Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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03-Nov-2017 00:19:26
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed just arrived in Haiti for a visit to the country, joined by the Special Envoy Josette Sheeran and Susan Page, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Mission for Justice Support in Haiti (MINUJUSTH).

They will be meeting with high-level government officials and key stakeholders, visit communities that have been hardest hit by the cholera epidemic, and visit government flagship development initiatives.

The UN Office on the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is are deeply concerned about the impact of ongoing fighting on civilians across the governorate of Deir-ez-Zor.

Yesterday, airstrikes on Al Mayadeen City and its surroundings reportedly killed more than 25 people and injured many others, most of them women and children.

Since August of this year, fighting has reportedly driven more than 350,000 people out of their homes in Deir-ez-Zor.

The city was last reached with humanitarian assistance on 30 October. Since the reopening of a key road, the UN has been able to regularly send aid to the area.

The UN calls on parties to take all measures to protect civilians and to facilitate safe, unimpeded and sustained access to all people in need across the country.

The UN Office on the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that that some 4,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar and crossed the border to Bangladesh in the last 48 hours.

The newly-arrived refugees say that thousands more people are waiting on the coast of Myanmar to make the crossing.

UN agencies and their partners are providing food and other supplies, as well as transportation to transit centres, to these refugees.

For its part, UNICEF is concerned that 7.5 per cent of children at the largest refugee camp in Bangladesh are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, double the rate seen among Rohingya child refugees earlier this year.

As part of the Secretary-General’s initiative on transparency in regards to allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, an update on cases of sexual exploitation and abuse: for the period of 1 July to 30 September, we have received 31 allegations. Not all of them have been verified, and some are in the preliminary assessment phase. Out of the 31 allegations, 12 are from peacekeeping operations and 19 from agencies, funds and programmes. 10 are categorized as sexual abuse, 19 as sexual exploitation, and 2 are of an unknown nature. Twelve of these allegations occurred in 2017, 2 in 2016, 6 in 2015 or prior, and the dates are unknown for 11 of them. Thirty-eight male alleged perpetrators have been associated with these incidents. Of the 36 victims, 72 per cent are women and 19 per cent are girls. Fourteen investigations have been launched during this timeframe.

Meanwhile, we have continued our efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.

Victims’ Rights Advocates have been appointed at UN Headquarters and in four field missions. We are also piloting a Victims Assistance Protocol which sets the roles and responsibilities of those on the ground to ensure coordination to provide victims with immediate assistance. With the most recent voluntary contributions from Member States, the Trust Fund in support of victims of sexual exploitation and abuse will rise to $1.5 million.

The Secretary-General has also instructed the heads of all entities system-wide to provide action plans and risk analyses to commit the leadership to the fight against sexual exploitation and abuse and almost all have been received.

With regards to our efforts to end impunity, we are developing an electronic tool for screening UN staff dismissed as a result of substantiated allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse, or who resigned or were dismissed during an investigation. We have also launched mandatory training for all UN personnel prior to deployment. This month we are piloting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a single and uniform ‘Incident Report Form’ to ensure assistance is provided immediately, appropriate investigative action is undertaken, and to improve our data collection.

We also continue our efforts to engage with Member States. So far, 58 Heads of State/Government have joined the Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership. 74 Member States have signed the Voluntary Compact and 18 more have formally indicated their intention to sign it.

The UN Refugee Agency today released a report that warns that discrimination, exclusion and persecution are stark realities for many of the world’s stateless minorities, and calls for immediate action to secure equal nationality rights for all.

The report states that more than 75 per cent of the world’s known stateless populations belong to minority groups and that if left unaddressed, their protracted marginalization can build resentment, increase fear and, in the most extreme cases, lead to instability, insecurity and displacement.

The UN Human Rights Office is concerned by what it calls an unfolding humanitarian emergency at Australia’s offshore processing center in Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

Refugees and asylum-seekers there are holding out after Australia’s decision to close the facility and pull its support staff.

The UN Office has serious concerns over the welfare, safety and well-being of some 600 men who remain there and are too frightened to leave.

It calls on the Australian Government, which interned the men in the first place, to immediately provide protection, food, water and other basic services which have been cut off.

The Office reminds the Governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea of their responsibilities under international human rights law and the 1951 Refugee Convention.

All migrants – including refugees and asylum-seekers – are human beings, and human dignity should be ensured throughout the entire processing of their asylum claims.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has signed an agreement with Colombia to tackle the country’s coca cultivation and help farmers embrace alternative development.

Under the agreement, UNODC and Colombia will start a $315 million project to monitor the country’s policy to reduce illicit crops and to strengthen rural development, as part of the country’s ongoing peacebuilding efforts.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today called for an investigation into the killing of television cameraman Arkan Sharifi in the Iraqi city of Daquq in Kirkuk Governorate on 30 October.

She also deplored the killing of another television journalist, Qays Al-Qadi, in Eastern Ghouta, near the Syrian capital Damascus, on 29 October, reminding all parties of their obligation to ensure the safety of journalists in conflict situations, in keeping with the Geneva Conventions.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says that several insurance regulators from around the world have committed to develop best practices to ensure that insurers consider climate-related risks in their underwriting and reserving.

The commitments were made at the UNEP-convened Sustainable Insurance Forum held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Today is World Tsunami Awareness Day.

For the second year in a row, the Day will align with the theme for International Day for Disaster Reduction and will focus on Target B of the Sendai Framework, which aims at reducing the number of affected people globally by disasters.

Mauritania has paid in full its share of the 2017 budget, making it the 138th UN Member State to do so.
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