Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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04-Dec-2017 00:32:08
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General will travel to Japan next week.

On Thursday, 14 December, he will meet with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, as well as with members of Parliament and civil society.

The Secretary-General will also address the Universal Health Coverage Forum, which is being co-organized by the Government of Japan, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the World Bank Group, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and the International Health Partnership for UHC2030.

He will give a lecture at Sophia University on the theme, “Global challenges – the role of human security,” and meet with students afterwards.

The Secretary-General will return to New York on the evening of Thursday, 14 December.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, will visit the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) from 5 to 8 December. Mr. Feltman will discuss with DPRK officials issues of mutual interest and concern. He will also meet with the United Nations Country Team and members of the diplomatic corps, as well as visit UN project sites.

While in the region, Mr. Feltman is also visiting China.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, concluded a two-day visit to Cairo to discuss development-related issues with Egyptian senior government officials.

During her visit, she met with the Environment Minister, the Minister of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation and the Foreign Minister, as well as the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States.

Discussions with Egyptian officials covered the Secretary-General’s vision for reforms in the United Nations peace and security architecture, the UN management system and structures as well as the UN development system. The meetings also reviewed the cooperation between the United Nations and Egypt on priority economic and development issues.

On the situation in Yemen, the Spokesman said the UN finds the events unfolding there to be deeply disturbing, with ground clashes and air strikes having dramatically escalated in Sana’a and surrounding governorates. Initial reports indicating that around 100 people have been killed and hundreds more injured.

We also take note of the reported killing earlier today of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and several of his associates.

It is paramount that civilians are protected, that the wounded are afforded safe access to medical care, and that all sides facilitate life-saving humanitarian access.

We remind all parties to the conflict that deliberate attacks against civilians and against civilian and medical infrastructure are clear violations of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes.

Humanitarian organizations are receiving desperate calls for help by trapped families, but are unable to reach those who have been injured. There have been reports of ambulances coming under attack.

We renew our call on all warring parties for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Sana’a. We cannot overemphasize that there is no military solution to the Yemen conflict. The United Nations stands ready to facilitate a negotiated political settlement that is inclusive, fair and sustainable.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Jamie McGoldrick, today called on the parties to the conflict to urgently enable a humanitarian pause tomorrow to allow civilians to leave their homes and seek assistance and protection and to facilitate the movement of aid workers to ensure the continuity of life-saving programmes.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General issued a statement in which he said this latest outbreak of violence could not have come at a worse time for the Yemeni people, who are already caught up in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights today also announced the appointment of the members of a Group of Eminent Experts on Yemen established by the Human Rights Council, which he called an important step towards accountability and ending impunity for serious human rights violations committed by all sides.

The UN mission in the Central African Republic reports that one UN peacekeeper from Mauritania was killed this morning in Bria in an attack against a UN Police check point at the entrance of a site for internally displaced people. Two other peacekeepers from Mauritania and one from Zambia were wounded in the attack by anti-Balaka fighters. The attack took place two hours after peacekeepers intervened to free two displaced persons who were held hostage by the anti-Balaka in Bria.

This is the 14th peacekeeper killed in the line of duty in the Central African Republic in 2017.

The Secretary-General condemns this attack and offers his condolences to the people and Government of Mauritania as well as to colleagues from the UN peacekeeping mission. He wishes a swift recovery to the injured. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the Central African Republic added that the UN mission will do all it can to make sure the perpetrators are brought to justice.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continues to be concerned by the recent escalation in hostilities in eastern Ghouta and Damascus in Syria. Yesterday, aerial bombardment on eastern Ghouta reportedly resulted in civilian deaths and injuries, including of women and children. Two cancer patients have reportedly died due to lack of access to medicines and medical care in the besieged enclave.

Nearly 400,000 people live in besieged eastern Ghouta, which comprises 94 per cent of the total number of people besieged across Syria. On 30 November, the United Nations called for the urgent medical evacuation of 500 medical cases, including 167 children, from eastern Ghouta.

Shelling has also been reported over the last days in several residential neighborhoods in Damascus resulting in several civilian deaths and injuries.

We continue to call for safe, independent and sustained access to all people in need, including the close to three million people who live in hard-to-reach and besieged areas.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, and for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, have jointly urged Iraq to reconsider the draft amendments to a law on marriage which they say are silent on the minimum age of consent to marriage and do not apply to all components of Iraqi society.

The UN officials strongly urged the Government to reconsider these amendments and reaffirmed their commitment to stand with both the Government and people of Iraq to ensure that the scourge of sexual violence is eliminated and that conflict-affected children are protected.

In Mogadishu, the UN, African Union and the Somali Government, today gathered at a conference to review the progress that has been made in the areas of security sector reform and counter-terrorism since the London Conference in May this year, which saw the adoption of a security pact and endorsement of a political agreement on a national security architecture for the country.

The review identified three priorities for immediate action: the implementation of the approved security architecture; the development of a realistic transition plan to transfer responsibility from African Union peacekeepers to Somali security forces; and continued international support to build the capacity of the country’s security forces and institutions.

In Mexico, the Preparatory Meeting for the Global Compact on Migration began today in Puerto Vallarta.

At the opening of the Conference, the Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, stressed that migration demands a global response. “The movement of people across borders is, by definition, an international reality,” she said. “There is nothing in that to contradict a state’s sovereign right – subject to international and domestic law – to manage who enters and stays within its borders.”

She added that the success of the global compact will rest on countries’ maximum political and moral buy-in and willingness to enhance cooperation at the regional and international levels.

Speaking to the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the Secretary-General said today that, nearly twenty years after the signature of its founding instrument, the International Criminal Court is the central institution of the international criminal justice system, a fundamental pillar of the Rule of Law in the world.

To ensure accountability around the world, it is essential to reach universal ratification of the Rome Statute. The Secretary-General invites all State parties to support any effort to achieve this goal.

He said that he welcomed the decisions of South Africa and The Gambia to rescind their notifications of withdrawal and regretted the decision of Burundi to withdraw.

In Nairobi, the UN Environment Assembly kicked off today. The event brings together governments, entrepreneurs and activists to share ideas and commit action to tackle global pollution.

In his statement to the Assembly, the Secretary-General said that we already have much of the knowledge and solutions to prevent, mitigate, and manage pollution. However, we continue to pollute our environment. He called this inexcusable, and stressed that beating pollution will help reduce poverty, improve public health, create decent jobs, address climate change and protect life on land and sea.

Today is the International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development. This year’s theme is “Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere.” and it recognizes the contributions of volunteers as first responders in times of crisis. Volunteers risk their lives every day to care for people affected by conflict, violence and humanitarian crises, driven by the desire to make a difference in the face of human suffering.

This year, the UN Volunteers programme is partnering with volunteer-involving organizations worldwide like the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to help those in need.

Tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. in Conference Room 7 there will be a panel discussion on the Day’s theme.
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