Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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09-Aug-2017 00:19:14
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is deeply concerned about the safety and protection of the thousands of civilians inside Raqqa city in Syria, many of them women and children, who are caught in the crossfire of the ongoing conflict. An estimated 10,000 to 25,000 people remain trapped in the city, although exact figures remain difficult to verify due to the situation on the ground.

The humanitarian community is assisting displaced people – and host communities – in at least 46 sites, camps or areas of high concentration of internally displaced people in the area, reaching over 263,000 people with some form of assistance in July. Humanitarian assistance includes various types of food assistance, including daily rations of bread, medicines and medical supplies, as well as nutrition assistance.

Access to Raqqa city is not currently possible for the UN, due to the fighting on the ground. We remind all military actors of their obligations to protect civilians and ensure humanitarian access, in line with international humanitarian law.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, yesterday, two powerful earthquakes struck China’s Sichuan and Xinjiang provinces.

More than one dozen deaths and hundreds of injuries have been reported, with tens of thousands of homes having been damaged. The United Nations extends its condolences to the Government and people of China and stands by to offer assistance, if requested.

The Security Council issued a presidential statement on the food in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, where more than 20 million people in those areas are experiencing famine or are at the risk of famine.
To date, the UN has received $2.5 billion – or 51 per cent – of the $4.9 billion appealed for urgently to provide life-saving assistance to people in those areas.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that a shipment of medical supplies arrived today in Derna in Libya and further shipments are expected to arrive in the coming days. A shipment of oxygen for hospitals also arrived in the city on 7 August. These shipments were facilitated by the World Health Organization (WHO), together with partners.

Derna has seen shortages of basic supplies over the past week as a result of increased road closures due to the conflict in the area. Restrictions on the movements of civilians have also been reported. Medical supplies have been among the most critical shortages but a lack of fuel is now also impacting basic services, including water and electricity supplies.

The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has just concluded a mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to conduct a strategic review of its peacekeeping mission in the country, known as MONUSCO.

The team, led by Assistant Secretary-General El Ghassim Wane, met with Government officials, members of the opposition, the national electoral commission, civil society, local communities and the diplomatic community. They travelled to several locations in the country, including Kananga, the capital of Kasai Central province, and Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Tadamichi Yamamoto, visited the province of Faryab yesterday and met with government officials and community leaders to hear their concerns on key issues.

Mr. Yamamoto met with the Provincial Governor Mohammad Homayoon Fawzi, representatives of the provincial council, as well as with women’s rights activists, youth leaders and representatives of the Jamiat and Junbish political parties. In his meetings, he discussed pressing concerns such as peace, security, and support to conflict-displaced Afghans and reaffirmed the UN’s commitment to do everything in its power to assist the government and people of Afghanistan in achieving security, stability and prosperity.

The Deputy Secretary-General met yesterday with a delegation led by Professor Paul Ghogomu, Minister and Director of Cabinet of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cameroon. They discussed the internal situation in the Republic of Cameroon, particularly in the Anglophone regions.

The Deputy Secretary-General welcomed the efforts being undertaken by the Government to de-escalate tensions and highlighted the importance of further confidence building measures, including ensuring that justice is given to all and that human rights are upheld and respected. She noted that those responsible for rule of law are to be held to a higher standard.

The Deputy Secretary-General also reiterated the willingness of the United Nations, through the good offices of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa and the United Nations country team, to support inclusive dialogue efforts to address the outstanding root causes of the tensions in the affected regions.

Today is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples and also the 10th anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

In a joint statement, more than 40 United Nations system entities and other international organizations said that while indigenous peoples have made significant advancements in advocating for their rights, implementation of the Declaration is still being impeded by persisting vulnerability and exclusion, particularly among indigenous women, children, youth and persons with disabilities. The group pledged to remain committed to continuing partnerships with Member States and indigenous peoples’ organizations to accelerate progress in the implementation of the Declaration.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is helping to organize a concert which will focus on advancing climate action and innovative solutions to this global challenge.

The concert “Pathway to Paris” will be held at Carnegie Hall here in New York City on November 5, one day before the UN Climate Conference (COP23) begins in Bonn, Germany. The concert will feature internationally recognized musicians and speakers, including Patti Smith, Bill McKibben, Dr. Vandana Shiva, Talib Kweli, Cat Power and Michael Stipe, among others.
The World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed a $1 million contribution from the United States to support vulnerable refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria. WFP will use the funds to provide staple food items as part of monthly food rations for thousands of refugee families.

For more than 40 years, Sahrawi refugees have been living under extremely harsh conditions in the Sahara Desert in southwestern Algeria. Hosted in five refugee camps near Tindouf, refugees depend entirely on WFP as their primary source of food as employment opportunities are limited.

The Secretary-General has appointed Alison Smale of the United Kingdom as the next Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications and head of the Department of Public Information.

She succeeds Cristina Gallach of Spain, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization. The Secretary-General also wishes to extend his appreciation to Maher Nasser, who served as Acting Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications.

Ms. Smale has been the Chief of Bureau of The New York Times in Berlin since 2013, and she brings to the position almost 40 years of journalism experience gained in an international career that has included holding some of the most prestigious posts in the profession. Appointed Executive Editor of the International Herald Tribune (IHT) Paris, in 2008, she is the first and only woman to have held that post, and she has also worked as a reporter for United Press International and The Associated Press.
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