HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 22 AUGUST 2019
International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief
Today, and for the first time, we observe the International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief.
In his message, the Secretary-General recalls the increasing number of attacks that occurred in the past months against individuals and groups targeted because of their religion or belief.
He highlighted that many assaults, like those in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the United States, have specifically targeted places of worship. The Secretary-General also points out that in many conflicts around the world, from Syria to the Central African Republic, entire communities have been attacked on the grounds of their faith.
He appeals to resistance and rejection of those who falsely and maliciously invoke religion to build misconceptions, fuel division and spread fear and hatred.
The full message is online.
Also, yesterday afternoon a statement was issued to condemn an attack that took place on 19 August at the military camp of Koutougou, in Burkina Faso.
According to official reports, this was one of the deadliest attacks in the country since the beginning of the year.
The Secretary-General expressed his deep condolences to the families of the deceased, as well as to the people and Government of Burkina Faso, and wishes a speedy recovery to all those injured.
In the statement, the Secretary-General further condemned the ongoing indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations. He calls on the authorities to ensure perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice, and for all military actions to be conducted in accordance with international human rights and international humanitarian law.
The Secretary-General reiterates his solidarity with the Government and people of Burkina Faso.
The Security Council is holding an open debate this afternoon at 3:00 pm.
From the UN side, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, will brief Council members.
And today, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a further assessment of microplastics in the environment and their potential impacts on human health.
The appeal followed the release of the WHO’s first report on microplastics in drinking water. Based on the limited information available, the microplastics in drinking water don’t appear to pose a health risk at current levels, according to WHO.
Nevertheless, they recommend drinking-water suppliers and regulators prioritize removing microbial pathogens and chemicals that are known risks to human health.
More information is online.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said that the Government of Myanmar has conveyed to the Government of Bangladesh the names of 3,450 Rohingya refugees who have been cleared for return to Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
UNHCR called Myanmar’s engagement in this process a positive step in the affirmation of the right to return of Rohingya refugees.
The agency has been assisting Bangladesh in surveying these refugees on whether they wish to return to Myanmar. So far, none of the interviewed have indicated a willingness to repatriate at this time. UNHCR appreciates the consistent commitment by Bangladesh to ensure that the refugees’ decisions will be respected.
Many of the refugees stated that they do hope to go home to Myanmar as soon as conditions allow and that assurances regarding their citizenship status, freedom of movement, and security in Myanmar could be provided.
The agency has agreed with the Governments of Bangladesh and Myanmar that any repatriation of refugees must be voluntary, safe and dignified.
First Global Refugee Forum
And also from UNHCR, they would like to flag that on 17 and 18 December, in Geneva, the Government of Switzerland and UNHCR will host the Global Refugee Forum.
This will be the first Ministerial gathering to follow up on the practical implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees.
The Global Refugee Forum is organized to generate impactful commitments and other pledges, geared towards making tangible, long-term policy and practice shifts to improve the lives of refugees and host communities worldwide.
And just a clarification the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, they would like to clarify the remarks made about corruption by the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs during the noon briefing on World Humanitarian Day this past Monday. Her quotes were referencing the UN’s standing policy of zero tolerance on corruption across the entire system. Her remarks did not refer to any specific crisis, agency or organization.
Alison Smale, the Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, will speak about the 68th UN Civil Society Conference that is due to take place later this month in Salt Lake City.
She will be joined by the Mayor of Salt Lake City, Jackie Biskupski (by audio from Salt Lake City); Maruxa Cardama, the Chair of the UN Civil Society Conference (also by audio from Brazil) and many other guests.
There were also be later at the Security Council stakeout, the Foreign Minister of Poland, alongside Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief and Samuel Brownback, US Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom. They will speak following this morning’s Arria-formula meeting on "Advancing the safety and security of persons belonging to religious minorities in armed conflict".