HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 18 AUGUST 2017

ON WORLD HUMANITARIAN DAY, U.N. STRESSES NEED TO PROTECT CIVILIANS AND AID WORKERS CAUGH UP IN CONFLICT

  • Today is World Humanitarian Day.
  • This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at an event at UN Headquarters to mark the Day where he stressed that every civilian has a right to safety and protection, and we must all do everything we can to deliver on this right.
  • He added that we cannot fail the millions of people caught in conflict, struggling to find food, water, and safe shelter; who have been driven from their homes with little hope of return; whose schools have been bombed; and who await life-saving medical care. These people are not a target, he said.

 

YEMENI PEOPLE’S SUFFERING HAS RELENTLESSLY INTENSIFIED, U.N. AID CHIEF TELLS SECURITY COUNCIL
  • The Security Council held an open meeting on Yemen this morning.
  • Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien said he was grieved that, in the past two years, despite his and his team’s best efforts, he has been unable to report any significant improvement in the deplorable, avoidable and completely man-made catastrophe that is ravaging Yemen.
  • On the contrary, he said, the Yemeni people's suffering has relentlessly intensified. Today, millions of people in Yemen are facing a triple tragedy: the spectre of famine, the world’s largest ever single-year cholera outbreak, and the daily deprivation and injustice of a brutal conflict that the world is allowing to drag on and on.
  • Mr. O’Brien called for the opening of all ports – land, sea and air – to civilian traffic to allow in aid, as well as for parties to the conflict to respect international human and human rights law.
  • He also stressed the need for civil servants to be paid to prevent the collapse of institutions and for accountability to be strengthened.
  • The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed told the Council via videolink that Yemen today continues to traverse a critical and agonizing period as civilians pay a terrible price of an unending power struggle, adding that those who survive the fighting face death by famine or disease as the economic situation continues to deteriorate and the humanitarian conditions worsen.
  • The Envoy noted that military clashes continue and that reported attacks on ships imperil the delivery of much needed humanitarian and commercial supplies.
  • In his recent meetings with senior Yemeni officials and regional leaders, he said that there is still consensus on the need to reach a political solution and to support the UN-sponsored peace process under the Secretary-General’s auspices.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: U.N. PEACEKEEPERS PROVIDE PTROTECTION TO THOUSANDS OF CIVILIANS FLEEING VIOLENCE IN BRIA
  • The UN Mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, reports clashes between anti-Balaka and Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de Centrafrique- Arab Faction on Wednesday in Bria.
  • Peacekeepers provided protection to over 2,000 civilians who had congregated to MINUSCA premises, and to the nearby camp for internally displaced people. MINUSCA continues its patrols in the town, which remains tense today.
  • Peacekeepers also intervened and deterred further fighting yesterday in Zémio between Fulani and alleged anti-Balaka-affiliated groups.
  • MINUSCA continues its robust patrolling throughout the town.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONDEMNS TERRORIST ATTACK IN BARCELONA
  • Yesterday, a statement was issued condemning the terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain, and extending the Secretary-General’s heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of those killed and to the Government and people of Spain. The United Nations stands in solidarity with the Government of Spain in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.
NEXT ROUND OF SYRIA TALKS TO TAKE PLACE IN SEPTEMBER – U.N. SPECIAL ENVOY
  • Staffan de Mistura, the Special Envoy for Syria, spoke to reporters in Geneva yesterday and said that his office is planning for the next round of official talks to take place in Geneva just before the General Assembly session in September. That period, he added, should be considered as preparations for what he believes will be a very significant October and November.
  • Mr. de Mistura said that we have already seen a reduction of violence in Syria, even with agreements still to be concluded regarding de-escalation of fighting there. He noted progress this week on humanitarian access, with a convoy of 50 trucks led by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Ali Al-Za’tari, reaching Douma and providing aid to some 35,000 people. 
SIERRA LEONE: U.N. CONTINUES TO PROVIDE SUPPORT TO THOSE AFFECTED BY MUDSLIDES
  • In Sierra Leone, the UN Disaster and Assessment Coordination (UNDAC) mission following the deadly mudslides last week has started to deploy, in support of the response efforts carried out under the leadership of the Government.
  • UNICEF is providing emergency sanitation and safe drinking water, distributing infection prevention materials such as face masks, gloves and body bags, as well as medicines and tents.
  • It is also working with the Ministry of Education and Science to ensure that the schools, particularly those currently used to accommodate the affected people, will be ready for the beginning of the school year.
  • The World Health Organization is working with health workers on basic infection prevention control measures, supporting decontamination of the mortuary at the local hospitals, and ensuring the safe disposal of any personal protection equipment. 
U.N. LAUNCHES PROGRAMME TO PREVENT STUNTING IN PAKISTAN
  • The World Food Programme (WFP), in partnership with the Directorate of Health Services in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of Pakistan, has formally launched a programme to prevent stunting in the Kurram Agency of those areas.
  • Stunting occurs when a child’s growth and development is impaired from poor nutrition. In the Kurram Agency, stunting rates stand at 57.6 per cent, which is alarmingly high and well above the global average.
  • WFP will work with the Office of Research Innovation and Commercialization (ORIC) in Kurram to deliver locally produced specialized nutritious food for children aged between 6 and 24 months, along with pregnant women and nursing mothers, through an extensive network of community-based female health workers and health facilities. In addition, children aged 24-59 months will receive micronutrient supplements. More than 75,000 children and women will benefit from the programme.