HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 27 MARCH 2019

 
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL’S TRAVELS
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, is in Bangkok, today, where she spoke at the opening of the Sixth Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development.
In her keynote address, she said that the governments in the region have taken on the challenge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with decisive leadership.
But the Deputy Secretary-General cautioned that rising inequalities in the Asia-Pacific region have become a major obstacle to accelerating progress.
The annual Forum brings together senior government officials, the UN, the private sector and civil society.
The Deputy Secretary-General will be returning to New York on Friday.
 
CYCLONE IDAI
And I want to just update you on the UN’s efforts to respond to Cyclone Idai.
The first of three planes carrying relief items from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) landed early this morning in the Mozambican capital, Maputo.
The supplies – including tents, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, and solar lanterns – will be distributed to 30,000 people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
UNHCR’s emergency teams are being deployed to all three countries to support the response.
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing supplies to treat diarrhoeal diseases and cholera, and it is helping to set up three cholera treatment centres.
WHO is also putting together a surge team to send to Mozambique of more than 40 people with expertise in logistics, epidemiology, and outbreak prevention and response.
 
SYRIA
Back here, Rosemary DiCarlo, the head of the Political and Peacebuilding Department, briefed the Security Council on Syria this morning, saying that, after eight long years, horrendous years of suffering by the Syrian people, the conflict seems far from over.
She said the Secretary-General has watched, with great concern, the situation in Idlib deteriorate in recent weeks amid escalating violence, which has caused civilian casualties and the further displacement of tens of thousands of people. In the northeast, she added, the UN is strongly encouraging international diplomatic efforts to ensure that military escalation is avoided at all costs. Any escalation in the northeast could lead to devastating consequences for civilians and could create conditions conducive to the re-emergence of Da’esh.
And Ramesh Rajasingham from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told Council members that UN assessments indicate that 11.7 million people require humanitarian assistance and protection inside Syria in 2019. More than 5.6 million Syrians live as refugees across the region, and he added that the scale of humanitarian needs in Syria remains staggering by any measure.
 
SECURITY COUNCIL
Earlier this morning, the Security Council members also heard a briefing on the Council’s visit that took them to Mali and Burkina Faso.
In the afternoon, the Security Council will discuss Somalia and Lebanon. Ján Kubis will brief the Security Council on Lebanon in closed consultations, and he is expected to speak to you at the stakeout afterwards.
 
YEMEN
Turning to Yemen, the Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, took part this morning in the first day of the Yemeni Women’s Conference entitled “Mediators for Peace,” which was organized by UN Women in Amman in Jordan.
Addressing the opening of the conference, Mr. Griffiths stressed the important role of Yemeni women in reaching an inclusive peace. He highlighted the contribution of the Women Technical Advisory Group, which worked closely with him during the Sweden Consultations, and will continue to work in the upcoming rounds of consultations.
The Special Envoy expressed his hope to see increased women’s representation at the formal level in future consultations. “We have to walk uphill, with regard to women’s inclusion as well as other issues,” he said.
Meanwhile, at least seven civilians were killed and eight injured following an airstrike yesterday on a hospital in Kitaf District in Sa’ada Governorate. Reports from the area confirm the insecurity is making rescue efforts difficult. And three days ago, one of the main public hospitals in Taizz City was forced to close down due to significant damage from intensified fighting.
Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said today that parties which resort to arms are required to do everything possible to protect hospitals and health facilities. This is not a voluntary commitment, she said – it is a fundamental responsibility.
 
PRESS BRIEFING TOMORROW
Tomorrow at 12.30 p.m., the Secretary-General, along with the President of the General Assembly, and the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), Dr. Petteri Taalas, will be here to brief you on the launch of WMO’s State of the Global Climate 2018 and an update on Extreme Weather in 2019.
 
PEACEKEEPING
I also wanted to flag that, this Friday, on 29 March, there will be a peacekeeping ministerial meeting here in the General Assembly.
Government ministers from around the world are expected to reaffirm their commitment to UN Peacekeeping and discuss concrete ways to work towards strengthening performance and protecting civilians in the coming year.
The Secretary-General will deliver remarks at opening of the meeting and, as we told you yesterday, he will confer the UN Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award to Lieutenant Commander Marcia Andrade Braga of Brazil.