HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2020
This morning, the Secretary-General welcomed the signing of a ceasefire agreement by the Libyan parties, in Geneva under the auspices of the United Nations. He said this is a fundamental step toward peace and stability in Libya, and he congratulated the parties for putting the interest of their nation ahead of their differences.
Earlier in the day, in Geneva, the Acting Special Representative, Stephanie Williams, said that the parties agreed that all military units and armed groups on the frontlines shall return to their camps. This shall be accompanied by the departure of all mercenaries and foreign fighters from all Libyan territories -- land, air and sea -- within a maximum period of three months from today.
Tomorrow is UN Day. Our 75th UN day, in fact, which marks the entry into force of the UN Charter in 1945. In his message for the Day, Antonio Guterres noted that the 75th anniversary of the UN falls in the middle of a global pandemic, and that our founding mission is more critical than ever.
He points out that when the pandemic hit, he called for a global ceasefire, He adds that in our world today, we have one common enemy: COVID-19.
Mr. Guterres stresses that we must also make peace with our planet, and that the climate emergency threatens life itself, adding that around the world, we must do more to end human suffering from poverty, inequality, hunger, hatred, and fight discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender or any other distinction.
On this UN anniversary, he asked people everywhere to join together, and stresses that the UN not only stands with you, it belongs to you and is you: “we the peoples”.
75 YEARS OF LOVE CONCERT
Tomorrow, at noon, the UN Chamber Music Society will premiere the "75 Years of Love" virtual concert. The programme will be musically representative at the regional level, as a repertoire from all five official regional groups of the UN will be featured. The songs chosen will be linked to the message of the UN’s 75th anniversary.
Opening remarks will be delivered by Fabrizio Hochschild, who has been leadind our efforts to marks the 75th anniversary of the UN, as well as Filippo Grandi, the High Commissioner for Refugees; and Melissa Fleming, the Head of the Global Communications.
The concert will be launched on the Official YouTube Channel for UN75, as well as other UN and UNHCR platforms.
The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, will join the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaїl Chergui, on a visit to Sudan together starting tomorrow.
Their three-day visit will seek to further strengthen the important partnership between the UN and the African Union and will focus on the Joint AU-UN operations in Darfur, known as UNAMID, and its drawdown.
In Sudan, Mr. Lacroix and Mr. Chergui will meet with the Chair of the Sovereign Council and the Prime Minister, among others, to discuss the overall situation in Darfur and UNAMID’s mandate. They will also take part in the 28th meeting of the Tripartite Coordination Mechanism on UNAMID on the 25th of October.
They will also travel to El Fasher in Darfur to meet with local government representatives. They will hold a virtual town hall with UNAMID staff to thank them for their work in protecting civilians, including in light of additional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and supporting the recently signed Juba Peace Agreement.
Also, on Sudan, our good friends at OCHA tell us that, following the unprecedented rains and floods affecting 875,000 people, a secondary health emergency is looming with more than 4.5 million people at risk of vector-borne diseases.
Stagnant water pools are providing breeding sites for mosquitoes, which are vectors for viral haemorrhagic fever, chikungunya and malaria.
Malaria, for instance, reached an epidemic levels in 15 out of 18 states by the end of September, with more than 1 million cases reported.
We, along with our humanitarian partners, have procured and distributed 266 Emergency Health Kits to support malaria treatment and other health needs to help up to 2.7 million people for three months.
However, there are significant shortages in malaria supplies to address the current levels of infection, with difficulties in distributing supplies to some areas due to the flooding.
The health sector component of the Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan has only received 19 per cent of funding requirements so far.
In South Sudan, the Humanitarian Coordinator there, Mohamed Ag Ayoya, today condemned the intimidation of aid workers in Renk in Upper Nile state.
On the 12th of October, a youth group demanded that humanitarian organizations re-assign jobs to local people. When those demands were not met, the youth then insisted that all humanitarian activities be suspended, and aid workers leave the area immediately.
Following an increase in threats and attacks, 30 people were relocated to the closest UN base for their safety.
Mr. Ayoya said that intimidating aid workers delays the delivery of much-needed assistance to the most vulnerable and is unacceptable.
In Somalia, as the country prepares to hold elections, James Swan, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, stressed the need to keep the political space open and allow for a diversity of voices and views to be expressed as part of the democratic process.
To achieve this, Mr. Swan said that freedom of expression, opinion, and assembly must be protected.
In Kenya, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee, is working closely with local partners to address the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women and girls.
UN Women, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) have helped to set up a national toll-free helpline to assist in providing healthcare, security and legal assistance to an increasing number of women and children impacted by female genital mutilation, gender-based violence, child neglect, and child marriage. The helpline offers counseling 24 hours a day in English, Swahili and other local languages, processing more than 1,000 cases per month.
One in five women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 in Kenya have undergone female genital mutilation.
The UN team there is concerned that the pandemic has set back progress to end female genital mutilation. Girls are disproportionately impacted by school closures, leading to an increase in child marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual violence.
The UN team has increased its efforts to address these problems, including to ensure funding and community engagement.
A detachment of UN peacekeepers returned to the area of operations of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in south Lebanon after completing more than three weeks of engineering work in Beirut in support of the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Nearly 150 peacekeepers from 13 contingents from UNIFIL facilitated the resumption of operations at the Beirut Port by clearing 11,500 tonnes of debris and carried out construction work as well. In the process, they also dismantled four of the damaged warehouses in the port.
In addition, UNIFIL peacekeepers assisted in the restoration of damaged heritage sites from further devastation by clearing 500 tonnes of rubble and separating and storing about 150 tonnes of stones, facades and wood ornaments for future use.
TREATY ON THE PROHIBITION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Just to let you know that today, Jamaica and Nauru deposited their instruments of ratification to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
As of now, 49 States have ratified the Treaty. One more is needed for the Treaty to enter into force.
We will be sure to let you know as soon as this important milestone is reached.
Yesterday we issued a statement on Guinea, in which the Secretary-General condemned the violence that occurred following the elections on Sunday.
He calls on all sides to immediately take action to end the violence, and encourages all actors to await the announcement of the official results by the Independent National Electoral Commission and to resolve any potential disputes through established legal mechanisms.
On Cote d’Ivoire, which is about to hold an election, the Secretary-General said he is concerned about the tense situation, and he condemned the violence that we saw in Bonoua and Dabou, which caused several fatalities.
He calls on everyone, opinion leaders, political leaders to reject the use of hate speech and the incitement of violence along ethnopolitical lines.