Over the weekend, the Secretary-General wrapped up a trip to the Pacific trip and issued a message, in which he praised small islands for their determination to tackle the global climate emergency and their actions to increase their resilience and capacity to adapt. However, he stressed that climate change cannot be stopped by small island countries alone. It needs to be done with the rest of the world. He said this requires political will to transform the energy, industry, agriculture and mobility sectors, and he reiterated his three messages for world leaders: to tax pollution and not people; to stop subsidizing fossil fuels; and to stop building new coal plants by 2020.
In a tweet, he said after his visit he is now “more convinced than ever that the global climate emergency is the battle of our lives – a battle we can and must win.”
In his last stop in Vanuatu, the Secretary-General met with the President and Prime Minister and praised the country’s response to Cyclone Pam, as well as its ocean policy, which requires the removal of all single-use plastics.
International Peacekeepers Day will take place on 29 May, but, in New York, we will honor that Day this Friday.
A message from the Secretary-General has already been issued, in which he says that the Day is intended to honor more than one million men and women who have served as United Nations peacekeepers since our first mission in 1948.
On that day, the Secretary-General says we must remember the more than 3,800 personnel who have paid the ultimate price, and we express our deepest gratitude to the 100,000 civilian, police and military peacekeepers deployed around the world today and to the countries that contribute these brave and dedicated women and men.
The UN peacekeeping department has announced the awarding of the Captain Mbaye Diagne Medal for Exceptional Courage to the late Private Chancy Chitete of Malawi. He will be given the award as part of International Day of Peacekeeping commemoration on this Friday, which I just mentioned.
Private Chitete was serving with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and lost his life in “Operation Usalama,” conducted by the UN peacekeepers in November 2018 against the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) group, in order to stop attacks on local towns and prevent the disruption of the Ebola response. Private Chitete’s actions saved the life of a fellow peacekeeper from Tanzania.
We expect the family of Private Chitete to be in New York to receive the award from the Secretary-General.
This is the first time that the award has been conferred ever since it was established in 2014 by the Security Council and awarded in 2016 to the family of the late Captain Diagne, who saved countless lives while serving as a UN peacekeeper in Rwanda. The medal is the highest and most prestigious recognition to be earned in the service of United Nations peacekeeping.
Our colleagues at the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali reported today that six Chadian peacekeepers are recovering from their wounds after their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in Tessalit over the weekend.
In separate statements, the Secretary-General and the Security Council condemned the attacks on Saturday against the UN Mission in Mali, which took place in Timbuktu and Tessalit. The Secretary-General said he was deeply saddened at the death of a Nigerian peacekeeper who succumbed to his wounds following the armed attack in Timbuktu.
The Secretary-General recalls that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. He calls on the Malian authorities to take swift action to identify the perpetrators of these attacks and promptly bring them to justice.
We are following with great concern recent incidents and hardening rhetoric in Yemen over the past days.
Recalling the initial positive steps taken in the implementation of the Hudaydah Agreement, we are encouraged by the firm commitment reiterated by President Hadi and his Government to implement the Agreement.
We remind all parties of their commitments to take further steps to achieve full implementation, together with the Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee and the UN Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement, so as not to lose the momentum.
The Secretary-General urges the Yemeni parties to work with his Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, to make further progress in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement. The Secretary-General notes that his Special Envoy is committed to working with the Yemenis to find a lasting and negotiated settlement to end the conflict and to meet the legitimate aspirations of the Yemeni people.
And, also on Yemen, you will have seen that the World Food Programme (WFP) issued a press release a bit earlier today saying that its greatest challenge in Yemen does not come from the guns, that are yet to fall silent in this conflict – instead, it is the obstructive and uncooperative role of some of the Houthi leaders in areas under their control.
Earlier this month, after repeated obstructions, the World Food Programme wrote to the Houthi leadership again and confirmed that the agency has reluctantly reached the conclusion that, unless progress is made on previous agreements, it will have to implement a phased suspension of aid.
