HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 22 JUNE 2017
IN UGANDA, U.N. CHIEF PRAISES COUNTRY’S GENEROSITY TOWARDS REFUGEES
- The Secretary-General has just landed back in Kampala after having spent most of the day at the Imvepi settlement in northeastern Uganda, where he met with local officials and with refugees. He thanked the local authorities and the host community for showing such generosity to South Sudanese refugees and said that their generosity should serve as an example to richer countries. He encouraged the international community to show generosity in advance of tomorrow’s pledging conference.
- Earlier in the day, he met with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. The Secretary-General thanked the Government and people of Uganda for welcoming so many refugees from South Sudan and other places and pledged that the UN system would do whatever it could to support the Government’s efforts. They also discussed the situation in South Sudan.
- The Secretary-General spoke to the press in Uganda and there will be a transcript available.
U.N. EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER RECENT CEASEFIRE VIOLATIONS IN NAGORNO-KARABAKH
- We take note of the 19 June 2017 statement by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group following their recent travel to the region. We share the Co-Chairs’ concern over the recent ceasefire violations, which have resulted in regrettable casualties in the Line of Contact. We echo their appeal to the parties to avoid further escalation and to consider measures that would reduce tensions.
- We also join the Co-Chairs in urging the parties to re-engage in negotiations on substance, in good faith and with political will. The United Nations stands ready to support such efforts if needed.
CONGO TO WITHDRAW MILITARY PERSONNEL DEPLOYED IN U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
- The UN Secretariat has concluded a review of the deployment of uniformed personnel from the Republic of Congo in the UN Mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA.
- The review of the deployment of uniformed military personnel from the Republic of Congo found that the nature and extent of existing allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, in their totality, point to systemic problems in command and control. These problems have also been compounded by issues related to the preparedness, overall discipline, maintenance of contingent owned equipment, and logistical capacity of these troops.
- The outcome of the review has been shared with the authorities of the Republic of Congo, who have decided to withdraw their military personnel deployed in MINUSCA.
- The Government of the Republic of Congo has reiterated its commitment to United Nations peacekeeping and stability in the Central African Republic. The Secretariat is working with the Republic of Congo and MINUSCA on the modalities for a speedy withdrawal that will have the least impact on the mission's operational requirements and ability to implement its mandate.
- The United Nations stands ready to assist the Republic of Congo authorities by identifying factors in the areas of leadership and command, performance, conduct and readiness, to enable them to address these gaps and for Republic of Congo military contingents to be eventually considered for future deployment to United Nations peacekeeping operations.
U.N. WELCOMES MOROCCO’S DECISION TO ADMIT GROUP OF SYRIAN REFUGEES STRANDED AT BORDER
- The UN Refugee Agency welcomes the decision by Morocco to admit a group of Syrian refugees stranded in difficult circumstances at the country’s border with Algeria since 17 April.
- The remaining 28 refugees from an original group of 41, including women and children, were collected on 20 June by the Moroccan police.
- UNHCR is working with the authorities of Morocco and other countries to find a durable solution to the plight of these vulnerable refugees.
U.N. WELCOMES ANNOUNCEMENT OF DATE FOR AFGHANISTAN’S PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS
- Today the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) welcomed the announcement by the Independent Election Commission that parliamentary and district council elections will take place on 7 July 2018.
- The head of the Mission, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said the people of Afghanistan have made clear their desire for credible and inclusive elections, and reiterated the UN’s commitment to work with institutions in the country as they implement reforms to enhance transparency and build trust in the democratic process.
U.N. AGENCY DELIVERS FOOD SUPPLIES TO THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE IN BESIEGED TOWN IN SYRIA
- A convoy of three trucks from the World Food Programme (WFP), using a newly opened land corridor, has arrived in Qamishli in Syria’s northeastern Hasakeh governorate, carrying food assistance for hungry families. This is the first time that WFP has been able to deliver food by land in two years since the area became inaccessible in December 2015. Since that time, WFP has had to operate costly airlifts to bring food to vulnerable families.
- The convoy delivered a month’s supply of food for 15,000 people.
- Overland access to Hasakeh was made possible due to an improved security situation. For almost a year, WFP has conducted two airlifts per day, six days a week to deliver food assistance and relief supplies for people who were otherwise cut off from support. Land convoys are a more efficient means to provide aid for all those in need in Hasakeh.
UNESCO CHIEF DEPLORES DESTRUCTION OF MOSUL ICONIC SITES
- The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today deplored the destruction of the Al Nuree Mosque and Al Hadba Minaret in Mosul.
- She said that they were among the most iconic sites in the city, and stood as a symbol of identity, resilience and belonging. She added that when Da’esh targeted the mosque and minaret a few months ago, the people of Mosul formed a human chain to protect the site, proving once again that the protection of heritage cannot be delinked from the protection of human lives.
