HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 1 MARCH 2017
U.N. MISSION IN COLOMBIA BEGINS VERIFICATION OF LAYING DOWN OF ARMS
- The UN Mission in Colombia is starting the verification of the FARC-EP’s laying down of arms.
- The process should conclude on May 29, 180 days after the Final Agreement came into force.
- Despite the logistical challenges, the Mission welcomes the parties’ decision to initiate without further delay the weapons laydown process.
- The Mission currently has the 450 women and men observers necessary to identify and register all weapons present in the camps in the 26 zones where FARC-EP members will transition to civilian life.
SYRIA: REPORT FROM INDEPENDENT COMMISSION INDICATES TACTICS USED IN ALEPPO AMOUNT TO WAR CRIMES
- A report out today by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic says that the brutal tactics used by the parties to the conflict in Aleppo between July and December 2016 resulted in unparalleled suffering for Syrian men, women and children and amount to war crimes.
- By using brutal siege tactics reminiscent of medieval warfare to force surrender, Government forces and their allies prevented the civilian population of eastern Aleppo city from having access to food and basic supplies. Meanwhile, relentless airstrikes pounded the city for months, deliberately targeting hospitals and clinics, killing and maiming civilians, and reducing eastern Aleppo to rubble.
- The three-person Commission also notes how armed groups indiscriminately shelled civilian-inhabited areas of western Aleppo city with improvised weapons, causing many civilian casualties. A number of these attacks were carried out without a clear military target and had no other purpose than to terrorise the civilian population.
- In one of the most horrific attacks investigated by the Commission, the Syrian Air Force deliberately targeted a United Nations/Syrian Arab Red Crescent humanitarian convoy in Orum al-Kubra, Aleppo countryside. The attack killed 14 aid workers, destroyed 17 trucks carrying aid supplies, and led to the suspension of all humanitarian aid in the Syrian Arab Republic, further aggravating the unspeakable suffering of Syrian civilians.
U.N. MISSION IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC - VERIFIED INFORMATION SHOWS COALITION DISTRIBUTING WEAPONS TO YOUTH
- Our colleagues at the Peacekeeping Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) said yesterday that verified information shows that the coalition led by the FPRC [Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de Centrafrique] is distributing weapons to youth in Ippy, in Ouaka prefecture, to continue its offensive on Bambari, in clear violation of the line set up by UN forces.
- The UN Mission firmly condemns such manoeuvres which, if implemented, would seriously endanger the lives of innocent populations and lead to further attacks on peacekeepers. It urges commanders of the FPRC coalition to immediately stop these acts and stresses that they will bear full responsibility for any violence against the civilian population and UN forces. The Mission urges the coalition commanders to withdraw from Ippy without delay.
- The UN Mission reiterates its previous appeals to all armed groups for an immediate cessation of hostilities and urges them to commit to dialogue.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO: REPORT INDICATES DEFENCE AND SECURITY FORCES USED EXCESSIVE, DISPROPORTIONATE, LETHAL FORCE
- According to a new report by the Joint Human Rights Office of the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), defence and security forces used excessive, disproportionate and at times lethal force to prevent and contain demonstrations in December 2016.
- At least 40 people, including five women and two children, were killed between 15 and 31 December 2016 across several cities of the DRC.
- The report indicates that most of the victims were unarmed civilians wounded by live ammunition on upper parts of the body.
- The report also condemns the fact that while the police are normally in charge of crowd control operations, during the period under review, soldiers, including those of the Republican Guard and of the Military Police, were deployed to control crowds, functions for which they are not adequately equipped nor trained.
SOUTH SUDAN: U.N. DELIVERS FOOD TO NEARLY 114,000 PEOPLE SINCE FAMINE DECLARATION
- Since the famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, the United Nations and partners have delivered food to nearly 114,000 people across four locations in Mayendit county and to nearly 25,500 people in two locations in Koch county.
- Right now, three mobile response teams are deployed across Leer county to deliver food to nearly 48,500 people, and further food distributions are planned in Koch and Panyiajar in the days ahead.
- At the same time as food assistance has been scaling up, teams have been deployed to six key areas to implement vital nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene, and child protection interventions. Cholera vaccinations are being administered in Leer, Mayendit and Panyiajar.
SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE IN LIBYA CONCERNED BY REPORTS OF TRAPPED CIVILIANS IN BENGHAZI
- The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Martin Kobler, yesterday expressed concern about continued reports of civilians trapped in the midst of a combat zone in Benghazi without access to food and water.
- Mr. Kobler urges the parties to provide civilians a safe passage to allow evacuation in a dignified manner to a secure area and to prevent attacks on civilians and the use of civilians as human shields. He also called on the parties to urgently facilitate entry for humanitarian assistance to trapped civilians.
IRAQ: NUMBER OF PEOPLE DISPLACED BY FIGHTING IN MOSUL CONTINUES TO SURGE
- Our humanitarian colleagues say that the number of people displaced by the ongoing fighting in western Mosul has continued to surge. Since 25 February, people have fled western Mosul at an average of approximately 4,000 people per day.
- Humanitarian assistance to displaced families is ongoing, at security screening sites and in displacement camps. Humanitarian partners were also able to enter parts of western Mosul for the first time yesterday to establish humanitarian access in areas recently retaken from Da’esh.
UNAIDS URGES PEOPLE TO “MAKE SOME NOISE” AGAINST DISCRIMINATION
- Today, our colleagues from UNAIDS are marking Zero Discrimination Day with a “Make Some Noise” campaign – urging people to speak up against discrimination.
- Discrimination takes many forms, and can be based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age. For this year’s campaign, UNAIDS is putting particular focus on the need for zero discrimination in health-care settings.
- According to UNAIDS, people living with disabilities are nearly three times more likely to be denied health-care than other people.
NEW U.N.-BACKED REPORT URGES GREATER FOCUS ON WOMEN IN DRUG POLICIES
- Gender-sensitive drug policies and programmes, better health-care access for drug-dependent women and more funding to prevent and treat drug abuse among women are needed, according to the Annual Report 2016, which was released today by the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board (INCB).
- The report condemns the extrajudicial targeting of people suspected of illicit drug-related activity.
- It calls on States to abolish the death penalty for drug-related offences and encourages them to consider alternatives to imprisonment for minor drug-related offences.
U.N.-BACKED EXPERTS UNVEIL HIGHEST EVER TEMPERATURES RECORDED IN ANTARCTIC REGION
- A committee of experts backed by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today announced new records for the highest temperatures recorded in the Antarctic Region.
- This is part of the Organization’s efforts to expand a database of extreme weather and climate conditions throughout the world. Knowledge of such extremes is important in studying weather patterns, naturally occurring climate variability and human-induced climate change at the global and regional levels.