HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 29 MARCH 2017
ADDRESSING ARAB LEAGUE SUMMIT, SECRETARY-GENERAL APPEALS TO LEADERS TO SHAPE A NEW ARAB WORLD
- The Secretary-General addressed the summit meeting of the Arab League at the Dead Sea in Jordan today. He said that the United Nations attaches the highest importance to its partnership with the Arab League. The Secretary-General also appealed to the leadership of Arab region to shape a new Arab world able to address and solve by itself differences through dialogue and cooperation.
- He saluted the Arab tradition of hospitality, manifesting itself in the millions of refugees who have been given shelter throughout the region. He said, “It breaks my heart to see developed countries closing their borders to refugees fleeing this region, and worse, sometimes invoking religion as a reason to keep them out.”
- The Secretary-General also appealed to Arab unity in tackling the conflicts that are present in the region.
- On Tuesday evening, the Secretary-General had a bilateral meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, during which they discussed the situations in Libya and Iraq, as well as the Israel—Palestinian situation.
REMAINS OF TWO MISSING MEMBERS OF GROUP OF EXPERTS FOUND IN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
- The United Nations has confirmed that the remains discovered by peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on 27 March outside of the city of Kananga in the Congolese Kasaï-Central province are those of Michael Sharp (United States) and Zaida Catalan (Sweden). They were members of the Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo who had gone missing since 12 March 2017.
- In a statement, the Secretary-General said that Michael and Zaida had lost their lives seeking to understand the causes of conflict and insecurity in the DRC in order to help bring peace to the country and its people. We will honour their memory by continuing to support the invaluable work of the Group of Experts and the whole UN family in the DRC.
- It is our hope that the cause of their deaths will be determined following a more thorough examination. We trust that the Congolese authorities will conduct a full investigation into this incident. The United Nations will also conduct an inquiry. In case of criminal acts, the United Nations will do everything possible to ensure that justice is done. The Secretary-General also urges the Congolese authorities to continue the search for the four Congolese nationals who accompanied our colleagues. The United Nations will cooperate with the authorities in the continuing search.
- The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo also expressed its profound condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of Michael Sharp and Zaida Catalan. The Head of MONUSCO, Maman Sidikou said that the Mission and the UN family in the DRC will continue to honour their work and dedication to supporting a durable peace in the country, and particularly in the Kasais.
NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME APPOINTED
- The Secretary-General and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva announced today their appointment of David Beasley of the United States as Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), at the Under-Secretary-General level, in succession to Ertharin Cousin of the United States.
- The Executive Board of WFP has confirmed its concurrence with the appointment.
- The Secretary-General and Director-General express their deep appreciation to Ms. Cousin for her leadership of WFP over the last five years. She has led the Programme during an unprecedented time of multiple humanitarian crises, leveraging partnerships and innovative tools to reach those furthest behind. Both wish her every success in her continuing endeavours.
- Mr. Beasley brings to the position extensive experience with key governmental and business leaders and stakeholders around the world, with very strong resource mobilisation skills.
SECRETARY-GENERAL APPOINTS NEW HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR DISARMAMENT AFFAIRS
- The Secretary-General has announced today the appointment of Izumi Nakamitsu of Japan as the next Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Office for Disarmament Affairs. She will succeed Kim Won-soo of the Republic of Korea, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organisation.
- Currently Assistant Administrator for the Crisis Response Unit, United Nations Development Programme, Ms. Nakamitsu has many years of service within and outside the United Nations system, most recently as Special Adviser Ad Interim on Follow up to the Summit on Addressing Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants (2016-2017).
IRAQ: DISPLACEMENT ON THE RISE, HUMANITARIAN PARTNERS RAMPING UP EFFORTS TO ASSIST CIVILIANS ON THE MOVE
- Displacement of civilians from west Mosul in Iraq continues to rise rapidly. Currently, 298,000 people are displaced as a result of the military operations in Mosul. An estimated 231,000 have been displaced from western Mosul since military operations on the western sections of the city began in late February, according to figures provided by the Iraqi authorities.
- Humanitarian partners continue to assist displaced families, families on the move and vulnerable people who remain in newly retaken areas, wherever access allows. In newly accessible parts of western Mosul, humanitarian workers have so far been able to reach almost 20,000 people with emergency packages of basic food, water and hygiene items.
SYRIA: U.N. CLOSELY MONITORING DEVELOPMENTS IN FOUR TOWNS
- The UN has received reports of an agreement between parties to the conflict to evacuate people from the besieged towns of Madaya and Zabadani in Rural Damascus and Foah and Kefraya in Idleb, which are known as the Four Towns. The UN was not part of the negotiations or the agreement.
- We are monitoring the developments closely and remain concerned for the safety and protection of the estimated 60,000 people in need in the besieged four towns.
- Any evacuation of civilians must be safe, voluntary, and to a place of their choosing.
- It is imperative that all those who are displaced through such agreements are allowed to return voluntarily, in safety and in dignity, to their homes as soon as the situation allows.
- Parties must allow humanitarian organizations safe and unimpeded access, in line with international humanitarian and human rights law, to bring life-saving help to those displaced and those who wish to remain, and identify and respond to protection threats.
SEVERELY MALNOURISHED CHILDREN IN FOUR COUNTRIES FACING A NUMBER OF ADDITIONAL HEALTH THREATS - UNICEF
- Water shortages, inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene practices and disease outbreaks are posing an additional threat to severely malnourished children in northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, UNICEF said today.
- Across the four famine-threatened countries, nearly 27 million people are reliant on unsafe water which, for malnourished children, can lead to fatal diarrheal diseases.
- UNICEF says it is working around the clock to save as many lives as possible. But without an end to the conflicts plaguing these countries, without sustainable and unimpeded access to the children in need of support and without more resources, even the best efforts will not be enough.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION LAUNCHES INITIATIVE AIMED AT REDUCING MEDICATION ERRORS
- The World Health Organization (WHO) launched today a global initiative to reduce severe, avoidable medication-associated harm in all countries by 50% over the next 5 years.
- The Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety aims to address the weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors. It lays out ways to improve the way medicines are prescribed, distributed and consumed, and increase awareness among patients about the risks associated with the improper use of medication.
- Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States alone.
- Globally, the cost associated with them has been estimated at US$ 42 billion annually or almost 1% of total global health expenditure.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ORGANIZATION WORKING TO STOP SPREAD OF PEST THAT DESTROYS PALM TREES
- Today marked the beginning of a three-day meeting at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome to define an international action plan to stop the spread of the Red Palm Weevil.
- The pest attacks date- and coconut-producing palms, as well as ornamental palms found in many European cities, and has rapidly expanded its global spread.
- In total it has now been detected in more than 60 countries of the Middle East and North Africa, Europe and parts of the Caribbean and Central America.