Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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09-Mar-2018 00:19:29
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is encouraged by the announcement of an agreement between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to hold a summit meeting by May.

He commends the leadership and vision of all concerned and reiterates his support for all efforts towards peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions.

Today, the United Nations and our partners – the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent - returned to Douma in besieged eastern Ghouta to deliver the remaining food assistance that could not be offloaded from the previous convoy on 5 March. Today’s delivery allowed the United Nations to complete the initially planned delivery of food for 27,500 people, along with health and nutrition items. While the convoy was underway, shelling occurred in the proximity of operations, despite prior assurances of safety from all parties.

The United Nations is waiting for authorization to complete the delivery to Douma for all 70,000 people that was initially approved by the Syrian authorities. The delivery of all necessary humanitarian supplies, including the medical and health supplies previously removed, remains urgently needed and must be delivered without delay. We call on all parties to immediately allow safe, sustained and unimpeded access for convoys to deliver critical supplies to hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need of humanitarian assistance in eastern Ghouta, as well as to all in need throughout the country.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from 11 to 13 March – his first visit to the country in that function.

Mr. Lowcock will be joined by Ms. Sigrid Kaag, the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. They will meet with Government officials in Kinshasa and travel to Kalemie, Tanganyika Province, to see first-hand the humanitarian situation.

Mr. Lowcock is expected to call for greater support to the humanitarian response in the country, and to invite international donors to the first-ever donor conference for the DRC, which will be held in Geneva on 13 April.

Earlier this year, the humanitarian community in the DRC launched its largest-ever appeal, calling for US$1.68 billion to respond to the needs of some 10.5 million people.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Mr. Miroslav Jenča, visited Bosnia and Herzegovina on 7-8 March and met with a number of senior officials there.

Mr. Jenča strongly underscored the importance of ensuring that the impressive gains made over the last two decades are not lost at this critical juncture. Viable compromises are urgently needed to ensure peaceful and democratic elections in October this year.

He emphasized the need for all stakeholders in Bosnia and Herzegovina to redouble their efforts around genuine reconciliation and building bridges across a divided past, together with a view toward a shared and peaceful future. The joint UN–Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina peacebuilding initiative, Dialogue for the Future, has created an important framework in this respect and should be further built upon including through regional activities.

The UN Special Committee on Decolonization, also known as the C-24, will undertake an official visiting mission to New Caledonia and Paris from 12 to 19 March 2018.

The objective of the visiting mission to New Caledonia is to gather first-hand information on the situation in the New Caledonia concerning the implementation of the Nouméa Accord and to support New Caledonia in its preparation for the referendum to be held in 2018.

The visiting mission will consist of 4 members of the Special Committee: Cuba (Chair), Indonesia, Iraq and Papua New Guinea.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, Alain Noudehou, today called for urgent action to avert a worsening food crisis in the country. Over 7 million people - almost two-thirds of the population - could become severely food insecure between May and July without sustained humanitarian assistance and access. Mr. Noudehou said funding is needed now to reach millions of people with assistance during the dry season through road transport and prepositioning of life-saving aid supplies. The same activities will be many times costlier if done by air transport during the rainy season.

Mr. Noudehou led a high-level delegation of donors, heads of humanitarian agencies and partners to the area of Leer, in South Sudan’s Unity region, to see first-hand the plight of the 90,000 people living in the area. Although the famine there was stopped due to intensive humanitarian intervention, the situation remains fragile with about 85 per cent of the population predicted to reach crisis and emergency food insecurity conditions by the end of April.

In Nigeria, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that humanitarian operations are still temporarily suspended in Rann, in the north-east of the country, following the recent killing of three aid workers in the town by a non-State armed group.

The Humanitarian Coordinator, Edward Kallon, is meeting with high-level Government officials in Abuja, and in Maiduguri where he will travel next week.

The second round of the intergovernmental negotiations on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will take place between Monday and Thursday next week at Headquarters. The main focus of this second round will be on addressing issues that the co-facilitators of the process believe require further discussion, including: differentiation between irregular and regular migration, differentiation between migrants and refugees, implementation and capacity-building, and follow-up and review.

The first round of negotiations took place on 20 February and was marked by strong engagement from all regions. The global compact for migration will be the first, intergovernmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations, to cover all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.

The UN Migration Agency today said that lack of data makes it difficult to keep track of the deaths of women migrants. Only 31 per cent of incidents recorded by the agency through its Missing Migrants Project have any information on the sex of those who died or went missing.

Worldwide, 525 women died during migration last year. The available data indicates that crossing the Mediterranean is particularly deadly for women, with 238 deaths recorded there. This is followed by 141 deaths in Africa, 90 deaths in Southeast Asia and 20 while trying to cross the US-Mexico border.

The agency said it is critical so seek better information on all those who go missing during migration to understand why people risked their lives and help prevent more deaths.

The Food and Agriculture Organization announced today that over 4,700 veterinary health professionals in 25 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, were trained in just 12 months through a partnership with USAID. These professionals will be on the front line of the effort to stop new diseases at their source.

The FAO’s Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth stressed that some 75 of new infectious diseases that have emerged in recent decades originated in animals before jumping to humans. This is why improving adequately discovering and tackling animal disease threats at source represents a strategic high-ground in pre-empting future pandemics.
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