Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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25-Oct-2017 00:18:25
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the National Assembly of the Central African Republic. He told the lawmakers that he wanted to pay his respects to the resilience and courage of the people of the Central African Republic as they surmount the many challenges facing their country.

He strongly defended the role of the UN peacekeeping force in the country, recalling the ultimate sacrifice of peacekeepers as they defended the civilian population. He said that while peacekeepers cannot be everywhere and cannot alone bring peace back to the Central African Republic, their actions can assist in creating a space to build peace through dialogue. He also underscored the impartiality of the peacekeepers who, he stressed, do not favour any ethnic or religious group.

The Secretary-General told members of the National Assembly that no one is better placed than the Central Africans themselves to rebuild their country. But he also once again called on the international community not to forget the Central African Republic and its people. He noted the historical generosity of the Central Africans who, over the years, had opened their borders to refugees from neighbouring countries. The Secretary-General pledged that the United Nations would continue to accompany and support the people of the Central African Republic.

He then travelled to the PK5 area, a traditionally Muslim part of Bangui that has been the site of violence against the community. He listened to the concerns of community leaders, including issues regarding safety and discrimination, as well as the lack of economic opportunities for young people. He also heard from local Christian leaders who spoke of reconciliation.

The Secretary-General thanked all the participants for their messages of inclusivity. He underscored his deep belief that so-called religious conflicts are often the result of political manipulation and not religious differences. He noted that for years, Christians and Muslims had coexisted peacefully in the Central African Republic.

The Secretary-General then held a roundtable with youth leaders. He heard their plea for peace and a greater UN presence. The Secretary-General encouraged them to get more involved in the life of their country. He also pledged that the UN Mission would be more open to discussion with youth groups.

The Secretary-General then held a separate session with a group of women leaders. They shared their view of the situation in the country and expressed their frustration at the lack of women’s participation in the political reconciliation process. The Secretary-General listened intently to the views around the table and agreed that no credible peace process could ever succeed without active and equal participation of women’s groups. He also pledged the UN would help them increase their participation in mediation efforts.

On his way to Paris, during a stopover in Yaoundé, the Secretary-General is expected to meet with President Paul Biya of Cameroon. The Secretary-General plans to discuss a number of regional and national issues.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, is in Dakar for the Steering Committee meeting of the United Nations Integrated Strategy for the Sahel. Later today, she will have a bilateral meeting with President Macky Sall of Senegal on political and development issues of the country and sub-region.

Tomorrow, the Deputy Secretary-General will meet with the United Nations Country Team in Senegal to discuss the ongoing review of the United Nations Development System. She will also receive a briefing on the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) initiative at the UN Population Fund’s West and Central Africa Regional Office.

She will return to New York this weekend.

Today, the Security Council is holding a meeting on Women, Peace and Security. They heard earlier today from the Chef de Cabinet speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, as well as from the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General condemned an attack against a UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) travelling from Tessalit to Aguelhok in Kidal region. The attack killed three and injured two peacekeepers from Chad.

The Secretary-General conveys his sincere condolences to the Government of Chad as well as his profound sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims. He wishes a swift recovery to the wounded.

The Secretary-General reiterates that attacks targeting United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law and calls for the perpetrators of this attack to be swiftly brought to justice.

The Secretary-General urges the Government and the signatory armed groups to accelerate the implementation of the peace agreement and reaffirms that such attacks will not affect the United Nations' determination to support the Malian people in their quest for peace.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, called the situation of at least 350,000 besieged civilians in Eastern Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, an outrage. He called on the parties to the Syrian conflict to allow badly needed food and medical supplies to get into the area.

He said that the parties to the conflict must allow the free, regular and unimpeded passage of food and other humanitarian relief and not take actions that would deprive civilians of their rights to food and health.

In a statement issued yesterday on the transmittal to the Security Council of advance copies of the seventh report from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) concerning Syria, which the Council is to consider on 7 November, the Secretary-General reiterates his full confidence in the professionalism, impartiality and objectivity of the Mechanism and thanks the Leadership Panel and staff of the Mechanism for their hard work and dedication.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that they are working with the authorities in Ghana to support over 500 recently arrived Togolese asylum-seekers, fleeing the recent political unrest in their country. The majority of them are being hosted by local families and some are in community centers. A joint UNHCR/Ghana Refugee Board mission is currently on its way to remote areas to assess the situation.

