HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 23 JUNE 2017
IN KAMPALA, SECRETARY-GENERAL PRAISES UGANDA FOR OPENING BORDERS AND HOMES TO REFUGEES
- A short while ago, the Secretary-General and President Yoweri Museveni closed the Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees in Kampala. Pledges of more than $350 million were made towards Uganda’s efforts to support more than 1.2 million refugees hosted, for the most part, in local communities. In remarks to the press, the Secretary-General congratulated the Ugandan Government for the conference. What has been pledged is a good start, he said, but we cannot stop.
- In the opening session, the Secretary-General praised Uganda’s Government and people for the way they had opened the country’s borders and their homes to refugees. It is necessary, he said, to recognize that Uganda remains a symbol of the integrity of the refugee protection regime that unfortunately is not respected everywhere in the world. Not all doors are open, he said, not all refugees are accepted, and sometimes in countries much richer than Uganda.
- The Secretary-General recalled with emotion how twelve years ago in northern Uganda he had celebrated with South Sudanese who were about to return home full of hope. Now he was back and South Sudanese had been forced to flee their homes again. The conclusion is obvious, he said: everything must be done to end the war in South Sudan. In answering a question at the press conference, the Secretary-General said that the UN was committed to protecting civilians in its protection of civilians sites for as long as it takes.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO TRAVEL TO WASHINGTON, D.C, NEXT WEEK
- The Secretary-General will travel to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, 27 June.
- This trip will be part of his ongoing outreach to Washington and other capitals. He is expected to meet with both Democratic and Republican leaders, members of the foreign affairs and relations committees, as well as the appropriations committees, of both the House and Senate.
- The Secretary-General will also be meeting with senior members of the President's cabinet.
SECRETARY-GENERAL WELCOMES RESOLUTION ON FORCE TO COMBAT TERRORISM AND ORGANIZED CRIME IN SAHEL
- In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General welcomed the adoption of resolution 2359 as a first step in support of the decision by the Group of Five for the Sahel to set up a joint force to combat terrorism and transnational organized crime, in coordination with national and other forces. The Secretary-General reiterated the commitment of the UN, working closely with the African Union and other partners, to do its utmost to help mobilise adequate resources for the attainment of the objectives of the Force as agreed by the leaders of the G5 and endorsed by the AU Peace and Security Council.
- The Secretary-General also noted that the adoption of the resolution coincides with the second anniversary of the 2015 Agreement on Peace and Reconciliation in Mali. While welcoming the important progress made by the signatory parties, he underscored the need for expeditious progress on the remaining aspects of the agreement, with a view to consolidating and sustaining peace in Mali and the region.
D.R. CONGO: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF WELCOMES CREATION OF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION INTO KASAIS
- The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, today welcomed the creation of an international investigation into allegations of gross violations and abuses in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
- He said it sends a strong message to the perpetrators that the international community is serious about bringing them to justice.
- Since 2016, some 1.3 million people from the Kasais have been internally displaced by the violence, while some 30,000 refugees have fled to Angola.
- The High Commissioner said he expected and counted on the full cooperation of the authorities, particularly in providing unfettered access to all sites, files, people and places.
UNICEF WARNS FOOD CRISIS ‘FAR FROM OVER’ IN SOUTH SUDAN, NIGERIA, SOMALIA AND YEMEN
- UNICEF warned today that the announcement of an end to famine conditions in South Sudan this week should not distract from the fact that severe food insecurity continues to put the lives of millions of children at risk in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
- Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s Director for Emergency Programmes, said that there is no room for complacency, and that while famine has been reversed in South Sudan, the crisis is far from over. He stressed the need to continue to scale up our response and insist on unconditional humanitarian access, otherwise the progress made could be rapidly undone.
5.6 MILLION CHILDREN AT RISK OF WATERBORNE DISEASES IN LAKE CHAD REGION AS RAINY SEASON BEGINS - UNICEF
- UNICEF warned today that more than 5.6 million children are at increased risk of contracting waterborne diseases, such as cholera and diarrheal infections, as the rainy season begins in conflict-affected areas of countries around Lake Chad.
