HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 30 MARCH 2017
SECRETARY-GENERAL TRAVELS TO IRAQ FOR ‘VISIT OF SOLIDARITY’
- The Secretary-General is in Iraq today, on what he called a visit of solidarity with the Iraqi people and Government, and he has just arrived in Erbil.
- Earlier today in Baghdad, the Secretary-General met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. He told reporters after that meeting that he was extremely encouraged by the commitment expressed by the Prime Minister, both in relation to the protection of civilians and to a national dialogue and an effective process of reconciliation.
- The Secretary-General expressed the UN’s support to the Iraqi Government in humanitarian aid, and he appealed to the international community to support Iraq, both in providing relief to the victims of the violence but also to stabilize and build up national Iraqi institutions.
- While in Baghdad, he also met with the Iraqi President, Foreign Minister and Speaker of the Parliament.
SYRIA: U.N. RELIEF CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL LAST MONTHS ‘SOME OF THE WORST YET’ FOR CIVILIANS
- The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, spoke to the Security Council this morning and told them that hundreds of thousands of people have been killed and millions more injured over the six years of fighting in Syria. He added that the last months have been some of the worst yet for civilians inside Syria.
- Mr. O’Brien said he was deeply anxious for the safety and protection of over 400,000 civilians due to ongoing military operations in Raqqa governorate. We continue to receive reports that fighting and airstrikes continue to result in death and injury of scores of civilians and damage to civilian infrastructure, including schools, bakeries, markets and water infrastructure.
- He said he remains extremely concerned about the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in the besieged parts of eastern Ghouta in Rural Damascus, where some 400,000 people are trapped by Government forces. According to the World Health Organization, all three public hospitals and 17 public health care centres in eastern Ghouta are non-functioning and inaccessible to the population.
- Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that the number of men, women and children fleeing six years of war in Syria has passed the 5 million mark and the international community needs to do more to help them. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said that, to meet the resettlement challenge, we not only need additional places, but also need to accelerate the implementation of existing pledges.
U.N. ENVOY VOICES CONCERN OVER MILITARY ESCALATION IN YEMEN
- In a briefing yesterday to the Security Council, the Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, expressed his deep concern about the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation amid a worrying escalation of military operations.
- The Special Envoy had presented to the parties a framework that included a set of sequenced political and security measures which were designed to ensure a rapid end to the war, withdrawals of military formations and disarmament in key areas, and the creation of an inclusive transitional government. He urged the Security Council members to put pressure on the parties to engage constructively in discussing the framework. He said that the Government of Yemen should agree to engage in talks based on the framework, and Ansar Allah and the General People's Congress must end their long-standing refusal to undertake serious discussions on security arrangements.
HUMANITARIAN CHIEF IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS AS VIOLENCE FLARES
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Central African Republic warns of a new outbreak of violence in the prefectures of Ouaka, Haute Kotto and Mbomou resulting from clashes between armed groups. This comes at a time when the consequences of the violence which studded the country between September 2016 and February 2017 are still heavily felt.
- The Interim Humanitarian Coordinator for the Central African Republic, Dr. Michel Yao, warned that the situation is critical as the means of protection are approaching their limit.
- Dr. Yao calls on all parties to the conflict to put the protection of vulnerable civilian populations above all other considerations and to give priority to political dialogue in order to reduce the suffering of populations affected by the upsurge of violence.
SOUTH SUDAN: CONFLICT AFFECTS FOOD SECURITY IN ‘STABLE STATES’ - HEAD OF U.N. MISSION
- The head of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, said today that the ongoing conflict in the country is affecting food security in some of the country’s more “stable states”.
- Speaking during a visit to Aweil, in the north of South Sudan, Mr. Shearer said that dwindling provisions arriving in the town and skyrocketing food prices have meant that places like Aweil, which are generally peaceful, have suffered the effects of the conflict taking place in other parts of the country.
- Mr. Shearer also visited the town of Kuajok, the capital of Gogrial State on Wednesday, where he praised the State authorities for closing seven road blocks in the state -- a move which has facilitated trade and enabled humanitarian access. He expressed hope that this could be sustained and replicated elsewhere.
WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME USES NEW ROUTE THROUGH SUDAN TO DELIVER FOOD TO SOUTH SUDAN
- The World Food Programme (WFP) today began to move food assistance to reach people hit by famine and food-insecure in South Sudan by using a newly opened humanitarian corridor announced by the Government of Sudan.
- The first convoy of 27 trucks carrying an initial 1,200 metric tons of sorghum started moving today from El Obeid in central Sudan towards Bentiu in South Sudan. The convoys will take at least 5 days to complete the 500 km journey.
- In the next few weeks, WFP plans to deliver 11,000 metric tons of sorghum in seven convoys of 30 to 40 trucks, which is enough to feed 300,000 people for three months.
AS FAMINE LOOMS, MORE CHILDREN SUFFER FROM MALNUTRITION AND DISEASE IN SOMALIA - UNICEF
- As the possibility of famine looms, an increasing number of children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, cholera or acute watery diarrhea in Somalia, according to UNICEF.
- More than 35,400 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition were treated with life-saving therapeutic food at hundreds of nutrition centres across Somalia in January and February. That’s a 58 per cent increase over the same period in 2016.
- As of this week, more than 18,400 cases of cholera/acute watery diarrhea have also been reported since the beginning of the year, the majority of the cases involving young children.
- UNICEF warns that during the 2011 famine, around 130,000 young children died; about half of them before the famine was officially declared.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON, D.C., GENEVA AND PARIS
- Tonight, the Deputy Secretary-General will depart New York for Washington, D.C. for meetings with the leadership and senior officials at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. During her visit she will also meet with representatives from civil society.
- On 1 April, she will travel to Geneva to engage with the leadership of UN organizations and attend the Steering Committee meeting of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).
- On 4 April, she will proceed to Paris to deliver a keynote address at the OECD Global Forum on Development. During her stay she will also visit UNESCO, meet senior Government officials and engage with non-State actors on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
- The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on 5 April 2017.
U.N. TO OBSERVE WORLD AUTISM AWARENESS DAY
- Tomorrow morning, the UN will observe World Autism Awareness Day, which is 2 April, with an event entitled “Toward Autonomy and Self-Determination”, to take place at 10 a.m. in the ECOSOC Chamber.
- Professor Simon Baron-Cohen, Director of the Autism Research Centre at the University of Cambridge, and one of the most recognized global figures in autism research and advocacy, will deliver the keynote address.
CZECH REPUBLIC AND MYANMAR PAY FULL U.N. DUES
- The Czech Republic and Myanmar have paid their regular budget dues in full, bringing the total number of Member States that have done so to 71.