HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 27 APRIL 2017
U.N. HUMANITARIAN CHIEF GRAVELY CONCERNED BY INTENSIFIED FIGHTING IN NUMEROUS FRONTS IN SYRIA
- Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien briefed the Security Council this morning on Syria, noting the intensified fighting in numerous fronts over the last month.
- He asserted that attacks against medical facilities are completely unacceptable and must stop.
- He also said that we await the results of investigations regarding the use of chemical weapons in Khan Shaykhun earlier this month.
- Mr. O’Brien said that he is also gravely concerned about the situation in besieged eastern Ghouta, outside of Damascus, where the UN has been unable to get access to some 400,000 people since last October.
- In Raqqa, he said, the situation for people fleeing the fighting who are living in camps is difficult, with four out of five people lacking proper shelter.
- He cited a number of essential steps for the way forward, including a consolidation of the nationwide ceasefire, and in particular a pause in fighting in eastern Ghouta to enable the delivery of aid; and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure by all parties to the conflict.
EDMOND MULET OF GUATEMALA TO HEAD JOINT INVESTIGATIVE MECHANISM ON USE OF CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA
- Today, the Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Edmond Mulet of Guatemala as the head of the independent three-member panel to lead the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)-United Nations Joint Investigative Mechanism, known as JIM, established by Security Council resolution 2235 (2015) on the use of chemicals as weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.
- The Secretary-General reiterates his deepest gratitude to the outgoing head of the JIM, Virginia Gamba of Argentina for her diligence, dedication and professionalism. You will recall that Ms. Gamba will be taking the position of Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
- Mr. Mulet most recently served as Chef de Cabinet to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Prior to that he was Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and served as Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
$500,000 FROM HUMANITARIAN FUND FOR EMERGENCY FUEL TO MAINTAIN ESSENTIAL HEALTH SERVICES IN GAZA
- The Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Robert Piper, approved today the allocation of $500,000 from the Humanitarian Fund for the purchase of emergency fuel to maintain the delivery of essential services at hospitals and other emergency medical facilities in Gaza.
- In a statement, he further warned that following the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant since 16 April, with power outages at 20 hours a day and emergency fuel supplies running out, basic services are grinding to a halt.
- Fuel to power back-up generators at seven out of 13 hospitals in Gaza is expected to run out within three days, and water and sanitation facilities are already faltering due to lack of energy.
- Funds to mitigate the immediate emergency fuel shortage are needed, as is resolving the financial disagreement between Gaza and Ramallah.
SOUTH SUDAN: 25,000 PEOPLE FLED NILE’S WEST BANK OVER THE LAST FEW DAYS
- The Head of the UN Mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, today urged the warring parties in the country to stop the suffering they are causing, to take responsibility for the lives they have destroyed and to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians, as fighting intensifies once again in the north-eastern Upper Nile region.
- Up to 25,000 people have reportedly fled their homes on the West Bank of the River Nile over the last few days. Thousands have reportedly fled to the town of Aburoc, 30km north of Kodok where there is now an estimated 50,000 people.
- Mr. Shearer said he is extremely concerned for the displaced people in Aburoc. He called on government forces to show restraint and on opposition fighters who may be hiding in the town to detach themselves, so the civilian population does not become a target.
- The UN Mission is trying to gain access to Aburoc as quickly as possible but it was denied clearance by government forces on Thursday to launch an air patrol to the town.
THIRD HUMANITARIAN CORRIDOR TO OPEN BETWEEN SUDAN AND SOUTH SUDAN
- The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan, Marta Ruedas, today welcomed the decision by the Government to open a third humanitarian corridor for aid to be delivered from Sudan to South Sudan.
- This additional route, from El Obeid in central Sudan to Aweil in Bahr el Ghazal state in South Sudan, will allow the World Food Programme to deliver an additional 7,000 metric tons of sorghum to support the 540,000 people in need of food assistance in the area.
- The first convoy will leave next week.
AFGHANISTAN: U.N. MISSION REPORTS CONTINUED HIGH NUMBER OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
- The UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) released its latest Civilian Casualty Data report which shows a continued high number of civilian casualties in the country.
- In the first quarter of the year, UNAMA documented 2,181 civilian casualties, a four per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2016. The Mission welcomed this decrease but noted that the reduction in numbers may be related to the movement of civilians from areas severely affected by conflict.
- UNAMA urged all parties to the conflict to take immediate measures to better protect civilians from harm.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY APPOINTS OLYMPIC ATHLETE AND SYRIAN REFUGEE YUSRA MARDINI AS GOODWILL AMBASSADOR
- Today the UN Refugee Agency announced the appointment of Syrian refugee and Olympic athlete Yusra Mardini as a Goodwill Ambassador.
- Ms. Mardini participated in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a member of the first-ever Refugee Olympic team, and has been working closely with UNHCR since then, highlighting the plight of those displaced across the world and becoming an example of resilience and determination.
- Welcoming her appointment, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi said: “Yusra is a deeply inspiring young woman. Through her powerful personal story, Yusra represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than ten million young refugees around the globe.”
INTERNATIONAL DAY CELEBRATES GIRLS’ SKILLS IN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
- Today is International Girls in ICT Day and celebrations are underway around the world with events showcasing the technological skills of girls and young women.
- The day is organized annually by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
- This year, the ITU organized virtual meetups of girls in Geneva, Vilnius and Beirut through a shared game application so they could meet mentors from the tech sector, take a robotic workshop and watch demonstrations of augmented reality projects, among other activities.
ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY MEETS WITH EXPERTS ON OIL SPILL IDENTIFICATION
- Experts from 16 countries are meeting at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) laboratories in Monaco this week to review the latest methods to detect the origin of oil and paraffin spills in the oceans, which pose a danger to marine life.
- The meeting of the Bonn Agreement Oil Spill Identification Network of Experts (OSINet) brings together representatives from government institutions, private sector organisations and universities that work on oil spill identification.
- During this meeting, the IAEA is providing expertise on a range of nuclear techniques to gain a better understanding of ocean contaminants such as oil and paraffin.
JAPAN BECOMES 89th U.N. MEMBER STATE TO PAY FULL DUES
- Japan has paid its regular dues in full, bringing the total number of Member States which have done so to 89.