Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
15-Feb-2018 00:19:55
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is writing today to Florida Governor Rick Scott and to Ambassador Nikki Haley to express his profound sadness at the horrific gun massacre that took place yesterday in Parkland, Florida.

It is wrenching to see so many young lives cut short -- in a place where students should feel safe -- as well as so many families torn apart, and yet another community thrown into shock, the Secretary-General wrote.

At this time of profound sorrow, we at the United Nations wish to say that our thoughts are with all those touched by this tragedy, he added.

The Secretary-General is deeply saddened by the death of Ruud Lubbers, former Prime Minister of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and former United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

The Secretary-General expresses his heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Lubbers and to the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The Secretary-General has just arrived in Munich, Germany.

Tomorrow, he will give a keynote speech during the opening ceremony of the Munich Security Conference. He will also have a number of bilateral meetings.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke today at a private sector roundtable in Stockholm, Sweden, on a meeting called “Solutions Summit to End Violence Against Children”. She said that companies in all sectors, and of all sizes, have a powerful impact on children.

As a starting point, she said, any company serious about addressing violence against children should adopt a ‘respect and support’ approach, as prescribed by the Children’s Rights and Business Principles. She added that companies that contribute to ending child labour -- in all their business activities and along all their supply chains -- will go a long way to rooting out the circumstances that enable violence against children to persist.

The Deputy Secretary-General also met with Stefan Löfven, the Prime Minister of Sweden, among other senior officials. While in Stockholm, she also met with her predecessor, Jan Eliasson.

Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, will travel to the Central African Republic (CAR), Cameroon and Chad from 18 to 27 February.

The CAR is on the brink of relapsing into a large-scale acute humanitarian crisis with renewed violence forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

In Cameroon, large-scale displacement, fueled by the Boko Haram crisis in the north and the neighbouring CAR crisis, has compounded high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Ms. Mueller’s visit will be conducted jointly with the UN Refugee Agency’s Assistant High Commissioner for Operations, George Okoth-Obbo.

Finally, in Chad, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced due to Boko Haram-related insecurity in the Lac region and violence in Sudan and the CAR. About one third of the population is food insecure, and 12 out of 23 regions in the country are in a nutritional emergency.

In the three countries, Ms. Mueller will meet communities impacted by the conflict, national authorities, humanitarian and development partners, as well as the diplomatic community.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, yesterday held a joint meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai.

He said in a statement today that he was encouraged by the trilateral meeting, in which all sides focused on the urgent need to finalize the reconstruction of physical damages from the 2014 Gaza conflict and on facilitating critical humanitarian solutions related to the electricity, water and health sectors. All sides agreed on the need for a joint review of the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism to improve its functionality, transparency and predictability.

The United Nations also presented proposals to revitalize Gaza’s economy and discussed the conditions required to ease movement and access and support Palestinian development.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan and the UN Human Rights Office today released their annual report documenting the impact of armed conflict on civilians. According to the report, 10,453 civilians lost their lives or suffered injuries in 2017. Out of these, 3,438 were deaths and 7,015 were injuries.

Although this figure represents a decrease of nine per cent compared with 2016, the report highlights that the number one cause of casualties were suicide bombings and other attacks using improvised explosive devices. This is followed by clashes between anti-government and pro-government forces.

The report urges parties to the conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and calls on anti-government forces to stop deliberately targeting civilians and indiscriminately using improvised explosive devices.

The UN refugee agency, UN migration agency and UNICEF today warned that gaps in data covering refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and internally displaced populations are endangering the lives of millions of children on the move.

Their joint report: ‘A call to action: Protecting children on the move starts with better data’, says that in 2016, an estimated 28 million children were living in forced displacement, but warns that the true figure is likely much higher as there are alarming holes in the availability and reliability of data which enables understanding of how migration impacts children and their families.

In the absence of reliable data, the report says, the risks and vulnerabilities facing children on the move remain hidden and unaddressed. The agencies called on Member States to make better data collection and analysis a key feature of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration and the Global Compact on Refugees which are currently being developed for adoption later this year.

The World Health Organization issued today new recommendations to establish global care standards for healthy pregnant women and reduce unnecessary medical interventions.

Worldwide, an estimated 140 million births take place every year. Most of these occur without complications for women and their babies.

Yet, over the past 20 years, practitioners have increased the use of interventions that were previously only used to avoid risks or treat complications, such as oxytocin infusion to speed up labour or caesarean sections.

Dr Princess Nothemba Simelela, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women, Children and Adolescents, stresses that the increasing medicalization of normal childbirth processes are undermining a woman’s own capability to give birth and negatively impacting her birth experience.

The Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization unanimously agreed that the risk of international spread of poliovirus remains a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), and recommended the extension of Temporary Recommendations for a further three months.

Experts stressed the potential risk of further spread through population movement, whether for family, social or cultural reasons, or in the context of populations displaced by insecurity, returning refugees, or nomadic populations.

International coordination continues to be needed to address these risks, particularly between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Nigeria and its Lake Chad neighbours, and countries bordering Syria.

Yesterday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Guinea-Bissau, Modibo Ibrahim Touré, briefed the Security Council on the rapidly evolving political situation in the country.

He stressed that the absence of a functioning and stable Government for more than three years had limited the ability of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office (UNIOGBIS) to effectively and sustainably implement some of its mandated tasks.

Going forward, we will need to focus our efforts on supporting national leaders to appoint an acceptable Prime Minister, he said.

Mr. Touré added that until the completion of the electoral cycle in 2019, Guinea-Bissau remains a country that requires a dedicated UN presence to prevent a further deterioration in the political and security situation at the national level and avoid any negative consequences in the sub-region.

The UN Refugee Agency said today that since November they have evacuated over 1,000 highly vulnerable refugees out of Libya. On Tuesday, a flight departed from Tripoli for Niamey, Niger, carrying 128 refugees, and on Wednesday a second plane took 150 refugees from Tripoli to Rome, Italy. In total, 1,084 refugees have been evacuated since the beginning of UNHCR’s operation, three months ago. The agency hopes to evacuate thousands more by the end of 2018.

The 128 refugees evacuated to Niger are being accommodated in guesthouses in Niamey, where assistance and psychosocial support are made available pending resettlement or other durable solutions. The 150 refugees who were evacuated to Rome include children and women who had been held captive for long periods of time.
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