HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

TUESDAY, 30 MARCH 2021
 

SYRIA  
At a General Assembly session this morning on Syria, the Secretary-General said that over the last ten unrelenting years, the people of Syria have endured some of the gravest crimes the world has witnessed this century. The massive and systematic violations of human rights and of international humanitarian law in Syria over the last decade shock the conscience. 
At this in-person briefing, he reiterated that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria, and also renewed his call for a negotiated political settlement in line with Security Council resolution 2254. 
A first step, the Secretary-General said, must include credible progress within the Constitutional Committee, to implement the resolution’s call for the drafting of a new constitution, allowing for free and fair elections. So far, he said, the results of the Committee’s work have fallen short of his – and of the Syrian people’s - expectations.  
Turning to the country’s humanitarian situation, he said that millions inside the country — and millions of refugees outside of Syria— grapple with deep trauma, grinding poverty, personal insecurity and lack of hope for the future. The pandemic has made it all even worse.  
Despite the UN’s massive response in Syria and across the region, more humanitarian access is required to those most in need. A large-scale cross-border response for an additional 12 months remains essential to save lives.
On human rights, he added that addressing the plight of detainees, abductees and the missing is an issue that requires our urgent attention. In the absence of a mechanism with an international mandate to address this issue, so far, we have not seen the kind of progress that is commensurate with the gravity of the matter. 
After a decade of war, he concluded, many Syrians have lost confidence that the international community can help them forge an agreed path out of the conflict. 
I am convinced that we still can, he told General Assembly members. 
 
SYRIA CONFERENCE   
And earlier in the day, on Syria as well, the Secretary-General addressed – by pre-recorded video message -the fifth Brussels conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region”. 
For many Syrians in need he said, the humanitarian aid and protection brought by the UN and its agencies, as well as our humanitarian partners is the only source of survival.  
He called on Member States to help address rising needs and to step up financial and humanitarian commitments to the people in Syria, as well as to help relieve the significant financial burden of the countries that are hosting refugees.   
A reminder that the conference is seeking $10 billion to fund the Syria Humanitarian Response Plan and the Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan for this year.  
The conference is still ongoing. We will share information on pledges received as soon as we get it. 
The UN Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, also spoke and his remarks were circulated to you. 
 
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO 
In the Security Council, Bintou Keita, the head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, briefed council members. This is her first briefing since taking up her new job. 
Since her arrival in the DRC, she said she noted an opening to push forward necessary governance and institutional reforms that will have a direct impact to support peaceful resolution of the conflicts in the East.  
But at the same time, Ms. Keita said that in her exchanges with the Government, she emphasized the need to overcome the deadlocks holding back political progress and stabilization. 
She added that, in collaboration with partners, the Government must address the immense and pressing security, humanitarian and development needs facing the country. To silence the guns, there is no military solution, only political strategies that must address the many social, economic, and governance needs. 
She, of course, reiterated the UN’s commitment to work, together with all partners and colleagues, to help alleviate the Congolese population’s longstanding, and unacceptable suffering. 
 
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 
In the Central African Republic, the Peacekeeping Mission there, known as MINUSCA, said that the re-elected President Faustin Archange Touadera was today sworn in for a second term in a ceremony at the Parliament.  The event was also attended by dignitaries, as well as the UN and other international organizations.  
The peacekeeping mission also said that it has completed a three-day visit to Ouanda Djallé, in Vakaga Prefecture, with the local commanders of the Central African forces and Internal Security Forces.  
During the visit, the Mission’s team met the local authorities, armed group leaders, mainly from the FPRC, as well as two rival candidates in the recently held legislative election. The FPRC local commanders were informed about the Political Agreement and stated that the combatants are ready to lay down their arms and join the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration programme, organized by the mission.  
 
