HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2017
 
NEARLY 140 WORLD LEADERS TO ADDRESS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

  • Tomorrow will be the start of the high-level plenary session of the 72nd UN General Assembly, and as of the end of last week, we have 196 speakers inscribed – including 90 Heads of State and 39 Heads of Government – for this session.
  • The Secretary-General expects to have a busy week, with more than 130 bilateral meetings scheduled through next Monday, and he has 34 major speaking events this week.
AT U.N. REFORM EVENT, SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED FOR ‘NIMBLE AND EFFECTIVE’ ORGANIZATION
  • The Secretary-General spoke this morning at the high-level event organized by the United States on UN reform.
  • He said that to serve the people we support and the people who support us, we must be nimble and effective, flexible and efficient. 
  • The Secretary-General highlighted reform efforts that are currently underway, citing the strategy to end sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as the plans to achieve gender parity in the UN, protect whistle-blowers, and strengthen counter-terrorism structures.
  • He also said we are reforming our peace and security architecture – to ensure we are stronger in prevention, more agile in mediation, and more effective and cost-effective in peacekeeping operations – as well as the development system to become much more field-focused, well-coordinated and accountable.
  • To underpin all these efforts, we are pursuing sweeping management reform – to simplify procedures and decentralize decisions, with greater transparency, efficiency and accountability. 
  • The Secretary-General stressed that the true test of reform will not be measured in words in New York or world capitals.  It will be measured through tangible results in the lives of the people we serve – and the trust of those who support our work through their hard-earned resources.
  • Value for money while advancing shared values – this is our common goal, he said.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS NEED FOR DEVELOPMENT FINANCING TO REACH THOSE MOST IN NEED
  • This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the high-level event for financing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. He said that the world has the resources to deliver the 2030 Agenda, and that the international community must ensure that these resources are delivered where they are needed most.
  • He stressed that while globalization has brought extraordinary benefits, it remains fundamentally unequal, and these unequal gains are reflected in peoples’ fears, anxieties and outright anger. Financing for development must help developing countries attract innovative finance and gain greater access to financial markets and private investment, he added.
  • The Secretary-General also announced a Finance Summit which will be held in New York in September 2018.
ON CLIMATE CHANGE, SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES NATIONS TO ‘STAY THE COURSE’
  • The Secretary-General spoke at the High-Level Stakeholder Dialogue on Climate Change, noting that when countries adopted the Paris Agreement, they rose to a global challenge, but now we have an even bigger one: raising ambition and staying the course.
  • He called on all actors to step up climate action before it is too late, and highlighted examples of solutions that are already making a difference around the world. He added that UN is ready to assist countries in tackle climate change and reiterated his commitment to host a Climate Summit in 2019 for this purpose.
SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES SUPPORT FOR MILLIONS AFFECTED BY HURRICANE IRMA
  • The Secretary-General spoke at a high-level event on support to the millions of people across the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Irma. 
  • He welcomed the Regional Response Plan that has been developed with support of national and regional disaster management agencies. UN agencies and their partners are already putting this plan into action, supporting cash transfers, telecommunications support and the provision of clean water.
  • The Secretary-General stressed that over the past month, four major Atlantic hurricanes have swept across the ocean. This year’s hurricane season is already the most violent on record, he said, noting that changes to our climate are making extreme weather events more severe and frequent, pushing communities into a vicious cycle of shock and recovery.
  • Reducing carbon emissions must clearly be part of our response, together with adaptation measures and efforts to reduce vulnerabilities and build resilience, the Secretary-General said. We know that risk reduction and preparedness save lives and are extremely cost-effective, he added.
  • The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, yesterday allocated $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to help the tens of thousands of people affected by this disaster.
  • The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a $5.7 million dollar emergency operation in Cuba to provide food assistance for four months to some 660,000 people. The announcement came during a two-day visit by WFP Executive Director David Beasley to the affected communities in the island.
  • The UN Migration Agency has appealed for $4.95 million dollars to help rebuild communities affected by Irma as well as hurricane Jose in the Caribbean region, Cuba and the United States.
