanmar.
In Iran, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that one month after the heavy rains and devastating flooding that affected the country, an estimated 78 people have died. Overall, 10 million people have been affected by the floods; 2 million are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance. In addition, 366,000 people have been displaced.
The UN has been working closely with the government and the Iranian Red Crescent to assess the situation and respond to the needs of the affected population. It has also provided emergency health supplies and emergency shelter kits and household items, and vaccines carriers and cold boxes have just arrived and will be distributed in the coming days.
The UN is preparing an operational plan targeting nearly 116,000 people in the worst hit provinces.
The United Nations offers its condolences to the Government and people of Iran for the loss of life due to the floods.
This morning, the eighteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues got underway. This year’s session is focused on the generation, transmission and protection of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge.
The UN Climate Change Secretariat (UNFCCC) welcomes the financial contributions made by Bloomberg Philanthropies of $5.5 million dollars to support its work on global climate action.
The funding strengthens the Secretariat’s capacity to support developing countries; undertake outreach to promote climate action, as well as to address institutional needs in areas such as information technology and communications.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ contribution complements the support provided by national governments and other partners.
Yesterday, we issued a statement on the terrorist attacks on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka, in which the Secretary-General expressed his outrage at the attacks which took place on a sacred day for Christians around the world.
He recalled the sanctity of all places of worship, adding that he hoped that the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice.
The Secretary-General expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims, the people and the Government of Sri Lanka, and wishes a speedy recovery to those injured.
The Secretary-General reiterated the support and solidarity of the UN with the people and the Government of Sri Lanka in this difficult moment for their country.
Over the weekend, the Secretary-General spoke to Nana Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, to personally extend his condolences on the sudden passing of Major General Francis Vib-Sanziri of Ghana, who was the Head of Mission and Force Commander of the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force, otherwise known as UNDOF, which operates in the Golan.
General Francis Vib-Sanziri, who died unexpectedly on Friday, will be remembered for his exemplary career and leadership at the service of United Nations Peacekeeping, having served in five different UN missions.
We join the Secretary-General in extending our heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones and to the Government and the Armed Forces of Ghana, as well as to his colleagues in UNDOF.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the weekend saw further attacks on health centres in North Kivu Province. Our colleagues at the World Health Organization (WHO) report that Dr Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, an epidemiologist deployed by the WHO, was killed in an attack on Butembo University Hospital on Friday. Two other people were injured in the attack.
The Secretary-General condemned the attack, and expressed his solidarity with the people and Government of the DRC, and reiterated the determination of the UN to continue its work in support of the Congolese authorities to bring the Ebola outbreak to an end.
Dr. Tedros, the head of WHO, said that the attack is a tragic reminder of the risk health workers take every day to protect the lives and the health of others.
OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
Today is Associate Spokesperson Vannina Maestracci’s last day in the Spokesperson’s Office, and, sadly, also her last day at the United Nations, as she embarks on a new adventure in Montreal.
Speaking for myself, Martin Nesirky and Michelle Montas, I can easily say that for the past ten years, Vannina has been a pillar and a source of energy for my office. For my part, she has managed to keep me focused and on track, which is no easy feat.
We will also miss her friendship, enthusiasm, passion and most of all, her sense of humor. Her new colleagues in Canada will be lucky to have her.