HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2017
DEATH OF DAG HAMMARSKJÖLD: SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS COUNTRIES TO MAKE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AVAILABLE
- The Secretary-General is pleased to announce that he transmitted the report of the Eminent Person, appointed pursuant to General Assembly resolution 71/260, to the President of the General Assembly, together with his own observations on the progress made and on the way forward in the search for the truth relating to the conditions and circumstances resulting in the tragic death of Dag Hammarskjöld and of the members of the party accompanying him (A/71/1042).
- The Eminent Person concluded in his report that it is almost certain that Dag Hammarskjöld and the members of the party accompanying him were not assassinated after landing and that all passengers died from injuries sustained during the plane crash, either instantaneously, or soon after. As to the cause of the crash, the Eminent Person considered it plausible that an external attack or threat may have been the cause. The Eminent Person also noted that it remains possible that the crash was an accident caused by pilot error without external interference, and that it was plausible that human factors including fatigue played a role in the crash.
- Based on the Eminent Person’s findings, the Secretary-General is of the view that the information made available to the United Nations to date has been insufficient to come to conclusions about the cause or causes of the crash. The Secretary-General also considers that it seems likely that important additional information exists.
- The Secretary-General calls on the General Assembly to remain seized of the matter, and to endorse the report of the Eminent Person and his recommendations. In particular, the Secretary-General calls on Member States to make available information and endorses the Eminent Person’s recommendation that Member States appoint an independent and high-ranking official to conduct a dedicated and internal review of their archives, in particular, their intelligence, security and defense archives, with a view to ensuring comprehensive access to relevant information and establishing what happened on that fateful night.
- The Secretary-General wishes to express his profound gratitude to the Eminent Person for his excellent work. The Secretary-General considers the report a further important step towards fulfilling our shared responsibility for the search of the truth, which remains our solemn duty to the distinguished former Secretary-General, Dag Hammarskjöld, to the other members of the party accompanying him, and to their families.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: IN BANGASSOU, SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES SOLIDARITY AND CALLS FOR RECONCILIATION
- This morning, the Secretary-General met with the President of the Central African Republic, Faustin Archange Touadéra and members of his Government. In remarks to press afterwards, the Secretary-General said that he is making a visit of active solidarity. He called on the international community to engage in the country because there is an opportunity to build a new Central African Republic that is peaceful, secure and prosperous. He also reiterated the need to strengthen the UN Mission, MINUSCA, so it can better protect the population.
- The Secretary-General and his party then travelled to Bangassou in the southeast of the country. At the local UN Force camp, he laid a wreath to honour Moroccan and Cambodian soldiers killed earlier this year in the line of duty as UN forces tried to protect the population. In addressing representatives of the contingents, he told them how proud he was to be one of their colleagues and that their efforts were courageous as they attempted to keep the peace in areas where all too often there is no peace to keep.
- From there, the Secretary-General went on to the compound of the Catholic church in Bangassou, which is now home to more than 1,200 Muslim residents of the area. They had sought shelter from communal violence earlier this year. The Secretary-General listened as a 14-year old Muslim girl named Fatimah explained her community’s situation and concerns, as well as their wish for reconciliation. In speaking to the assembled crowd, the Secretary-General expressed his personal solidarity with the people of Bangassou and urged them to work for reconciliation, but underscored that it would not be easy. The Secretary-General excoriated politicians who use religion to divide communities that often worship the same God, all be it with a different name. He also urged religious leaders to live up to their responsibilities. Religious leaders need to be apostles for peace, said the Secretary-General.
- Prior to flying back to Bangui, the Secretary-General met with local authorities and civil society leaders, encouraging them as well with a message of reconciliation.
- He has now just landed back in Bangui where he is scheduled to meet with the UN humanitarian and development team, as well as NGOs later tonight.
WRAPPING UP VISIT TO SAUDI ARABIA, U.N. YEMEN ENVOY CALLS ON PARTIES TO MAKE NECESSARY CONCESSIONS
- The Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, today wrapped up a four-day visit to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where he met with senior Yemeni and Saudi officials.
- In his meetings with Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Foreign Minister Abdel-Malek Al-Mikhlafil, the Special Envoy discussed his efforts to move towards a viable negotiated settlement.
