Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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15-Aug-2017 00:19:42
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Following yesterday’s attack in Mali, the Head of the UN Mission there, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, along with the Malian Prime Minister and governmental officials, visited the UN camp in Timbuktu this morning and met with the wounded. The two peacekeepers who were seriously injured are receiving treatment. The UN Mission says that the situation in Timbuktu is calm but tense, with the presence of a large number of Malian security and defence forces.

In a statement yesterday, the Secretary-General condemned the attacks against camps of the UN Mission in Mali in Douenza and Timbuktu. A UN peacekeeper, a Malian soldier and a member of the Malian gendarmerie were killed as were six Malian contractors. A number of others were wounded.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, El-Ghassim Wane, briefed the Security Council this morning on the activities of the G5 Sahel Joint Force. He said that the cross-border dimension of the terrorist threat in the Sahel region, as well as the serious challenges posed by transnational organized crime and its links with terrorism continue to pose a serious threat to stability, prosperity and growth in the Sahel.

Mr. Wane noted that the G5 Sahel Joint Force presents a unique opportunity to address regional challenges through a regional approach, but said that a number of challenges remain, including in relation to funding, force generation, training and equipment, among others. Mr. Wane said the opportunity the Force presents will only be seized if, in addition to tackling these challenges, the causes of instability in Mali and the region are addressed simultaneously. This requires going beyond military action, he said, to tackle governance problems, poverty, unemployment and climate change. He added that a political strategy should guide the Joint Force’s activities.

The UN Mission in South Sudan reports that the situation in Pagak area, in Upper Nile, continues to be volatile. Local sources have informed the Mission of clashes yesterday between opposition forces and the Sudan People's Liberation Army in outskirts of the town. The UN Mission is trying to gather more details of the attack. It reiterates its calls for an end to the hostilities and for all sides to uphold their responsibility to protect civilians from violence.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the UN Country Team and humanitarian partners are conducting needs assessment missions in Sierra Leone following the heavy flooding there. They have mobilized and are supporting national authorities in rescue operations, helping evacuate residents, providing medical assistance to the injured, registering survivors, and providing food rations, water and dignity kits to those affected. Contingency plans are being put in place to mitigate any potential outbreak of waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that, following the floods, it immediately released $150,000 in emergency, first-response aid relief. IOM’s Director General William Lacy Swing said the agency is ready to work with Sierra Leone’s government in any capacity it can, to respond to this terrible event.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General said that he was saddened by the deaths and devastation caused by the mudslide and flooding in the town of Regent, Sierra Leone, and throughout Freetown.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, today commended the peaceful voting in the presidential election in Kenya, but he urged Kenya’s political leaders to take the responsible path and exercise their leadership to avoid violence. He said Kenya is at a critical juncture and political leaders must do their utmost to calm a volatile political climate.

Mr. Zeid added that people have the right to assemble and protest peacefully, and the authorities have a responsibility to ensure they can do so. The Government also has a responsibility to ensure that security forces prioritize dialogue, non-violent means and exercise restraint, using proportionate force only when unavoidable, he said.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners have begun relocating over 33,000 Congolese refugees from over-crowded reception centers in northern Angola to a newly established settlement in Lóvua, some 100 km further inland from the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Angolan Government has allocated about 33 km2 of land to set up Lóvua settlement to improve the living conditions of refugees. All refugees will receive a plot of land to build shelters and grow food to supplement their food rations. The Angolan authorities and UNHCR with partners are ready to provide protection and assistance for up to 50,000 Congolese refugees by the end of 2017 at Lóvua.
However, only 32 per cent of the US$65.5 appeal for Angola to provide protection and assistance to Congolese refugees from Kasai have been received. Additional funding is urgently needed to continue developing infrastructure and services for refugees in Lóvua settlement.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) says that, over the past three days, its staff have found more survivors, as well as the remains of more victims, from last week’s tragic incidents in which some 280 migrants were forced to jump from two boats off the coast of Yemen by smugglers.
Of the 280 people forced into the sea, 226 people survived, 42 are confirmed dead and 12 are still missing. Fifty-four people are presumed dead.

Many of the survivors have been too weak to continue their journey, and the IOM has been assisting them with medical support, food and water. Others have left the IOM’s care and are making their way to Yemen’s borders with the Gulf countries, a journey which takes a week or more depending on the route.

The agency said it will continue to patrol Yemen’s beaches to provide aid to migrants in distress and to search for the migrants still missing.

The Acting Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, Richard Peeperkorn, issued a statement expressing deep sadness following reports that three Afghan aid workers, including one doctor, from the Catholic Relief Services have been killed in an attack in Ghor province today.

The workers were carrying out livelihoods support to communities when the vehicle in which they were travelling was reportedly attacked by two armed men on motorcycles.

Mr. Peeperkorn said this most recent attack highlights the challenges aid workers face when working in Afghanistan. This year alone, 12 aid workers have been killed and as many injured whilst delivering their programmes to those in need. In addition, health facilities have endured an average of 13 attacks every month over the past two years, and hospitals and clinics are routinely occupied by armed men, used as fighting positions, hit by airstrikes, damaged or looted.

In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Cyprus, Espen Barth Eide, has officially asked to be released from his role to run in elections in Norway.
The Secretary-General expressed his gratitude to Mr. Eide for leading his good offices mission on the Cyprus issue in support of the bi-communal talks between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders in their efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement.

Over the last 27 months, with steadfast dedication, commitment and creativity, Mr. Eide helped the two leaders make unprecedented progress towards reaching a viable and sustainable solution to the decades old dispute, bringing them closer than ever before to their shared vision of a united Cyprus.

Following consultations with the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova, and with her concurrence, the Secretary-General has re-appointed David M. Malone of Canada as Rector of the United Nations University (UNU).

Dr. Malone is completing a first mandate of five years as Rector of UNU, having ably served in this role since March 2013. He is the sixth Rector of the United Nations University and a distinguished academic and practitioner in the fields of international development and international security.  The decision to appoint Dr. Malone was taken after an extensive international search process led by the Chair of the University’s governing Council, Dr. Radha Kumar, and with the participation of representatives of both the Secretary-General and the UNESCO Director-General.
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