Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 21-Aug-2017 00:17:32
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that thousands of civilians are expected to flee from Iraq’s Telafar and surrounding communities during the Iraqi military operation to retake these areas from Da’esh, which began yesterday.

Humanitarian Coordinator Lise Grande said that families have walked for up to 20 hours in extreme heat to escape Telafar, which is running out of food and water.
Up to 40,000 people have already left the district. The UN and its partners do not know how many are still in the areas where there is fighting, but are preparing for thousands more to flee in the coming days and weeks.

Ms. Grande stressed the importance of protecting civilians during conflict, calling on parties to avoid civilian casualties and to ensure that people have the assistance they are entitled to under international humanitarian law.

The Iraqi Government is leading the humanitarian operation, with assistance from aid partners who are also providing life-saving assistance and helping families when they reach emergency camps.

As of yesterday, less than half of the more than $980 million requested for this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq has been received.

Ms. Grande stressed that aid workers cannot help the people who need help the most if additional financial support is not received.

On Syria, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that, on Saturday, an inter-agency convoy delivered life-saving assistance to 84,000 people in the hard-to-reach towns of Talbiseh in Homs and Tlul Elhomor in Hama. The last convoy reached the area in mid-June.

OCHA is also deeply concerned for the safety and protection of up to 25,000 civilians inside Ar-Raqqa city, many of them women and children, who are trapped in crossfire.

Yesterday, airstrikes reportedly hit a residential building in the Al-Badou neighbourhood, killing at least 40 people.

Tens of thousands of people have fled the city, but those remaining face severe restrictions of movement in and out of the city, which has dwindling food and water supplies.

Aid agencies continue to help the displaced and host communities by supplying food, medicine and other items.

The UN stresses again that all parties to the fighting are obligated to protect civilians under international humanitarian law, as well as the need for sustained and unhindered access to those in need.

The Deputy Secretary-General will sign a book of condolences for the victims of the mudslides at the Sierra Leone Permanent Mission this afternoon.

From the ground, the World Health Organization (WHO) is working closely with the Government of Sierra Leone to prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and cholera in the wake of last week’s mudslides and flooding in Freetown.

Cholera response kits, including rapid testing tools, are being distributed to areas at risk; health and community workers are being trained to recognize the signs of priority diseases, and the Organization is sending additional cholera and emergency kits to the country.

The Organization is also working with partners to ensure ongoing health care for the injured and displaced, and to provide psychological aid to those coping with trauma.

WHO is also providing extensive support in the area of infection prevention and control at health facilities and at the mortuary located at the Connaught Hospital in Freetown.

The UN mission in the Central African Republic reports that the situation in Bria is tense but has remained calm since Saturday, when the mission said it was taking measures to contain the outbreak of violence between presumed anti-Balaka fighters and the Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique’s Arab faction.

The UN mission’s military and police components have been conducting patrols throughout the city to prevent belligerents from moving inside Bria. Peacekeepers are also protecting internally displaced persons, including 5,000 to 6,000 people, mainly women and children, who have sought refuge in a UN camp.

The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has verified allegations that Taliban and local self-proclaimed Da’esh fighters killed at least 36 people, including civilians, during an attack on 5 August in the Mirza Olang village of Sari Pul province.

The head of the mission, Tadamichi Yamamoto, condemned the blatant targeting of civilians and said it was a clear violation of international law. “The perpetrators of these killings and crimes must be held accountable,” he said.

The mission’s findings were released as part of a human rights report, which is available online.

In a statement, the Secretary-General condemned the terrorist attack in Turku, Finland, extending his condolences to the Government and people of Finland and wishing a speedy recovery to the injured.

The United Nations stands in solidarity with the Government of Finland in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, is in Tokyo until 24 August. He will hold meetings with senior Government officials to discuss challenges related to peace operations and field support as well as Japan’s contribution to UN peacekeeping.

He will also participate in a preparatory meeting hosted by the Japanese Government ahead of the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial conference, which will be held in Vancouver, Canada, on 15 November.

As part of commemorations of World Humanitarian Day, in Singapore, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held its third dialogue on disaster management, which was attended by Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Ursula Mueller.

Participants at the event reaffirmed the partnership between the UN and ASEAN in bolstering disaster management capabilities and resilience in the region.
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