HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 23 MARCH 2017
 
U.N. CONDEMNS LONDON ATTACK, EXPRESSES SOLIDARITY WITH UNITED KINGDOM
  • In response to questions about yesterday’s London attack, the Deputy Spokesman said that we condemn the terrorist attack in the vicinity of the Palace of Westminster. We extend our sincere condolences to the victims and their families, and express our solidarity with the people and the Government of the United Kingdom. We wish a speedy recovery to those injured.
SECRETARY-GENERAL: CLIMATE CHANGE POSES UNPRECEDENTED THREAT TO PEACE, DEVELOPMENT
  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at a high-level General Assembly meeting on climate change and the sustainable development agenda.
  • He said that climate change is an unprecedented and growing threat to peace, prosperity and to all of the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The Secretary-General underlined that human activity is causing dangerous global warming, stressing that we are dealing with scientific facts, not politics.
  • He also spotlighted how addressing climate change is a massive opportunity that we cannot afford to reject. Not only is action now far cheaper than the cost of inaction, but the Secretary-General said that it can unlock vast potential economic growth in all regions and for all people.
PARTICIPANTS ARRIVE FOR U.N.-BACKED SYRIA TALKS IN GENEVA
  • The UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is pleased to note that all invitees to the fifth round of intra-Syrian talks have arrived in Geneva. The Deputy Special Envoy, Ramzy Ezzeldine Ramzy, has begun preliminary informal consultations with them today.  
  • The Special Envoy is returning later today to Geneva, having completed a series of consultations with international and regional stakeholders. He looks forward to formally engaging the invitees to the talks starting tomorrow.
U.N. ENVOY SPOTLIGHTS URGENT CHALLENGES FACING SOMALIA TO SECURITY COUNCIL
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, briefed the Security Council this morning on the humanitarian crisis and risk of imminent famine engulfing Somalia.
  • Despite the persistent drought in the country, scaled-up humanitarian efforts meant that more people were being reached with food aid, nutritional support, health care services and access to safe water, said Mr. Keating.
  • One of the most urgent challenges included the need for funding for immediate life-saving action, in particular for the cholera response, which now affected 11 of the 18 regions.
  • Mr. Keating noted that there was optimism in the country, however, following the recent electoral process, which had created momentum for fresh political engagement amongst Somalis.
  • This afternoon, the Secretary-General will deliver remarks at the Security Council when it meets on the situation in South Sudan.
U.N. OFFICIAL MEETS WITH COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BY CLASHES IN SOUTH SUDAN’S TORIT
  • The head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), David Shearer, visited Torit in Imatong State on Thursday. Community leaders reported to him that up to 75 per cent of people living in the state may have left their homes because they cannot get enough to eat.
  • Since July 2016 Torit has been considered a flashpoint by the UN after heavy fighting between government and opposition forces. A combination of insecurity, armed robbery on state roads, a deteriorating economy and a lack of fuel has meant that subsistence farmers cannot grow the crops they need to survive, and other farmers cannot get their food to the market.
  • Mr. Shearer said that UN peacekeepers are mounting patrols in the state and are doing what they can to provide security and build confidence so farmers can return to their land. However, he said, unless all warring factions lay down their arms, peace will not be possible and the people of South Sudan will continue to suffer.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. PEACEKEEPERS CARRIES OUT FLYOVERS FOLLOWING REPORTS OF CLASHES
  • The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has received reports of heavy fighting between the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique and the Union pour la Paix en Centrafrique in Nzako, some 50 km north of Bakouma in Mbomou prefecture yesterday.
  • The Mission conducted an aerial reconnaissance flight over Nzako and the surrounding areas, but was not able to locate the presence of armed elements. UN peacekeepers also conducted a patrol from Bria to Bakouma earlier today, after being unable to access the town earlier in the week following the deliberate destruction of a bridge. The UN Mission denounces the actions of armed groups which continue to cause instability in the country.
  • Separately, in Ndélé, Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture, the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) yesterday destroyed the entire stock of explosive ammunition collected since the onset of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme in June 2016. The materials included some 60 grenades, 40 rockets and 1,000 ammunition clips. 
U.N. REFGUEE AGENCY, UGANDA ISSUE JOINT APPEAL TO HELP THOUSANDS OF SOUTH SUDANESE REFUGEES
  • The High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Government of Uganda today jointly appealed for urgent and massive support for the thousands of refugees from South Sudan who continue to arrive to Uganda every day; fleeing brutal conflict, compounded by the limited availability of food.
  • Uganda currently hosts more than 800,000 South Sudanese refugees. Among them are some 572,000 new arrivals who have poured into Uganda in desperate need of safety and help since early July 2016. At the current arrival rate, that figure is expected surpass a million before mid-2017.
  • This month alone, more than 2,800 refugees have arrived in Uganda from South Sudan daily.
U.N., PARTNERS CALL FOR $20 MILLION TO HELP CYCLONE-HIT MADAGASCAR
  • The UN and humanitarian partners are appealing for $20 million to address the devastating consequences of Cyclone Enawo that struck Madagascar earlier this month.
  • At least 250,000 people in the worst-affected areas require urgent life-saving humanitarian assistance and protection.
  • Among them, some 20,000 families who lost their homes need emergency shelter and more than 100,000 children whose schooling has been disrupted need temporary learning spaces.
  • Up to 85 per cent of planted subsistence crops were lost in some areas, while more than 1,300 wells, which are the major source of household water, are flooded and contaminated.
PERU: U.N. ASSESSMENT TEAM VISITS AREAS AFFECTED BY FLOODING
  • AN 11-member UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team has been fully deployed to five locations in the three main flood-affected provinces of Peru’s La Libertad, Lambayeque and Piura.
  • Peruvian authorities are concerned about possible new floods and landslides and have asked the population in at-risk areas to be on alert for possible evacuation orders.
AHEAD OF WORLD TUBERCULOSIS DAY, WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION ISSUES NEW ETHICS GUIDANCE
  • Tomorrow is World Tuberculosis Day, and the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching new ethics guidance to help ensure that countries implementing the End TB Strategy adhere to sound ethical standards to protect the rights of all those affected.
  • TB, the world’s top infectious disease killer, claims 5,000 lives each day.
  • The heaviest burden is carried by communities which already face socio-economic challenges: migrants, refugees, prisoners, ethnic minorities, miners and others working and living in risk-prone settings, as well as marginalized women, children and older people.
  • More than a third of people with TB –4.3 million people – go undiagnosed or unreported.
CYPRUS: U.N. MISSION WRAPS UP INVESTIGATION INTO THEFT ALLEGATIONS
  • In response to questions, the Deputy Spokesman said that the UN Mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has completed its investigation into an allegation of theft by UN peacekeepers in the country.
  • Based on the findings, one member of the mission's military component has been repatriated on 11 March and referred for Court Martial in his home country. The UN holds its personnel to the highest standards, and has a zero tolerance policy concerning criminal misconduct.
ROMANIA BECOMES 66TH MEMBER STATE TO PAY U.N. DUES IN FULL
  • Romania has become the 66th Member State to have paid its UN dues in full.