HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 17 JANUARY 2017
 
U.N. REPRESENTATIVES TO ATTEND SYRIA TALKS IN ASTANA

  • In response to questions about the United Nations’ participation in the forthcoming talks in Astana, Kazakhstan, the Spokesman said that the office of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has received an invitation to Astana. The Special Envoy has designated a team led by his Deputy, Ramzy E. Ramzy, and his political director, Robert Dann, to represent the UN at the meeting.
SYRIA: U.N. VOICES CONCERN OVER SAFETY OF 100,000 PEOPLE IN DEIR EZZOUR AFTER DA’ESH ATTACKS
  • The UN is deeply concerned for the safety and protection of an estimated 100,000 people in the besieged western side of Deir Ezzour in Syria following reports of Da’esh attacks, resulting in the death and injury of scores of civilians.
  • Due to the heavy fighting in the area, the World Food Programme (WFP) has put its air drop operations to Deir Ezzour on hold since Sunday. Airdrops require a large and completely safe drop zone area where cargo is released and collected by a team on the ground for delivery. WFP is continuing to monitor the situation and will resume such operations when the security situation allows.
  • Meanwhile, water remains cut off from Ain El Fijeh, depriving 5.5 million people in Damascus and surrounding areas from their main water source since 22 December.
  • The Syrian Arab Red Crescent and water authorities’ technical teams, who suspended their mission following a security incident, remain on stand-by to enter the area again to complete their mission as soon as security conditions allow. The UN stands ready to provide additional support to ensure the swift repair of the water infrastructure.
  • An estimated 1.3 million people in Aleppo have been cut off from their main water source since 14 January due to a technical failure at the Al Khafse water station. The station is located in an eastern rural Aleppo area that is controlled by Da’esh.
SECRETARY-GENERAL STRESSES NEED TO COMBAT ANTI-MUSLIM DISCRIMINATION AMID RISE OF BIGOTRY
  • In a video message issued today, the Secretary-General spoke of the importance of combatting anti-Muslim discrimination and hatred, with hate crimes and other forms of bigotry against Muslims on the rise.
  • In times of insecurity, he warned, communities that look different become convenient scapegoats.  He said that we must resist cynical efforts to divide communities and portray neighbours as “the other”.
    He noted that the United Nations is launching an effort to promote respect, safety and dignity for all, called the Together campaign.  Together, he said, let us stand up against bigotry and for human rights.
U.N. ENVOY URGES ALL PARTIES TO AVOID UNILATERAL ACTION IN ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT
  • Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, spoke by video teleconference at today’s Security Council meeting, and he said that despite the relative tranquillity of the Israel-Palestinian conflict compared to other crises in the region, the spectre of violence is always near.  He said all stakeholders must avoid any unilateral action that would prejudge a negotiated final status solution.
  • Mr. Mladenov said that the international community has expressed its support for the two-state solution in recent weeks but added that what is needed is action, first and foremost by the parties themselves.
U.N. YEMEN ENVOY CALLS ON PARTIES TO RENEW CESSATION OF HOSTILITIES
  • The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, arrived in Aden yesterday for meetings with the President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Yemen. The Special Envoy’s visit to Aden comes after a week of meetings with senior officials from the Governments of Saudi Arabia, Oman and Qatar in Riyadh, Muscat and Doha.
  • The Special Envoy’s meetings in Aden focused on the need to renew the Cessation of Hostilities and the urgent measures to address the country’s dire humanitarian situation.
  • The Special Envoy emphasized the importance of a Cessation of Hostilities in order to allow an expansion of humanitarian assistance and in order to create a conducive environment for the peace process. The Special Envoy asked the President to act swiftly and engage constructively with the UN’s proposal for the sake of the country’s future.
  • The Special Envoy will travel to Sana'a in the coming days to share the same message with the Representatives of Ansar Allah and General People's Congress.
U.N. VOICES REGRET OVER EXECUTIONS IN BAHRAIN, CALLS FOR CALM
  • In response to questions about executions in Bahrain, in addition to what was said yesterday, the Spokesman said that we deeply regret the execution in Bahrain of three individuals convicted of killing three policemen in March 2014.  Among other concerns, there were allegations during trial proceedings that the individuals were tortured while in custody.  The executions were the first to be carried out in Bahrain since 2010 and form part of a series of measures that do not contribute to furthering long-term peace and stability in Bahrain.
