HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,

DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

TUESDAY, 21 FEBRUARY 2017

 

 SECRETARY-GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO LATE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION

  • At the start of his remarks this morning in the Security Council’s open meeting on crises in Europe, the Secretary-General paid special tribute to the late Vitaly Ivanovitch Churkin, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, who passed away yesterday. 
  • The Secretary-General said that Vitaly Churkin was not only an outstanding diplomat, but an extraordinary human being.  He said that his passing represents a deep loss for the United Nations, including in the Security Council, where his distinctive voice was ever-present for the past decade.
  • In a statement, the Secretary-General said that Ambassador Churkin was a uniquely skilled diplomat, a powerful orator with great wit, and a man of many talents and interests.  The Secretary-General said that he greatly appreciated the opportunity to work with him and will deeply miss his insights, skills and friendship. 

 

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SHOULD NOT TAKE EUROPEAN PEACE AND PROSPERITY FOR GRANTED: SECRETARY-GENERAL
  • The Secretary-General spoke today at the Security Council’s open debate on conflict in Europe, saying that such conflicts are not only a tragedy for those directly involved, but they are also reversing development gains and preventing communities and societies from achieving their full potential and contributing to regional and global prosperity.
  • Referencing the situations in Cyprus, the Balkans, and Ukraine, as well as other areas, the Secretary General highlighted that no single factor can be blamed for the emergence and continuation of conflicts in Europe. He noted that in many cases, peace agreements are simply not being implemented. 
  • The international community should not take European peace and prosperity for granted, the Secretary-General warned, stressing that the transition towards a multipolar world is creating greater unpredictability and risk.

 

FAMINE COULD LEAD TO DEATHS OF ALMOST 1.4 CHILDREN: UNICEF
  • The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned today that almost 1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death from severe acute malnutrition this year, as famine looms in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
  • UNICEF’s Executive Director, Anthony Lake, said that time is running out but we can still save many lives as the severe malnutrition and looming famine are largely man-made. Our common humanity demands faster action, he said.

 

SOMALIA: DROUGHT DISPLACES MORE THAN 135,000, FOOD CRISIS COULD WORSEN WITH POOR RAINY SEASON
  • Drought has displaced more than 135,000 people inside Somalia since November, according to data compiled by UNHCR, the Norwegian Refugee Council and other community-based organizations.
  • Swift, substantial action and adequate funding are urgently needed to avoid famine and a repeat of 2011, when some 250,000 people died, more than half of them younger than five years old.
  • In a joint statement, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), along with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network warn that the country’s food crisis could be further exacerbated by a poor rainy season in 2017.

 

MILLIONS RELEASED FROM CENTRAL EMERGENCY RESPONSE FUND FOR AID OPERATIONS IN ETHIOPIA
  • The Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien today released US$18.5 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to provide time-critical aid to more than 785,000 people in Ethiopia’s worst-hit Somali region.
  • Over the past two years, the Response Fund has allocated a total of $47 million to aid operations in Ethiopia.

 

HEAD OF U.N. MISSION IN SOUTH SUDAN WELCOMES RENEWED COMMITMENT FROM COUNTRY’S PRESIDENT
  • From South Sudan, the head of the UN Mission in the country (UNMISS), David Shearer, has welcomed the renewed commitment made by President Salva Kiir during the opening of the country’s Parliament today to launch a national dialogue.
  • The dialogue is aimed at uniting the people of South Sudan as well as improving security and consolidating peace, within the framework of South Sudan's peace agreement. Mr. Shearer reiterated the UN Mission’s position that the process has to be inclusive of all South Sudanese stakeholders to provide a useful contribution to the peace process. He also welcomed President Kiir’s pledge to ensure that all humanitarian and development organizations have unimpeded access to needy populations.
  • And a day after famine was declared in parts of the country, humanitarian organizations gathered today to launch the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan, which appeals for US$1.6 billion to provide life-saving assistance and protection to 5.8 million people across the country in 2017. Humanitarian organizations estimate that some 7.5 million people in South Sudan now need humanitarian assistance and protection. More than 5.5 million people will face severe food insecurity at the height of the lean season in July.

