Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

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09-Sep-2015 00:33:00
Briefing by Farhan Haq Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

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The Secretary-General spoke by telephone today with David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

This has been part of a series of calls he has made to European leaders in recent days, in which the Secretary-General has stressed the individual and collective responsibility of European states to respond responsibly and humanely to the arrival of refugees and migrants in Europe.

The Secretary-General has assured European leaders of the United Nations’ readiness, through its agencies, in particular the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), to continue supporting their efforts to develop a response that is effective, feasible and in line with universal human rights and humanitarian standards, including the right to claim asylum.

In a separate development, the Secretary-General welcomes the initiative by the International Olympic Committee to make $2 million available to National Olympic Committees for programmes focused on refugees. The International Olympic Committee already works with a number of UN agencies, notably UNHCR.

The Secretary-General has repeatedly underscored the great work done by civil society organizations in bringing help and support to refugees throughout the world, including through the support to the activities of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport, Jacques Rogge.

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the General Assembly high-level forum on the Culture of Peace. He said that the meeting is about confronting the very hard truths in our world where people are suffering and dying from violence and atrocity crimes.

He urged all those with influence to rise above their narrow interests and work for the greater good of our world. In this globalized world, we cannot turn our eyes away from or close our eyes to the suffering, he added.
Stressing that we cannot build a culture of peace without an active campaign against division and injustice, he said that it is time to invest in young people as peacebuilders. He added that the vast majority of the world’s 1.8 billion young people yearn for peace, security and development.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that the decision announced today to postpone the meeting of the Palestine National Council shows leadership and wisdom. He said that the postponement would give adequate time for consultation with all factions in preparation of a regular session, which should strengthen unity and chart the way forward.

Mr. Mladenov urged all Palestinian leaders and factions to seize this opportunity to take constructive steps towards achieving genuine Palestinian unity on the basis of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) principles, and to strengthen the PLO as the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the incidence of Global Acute Malnutrition in Yemen’s Aden Governorate reached critical levels in August. It now stands at 19.2 per cent, compared with 10.3 per cent in 2014.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the non-governmental organization, Field Medical Foundation, have set up mobile nutrition centres to diagnose and treat children in Aden, Lahj and Hadramout governorates. The clinics will help around 23,000 children, as well as mothers and pregnant women.

Despite the security situation, humanitarian response continues in several areas. In Aden, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is providing over 650,000 litres of water per week for 13,500 people who have been forced from their homes in the city.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF are intensifying their efforts to reverse the dire malnutrition situation in South Sudan.
The two agencies launched today an enhanced joint nutrition response plan to assist over two million people – children, pregnant women and new mothers – for the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition until May 2016.

The joint nutrition response plan covers all states in South Sudan. It will look to engage more local and government partners, and improve their capacity to treat malnutrition.

Child mortality rates have plummeted to less than half of what they were in 1990, according to a newreport released today by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank Group, and the Population Division of UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Under-five deaths have dropped from 12.7 million per year in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015. This is the first year the figure has gone below the 6 million mark.

Although the global progress has been substantial, 16,000 children under 5 still die every day and the drop is not enough to meet the Millennium Development Goal - of a two-thirds reduction between 1990 and 2015.

The report notes that the biggest challenge remains in the period at or around birth. A massive 45 per cent of under-five deaths occur in the neonatal period, which is during the first 28 days of life.

Another report from UNICEF, A Promise Renewed: 2015 Progress Report, says that since 2000, the lives of 48 million children under the age of five have been saved.

The report states that an additional 38 million lives could be saved by 2030 if progress accelerates further, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that world leaders are set to approve later this month.

Greece has paid its dues in full, becoming the 116th Member State to do so.
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