Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 05-Jan-2017 00:17:40
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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The United Nations has received reports of the displacement of at least 7,000 people from Syria’s Wadi Barada area due to recent fighting that also resulted in the cut-off since 22 December of the main source of water for Damascus and its suburbs. An estimated 45,000 people live in the Wadi Barada area. Among the displaced people, over 1,200 families have been registered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in a transitional centre in Rawda, near Wadi Barada where they have received emergency assistance. Response plans are being developed as well as contingency plans if more people are displaced as the fighting continues.

As part of the UN’s water, sanitation and hygiene response in Syria, the UN has rehabilitated and equipped 120 wells in and around Damascus that cover about one-third of the city's daily water needs. Since 22 December, those wells have been the sole source of water for the entire city of Damascus.

Jan Egeland, the Special Adviser on the Humanitarian Task Force for Syria, today pointed to the need to have access in Damascus, where some 5.5 million people have had their water supplies cut or minimized because of the damage to the water supply coming from Wadi Barada. Mr. Egeland said that close to 1.3 million people received cross-front-line assistance in 2016, while 420,000 people in besieged areas got assistance from 131 land convoys. On average, in 2016, humanitarian workers reached 21 per cent of the people in Syria who needed aid – an improvement from 2015, when only 1 per cent of those in need got aid, but still very far below our targets.

New research by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has pointed to which coral reefs will be hit first due to climate change by annual coral bleaching, which poses the gravest threat to one of the Earth’s most important ecosystems.

The coral reefs in Asia and the Caribbean will be among the first to experience this bleaching.

If current trends continue and the world fails to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then severe bleaching will occur every year on 99 per cent of the world's reefs within the century, the research finds.

The Secretary-General is announcing today the appointment of Ursula Mueller of Germany as Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). She will succeed Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea, who is currently serving as Chief of the Transition Team in the Executive Office of the Secretary-General. Ms. Kang resigned from the post last year.

Ms. Mueller has over thirty years of experience in international affairs, global issues and development financing. She has been Executive Director of the World Bank’s Group since September 2014, and has consistently worked to foster close cooperation between the World Bank and the United Nations.
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