HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2017
U.N. CALLS FOR HUMANITARIAN ACCESS AFTER CLOSURE OF YEMEN’S PORTS AND AIRPORTS
- Following the announcement by the Saudi-led Coalition of the closure of Yemen’s sea and airports, humanitarian access into and out of the country is halted.
- All parties to the conflict must allow and facilitate safe, rapid, unhindered humanitarian access to all people in need, through all ports and airports. Any further shocks to imports of food and fuel may reverse recent success in mitigating the threat of famine.
- Humanitarians have reached more than 7 million people with direct food assistance this year.
- We urge the parties not to escalate the situation further and to adhere to their fundamental obligations of distinction, proportionality and precautions, taking constant care to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure.
- The UN calls upon all parties to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers and assets throughout Yemen.
- The UN also calls on all States with influence over the parties to ensure their respect for international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
- Humanitarian agencies operate in an impartial, neutral and independent manner; any party’s interference with these principles significantly hampers humanitarian agencies’ ability to deliver aid to those in need.
- Meanwhile, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said that it is deeply concerned by a series of attacks in Yemen over the past week that have killed dozens of civilians -- including several children -- and it appealed to all parties to respect international law governing armed conflict.
- The Human Rights Office is also very concerned that humanitarian aid destined for innocent civilians caught up in the three-year long conflict may be adversely affected by the coalition’s decision on Monday to close all land, air and sea ports into the country.
SYRIA: U.N. RELIEF WING VOICES CONCERN OVER SITUATION OF 400,000 CIVILIANS BESIEGED IN EAST GHOUTA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs remains deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in East Ghouta in Syria.
- Almost 400,000 civilians remain inside the besieged area where they face deteriorating humanitarian, health, living and security conditions. The population represents nearly 95 percent of the entire besieged population within Syria.
- Recent World Food Programme assessments indicate severe shortages of food supplies, a sharp increase in the prices of basic commodities and communities, further eroding coping mechanisms. The cost of a standard food basket in October was almost 10 times higher than the national average.
- The UN is also concerned over a recent escalation of airstrikes in Aleppo and Idleb governorates. Over the past 48 hours, multiple and sustained airstrikes were reported in the southern countryside of Aleppo Governorate and parts of Idleb Governorate. We call on all parties to the conflict to take all measures to protect civilians, as required under international humanitarian law.
U.N. MISSION IN IRAQ URGES DIALOGUE, NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN BAGHDAD AND ERBIL
- The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) takes note of the statement concerning the ruling by the High Federal Court, which, among other things, established that no text in the Constitution allows the secession of any of its components listed in Article 116 of the Constitution under its current rulings.
- The UN Mission urges the Government of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to acknowledge, endorse and respect this ruling of the Federal Court and reiterate its full commitment to the Constitution.
- UNAMI re-emphasizes the urgent need for political dialogue and negotiations between Baghdad and Erbil, in a spirit of partnership and respect for the Constitution that itself respects the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The Mission has also reconfirmed its readiness to play a facilitating role in this dialogue and these negotiations, if requested by both the Federal Government and Kurdistan Regional Government.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. REPORT SHOWS SPIKE IN ATTACKS AGAINST PLACES OF WORSHIP
- The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan today released a report which shows a sharp increase in attacks against places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers in the country, and in particularly against Shi’a Muslims. The report also documents the targeted killings by anti-Government forces of religious scholars and leaders whom they regard as pro-Government, as well as the targeted killing of security personnel amidst other worshippers inside mosques.
- Since January 2016, the Mission has recorded 850 civilian casualties (273 people killed and 577 injured) in 51 attacks targeting places of worship, religious leaders and worshippers. This is nearly double the number of documented attacks of these types between 2009 and 2015.
REMAINS OF 26 WOMEN, GIRLS RECOVERED IN RESCUE OPERATIONS OFF LIBYAN COAST – U.N. MIGRATION AGENCY
- The UN Migration Agency today said the remains of 26 women and girls were recovered over the weekend during rescue operations off the coast of Libya. Most of them were Nigerian girls who were making their way to Italy.
