HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
WEDNESDAY, 7 DECEMBER 2016
SECRETARY-GENERAL IN VIENNA, AUSTRIA
- The Secretary-General was in Vienna, Austria today, for what will very likely be his last overseas trip before he leaves office at the end of December. While there, the Secretary-General met with the Foreign Minister of Austria, Sebastian Kurz. The Secretary-General said they discussed the cooperation between the UN and Austria in addressing some of the most pressing issues on the international agenda, including the large movement of refugees and migrants.
- In a press conference with Minister Kurz, the Secretary-General said that the events taking place in eastern Aleppo in Syria is heart-breaking. He said that the parties have not allowed for a lasting cessation of hostilities to take hold, which has made it very difficult for the UN to bring in humanitarian assistance. He reiterated the importance of a sustainable cessation of hostilities.
- While at the Foreign Ministry, the Secretary-General also had a courtesy call with the President-elect of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen and had a meeting with his Special Envoy on Youth Employment, Walter Faymann.
- The Secretary-General also met with Federal Chancellor Christian Kern, and the Mayor of Vienna, Michael Haeupl.
SYRIA: U.N. DEEPLY CONCERNED ABOUT CIVILIANS, AID WORKERS AS FIGHTING SPREADS, INTENSIFIES IN EASTERN ALEPPO
- The UN is deeply concerned about the safety, protection and well-being of civilians in Aleppo, particularly those still trapped in the besieged enclave of eastern Aleppo, including humanitarian workers. Fighting has dramatically spread and intensified in the last 24 hours, leading to deaths and injuries of dozens of people in eastern and western Aleppo.
- The UN has received reports of more civilians displaced, including an estimated 800 people from east Aleppo who arrived at the cotton factory site in Jibreen yesterday and more than 1,200 people who arrived in Hanano, a neighbourhood that has been retaken by the Government.
- The overall number of displaced people remains extremely difficult to gauge at this time, as the UN does not have verifiable information about new displacements and people continue to arrive and leave existing shelters and lodge with family members. The UN is following the situation closely and providing assistance to all those fleeing eastern Aleppo city.
CONTINUED MEDIATION ON ELECTIONS IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO WELCOMED BY SECRETARY-GENERAL
- The Secretary-General has welcomed the announcement of the continuation of the mediation led by the Conférence épiscopale des églises du Congo (Catholic Church - CENCO), to achieve a more inclusive consensus on the holding of elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
- In a statement, the Secretary-General took note of President Kabila's expressed support and encouragement to CENCO's mediation, and of the stated readiness of The Rassemblement opposition platform to remain engaged in dialogue and expressed his support for the mediation led by CENCO. He also called on all political actors in the DRC to recommit themselves to this mediation.
ACTING HEAD OF U.N. REGIONAL OFFICE FOR CENTRAL AFRICA BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL
- Francois Lounceny Fall, the Acting Head of the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA), briefed the Security Council this morning.
- In his briefing, he said that while enormous challenges remain in the Central African Republic, the Government had made important progress by engaging with the armed groups through a formal framework.
- Mr. Lounceny Fall also said that the collective efforts of the Lake Chad Basin countries against Boko Haram have resulted in substantial military and security successes, but stressed that available resources are insufficient to finance the operations and to effectively support humanitarian and early recovery activities.
- He also emphasized the continuing threat of the LRA and of piracy activities in the Gulf of Guinea on the peace and stability of the region.
INTERNAL DISPLACEMENT REACHES NEARLY 84,000 PEOPLE FROM MOSUL OFFENSIVE
- Internal displacement in the context of the Mosul offensive has reached nearly 84,000 people. Most of the displacement in the last week has happened in areas east of Mosul city, with most families moving eastwards towards the camps in the Hamdaniya district.
- A new emergency site was opened on Tuesday at Qayyarah Airstrip in Al Qayyarah district, receiving more than 600 people. New arrivals to this site are expected in the coming days.
- As many as one million people are estimated to remain out of reach of humanitarian assistance in Mosul because of ongoing hostilities. The humanitarian community is extremely concerned for their safety and food and water shortages continue to be reported.
- Trauma injuries among civilians are increasing. Between 28 November and 4 December, 410 injuries were reported, mainly from gunshots, mines, shelling and mortar fire. That is a seven-fold increase from the previous week.
U.N. AGENCY FOR PALESTINE REFUGEES FACING $37 MILLION SHORTFALL FOR 2016
- Pierre Krähenbühl, the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), has provided a briefing to the ad hoc committee of the General Assembly by videoconference from the Gaza Strip, to inform them that his agency still lacks $37 million for this year’s budget. He expressed hope that this gap will be overcome in the next few days.
- Mr. Krähenbühl said that next year’s UNRWA Programme Budget will have to rise, by about 5%, to $715 million, simply to preserve the agency’s operations at their current level. He estimated that the gap projected between income and expenditures in 2017 will be $115 million.
- The world cannot afford to abandon Palestine refugees, the Commissioner-General said. The stakes are too high. Pending a just solution to their plight in accordance with UN resolutions and international law, he said, we must act decisively to uphold their rights, dignity and the quality of UNRWA services.
URGENT NEED TO ADDRESS PLIGHT, PAIN OF SEPARATED FAMILIES ON KOREAN PENINSULA: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE
- In a new report, the UN Human Rights Office stresses the urgent need to address the continuing plight and pain of families torn apart on the Korean Peninsula, especially due to the advanced age of many of the victims.
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said that the emotional, psychological, social and economic toll of involuntary separation persists to this day, as people continue to search for the truth and for contact with their loved ones.
- The new report includes powerful testimonies from mostly elderly victims. It looks at the way families have been separated since the Korean War through displacement, enforced disappearance and abduction, and also as a result of individuals fleeing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
U.N. HUMANITARIAN OFFICE MONITORING IMPACT OF EARTHQUAKE IN INDONESIA
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is closely monitoring the impact of the earthquake in Indonesia, which national authorities say has killed more than 90 people.
- No official request for assistance has been made yet, but the United Nations stands ready to support Indonesia as required.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION BEGINS EMERGENCY SEED AND TOOL DISTRIBUTION IN HAITI
- In Haiti, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has begun emergency distributions of seeds and tools to help disaster-affected families produce food and restore livelihoods.
- Hurricane Matthew struck during Haiti's second main harvest time, causing losses to agriculture of $580 million and striking a major blow to the country's food security, according to the FAO.
- Family farming −a primary food source for most Haitians− took an especially heavy blow in the hurricane that wiped out 90 percent of the country's harvest.
- Some 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance and out of this number, some 600,000 base their livelihood exclusively on agriculture.