Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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12-Oct-2017 00:22:55
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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In a statement today, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) expressed profound regret at the decision of the United States of America to withdraw from UNESCO. She said that after receiving official notification by the United States Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

She cited the many common goals shared by UNESCO and the United States. At a time when conflicts continue to tear apart societies across the world, Ms. Bokova said, it is deeply regrettable for the United States to withdraw from the United Nations agency promoting education for peace and protecting culture under attack.

She added that UNESCO will continue to work for the universality of this Organization, for the values we share, for the objectives we hold in common, to strengthen a more effective multilateral order and a more peaceful, more just world.

The Secretary-General also deeply regrets the US withdrawal, in light of the major role that the country has played in UNESCO since its founding.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti and Head of MINUSTAH, Sandra Honoré, gave her last briefing to the Security Council before the end of the Mission this weekend.

She said that thirteen and a half years after MINUSTAH was established, Haiti has a very different outlook, despite the many challenges still facing the country: The Haitian people enjoy a considerable degree of security and greater stability; political violence has diminished considerably; and armed gangs no longer hold the population hostage, also thanks to the work of the national police, now 14,000 agents strong.

However, she stressed that those achievements, while significant, are only initial steps. The most urgent task confronting Haiti today is to ensure the conditions for continued stability, thereby enabling long-term socio-economic development.

Ms. Honoré said the new Mission, MINUJUSTH, which becomes operational in four days from now, stands ready to play an effective role, alongside the UN Country Team. She also stressed that the UN will continue to make every effort to assist the Government in alleviating the suffering caused by the cholera epidemic.

Finally, Ms. Honoré said it had been an honour to serve under the flag of the United Nations and to support Haiti and the Haitian people in the creation of conditions which ultimately allowed the Council to decide on the closure of MINUSTAH.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will visit Myanmar from 13 to 17 October.

Following the Secretary-General’s repeated calls for an end the military operations and violence in northern Rakhine state; unfettered access for humanitarian support; and the safe, voluntary, dignified and sustainable return of refugees to their areas of origin, Mr. Feltman will be undertaking consultations with a view to addressing these urgent issues in close cooperation with Myanmar.

His discussions will also focus on building a constructive partnership between Myanmar and the United Nations to tackle the underlying issues affecting all communities in the areas concerned.

UN humanitarian agencies report that, as of yesterday, the number of Rohingya refugees who have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since late August has reached 536,000, with 14,000 people having crossed the border in the past two days.

UNICEF and the Government of Bangladesh agreed yesterday to quickly construct 10,000 latrines in camps and settlements for Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar to avert a major disease outbreak.

Each latrine will cost just under $150 and they will provide sanitation coverage to some 250,000 people.

UNICEF says there have already been reports of water-borne diseases in the camps, stressing the need to enhance sanitation coverage.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan today released a report which found that civilian deaths and injuries in the country remained near record high levels during the first nine months of this year.

The Mission documented 2,640 deaths and 5,379 injured during 2017, which represents a 1 per cent increase in deaths and a nine per cent decrease in the number of injured from the same period last year.

UNICEF has received reports that ongoing violence in Deir Ezzour in eastern Syria has destroyed a UNICEF-supported vaccine cold room in al-Mayadin district, with at least 140,000 doses of vaccines lost, including some planned for the ongoing vaccination drive in the area. UNICEF is currently verifying this alarming report.

The reported attack is likely to hamper efforts to protect children from diseases. Al-Mayadin is the centre of an outbreak of vaccine-derived polio which has so far paralyzed 48 children since March 2017.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also received reports that airstrikes in Al-Qouriyeh city in eastern rural Deir Ezzour yesterday reportedly killed at least 20 people, wounded many others and damaged a mosque.

With today marking one year since the start of the military campaign to retake Mosul from Da’esh, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande, says that of the one million people who fled the city, some 673,000 are still displaced from their homes.

She noted that the number of people who fled exceeded the worst-case projections of aid workers.

While a vast majority of people have returned to their homes in eastern Mosul, conditions in the western part of the city are very difficult.

Also on Iraq, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) led a joint mission to the recently retaken Hawija district to assess the needs of people who remained in the area during the military offensive.

The mission found that the most acute needs are water; sanitation and hygiene; medical assistance.

In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomed the peaceful holding of the presidential and House of Representatives elections in Liberia on 10 October and congratulated the people of Liberia who turned out enthusiastically in high numbers to vote.

The Secretary-General reiterates the continued support of the United Nations to the consolidation of peace and democracy in Liberia.

The Deputy Secretary-General will travel tomorrow for one day to Washington, D.C., to participate in the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings.

She will attend the Ministerial Luncheon on Sustainable Development Goals and deliver remarks at the High-level event “After the storm: recovery and resilience in the Caribbean”.

She will also have bilateral meetings with high-level Government officials and with senior officers from the World Bank.

Today, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change announced the winners of this year’s UN Momentum for Change Climate Solutions Awards, which seeks to shine a light on innovative, scalable and practical examples of what people across the globe are doing to combat climate change.

This year’s winners include a women-led eco-fashion business in Italy, an ICT tool that helps farmers in Latin America analyze weather data, and a ‘green credit card’ that rewards users in the Republic of Korea for environmentally friendly activities such as using public transport and saving electricity.

The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, today appointed Ms. Elizabeth Iro as the Chief Nursing Officer at WHO.

Ms. Iro is a registered nurse, and the Cook Islands’ current Secretary of Health. With this announcement, Dr. Tedros fulfils a commitment he made during his transition to the Director-General role to appoint a nurse to his senior team.
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