HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON
FRIDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2016
 
CORRUPTION A ‘STRANGLING ROOT’ THAT CHOKES HOPES FOR ALL THE PEOPLE: SECRETARY-GENERAL

  • Before leaving Vienna today to return to New York, the Secretary-General spoke at a ceremony to congratulate today's recipients of the Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani Anti-Corruption Excellence Award. That event took place in conjunction with International Anti-Corruption Day.  In his remarks, the Secretary-General said that corruption is a strangling root that reaches deep into all our societies, and it chokes hopes and frustrates opportunities for all the people.
  • The Secretary-General also met with the Amir of Qatar and discussed anti-corruption efforts with him.  They also discussed developments in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
  • He will be back in New York tonight.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL SPOTLIGHTS GRAVE PATTERNS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN D.P.R. KOREA
  • The Deputy Secretary-General, Jan Eliasson, spoke at the Security Council meeting on the human rights situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, noting that in 2014, a Commission of Inquiry concluded that crimes against humanity have been committed there – and rightly called for accountability.
  • He said that the patterns of grave violations of human rights in the DPRK have repeatedly been established. The authorities have given no effective commitment to remedy the situation. People inside the DPRK are unable to make their voices heard because of the restrictions and the risks they face if they exercise their rights. In addition, the Deputy Secretary-General said, the country experiences a humanitarian emergency. Approximately 70 per cent of the population of the DPRK – 18 million people -- are considered food insecure.
  • The Deputy Secretary-General recalled that during his ten years in office, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has made extensive efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, as well as development and respect of human rights in DPRK.  He added that the United Nations will continue to work towards ensuring a genuine and lasting improvement of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the DPRK.
  • Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour said there has been no improvement in the human rights situation in the DPRK over the past year. He noted that the General Assembly has again in its resolution this year encouraged the Security Council to take appropriate action to ensure accountability, including through consideration of a referral of the situation in the DPRK to the International Criminal Court.
SECRETARY-GENERAL ‘CONFIDENT’ THAT REPUBLIC OF KOREA WILL OVERCOME DIFFICULTIES THROUGH UNITY
  • In response to questions, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General has taken note of today's development on the impeachment motion of President Park Geun-hye by the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea.
  • As has repeatedly been said, the Secretary-General has been following the developments with concern. He continues to believe in the maturity and strength of the constitutional institutions of the Republic of Korea.
  • The Secretary-General is confident that the people of the Republic of Korea will overcome the present difficulties through unity and resilience as well as a strong commitment to democratic institutions and principles.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES PEOPLE OF GHANA ON PEACEFUL CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS
  • In a statement issued yesterday, the Spokesman noted that the Secretary-General is following with great interest the situation in Ghana after the presidential and parliamentary elections that took place on 7 December. The Secretary-General congratulated the people of Ghana for exercising their democratic rights and on the peaceful conduct of the elections.  He welcomed the commitment of all presidential candidates to maintain peace as demonstrated by their signing of a Peace Accord on 1 December.
  • The Secretary-General calls on all political actors and their supporters to exercise patience while the ballots are being counted.
SYRIA: U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE VOICES CONCERN ABOUT SAFETY OF CIVILIANS IN ALEPPO
  • The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) today expressed its concern about the safety of civilians in Aleppo – those who remain in opposition-controlled areas as well as those who have fled to areas under Government control.
  • The Human Rights Office believes there may currently be around 100,000 civilians in areas under the control of armed opposition groups in eastern Aleppo, with another 30,000 believed to have fled to areas under Government control.
  • The office is also concerned about the approximately 500 medical cases involving people in need of urgent evacuation from opposition-held areas.
  • As pro-Government forces have advanced from the north into eastern Aleppo, there have been allegations of reprisals against civilians who are perceived to have supported armed opposition groups, as well as reports that men were being separated from women and children. While it is difficult to establish the facts in such a fluid and dangerous situation, the Human Rights Office has received very worrying allegations that hundreds of men have gone missing after crossing into Government-controlled areas.
  • The office adds that civilians are caught between warring parties that appear to be operating in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. Indiscriminate attacks, with little effort taken to avoid civilian casualties, have been conducted on heavily populated areas on both sides of the city.
IRAQ: LARGEST HUMANITARIAN AID DELIVERY SINCE BEGINNING OF CURRENT CONFLICT REACHES EASTERN MOSUL
  • In the single largest humanitarian aid delivery in eastern Mosul since the current conflict began, the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) yesterday provided food, dignity kits, water purification tablets, jerry cans, baby hygiene kits and more for 42,000 people in eastern Mosul.
  • For the first time in over two weeks, security conditions have allowed humanitarian agencies to reach families living in the suburbs of eastern Mosul, many of whom are in desperate need of assistance.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY HIGHLIGHTS NEED TO IMPROVE LIVING CONDITIONS OF MIGRANTS IN GREECE AS WINTER ARRIVES
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that with the onset of winter, improving living conditions for asylum-seekers and migrants continues to be their number one priority in Greece.
