Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 08-Sep-2017 00:30:35
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the number of people who have fled the violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state to Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh in the past two weeks has reached 270,000.

While, at first, people were mostly arriving in Bangladesh by land, more people are now making the journey by boat.

The UN and its partners in Bangladesh have developed a plan to help up to 300,000 people by providing them with food, shelter, water, health care and other services until the end of the year.

At present, five UN agencies – the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Migration Agency (IOM), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) – are working in Cox’s Bazar.

Yesterday, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock released $7 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to urgently help tens of thousands of people fleeing violence in Myanmar and seeking refuge in Bangladesh.

He said that these funds will immediately allow our partners to provide additional shelter, food, critical health care and more to those who need our help so desperately, especially women and girls.

He also urgently called for unhindered access to help and protect all those in need.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has made $300,000 dollars available to support assessments, coordination and recovery planning in countries affected by Hurricane Irma.

UNDP has deployed crisis response experts to several Caribbean countries, including Jamaica and Haiti, and is working closely with national authorities in Turks and Caicos, St. Marteen and the Bahamas to provide immediate and long-term recovery measures. UNDP is also collecting donations online at: https://Give.undp.org/Irma

UNICEF has also expressed concern that hundreds of thousands of children could be affected by the hurricane. According to the agency, early estimates suggest that 74,000 people, including some 20,000 children, have been already been affected.

UNICEF says its immediate concern is providing drinking water and sanitation to affected communities, as well providing child protection services. In advance of the storm, UNICEF prepositioned life-saving humanitarian supplies in Antigua, Barbuda and Barbados to ensure a rapid distribution of these goods to affected populations in coordination with local authorities.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is in contact with the Foreign Ministry in Mexico to see if they any support following the large earthquake that took place early this morning off the Pacific coast and near Guatemala.

This morning, Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed addressed the General Assembly on the progress made on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) during its 71st Session.

The Deputy Secretary-General said that since their adoption two years ago, the SDGs have jumped from the General Assembly Hall to communities across the world, and are taking hold among policy-makers and in global public awareness.

She praised the action taken by 65 Member States who voluntarily submitted national reviews this year, saying this provided an opportunity to share solutions, knowledge, and identify the challenges of implementing the agenda. However, she stressed that the pace of progress is insufficient to meet the 2030 deadline of the goals, and that governments must act at a faster rate and a much larger scale.

She emphasized that the main challenge continues to be the persistence poverty and said that tackling gender equality and the use of new technologies should be leveraged to tackle this issue.

The new Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, will travel to Niger and Nigeria from 9 to 12 September. The purpose of his visit is to raise the profile of the Lake Chad Basin crisis, which is impacting some 17 million people.

In both countries, Mr. Lowcock will meet with communities impacted by the conflict, as well as national authorities, humanitarian partners and the diplomatic corps. He will seek to mobilize additional support for humanitarian operations, with a focus on averting the risk of famine and reaffirming the centrality of protection in humanitarian action.

The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, visited the two peacekeepers in Mali who were wounded in the attack against a UN Mission convoy on Tuesday. He thanked them for their service to the cause of peace and wished them a swift recovery.

The two injured peacekeepers are out of immediate danger.

The UN Mission will pay tribute to the peacekeepers who were killed in the attack in the following days.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that the destruction and human suffering inflicted by the conflict in the Kasaï region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is on an enormous scale.

Last week, UNHCR staff returned from the territory of Kamonia at DRC’s border with Angola. It was UNHCR’s first mission to the location, which has been at the centre of the fighting, and it saw entire villages burnt down and civilians in a dire situation, as basic services have largely stopped and lawlessness prevails.

The mission was possible thanks to the gradual improvement of humanitarian access in the Kasaï region. UNHCR is calling on the authorities to give humanitarian organizations full access.

Overall, it is estimated that some 1.4 million people have been displaced as a result of the violence in the previously peaceful Kasaï region.

UNHCR is deploying staff and opening three offices in the Kasaï region. However, so far only 17 per cent of the US$102.5 million required have been received.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that, yesterday, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) delivered life-saving humanitarian assistance, including food, medicine and water and sanitation equipment for 7,000 people in the besieged towns of Foah and Kafraya in Syria’s Idleb Governorate, as well as 2,000 people in besieged Yarmouk camp, an area of Damascus.

The humanitarian assistance was provided by the United Nations, Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is concerned by the deteriorating situation on the eastern Aegean islands in Greece where the number of people arriving has accelerated, putting pressure on reception facilities.

Last month, some 3,695 people arrived by sea compared to 2,249 in July. More than half come from Syria and Iraq.

UNHCR is calling for robust action to improve conditions in reception facilities and for the urgent deployment of additional national services staff, especially in the areas of health, psychosocial support and protection of unaccompanied children.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has awarded the Asia Environmental Enforcement Award to four organizations and four individuals tackling illegal trade in chemicals and hazardous waste in Asia.

The winners come from China, Korea, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, and together have seized nearly 600,000 tons of hazardous waste and chemicals. According to UNEP, illegal trade in and dumping of hazardous waste in 2015 was cost the global economy some between $12-19 billion dollars.

Today is the International Literacy Day. This year’s theme is ‘Literacy in a Digital World’.

In Paris, UNESCO is holding a two-day conference on the Day’s theme, which has brought together more than 200 stakeholders form around the world to discuss and examine how digital technology can help close the literacy gap. This is particularly important considering that 750 million illiterate people around the world, 63 per cent of whom are women, still lack basic reading and writing skills.

Marking UN Staff Day, the Secretary-General said this morning that this is a day to recognize the remarkable staff who bring the United Nations to life around the world and around the clock. He started the day by remembering the more than 30 UN military and civilian personnel who have died in deliberate, malicious attacks so far this year.

The Secretary-General recalled the heroism of staff members that he has encountered over the years, including in places like eastern Chad and Yemen, where the staff of the UN Refugee Agency stayed on in conditions of severe risk in order to protect the people under their care.

Every single day, the Secretary-General said, there are heroic gestures by UN staff that many people are probably not aware of. He added that UN staff give him hope – for the future of our world, and for the betterment of our Organization.
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