HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 4 APRIL 2017
U.S. MOVE TO CUT FUNDING TO U.N.F.P.A. COULD HAVE ‘DEVASTATING EFFECTS’ ON HEALTH OF VULNERABLE WOMEN – SECRETARY-GENERAL
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said that he deeply regrets the decision by the United States to cut financial support for the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which could have devastating effects on the health of vulnerable women and girls and their families around the world.
- He believes that the decision is based on an inaccurate perception of the nature and importance of the work of UNFPA.
- As High Commissioner for Refugees for over ten years, the Secretary-General saw firsthand the life-saving character of UNFPA’s activities.
- He appeals to donors to increase their support for UNFPA to allow it to continue its critical work during this difficult period.
- Meanwhile, UNFPA also issued a statement. In addition to also regretting the decision, the agency refutes the claim that it “supports, or participates in the management of, a programme of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization” in China.
- As all of its work, UNFPA promotes the human rights of individuals and couples to make their own decisions, free of coercion or discrimination.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN BRUSSELS TO TAKE PART IN SYRIA CONFERENCE
- The Secretary-General arrived in Brussels this morning, where he will be participating in the Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region, which the United Nations is co-hosting with the European Union.
- The Secretary-General met today with Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium and Minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecommunications and Postal Services.
- He also met with Mustafa Akıncı, leader of the Turkish Cypriot Community.
U.N.-BACKED CYPRUS TALKS TO RESUME
- The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser for Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, announced today that the Cyprus Talks will resume following consultations with both sides and the Secretary-General’s meeting with Mr. Akıncı.
- The leaders will resume negotiations on 11 April, and the meeting will be held under the auspices of Mr. Eide.
AID WORKERS ‘UNRELENTING’ IN CALLING FOR ACCESS TO THOSE IN NEED, U.N. RELIEF CHIEF TELLS SYRIA MEETING
- Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien is attending the Brussels Conference, where he delivered opening remarks today at the thematic session on the “Humanitarian situation inside Syria: Needs, challenges and way forward”.
- He said that humanitarian workers cannot stop the ongoing indiscriminate attacks, medieval barbaric sieges and forced displacements, but will continue to provide a lifeline to millions of people in need, including through regular programmes, cross-line, cross-border and air operations.
- Mr. O'Brien stressed that humanitarians would be unrelenting in demanding safe, rapid, sustained and unimpeded access to all those in need.
- He said priorities for the discussions on humanitarian issues being discussed in Brussels include: accountability, establishing the truth and providing reparations, which must be on our horizon if the people of Syria are ever to find reconciliation and peace.
DARFUR STATUS QUO COULD LEAD TO MORE BLOODSHED, ENVOY TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
- The Joint Special Representative for Darfur, Jeremiah N. Mamabolo, briefed the Security Council this morning. He said that the Darfur of today is a very different place from what the region was in 2003, when the armed conflict began, and from that of a year ago. Fighting between forces of the Government of Sudan and the main three non-signatory armed movements has considerably diminished. However, against the backdrop of economic hardship and social depression, banditry and criminality continue to be widespread.
- Mr. Mamabolo said that efforts to get parties to the conflict to sign a cessation of hostilities agreement and to start direct negotiations towards an inclusive peace agreement have remained inconclusive. He warned that the status quo is hurting all parties and can only lead to more bloodshed.
- He also stressed the need to identify durable solutions to enable the return of internally displaced people to their places of origin or reintegration.
U.N. MISSION REPORTS TENSIONS IN SOUTH OF CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) continues to report tensions in Mbomou prefecture in the country's south. Yesterday, the Mission observed a large presence of suspected anti-Balaka in Zobe Mari and the movement of Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) towards Bangassou along the Bangassou-Gambo axis. In the same prefecture, the Mission reports that the UPC continues to undertake attacks in and around Bakouma.
- Meanwhile, the engagement of peacekeepers in Ngaba village outside of Bangassou in Mbomou has resulted in the UPC vacating a school they had occupied in recent days.
- The Mission also reports violence in Haute-Mbomou prefecture in the country's south-east by UPC elements against a number of villages.
- The Mission condemns the violence perpetuated by armed groups. It reiterates its commitment to protect civilians and institutions and to work for the return of lasting peace and stability in the country.
U.N. ANTI-CRIME TSAR CALLS FOR VIGILANCE IN FACE OF INCREASED ATTACKS BY SOMALI PIRATES
- Following a five-year lull, there has been a resurgence of attacks by Somali pirates on commercial shipping, the head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said today.
- In the wake of three recent attacks, Yury Fedotov called on the international community to be vigilant, work in close partnership, and hold the pirates accountable.
- Large parts of the Somali coast remain beyond the reach of law enforcement authorities. UNODC stressed that ships should continue to follow the advice of navies and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
- UNODC continues to support both trials of piracy suspects in the region and the Somali maritime law enforcement agencies. Its Global Maritime Crime Programme addresses all aspects of maritime crime, including terrorism; human trafficking; narcotics smuggling; and hostage-taking.
EUPHRATES DAM NOT IN IMMEDIATE THREAT OF COLLAPSE – U.N.
- In response to questions about the damage to the Euphrates Dam in Syria, the Spokesman said that repair teams have visited the Dam to assess the damage and have worked on the necessary repairs to the control room in recent days. According to information received from the repair team, the Dam is not in immediate threat of collapse at this point.
NUMBER OF U.N. MEMBER STATES HAVING PAID DUES REACHES 75
- Antigua and Barbuda, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Qatar have become the latest Member States to have paid their dues in full, bring the total to 75 members.
***The guests at the noon briefing were Agnes Marcaillou, Director of the Mine Action Service; Inigo Lambertini, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Italy to the United Nations; and Nazifullah Salarzai, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Afghanistan. They spoke to journalists on the occasion of International Mine Awareness Day.