HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 24 JUNE 2021
The Secretary-General is in Brussels where he is continuing with his meetings with national and European Union leaders. He had several engagements today.
He started by meeting with the Prime Minister of Belgium, Alexander de Croo, as well as members of the Belgian cabinet. In a press encounter immediately afterwards, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of the partnership between Belgium and the United Nations to address challenges posed by the pandemic and the climate crisis, among others.
At the European Parliament in Brussels, the Secretary-General delivered a formal address during which he said that we live at a time when the strategic partnership between the European Union and the United Nations is more indispensable than ever.
On issues such as cyberspace, the recovery from the pandemic, climate, or human rights, the Secretary-General highlighted the challenges we face. He reiterated the importance of the collaboration with the European Union, adding that the EU must champion universal values and fundamental rights and help lead the way.
He concluded his day with a session with the Heads of State and Government of the European Council. At a press encounter with the European Council President, Charles Michel, the Secretary-General restated his appreciation of the work the European Union does with the UN, adding that the world’s fragilities show us how important it is to enhance international cooperation and to have a stronger and more inclusive multilateralism.
Back here, Tor Wennesland, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council today that the cessation of hostilities reached last month between Israel and Hamas remains very fragile. He said the UN is working closely with all concerned parties and partners, including Egypt, to solidify a ceasefire, allow the entry of urgent humanitarian assistance and stabilize the situation in Gaza.
Mr. Wennesland urged all sides to refrain from unilateral steps and provocations, to take steps to reduce tensions, and to allow these efforts to succeed.
He also said that recent weeks have witnessed an alarming increase in the level of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, including hostilities between Israel and factions in Gaza at a scale and intensity not seen in years. He is especially concerned by the attempt to exploit the sensitive status of Jerusalem and to use it to justify a broader armed conflict.
Ján Kubiš, the Special Envoy for Libya, today welcomed the Conclusions of the Second International Conference on Libya, known as the Berlin II Conference, endorsed yesterday in the German capital. The Special Envoy praised the collective efforts of all member states and regional and international organisations to assist the Libyan people in their quest for unity, peace, stability, and prosperity for their future generations.
Mr. Kubiš reiterated the Secretary-General’s call “to put an end to all foreign interference, including the full withdrawal of all foreign forces and mercenaries from Libya.” Mr. Kubiš joined in urging all Libyans and external parties to agree on a comprehensive plan, with clear timelines, to achieve this goal, which the UN Mission stands ready to support.
As you’ll recall, yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General briefed the Security Council by videoconference from Brussels on the humanitarian situation in Syria. He strongly appealed to the Security Council to reach consensus on allowing cross-border operations as a vital channel of support for another year.
The Acting Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ramesh Rajasingham, provided more detail on humanitarian needs and response. He said that, with more crossings and more funds, the UN can do more to help the rising number of people in need in Syria.
The acting Under-Secretary General also highlighted the alarming increase in hostilities in north-west Syria in the last month, which has resulted in civilian casualties and displacement.
Tomorrow, the Security Council will hear from Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy, and he will speak to reporters at the stakeout afterwards.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
From the Central African Republic, the UN Mission there says that, yesterday, the country’s new Government was formed with the signing of the Presidential Decree, which announced the appointment of 32 new Ministers, seven of whom are women.
The UN Mission remains committed to working with the new Government to strengthen our partnership and support the peace process.
An update from Ethiopia, where our humanitarian colleagues are telling us that the security situation in Tigray remains highly complex and extremely volatile, with continued fighting, including on main roads, and the use of artillery shelling reported in several locations.
Aid organizations say they have faced challenges in transporting medical supplies, food and other items, especially to hard-to-reach areas, due to the denial of access.
Food aid is the largest component of the humanitarian response. Under the latest response plan for Northern Ethiopia, since May 1st, some 3.7 million people out of the targeted 5.2 million people have received food assistance.
Last week, more than 1,000 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition and about 5,000 children for moderate acute malnutrition. More than 22,000 people received medical services in the second week of June.
While aid partners continue to gradually scale-up their work, the response is not sufficient to help people in need. We are continuing to call for safe, unimpeded and sustained access, as well as urgent funding.
As for reports of the bombing of the market in the town of Togoga, we have still not yet received permission and not been able to access the area.
From Myanmar, our humanitarian colleagues there said today they remain concerned about the impact on civilians of continuing and intensifying fighting in certain parts of the country.
Clashes between the Myanmar military and ethnic armed groups, or among ethnic armed groups themselves, since the military takeover of the Government on 1 February have forced some 230,000 people to flee their homes. That’s according to our UN colleagues on the ground.
The UN team in Myanmar is particularly alarmed by the situation in the southeastern part of Myanmar, where nearly 180,000 women, men and children have been displaced since 1 February. Most of these people have been displaced in the past four weeks.
A few updates from the Ministerial Forums for the High-level Dialogue on Energy, which is continuing today and you heard about it yesterday from UN Development Programme Administrator Achim Steiner and Damilola Ogunbiyi, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All.
Nauru, the world’s smallest island nation, is committing to achieving 50 per cent renewable energy by 2023.
The City of Ithaca, right here in New York State, pledged that all of its buildings would rely on 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
And the global association for the off-grid solar energy industry committed to deliver improved electricity access for 1 billion people by 2030.
The Forums wrap up tomorrow.
We had received questions about an attack that took place on Monday in Burkina Faso, and we issued the following note yesterday:
The Secretary-General condemns the attack on 21 June, which led to 11 deaths, injuries, and the disappearances of several police officers in Barsalogho in Burkina Faso. He expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of Burkina Faso. He calls for the swift return of those who were disappeared.
A COVAX update from nearby Chad, which received its first shipment of vaccines yesterday.
The more than 100,000 doses will target healthcare workers, those intending to make pilgrimage to the Hajj, people over the age of 65, and other vulnerable people.
The nationwide vaccination campaign kicked off earlier this month with logistical support from the UN, including in transporting doses to vaccination sites.
The Resident Coordinator, Violet Kakyomya, reiterated the UN’s commitment to continue supporting Chad's national vaccination campaign in all its components, such as the cold chain and combating misinformation and vaccine hesitancy.
Our friends in Vienna at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) are telling us that around 275 million people used drugs worldwide in the last year, while over 36 million suffered from drug use disorders, according to the 2021 World Drug Report released today.
Most countries have reported a rise in the use of cannabis during the pandemic. In surveys of health professionals across 77 countries, 42 per cent asserted that cannabis use had increased. A rise in the non-medical use of pharmaceutical drugs has also been observed in the same period.
PRESS BRIEFINGS (TODAY AND TOMORROW)
Today, at 1:30 p.m., there will be a briefing by Felipe Carlos Solá, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Argentina. English/Spanish interpretation will be provided.
Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., there will be a virtual press briefing by Yon Fernández de Larrinoa, Chief of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Indigenous Peoples Unit, and Anne Nuorgam, Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. They will speak to you on the launch of the FAO’s Indigenous Peoples’ Food Systems Report.
At 12:00 p.m., I will be joined virtually by the World Food Programme’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Lola Castro, who will brief you on the situation in Madagascar, which we have been talking to you about and is particularly dire.