HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 24 MAY 2019

 
PEACEKEEPERS DAY
On the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, the Secretary-General today took part in a number of related events.
He laid a wreath to honour the brave women and men who gave their lives to protect others and to give war-torn countries a chance for peace and hope. The Secretary-General noted in his remarks that we ask much of our peacekeepers, and that, in return, we must continue to all we can to ensure they are as safe as possible.
He then took part in the awarding of the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal, the United Nations’ highest and most prestigious recognition earned in the service of the peacekeeping. That medal went to the late Private Chancy Chitete of Malawi who died protecting a wounded fellow blue helmet while serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Secretary-General called Private Chitete a true hero, noting that his selfless heroism and sacrifice helped the peacekeepers achieve their objective and dislodge the militia from its stronghold that was vital for the Ebola response to go on.
He expressed his gratitude to the family of Private Chitete, including his wife and infant daughter, and who he will meet privately in a short while.
This is the first time the medal has been awarded since it was presented to Captain Diagne’s family in 2016.
The Secretary-General also spoke at the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal Ceremony to honor UN military and police personnel, international civil servants, national staff, and UN Volunteers who died in 2018 and 2019.
Hailing from different backgrounds, our fallen heroes were united in their efforts to help the UN attain its most important objective: to save further generations from the scourge of war.
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL’S TRAVEL
On Monday, the Secretary-General will arrive in Austria for a long-scheduled visit to attend a number of meetings around the 40th anniversary of the UN presence in Vienna.
He will also attend the annual meeting of the R20, an organization that brings together leaders from around the world of politics, business and the private sector who are focused on fighting climate change.
He will travel on to Aachen in Germany, from 29-30 May to receive the International Charlemagne Prize, an honour which has been awarded annually since 1950 for efforts made in the service of European unification.
The Secretary-General will be back in the office on 3 June.
 
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPBULIC
Yesterday evening, we issued a statement on the Secretary-General’s behalf in which he condemned the attacks against villages in western part of the Central African Republic which left at least 34 civilians dead. The Secretary-General called on the authorities in the country to investigate these attacks and swiftly bring those responsible to justice.
 
DISARMAMENT
“Securing Our Common Future” is the theme of the Secretary-General’s disarmament agenda, and today marked its first anniversary.
In a video message recorded for the occasion, the Secretary-General cautions that “states need to seek security through diplomacy and dialogue, not by building new weapons.”
He reminds us all that in our turbulent world, “disarmament is the path to preventing conflict and sustaining peace.”
 
LIBYA
Our humanitarian colleagues in Libya are deeply concerned by the deaths of two more first responders in the line of duty yesterday, when two clearly-marked armored ambulance vehicles were struck by shelling in Tripoli.
One doctor was killed when the first ambulance was struck. The second ambulance was struck while trying to recover casualties from the first attack, killing one paramedic and injuring three more people on board.
This brings the number of health workers killed since the start of the current clashes to six, with seven more injured, while 14 ambulances have been either damaged or destroyed. Also, two health facilities were struck by shelling.
Civilian displacement has continued to surge, with over 82,000 people now displaced as a result of the clashes, and according to the UN Migration Agency (IOM).
 
OSLO CONFERENCE
A conference in Oslo concluded today, with some 50 States, UN agencies, NGOs and others having submitted written political, policy and best practice commitments on how to end sexual and gender-based violence, while many others outlined specific measures and showed their political will to end that scourge.
Several hundred commitments were made related to standards and legal frameworks, operational support, sexual and gender-based violence prevention and response services, leadership and coordination.
 
BANGLADESH
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that, due to sporadic rainfall in the country’s Teknaf peninsula, UNHCR and its partners will truck water to the 140,000 Rohingya refugees in the coming days.
Water supplies at refugee settlements are at a critical level, with water rations having been cut.
The limited availability of water raises concerns over the potential of water-borne diseases.
An update also on the funding for the Rohingya humanitarian crisis: less than one fifth of the $920 million needed for the 2019 Response Plan to help more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees has been received so far.
 
AFGHANISTAN
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today sounded the alarm on the nutritional situation of children in Afghanistan.
Of the two million children under the age of five who are acutely malnourished, 600,000 of them are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and need to be treated to survive.
UNICEF is the sole provider of ready-to-use therapeutic food for malnourished children in Afghanistan, but it cannot reach the 60 per cent of these children they are targeting without the $7 million in additional funding.
 
***Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix was the guest at the noon briefing. He spoke to reporters about the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers