HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 19 MAY 2017
 
SECRETARY-GENERAL CONGRATULATES ALGERIA FOR PEACEFUL ELECTIONS

  • In a statement issued today, the Secretary-General notes the announcement by the Algerian Constitutional Council of the results of the 4 May 2017 elections to the People’s National Assembly. He congratulates the people and Government of Algeria for the peaceful conduct of the elections. The Secretary-General would welcome any further steps the Government and all stakeholders can take to continue to strengthen the democratic process.
  • The Secretary-General deployed a panel of electoral experts to the country from 28 April to 7 May 2017, at the invitation of the Government.
U.N. AND EUROPEAN UNION TO DEVELOP JOINT INITIATIVE TO ELIMINATE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS
  • In Brussels today, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, met with European Union Commissioner Neven Mimica, and afterward, they said in a joint statement that they had a fruitful meeting to discuss how to take the gender equality and women's empowerment agenda further. They added that the meeting had taken place with a view to jointly developing a global EU-UN Gender Initiative with a focus on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
  • They said that the EU and the UN will bring their comparative advantages together, including those of various UN agencies, with the expertise and capacity of both the EU and the UN to deliver on this urgent priority. This joined-up action will visibly demonstrate our joint resolve in promoting women’s rights and empowerment, while motivating others to join us in this important endeavour.
  • The Gender Initiative is expected to be officially launched soon, upon its finalisation.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL TO SPEAK AT UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND COMMENCEMENT CEREMONY
  • On Sunday, the Deputy Secretary-General will depart New York for Washington, D.C.
  • On Monday, she will be the Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Commencement Ceremony of the University of Maryland School of Public Policy.  The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on the same day.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. REPORT EXPOSES HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AGAINST CIVILIANS IN YEI
  • The Human Rights Division of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the UN Human Rights Office today issued a new report on the findings of an in-depth investigation into human rights violations and abuses committed in and around Yei town, in Central Equatoria, between July 2016 and January 2017.
  • The report documents violations and abuses against civilians by both sides of the conflict, based on ethnicity and/or their presumed support for the other side. This includes 114 killings by pro-Government forces. The extent of the abuses by armed opposition groups remains unclear due to a lack of access to areas where these groups are active.
  • The report finds that these violations and abuses may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity and that they warrant further investigation. It exposes cases of indiscriminate shelling of civilians; targeted killings; looting and burning of civilian property and cases of sexual violence perpetrated against women and girls.
U.N. LIBYA ENVOY SPEAKS OUT AGAINST ATTACK ON BRAK AL-SHATI AIRBASE
  • The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Martin Kobler, today strongly condemned the unprovoked attack on the Brak al-Shati airbase in southern Libya yesterday.  
  • Mr. Kobler said he was outraged by reports of significant numbers of fatalities, including civilians, and by reports that summary executions may have taken place. 
  • He stressed that this vicious attack must not lead to further conflict and reiterated that there is no military solution to Libya's problems. He called upon all parties to condemn this attack and to not allow it to undermine intense efforts to find peaceful political solutions.
IRAQ: 16,000 PEOPLE FLEE MOSUL IN A DAY, LARGEST DISPLACEMENT SINCE BEGINNING OF OPERATIONS
  • The largest displacement from Mosul in a single day since operations began last 17 October was recorded yesterday, 18 May. According to Iraqi authorities, more than 16,000 people from western Mosul transited through the screening site at Hammam al Alil - the main screening site for civilians displaced from west Mosul – between 4 p.m. on 17 May and 4 p.m. on 18 May. This brings the cumulative number of people displaced from west Mosul alone to nearly 550,000 since the start of the military operations on 19 February 2017.
  • People are fleeing under very difficult circumstances, which are exacerbated by rising temperatures. Many are food insecure and have not had access to safe drinking water and medicines for weeks or months.
  • Humanitarian workers continue to respond to these extremely fast outflows of people, but the pace and scale of displacement is stretching response capacities.
SENIOR U.N. OFFICIAL URGES PARTIES TO AVOID MAJOR HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN GAZA
  • Robert Piper, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, has urged all parties to come together to reverse the current trajectory towards another major humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
  • In a statement, he further warned that the energy crisis situation in Gaza may deteriorate further and could deepen the existing crisis.
  • He said we are reaching the end of the fifth week since the shutdown of the Gaza Power Plant, in which a chronic crisis has become acute, with an impact on the supply of safe drinking water, on the treatment and management of sewage, on the availability of health services, and much more.
CYPRUS: U.N. READY TO CONVENE CONFERENCE WHEN LEADERS BOTH DEEM APPROPRIATE
  • Yesterday evening, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, met with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mustafa Akıncı, after meeting with the Greek Cypriot leader, Nicos Anastasiades, earlier in the day.
  • After his meetings, Mr. Eide said that the Secretary-General has confirmed that the UN is ready to convene a new conference but only when the leaders jointly see that as appropriate.
  • Mr. Eide said that both sides are ready to move into a final phase, but there are still some outstanding issues to be settled.
SOMALI REFUGEES RETURN HOME AS CONDITIONS WORSEN IN YEMEN – U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY
  • The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reports that some 30,600 Somali refugees who were in Yemen have now returned to their home country due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation and ongoing conflict in Yemen.
  • UNHCR said that an increasing number of Somali refugees are approaching the agency for assistance to support their return, citing safety and security concerns and limited access to services in Yemen.
  • This year, UNHCR has assisted some 10,000 Somali refugees who have made the choice to return. The assistance includes documentation, travel and transportation and financial support in Yemen to facilitate the journey, as well as assistance upon arrival in Somalia.
  • The agency said it will also continue to provide support to the more than 250,000 refugees who remain in Yemen.
3,000 MIGRANTS RESCUED TRYING TO CROSS MEDITERRANEAN – U.N. MIGRATION AGENCY
  • The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reports that nearly 3,000 migrants were rescued yesterday, after trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Europe.
  • The IOM said several ships were involved in more than a dozen rescue operations. While the total number of casualties is not yet known, the remains of six people have recently been found on the Libyan coast.
  • IOM said the Mediterranean region now accounts for two-thirds of total accidental migrant deaths this year.
NEW DATA HIGHLIGHTS ATTACKS ON HEALTH FACILITIES CONTINUE AT ALARMING RATE
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) today released new figures on attacks on health care. The data show that attacks on health facilities, health workers and ambulances continue with alarming frequency. In 2016, there were 302 such attacks across 20 countries. 88 attacks were reported in the first quarter of 2017 alone. These attacks have direct consequences for health service delivery, depriving people of often urgently needed care.
  • This is the only existing consolidation of global data on individual attacks on health care in emergency contexts.
AFTER NEW RATIFICATIONS, CONVENTION ON MERCURY POLLUTION TO ENTER INTO FORCE
  • Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General welcomed new ratifications to the Minamata Convention on Mercury which will make it possible for the Convention to enter into force on 16 August of this year.
  • The EU and seven of its Member States have now ratified the Convention which commits governments to take specific measures to control man-made mercury pollution.
  • The Secretary-General said the Minamata Convention “demonstrates a global commitment to protecting human health and the environment” and called the ratifications and example of how “problems that affect us all can also bring us together for the common good.”