- The threat of disease outbreaks in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria coincides with growing regional insecurity and increased population movements particularly in Nigeria’s northeast, while flooding and muddy roads are expected to severely limit humanitarian access to remote areas for several weeks.
- Across the Lake Chad region, UNICEF and its partners are working in communities at higher risk of cholera outbreaks to teach families about the effects of the disease and practical steps to help avoid infection. In Niger, Cameroon and Chad, essential drugs and bars of soap have been prepositioned in warehouses close to IDP camps in case of a cholera outbreak.
- The water, sanitation and hygiene response in the Lake Chad Basin has received less than 20% of the US$80 million required to meet urgent needs in 2017.
- Despite the lack of funding, this year UNICEF aims to provide 2.7 million people with a basic supply of water needed to survive.
U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC STRENGTHENS PRESENCE IN BRIA
- The UN Mission in the Central African Republic reports that the situation in Bria, in Haute-Kotto, remains tense after clashes earlier in the week between the FPRC [Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique] and the anti-Balaka. International humanitarian workers began the process of recovering bodies from the streets. The Mission reports its inability to access areas controlled by the FPRC, where most of the clashes occurred.
- Meanwhile, the Mission has transferred 29 civilians, mainly women and children, who fled Tuesday's fighting to an internally displaced persons site in Bria. The UN Mission has also reinforced its presence in the town by temporarily redeploying 70 police officers from a Bangui based formed police unit.
- Elsewhere, in Bambari, UN Police yesterday arrested six armed members of the UPC [Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique] and handed them over to the local gendarmerie, as part of the Mission’s efforts to protect civilians and end the presence of armed groups in the town.
YEMEN CONFLICT: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS WING DOCUMENTS 49 CIVILIAN DEATHS IN PAST MONTH
- The UN Human Rights Office says that it continues to document reports of civilian casualties as a result of the conflict in Yemen, having verified 49 civilian deaths in the past month.
- The Office reiterated that indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks or attacks targeting civilian objects such as markets are prohibited under international humanitarian law.
- It also reminded all parties to the conflict of their obligation to ensure full respect for international human rights law and international humanitarian law and said that all incidents resulting in civilian casualties must be thoroughly investigated to ensure accountability when breaches of international law have been found to have taken place.
- Since March 2015, the Office has recorded a total of 13,504 civilian casualties, including 4,971 killed and 8,533 injured.
- Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien welcomes the announcement by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre that it will provide $66.7 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF for the cholera response in Yemen.
- This would be a welcomed contribution and urge all donors to step forward at a time of urgent need.
- The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is 30 per cent funded.
IRAQ: 880,000 PEOPLE DISPLACED SINCE BEGINNING OF MOSUL OPERATION – U.N. RELIEF WING
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, with the offensive on the old city of Iraq’s Mosul ongoing, civilians continue to flee the area, though at a slower rate than in previous weeks.
- This slowdown is thought to be the result of people choosing to remain in the relatively protected environment rather than attempting the hazardous exit from the old city. Da’esh fighters are also known to be actively preventing civilians from leaving.
- Conditions inside remaining Da’esh-held parts of Mosul are increasingly desperate. A sack of wheat is now selling for $675, gasoline is reportedly selling for over $6 per litre, and malnutrition rates among children arriving from west Mosul are rising.
- As of yesterday, and since the Mosul operation began last October, more than 880,000 people have been displaced from Mosul. Of these, more than 686,000 remained displaced, while nearly 200,000 people have reportedly returned home.
U.N., PARTNERS DELIVER AID FOR 110,000 PEOPLE IN SYRIA’S HOMS
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that between yesterday evening and the early hours of today, a UN/Red Cross/Syrian Arab Red Crescent inter-agency humanitarian convoy delivered food and other items for nearly 110,000 people in the Ar-Rastan area in rural Homs.
