HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2017
 
AS TALKS CONTINUE, SECRETARY-GENERAL REAFFIRMS THAT ONLY A POLITICAL SOLUTION CAN BRING PEACE TO SYRIA

  • The Geneva talks on Syria are continuing today, and different delegations have scheduled press stakeouts which are being webcast.
  • Yesterday, we issued a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General in which he said he is encouraged that the Syrians sat together in the same room yesterday, and he commended the work of his Special Envoy in bringing this about and for resuming the talks.
  • After six years of bloodshed, the Secretary-General urges the Syrians who have accepted the invitation to be in Geneva to engage in good faith as the Special Envoy seeks to facilitate the process. While acknowledging that progress will not be easy, the Secretary-General believes strongly that only a political solution can bring peace to Syria and that all those Syrians who have committed themselves to this goal should redouble their efforts for peace.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES DONOR PLEDGES AT NIGERIA AND LAKE CHAD BASIN CONFERENCE
  • The Secretary-General welcomes donor pledges made today at the conclusion of the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region. He stresses the need for sustained support to humanitarian, human rights, development and security needs in the region.
  • Fourteen donors pledged US$458 million for 2017 and $214 million for 2018 and beyond were announced. The conference also resulted in an agreement to address longer-term development needs and seek durable solutions to crises.
  • At the close of the conference, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, said that without our increased support, affected communities will face a life of hunger, disease, gender-based violence and continued displacement. But he said there is another future within grasp: as the international community scales up support, we can stop a further descent into an ever-deepening crisis with unimaginable consequences for millions of people. He added that the UN and our partners are ready and mobilised to further scale up our life-saving response.
HAITI: SECRETARY-GENERAL ASKS MEMBER STATES IF THEY WILL CONTRIBUTE TO U.N. NEW APPROACH TO CHOLERA
  • Earlier this week the Secretary-General sent a letter to all Member States asking them to inform him by 6 March if they intend to make a voluntary financial contribution to the implementation of the UN's New Approach to Cholera in Haiti. 
  • Under the new approach, the UN is intensifying support to the Haitian government in building sound water, sanitation and health systems -- the best long-term defence against cholera and other water-borne diseases. The UN is also developing a support package to provide material assistance and support to Haitians most directly affected by cholera.
  • In his letter, the Secretary-General says that the UN bears a moral responsibility for ensuring that the new approach is implemented.
IRAQ: MORE PEOPLE FLEE THEIR HOMES AMID MILITARY OPERATIONS IN WESTERN MOSUL
  • In Iraq, with military operations to retake western Mosul progressing, displacement has increased from front-line areas. Yesterday, some 350 people arrived at a screening site in Hammam al Alil, some 30 km south-east of Mosul, having left their homes in Abu Saif village and surrounding areas near Mosul city airport.
  • Displacement has also continued from eastern parts of the city, alongside return movements back into some east Mosul neighbourhoods, and to surrounding areas. Almost 162,000 people are currently internally displaced as a result of fighting in Mosul.  Cumulatively, since Mosul operations began 17 October, more than 218,000 people have been displaced. 
U.N. RELIEF CHIEF TO TRAVEL TO YEMEN, SOMALIA AND KENYA
  • The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, will travel from Oslo to Yemen, Somalia and Kenya between 26 January and 5 March. In all three countries, Mr. O’Brien will meet people most affected by humanitarian crises, which are caused chiefly by conflict and drought.
  • Millions of people in Yemen and Somalia face the very real risk of famine over the coming six months if aid efforts are not rapidly scaled up. In Yemen, over seven million people are severely food insecure and 460,000 children are suffering severe acute malnutrition, while in Somalia nearly 3 people million people urgently need food assistance. Kenya declared a drought emergency on 10 February, with at least 23 counties affected. The number of food insecure people in Kenya has more than doubled to 2.7 million in the past six months.
  • Mr. O’Brien will meet with stakeholders on the humanitarian crises in all three countries. He plans to brief the media in Aden on 27 February, Sana’a on 2 March, and Mogadishu on 5 March.
U.N. RELIEF WING VOICES CONCERN OVER CASUALTIES AND DISPLACEMENT AMID CONFLICT IN YEMEN’S WESTERN COAST
  • The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the escalation of the conflict in Yemen’s Western Coast has resulted in significant civilian casualties and large scale displacement.
  • There are scores of dead bodies in the street risking the spread of disease in Mukha town. Some 44,000 people have been recorded fleeing the conflict throughout Taizz governorate.
  • Humanitarians have scaled up the response in Taizz, Al Hudaydah, Lahj and Aden governorates to provide assistance to the displaced, including shelter, food and other items. Mobile health teams have been deployed to supply medicines and treat trauma cases.
  • We are gravely concerned about the protection concerns that persist due to the military offensive by both land and air. We call on all parties to provide unhindered humanitarian access in the conflict areas to be able to respond to civilians fleeing the fighting.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. PEACEKEEPERS RESCUE INTERNALLY DISPLACED PEOPLE IN BENTIU
  • The UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that uniformed soldiers attempted to abduct a number of internally displaced people nearby the UN Protection of Civilians site in Bentiu yesterday evening. Soldiers were seen beating and harassing 11 internally displaced people at a nearby farm. UN peacekeepers intervened and rescued seven women and four men.
  • In other related incidents the same evening, peacekeepers also prevented the harassment of other people who were returning to the site. The head of the UN Mission, David Shearer, praised the “robust” response of members of the Mongolian Battalion who rescued these people. Bentiu is the UN's largest Protection of Civilians site in South Sudan with 120,000 residents.  
FIRST MIXED PATROL CONDUCTED IN MALI’S GAO REGION
  • From Mali, the first mixed patrol, comprised of the three signatory parties of the peace agreement -- the Government, the Coordination of Movements of Azawad and the Platform -- was conducted in Gao region, northern Mali, yesterday. This is a significant step in the implementation of the agreement that follows the deadly terrorist attack of 18 January against the camp of the Operational Coordination Mechanism in Gao, where dozens of members of the signatory parties were killed and injured.
  • As provided by the peace agreement, these mixed patrols are a key interim security measure aiming at building confidence and curtailing insecurity in northern Mali pending the full restoration of State authority. Signatory parties should now move forward on the establishment of interim authorities as agreed to on 10 February at the high level meeting of the Comité de Suivi de l’Accord.
D.R. CONGO: U.N. MISSION AND CHURCH LEADERS VOICE CONCERN OVER ATTACKS AGAINST CATHOLIC FACILITIES
  • In a joint communiqué issued yesterday with the leaders of the Church in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission in the country (MONUSCO) expressed concern at recent attacks against Catholic facilities.
  • These violent acts must cease immediately, they said, and all political parties should condemn them with determination to counter any attempt to weaken the global political agreement of 31 December 2016.
U.N. IN COLOMBIA WELCOMES INSTALLATION OF NATIONAL SECURITY GUARANTEES COMMISSION IN POPAYAN
  • The UN Mission and the Country Team in Colombia welcome the installation of the National Security Guarantees Commission yesterday in the city of Popayán, in the southwestern department of Cauca.
  • The UN highlights the Commission’s openness to invite the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to its sessions, as well as representatives of political parties and other specialized national and international organizations.
  • The Commission is headed by President Juan Manuel Santos. Its mandate includes the design and monitoring of public and criminal policy aimed at the dismantling of any organization or conduct that threatens the implementation of the peace agreements.
ICELAND PAYS FULL U.N. DUES
  • Iceland has paid its UN regular budget dues in full, becoming the 47th Member State to have done so.