MOZAMBIQUE 
Today, from Mozambique, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that sporadic fighting was still being reported from Palma, in northern Mozambique. The UN expects that thousands more people are fleeing the area and making their way by foot, boat or road to reach safer destinations.  
The International Organization for Migration confirmed that more than 3,360 people displaced from Palma arrived in Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba districts. That was as of yesterday afternoon. The numbers, however, might be higher and are expected to increase over the coming days. 
UN colleagues on the ground say that displaced people, including children, are arriving in dire conditions. They have been traumatized, or injured, or in need of urgent medical attention, or all three. Many saw their family members killed or had to hide for days, without food or water, to evade the armed men who attacked their communities. 
The UN, along with its humanitarian partners, are rapidly mobilizing personnel and resources and are supporting people at their arrival points. WFP is providing emergency food assistance while IOM is providing medical supplies and other emergency items.
For its part, the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Children’s Fund are supporting identification and referral of vulnerable people at their arrival points.  
As said yesterday via email by the Spokesman, the UN is deeply concerned by the still evolving situation in Palma. He said we strongly condemn the attacks that have taken place and extend our deep condolences to the families of the victims, as well as the Government of Mozambique.    
 
CÔTE D’IVOIRE  
In response to questions on Côte d’Ivoire, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General condemns yesterday’s attack on Ivorian security posts in Kafolo and Tehini, near the border with Burkina Faso, which left several Ivorian security personnel dead and wounded. The Secretary-General extends his sincere condolences to the bereaved families and wishes a speedy recovery to those wounded.   
The UN remains steadfast in our support to the Sahelian and neighbouring countries in their efforts to overcome the scourge of terrorism and address the security and political, as well as humanitarian and socio-economic challenges in the region.  
 
ZIMBABWE 
In Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme says it is warning that hunger is peaking in urban Zimbabwe as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is felt across the nation. 
They say that 2.4 million people are struggling to meet their basic food needs.
WFP is delivering monthly cash transfers to 326,000 Zimbabweans across 23 urban areas and aims to scale up to reach 550,000 people living in the 28 worst affected and food insecure urban areas in the country. Households are given cash through electronic transfers and vouchers that enable them to buy food items from selected retailers. 
 
ROHINGYA REFUGEES 
UNHCR is providing thousands of relief items and medical supplies to assist some 48,000 Rohingya refugees who lost their shelters and belongings in the fire, which devastated parts of Cox’s Bazar refugee camp last week. The camp, as you may recall, shelters more than 600,000 refugees. It is the largest refugee camp in the world. 
The agency is also monitoring the safety and security of refugees and working to address the critical needs of children who were separated from their families during the fire. 

And a note on Myanmar, the Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, will brief Security Council Members behind closed doors tomorrow on the situation in the country.
 
COVAX 
COVAX-backed vaccines arrived in Guyana and Kosovo.  
Authorities in Guyana received 24,000 doses of the vaccine, with more expected to arrive in due course. The Pan-American Health Organization is responsible for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for countries in Latin America and the Caribbean under the COVAX Facility and is currently shipping them from labs in the Republic of Korea. Guyana is one of ten countries in Latin America and the Caribbean receiving vaccines at no cost through COVAX. Since the beginning of the pandemic, our team in Guyana has worked with government, civil society, and other partners to identify and assist the needs of the population in responding to the health crisis and its socio-economic impacts.  
And on Sunday, Kosovo received 24,000 doses of the vaccine. Nearly 80,000 more doses are expected [by] May. And this is with the logistical support of UNICEF. These initial doses are being distributed to nearly 40 health centres to help the rollout of the vaccination campaign, prioritizing population groups most at risk, such as healthcare workers and the elderly in care homes. 

NOON BRIEFING GUESTS TOMORROW 
And tomorrow, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) will be guests at the Noon Briefing. They will brief reporters ahead of the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The guests will include Ilene Cohn, the Deputy Director and Officer in Charge of UNMAS; Abigail Hartley, the Chief of Policy, Advocacy, Communication and Resource Mobilization for UNMAS; and Stephen Pritchard, the Chief of Programmes, Planning and Management,of UNMAS.  
 
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION 
In the past couple of days, five Member States have paid their dues.  
Payments from Botswana, Cambodia, the Dominican Republic, Portugal and the Republic of Moldova, bring us up to 82 fully paid-up Member States.