HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2017
YEMEN: POTENTIAL FAMINE WOULD BE ‘LARGEST THE WORLD HAS SEEN IN DECADES’ - U.N. RELIEF CHIEF
- Today marks the fifth day since the Saudi-led Coalition has imposed a complete blockade on Yemen. Since Sunday, the Coalition has not facilitated any humanitarian movements into or out of Yemen carrying relief items and aid workers.
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says it has heard of health facilities shutting down because they cannot cover the increased fuel costs, and water pumping stations have also been impacted.
- Yesterday afternoon, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, briefed the Security Council in closed consultations on Yemen. Speaking to reporters afterwards, he condemned what he called the outrageous missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh over the weekend.
- Mr. Lowcock cautioned that the potential famine in Yemen would be the largest the world has seen in decades, with millions of victims. To avert such a famine, he said recent measures introduced by the Coalition – closing air, sea and land access to Yemen – must be lifted and the following five steps must be taken:
- The immediate resumption of regular UN and other humanitarian partners’ air services to Sana’a and Aden;
- A clear and immediate assurance that there will be no further disruption to these air services;
- An immediate agreement to the prepositioning of the World Food Programme vessel in the water off Aden, and assurances that there will be no further disruption to the functions that it supports;
- The immediate resumption of humanitarian and commercial access to all the seaports of Yemen – especially for food, fuel medicines and other essential supplies; and
- The scaling back of interference with, delays to, or blockages of all vessels that have passed inspection by the UN Verification and Inspection Mechanism so that they can proceed to port as rapidly as possible.
- In a joint statement issued yesterday, the humanitarian community in Yemen also expressed its great alarm at the Coalition’s decision to close all of Yemeni airports, seaports and land crossings. They reiterated that humanitarian aid is not the solution to Yemen’s humanitarian catastrophe, with only a peace process able to halt the horrendous suffering of millions of innocent civilians.
U.N. OFFICIAL WARNS OF RETURN TO ‘SOME OF THE BLEAKEST DAYS’ OF SYRIAN CONFLICT
- Jan Egeland, the Special Adviser to the Special Envoy for Syria, spoke to reporters in Geneva following the latest meeting of the Humanitarian Task Force. He said he felt that we are now returning to some of the bleakest days of the conflict, with reports of attacks against civilians and displacement of civilians ranging from Idlib and Aleppo in the northwest through Raqqa and Deir Ezzour in the north and the east, and in areas like Damascus and Hama.
- Mr. Egeland said that the worst situation is in eastern Ghouta, just near Damascus, where some 400,000 civilians are suffering in a dozen besieged towns and villages. He said that UN convoys are the only lifeline, but those convoys were blocked again over the past week despite our best efforts to get aid in.
AMID URGENT NEEDS IN MYANMAR, U.N. REITERATES CALL FOR ACCESS FOR AID WORKERS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that aid access in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine state remains extremely challenging, with the UN being granted almost no access by the Government.
- The Red Cross Movement continues to provide assistance in the area, having reached tens of thousands of people with food and other services already.
- However, the needs remain high, with the Red Cross Movement aiming to reach more than 180,000 people with assistance by the end of the year. Further humanitarian access and assistance is urgently needed.
- The Secretary-General has called for full and unfettered access for aid workers in Myanmar, including in Rakhine State, and we continue to encourage the Government to implement this call to ensure that all those in need receive assistance.
- As a result of the overall limitations on access, the UN has not been able to conduct an independent comprehensive needs assessment in northern Rakhine.
COLOMBIA: U.N. MISSION, EPISCOPAL CONFERENCE CALL ON PARTIES TO AVOID PUTTING COMMUNITIES AT RISK
- The UN Verification Mission in Colombia issued a press release with the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, highlighting the first month of monitoring the ceasefire between the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN).
- At the regional and local levels, the UN Mission has established 33 verification teams which are operational.
- In several regions of Colombia, the humanitarian situation of the population has been positively impacted by the suspension of armed confrontation. In others, serious challenges remain, such as the violence in Tumaco in October, in which several peasants were killed, and the murder of the governor and indigenous leader Aulio Isarama Forastero.
- The UN Mission and the Episcopal Conference call upon the parties to undertake all possible efforts to avoid incidents that put communities at risk and to maintain their commitment to the work of the Monitoring and Verification Mechanism.
U.N. ENVIRONMENT AGENCY URGES PROGRESS IN ASSESSING CLIMATE ADAPTATION POLICIES
- At the UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, negotiations continue at a working level and more difficult issues will be tackled when ministers meet next week.
- Starting tomorrow, the Conference will look at progress on climate action by themes, beginning with a look at energy, water and agriculture.
- On the margins of the Conference, the UN Environment Programme released a report stressing that more progress is needed towards assessing climate adaptation policies around the world.
- The Adaptation Gap report, looks at ways in which countries measure their progress on adaptation and resilience and explores options on how to translate this into globally comparable metrics that are needed to track progress towards the Paris Agreement goal on adaptation.
COST OF IMPORTING FOOD SET TO RISE DESPITE LARGE PRODUCTION, ROBUST SUPPLY – U.N. REPORT
- While food commodity prices have been generally stable, the cost of importing food is set to rise in 2017 by 6 percent from the previous year - that’s according to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s latest Food Outlook report published today.
- The food commodity outlook, issued twice a year, takes a close look at the markets of key food categories, including cassava, the livestock and dairy sectors, fish, vegetable oils and the main cereal grains.
- The higher import bill – the second highest tally on record – comes at a time when inventories are robust, harvest forecasts are strong and food commodity markets remain well supplied.
- But it is of particular concern for Least-Developed Countries (LDCs) and countries classified by the FAO as Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCS).
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO ADDRESS PRESS TOMORROW
- The Secretary-General is returning from the Chief Executives Board meeting this afternoon, and at 2 pm, he will speak at an informal meeting of the General Assembly on his reform proposal, ‘Restructuring of the United Nations Peace and Security Pillar’.
- Tomorrow morning at 8:45 am the Secretary-General will do a press stakeout outside the Security Council on upcoming travels and other issues.
BELARUS AND MOROCCO PAY FULL U.N. DUES
- Belarus and Morocco have paid their regular budget dues in full, bringing the total number of Member States that have done so to 142.