HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 03 JANUARY 2018
IRAN: SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES FOR PEACEFUL DEMONSTRATIONS – FURTHER VIOLENCE MUST BE AVOIDED
- The Secretary-General is following with concern recent developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He deplores the loss of life in the protests.
- He urges respect for the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, and that any demonstrations take place in a peaceful manner.
- Further violence must be avoided.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES REOPENING OF THE INTER-KOREAN COMMUNICATION CHANNEL
- In response to questions about the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Deputy Spokesman said it was always a positive development to have dialogue between the DPRK and the Republic of Korea.
- In that context, the Secretary-General welcomes the reopening of the inter-Korean communication channel.
- We remain committed to ensuring the implementation of Security Council resolutions on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and hope that enhanced diplomatic initiatives will help to achieve that goal.
SYRIA: TENS OF THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS AT RISK FROM INCREASED HOSTILITIES IN HAMA AND IDLEB GOVERNORATES
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) remains deeply concerned about the protection and wellbeing of tens of thousands of civilians in northeastern Hama and southern Idleb governorates in Syria, following increased hostilities which have reportedly resulted in scores of deaths and injuries and displacement in the area.
- Yesterday, seven people were reportedly killed and at least 18 people injured after an airstrike hit the Khan Elsobol town in southern rural Idleb. On the same day, 25 people were reportedly injured and several shops and facilities were damaged when shelling hit the main vegetable market in Jisr-Ash-Shugur city in western rural Idleb. Further airstrikes and shelling incidents were reported in the southern countryside of the governorate.
- The UN and its partners are coordinating the humanitarian response in the area through cross-border operations from Turkey. Priority needs include shelter, food, medical supplies, water and sanitation and other humanitarian assistance.
- The United Nations reminds all parties to the conflict of the legal obligation to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian objects.
- We are also extremely concerned over a recent string of attacks on healthcare facilities inside Syria. On 31 December, a local hospital in the Idleb Governorate was reportedly damaged by an airstrike, while one day earlier a medical warehouse belonging to an international NGO was reportedly damaged by barrel bombs.
- We continue to call on all the parties to the conflict to end the destruction of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure that is essential for the civilian population, and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
VOLUNTARY RETURN FLIGHTS FOR MIGRANTS FROM LIBYA RESUME, 20,000 ESCORTED HOME SINCE BEGINNING OF 2017
- The Libya Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) chartered their first flight of 2018 under the Voluntary Humanitarian return (VHR) programme, assisting 142 returnees departing from Libya to Gambia.
- The next charter is set for next Monday, 8 January, when around 180 Nigerian nationals are scheduled to be assisted to Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city and commercial hub.
- That flight will bring to close to 20,000 the number of migrants IOM has escorted home from Libya since the beginning of 2017.
- IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) has identified 432,574 migrants in Libya, mainly in the Tripoli, Misrata and Almargeb regions, and estimates the number of migrants to be between 700,000 and one million.