  • We advocate for the abolition of the death penalty in all circumstances, and for an immediate moratorium on its use.
  • We also call for restraint and calm following reports of clashes between police and protestors.  We reiterate the rights of people to the peaceful and legitimate exercise of their freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly and association in Bahrain.  To ensure peace, stability and prosperity for all Bahrainis, we encourage the Government to undertake meaningful confidence-building measures, including towards a genuine national dialogue.
U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS WING CALLS ON IRAN NOT TO EXECUTE JUVENILE OFFENDER
  • The Human Rights Office today called on the Iranian authorities not to carry out the apparently imminent execution of Sajad Sanjari, who was a juvenile when he was sentenced to death for fatally stabbing a man in 2012.
  • The Human Rights Office reiterated its call to Iran to immediately institute a moratorium on the death penalty, amid serious concerns about the continuing high number of executions and the lack of fair trial and due process guarantees in accordance with international human rights law.
NEW U.N. REPORT DOCUMENTS LYNCHING PHENOMENON IN HAITI
  • The UN Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) and the Human Rights Office issued a report today on lynching in Haiti, the first on the subject.
  • Lynching is of continuing concern in the country, with 483 incidents reported between 2012 and 2015, resulting in 59 arrests and only one conviction.
  • The report says that the passivity, even the tolerance, by State agents in front of serious crimes violates the right to life as guaranteed by international treaties to which Haiti is a party, and as protected by national legislation.
  • The main reasons given by the population to explain the use of lynching are a lack of confidence in police and justice, and the fear that perpetrators of crimes enjoy impunity.
SOMALIA: HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR WARNS INDICATORS OF 2011 FAMINE AGAIN PRESENT
  • Today, the 2017 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan was launched in Mogadishu. The one-year plan asks for US$864 million to reach some 3.9 million people with assistance.
  • It is focused primarily on saving lives in coordination with development actors and strengthening emergency response preparedness in collaboration with federal and local authorities.
  • The Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia has warned that many of the negative indicators observed ahead of the 2011 famine are again present; including severe drought, rising prices and continued access limitations.
$948 MILLION NEEDED TO HELP 5.6 MILLION PEOPLE IN ETHIOPIA AMID DROUGHT
  • The Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners launched today the Humanitarian Requirements Document (HRD) for 2017 requesting US$948 million to help 5.6 million people with emergency assistance, mainly in the southern and eastern parts of the country that are faced with a new drought.
  • Failed rains in southern and eastern parts of Ethiopia have left millions of people in urgent need of assistance. Additional resources are urgently needed to save lives and protect Ethiopia’s development gains.
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is warning that new drought across swathes of southern Ethiopia may jeopardize the East African nation's restoration of food security.
NEW U.N. REPORT HIGHLIGHTS HOW LAW CAN BE USED TO IMPROVE HEALTH
  • A new report from the World Health Organization (WHO) studies the use of law to improve health worldwide, from the soda tax in Mexico to the plain tobacco packaging in Australia or the national health insurance in Ghana.
  • The report features case studies from around the world on how the law has improved the health and safety of populations, providing a resource for countries to learn from the experience of others.
MODEST GLOBAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY EXPECTED, BUT RETURN TO ROBUST GROWTH ELUSIVE: U.N. REPORT
  • Lenni Montiel, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development, launched the UN World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) report for 2017 today.
  • The report finds that although a modest global recovery is projected for 2017 and 2018, the world economy has not yet emerged from the period of slow growth which has been characterised by weak investment, dwindling trade and flagging productivity growth.
  • It says that the world economy expanded by just 2.2 per cent in 2016, the slowest rate of growth since the Great Recession of 2009.
2016 SECURITY COUNCIL HIGHLIGHTS NOW ONLINE
  • The annual Highlights of Security Council Paper for 2016, prepared by the Department of Political Affairs, is now available online. It is an interactive presentation with interesting data and analysis.