You will have seen the reports of a mass abduction of girls from a school in Zamfara in Nigeria. I can tell you that the Secretary-General condemns this in the strongest possible terms and calls for their immediate and unconditional release.
As we’ve said before, schools should always remain safe spaces to learn without fear of violence. A full statement will be coming shortly from the Secretary-General on this.
According to UNICEF in Nigeria, this latest attack happened overnight at the Government’s Girls Secondary School in Jangebe in north-west Nigeria.
Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, called on those responsible to release the girls immediately and for the government to take steps to ensure their safe release and the safety of other schoolchildren in the country.
This morning the Secretary-General released a statement on the UNFCCC’s Initial Nationally Determined Contributions Synthesis Report, which was released this morning.
The Secretary-General said the report is a red alert for our planet. It shows governments are nowhere close to the level of ambition needed to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees and meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
He called for major emitters to step up with much more ambitious emissions reductions targets for 2030 in their Nationally Determined Contributions as well for the November UN Climate Conference in Glasgow in the UK.
“Decision makers must walk the talk,” he said.
The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, briefed the General Assembly virtually this morning.
She said, she again strongly condemned the recent steps taken by the military and urged Member States to collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy there.
There is no justification for the military’s actions, and we must continue to call for the reversal of this impermissible action, exhausting all collective and bilateral channels to restore Myanmar’s path on democratic reform, she said.
On the ground the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says conflict continues to cause civilian casualties and displace people across Myanmar.
More than 2,000 people were displaced in northern Shan state in February due to clashes involving the Myanmar Armed Forces and ethnic armed organizations. Nine civilians were reportedly killed, and eight others injured, including children, in clashes in two towns in northern Shan on 5 February.
Our humanitarian colleagues are also concerned about the continued fighting in south-eastern Myanmar. More than 5,000 people are reportedly displaced in Kayin State and the Bago region due to fighting between the army and the Karen National Union.
Despite facing challenges – including the closure of banks as well as concerns for staff safety and security – we along with our humanitarian partners continue to deliver aid and protection services in conflict-affected areas.
We continue to call for safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas where humanitarian needs are, and for all parties to the conflict to take every precaution to prevent civilian harm.
The Humanitarian Response Plan for Myanmar for this year needs $267.5 million to help nearly 1 million people in conflict areas of Myanmar.
Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council on the electoral processes underway among the Israelis and Palestinians.
He said that the UN will continue to work collectively to support the Palestinian people, including through facilitating and supporting preparations towards their important elections coming up. Elections will also help to clear the path toward restoring a legitimate political horizon to realize a two-State solution.
Mr. Wennesland warned the Council that the COVID-19 crisis remains a persistent health threat that has triggered a massive economic fallout. Meanwhile, unilateral steps on the ground are eroding the prospect of establishing a viable and contiguous Palestinian state, moving the parties further from constructive dialogue and compromise. The United Nations is continuing its engagement to meet these challenges.
On Monday we will convene a virtual high-level pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, co-hosted by the Governments of Sweden and Switzerland. It will take place, starting at 9:00 a.m. New York time. Pledges will be announced at the event.
The Secretary-General will address the opening. We’ll get you his remarks ahead of time and there will be a press conference immediately after the event by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, and the co-hosts, and that’s at 1:10 pm. Questions from media can be submitted in advance up to two hours before the presser starts to our colleagues in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
UNICEF today released a report that says a new approach is needed to ensure that unaccompanied migrant and asylum-seeking children in the United States receive proper reception, care and support services.
The report provides a roadmap showing how the U.S. government and its partners can draw on experiences in the U.S. and globally to develop a long-term vision for reception, care and protection of unaccompanied children.
UNICEF said that gang violence, extortion, endemic poverty and lack of learning and earning opportunities are part of daily life for millions of children and families across northern Central America. The pandemic and recent natural disasters, including Hurricanes Eta and Iota, have made conditions more challenging for them.
UNICEF urges governments to end child immigration detention and scale up family- and community-based reception, care and support services for children, both in the United States and across the region.