D.R. CONGO: SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS KILLING OF TANZANIAN BLUE HELMET SERVING WITH U.N. MISSION
  • In a statement, the Secretary-General condemned the killing of a Tanzanian peacekeeper serving with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on 17 September in Mamundioma, in North Kivu province, following a clash with suspected members of an armed group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). Another peacekeeper was also injured during the incident.
  • The Secretary-General offers his condolences to the friends and families of the deceased and to the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania. He wishes a speedy recovery to the injured and urges the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to swiftly investigate this incident and bring the perpetrators to justice.
  • The Secretary-General calls on all armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cease violence and to avoid a further deterioration of the security situation in the country.
CLASHES PREVENTING U.N. FROM ACCESSING MYANMAR’S RAKHINE STATE, NUMBER OF PEOPLE FLEEING TO BANGLADESH REACHES 415,000
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, despite continued advocacy efforts for unhindered humanitarian access, the UN and its partners are not being granted access by the Government to areas in Myanmar’s Rakhine State where there are still security operations going on.
  • As a result, the UN cannot independently verify reports of continued violations of human rights of people fleeing the area, as well as of the number of people who have been uprooted or who are on the move.
  • It is estimated that some 415,000 people have crossed into Bangladesh since 25 August.
  • More than 170,000 people are reportedly not able to primary health services. Nearly 300,000 people, including 154,000 children under the age of five and nearly 55,000 pregnant women, require additional food assistance.
  • Funding is urgently needed to support and scale up existing services, as well as to set up new services across all sites hosting refugees.
FUNDING GAP MEANS MORE THAN 1.5 MILLION CHILDREN IN WEST, CENTRAL AFRICA WILL GO TO SCHOOL HUNGRY, U.N. AGENCY WARNS
  • At the start of the school year, the World Food Programme (WFP) is warning that more than 1.5 million vulnerable children across West and Central Africa risk going to school hungry or dropping out altogether, due to lack of financing for its school meals programme.
  • Altogether, WFP’s regional programme faces a US$76 million funding gap. The repercussions are dramatic, since the WFP-provided lunches and snacks are the only meal many youngsters eat all day.
  • In conflict-torn Central African Republic, the school meals programme, aiming to reach more than 200,000 youngsters, is only half funded. Even more critical is the case of Burkina Faso’s programme, reaching nearly 83,000 children and 0 percent financed. 
  • Other particularly at-risk countries include Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal.
  • Studies show the meals help improve attendance and performance rates. They are also a key incentive for parents to send their children, particularly girls, to school and to keep them there.
U.N. ISSUES URGENT CALL FOR NEARLY $10 MILLION TO TACKLE NIGERA CHOLERA OUTBREAK
  • Along with its partners, the United Nations is urgently appealing for $9.9 million to respond to the current cholera outbreak in Borno State, in north-east Nigeria, and prevent further outbreaks in high-risk areas. A response and prevention plan has been developed to address the immediate needs of 3.7 million people who could be impacted by the outbreak.
  • Four specialized treatment centres and seven oral rehydration points have been set up in all impacted areas. Peter Lundberg, the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for Nigeria, warned that the clock is ticking. The camps for displaced persons are congested; there is not enough water, sanitation facilities are poor, and the health care system is weak. We must tackle this urgently to avoid preventable suffering and loss of life, he said.
  • Since 16 August, when the first cholera cases were identified in Borno State, the outbreak has claimed at least 44 lives, out of close to 2,300 confirmed and/or suspected cases.
U.N. RELIEF WING CALLS FOR PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS FROM VIOLENCE IN SYRIA’S EASTERN DEIR EZZOUR
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is calling on all parties to the Syrian conflict to ensure the protection of civilians from the effects of violence in eastern Deir Ezzour, following increased reports of civilian deaths and injuries due to airstrikes in recent days.
  • We call on all parties to do their utmost to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians in the conduct of military operations and strictly adhere to the international humanitarian law principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in and from the effects of attack.