- Ms. Bokova said that this new destruction deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy, underlining UNESCO’s renewed solidarity and readiness to support, restore and rehabilitate cultural heritage whenever possible.
IRAQ: UNICEF WARNS OF EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE ON CHILDREN
- UNICEF said in a new report today that three years since the fighting intensified in Iraq, children are trapped in an endless cycle of violence and increasing poverty, with more than 5 million children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
- UNICEF’s Representative in Iraq, Peter Hawkins, said that across the country, children continue to witness sheer horror and unimaginable violence. He added that they have been killed, injured, abducted and forced to shoot and kill in one of the most brutal wars in recent history.
- Since 2014, 1,075 children have been killed, more than 150 in the first six months of this year alone. More than 1,100 children have been maimed and injured.
- UNICEF also said that nearly 5,000 children have become separated from their families, while there have been nearly 140 attacks on schools and nearly 60 attacks on hospitals.
- With no end in sight to the ongoing violence in Iraq, UNICEF appeals for an immediate end to the conflict, stressing that all warring parties owe it to the children of Iraq to put an end to the violence.
YEMEN: U.N. OFFICIAL SHOCKED BY CONTINUED DISREGARD OF CIVILIAN LIVES AND INFRASTRUCTURE
- In a statement issued yesterday, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, said that the targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Yemen has continued during the holy month of Ramadan despite repeated calls from the international community, including the Security Council, to all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights laws.
- On 17 June, at least 22 civilians, including six children, were reported killed and injured in a series of air attacks on a market in Sa’ada Governorate near the border with Saudi Arabia, while on 19 June, the power lines to the main water supply system in Dhamar City were damaged as a result of military activity, affecting one million people.
- Mr. McGoldrick said the disregard for civilian lives and civilian infrastructure at a time of great need, due to the combined effects of the cholera outbreak and the looming famine, continued to shock him.
- He stressed that the warring parties must distinguish between the civilians and combatants at all times and must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects.
SRI LANKA: U.N. AGENCIES WARN OF SEVERE DROUGHT AND RAINS AFFECTING FOOD SECURITY OF 1 MILLION PEOPLE
- The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) today warned in a joint report that a severe drought followed by heavy rain has affected farm areas of Sri Lanka threatens the food security of almost one million people.
- Rice, the country’s staple food, has been hit particularly hard, and rice production is expected to drop by 40 per cent compared to last year.
- Other crops, such as chilies and onion which rely mainly on rainwater, were also heavily damaged by the dry weather.
- FAO and WFP have issued an urgent call for seeds and planning and irrigation equipment, as well as support for irrigation systems.
NEW VIDEO SHOWS DRAMATIC JOURNEY OF YOUNG SYRIAN REFUGEE, NOW U.N. GOODWILL AMBASSADOR
- The Department of Public Information has launched a new animated video on the dramatic story of Yusra Mardini, the young Syrian refugee who swam in the 2016 Olympics and became a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Refugee Agency. The video was produced by the Education Outreach Section to support the UN's Together Initiative, mark World Refugee Day and highlight the advent of the International Day of Peace. You can see it at www.un.org/peaceday.
U.N. CHIEF APPOINTS GHASSAN SALAMÉ OF LEBANON AS HEAD OF LIBYA MISSION
- Today, the Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Ghassan Salamé of Lebanon as his Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).
- Mr. Salamé will succeed Martin Kobler of Germany, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedication and service, as well as for his effective leadership of UNSMIL.
- Mr. Salamé brings to this position over three decades of experience in public service and academia. In 2003, he served as the Political Advisor to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), where he played a crucial role in bringing together Iraqi factions. For most of his career, Mr. Salamé was professor of International Relations at Sciences-Po in Paris, and he is the founding Dean of its Paris School of International Affairs.
29.5 MILLION PEOPLE GLOBALLY SUFFER FROM DRUG USE DISORDERS, OPIOIDS THE MOST HARMFUL – U.N. REPORT
- The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in its 20th edition of the World Drug Report out today, says that about a quarter of a billion people use drugs worldwide and that opioids such heroin are still the most harmful drug type, accounting for up to 70 per cent of the negative health impacts associated with drug use disorders.
- The report says that among the estimated 12 million people injecting drugs, more than half are living with hepatitis C while one in eight is living with HIV.
- Between one fifth and one third of the revenues for transnational organized crime groups come from drug sales.
- Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UNODC, says that there is still much work to be done to confront the harm inflicted by drugs to health, development, peace and security.
- The Report recommends investing in evidence-based programmes to ensure access to treatment; increased international cooperation to fight drug trafficking; and strengthening criminal justice systems.