HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 25 FEBRUARY 2020
The Secretary-General is encouraged by the joint statement issued by the militaries of India and Pakistan on their agreement to observing the ceasefire at the Line of Control in Kashmir and engaging through established mechanisms. He hopes that this positive step will provide an opportunity for further dialogue.
In a statement on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the Secretary-General has extended the mandate of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon from 1 March 2021 for a further two years, or until the completion of the cases before the Special Tribunal, if sooner, or the exhaustion of available funds, if sooner. The extension is in accordance with Security Council resolution 1757 (2007). Within the indicated two-year period, it is anticipated that the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will progressively draw down its activities as the judicial work before the different Chambers is completed.
The Secretary-General reaffirms the commitment of the UN to support the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in the fight against impunity for major crimes, in order to bring those responsible to justice. The United Nations looks forward to the completion of the mandate of the Special Tribunal in a timely manner.
Following the consultations conducted on behalf of the Secretary-General by Jane Holl Lute, over the past several months, the Secretary-General intends to convene an informal five-plus-one meeting on the Cyprus issue in Geneva, Switzerland, from 27 to 29 April 2021.
The purpose of the meeting will be to determine whether common ground exists for the parties to negotiate a lasting solution to the Cyprus problem within a foreseeable horizon.
In a joint statement issued this morning, the UN, along with the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) – have taken note of the provisional results of the second round of the presidential election, announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission of Niger.
We congratulate the people of Niger for the great mobilization and peaceful participation in the presidential ballot.
But we strongly condemn the acts of violence that occurred following the announcement of the provisional results. In this context, everyone should exercise restraint.
The UN, along with ECOWAS, invite all stakeholders to comply with the legal provisions that guarantee the peaceful conduct of the electoral process, in particular those relating to the settling of electoral disputes.
We stand ready to support the people of Niger in their efforts to consolidate peace and democracy.
The Secretary-General is also following the situation very closely. He calls on all candidates and their supporters to maintain the exemplary conduct that prevailed during the elections and to allow the electoral process to conclude in a peaceful manner, urging all parties to resolve any election-related disputes through dialogue and the appropriate legal channels.
Today, Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock briefed the Security Council on Syria. He focused on three points; the economic crisis and the rise in food insecurity; humanitarian access; and the protection of civilians.
Mr. Lowcock said that around 60 per cent of the Syrian population, that is 12.4 million people, do not have regular access to safe and nutritious food. That is according to recent data from the World Food Programme (WFP). An additional 4.5 million people have fallen into this category over the past year.
On access, he said that a failure to extend the cross-border authorization to bring humanitarian assistance into north-west Syria would trigger suffering and loss of life on a massive scale. He said the UN is continuing its efforts to conduct a first cross-line mission into north-west Syria. The aim is not to have a one-off mission, he added, but to have regular cross-line missions that complement the ongoing cross-border operation.
And he noted that an increase of horrific bombings have killed dozens of civilians and injured many more in northern Syria in recent months.
In Myanmar, the UN Country Team there is deeply concerned that an increasing number of people are now being held in detention. The team says that at least 150 people were arrested in protests in Nay Pyi Taw on 22 February alone.
The UN team is currently tracking more than 900 political and state officials, activists and civil society members – including journalists, monks and students – now being detained and calls for their immediate release.
In Sudan, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator in the country, Axel Bisschop, recently visited West Darfur. He met with some of the 170,000 people who were displaced by inter-communal violence last month.
Mr. Bisschop also held talks with community leaders, the Governor of West Darfur and relief organizations.
The UN and its partners have provided one month's worth of food rations, as well as water and sanitation services to more than 70,000 displaced people in Ag Geneina. More aid will be delivered this week.
The efforts are part of the overall $1.9 billion Humanitarian Response Plan for all of Sudan, which aims to help almost 9 million people in need.
In Malaysia, which started its COVID-19 vaccination programme yesterday, the UN team, led by the Resident Coordinator Stefan Priesner, has been supporting authorities with this programme. The first phase targets frontline workers, including those working in healthcare, essential services, defense and security. More than half a million people have registered to receive the vaccine.
Malaysia’s vaccination plan aims to reach 80 per cent – or some 24 million adults – by March 2022.
The UN team has helped Malaysia join the COVAX Facility to expand vaccinations to include non-nationals, including refugees and undocumented people. UN agencies are working with authorities to begin vaccinating people in these groups.
The UN also helped plan, prepare, assess and procure vaccines through COVAX and other channels, including supporting logistics for distribution.
The entire UN team has worked on risk communication and community engagement.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) announced today that it has signed a long-term agreement with AstraZeneca to supply vaccines for the COVAX Facility.
UNICEF and its partners will now have access to up to 170 million doses of vaccines for some 85 countries. This is the third such agreement for COVID-19 vaccines, following previously announced agreements with Pfizer and the Serum Institute of India.
It is planned to have the vaccines delivered in the first quarter of this year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced the launch of a COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce. It will bring together key organisations working on oxygen access.
WHO warned that since the start of the pandemic, affordable and sustainable access to oxygen has been a growing challenge in low- and middle-income countries. It is estimated that more than half a million people in these countries currently need 1.1 million cylinders of oxygen per day.
The taskforce has determined an immediate funding need of $90 million to address key challenges in oxygen access and delivery in up to 20 countries. The urgent, short-term requirements of additional countries will be measured and costed in the coming weeks, with the overall funding needs over the next 12 months are estimated to be $1.6 billion - a figure that will be regularly reviewed by the taskforce.
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENT
Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Ms. Ligia Noronha of India as Head of the New York Office of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This is at the Assistant Secretary-General level.
She will succeed Satya Tripathi of India to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his leadership and dedicated service during his tenure.
Ms. Noronha is an economist with over 30 years of international experience in the field of sustainable development. She has worked since 2014 as Director of UNEP’s Economy Division based in Nairobi, leading UNEP’s work on climate mitigation and energy transitions, green economies, sustainable consumption and production, as well as many other issues.
Albania and Turkmenistan have now paid their regular budget dues.