Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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20-Apr-2018 00:26:33
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General condemns the kidnapping and killing of three media workers, confirmed on 13 April, as well as the subsequent kidnapping of two other Ecuadorian nationals.

He expresses his condolences to the families of the victims, and his sympathy and solidarity to the Government and the people of Ecuador.

These acts highlight the threats posed by criminal groups operating in the border between Ecuador and Colombia. In this regard, the Secretary-General welcomes the close cooperation between both countries to address this common threat.

The Secretary-General reiterates the United Nations availability to support the two Governments in the areas deemed necessary.

The Secretary-General is leaving this afternoon for Sweden for his annual retreat with the Security Council and a State visit to the country.

He will back in New York in the afternoon of Monday.

Yesterday at the ongoing Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke at several high-level meetings on education, global health financing, climate action, carbon pricing and data for development.

The Deputy Secretary-General also held discussions with Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, focused on strengthening the current United Nations-World Bank collaboration on financing for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. They also discussed the ongoing reforms and areas for enhanced engagement at the regional and country level in support of member states to accelerate and scale up efforts towards the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), climate action and humanitarian response.

While in Washington, the Deputy Secretary-General also met with Ambassador Kevin Edward Moley, Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs. They discussed the ongoing reform efforts at the United Nations, as well as several other international issues facing the UN.

The UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, is deeply concerned about the fate of thousands of civilians, including Palestine refugees, after more than a week of increased violence and intense fighting around Yarmouk in Syria.
We estimate that there were about 6,000 Palestine refugee civilians in Yarmouk and about 6,000 in the surrounding areas. There are reports that large numbers of people have been displaced from Yarmouk Camp to the neighbouring area of Yalda. There are also reports of civilian casualties.

UNRWA is ready to provide assistance to the population in the area if and when the security situation allows and access is granted.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, continues to follow with concern the situation along the Gaza fence. This is the fourth consecutive Friday where we are witnessing Palestinian casualties.

He reiterates that Israeli security forces must calibrate the use of force and only employ lethal force as a last resort. He also reiterates his call on Palestinians to avoid friction at the Gaza fence.

Knut Ostby, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, today said he was deeply concerned about reports of an escalation in armed conflict in several areas of Kachin State since 7 April. He has been particularly alarmed about reports of civilian casualties and the plight of communities affected by the fighting in Tanai and Hpakant townships, while other areas have been gravely affected as well.

Mr. Ostby appealed to all parties to the conflict to allow displaced people and other civilians who may remain in the areas of conflict to be permitted to move to a more secure location of their choice and to allow for humanitarian assistance to reach these populations as a matter of urgency.

He also appealed to all parties to the conflict to ensure that civilians are protected at all times and reminded them of their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that poor rains in 2017 have led to a significant drought affecting much of the Sahel region. The lean season, normally spanning June to August, already started in March in some areas, leading to drastic losses in livestock. This is causing a crisis beyond what is experienced in normal years for pastoralist and agro-pastoralist communities in particular.

Mauritania and parts of Burkina Faso, Senegal, Chad and Mali are the worst-affected countries. Overall, more than 10 million people will require emergency food assistance during the lean season, up from 7.1 million currently, if adequate assistance is not provided in time. In addition, 1.6 million children under five are projected to be affected by severe acute malnutrition. This is a 46 per cent increase from 2017 estimates.

Yesterday, the Security Council heard a final briefing on Liberia by Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions of the Department for Peacekeeping Operations, Alexander Zouev.

He stressed that that the conclusion of the UN Mission in Liberia marked a historic milestone and a remarkable demonstration of confidence that the country is moving steadfastly along the path of sustained peace.

He also highlighted the need to continue building on the legacy of the Mission to make sure the hard-won peace in the country will remain, free from the scourge of war.

The UN remains in the country to support the people and Government of Liberia, Mr. Zouev said, also paying homage to the 202 UN peacekeepers who lost their lives in the pursuit of peace in the country.

On Monday at 10 a.m., the Security Council will hold an Open Debate on Youth, Peace and Security, under the Presidency of Peru.

The Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathama Wickramanayake, will speak on the findings of the independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security that was mandated by the Security Council Resolution 2250.

The Secretary-General is pleased to confirm that Bola Adesola of Nigeria, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Standard Chartered Nigeria, and Paul Polman of the Netherlands, Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, will serve as the two Vice-Chairs of the Board of the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative.

Ms. Adesola and Mr. Polman succeed outgoing UN Global Compact Board Vice-Chair, Sir Mark Moody-Stuart. The Secretary-General extends his great appreciation to Sir Mark for serving in the position for the past ten years and shepherding the Global Compact into a new era.

Both Ms. Adesola and Mr. Polman have served on the Board of the UN Global Compact previously, and will bring a wealth of experience in the private sector, in the corporate sustainability space and specifically with the Global Compact itself.

Today is Chinese Language Day. There will be a series of events to mark the day organized by the Chinese Translation Service in association with UN Chinese Book Club and the Chinese Language Programme.

These include a lecture on “Spirits Contained in Chinese Poetries”, by Bo Li at 1:30 p.m., and a panel discussion on China and the Sustainable Development Goals, at 3:00 p.m. in Conference Room 12, as well as a Grand Opening Ceremony tonight at 7:00 p.m. by the Vienna Café.

In response to questions about allegations against the UN Resident Coordinator in Zambia, Janet Rogan, the Spokesman emphasized that the UN Country Team and the Resident Coordinator will continue to be dedicated and impartial partners of the Zambian people.

One allegation has been that the Resident Coordinator had held back on the issuance of the so-called Conflict Structure Vulnerabilities report. That document is a report of the Election Commission of Zambia, so the Resident Coordinator is not in a position to withhold it.

There were also allegations that UNDP contract consultants audited the voters’ roll. These allegations were raised, and refuted, previously. In fact, the consultants in question were hired by the Electoral Commission of Zambia, and not by UNDP.
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