HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 24 APRIL 2017
 
CONFLICT PREVENTION TOPS SECRETARY-GENERAL’S TALKS WITH SWISS FOREIGN MINISTER

  • The Secretary-General is in Bern today, where he met with the Swiss Foreign Minister, Didier Burkhalter, with whom he discussed conflict prevention, as well as the situations in Syria and countries threatened by famine, among other topics.  They are expected to have a joint press encounter right about now.
  • Later this afternoon, the Secretary-General will meet with the leadership of the External Relations Committees of both Chambers of the Swiss Parliament. He will then have a dinner with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard.
SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SPOTLIGHT URGENT NEED FOR FUNDING FOR YEMEN, WORLD’S LARGEST HUMANITARIAN CRISIS
  • The Secretary-General will preside over the High-level Pledging Event for the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen tomorrow, with the Foreign Ministers of Switzerland and Sweden as co-chairs.
  • According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Yemen is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world, with nearly 19 million people – or two-thirds of the population – in need of aid. Nearly half of these people require immediate assistance to save or sustain their lives.
  • Yemen is also the largest food security emergency in the world and on the brink of famine. More than 17 million people are currently food insecure, including about 7 million people who are severely food insecure and face starvation.
  • More than 3 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the conflict, with a child under the age of five dying every 10 minutes of preventable causes.
  • Through the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan, more than 100 humanitarian partners have been providing coordinated assistance to millions of people across Yemen’s 22 governorates. We can avert a humanitarian catastrophe, but we still need $2.1 billion in funding to deliver crucial food, nutrition, health and other lifesaving assistance.
  • Anyone who would like to donate to the Yemen Humanitarian Fund can do so online. These funds will help non-governmental organizations and UN agencies in Yemen to help the most vulnerable.
U.N. VOICES DEEP CONCERN OVER SAFETY OF 400,000 PEOPLE IN SYRIA’S RAQQA
  • The UN is deeply concerned for the safety and protection of over 400,000 people in Raqqa, in Syria. In past weeks, civilians have been exposed to daily fighting and airstrikes which resulted in an escalating number of civilian deaths and injuries as well as damage to civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, markets and water infrastructure.
  • Yesterday, airstrikes on Atabaqa city reportedly killed eight people including five children and damaged two schools. On 22 April, dozens of people were reportedly killed and injured in airstrikes on an IDP camp near Albardah village, 20 km west of Raqqa.
  • Some 39,000 newly displaced people fled to the Jib Al-Shaair makeshift camp in Ar-Raqqa governorate where 4 out of 5 people are staying in the open air without appropriate shelter. The UN has also received reports of the deaths of several children due to lack of medical care at the Jib Al-Shaair and Al-Karma camps and of critically injured people and sick children who are in need of urgent medical assistance.
IRAQ: CIVLIANS CONTINUE TO FLEE CONFLICT-WRACKED WEST MOSUL – U.N.
  • The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that as the fighting continues in west Mosul, the number of people fleeing the area is surging. Nearly 376,000 people have been displaced from west Mosul since the start of the military operation to retake western neighborhoods started in late February.
  • Yesterday alone, another 6,500 people were recorded as having arrived at the transit and screening point of Hamam al Alil, south of Mosul.
  • Civilian displacement from other remaining Da’esh-held areas has also continued, with nearly 95,000 people being forced to flee the town of Hawija, in Kirkuk governorate, since military operations intensified there last August.
  • Aid workers continue to help uprooted families who are on the move, families in displacement camps and sites and others. To date, emergency aid has been provided to help some 2.1 million people in Mosul and surrounding areas, with many families requiring assistance more than once.
  • Despite very rapid displacement and pressures on the capacities of camps and emergency sites, space is currently available to accommodate a further nearly 50,000 people. Further expansion work is ongoing.
AFGHAN DETAINEES STILL FACE TORTURE – U.N. REPORT
  • A report released today by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the UN Human Rights Office found that detainees in Afghanistan continue to face torture and ill-treatment in government detention facilities.
  • The report is based on interviews with conflict-related detainees in 62 detention facilities and contains key recommendations to the Government.