  • On 14 September alone, dozens of civilians were reportedly killed following a number of airborne strikes in several locations in eastern Deir Ezzour Governorate.
UNILATERAL MOVE TO HOLD REFERENDUM IRAQ’S KURDISTAN REGION COULD WEAKEN EFFORTS TO DEFEAT DA’ESH, SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS
  • In a statement yesterday on the recent vote in the Parliament of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
  • In it, the Secretary-General said that he believes that any unilateral decision to hold a referendum at this time would detract from the need to defeat Da’esh, as well as the much-needed reconstruction of the regained territories and the facilitation of a safe, voluntary and dignified return of the more than three million refugees and internally displaced people.
  • The Secretary-General respects the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Iraq and considers that all outstanding issues between the federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government should be resolved through structured dialogue and constructive compromise.
  • The Secretary-General calls upon the leaders across Iraq to approach this matter with patience and restraint.  The United Nations stands ready to support such efforts.
U.N. MIDDLE EAST ENVOY WELCOMES HAMAS ANNOUNCEMENT ON DISSOLUTION OF GAZA ADMINISTRATIVE COMMITTEE
  • Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has welcomed the recent statement by Hamas announcing the dissolving of the Administrative Committee in Gaza and its agreement to allow the Government of National Consensus to assume its responsibilities in Gaza.
  • In a statement yesterday, Mr. Mladenov commended the Egyptian authorities for their tireless efforts in creating this positive momentum. All parties must seize this opportunity to restore unity and open a new page for the Palestinian people.
  • The United Nations stands ready to assist all efforts in this respect. It is critical that the grave humanitarian situation in Gaza, most notably the crippling electricity crisis, be addressed as a priority.
U.N.-BACKED EQUATOR PRIZE RECOGNIZES COMMUNITIES’ EFFORTS TO PROTECT ENVIRONMENT, ADDRESS CLIMATE CHANGE
  • Yesterday evening, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) honoured the 15 winners of their Equator Prize, which recognizes the work of communities that are helping to protect the environment and tackle climate change.
  • This year’s winners come from 12 countries and addressed issues like biodiversity conservation, climate change adaptation, disaster risk reduction, gender empowerment, land rights, and food and water security.
NIGERIAN TEACHER HONOURED WITH U.N. NANSEN REFUGEE AWARD
  • The UN Refugee Agency has given this year’s Nansen Refugee Award to Nigerian teacher Zannah Mustapha, who has advocated for the right to education for children that have grown up amid violence in Nigeria.
  • Mustapha founded a school in 2007 in Maiduguri – the capital of Borno State and the epicentre of the Boko Haram insurgency. The school has stayed open throughout the conflict with Boko Haram, which has seen some 20,000 people killed across the Lake Chad region, and millions more displaced. The school provides a free education, as well as free meals, uniforms and health care, to children affected by violence.
  • Those orphaned by the conflict on both sides are welcomed into Mustapha’s classrooms as a sign of the reconciliation he hopes to achieve in the region.
GUINEAN NATIONAL APPOINTED TO SENIOR PEACEKEEPING POSITION
  • The Secretary-General has appointed Bintou Keita of Guinea as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.  She will succeed El Ghassim Wane of Mauritania, to whom the Secretary-General reiterates his deep gratitude and appreciation for his dedicated service to the organization.
  • Ms. Keita joined the United Nations in 1989.  Since 2015, she has been serving as Deputy Joint Special Representative for the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).
YUKIYA AMANO APPOINTED TO FURTHER FOUR-YEAR TEAM AS HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY
  • The 61st General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today approved by acclamation the appointment of Director General Yukiya Amano to a further four-year term of office, which will commence on 1 December 2017.
CÔTE D’IVOIRE, EL SALVADOR BECOME LATEST U.N. MEMBER STATES TO PAY FULL BUDGET DUES
  • Côte d’Ivoire and El Salvador are the latest UN Member States to have paid their budget dues in full.