- Solar lamps and some health supplies were removed upon loading, and the delivery also faced insecurity in neighboring towns while items were being unloaded.
- The last inter-agency convoy to the area was on 30 March.
- The UN continues to call for safe, unimpeded and sustained access to all people in need across the country, particularly the more than 4.5 million men, women and children in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.
WIDOWS’ DAY SHEDS LIGHT ON WOMEN’S STRUGGLE TO ENSURE RIGHTS ARE RESPECTED AFTER LOSS OF HUSBAND
- Today is International Widows’ Day, which seeks to shine a light on the struggle that many women face around the world after the loss of a husband and ensure their rights are respected.
- According to UN Women, there are some 285 million widows around the world, with over 115 million of them living in deep poverty. Along with the shock of losing a spouse, the situation for widows is often compounded by stigma and social isolation, and without access to social protection, they face destitution.
PUBLIC SERVICE DAY ENCOURAGES YOUNG PEOPLE TO CHOOSE CAREER IN PUBLIC SECTOR
- Today is Public Service Day which celebrates the value and virtue of public service to the community, recognizes the work of public servants, and encourages young people to pursue careers in the public sector.
- As part of the annual celebrations, today in The Hague, the UN granted its Public Service Award to 12 institutions who have significantly contributed to the public sector. Among the winners are an initiative in Botswana which improves waste management systems, an initiative in Australia that promotes transparency and inclusiveness in use of public fund and resources, and a project in Thailand, that provides quality care to elders.
U.N. AND UGANDA SIGN AGREEMENT TO STRENGTHEN SUPPORT TO AFRICAN UNION MISSION IN SOMALIA
- This morning in New York, the UN and Uganda signed the first tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on support provided to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). The MOU will be also signed by the African Union. The MOUs between the UN, the AU and troop and police contributors for AMISOM were authorised by the Security Council resolution 2245 of 2015 and aim to strengthen and formalise the provision of support provided to AMISOM. This first MOU covers the provision of support to the military contingent and a Formed Police Unit that Uganda is contributing to AMISOM.
- Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, thanked the Government of Uganda for its contribution to AMISOM and expressed his deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by all troop and police contributors in Somalia. Mr. Khare noted that today's agreement alongside the earlier agreements on joint training and staff exchanges, will strengthen the AU-UN partnership framework that the Secretary-General signed in New York in April.
- This was the first of the six MOUs that will be signed by the UN and AU with troop and police contributors, namely Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Nigeria.
U.N. STUDY SAYS DISPLACED PEOPLE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO WAIT TO START REBUILDING THEIR LIVES
- The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today released a study which advocates that internally displaced people (IDPs) should not have to wait until a conflict is fully resolved or all impacts of a disaster are over before they can begin rebuilding their lives.
- The study says governments bear the primary responsibility for addressing internal displacement and should, with the international community, regard protracted internal displacement as primarily a development and political challenge, which may also require a continued humanitarian response. The study proposes an approach that allows IDPs to reach self-sufficiency sooner and recommends concrete actions for national governments and the UN to implement it.
MYANMAR ARMED GROUP RELEASES 67 CHILDREN FROM ITS RANK – U.N.
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Myanmar UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violations against Children said that the Tatmadaw, an armed group from Myanmar, released today 67 children and young people from its rank.
- It is the first discharge of children and young people to take place in 2017.
- In addition to the Tatmadaw, seven non-state armed groups in Myanmar are named on the Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children.
ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY CONCLUDES LARGE-SCALE EXERCISE EVALUATING RESPONSE TO NUCLEAR EMERGENCY
- Yesterday in Hungary, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded a large-scale exercise evaluating the response to a nuclear emergency. 82 countries and 10 international organizations took part in the exercise which lasted 36 hours and tested their responses to a simulated accident at a nuclear plant.
- Large-scale exercises of this kind are conducted every three to five years, and the IAEA will be compiling best practices going forward to strengthen international preparedness to nuclear emergencies.