Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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ENGLISH 11-Jan-2018 00:31:22
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
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This morning, the Secretary-General presented his report Making Migration Work for All to Member States. He emphasized that migration is a positive global phenomenon that powers economic growth, reduces inequalities and connects diverse societies. He noted that migrants make a major contribution to international development – both by their work and by sending remittances to their home countries, which last year added up to nearly $600 billion, that is three times all development aid. However, he said global migration remains poorly managed, as evidenced by the humanitarian crises affecting people on the move & in human rights violations suffered by them.
The Secretary-General said the report recognizes countries’ sovereignty as the basis for better managed migration, but also stresses the need for international cooperation to make progress on the challenges surrounding this issue.
For her part, the Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, said that sound and smart policies on this topic must be based on facts, not assumptions or myths, and added that countries must consider all the people affected by migration which includes not just migrants but also the families who depend on them.

Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, in a press briefing at the end of his first visit to Syria, said that he saw first-hand the colossal toll of the brutal and sustained hostilities have taken and heard harrowing stories from people caught up in the conflict. In Homs, he saw whole districts with row upon row of homes and businesses reduced to rubble.
Mr. Lowcock said that he is particularly concerned about the fate of the besieged people of East Ghouta and is also deeply worried about civilians affected by the upsurge in violence in Idleb, and those trapped in horrendous conditions throughout the North East.
He had detailed and open discussions about the crisis and what more needs to be done to reduce humanitarian suffering with the Government, and he also met local authorities, the diplomatic community and humanitarian organisations. On the basis of these discussions, Mr. Lowcock is hoping soon to see a number of positive developments enabling the UN to sustain and improve the aid effort this year. These included the finalisation of the UN’s humanitarian response plan for 2018, which will require $3.5 billion from donors to meet the needs of more than 13 million people in all parts of Syria; further progress on evacuating people from East Ghouta; and convoys to the besieged area.

Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman’s visit to Libya continued today with a trip to eastern Libya, to al Qubba, where along with Special Representative Ghassam Salamé, he met with House of Representatives Speaker Agila Saleh. During that meeting, Mr. Feltman recalled the international consensus regarding the Libya Political Agreement as the sole framework for the political transition.
Yesterday in Tripoli, Mr. Feltman met with Prime Minister Serraj, as well as with High State Council President Swehli. He stressed the need to work constructively to create the necessary political, legal and operational conditions for the holding of elections and the completion of the transition as a result of an inclusive political process.

The Deputy Head of Mission of the Office of the Special Envoy for Yemen, Muin Shreim, concluded a five-day visit to Sana’a, during which he held meetings on the resumption of the Yemeni peace process with senior political figures from the Ansar Allah Movement, the General People’s Congress and other political and civil society leaders.

Mr. Shreim was encouraged by the commitment and cooperation of his Yemeni interlocutors to the resumption of the peace process. He urged the parties to engage fully and in good faith with the Office of the Special Envoy to reach a Yemeni-led agreement to end the conflict.

The Deputy Head of Mission also underscored that all parties must take concrete steps to build confidence between them. This includes ensuring the uninterrupted operation of Hodeidah Port, which is a critical artery for the shipment of humanitarian assistance and commercial goods, while refraining from actions that violate applicable UN Security Council resolutions.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process today reiterated that Israeli settlement construction is illegal under international law and is one of the major obstacles to peace. He urged the Israeli authorities to cease and reverse such actions, including the decision to advance more than 1,000 housing units in the occupied West Bank.

He said that settlement-related activities undermine the chances for the establishment of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution. They entrench a one-state reality that is incompatible with realizing the national aspirations of both peoples.

Mohamed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, briefed the Security Council this morning, saying that despite continuous progress, notably regarding democratic and peaceful political transitions, the security situation in the region remains a matter of grave concern, from Mali to Niger and Nigeria.

He noted an uptick in the number of incidents related to Boko Haram attacks since September last year, with a five-fold increase in the use of children as suicide bombers in 2017 compared to 2016.

In the Sahel, the Group of Five has made significant progress in the operationalisation of their Joint Force, Mr. Chambas added, stressing that stemming human trafficking must continue to be a top priority in 2018.

The United Nations also continues to pioneer the sustaining peace approach in The Gambia and Burkina Faso to ensure lasting peace and the consolidation of these young democracies.

After the successful democratic elections in Liberia, Mr. Chambas said further attention now needs to be paid to forthcoming elections in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

He also stressed that continuing protests and the lack of consensus on the implementation of constitutional reforms in Togo could threaten the holding of legislative and local elections this year in the country.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, briefed the Security Council on Darfur on Wednesday afternoon.

He stressed that following the military victory against the rebel movements, the Government of Sudan is firmly consolidating its control and state authority across Darfur, except for pockets in the Jebel Marra area.

However, he said that the humanitarian indicators illustrate a continuing emergency situation, with 2.7 million people displaced, out of which 2.1 million are in need of assistance across Darfur. The lack of security, basic services and sustainable livelihoods in return areas, as well as issues related to land ownership, have become major impediments to return.

Mr. Lacroix said that during phase one of the reconfiguration of the AU-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), the Government of Sudan has been very cooperative in facilitating the repatriation of contingents and the timely closure and hand-over of team sites.

The overall operating environment for the movement of humanitarian personnel across Darfur has been reliable, he added, but the Mission is facing some difficulties in obtaining visas for international staff, in particular those working on human rights.

Mr. Lacroix also said that it was clearly too early to make a definite determination of the consequences of the closure of team sites on the population.

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) appealed today to donors after they were forced to reduce food rations and cash assistance for more than 100,000 refugees in Rwanda.

Funding shortages forced WFP to trim assistance to 90 percent in November and December, and the funding situation is now so bad that from January, WFP reduced the ration sizes even further – to 75 percent.

Only refugees identified as particularly vulnerable, such as children under five years of age, school children, pregnant and nursing mothers as well as people living with HIV and tuberculosis patients under treatment still receive a full ration.

WFP requires US$2.5 million every month to provide full food or cash assistance to refugees in Rwanda. Without new funds, deeper reductions to cash and food may be necessary in coming months.

UNHCR, as of December 2017, it had secured only 19 percent of its total funding needs, amounting to US$ 20.3 million out of US$ 104.5 million.

These resources are required to ensure unhindered access to protection and to invest in comprehensive solutions for over 170,000 refugees hosted in Rwanda, as well as to support the voluntary repatriation of Rwandan returnees, mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) issued their monthly Food Price Index today, showing a decline in global food prices in December, led by sharp decreases for vegetable oils and dairy products.

Despite the late-year slide, the Food Price Index in 2017 is up 8.2 percent from 2016 and reaching the highest annual average since 2014.

Seven Member States have already paid their full regular budget dues in full for 2018. They are: Armenia, Benin, Hungary, Liberia, Poland, South Sudan and Ukraine.
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