HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 29 JANUARY 2019

  
YEMEN
Martin Griffiths, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, is in Hodeidah today.
He tweeted out that he welcomes the unconditional release by AnsarAllah of the sick Saudi prisoner, whom the International Committee for the Red Cross will now transfer from Sanaa to Riyadh. The Special hopes to see more similar humanitarian gestures from the parties.
Mr. Griffiths looks forward to the implementation of the prisoner exchange agreement by the two parties. Thousands of Yemeni families await this implementation, to be reunited with their loved ones, he said.
 
SYRIA
Geir Pedersen, Special Envoy for Syria is on his way back to Geneva after continuing his initial intensive consultations with key stakeholders. Yesterday he was in Ankara where he had valuable talks with the Turkish Foreign Minister and the Deputy Foreign Minister in the effort to rally support for Security Council resolution 2254, concerted backing for the UN efforts and the active facilitation of a Syrian-owned and Syrian-led political process in Geneva, including the constitutional committee.
The Special Envoy said he had a good exchange of views over the weekend in Egypt with the Secretary General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, and the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry. Discussions revolved around regional developments and the reaffirmation of support for a UN-facilitated political solution in line with resolution 2254.
 
EBOLA
The World Health Organization reports that in recent weeks there has been an increase in reported cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s North Kivu Province, most notably from the Katwa health zone, where response teams have faced pockets of community mistrust. The outbreak has also extended southwards to Kayina health zone, a high security risk area.
The World Health Organization – working under the government’s leadership and in collaboration with other agencies – says teams are actively working to build community trust and scale up the response in these areas.
As of 24 January, a total of 666 confirmed & 49 probable cases of Ebola were reported, including 443 deaths and 248 people have now recovered from the disease.
 
NIGERIA
In Nigeria, the UN and humanitarian partners today launched a three-year Humanitarian Response Strategy covering 2019-2021 which, for 2019 alone, asks US$848 million in funding. This Strategy was launched together with the Nigeria Regional Refugee Response Plan, which seeks $135 million; both plans are in support of the Government of Nigeria and countries hosting Nigerian refugees.
This year, aid groups in Nigeria aim to reach 6.2 million vulnerable people who have been hit the hardest by the decade-long crisis between non-state armed groups and the Government forces in Nigeria’s northeast.
In total, 1.8 million people are internally displaced in Nigeria alone, and 228,500 people are refugees in neighbouring countries.

CAMEROON
In answer to questions about the situation in Cameroon, the UN is concerned about reports of violence and use of force by security forces during demonstrations in Douala in recent days. We condemn incidents of violence at Cameroonian embassies in Paris and Berlin.
The UN is also concerned about the reported arrest of Mr. Maurice Kamto, the leader of the Cameroon Renaissance Movement and some members of his party which reportedly took place yesterday. The UN calls on Cameroonian authorities to respect the freedom of assembly, association and expression and stress the need for restraint by all political actors.
The Secretary-General reiterates the need for all Cameroonian stakeholders to engage in an inclusive and genuine political dialogue to address the challenges facing the country. The United Nations stands ready to support such efforts.

UNICEF
UNICEF today launched a $3.9 billion appeal to support the agency’s work for children in humanitarian crises in 2019.
The appeal outlines the agency’s efforts to provide 41 million children in 59 countries across the globe with access to safe water, nutrition, education, health and protection.
2019 marks the 30th anniversary of the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child and the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions. UNICEF reports that today, more countries are embroiled in internal or international conflict than at any other time in the past three decades, threatening the safety and well-being of millions of children.
 
GUATEMALA
The UN Migration Agency (IOM) said that Guatemala will triple its capacity to assist its migrant populations returning by air from Mexico and the United States, when a new migrant support centre is opened later this year.
IOM is overseeing the construction of the centre, which will be managed by the Guatemalan Migration Institute when it opens in June.
The centre is being built on Guatemalan Air Force land and is part of efforts to dignify the return process and provides the first step towards successful reintegration into communities of origin.
 
CHAMPIONS OF THE EARTH
The UN Environment Programme announced today that it is calling for nominations for the 2019 Young Champions of the Earth – the organization’s prize for environmental entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30 with a big idea for the world’s future.
Each of the seven winners will win $15,000 in seed money to invest in their projects, $9,000 to invest in communicating and marketing their projects, invitations and funding to attend high-level UN meetings to share their big ideas with the world, and tailored training and mentorship.
The deadline is 21 March.
 
HONOUR ROLL
Bahrain is the latest Member State to pay its budget dues in full. The total is now 26.
 
CHEMISTRY
2019 is the 150th anniversary of the creation of the Periodic Table by the Russian scientist, Dmitri Mendeleev, and the General Assembly has proclaimed this year as the International Year of the Periodic Table of Chemical Elements.
An official launch was held today at UNESCO and was opened by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay and Mikhail Kotyukov, Russia’s Minister of Science and Higher Education, and Professor Ben Feringa, the 2016 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.