  • UNHCR says that those living in tents out in the open have been moved to alternative sites.  Some 20,000 people have been provided accommodation through the European Commission, although UNHCR says that serious challenges remain in Greece, as many are in substandard shelters lacking proper protection from winter conditions.
  • Conditions vary greatly; with some sites lacking basic services such as psychosocial counselling, health care and interpretation, or even proper security. UNHCR says that unaccompanied children are particularly vulnerable.
13,000 DISPLACED BY CLASHES BETWEEN ARMED FORCES AND FORMER REBELS IN REPUBLIC OF CONGO – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warns today that an escalating confrontation between the armed forces of the Republic of Congo and suspected former rebels called the Ninjas has forcibly displaced thousands of people in southeastern Pool province and has disrupted farming in the country’s most fertile region.
  • UNHCR is concerned that some 13,000 displaced people soon may not have enough to eat as a result.
  • Residents of Pool province are also having trouble getting health care and education because many state-employed medics and teachers have fled the area.
  • In addition to these internal struggles, the Republic of Congo is home to some 55,000 refugees, most of them from Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Angola.
SOUTH-WEST HAITI AT RISK OF HIGH LEVELS OF FOOD INSECURITY – U.N. RELIEF WING
  • In response to questions, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that there is no famine in Haiti, but continuing cause for concern.
  • The Emergency Food Security Assessment conducted in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane indicated that more than 800,000 people were at extreme levels of food insecurity. This assessment will be updated in the second half of this month.
  • In the south-west region, most affected by Hurricane Matthew and which accounts for 60 per cent of the national crop production, crop destruction ranges from 75 to 100%.
  • The region is therefore at risk of facing high levels of food insecurity by mid next year if the March planting season does not yield.
  • In the two months since the hurricane, humanitarian organizations have provided food to 796,000 people in the first round of distribution, as well as safe water to more than 700,000.
  • The Secretary-General is appointing today Susan D. Page of the United States as his Deputy Special Representative for Rule of Law in the Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
  • Ms. Page will succeed Carl Alexandre, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service in Haiti, and his contribution to the strengthening of the justice and law enforcement bodies in the country.
U.N. MYANMAR ENVOY CALLS ON AUTHORITIES TO PROTECT CIVILIAN POPULATION IN NORTHERN RAKHINE
  • In a statement yesterday, Vijay Nambiar, the Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Myanmar, underscored the UN’s serious concerns about the developing situation in Northern Rakhine. He noted that the UN has called on the security forces to act in accordance with the rule of law and accepted international norms of conduct, and to exercise caution in avoiding disproportionate responses that could cause violence to civilians, loss of innocent lives, or damage the properties of the local population. The authorities also need to take proactive measures to protect the local civilian population and allow humanitarian access to the areas of conflict.
  • Mr. Nambiar said that, while taking the necessary security measures to curb any fresh outbreak of attacks by criminal elements in the region, the authorities in Myanmar must also take steps to build confidence and reassurance among the local population that their security, dignity and well-being will be protected.
  • He said that he is persuaded that Daw Aung San Suu Kyi hears and understands the concerns of the international community. However, Mr. Nambiar added, the refusal by the Myanmar authorities to take a strong stance against hardliners, and the adoption of a generally defensive rather than proactive approach to providing security to the local population, have caused frustration locally and disappointment internationally. Only by responding concretely to these concerns will the government be able to resolve the crisis and preserve its international standing.
ONE IN FOUR CHILDREN LIVES IN CONFLICT OR DISASTER-STRICKEN COUNTRIES - UNICEF
  • An estimated 535 million children – nearly one in four – live in countries affected by conflict or disaster, often without access to medical care, quality education, proper nutrition and protection, UNICEF said today.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is home to nearly three-quarters of the global number of children living in countries affected by emergencies, followed by the Middle East and North Africa.
  • The new figures are released as UNICEF, this Sunday, 11 December 2016, marks 70 years of work for the most vulnerable children.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ADVANCES STABILITY FOR EVERY SOCIETY, SAYS SECRETARY-GENERAL
  • A special event marking Human Rights Day will take place later this afternoon at the Roosevelt House at Hunter College here in New York City. 
  • Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson is expected to speak at that gathering, during which he will appeal to all people around the world to make a personal commitment to act in defense of human rights.
  • In the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Day message, he stressed that “respect for human rights advances well-being for every individual, stability for every society, and harmony for our interconnected world.”
  • In Geneva, tomorrow starting at 9 a.m. New York time, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein will host a Facebook Live Q&A session. He will also launch a year-long campaign “Stand Up for Someone’s Rights Today”.