CENTREAL AFRICAN RPUBLIC
The UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic reports that it continues to assist in the preparation for the forthcoming legislative elections, scheduled for 14 March.
The Mission’s Human Rights Division has established and deployed a task force to investigate violations and abuses by all parties in response to numerous allegations of targeted attacks against civilians participating in the electoral process.
Working along with the Central African army and the Internal Security Forces, the Mission also participated earlier this week in the destruction of 89 explosive items and munitions collected during the first phase of the Demobilization and Disarmament process in Ndele.
In Bangui, the Mission also organized a four-day capacity building workshop on gender-based violence for members of the Internal Defence Forces. This was done to better understand and address the security needs of the general population, particularly women and children, in order to protect victims and serve local communities.
We have been ready to deploy an initial independent inter‑agency humanitarian assessment mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and other conflict-affected areas at the earliest opportunity. We have informed all relevant actors in that regard.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the UN Refugee Agency and relevant UN entities continue to engage with all concerned on the specific parameters and timing of the deployment of the planned mission. The latest official communication was sent on 19 February.
The mission hopes to get a clearer picture of the humanitarian situation on the ground and broadly assess the conditions for safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable returns of all displaced populations.
We look forward to a formal reply to our latest communication. We call on all relevant groups to cooperate fully with the UN entities to ensure their unfettered and speedy access to conduct such a mission, which will be solely based on the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
Côte d’Ivoire today became the second country in Africa to receive COVAX vaccine, that’s after Ghana. Our UN team on the ground is proud to have supported authorities in this effort.
The country has received more than half a million COVID-19 vaccine doses, which were transported across the world by UNICEF. Our UN Resident Coordinator, Philippe Poinsot, also welcomed the efforts of all partners who have contributed to this massive global and country-effort with meticulous planning around logistics, preparedness and distribution.
On Monday, the vaccination will kick off, prioritizing health workers and other more exposed, at-risk groups. The UN team has repurposed over $12 million to support Côte d’Ivoire to address the multiple impacts of the pandemic.
In the Bronx, later this afternoon, Secretary-General António Guterres will receive his second COVID-19 vaccine shot.
He will receive it at the Morris Academy for Collaborative Studies. He will have a conversation with the site manager from the New York’s City Health Department about the importance of fair vaccine access and information. As a reminder, the Secretary-General is above the age of 65 and that’s why he’s getting it.
NEW RESIDENT COORDINATOR
We have a new Resident Coordinator to announce and that is the Resident Coordinator in Kenya. Stephen Jackson of Ireland. He has been confirmed by the Government.
Stephen Jackson’s full biography is on the UN Sustainable Development Group’s website.
Brunei Darussalam, South Africa and Viet Nam have all paid their regular budget dues in full, bringing us up to 60.
PRESS BRIEFING ON MONDAY
At 12:30 p.m., the President of the Security Council for the merry month of March, that’s Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States of America, will brief journalists on the programme of work.
I just want to end if you let me, on a sad and somewhat reflective note and say a few words about the Guernica tapestry which had been hanging outside the Security Council stakeout for some thirty-five years.
Nelson Rockefeller, Jr., who owns the tapestry, recently notified us of his intention to retrieve it. The tapestry was returned to Mr. Rockefeller earlier this month.
We of course thank the Rockefeller family for having loaned this powerful and iconic work of art to the United Nations for so long.
On a personal note, I think like all of you, I feel a little sad and a sense of loss looking at the empty wall that was recently graced by the tapestry.
The tapestry was not only a moving reminder of the horrors of war but, because of where it stood, it was also a witness to so much history that unfolded outside of the Security Council since 1985. Standing side by side with generations of journalists reporting world-changing events that took place at the stakeout.
I can tell you that the Secretary-General and others tried very hard to keep the tapestry here, but we were not successful.
The Secretariat will review options for art to be displayed outside of the Council Chamber. That will be undertaken by the United Nations Arts Committee.
The Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, Maria Luiza Viotti, informed the Council yesterday, given its proximity.