Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 14-Jul-2017 00:29:30
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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In a statement, the Secretary-General says: “Our concern regarding Venezuela is more present than ever”.

A national dialogue is urgently needed in Venezuela between the Government and the opposition to achieve two major objectives: the eradication of violence, abuses and fanaticism; and the preservation of an agreed constitutional path.

There will not be a solution if it is imposed. The way out is through an agreement, elections and respect for fundamental rights and constitutional powers. The way out must be found by Venezuelans alone, and the international community must support peaceful outcomes based on political dialogue. Only a political solution can restore hope to Venezuela.”

In a statement, the Secretary-General condemns this morning’s attack by three assailants in the Old City of Jerusalem in which two Israeli Police officers were killed and another injured. This incident has the potential to ignite further violence. All must act responsibly to avoid escalation.

The thoughts and prayers of the Secretary-General are with the families of the victims, and he wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.

The Secretary-General welcomes the swift condemnation of this attack by Palestinian President Abbas and the assurances by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem will be respected. The sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence.

This afternoon, the UN Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, the International Dialogue Centre, the Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, and the World Council of Churches will launch the Plan of Action for Religious Leaders and Actors to Prevent Incitement to Violence that could lead to Atrocity Crimes.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O'Brien, will travel to the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo from 16-21 July. Mr. O’Brien will meet with communities affected by the conflicts, national authorities, humanitarian partners and the diplomatic community to discuss ways to address issues of protection and humanitarian access, and to advocate for increased funding to meet the needs of the people in the two countries.

At the invitation of the Government of Greece, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Matthew Nimetz, is scheduled to meet with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in Brussels, on Monday, 17 July.

The purpose of the meeting, which follows the visit of Mr. Nimetz to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia earlier in July, is to discuss the way forward in the UN-brokered talks aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" issue.

The Heads of the Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support Departments, Jean-Pierre Lacroix and Atul Khare, held a meeting yesterday with over 60 Member States, including troop and police contributors, to follow up on progress on the Secretary-General's recommendations on protection from sexual exploitation and abuse that rely on the partnership between the Organization and Member States. This is part of our efforts to increase engagement with Member States on this issue.

The meeting discussed investigation standards, measures for ensuring criminal accountability, guidance on implementing Security Council Resolution 2272 and strengthening partnerships between the UN and Member States to ensure victims' access to justice.

Participants were also briefed on progress in developing a voluntary compact between the UN and Member States, a proposal made by the Secretary-General to send a signal of joint commitment and mutual accountability to address this issue. The compact will be open to all Member States, and will be presented at the High-Level Meeting on sexual exploitation and abuse that will be held on the margins of this year’s General Assembly debate on 18 September.

Member States were unanimous in their pledges to uphold the UN's zero tolerance policy. They welcomed the concrete measures taken by the Secretariat and highlighted the importance of a UN system-wide response. Yesterday’s meeting comes in the aftermath of last week's Chiefs of Defence Conference, where some 100 national chiefs of defence together with UN senior officials collectively addressed a number of peacekeeping issues, including conduct and discipline.

The United Nations Mission in Colombia yesterday urgently appealed for the solution of the situation of members of the FARC-EP who remain in prison despite the Amnesty Law approved on December 31 of last year and decrees issued by government to expedite their release.
The Mission said that the detention of FARC-EP members more than six months since Congress passed the Amnesty Law and two weeks after the end of the individual laying down of arms undermines the process of reintegration and the consolidation of peace.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today it is stepping up their response to the situation in Venezuela as asylum applications soar.
So far in 2017, over 52,000 have applied for asylum, which is already two times more than the total number for last year.

Thanks to a long standing tradition of solidarity in Latin America, Venezuelan citizens in neighbouring countries can benefit from various forms of temporary residence in those countries. However, due to bureaucratic obstacles, long waiting periods and high application fees, many Venezuelans opt to remain in an irregular situation.

UNHCR is working with these countries to step up registration and profiling, reinforce reception capacities and provide basic humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers with specific needs.

UNHCR is also concerned that indigenous groups living along Venezuela’s borders with Brazil and Colombia are being increasingly affected by the situation and have fled their home territories.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reiterated its concern today regarding the situation in Venezuela, urging all in the country to use only peaceful means to make themselves heard.

