HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2019
In a statement today, the Secretary-General said that worldwide, the number of internally displaced persons has continued to grow in recent years, with more than 41 million uprooted by the end of 2018 as a result of armed conflict and violence. Millions more become internally displaced every year due to natural disasters.
He added that internally displaced persons are among the most vulnerable and face a variety of risks to their lives, health and well-being.
For this reason, the Secretary-General has announced today the establishment of a High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement to focus on finding solutions to internal displacement situations and alleviating the impact on millions of affected people. The High-Level Panel will work to increase global attention on and support for displaced persons, while developing concrete recommendations for Member States, the United Nations system and other relevant stakeholders to improve the approach and response to the issue, with a particular focus on durable solutions.
The Secretary-General will announce the composition of the High-Level Panel shortly. He expects the Panel to begin its deliberations in early 2020 and to submit recommendations to him within a year of its first meeting. The full statement is online.
Migrant deaths in the UK
In a tweet sent out a just now, the Secretary-General said he is horrified and deeply saddened by the discovery of 39 bodies in a lorry in the United Kingdom.
He offered his deepest condolences to all who have lost family and loved ones. Those responsible must be swiftly brought to justice, he said.
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, was in Somalia today on the third day of her joint UN/ African Union solidarity mission on women, peace and security in the Horn of Africa.
Ms. Mohammed met with Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre, Government officials as well as civil society and a group of women civil society leaders.
They discussed elections, peace, security, and women’s meaningful participation.
The Deputy Secretary-General said she is filled with a sense of optimism for the future of this country. The UN is committed to supporting efforts to sustainable development, inclusive peace and gender equality.
The International Support Group for Lebanon, including UN Special Coordinator Jan Kubis, met yesterday with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri and afterwards issued a joint statement.
In the statement, the International Support Group says that Prime Minister Hariri informed the Ambassadors about the series of long-overdue measures taken yesterday by the Government.
Members of the International Support Group expressed its support for the reform objectives Prime Minister Hariri has outlined, and the decisions endorsed by the Cabinet, which are in line with aspirations of the Lebanese people. They applaud the democratic expression of the Lebanese people, and their calls for just, socially responsible, and acceptable deep reforms and changes that should substantially reduce corruption and waste and move away from sectarianism, ensure good governance and full accountability, and lead to sustainable development and stability. Their grievances must be addressed.
Members of the International Support Group urge the leaders and political actors of Lebanon to hear the voices of the people, to work with them on solutions and their implementation and to refrain from rhetoric and action that could inflame tensions and incite confrontation and violence. The full statement is available online.
We continue to be concerned about civilians caught up in fighting in northeast Syria. UN humanitarian workers report that almost 180,000 people have been displaced as a result of hostilities since the 9th of October. With a reduction in fighting in some areas, an estimated 43,000 people of those recently displaced have reportedly returned home in recent days.
With winter looming, the wellbeing of an estimated 120,000 people in displacement camps, sites, collective shelters and informal settlements is a major concern. The provision of humanitarian assistance for people in need in northeast Syria, particularly those in camps, remains a priority for the UN.
UN agencies and humanitarian partners are scaling up their response to meet the increased needs. Food has been delivered to 256,000 people so far this month, with plans to deliver to 580,000 people before the end of the month. Winter items have been distributed to 100,000 people
Over 450,000 people have been reached with water, sanitation and hygiene support, and 10,000 people have been provided with health consultations. A polio vaccination campaign is ongoing, having already reached over 70,000 children.
The UN continues to reiterate the need for all parties to ensure that civilians and civilian infrastructure remain protected and that humanitarians have safe, sustained and unimpeded access to those in need.
This afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, will speak at the General Assembly.
She is expected to stress the need for greater action to address the root causes of violence and institutionalized discrimination against the backdrop of communal tensions and ethnic strife throughout the country.
The Special Envoy will also spotlight that it is high time for concrete steps and genuine political will in building an inclusive and vibrant democracy, which requires durable solutions based on a consultative and right-based approach.
The Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, is in Nigeria for a three-day visit. He will represent the Secretary-General at a ceremony to re-open the UN house in the capital, Abuja, tomorrow, which is UN Day.
On the 26th of August 2011, 23 UN staff, contractors and visitors lost their lives and 60 people were injured in a car bombing at the entrance of the UN headquarters in the Nigerian capital. This was the first attack against a UN facility in Nigeria and was claimed by Boko Haram.
During his visit, Mr. Lowcock will also meet with Government officials and humanitarian workers to discuss developments in northeast Nigeria.
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that there has been flooding along the two major rivers in Somalia, affecting tens of thousands of people.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is working with local authorities and humanitarian partners to scale up the response and continues to monitor the situation. The Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia, which seeks $1.08 billion to assist 3.4 million people in need, is 69 per cent funded.
Also experiencing flooding are Sudan and South Sudan, where some 40,000 people have been affected in Abyei.
The UN and our partners are assisting those in accessible areas with food and other items. Some areas cannot be reached due to the flooding.
More than 360,000 people have been affected by flooding in Sudan this year, with over 45,000 homes destroyed.
The Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan in 2019 seeks $ 1.1 billion to help 4.4 million people but is only 44 per cent funded so far.
Today, the UN Refugee Agency, the UN Migration Agency and the European Union announced that they’ll hold a high-level International Conference next week to show solidarity with the millions of Venezuelans who have left the country.
The Conference will be held on the 28th and 29th of October in Brussels and will be hosted by Federica Mogherini, High Representative/Vice-President of the European Commission, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, IOM Director General António Vitorino and the UNHCR/IOM Joint Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants Eduardo Stein.
Ministers and high-level officials from Latin America and the Caribbean and Members States of the European Union will attend together with UN agencies, international cooperation agencies, NGOs, private sector companies, civil society and development organizations including international financial institutions.
More information can be found on UNHCR’s website.
World Health Organization
The World Health Organization signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association to promote access to medicines.
Full access to medicines is hampered by a variety of factors but two important barriers are high prices and regulatory issues such as long lag times in bringing medicines to market, the Agency said.
The new agreement is an important step in WHO’s drive towards universal health coverage by underscoring the importance of generic and biosimilar medicines to increasing access to affordable, quality treatment.
More information is available online.
World Food Program
Today, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and “Education Cannot Wait” (ECW), the first global, multi-lateral fund dedicated to education in emergencies, started a strategic partnership to ensure children and youth in emergencies do not miss out on the education opportunities that will shape their futures.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed by both parties at WFP’s headquarters in Rome, to strengthen joint programming, and joint advocacy at a global level.
You can find more information on this partnership online.
Press conference today
Today at 2 p.m., there will be a briefing here by the Chair of the Fact-finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee.
Press encounters tomorrow
Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. My guest will be the Special Adviser on the Preparations for the Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary, Fabrizio Hochschild, who will brief on the occasion.
Then at 1 p.m., there will be a briefing by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, Michael Lynk.