News in Brief 12 January 2018

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General Assembly President Miroslav Lajčák addresses an informal meeting of the GA on his priorities for 2018. Photo: UN Photo/Manuel Elias

"We must have an agreement" on migration, says Assembly President

Agreement must be reached by the nations of the world on a comprehensive global compact on migration, said the President of the General Assembly on Friday.

Miroslav Lajčák made the plea at UN Headquarters in New York, while setting out his priorities for the global body, during his year in office.

He said "concrete results" had been achieved already, but there was much still to do before his term expires in September.

In relation to sustaining a more peaceful world, he said conflict prevention, partnership-building, more funding and better integration within the UN system were key.

He also pointed to the need for progress in implementing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.

But his first priority, he said, was to secure agreement over the first ever global compact for migration, which is being negotiated by Governments, to ease the suffering and turmoil caused by the record 65 million people who have been forced to flee their homes.

He said final negotiations towards an agreement in July, would begin on 20 February.

"They will be a test — for all of us…We will all have to compromise. We will all have to mobilize support at home. We will all have to move a bit closer to the middle. Because, we simply must have an agreement in July. This is the promise we made to ourselves — and to people around the world. We cannot go back on it."

Rights of migrants must be "respected everywhere": UN Spokesperson responds to alleged Trump remarks

The dignity and rights of migrants and refugees must be "respected everywhere", said the UN Spokesperson on Friday, responding to questions over remarks allegedly made by US President Donald Trump, disparaging African countries and Haitians.

Mr. Trump has denied using inflammatory language at a White House meeting, but one of the US Senators present insisted on Friday that he had used "hate-filled, vile and racist" words, according to news reports.

When asked for the UN chief's response to the President's alleged remarks, UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric referred reporters to Mr. Guterres' landmark speech on Thursday, outlining his new report "Making Migration Work For All".

"The dignity, the human rights and the equality of all those on the move to seek a better life, needs to be respected everywhere."

Earlier on Friday, Spokesperson for the UN human rights office in Geneva, Rupert Colville, had this to say.

"If confirmed these are shocking and shameful comments from the President of the United States. I'm sorry but there is no other word one can use but racist. This isn't just a story about vulgar language it's about opening the door to humanity's worst side. It's about validating and encouraging racism and xenophobia that will potentially disrupt and even destroy the lives of many people."

Violations of South Sudan agreement to cease hostilities condemned

The UN Secretary-General and the African Union have "strongly condemned" recent violations of a December agreement to cease hostilities, protect civilians and provide humanitarian access in South Sudan.

Conflict broke out between rival factions within the world's youngest nation's political leadership in 2013, and a 2015 peace deal has yet to be fully implemented.

An estimated 1.25 million are a step away from famine, with around 1.9 million internally displaced.

In a joint statement, António Guterres and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, said only a political solution could bring peace to the war-ravaged country.

Here's Stéphane Dujarric again.

"They both call on all South Sudanese fighting parties to immediately cease all hostilities, desist from undertaking any further military operations, and uphold their commitments. They further call on the parties to uphold their primary responsibility to protect civilians, adhere to international human rights and humanitarian law and ensure safe and unhindered humanitarian access."

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 3'35"

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