HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 24 MARCH 2017
SECURITY COUNCIL PASSES RESOLUTION TO BOOST EFFORTS TO FIGHT DESTRUCTION OF CULTURAL HERITAGE BY TERRORISTS
- The Security Council met and passed a resolution today on the destruction and trafficking of cultural heritage by terrorists and armed groups.
- Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman briefed the Council, saying that the resolution adopted today aims to strengthen international cooperation to deprive terrorists of funding and to protect cultural heritage as a symbol of understanding and respect for all religions, beliefs and cultures.
- Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), quoted the German poet Heinrich Heine, who said that “everywhere men burn books and culture, they end up burning other men.” She said that defending cultural heritage is inseparable from defending human lives.
- Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), discussed how the destruction and looting of landmarks have generated profits for terrorists, which can then fund further acts of terrorism. All those remarks are available in our office.
- This afternoon, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, will brief the Security Council in an open meeting followed by consultations.
SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES SOUTH SUDAN TO TAKE ‘TANGIBLE’ STEPS TO HELP ITS PEOPLE
- Addressing the Security Council yesterday, the Secretary-General said that despite the alarm sounded by the United Nations and the international community over the crisis in South Sudan, the Government has yet to express any meaningful concern or take any tangible steps to address the plight of its people.
- He said there is a strong consensus that South Sudanese leaders need to do more to demonstrate their commitment to the well-being of the country’s people, who are among the poorest in the world. But if there is to be any hope of those leaders changing their current calculations, greater pressure is needed.
- To pull the country back from the abyss, and back from a widening famine, the Secretary-General said we must collectively focus our energies on three immediate objectives: First, achieving an immediate cessation of hostilities; second, restoring the peace process; and third, ensuring unrestricted humanitarian access, including freedom of movement for the UN Mission and for the future Regional Protection Force.
U.N. CONCERNED BY HIGH NUMBER OF CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN DENSELY POPULATED NEIGHBOURHOOD IN IRAQ’S MOSUL
- The United Nations is profoundly concerned by reports yesterday of a high number of civilian casualties in Al Aghawat Al Jadidah in Iraq, a densely populated neighborhood in Mosul. Initial reports indicate hundreds of causalities.
- Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, said that we are stunned by this terrible loss of life and wish to express our deepest condolences to the many families who have reportedly been impacted by this tragedy.
- She said that all parties to the conflict are obliged to do everything possible to protect civilians. This means that combatants cannot use people as human shields and cannot imperil lives through indiscriminate use of firepower.
- As the fighting to retake Mosul intensifies, civilians are being put at extreme risk. “We fear for the families who are caught in the conflict,” said Ms. Grande. “Everything must be done to avoid civilian casualties.”
SYRIA: U.N., RED CROSS DELIVER AID TO NEARLY 25,000 PEOPLE IN RURAL DAMASCUS
- A UN-International Committee of the Red Cross-Syrian Arab Red Crescent inter-agency convoy is delivering multi-sectoral assistance to the Wadi Barada area in Rural Damascus for 24,500 people in need.
- This is the first ever inter-agency convoy to reach the area, and follows several attempts to reach the area over the last few months that were unsuccessful, due to administrative and security hurdles.
- The UN continues to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all in need in Syria, particularly those in hard-to-reaches and besieged areas.
- The UN is deeply concerned for the safety and protection of civilians following reports of fierce fighting in the north-eastern governorate of Hama over the last few days, as well as those in eastern Ghouta.
U.N. REFUGEE AGENCY FEARS MORE THAN 200 DEATHS FOLLOWING SHIPWRECKS OFF LIBYAN COAST
- The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is deeply alarmed at reports of at least two shipwrecks off the Libyan coast.
- Five floating bodies and two partially submerged rubber dinghies were reportedly discovered about 14 miles off the Libyan coast yesterday. UNHCR fears the death toll could be well over 200 people given the capacity of the sunken vessels.
- The incident comes after an intense week of arrivals via the Central Mediterranean route, with almost 6,000 migrants and refugees rescued in just five days this week.
YEMEN: U.N. REGUGEE AGENCY GAINS ACCESS TO EMBATTLED MOKHA DISTRICT
- After weeks of intense negotiations, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has reached the embattled district of Mokha in Yemen’s western governorate of Taizz, where hostilities between the warring parties have escalated since January.
- Intensified fighting has led to more than 48,000 people being displaced from Taizz in the past six weeks alone. Humanitarian access to Mokha, a flashpoint of hostilities and one of the worst affected areas within the governorate, has been particularly challenging owing to ongoing clashes and movement restrictions imposed by parties to the conflict.
- UNHCR teams went on mission to Mokha this week and started distributions on Monday in an area close to the frontlines. More than 3,416 individuals affected by the conflict received non-food assistance from UNHCR, which included mattresses, sleeping mats, blankets, kitchen sets and wash buckets.
ON WORLD DAY, U.N. AGENCY URGES STEPPED UP ACTION TO CURB DEATHS OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH T.B. AND H.I.V.
- Today is World Tuberculosis Day, and UNAIDS is urging countries to do much more to reduce the number of tuberculosis (TB) deaths among people living with HIV.
- TB is the most common cause of death among people living with HIV.
- For example, 1.1 million people died from an AIDS-related illness in 2015, 400,000 of whom died from TB.
- Eight countries – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, India, Indonesia, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia – account for around 70 per cent of all TB deaths among people living with HIV.
- Scaling up action in these eight countries would put the world on track to reach the ambitious target of reducing TB-related deaths among people living with HIV by 75 per cent by 2020.
NEARLY 200,000 POLIO VACCINATORS AIM TO REACH MORE THAN 116 MILLION CHILDREN IN WEST, CENTRAL AFRICA – U.N.
- More than 190,000 polio vaccinators in 13 countries across west and central Africa will immunize more than 116 million children, to tackle the last remaining stronghold of polio on the continent.
- All children under five years of age in Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, will be simultaneously immunized in a coordinated effort to raise childhood immunity to polio across the continent.
- The synchronized vaccination campaign is one of the largest of its kind ever implemented in Africa.
U.N. MARKS 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF INTERNATION DAY OF REMEMBRANCE OF SLAVERY VICTIMS
- The International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade will be observed this afternoon in the General Assembly Hall. The Secretary-General will deliver remarks, along with keynote speaker Lonnie Bunch, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.
- This year marks the 10-year anniversary of both the Day and the UN Remember Slavery Programme. The theme this year is “Recognizing the Legacy and Contributions of People of African Descent”.
NEPAL BECOMES 67TH MEMBER STATE TO PAY U.N. DUES IN FULL
- Nepal has become the 67th Member State to pay its UN dues in full.