- The agency warned that it has observed a significant increase in the number or women and girls arriving in Italy over the past three years, noting that most are under the age of 18. The IOM said it is most likely that they were victims of trafficking.
- Many of the survivors from the rescue operations said they had been abused and some had lost relatives at sea. IOM said some 50 migrants are still missing.
- The World Health Organization yesterday urgently delivered five emergency health kits to Ghat. These kits are designed to meet the basic health needs of 5000 people for approximately three months and will help struggling health facilities to deliver primary health services. WHO is also working on making the Ghat hospital fully functional in the coming weeks.
U.N. ENVOY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACKS IN MALI THAT LEFT 10 DEAD
- The Head of the UN Mission in Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, today condemned a series of attacks that took place yesterday in the country in which 9 civilians and one member of the National Guard were killed.
- A bus hit a mine in Ansongo, in northern Mali, leaving five civilians dead and four wounded.
- In M'Beba, north-east of Sévaré, trucks chartered by the UN Mission were attacked, leaving four drivers dead. Two attackers were killed by the National Guard, which was escorting the convoy. One guard later succumbed of his wounds.
- And in Niafounké, in the centre of the country, one Malian army vehicle that was to provide security for an official delegation hit a mine. Three Malian soldiers were quickly evacuated by the UN Mission and are currently receiving treatment.
- And I also want to flag that Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour was in Mali between 2 and 5 November. He met with the authorities as well as the Joint G5 Sahel Force. The purpose of his visit was to reinforce the importance of human rights and justice in the peace process, and to discuss the establishment of a mechanism to guarantee respect for human rights during the deployment of the Joint G5 Sahel Force.
70,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED BY RENEWED VIOLENCE IN D.R. CONGO’S TANGANYIKA – U.N. MISSION
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports today that a recent mission in Tanganyika, south-east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, found more than 70,000 displaced by renewed violence.
- Priority needs include food security, health, education, shelter and protection.
- Humanitarian assistance to this area has been limited. Underfunding has had a significant impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the DRC this year as the Humanitarian Response Plan is only 42 per cent funded and on track to be the lowest level in a decade.
- Across the DRC, more than 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes this year, bringing the total number of IDPs to 3.9 million – the largest number of any country on the African continent.
- Across the country, more than 8.5 million people need humanitarian assistance.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY COUNTING EXERCISE FINDS ONE THIRD OF ROHINGYA REFUGEE FAMILIES IN BANGLADESH VULNERABLE
- The UN Refugee Agency has just completed the first phase of Rohingya refugee family counting, where more than half a million refugees from Myanmar have so far been counted.
- The exercise, conducted jointly by UNHCR and Bangladesh’s Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commission (RRRC), took place in the Kutupalong camp and extension areas and the Balukhali areas and is now extending further south. So far, the counting exercise has gathered data on 120,284 families comprising half a million refugees.
- The UNHCR teams found that one-third of the families are vulnerable. As many as 14 per cent are single mothers holding their families together with little support in harsh camp conditions. Others are struggling with serious health problems. There is also a high proportion of elderly people at risk, unaccompanied and separated children – some of them taking care of younger siblings. Children made up 54 percent of the total population; 52 percent are women.
- The mobile data collection was designed in such a way that data can be collected with GPS even when the team has no network coverage. As soon as the mobile device is on the network, the collected data is automatically uploaded to a secure server.
AT CLIMATE CONFERENCE, HSBC BANK PLEDGES TO MOBILIZE $100 BILLION TO SUPPORT TRANSITION TO LOW CARBON ECONOMY
- In Bonn, Germany, the Climate Change Conference is now in full swing.
- Some of the highlights from today include a pledge by HSBC bank to mobilize $100 billion in sustainable financing and investment to support the transition to a low carbon economy and to spur green growth worldwide, and the release of a report by the EU saying it is on track to its 2020 target on emissions reduction.
LEBANON PAYS FULL U.N. DUES
- Lebanon has paid its regular budget dues in full for this year, bringing the total number of member states that have done so to 139.