Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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27-Sep-2017 00:22:51
Briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the high-level meeting to appraise the UN Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and urged countries to increase their determination to combat this menace, which primarily affects vulnerable and marginalized people.

“Too often, human traffickers operate with impunity, and receive much less attention than drug traffickers,” he said. “This must change. I have seen many drug lords in jail – and rightly so. I have never seen a human trafficking lord in jail.”

He added that getting rid of this abominable practice will require greater international cooperation, stepping up efforts to raise awareness about the issue, addressing root causes like poverty and inequality, strengthening support networks for victims, and ensuring refugees and migrants – who are particularly vulnerable – have access to legal and safe migration channels.

The Security Council this morning held a meeting on aviation security, during which it heard a briefing from Liu Fang, the Secretary-General of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

This afternoon at 3 pm, Mark Lowcock will give his first briefing to the Security Council as the Emergency Relief Coordinator, to discuss the humanitarian situation in Syria.

The UN continues to be deeply concerned for the safety and protection of over one million people in Syria’s Deir Ezzour Governorate as fighting, airstrikes and military operations are reportedly causing scores of civilian deaths and injuries.

Nearly 100,000 people in Deir Ezzour have been displaced in the last month. More than 50,000 people have fled in the last week, mainly to other locations in the governorate as well as to Al-Hasakeh governorate and to Raqqa. Many have moved to locations difficult for humanitarians to reach, due to the presence of Da’esh or fighting.

The UN calls on parties to the conflict to facilitate the free, safe and voluntary movement of civilians. The UN also 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 a tweet last night, the Secretary-General welcomed Saudi Arabia's decision to lift the ban on women drivers. He called it an important step in the right direction.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that, as of 25 September, there were nearly 740,000 suspected cholera cases in Yemen and more than 2,100 associated deaths recorded. Children account for more than half of the cases.

Aid workers have set up 250 diarrhea treatment centres, and the UN and its partners have trained 600 health workers. Today, 27 tons of supplies to treat 300,000 people were airlifted.

In response to questions on the mass execution of 42 prisoners in Iraq on 24 September, the Spokesman said that the Secretary-General believes that we cannot neglect the victims of the crimes committed by Da’esh and Al Qaeda and other extremist groups, and that there needs to be accountability for these crimes. However, the Secretary-General has consistently and firmly stood against the use of the death penalty.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights said he was appalled by the mass execution of the prisoners.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said that, under international law, the death penalty may only be imposed after a strict set of substantive and procedural requirements have been met. He said it was extremely doubtful that these requirements were met in every one of the 42 cases.

The Department of Field Support reports that ten new contributors have committed to provide contributions to the Trust Fund in Support of Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse.

With the most recent contributions, the total amount available to the Trust Fund from voluntary contributions by Member States will rise to approximately $1.5 million. This includes $102,000 that has been made available from withheld payments to troop and police contributors as a result of substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse.

Projects to provide services for victims and to strengthen community-based complaint reception networks will be implemented in the Democratic Republic of the Congo using the funds. Other projects are being identified in the Central African Republic, Liberia and Haiti.

The High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, spoke to reporters in Geneva today after visiting Bangladesh to see for himself the situation faced by Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar.

After visiting makeshift camps in Cox’s Bazar, he said he was struck by the extend of the needs of the newly-arrived refugees who he said have absolutely nothing.

Mr. Grandi paid tribute to aid workers who are doing what he calls heroic work, but stressed that the needs are much greater than what can be offered at the moment.

He also underlined the high level of trauma faced by these refugees, pointing to several women he spoke to who had been raped or wounded for resisting rape.

The High Commissioner praised the people and Government of Bangladesh for their generosity and show of solidarity, also commending the Prime Minister’s decision to keep borders open and to allow people in.

He also emphasized the importance of re-establishing access for the UN to Myanmar’s northern Rakhine immediately.

The UN has been prevented from carrying out the work it did before 25 August to help communities in the area, with UN agencies still present but unable to organize and distribute aid. This work has now been entrusted to the Red Cross as an interim move, but it, too, has had problems accessing areas of greatest need.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is alarmed and concerned by an incident yesterday when a shelter outside Sri Lanka’s capital Colombo housing Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, was attacked.

These 31 refugees had been rescued by the Sri Lankan Navy earlier this year. UNHCR is grateful to Sri Lankan authorities for its support and protection of these refugees.

The agency is also concerned for the safety and security of the shelter’s staff who were providing assistance to the group.

UNHCR urges the public to continue protecting and empathizing with people fleeing persecution and violence.

Regarding the aftermath of the earthquake in Mexico, the UN Development Programme reports that it is supporting the Government of the southern state of Oaxaca to create a recovery plan to rebuild earthquake-impacted areas and kick-start economic and social recovery.

This is an opportunity to lay the foundations for longer term recovery and build resilient communities.

Building back better is part of a long-term strategy to boost skills among impacted women and men, involve them in their communities' recovery process, aiming to reduce inequalities and leave no one behind.

High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein yesterday launched an unprecedented set of global standards to support the business community in tackling discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi, trans and intersex people.

The High Commissioner said that social change requires the active involvement of all parts of society, pointing to the business community in particular. He said that decisions that companies take can have a real and profound impact on human rights.

The new standards set out actions companies can take to protect the rights of LGBTI individuals, including eliminating workplace discrimination and encouraging companies to stand up for the rights of LGBTI people in the countries where they operate.

Companies that have already indicated their support include Accenture, BNP Paribas, Coca-Cola, Deutsche Bank, IKEA and Microsoft.

Today is World Tourism Day. The theme this year is "Sustainable Tourism – a Tool for Development" and focuses on how sustainable tourism can contribute to the eradication of poverty, protection of the environment and improvement of quality of life, especially in developing countries.

The main celebrations for the Day are being held in Doha, Qatar.
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