- He said that steps are being explored, focusing on three pillars: the resumption of the cessation of hostilities, specific confidence-building measures that can alleviate the humanitarian suffering and the return to the negotiating table to reach a comprehensive peace agreement.
- While in Saudi Arabia, the Special Envoy also met with Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir; US Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield; the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Abdullatif Al-Zayyani and diplomats.
- Mr. Ould Cheikh Ahmed stressed that, at heart, this is a political conflict that can only be solved through political negotiations. He also emphasized that the large-scale suffering must end, appealing to the parties to make the necessary concessions that can help pave the way for a long-lasting peace.
- Meanwhile, Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock continues his visit to Yemen today, arriving in Sana’a today.
- In Aden yesterday, he met with Prime Minister Bin Dagher. He encouraged authorities to pay the salaries of civil servants and emphasized the need for the expansion of the presence of aid workers further in the country’s southern governorates.
- Mr. Lowcock also met with the heads of the Emirates Red Crescent and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre in Aden to improve humanitarian coordination.
- He also spoke with internally displaced people and visited a hospital in Lahj where he met patients receiving treatment for cholera and malnutrition.
- In Sana’a, Mr. Lowcock will meet with the authorities there and travel to other governorates, including Hudaydah.
U.N. RELIEF WING VOICES CONCERN OVER SITUATION OF CIVILIANS IN SYRIA’S EAST GHOUTA
- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is deeply concerned about the situation of civilians in Syria’s East Ghouta. We are aware of reports indicating that children in the besieged enclave are suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
- The last UN inter-agency convoy reached Eastern Ghouta on 23 September 2017 with assistance for 25,000 people in the besieged towns of East Harasta, Misraba and Modira.
- The UN continues to call on all parties to the conflict - and those with influence over them - to ensure sustained and unhindered access by all humanitarian workers and to allow them to independently assess needs and provide services to people affected by fighting.
136,000 PEOPLE STILL DISPLACED IN NORTHERN IRAQ AFTER MILITARY ACTIVITY - U.N. MIGRATION AGENCY
- According to the UN Migration Agency, nearly 136,000 people are still displaced due to recent military activity in northern Iraq.
- This includes some 60,000 people who fled from Kirkuk governorate and some 35,000 displaced from the Tooz district in Salah al-Din governorate.
- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that aid workers continue to respond to the needs of families in need, wherever access allows.
- OCHA says that the closure of checkpoints in Ninewa governorate is slowing down aid operations which target 300,000 people, including in the Mosul, Telafar and Sinjar areas.
- Humanitarians continue to appeal to all parties to ensure civilians are protected, can leave affected areas if they choose, and to ensure humanitarians have access to provide assistance where needed.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION WELCOMES NEW ROUND OF ELECTORAL CONSULTATIONS
- In Afghanistan, the UN today welcomed the holding of the Second National Election Forum and the commitment of the Electoral Commission to continue consultations with election stakeholders so that credible, transparent and inclusive elections can take place next year.
- The UN Mission in the country said it is encouraged by recent decisions taken by the Electoral Commission and encouraged Afghanistan's political leaders and civil society to unite their efforts to prepare and support credible elections in 2018.
- The Mission also reiterated its commitment to working with Afghan institution as they implement reforms to enhance transparency and build trust in Afghanistan’s democratic processes.
604,000 ROYINGYA REFUGEES ARRIVED IN BANGLADESH IN LAST TWO MONTHS – U.N. RELIEF WING
- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar and arrived in Bangladesh since 25 August has reached 604,000. Refugees have sought shelter in Bangladesh since the outbreak of violence in Myanmar on 25 August.
- More than half of the new arrivals are living in the Kutupalong Expansion Site, which includes several makeshift settlements and land allocated by the Government.
- Nearly 570,000 people have received food assistance and nearly 310,000 people received health care.
- There are concerns about sanitation, with less than one quarter of sites hosting refugees having access to clean water.
U.N. ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL PRESIDENT CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT IN WAKE OF RECENT HURRICANES
- The President of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Marie Chatardová, issued today a Presidential Statement on the special meeting of the Council on the “Aftermath of recent hurricanes: Achieving a risk-informed and resilient 2030 Agenda” that took place yesterday.
- The President underscores the need to act urgently and calls for sustained and coherent international support to accelerate recovery, ensure risk-informed reconstruction, and strengthen resilience in all dimensions of sustainable development in the affected States.