This phased suspension of WFP operations will be taken as a last resort and the agency will do everything within its powers to ensure that the weakest and most vulnerable – especially the children – do not suffer.
WFP still hopes that good sense will prevail and a suspension will not happen. The ultimate responsibility for the welfare of their people lies with the Yemeni leadership.
On Syria, I can tell you that we continue to follow with great concern the continuing reports of airstrikes in greater Idlib, most recently on 19 May, yesterday, when eight civilians including two children were reportedly killed and tens wounded in airstrikes on the obstetric hospital in Kafr Nobol.
The UN continues to be extremely alarmed by the dangerous intensification of violence in the de-escalation area of northwestern Syria and condemns attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure. Especially alarming are attacks that have damaged or destroyed medical facilities inside the de-escalation area.
We have all repeatedly called for the parties to respect International Humanitarian Law and for the parties to recommit fully to the ceasefire arrangements agreed between Russia and Turkey last September.
On Libya, I can tell you that our humanitarian colleagues say they are deeply concerned over the reported cut-off of the water supply to Tripoli.
Yesterday, an armed group stormed Tripoli’s main water distribution station and has reportedly closed the water valves supplying Tripoli and other cities in the north-west of the country, including Gharyan and Al Zawayih, potentially affecting some 2 million people and their access to water.
Some districts in Tripoli are already experiencing low water pressure and it is expected that the full impact will be felt in the coming two days unless the valves are re-opened.
Water supply to Tripoli had already been impacted prior to yesterday, as maintenance staff at the facility were evacuated for security reasons due to the ongoing fighting.
Humanitarian partners are working to support the affected areas of Tripoli with water trucking and water purification assistance.
Meanwhile, the civilian displacement as a result of the clashes in and around Tripoli continues to surge, with more than 78,000 people now having had to flee their homes.
The UN and our humanitarian partners in Somalia today launched a Drought Response Plan seeking $710 million for assistance for 4.5 million drought-affected people in the most severely affected areas of the country between now and the end of December.
Many areas are experiencing critical water shortages, widespread crop failure, and diminished livestock conditions following two consecutive failing rainy seasons.
As a result, the number of people facing emergency levels of food insecurity or worse is expected to reach 2.2 million by July if aid is not scaled up. This is more than 40 per cent higher than January this year.
From Afghanistan, a new United Nations report has found that continued focus and efforts are needed to advance the country’s anti-corruption reforms.
The new report, the third of its kind, describes how corruption continues to affect all aspects of life in Afghanistan, eroding public trust and confidence in government institutions and hindering efforts to bring lasting peace and prosperity to the country.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Tadamichi Yamamoto, stressed that corruption puts at risk prospects for peace, as a negotiated settlement for Afghanistan’s future must be based on integrity and justice.
I want to flag that the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, began a five-day visit to Myanmar today. This is the first visit by the head of UNHCR to the country since August 2017.
Mr. Grandi is scheduled to spend the first two days in Rakhine State, where he will meet with communities in Sittwe and the northern townships, as well as meeting with state and district officials.
Later in the week, he is scheduled meet senior Myanmar Government officials in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.
WORLD BEE DAY
If there is a certain buzz in the air today, it is because it is World Bee Day.
This morning the Deputy Secretary-General spoke in celebration of bees.
Bees are amongst the hardest working creatures on the planet, Amina Mohammed said, much like the UN peacekeeping and humanitarian staff in the field.
With annual global food production that depends on pollination being worth half a trillion dollars, “bees are clearly crucial for our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”
But pesticides and climate change are threatening bees. Decline and disappearance of bees would have drastic consequences on ecosystems and human wellbeing, and urgent efforts are needed to protect them.
And, here at Headquarters, we are doing our bit to protect the bees. You can feel free to visit our bee hives, which are at the northern end of the UN garden. But be careful!