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said it is essential that there is proper monitoring of detention facilities and meaningful investigations to ensure those accused of torture are held accountable.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL WARNS LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY ONE OF SOUTH SUDAN’S BIGGEST CHALLENGES
  • The Human Rights Director at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said that the lack of accountability for crimes perpetrated during the conflict remains one of the country’s biggest challenges.
  • Eugene Nindorera was speaking yesterday at the end of a visit to Wau in the north-west of South Sudan, where violence earlier this month led to the death of at least 28 civilians and 19 government soldiers. The UN Mission interviewed 43 individuals, including eight women and two children, to collect information about alleged human rights violations by government forces and aligned armed groups. Mr. Nindorera said that as of Sunday, nobody was being detained in connection with this attack against civilians.
  • Meanwhile, the UN Mission said that by Thursday last week the protection of civilians site adjacent to the UN base in Wau had registered some 17,000 new arrivals, mainly women and children.
NEARLY ONE QUARTER OF CHILDREN OUT OF SCHOOLS IN CONFLICT ZONES, NEW U.N.I.C.E.F. REPORT FINDS
  • More than 25 million children between 6 and 15 years old, or 22 per cent of children in that age group, are missing out on school in conflict zones across 22 countries, UNICEF said today.
  • At the primary school level, South Sudan has the highest rate of out-of-school children with close to 72 per cent of children missing out on education, followed by Chad and Afghanistan.
  • The three countries also have the highest rate of girls who are out of school.
  • At the lower-secondary school level, the highest rates are found in Niger, South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
U.N. STUDY UNVEILS RISING CONCERNS OVER LACK OF INTERNET PRIVACY
  • A global survey conducted by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and its partners reveals that a lack of trust is the main reason many Internet users are not shopping online.
  • The survey shows that users are increasingly worried about their privacy. The top sources of concern cited in the survey were: cybercriminals, Internet companies, and governments.
  • UNCTAD said the resulting impact on trust is hindering further development of the digital economy.
SECRETARY-GENERAL SIGNS PACT WITH WORLD GROUP TO TACKLE POVERTY, PROMOTE PROSPERITY
  • On Saturday morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening plenary of the 35th Meeting of the International Monetary and Financial Committee in Washington, DC.
  • In the afternoon, he addressed a High-level Meeting on Famine and Fragility.
  • He also signed a Partnership Framework with World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, which focuses on building resilience for the most vulnerable people by reducing poverty, promoting shared prosperity, enhancing food security, and sustaining peace in crisis-affected situations.
IN LETTER TO STAFF, SECRETARY-GENERAL VOICES DETERMINATION TO DELIVER RESULTS WITH EFFICIENCY, EFFECTIVENESS
  • The Secretary-General on Friday issued a letter to all UN staff, thanking them for their commitment and hard work and providing an update on the status of the ongoing management reform initiative. 
  • The Secretary-General said he is requesting that all managers give considerable thought to how their programmes are being carried out and whether these mandates can be done better and with less cost.  He encourages all staff to be a full part of this effort and share their cost savings ideas with your managers.  Similarly, he counts on the support of all staff for efforts to be more prudent in expenditure, more responsive to the mandates originating from legislative bodies, and more effective in the delivery of programmes.
  • He said that he is determined to work with all staff to ensure that we deliver results with efficiency and effectiveness and that he is committed to ensuring that the voices of UN staff are heard.
U.N. MOURNS DEATH OF FORMER LEBANON ENVOY
  • We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Michael Williams yesterday in the United Kingdom.  Lord Williams served as UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon until his retirement from the United Nations in 2011.
  • He had previously also served as Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and as the Secretary-General's Special Adviser on the Situation in the Middle East.  Earlier, he had been a director in the Department of Political Affairs and served in missions in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia. 
  • His strong and enduring commitment to the peace, security and stability of Lebanon and the wider Middle East will always be remembered.  Many of us worked closely with him and remember his kindness, warmth and generosity. 
TURKEY BECOMES 88TH U.N. MEMBER STATE TO PAY DUES IN FULL
  • Turkey has paid its regular budget dues in full, becoming the 88th UN Member State to have done so.