Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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02-May-2018 00:28:36
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General arrived in London and at the time of the briefing he was meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May. After that the Secretary-General will meet with the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The Secretary-General will then go to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to meet Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

This evening, the Secretary-General will speak at Roundtable on Mental Health organized by the Wellcome Trust, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.

Tomorrow will be dedicated to meetings of the UN Chief’s Executives Board (CEB).

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said today that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas chose to use his speech at the opening of the Palestinian National Council to repeat some of the most contemptuous anti-Semitic slurs, including the suggestion that the social behaviour of Jews was the cause for the Holocaust.

Mr. Mladenov affirmed that such statements are unacceptable, deeply disturbing and do not serve the interests of the Palestinian people or peace in the Middle East.

He said that leaders have an obligation to confront anti-Semitism everywhere and always, not perpetuate the conspiracy theories that fuel it.

Ghassan Salamé, the Special Representative for Libya, condemned the suicide attack earlier today on Libya’s electoral commission.

In a tweet, he said that “such cowardly attack on this democratic edifice is a direct aggression against the Libyan people and their will to build just and civil state, and against their hope of finding ways out of the transitions to establish peace and stability across Libya”.

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic, MINUSCA, reports that the situation in Bangui is calm after violence yesterday in the capital, which included targeting civilians and places of worship.

In a subsequent attack yesterday, two MINUSCA Military Staff Officers were wounded, including one seriously, after they were pelted with stones by a crowd. The Joint Task Force for Bangui has been conducting patrols and reinforcing security throughout the capital. MINUSCA has also taken a strong stance in other parts of the country, including along the Kaga Bandoro-Dekoa-Sibut axis.
MINUSCA condemns the attacks against civilians and places of worship and emphasizes that such attacks are contrary to national and international laws. The Mission regrets, in particular, the loss of life of innocent civilians in several neighborhoods of Bangui, and calls on the population of the capital and the country to avoid any escalation of violence.

The Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, condemned yesterday’s twin suicide attacks in the town of Mubi, Adamawa State, in north-east Nigeria, that left dozens of people dead and scores injured in one of the deadliest attacks the town has witnessed.

Mubi is the second largest town in Adamawa and an operational centre for the delivery of aid in the northern parts of Adamawa and the southern parts of the adjacent Borno State.

The humanitarian crisis in Nigeria's north-east that has spilled over into the Lake Chad region, is one of the most severe in the world today with 7.7 million people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2018.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, strongly condemned the terrorist shootings at Tarmiya, north of Baghdad, in which a number of innocent civilians were killed and wounded.

Mr. Kubiš said that terrorist sleeper cells continue to mount sporadic attacks, despite the defeat of their main military structures by Iraqi security forces. They aim to undermine stability and break the morale of Iraqis who have begun to enjoy the benefits of peace. He said that they will fail, as they failed before.

The Special Representative also voiced concern at the news of a bomb attack on 1 May, targeting Iraqi police in the liberated city of Mosul and causing casualties.

This morning, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that a hospital in Kafar Zita town in Syria’s Hama Governorate was hit by an airstrike killing one staff member and largely destroying the facility.

Yesterday, the vicinity of a makeshift hospital in Ar-Rastan city in northern rural Homs Governorate was reportedly struck by an airstrike, rendering the makeshift hospital inoperable.

Also yesterday, airstrikes on the Da’esh-controlled Al-Qasr village in Al-Hasakeh Governorate reportedly resulted in the deaths of scores of people, including five children. Al-Qasr village hosts a large number of Iraqi refugees and internally displaced people from rural Deir Ezzour.
The United Nations continues to call on all the parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, to ensure the protection of civilians and put an end to the destruction of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure that are essential for the civilian population.

In Lisbon, the Sustainable Energy for All Forum began today. In a video message to the forum, the Secretary-General told participants that far more needs to be done to advance renewable and efficient energy across all sectors. He added that “it is time to end the age of fossil fuels” and that technology is on our side. He also invited attendees to develop bold new energy partnerships and bring them to the Climate Summit he’s organizing next year.

New data from the World Health Organization shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Updated estimations reveal an alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by outdoor and household air pollution.

Outdoor air pollution caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, while household air pollution from cooking with polluting fuels and technologies caused an estimated 3.8 million deaths in the same period.

More than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Americas.

WHO works with many sectors including transport and energy, urban planning and rural development to support countries to tackle this problem.

More than 4,300 cities in 108 countries are now included in WHO’s ambient air quality database, making this the world’s most comprehensive database on ambient air pollution.

A new report from our colleagues at the Food and Agriculture Organization warns that soil pollution poses a worrisome threat to agricultural productivity, food safety, and human health.

Industrialization, war, mining and the intensification of agriculture have all left a legacy of soil contamination across the planet, while the growth of cities has seen soil used as a sink for ever greater amounts of municipal waste, says the report, entitled Soil Pollution: A Hidden Reality.

But even though agricultural intensification, industrial output, and urbanization continue at a rapid pace, no systematic assessment of the status of soil pollution at global level has ever been undertaken, FAO's new report notes.

Studies conducted so far have largely been limited to developed economies, so there are massive information gaps regarding the full nature and extent of the problem. But what little we do know is cause for concern, the report adds.

Today is World Tuna Day. The days seeks to recognize the critical role of tuna to food security, economic opportunity, and the livelihoods of people around the world.

Tuna species account for 20 per cent of the value of all marine capture fisheries and over eight per cent of all globally traded seafood, and as a result, the fish are threatened by an overwhelming demand. The UN has emphasized the importance of implementing the Convention on the Law of the Sea, to ensure tuna stocks are managed sustainably and we can continue to enjoy it. And the public is also being encouraged to take the Clean Seas pledge to reduce the amount of plastic that goes into the ocean.
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