SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2021
The Secretary-General arrived in Colombia last night. Speaking with journalists at the airport, he said that this is a visit of solidarity with the Colombian people that gives the world a very important example of affirming peace. The Secretary-General added that in a world in which we unfortunately see so many conflicts, it is very important to visit a country where peace is actually being built.
As we speak, the Secretary-General, together with the President of Colombia, Iván Duque Márquez, is in the province of Antioquia, visiting a Training and Reintegration area. The Secretary-General will also be meeting with Rodrigo Londoño, President of the Comunes political party.
This afternoon, he will travel on to Apartadó to learn about the progress of the Territorial Development Programme in the region and to attend an event in commemoration of the peace process. Later tonight, the Secretary-General will have a meeting with civil society representatives.
Tomorrow is his last day in Colombia, the Secretary-General will meet several government officials and will participate in the commemoration of the Fifth Anniversary of the signing of the Final Peace Agreement. He will also attend the “La Paz es Productiva” fair in Bogota.
I was asked several questions this morning about the security situation in Ethiopia concerning UN staff and I can tell you that given the security situation in the country, and out of an abundance of caution, the United Nations has decided to reduce its footprint in the country by temporarily relocating all eligible dependents.
It is important to note that staff will remain in Ethiopia to deliver on our mandates.
We will monitor the situation as it evolves, keeping in mind the safety of our staff and the need to continuing to stand and deliver and to continue our operations and support all the people that need our assistance.
I was also asked this morning about the situation in Libya and the situation regarding Jan Kubis, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General and I can tell you that Mr. Kubis has tendered his resignation and the Secretary-General has accepted it with regret. The Secretary-General is working on an appropriate replacement.
We are all fully aware of the electoral calendar and are working as quickly as possible to ensure continuity of leadership.
I would also add that we have a strong presence on the ground in Libya and all of our colleagues will continue, as they have done, working with Libyan institutions in light of the upcoming elections not to mention the humanitarian challenges that the Libyan people face.
PRESS ENCOUNTER TODAY
Following today’s Security Council meeting on the situation in Libya in the afternoon, Ambassador Juan Ramón de la Fuente, the President of the Security Council and Permanent Representative of Mexico to the UN, will brief you at the Stakeout. He will speak on behalf of the informal caucus of States Parties to the Rome Statute.
Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, was in Cairo yesterday, where he met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the Secretary General of the Arab League, Mr. Aboul Gheit. He discussed ongoing developments in Yemen and the role of the region in supporting our efforts. He also met a diverse group of Yemenis to consult on ways to start an inclusive political dialogue to reach a durable political settlement.
I was asked about the situation in Hudaydah yesterday and I can tell you that the UN Mission on the ground in Hudaydah is closely monitoring alarming reports of intensive clashes and escalation of fighting in the southern districts of the Hudaydah governorate, [specifically] in Hays and At Tuhayta areas, with significant civilian casualties reported.
The UN Mission reiterates its call for all parties to the conflict to exercise restraint. It reminds the parties of their obligations to protect civilians and take all measures to prevent any further escalation.
And our humanitarian colleagues report that we along with our partners are responding to increased displacement and humanitarian needs in Hudaydah. Aid agencies are helping families displaced from Hudaydah to southern districts (Al Khukhah and Al Makha). They have provided rapid response kits, with emergency food rations, basic hygiene and women's dignity kits, as well as emergency shelter kits, and that’s to about 4,800 people.
Needs assessments, registration of internally displaced people and the repositioning of supplies are ongoing.
We continue to work to ensure that the humanitarian response in areas now under the control of the Houthi de facto authorities continues without interruption.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
Turning to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the UN peacekeeping mission on the ground there reports that on Sunday, members of the armed group known as CODECO launched several deadly attacks in the area of Drodro, in the province of Ituri.
Our colleagues are telling us that around 16,000 people fled to a camp located in the vicinity of the peacekeeping Temporary Operational Base. This camp already hosts more than 21,000 displaced people.
Peacekeepers deployed two companies of their special forces to reinforce security in the area. They escorted displaced people, the local population, as well as humanitarians and nuns from the Catholic Centre of Drodro to the camp.
The Congolese Armed Forces has since regained control of Drodro.
To the east in South Sudan, following the killing of two Dinka men in a road ambush, and a subsequent revenge attack that resulted in the deaths of seven Murle community members, peacekeepers are closely monitoring the security situation in Jonglei and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.
The Mission immediately deployed special patrols into Bor and neighbouring Anyidi to calm tensions and engage with local authorities and the communities impacted by the violence.
Our colleagues are also telling us that local authorities responded swiftly to these attacks, condemning them and calling on the communities involved to refrain from further retaliation.
In an effort to address the broader issue of the persistent cycle of cattle-raiding and intercommunal conflict, particularly during the dry season, the peacekeeping mission is also establishing a special UN-wide taskforce to intensify reconciliation and peacebuilding activities in the area, which is already suffering from a dire economic situation aggravated by the worst flooding in 60 years.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the Special Representative for Iraq, briefed the Security Council by VTC from Baghdad this morning on last month’s elections. She noted that the elections were assessed as generally peaceful, well run, featuring significant technical and procedural improvements.
However, she condemned the 7 November assassination attempt against Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. She said that under no circumstances must terrorism, violence or any other unlawful acts be allowed to derail Iraq’s democratic process.
The Special Representative repeated the UN’s consistent calls for political dialogue to prevail, adding outstanding electoral concerns must only be dealt with through established legal channels.
Our UN teams in Latin America and the Caribbean have received several batches of COVAX-backed vaccines. Today, Bolivia received over 90,000 doses of vaccines donated by the Government of France to which we say thank you. That was all done through COVAX, bringing the total doses received to over 3.5 million. The UN team there is supporting authorities to tackle the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Bolivia is also carrying out the largest vaccination deployment in its history. Together with the COVAX Mechanism and the solidarity of countries such as Sweden, Spain, the United States and France, vaccines are reaching the country’s, urban and rural populations.
And last week Guatemala received over a million doses, and now the total COVAX-backed vaccines there is over 3.2 million.
In the Caribbean over 19,000 doses landed in Antigua and Barbuda also last week, with over 60,000 vaccines being administered via COVAX. And Ecuador and Nicaragua also received over 620,000 and 134,000 doses respectively, bringing the total numbers to over 1.8 and 2.8 million doses respectively through COVAX.
NOON BRIEFING GUESTS TOMORROW
Tomorrow we will have a briefing. Farhan will be here. We will have some guests from UN Women to present a new report entitled “Measuring the shadow pandemic: Violence against women during COVID-19”. Kalliopi Mingeirou, Chief of the Ending Violence Against Women section, and Papa Seck, the Chief of the Research and Data section at UN Women, will be in the room to answer your questions.