HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

MONDAY, 16 JANUARY 2017

 

HEADS OF U.N.’S MAIN HUMANITARIAN BODIES APPEAL FOR ACCESS TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES TRAPPED IN SYRIA

  • In a joint statement issued today, the heads of the UN’s main humanitarian bodies appealed once more for immediate, unconditional, and safe access to reach the children and families who are still cut off from humanitarian aid across the country.
  • There are currently 15 besieged areas in Syria, where up to 700,000 people, including an estimated 300,000 children, still remain trapped. Nearly five million people, including more than two million children, live in areas that are extremely difficult to reach with humanitarian assistance due to fighting, insecurity and restricted access.
  • In particular, children are at heightened risk of malnutrition, dehydration, diarrhoea, infectious diseases, and injury. Many need support after being exposed to traumatic events, violence and other violations. 
  • The humanitarian agency heads argued that we must not let 2017 repeat the tragedies of 2016 for Syria.
  • The statement was issued by Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, WFP Executive Director Ertharin Cousin, WHO Director General Margaret Chan and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

 

UNITED NATIONS EXPRESSES ALARM OVER REPORTS OF ATTACK ON TECHNICAL TEAM CONDUCTING ASSESSMENT IN WADI BARADA, SYRIA
  • The UN is alarmed by the reports of an attack on the technical team that went to Wadi Barada to assess damages to water infrastructure at the Al-Fiji spring site. On 14 January, a member of the reconciliation committee was reportedly killed at the assessment site. Consequently, the assessment mission was suspended.
  • The technical team, comprising Syrian Arab Red Crescent and water authorities, remains on stand-by to enter the area again to complete their mission as soon as security conditions allow.
  • The UN team is in contact with the water authority and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and also stands ready to enter the area and provide additional support to ensure the swift repair of the water infrastructure.  
  • Fighting in the Wadi Barada area has displaced an estimated 17,500 people since 22 December.   For over three weeks, 5.5 million people in Damascus and surrounding areas have been cut off from their main water source due to fighting in Wadi Barada.
  • The UN continues to support the water authorities with the water quality testing equipment, consumables and chemicals needed to undertake necessary water quality tests.   The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to ensure unrestricted and safe access for technical teams in order to restore the provision of water which is essential to the well-being of the civilian population.

 

FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF JOINT COMPREHENSIVE PLAN OF ACTION IMPLEMENTATION DAY WELCOMED BY UNITED NATIONS
  • The United Nations has welcomed the first anniversary of the achievement of “Implementation Day” under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which marked a significant milestone in the historic agreement reached by the E3/EU+3 and Iran on 14 July 2015 and endorsed by the Security Council in its resolution 2231 (2015).
  • The agreement underscores the importance of diplomacy in ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme remains exclusively peaceful, while also promoting peace and security in the region.
  • The United Nations welcomes the reaffirmation by all sides of their strong commitment to the continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, including in the meeting of the Joint Commission held in Vienna on 10 January 2017, and encourages all Member States to support its implementation in its entirety. It is of the utmost importance that the JCPOA works in the interest of all its participants, including by delivering tangible benefits to the Iranian people.
  • The United Nations will continue to support the implementation of the JCPOA, in accordance with resolution 2231 (2015) and other relevant decisions of the Security Council.

 

SPECIAL COORDINATOR FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN JOINT WATER COMMITTEE
  • Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, today welcomed the signature of an agreement to renew the activity of the Israeli–Palestinian Joint Water Committee to improve the water infrastructure and supply in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
  • This, along with previous joint agreements on electricity, water, mail and 3G cellular coverage, is in line with the Middle East Quartet’s recommendations.  
  • If fully implemented, Mr. Mladenov said the agreement would be an important step towards preserving the two-state solution. He encouraged further cooperation between the two sides, which is critical to the viability of a future Palestinian state.

 

U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN AND U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE RELEASE REPORT DETAILING ABUSES, VIOLATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW IN JUBA
  • A new report published by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office details the grave human rights violations and abuses as well as serious violations of international humanitarian law committed in Juba during and after the fighting that occurred between 8 and 12 July 2016. Six months after the violence, there remains widespread impunity, as violations continue unabated.
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein stressed that in the absence of any semblance of justice and accountability for the violations perpetrated – including possible war crimes – such unbridled outbursts of violence could quickly escalate.
  • The report urges the South Sudanese government to take action to break the cycle of violence and impunity and take steps to fully support the prompt establishment and operationalization of the Hybrid Court for South Sudan by the African Union.

 

U.N. KICK-STARTS JOINT CONSULTATIONS ON EX-COMBATANTS FROM SOUTH SUDAN NOW PRESENT IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
  • The Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region, Said Djinnit, and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Maman Sidikou, kick-started a series of joint consultations to address the presence of elements of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-In Opposition (SPLM/A-IO) in eastern DRC.
  • They met last week with the Governor of North Kivu, Julien Paluku, and with ex-combatants accommodated in Munigi camp.
  • And following meetings with national authorities in Kinshasa, they agreed with the DRC Government to establish a joint technical committee tasked to develop some options for the relocation of the ex-combatants.
  • This committee is scheduled to have its first meeting on 18 January 2017.

 

DECISION TO LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST REPUBLIC OF SUDAN WELCOMED BY UNITED NATIONS
  • The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Ms. Marta Ruedas, as well as the United Nations–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), have both welcomed the easing of sanctions imposed by the United States against the Republic of Sudan.
  • Ms. Ruedas noted that the decision recognized steps taken by the Government of Sudan during recent months in a number of important areas. She congratulated the Government and the people of Sudan on the implementation of these steps which include key decisions that will facilitate humanitarian actors’ efforts to deliver aid to those in need.
  • The Acting Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator, Mr. Jeremiah N. Mamabolo, called on all Sudanese stakeholders to take advantage of this window of opportunity to reflect on peace and reconciliation.

 

FIRST U.N. WORLD DATA FORUM UNDERWAY IN SOUTH AFRICA
  • The first UN World Data Forum has officially gotten underway in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • More than 1,200 participants from governments, national statistics offices, the private sector, civil society and the scientific and academic communities are in attendance.
  • The UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Wu Hongbo, said that he expects the Forum to serve as a launching pad where diverse data producers and users can show their support for the Cape Town Global Action Plan for Sustainable Development Data.

 

U.N. MARKS TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF SALVADORAN PEACE ACCORDS
  • Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenca delivered a message from the Secretary-General for the 25th anniversary of the Salvadoran Peace Accords today.
  • That message stressed that the Salvadoran peace-making and peace-building experience left a lasting impression on the United Nations, with the UN Observer Mission in El Salvador teaching us that peacebuilding must place human rights at the centre of all our work. 
  • In May of last year, the Government of El Salvador sought the Secretary-General’s good offices to facilitate dialogue among Salvadorans and reach agreements on key challenges facing the country.
  • Today, the Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Benito Andión of Mexico as his Special Envoy to facilitate dialogue in El Salvador.