Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 12-Sep-2017 00:18:38
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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The Secretary-General has appointed Peter Thomson of Fiji as his Special Envoy for the Ocean. The Envoy is to galvanize concerted efforts to follow up on the outcomes of the United Nations Ocean Conference in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, maintaining the momentum for action to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Mr. Thomson will lead the UN’s advocacy and public outreach efforts inside and outside of the UN system, ensuring that the many positive outcomes of the Ocean Conference, including the close to 1,400 voluntary commitments, are fully analysed and implemented. He will also work with civil society, the scientific community, the private sector, and other relevant stakeholders, to coalesce and encourage their activities in support of the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14.

Mr. Thomson has served as Permanent Representative of Fiji to the UN and President of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, during which he guided the preparation of the Ocean Conference.

Regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the World Food Programme (WFP) said today that an operational hub for the distribution of supplies is being established on Antigua.

WFP is providing some 20 metric tons of high-energy biscuits, enough to feed nearly 17,000 people for three days. These are being airlifted by WFP from Haiti to the hub in Antigua (where the population of Barbuda has been evacuated) and to nearby St. Martin.

Life-saving assistance is being followed up by cash-based assistance for some 20,000 people in the Eastern Caribbean islands whose livelihoods have been ruined.

WFP is also launching an emergency operation for the Western Caribbean islands, including Turks and Caicos territory which is serving as an operational hub for that region.

Some 10 metric tons of high-energy biscuits are being airlifted there to help 8,500 vulnerable people.

Also being transported by WFP to both the Eastern and Western Caribbean are crucial non-food items, including mobile storage units, tarpaulins, prefabs, generators and other logistics and telecommunications support equipment.

WFP has also offered to support the government of Cuba by providing food and logistical assistance where it is needed. Executive Director David Beasley is hoping to visit the island this week to witness the damage done there and to discuss with the Government what further support may be required by the United Nations.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says an estimated 370,000 Rohingya refugees have fled into Bangladesh since 25 August.

Many of the new refugees are staying in makeshift settlements or with host communities who are generously sharing whatever they have. The Government of Bangladesh has asked the UN to help establish a new camp to house the newly-arrived refugees.

A flight chartered by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) carrying emergency aid – such as shelter materials, sleeping mats and other supplies – for Rohingya refugees has landed in Bangladesh. The cargo has been loaded onto trucks which will bring the supplies to the refugee camps at Cox’s Bazar in south-eastern Bangladesh.

A second flight, donated by the United Arab Emirates, has also landed in Bangladesh, carrying nearly 2,000 family tents. The supplies in both flights will help 25,000 refugees, and further flights are planned so that 120,000 refugees can be reached in total.

For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) is concerned about the health of women and children who are arriving in Bangladesh hungry and malnourished. WFP has provided food to some 70,000 people as they arrive in Cox’s Bazar and to nearly 60,000 people living in camps and makeshift settlements.

Across the border in Myanmar, OCHA continues to be concerned about reports of continued violence, fires, and displacement of tens of thousands of people in Rathedaung Township in Rakhine State.

Most aid activities on the part of UN agencies and international NGOs across northern Rakhine remain either suspended or severely interrupted, although some assistance is being delivered by the Government and through the Red Cross.

The UN and its partners continue to offer support to the Government to meet the needs of all affected communities and are liaising with authorities to resume humanitarian operations as soon as possible.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General welcomed the Security Council’s adoption of a resolution in response to the sixth nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). He said that maintaining unity in the Security Council is crucial in tackling security challenges on the Korean Peninsula and beyond.

The Secretary-General said this firm action by the Security Council sent a clear message that the DPRK must comply fully with its international obligations. He urged the DPRK to abide by the decisions of the Council and allow space for the resumption of dialogue, and called upon all Member States to ensure the full implementation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The Secretary-General said that he has taken note of the Security Council’s desire for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation, as well as its urging of further work to reduce tensions. He reaffirmed his commitment to working with all parties to this end and to strengthening communication channels.

Bucking the trend of the past three years of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, the number of civilian casualties dropped in the month of August, but this was likely due to a ceasefire which began in June but never fully took hold.

This is according to the latest report by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, which recorded 26 conflict-related civilian deaths and 135 injuries between mid-May and mid-August of this year.

The Mission says that more than 2,800 civilians have been killed and up to 9,000 injured during the conflict overall.

The UN Human Rights Office is concerned that there is no means for victims to seek reparation and compensation, especially for those who have been injured and the families of people who have been killed.

As part of his mission to the Lake Chad Basin, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, arrived in Nigeria yesterday to see first-hand the humanitarian crisis in the north-east of the country and hold discussions with the Government and other stakeholders.

He will meet with impacted people in Gwoza and Pulka in Borno State and will bring their messages to world leaders during the General Assembly. He is also meeting with the Vice-President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as well as UN humanitarian agencies, non-governmental organizations and the diplomatic corps.

The Government and humanitarian workers have made impressive progress in delivering life-saving relief to millions of people in north-east Nigeria, but responding to the complex Lake Chad Basin crisis will require sustained international support, while more must be done to protect civilians, who bear the brunt of the ongoing conflict.

In Yemen, last month alone, the World Food Programme (WFP) reached seven million people with food assistance, the largest number of people in a single month this year.

Since January, UNICEF has reached nearly 4 million people through its work on rehabilitating public water systems and nearly 5 million children under the age of 5 have been vaccinated against polio.

Aid workers are aiming to reach 12 million people this year.

The $2.3 billion Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is still only 42 per cent funded.

The UN Refugee Agency today released a report that says that more than 3.5 million refugee children did not have the chance to attend school in the last academic year. This figure includes some 1.5 million children missing out on primary school and 2 million adolescents who are not in secondary school.

The report “Left Behind: Refugee Education in Crisis”, found that globally, 91 per cent of children attend primary school but for refugees, that figure is far lower at only 61 per cent – and in low-income countries it is less than 50 per cent.

The report calls for education to be considered fundamental to the response to refugee emergencies, and for it to be supported by long-term planning and reliable funding.

A new report by UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) found that up to three quarters of children and youth face abuse, exploitation and trafficking on Mediterranean migration routes.

While all migrants and refugees are at high risk, children and youth on the move are far more likely to experience exploitation and trafficking than adults aged 25 years and above: nearly twice as likely on the Eastern Mediterranean route and at a rate 13 per cent higher on the Central Mediterranean route.

The report is based on the testimonies of some 22,000 migrants and refugees, including some 11,000 children and youth, interviewed by IOM. It’s available online.

UNHCR said today that Libya remains one of the most complex migration situations in the world, with refugees traveling alongside migrants through perilous routes, surviving dangerous desert crossings and abuses. All this before they even embark on the deadly Central Mediterranean Sea crossing, where the risk of dying is one in 39.

While irregular mixed migration movements may represent challenges for states, UNHCR said detention is not the answer. The agency is currently negotiating with the Libyan authorities the establishment of an open reception centre that would allow refugees and asylum seekers freedom of movement, giving priority to the most vulnerable among them.

Thanks to the efforts of UNHCR and its partners, some 1,000 refugees and asylum seekers have been released from official detention centres.

Zambia has paid its regular budget dues, becoming the 127th Member State to have done so.
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