HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 20 FEBRUARY 2017
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO HELP STATES BECOME STRONGER TO BE LESS LIKELY TO EXPERIENCE CONFLICT

  • The Secretary-General has ended his travels to the Middle East and Germany and will be back at UN Headquarters tomorrow.
  • Over the weekend, he spoke at the Munich Security Conference and told participants there that it is clear that we need to address the fragility of states and to support states and civil society to become stronger and more resilient so they are less likely to be involved in conflict situations.  He also outlined the reforms the United Nations is engaging in concerning its peace and security architecture and the UN development system, as well as management reforms.
  • The Secretary-General was asked about the talks among the Syrian parties that are to take place this week in Geneva, and he said that peace is only possible when none of the parties to the conflict think they can win. He said that he was not sure we are there yet in Syria, since some might still think, even if it’s a total illusion, that they might win that war.
FAMINE HITS PARTS OF SOUTH SUDAN – U.N. AGENCIES
  • Three UN agencies have warned that war and a collapsing economy have left some 100,000 people facing starvation in parts of South Sudan where famine was declared today. A further 1 million people are on the brink of famine. The situation is the worst hunger catastrophe since fighting erupted in the country more than three years ago.
  • World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director Joyce Luma stressed that this famine is man-made. She said the entire humanitarian community has been trying with all its might to avoid this catastrophe, mounting a humanitarian response of a scale that would have seemed impossible three years ago. But she said there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security, both for relief workers and the crisis-affected people they serve.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WFP also called for urgent action to prevent more people from dying of hunger. If sustained and adequate assistance is delivered urgently, the situation can be improved in the coming months and further suffering mitigated. Unimpeded humanitarian access to everyone facing famine, or at risk of famine, is urgently needed to reverse the escalating catastrophe.
INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS VOICE CONCERN OVER SECURITY SITUATION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
  • A joint statement was issued yesterday on the Central African Republic by the United Nations, the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the African Union (AU), the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF), and the European Union (EU). The five organizations expressed deep concern over the security situation in the country, in particular in the prefectures of Ouaka and Haute-Kotto.
  • The organizations condemned the latest acts of violence perpetrated by the FPRC (Front populaire pour la Renaissance de Centrafrique) and its allies, as well as by the UPC (Mouvement pour l’Unité et la Paix en Centrafrique) and demanded that the belligerents cease the hostilities immediately. They recalled that only dialogue will allow Central African actors to find the appropriate and sustainable responses to their legitimate grievances.
  • The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) continues to monitor the situation in and around Bambari where tensions persist. The Mission met with UPC leader Ali Darassa over the weekend as part of its efforts to calm the situation and resolve any dispute through dialogue. In a communiqué issued yesterday, the UPC announced its leader’s intention to leave Bambari in compliance with the UN’s instructions. Meanwhile, peaceful protests commenced in front of the UN base in Bambari today expressing support to Ali Darassa.
U.N. ENVOY IN SOMALIA SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACK AT MOGADISHU MARKET
  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Somalia, Michael Keating, yesterday condemned in the strongest possible terms the attack at a market in Mogadishu.
  • Mr. Keating described the incident as a brutal reminder of the retrograde tactics employed by violent extremists. He said that killing civilians is despicable and achieves nothing -- except to remind Somalia of the indifference of extremists to human life and suffering.
  • He also commended the swift response of Somalia’s security and first responders and said that the perpetrators need to be brought to justice swiftly.
IRAQ: TENS OF THOUSANDS OF FAMILIES ‘AT EXTREME RISK’ AS OPERATIONS TO RETAKE WESTERN MOSUL BEGIN - HUMANITARIANS
  • With military operations to retake western Mosul beginning, humanitarian organizations are warning that tens of thousands of families are at extreme risk. Recent surveys confirm that food and fuel supplies are dwindling, markets and shops have closed, running water is scarce and electricity in many neighborhoods is either intermittent or cut off.  Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said that the situation is distressing. 
  • The UN estimates that between 750,000 and 800,000 civilians are living in the western section of the city. Few, if any commercial supplies have reached Mosul during the past three months after the main road to Syria was cut off. Informants report that nearly half of all food shops have closed.
  • Humanitarian agencies are rushing to prepare for the humanitarian impact of the military campaign. Emergency sites are being constructed south of the city and stocks of life-saving supplies are being pre-positioned for the 250,000 to 400,000 civilians who may flee.
COLOMBIA: 7,000 FARC-EP MEMBERS ARRIVE AT ZONES WHERE U.N. WILL VERIFY LAYING DOWN OF ARMS
  • The UN Mission in Colombia said yesterday that nearly 7,000 FARC-EP members have arrived at zones where it will verify the laying down of arms.
  • In the past 19 days, members of the FARC-EP, men and women, some of them pregnant or with small children, rode cars, buses, boats or walked through 36 routes across the country.
  • General Javier Pérez Aquino, head of the UN Mission observers, said that the FARC-EP’s decision to move into the zones -- in spite of the limited logistics in the majority of them -- is very positive.
SHORTAGES IN FOOD ASSISTANCE AFFECT 2 MILLION REFUGEES ACROSS AFRICA – U.N. AGENCIES
  • The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, are very concerned that critical shortages in food assistance are affecting some 2 million refugees in 10 countries across Africa.
  • The number of refugees in Africa nearly doubled from 2.6 million in 2011 to nearly 5 million in 2016.
  • While donor funding for refugee assistance increased during this period, it did not keep pace with rapidly rising needs. As a result, the humanitarian response is significantly underfunded and this has forced cuts in food assistance for some groups of refugees.
  • Ten refugee operations in Africa have experienced cuts and food rations have been dramatically cut – in some cases by up to 50 percent – in large operations including Cameroon, Chad, Kenya, Mauritania, South Sudan and Uganda.
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA AND SOUTH AFRICA PAY FULL U.N. DUES
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina and South Africa have paid their UN regular budget dues in full, bringing the total of Member States that have done so to 43.