Noting that a public consultation is due to take place this Sunday, organised by the opposition-led National Assembly and other groups, they urged authorities to respect the wishes of those who want to participate in this consultation, and expressed hope that it will proceed peacefully and in the full respect of the human rights of all.

The UN Mission is South Sudan are exploring the option of re-establishing a peacekeeping base in Yei, approximately 150km south of the capital, Juba.

The Head of the UN Mission, David Shearer, visited Yei yesterday to assess the requirements for a base in the town that continues to experience violence and human rights abuses, including murder, rape, torture and looting. Political leaders and religious and community groups are urging the UN to provide protection for civilians who are unable to travel beyond the town itself because of ambushes and ongoing violence.

Mr. Shearer said there were conditions that needed to be met before a base could be established, including the cooperation of local authorities, a genuinely inclusive grassroots peace process and guaranteed access for peacekeepers to enable regular patrols to outlying areas.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is greatly alarmed over the violence and continued displacement of civilians from Kasaï, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The estimated number of displaced people in Kasaï now stands at more than 1.3 million.

UNHCR is strengthening its response on the ground through its protection leadership and operational interventions. They are closely working with national organizations in five provinces affected by the displacement, with more than 267,000 hot meals distributed every day.

A first distribution of essential household items to some 20,000 vulnerable people in Lualaba province will also start in the coming days.

However, delivering assistance and protection is a huge challenge, given the size of the area impacted – the Kasaï region is about the size of Germany - difficult road conditions and insecurity.

Today marks the third anniversary of the UN Security Council resolution 2165 (2014), authorizing humanitarian cross-border operations into Syria. Since then, 3.5 million people have been provided food assistance by the UN and its partners; 3.8 million people have received shelter and related assistance; 3 million people have received water, sanitation and health supplies; 500,000 people, education assistance; and over 150,000 people, nutrition assistance. Medical supplies have been provided for almost 13.5 million treatments.

The UN and its partners will continue to provide assistance through all modalities to reach the 13.5 million people in need across Syria as we continue to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded access to all those in need, particularly the 4.5 million living in besieged and hard-to-reach areas.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released an alert today over the third consecutive failed rainy season and worsening hunger in East Africa.

The most affected areas, which received less than half of their normal seasonal rainfall, are central and southern Somalia, south-eastern Ethiopia, northern and eastern Kenya, northern Tanzania and north-eastern and south-western Uganda.

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in these five countries is currently estimated at about 16 million, a 30 percent increase since late 2016.

The food security situation for pastoralists is of particular concern in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, where animal mortality rates are high and milk production from the surviving animals has declined sharply.

Livestock prices have plummeted and this, coupled with soaring cereal prices, has severely constrained their access to food. Rangeland and livestock conditions are expected to further deteriorate at least until the next rainy season starts in October.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is deeply concerned that Nabeel Rajab, a co-founder of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, was sentenced on 10 July to two years in prison simply for exercising his right to freedom of expression and opinion. It calls for his immediate and unconditional release, following more than a year in detention.

The Human Rights Office has raised its concerns with the Government of Bahrain on several occasions about the arrest and subsequent detention of Mr. Rajab. It reiterates that human rights defenders in Bahrain must be able to carry out their work without fear of reprisals, and should not face detention or prosecution for exercising their right to freedom of expression. Criticising the Government should not be a crime.

A new study by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) finds that G20 countries have taken huge strides over the past year towards mobilizing public and private capital for climate action and sustainable development policies.

The study found that since June 2016, more measures related to green finance have been introduced by G20 countries compared with any other one-year period since 2000. The trends and measures have resulted in increased flows of green finance, most notably in the issuance of green bonds.

In addition, the study found that global sustainably managed assets have increased by 25 per cent compared to the last data obtained in 2014.

The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) today launched its first Global ICT Regulatory Outlook report, which tracks market and regulatory trends in the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector over the past 10 years and their implications across the economy.

The report seeks to provide guidance in reviewing and upgrading regulatory frameworks for the ICT sector as the basis for the digital economy today and for the future.

Afghanistan has become the 113th Member State to pay its UN dues in full.
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