Together with partners, UNHCR continues to monitor the situation and is working on a response plan in case of an increase of arrivals, including the prepositioning of relief items.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today welcomed the launch of civil registration for refugees in Ethiopia.

Starting today, all refugees in the country will be able to register their vital life events, including birth, death, marriage and divorce, directly with national authorities.

This is a historic first and a ground-breaking development for refugee protection in Ethiopia.

The country currently hosts more than 883,000 refugees mainly from South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) and the UN Development Programme are partnering with the Government of Somalia to provide greater access to clean water for over 45,000 internally displaced people and host communities in the south-western state of Baidoa affected by drought.

Somalia’s rainy season was significantly below average this year, creating severe drought across all regions. Baidoa town has been one of the most affected areas, and currently holds one of the highest numbers of internally displaced people in Somalia. According to the IOM, there are over 243,000 people who have migrated to the area between November 2016 and September 2017.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that civilians are continue to flee their homes due to clashes in Iraq’s Erbil, Ninewa and Dohuk governorates.

According to the UN Migration Agency, more than 175,000 people are currently displaced.

Hundreds of people who had only recently returned to their homes have been uprooted again by fighting.

Aid workers are watching the situation closely, including the possibility of further displacements due to clashes in other areas.

Humanitarians are also providing assistance where they have access, providing health care and distributing food, water, blankets and other items.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that it has relocated some 1,700 Rohingya refugees who recently arrived in Bangladesh from Myanmar to a new camp in an effort to ease crowding in an existing site in Kutupalong.

Most of the refugees in this group were those who were stranded at the border for several days last week.

A total of 5,000 Rohingya refugees will be moved to the new site, called the Kutupalong Extension, which is part of a larger 3,000-acre site designated by the Government of Bangladesh to host new arrivals.

The UN Migration Agency (IOM) has been meeting with male and female community leaders in the original Kutupalong settlement on how best to address residents’ needs. IOM is trying to ensure that residents know where they can provide feedback and complaints, as well as who they can contact to report gender-based violence.

UNICEF is warning that the combination of malnutrition, sanitary conditions and disease in the refugee settlements is potentially catastrophic for children.

Based on the screening of sick children, UNICEF cautions that some children are close to death by the time they make it across the border from Myanmar into Bangladesh.

The UN Development Programme (UNDP) says that some 60 Dominicans, most of them women, are beginning to assess building damages on the island.

This comprehensive building damage assessment is part of the Government of Dominica’s recovery strategy after category 5 Hurricane Maria decimated the Caribbean island nation.

Under the leadership of experts in the field, women and men from different government agencies are putting in practice new skills acquired during a UNDP-backed training with civil society organization Engineers Without Borders, using a tailored app and tablet provided by Microsoft.

Some 30 teams of inspectors are expected to assess damages of up to 800 buildings per day for the next six to eight weeks.

This will enable crucial information such as the level of damage, the types of material required, the volume of debris that will need to be managed, as well as the number of affected people by age, gender and other key information.

In 2016, an estimated 90,000 people died from measles, an 84 per cent drop compared to 550,000 deaths in 2000, according to a new report published yesterday by leading health organizations, including the World Health Organizationand UNICEF.

This marks the first time global measles deaths have fallen below 100,000 per year.

Since 2000, an estimated 5.5 billion doses of measles-containing vaccines have been provided to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns, saving an estimated 20.4 million lives.

However, the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Far too many children – 20.8 million – are still missing their first measles vaccine dose. More than half of these unvaccinated children live in six countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Agencies noted that countries with the greatest number of measles deaths rely most heavily on polio-funded resources, which support routine immunization. They warn that progress in reaching measles elimination could therefore be reversed when these resources diminish and eventually disappear.

Today is World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. This year’s theme is “Discover, remember and share,” and it seeks to highlight the importance of preserving audiovisual documents such as films, radio and television programmes that contain the primary records of the history of the 20th and 21st centuries.
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