Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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07-Sep-2017 00:25:48
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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In a statement, the Secretary-General said he is saddened by the reports of immense destruction and loss of life in the Caribbean region since Hurricane Irma made landfall on Antigua and Barbuda on Wednesday. He extends his condolences to the Governments and people of all the island countries and territories in the region impacted by Hurricane Irma.

The Secretary-General expresses the United Nations’ solidarity and commends the leadership of the respective Governments for their preparedness and response to the needs of the affected communities. The United Nations system is already working to support national relief efforts.

In statement, the new Emergency Relief Coordinator of the UN, Mark Lowcock, also expressed his sadness.

He stressed that in the days preceding the storm’s landfall, humanitarian agencies began to pre-position supplies and technical experts to support national and regional relief efforts.

These proactive measures have included the deployment of Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams of first responders to augment capacity in the region where required, and the surge of OCHA staff to Haiti.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is also sending experts on crisis recovery to support the people of the Caribbean.
UNDP has activated its crisis preparedness plans in several countries in the region, and will support them both during the immediate response to this disaster and in crucial early recovery activities like debris and waste management, emergency employment and supporting core government functions, if requested.

The UN was informed today by the Government of Syria that road access to some of the besieged areas of Deir Ezzour City has been reopened. The 93,500 people besieged by Da’esh for three years were previously only reachable by World Food Programme airdrops. Since April 2016, 300 such airdrops have been conducted.

We have received reports that commercial trucks and some assistance have begun to arrive into the newly-cleared areas. The UN is currently working with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and humanitarian partners to respond to those in need of assistance in Deir Ezzour, as soon as security conditions allow.

We continue to be deeply concerned for the safety and protection of civilians across Deir Ezzour governorate as military operations are reportedly putting civilians in the line of fire and have resulted in civilian casualties. With continued fighting and military operations, hundreds of families have been displaced in the Governorate in the past weeks.

The UN reminds all parties of their obligation to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including facilitating access to those in need in a regular, sustained and impartial manner, in line with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.

The head of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, met with the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, yesterday. During their meeting, Mr. Shearer emphasized the need for the UN mission and the Government to work together in the best interest of the people of South Sudan.

Mr. Shearer reiterated that, with the arrival of up to 4,000 new troops as part of the Regional Protection Force mandated by the Security Council, the mission would be able to deploy more peacekeepers outside the capital, Juba.

He also reiterated the need for clear lines of communication with the Government so that the UN Mission could support what Mr. Shearer called “a prosperous future” for the country.

Humanitarian partners today appealed for US$106 million to scale up their response to the most urgent needs resulting from the effects of the drought in the northern part of Kenya.
The previous Flash Appeal for Kenya was launched in March 2017 and has been only 43% funded, while the food insecurity and malnutrition crisis has escalated due to recurrent drought.

An estimated 5.6 million people are now impacted as a result of the drought, including 3.4 million people who are food insecure. More than 360,000 children in the arid and semi-arid counties of Kenya require urgent treatment for acute malnutrition.

UNDP today released a report which pinpoints key factors that have drawn young Africans into violent extremism. Among these are deprivation and marginalization, weak governance, and a perception of abuse of power from governments.

The report is based on hundreds of interviews with voluntary recruits to extremist organizations such as Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram. The majority of these recruits said it was some form of government action that was the tipping point which led them to join these groups.

UNDP warned that Africa’s vulnerability to violent extremism is deepening as more young men in remote areas become frustrated with the lack of economic prospects and without outlets for meaningful civic participation. It added that there is an urgent need to bring a stronger development focus to security challenges.

The Government of Guinea-Bissau, supported by the World Food Programme, is today launching a comprehensive study into the impact of child undernutrition on Guinea-Bissau’s social life and economic performance.

The latest in WFP’s Cost of Hunger in Africa series, it aims to quantify – and ultimately help reduce – the devastating effects of hunger on the youngest and most vulnerable, in a country where one in four children suffers from chronic malnutrition. Fewer than ten percent of under-twos benefit from an adequate diet.

Undernutrition at this age can irreversibly hamper mental and physical development, damaging educational performance and work productivity.

Guinea-Bissau is the 17th country to undertake the study in Africa. The studies conducted so far have shown that African countries lose as much as 16.5 percent of annual GDP to the consequences of child undernutrition.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, condemned the killing of an Indian journalist, Gauri Lankesh, who was shot on Tuesday.

Ms. Lankesh was the editor and publisher of a Kannada-language weekly and an outspoken critic of right-wing extremism. She was shot outside of her home in South India.

Ms. Bokova said that any attack on the media is an attack on the fundamental right to freedom of expression of each member of society, urging Indian authorities to ensure that the perpetrators are
brought to justice.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that global food prices declined 1.3 percent from July, a drop reflecting a sharp fall in wheat prices as the outlook for production in the Black Sea region improved.

The FAO raised its forecast for global cereal production to 2,611 million tonnes, an all-time record. Worldwide stocks of cereals are also expected to reach an all-time high by the close of seasons in 2018.

The new estimates reflect larger anticipated wheat harvests, as improved production prospects in the Russian Federation more than offset downward revisions made for Canada and the United States, as well as higher maize and barley outputs in Brazil and the Russian Federation.

Global rice production in 2017 is also now forecast to reach a record high.

Ana María Menéndez, the Secretary-General’s Senior Adviser on Policy, today addressed the High-Level Forum on a Culture of Peace on the Secretary-General’s behalf, and she told them that conflicts have become more complex - and interlinked - than ever before. They produce horrific violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.

Against this bleak backdrop, she said, the Secretary-General continues to urge all citizens, governments and leaders to overcome differences, prioritize dialogue, and to resolve to put peace first. He also calls for a new approach for the UN to ensure that - together - we uphold the UN Charter, prioritize prevention and address the root causes of harm in all its forms.

Ms. Menéndez highlighted four areas where action is especially urgent in combatting today's turbulence and intolerance: investing in children; investing in youth; recognising that women’s contributions and participation are essential; and investing in inclusion and cohesion, so that diversity is seen as a benefit, not as a threat.

The 2017 High-Level Symposium of the ECOSOC Development Cooperation Forum on “South-South and triangular cooperation for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” was officially opened today in Buenos Aires. The main objectives of the Symposium are exploring the challenges and opportunities created by South-South Cooperation and identifying elements that may contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

In a statement at the Symposium, Liu Zhenmin, the Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, called for clearly defined frameworks for South-South and triangular cooperation and for practical policy recommendations on how to boost their growth, quality and contribution to sustainable development.

The website of the incoming President of the General Assembly, Miroslav Lajčák, is currently being worked on in all languages and will be launched on Tuesday, 12 September.

Press kits are available online in all official UN languages.

Botswana has paid its dues to the regular budget, becoming the 125th Member State to have done so.
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