Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 24-Aug-2017 00:40:08
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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The Secretary-General will depart New York on the evening of Friday, 25 August, for a trip to Kuwait, Israel and the State of Palestine.

His first stop will be in Kuwait, where, on Sunday, 27 August, the Secretary-General will meet with the Amir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and other senior officials. In his meetings, the Secretary-General plans to discuss the situation in the region, and well as thank Kuwait for its tremendous generosity for humanitarian causes.

The same evening, the Secretary-General will travel to Israel and Palestine, where he will meet with the Israeli and Palestinian leadership to discuss the prospects of reviving the peace process. He will also engage with civil society and university leaders and visit a UNRWA facility.

The Secretary-General will return to New York on 30 August.

The UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, Robert Piper, today released an additional $2.5 million from the Humanitarian Fund for the occupied Palestinian territory to cover urgent needs in the Gaza Strip.

Part of the funds will go towards the UN’s emergency operation to supply fuel to nearly 200 critical health, water and sanitation installations. Virtually all two million Palestinians living in Gaza benefit from this fuel operation.

The Gaza strip is into its fourth month of a serious energy crisis, with the power supply to homes and services having barely covered 25 per cent of needs over the last 6 weeks.

Hospitals are operating almost 24/7 on generators not designed for continuous use in this way.

The Secretary-General will be going to City Hall to meet with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio today.

The discussion will centre around local level implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in an urban setting, including climate change.

The Secretary-General will thank the Mayor for New York strong support to the United Nations as its host city.

The Spokesman said the UN welcomed the release of the comprehensive report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State and took note of its emphasis on issues related to identity and citizenship, particularly its call for freedom of movement for all people, as well as the need to address the root causes of violence and reduce inter-communal tensions.

He added that the Organization looks forward to reviewing the report's recommendations further. In the meantime, it acknowledges once again the significance of the Government’s establishment of this Commission and the importance of its mandate to analyze the situation of all communities in Rakhine State and draft recommendations toward conflict prevention, reconciliation, institution building and long-term development, and humanitarian services.

The UN stands ready to support the Government’s implementation of the recommendations for the betterment of all communities in Rakhine State.

The Security Council met on South Sudan this morning. Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, El Ghassim Wane, said that while the National Dialogue has made some progress, achieving inclusivity and a free and secure environment remains a challenge. He reiterated that the conflict in South Sudan is a man-made one for which the leaders of the country bear a direct responsibility. But he said the same leaders can also bring it back from the impending abyss. All that is needed is genuine political will to halt military operations, peacefully negotiate and make the compromises necessary to achieve sustainable peace. He said it is crucial that the leaders of South Sudan hear the international community’s unified demand of what is expected of them.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, added that battlefield fortunes continue to inform the calculus of both the Government and its opponents. He said that alongside its military pacification efforts, the Government is creating an appearance of reconciliation efforts. He also stressed that the prevailing insecurity, population displacement, and lack of appropriate institutions, in an increasingly divided ethnic environment, militate against organizing credible elections within a year, and may well contribute to deepening and extending the conflict.

The Office for the Coordination Of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that military operations continue in Iraq’s Telafar, with the number of civilians fleeing the city having dropped from more than 2,000 people per day earlier this month to around 100 people yesterday.

It is not clear whether this sharp drop is a reflection of the reduced population of Telafar or if civilians are unable to leave.

All people who have fled received aid as soon as they reach assembly points outside the city.

There are still 11 besieged areas in Syria, home to more than 500,000 people, where there is no humanitarian relief and no freedom of movement for civilians, Jan Egeland, Special Advisor to the UN Special Envoy for the country, told the press today in Geneva.

He said that, while eight of these areas had been reached by aid workers, three have not been reached at all.

Mr. Egeland voiced hope that convoys will soon reach two of the areas not reached so far: Barzeh and Qaboun, with facilitation letters from the Government having been received.

He called it heart-breaking that some 12,000 people in Foua and Kefraya were not reached last week, appealing to the humanity of those besieging the area to let relief be delivered to women and children.

Mr. Egeland noted that the Da’esh-held five neighbourhoods of Raqqa is an area where the needs are beyond belief and protection concerns are acute. Some 20,000 civilians are believed to be in the area but no way for them to escape.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today released a report showing a decline in the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe this year. However, the agency warned that many migrants are still resorting to being transported by smugglers and trafficking networks, risking death, serious abuses, or both.

Overall Mediterranean crossings fell sharply in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year, due to a 94% decline in people using the sea route from Turkey into Greece. Meanwhile, crossings from North Africa to Italy have remained at around the same level as last year (83,752 people as of end June). The report says an estimated 2,253 people died or went missing at sea, and at least 40 died on land routes at or near European borders.

UNCHR called for renewed commitment to ensure protection and solutions, including concrete steps to address smuggling and trafficking.

In Nigeria, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Road Safety, Jean Todt, today called on African countries to scale up their efforts to tackle road fatalities noting that the continent has the highest rate of traffic-related deaths in the world. In Nigeria alone, 35,000 people die each year in traffic accidents.

Speaking at a lecture series on federal road safety in Abuja, Mr. Todt said that if changes are not made, road fatalities are expected to increase exponentially in Nigeria, and stressed the need for strong political will and governance, as well as cross sectoral support to make significant achievements in the future.
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