Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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31-May-2018 00:17:31
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is back in New York. At 3 p.m. he will speak to the General Assembly as it formally adopts his proposal to reform the UN Development System.

The Secretary-General will stress that the reforms proposed will place sustainable development at the heart of the United Nations, and will help the Organization to better support countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and make a real difference in people’s lives.

Today, the Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Karim Asad Ahmad Khan of the United Kingdom as the Special Adviser and Head of the Investigative Team which was established by the Security Council to support domestic efforts to hold ISIL (or Da’esh) accountable by collecting, preserving, and storing evidence in Iraq of acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed by the terrorist group in Iraq.

Mr. Khan is the first Head of the Investigative Team. He is a barrister and Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom, with more than 25 years of professional experience as an international criminal law and human rights lawyer.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continues to be concerned about the escalation of violence in Derna, in eastern Libya, where reported air raids and shelling, some in residential areas, as well as heavy ground clashes are impacting the civilian population following the prolonged encirclement of the city by the Libyan National Army. Civilian deaths and injuries are reported.

The humanitarian situation continues to worsen, due to severe shortages of water, medical supplies and food. An estimated 125,000 people are impacted. But despite urgent needs, humanitarian access is limited. Apart from a one-off delivery of dialysis equipment and medicines to Derna Hospital on 28 May, no humanitarian supplies have been delivered to the city since mid-March.

Civilians are reportedly prevented from leaving areas of the city where there is active fighting. The United Nations calls on parties to the conflict to allow civilians who wish to leave the city to do so. The United Nations also calls on the parties to immediately enable safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, and to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs remains worried for the safety and protection of some 130,000 people who have been displaced from Syria’s Afrin district to Tal Refaat and surrounding areas following hostilities that began on 20 January.

The United Nations continues to provide humanitarian assistance to those who are displaced, including food, nutrition, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, and protection services.
Despite continued restrictions on the movement of displaced people beyond the area around the displacement sites, between 20 and 25 May, an estimated 3,000 people were reportedly able to return to Afrin district.

Nearly 200 people who attempted to return during this period, however – including the elderly, children and women - are reportedly stranded. They have not been given access to their destination inside Afrin district nor allowed to return to the displacement sites.

The United Nations calls on all parties to the conflict, and those with influence over them, to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, to ensure freedom of movement, and to allow for safe, sustained and unhindered access by all humanitarian parties to those in need.

The UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov, briefed the Security Council yesterday afternoon by videoconference and told Council members that the previous two days had seen the most serious escalation since the 2014 conflict between Hamas and Israel and a warning to all of how close to the brink of war we are every day.

He called on the international community to join him in unequivocally condemning the indiscriminate targeting of civilians and the dangerous escalation in Gaza.

Mr. Mladenov welcomed the efforts of Egypt to ensure that calm prevails and reiterate his call on all sides to uphold all understandings and prevent the recurrence of any incidents that jeopardize the lives of Israelis and Palestinians alike. He said that it is imperative that this period of calm be preserved at all costs. No one in Gaza can afford another war.

The International Labour Organization has released a report that says the unemployment rate in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is now the highest in the world, peaking at 27.4 per cent in 2017. Women and youth are particularly affected, with almost half of women being unemployed.

The report calls for dialogue and a joint search for solutions to bring about decent work to the occupied Arab territories. You can find the full report on ILO’s website.

Today is World No Tobacco Day. This year the World Health Organization has partnered with the World Heart Federation to highlight the link between tobacco and cardiovascular diseases, which are the world’s leading causes of death, responsible for 17.9 million deaths annually.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has called on the Mexican authorities to take urgent steps to end a wave of disappearances in and around the city of Nuevo Laredo, amid strong indications that these crimes have been committed by federal security forces.

The Human Rights Office in the country has documented the disappearance of 21 men and two women in Nuevo Laredo in the Tamaulipas State from February up to 16 May 2018. According to a local human rights organization, there have been at least 40 disappearances during this period.

Tomorrow is International Day of UN Peacekeepers and the Secretary-General will mark that occasion at 9:30 am by laying a wreath in honour of the fallen peacekeepers at the Peacekeepers’ Memorial Site in the North Lawn at UN Headquarters.

He will then preside over an event, which begins at 10 am at the ECOSOC Chamber, where the Dag Hammarskjold Medal will be posthumously awarded to UN personnel who fell while serving under the UN flag last year.

Mongolia has paid its regular budget dues in full. This brings the Honour Roll to 102.
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