HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC​,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 24 JUNE 2020

 
MIDDLE EAST
The Security Council this morning held an open videoconference on the Middle East. 
The Secretary-General took part in the meeting, noting in his remarks that we are at a watershed moment. If implemented, the Secretary-General said, annexation by Israel would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-State solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. He called on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plan. He said that he will continue to consistently speak out against any unilateral steps that would undermine peace and the chances for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through meaningful negotiations. Mr. Guterres also urged Israeli and Palestinian leaders to commit to meaningful dialogue, with the support of the international community. 
Also addressing the Council today was Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process. He asked Council members to join the Secretary-General in his call for an immediate reengagement, with no preconditions, between the Middle East Quartet and the Palestinian leadership, Israel and the countries of the region in order to find a way out of the current crisis. 
 
SYRIA
The UN continues to reach millions of women, children and men in urgent need of humanitarian assistance through cross-border operations run out of Turkey. Since the beginning of this year, more than 8,000 trucks have crossed into Syria from Turkey, including a record 1,781 trucks in May alone. A large number of trucks continues to cross. As of the 21st, 1,292 trucks passed into northwest Syria from Turkey this month, providing vital life-saving assistance for the 2.8 million people in need in the area. As highlighted in the Secretary General’s recent review of cross line and cross-border operations, a sustained, large-scale cross-border response is necessary to meet the enormous humanitarian needs of people in northwest Syria. 
To enable this response, a renewal of the cross-border authorization in Security Council resolution 2504 (2020) for the use of Bab al Salaam and Bab Al Hawa border crossings for an additional 12 months is required. There are no alternatives to cross-border operations for us.
The Secretary-General has also called for a combination of more cross-border and cross line access to sustain recent levels of, and preferably increase, humanitarian assistance in the northeast of the county. Without these necessary cross-border authorizations by the Security Council, civilians will suffer and increase to levels unseen in nine years of conflict, including loss of life on a massive scale. The full and complementary use of all methods for the delivery of aid remains necessary to access all people across Syria. 
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs remains concerned over the impact of COVID-19 on people across the country. To date, the Syrian Ministry of Health has confirmed 231 cases of the virus, including 94 recoveries and seven deaths. 
Six additional cases have been recorded in the north-east, including one fatality. No cases have been confirmed in the north-west. Our particular worry is for the 1.4 million displaced people living in camps or informal settlements which makes taking necessary precautions that much more difficult. With limited access to healthcare and water and sanitation services, these people are particularly vulnerable. 
The UN continues to support building up the Syria’s limited lab and case investigation capacities. 
 
SUDAN
The joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur says that, for the past few days, clashes have led to killings, rapes and the displacement of thousands of people. The Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo, said he deeply regrets that these clashes are happening at a time when the Transitional Government, the armed movement, and the political parties and all Sudanese are engaged in negotiations in Juba to bring such suffering to an end. 
The Secretary-General will take part virtually tomorrow in the Sudan Partnership Conference, which is co-hosted by the Governments of Sudan and Germany, as well as the UN and the European Union. The meeting aims to galvanize financial and political support for the continuing transition in Sudan. The Conference will begin at 9 a.m., New York time.
 
DR CONGO
In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General strongly condemned Monday’s attacks against a convoy of the peacekeeping Mission in North Kivu’s Beni territory, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The attack was conducted by suspected members of the ADF, the Allied Democratic Forces and resulted in the killing of one UN peacekeeper and injuries to another. Both peacekeepers are from Indonesia. The Secretary-General expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the deceased peacekeeper, as well as to the Government of Indonesia, and wishes a swift recovery to the injured. The Secretary-General reaffirmed that attacks against UN peacekeepers may constitute a war crime and called on the Congolese authorities to investigate this incident and swiftly bring those responsible to justice. 
 
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
As part of the support the UN is bringing to COVID-19, the UN mission has provided hygiene equipment, hand sanitizers and infrared thermometers to the country’s Armed Forces. In the Ouham prefecture, in the country’s northeast, the UN peacekeepers have organized an information workshop on the virus for moto taxi drivers, as well as other transportation and commercial laborers. The UN Mission is also conducting a training for teachers on how to prevent the spread of the virus in schools before classes resume. In partnership with the Ministry of Arts, Culture and Tourism, the UN has also initiated a radio and television awareness campaign involving 25 prominent Central African artists.
Turning to the Mission’s support for the electoral process, a series of training courses was organized for officials in Bangassou and in the neighboring area. Finally, in Ndele, the Mission supported a Government’s disarmament and demobilization operation. On the first day, 47 combatants, including one woman, from the armed group the “Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique” otherwise known as the FPRC - were demobilized. Weapons and ammunition were also retrieved and given to the DDR mobile team. 
 
CEASEFIRE
The Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs today released a policy note on the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire which examines the various challenges and opportunities presented by the call as well as recommendations for the future as the pandemic continues. The brief says that as the impact of COVID-19 is still unfolding, and in places worsening, the call for a global ceasefire should link with the broader discussions on the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, including on women and children. 
 
GREEN ENERGY
A new report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) shows that ongoing efforts to lower greenhouse gas emissions are expected to spur further investments in green energy production. These investments have been steady over the years, standing at around $600 billion per year on average. UNCTAD also highlights the social and environmental impacts of the extraction of raw materials for car batteries and underlines the urgent need to address these concerns. As an example, about 20 per cent of cobalt supplied from the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes from artisanal mines where child labor and human rights abuses have been reported often.
 
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS  
The Secretary-General today appointed Diene Keita of Guinea as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as the UNFPA’s Deputy Executive Director for Programme. Ms. Keita succeeds Dereje Wordofa of Ethiopia, to whom the Secretary-General and the Executive Director of UNFPA are of course grateful for his dedicated service. Diene Keita, who recently served as Minister for Cooperation and African Integration with the Republic of Guinea, brings to the position nearly 30 years of experience within the UN System. She started her UN career in 1990 with UNDP in New York, and from this point, held various successful programmatic leadership positions at country level, serving as UNDP Deputy Representative and Acting Representative for several years.   
The Secretary-General has also appointed Ib Petersen of Denmark, as Assistant Secretary-General. He will serve as the Deputy Executive Director for Management at UNFPA. Mr. Petersen succeeds Laura Londen of Finland, to whom the Secretary-General and the Executive Director are grateful for her dedicated years of service to UNFPA. Mr. Petersen recently served as Director for the Department of Migration, Conflict and Stabilization of the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Prior to his position in Copenhagen, you will remember him as the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark to the United Nations from 2013-2019.  
 
UN CHARTER
 Friday marks the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of these United Nations. In a video message to mark this anniversary, the Secretary-General said that as we face a global pandemic, and worldwide, people rightly raise their voices against racism, confronting problems is a start, but we also have to solve them. He emphasized that the UN Charter provides us with a timeless guide to tackle our shared challenges and fix the world’s fragilities. The Secretary-General points out that the Charter was signed 75 years ago – and its principles ring just as true today. Faith in fundamental human rights, equal rights of men and women, the dignity and worth of every person, international law and better standards of life in larger freedom are enduring values that will carry us to a new future.  
The public can join in the celebrations by adding their photo to one of the photo filters that carry the key words from the UN Charter on the website https://share.un75.online.
 
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS
Gabon has paid its budget dues in full bringing the total number to 100 Member States.