 

YEMEN: HUMANITARIAN SITUATION FURTHER DETERIORATES FOLLOWING ESCALATED MILITARY OFFENSIVE
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said in a statement today that the escalated military offensive in Yemen's Western Coast has resulted in a further deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen.  He said that there are food shortages, rising food and fuel prices, disruption to agricultural production and other factors which have resulted in 17 million people – or 62 per cent of the population – being food insecure.
  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and IOM, the UN Migration Agency, warned today that unabated conflict and rapidly deteriorating conditions across Yemen are pushing millions of displaced Yemenis further into danger and adversity.  Since the beginning of the conflict in March 2015, more than 11 per cent of Yemen’s population, some 3 million people, have been forced to flee their homes for safety. Almost two years later, prolonged hostilities and worsening conditions are now forcing 1 million of those uprooted to return to the homes from which they fled, despite danger and insecurity across the country.
  • Two recent reports show that there are currently 2 million internally displaced people (IDPs) across Yemen and 1 million IDP returnees; and that as conditions across the country further deteriorate, many more IDPs are contemplating a return home, where challenging security and socio-economic conditions persist.

 

IRAQ: MILITARY OFFENSIVE RESULTS IN LIMITED HUMANITARIAN IMPACT THUS FAR
  • Initial indications are that the humanitarian impact of advances in the military push on western Mosul has so far remained limited, as security forces in Iraq have primarily moved through sparsely populated areas outside of the city, where civilians have reportedly already fled. There are as yet no clear indications on the numbers of civilian casualties resulting from aerial bombardment of western Mosul.
  • A significant increase in trauma casualties is expected when military operations advance to the densely populated urban neighbourhoods, and displacement of civilians is expected to increase. Between 750,000 and 800,000 civilians are expected to remain in western Mosul.
  • With the new military operations under way in Mosul, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is focusing efforts on camp construction to shelter many of those who could be displaced by the renewed fighting.
  • It’s estimated that up to 250,000 people could be displaced. Almost 217,000 people have fled hostilities since 17 October, of whom around 160,000 are still displaced. Others have returned to their homes in newly-retaken areas. But the situation remains fluid and terrifying for those trapped or affected by the fighting.

 

LIBYA: REPORT FINDS GADAFFI TRAILS FAILED TO MEET INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS
  • The UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) today issued a report analysing the trial in Libya of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and 36 other members of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. The report shows that this trial represented a major effort by the Libyan judiciary to hold people to account for crimes, including grave human rights violations during the 2011 Revolution, but that it ultimately failed to meet international fair trial standards.

 

AT LEAST 65,000 CHILDREN RELEASED FROM ARMED FORCES AND ARMED GROUPS IN LAST DECADE, SAYS UNICEF
  • On the 10th anniversary of the Paris Commitments to end use of children in conflict, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says today that at least 65,000 children have been released from armed forces and armed groups in a decade.
  • Exact data on the number of children used and recruited in armed conflict are difficult to confirm.
  • However, estimates show that in the past 10 years, more than 20,000 children were released in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 9,000 in the Central African Republic, and over 1,600 children in Chad.
  • Countries were child recruitment persists include South Sudan, Nigeria – where 2,000 children were recruited by Boko Haram in 2016 alone – and Yemen.

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE FOR CENTRAL AFRICA AND HEAD OF U.N. REGIONAL OFFICE FOR CENTRAL AFRICA
  • The Secretary-General has appointed François Louncény Fall of Guinea as his Special Representative for Central Africa and Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA).
  • Mr. Fall has been serving as the Acting Special Representative for Central Africa since November 2016.

 

OFFICER REPATRIATED FOLLOWING ALLEGATIONS OF PRIOR HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
  • An individual staff officer from Burundi deployed to the UN mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has been repatriated by the Secretariat after it received allegations of human rights violations from 2015, prior to his deployment to the mission. The officer has been repatriated with immediate effect.
  • The Permanent Mission of Burundi has been informed of this decision.