Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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17-May-2018 00:19:32
Noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

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Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General began a series of meetings with American legislators on Capitol Hill, starting with a breakfast meeting with members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He then met with the House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy. He is meeting the members of the Freedom Caucus now.

Later this afternoon, he expected to continue his legislative meetings, including with House Minority Leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi; Senator Richard Shelby, chair of the Appropriations Committee; and Senator Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader.

The Secretary-General briefed the members of Congress on ongoing UN reform initiatives, both ones that he’s working on with Member States and others that fall under his own authority, including the gender parity initiative. He thanked them for the continuing support of the US, notably on assessed contributions. They also discussed a wide range of issues.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will meet with President Donald Trump and other senior administration officials.

Tomorrow morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will depart New York for Washington, D.C., to join the Secretary-General for part of his programme tomorrow. That evening, she will proceed to London to give a keynote address at the 2018 Oxford Africa Conference at the University of Oxford.

The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York over the weekend.

The Secretary-General will travel next week to Switzerland, where he will speak to students at the University of Geneva on Thursday. The Secretary-General intends to focus on his disarmament agenda in his remarks to the students.

From Geneva, he will travel to Mont Pelerin, where he will participate in a retreat bringing together all the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Jamie McGoldrick, today called for urgent support to meet the humanitarian needs of the victims of violence in Gaza, saying that the situation in Gaza is devastating and the crisis is far from over.

The humanitarian response in Gaza focuses on providing immediate life-saving healthcare, mental health support and protection monitoring, but is undermined by severe shortages of medicines and supplies, difficulties in accessing medical care outside Gaza, and a serious funding gap.

Despite the damage inflicted on the Kerem Shalom Crossing, that crossing point has been partially reopened, with 15 truckloads of medical supplies entering Gaza on Sunday and Tuesday. Two truckloads carrying 76,000 litres of fuel for health facilities and water and sanitation treatment sites were also brought into Gaza by the United Nations yesterday, with arrangements in progress for another 76,000 litres.

Health partners indicate that $1.2 million is needed immediately for drugs and disposables, and a further $3.9 million is needed to cover medical supply needs and emergency medical technicians. An additional $19.5 million is required to cover medium-term healthcare needs until August.

A peacekeeper from the UN Mission in the Central African Republic has been killed, and eight other injured, this morning, in the southern part of the country.

The contingent from Mauritania was escorting a convoy to the town of Alindao when it was attacked by presumed members of the anti-Balaka.

We expect a statement from the Secretary-General on this later today.

The World Health Organization said today it is concerned as one Ebola case was confirmed in an urban area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

This new case has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people in Equateur Province.

Until now, all the confirmed Ebola cases were reported from Bikoro health zone, a hard to reach area nearly 150 km from Mbandaka.

WHO is deploying around 30 experts to conduct surveillance in the city and is working with the Ministry of Health and partners to engage with communities on prevention, treatment and the reporting of new cases.

WHO is also working with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and other partners to strengthen the capacity of health facilities to treat Ebola patients in special isolation wards.

As of 15 May, a total of 44 cases have been reported: 3 confirmed, 20 probable, and 21 suspected.

The mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, reports that the two missing peacekeepers were freed yesterday. They are safe and sound and have been transferred today to their base in Kalemie.

The UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan said today that up to 150 peacekeepers are being rapidly redeployed to the Unity region to boost the Mission’s efforts to protect civilians. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the country, David Shearer, said that what they are witnessing on the ground is the deliberate killing of civilians as well as the sexual violation and abduction of women and children. Homes and livelihoods are being systematically destroyed in a way that prevents families from returning to their homes and being able to support themselves.

The peacekeepers’ deployment will enable the troops to patrol deeper to reach remote villages where the worst atrocities are taking place to create a protective presence and deter further fighting. It will also support the reinforcement of the Mission’s base at Leer where many civilians are seeking sanctuary.

Thousands of civilians are fleeing the intense fighting as armed forces make their way down from Koch towards Leer. At least 30 villages or settlements have been attacked. A site next to the UN base at Leer previously held approximately 500 internally displaced people but the surge in violent clashes has increased numbers to about 2000. Almost 70 per cent of those seeking shelter are children. There are more details online.

The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, is today travelling to Senegal, before visiting Mali and Niger.

More than five million people in six countries of the Sahel region – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal - could go hungry this year.

WFP urgently requires US$165 million to meet the needs of during the lean season.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, called today on the Independent High Electoral Commission to immediately and fully investigate all the complaints concerning the electoral process.

He said that the Commission has to act expeditiously in order to seriously address all complaints including, as necessary, the conduct of partial manual recount in selected locations, notably in Kirkuk. It is important that these are undertaken in full transparency, witnessed by stakeholders, to strengthen the confidence in the process. He added that the UN is ready to provide assistance, if requested.
Mr. Kubiš also called on all political actors to uphold the peace and to remain committed to resolving any electoral disputes through the established legal channels.

UNICEF today said that more than 60 Rohingya babies are born in Bangladesh refugee camps every day.

That’s more than 16,000 babies in the nine months since a spike in violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar forced thousands of families to flee their homes across the border, with widespread reports of rape and sexual violence.

Women and children who are survivors of sexual violence are among the most vulnerable and marginalised, as they may not come forward due to the risk of stigmatisation and additional persecution.

Working with partners, UNICEF is providing antenatal and post-natal care to mothers and their babies. It mobilized some 250 community volunteers to make sure that a growing number of women visit the health care facilities before and after giving birth.

It is also advocating for proper, legal birth registration for newborns, concerned that without this, babies will have trouble accessing the vital basic services they are entitled to.

Today is World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which seeks to raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies can bring to societies and economies. This year’s theme is ‘Enabling the positive use of Artificial Intelligence for All’ and focuses on the potential of Artificial Intelligence to accelerate the Sustainable Development Goals.

In his message for the Day the Secretary-General said that emerging technologies have the potential to empower people and transform how we transmit knowledge, and he encouraged countries to work together to ensure these technologies serve the global good and all humanity.

Today is the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia which seeks to raise awareness of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexuals, transgender, and intersex people.

In a statement, the UN Development Programme said that despite progress in many countries, LGBTI people still face high levels of violence and inequalities in public and in private, including in family settings and in the workplace, mainly because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

UNDP and other UN agencies like the UN Population Fund, the UN Human Rights Office and the International Migration Agency are working with the LGBTI community, governments and other organizations, to facilitate policy dialogues and promote evidence and rights based laws, policies and practices for LGBTI people in 53 countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe.

Guinea has joined the Honour Roll, having paid its regular budget dues in full, becoming the 95th member.
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