Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 20-Apr-2017 00:18:41
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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In a statement, the Spokesman said that we are concerned about the latest developments in Venezuela and urge that all efforts be made to lower tensions and prevent further clashes.

As part of the Secretariat’s ongoing review of costs and of the use of resources provided by Member States, the Secretary-General today launched an initiative to reduce costs by increasing the efficiency in the use of our air assets. The UN currently deploys 58 fixed-wing and 157 rotary-wing aircraft in 12 peacekeeping and 6 special political missions. The annual cost of these aircraft was close to $750 million in 2015-16.

The Secretary-General will travel to Switzerland on 23 April.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, has authorized the first 2017 allocation of the Yemen Humanitarian Fund for $50 million.

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has received reports of fighting between government and opposition forces around Atar and Owachi in Upper Nile. A UN patrol to Kodok yesterday observed that the town was deserted, with no civilians.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said at the outset of today’s Security Council debate on the Middle East that a perfect storm has engulfed the Middle East and continues to threaten international peace and security. Millions have been displaced in the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. He added that the question of Palestine remains a potent symbol and rallying cry that is easily misappropriated and exploited by extremist groups. Ending the occupation and realizing a two-state solution will not solve all the region’s problems, he said, but as long as the conflict persists, it will continue to feed them.

Yesterday, 550 people from Zabadani, Madaya, Sarghaya and the surrounding area in Syria were evacuated to Idleb governorate simultaneously with 3,000 people from Foah and Kafraya, who were evacuated to Jibreen, outside of Aleppo city. With those evacuations, the town of Zabadani is reported to have been completely emptied.

The UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) is following with great concern the tense situation in and around Tamanhint, where intermittent fighting continues to be reported. They are deeply worried about the impact this heightened violence is having on the lives of the residents of the South of Libya.

A new tool offered by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) uses real-time satellite data to track water productivity in agriculture.

A paper released today by UNESCO shows the number of university students doubled to 207 million between 2000 and 2014, but governments are struggling to keep pace with the growing demand for higher education.
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