Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 11-Sep-2017 00:23:51
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that the violence in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State is putting all civilians at risk, with tens of thousands of people having been uprooted from their homes in the area.

The Government has said that all 3,500 Muslims living in three camps in Rathedaung township have left the site and are now believed to be heading to the Bangladesh border.

Humanitarian activities in Rakhine have either been suspended or severely interrupted, resulting in 170,000 people not receiving the food they usually receive and 15,000 people not receiving their primary health care.

As of yesterday, 313,000 people – mostly women and children – who left Rakhine since 25 August have arrived in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. since 25 August from Rakhine in Myanmar. There is no indication that the pace of these arrivals is slowing down.

The UN and its partners are helping the Government and the local community respond to the situation by providing food, shelter, health care and water, among other means of support.

The UN and the Government are also urgently looking at solutions to allocate land to accommodate the new arrivals.

The scale and speed of the influx of people from Myanmar has overwhelmed capacity on the ground and additional resources are needed. Aid agencies have prepared a preliminary response plan of $77 million to deliver urgent, life-saving assistance to the over 300,000 new arrivals.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) reports that their Offices in the Caribbean have joined forces in a Regional Recovery Strategy for Irma-affected countries.

This includes debris and waste removal, immediate short-term employment for affected women and men and community infrastructure rehabilitation - in support of and upon request from national authorities in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, which also cover several other island states.

The temporary training and employment for affected women and men aims to quickly inject cash in affected communities, tools, equipment, technical capacity of professionals such as engineers and architects.

The strategy also entails training and support to community-based micro and small businesses to help resume economic activities.

A dozen UNDP crisis recovery experts have been deployed to the region and are immediately available to provide assistance.

The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams in the region have deployed in the Turks and Caicos, as well as in Antigua and Barbuda.

In Cuba, yesterday, a statement was issued in which the Secretary-General said he was saddened by the loss of life and destruction caused by the earthquake that struck the provinces of Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tabasco in Mexico.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Colombia, Jean Arnault, briefed the Security Council this morning, two weeks before the new Verification Mission starts its activities.

He noted that the recent formal transformation of the FARC-EP into a political party was the culmination of the ceasefire in the country.

Mr. Arnault briefed the Council on the preparations for the Verification Mission – deployment, staffing needs and logistics.

He also stressed that the temporary ceasefire agreement reached between the Government and the National Liberation Army (ELN) provides that the UN would assist with the verification of the commitments made.

Further discussions starting this week should lead to recommendations to the Council in the very near future, he said.

The new Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock released a statement at the conclusion of a three-day visit to Niger.

He commended the Government for tackling the country’s complex humanitarian crisis, including leading the provision of life-saving aid to 400,000 people in the Diffa region, where one out of two people require humanitarian assistance and Boko Haram attacks remain a grave threat.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the cholera epidemic is reaching alarming proportions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, affecting 20 of the country’s 26 provinces, and major cities including Kinshasa.

An average 1,500 cases per week have been reported since the end of July 2017.

To date, there are more than 24,000 suspected cases with 528 deaths, according to government sources.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) today released a report saying that the number of migrant deaths over the past three years is likely to be much higher as many deaths are not recorded.

Since 2014, more than 23,000 migrant deaths and disappearances have been recorded globally by the IOM. However, many families have spent years not knowing whether their loved one is alive or dead as so few bodies of missing migrants are identified.

The report examines the challenge of collecting data on missing migrants and what could be done to improve this.

A second part to the report will be released in November analyzing the data that is currently available.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein spoke at the opening of the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva this morning.

On Myanmar, he said that another brutal security operation is underway in Rakhine State, ostensibly in reaction to militant attacks late last month, that is clearly disproportionate and without regard for basic principles of international law. He pointed to reports and satellite imagery of security forces and local militia burning Rohingya villages and accounts of extrajudicial killings, including the shooting of fleeing civilians.

The High Commissioner said he was appalled by official statements that refugees who have fled the violence can only come back if they can provide proof of nationality. With the Government having progressively striped the Rohingya of their citizenship rights, he called this measure a cynical ploy to forcibly transfer large numbers of people without possibility of return.

Because Myanmar has refused access to human rights investigators, the current situation cannot yet be fully assessed, the High Commissioner said, but the situation seems to be a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.

His remarks also touched on dozens of other countries, including India, the Philippines, China, Israel and Palestine, Bahrain, Iran, Venezuela, the United States, Turkey, Central African Republic, Burundi and South Sudan.

Tomorrow at 3:30 p.m., Miroslav Lajcák, President of the 72nd General Assembly will address the press at the General Assembly Stakeout.

Today, the Secretary-General will be speaking this afternoon at the closing session of the 71st session of the General Assembly.

Zimbabwe today joined the Honour Roll for paying its budget dues in full for the year – the 126th Member State to do so.
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