Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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06-Jun-2018 00:26:38
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General welcomes the 5 June declaration of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) “in support of the people of Nicaragua”, which calls on the Government and all members of society to engage constructively in dialogue to address the country’s challenges and to stop all forms of violence.

The Secretary-General is encouraged that the Government is working with the OAS on electoral issues as well as with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on the establishment of a Group of International Independent Experts to investigate the recent violence and expresses his solidarity with the people of Nicaragua.

The United Nations system stands ready to provide technical support to the dialogue mediated by the Nicaraguan Catholic Bishop Conference and to the IACHR initiatives.

The Secretary-General welcomes the Memorandum of Understanding reached by the Government of Myanmar, UNHCR, and UNDP on the UN system’s support to creating conditions conducive to voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable Rohingya refugee returns from Bangladesh, and their reintegration in Rakhine State. As these conditions are not yet in place, he welcomes the agreement by the Government of Myanmar to take this first step to address the root causes of the conflict in Rakhine.

The Secretary-General encourages Myanmar to take decisive steps to implement the agreement. He also reiterates his call for an end to violence, accountability for perpetrators, redress for victims, humanitarian access to all areas in Rakhine State, and the implementation of the recommendations of the Rakhine Advisory Commission.

First, the Secretary-General is appointing Mr. López-Calva of Mexico as Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and Caribbean of the UN Development Programme (UNDP). He succeeds Jessica Faieta of Ecuador who has taken the post of Deputy Special Representative for Colombia and Deputy Head of the UN Verification Mission in the country.

Ms. Ulrika Modéer of Sweden is appointed as Director of Bureau for External Relations and Advocacy of UNDP, succeeding Michael O'Neill of the United Kingdom.

Ms. Asako Okai of Japan is the new Director of UNDP’s Crisis Response Unit, in lieu of Izumi Nakamitsu, who is now High Representative for Disarmament Affairs.

The Secretary-General is appointing Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa of Nigeria as Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, succeeding Abdoulaye Mar Dieye of Senegal.

With these appointments, the senior leadership at UNDP has now reached gender parity.

UNICEF said yesterday that since the start of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), they have reached more than 300,000 people with lifesaving information about how to avoid contracting the deadly virus.

The ongoing campaign includes community workers making in-person home visits, outreach to particularly vulnerable people such as taxi drivers, and the mobilization of community leaders, churches and mass media.

According to the latest figures, a total of 58 Ebola virus disease cases have been reported in DRC: 37 confirmed cases, 14 probable cases and 7 suspected cases. In all, 27 people have died.

WHO stresses that it is important to remain alert as just one person with Ebola can provoke numerous new cases merely by attending a social event.

The UN Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) is supporting the establishment of an additional medical camp in Itipo, similar to the one in Ibiko. It has dedicated two aircraft for Ebola support, with additional aircrafts providing cargo movement. Since the start of the outbreak, the UN mission has organized over 32 flights in support of the Ebola response, and has flown 141 tonnes of cargo for WHO and the Ministry of Health.

The United Nations in Guatemala is participating in an extensive needs assessment following the eruption of the El Fuego volcano.

The humanitarian coordination team—comprised of over 60 experts from the UN, NGOs and the National Coordination agency—had to halt their work near the affected areas due to an evacuation alert yesterday, following new explosions of the Volcán de Fuego.

The pyroclastic material—that is the fragments of rock erupted by the volcano— were directed towards the city of Escuintla, where the largest number of shelters are located and where the needs assessment would be focusing.

National authorities warn that conditions could be aggravated this afternoon due to rain.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is concerned by a further escalation of violence in Derna, in eastern Libya. Conflict has now moved into densely populated areas placing civilians trapped in the city at considerable risk. There are also reports that civilians wishing to leave the city are unable to do so. The UN calls for the protection of civilians under applicable international humanitarian and human rights law and urges the parties to the conflict to allow civilians who wish to leave to do so.

Derna’s only hospital is in an area of active conflict and has reportedly ceased operations. Humanitarian needs in the city are rapidly increasing, with severe shortages of medicine and medical supplies, food, water, fuel and cooking gas reported. While limited medical equipment entered Derna last week, this does not address urgent needs.

Humanitarian workers are distributing urgently-needed items to several hundred families which have managed to leave Derna. However, all items pre-positioned to enter Derna to respond to life-saving needs are pending approval by the Libyan National Army. Calls by the Humanitarian Coordinator for a humanitarian pause to allow for the entry of humanitarian goods and for the safe passage of civilians remain unheeded. The United Nations reiterates these calls.

Zahir Tanin, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, welcomes the condemnations and expressions of concern by Kosovo’s leaders regarding recent ethnically motivated incidents.

Mr. Tanin states that "there is no place for intimidation in a democratic society. The rule of law should apply to all." He calls upon all relevant authorities to intensify their efforts to fight against impunity and bring perpetrators to justice, as a cornerstone of furthering dialogue and building trust between communities.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein today condemned the alleged extra-judicial killings of suspected drug offenders in Bangladesh.

Some 130 people have reportedly been shot dead by security forces across Bangladesh in the three weeks since 15 May and another 13,000 arrested.

The High Commissioner called on the Government of Bangladesh to investigate the reports of extrajudicial killings, and stressed that there must not be impunity for human rights violations in the name of drug control.

He expressed concern that already vulnerable communities living in slums were particularly being targeted and had been subjected to numerous raids.

The crackdown has reportedly seriously hampered the ability of people who use drugs to access health services, as they fear that they will be arrested or even killed if they seek treatment at Drop-In Centres.

UNESCO and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) today issued a report entitled Addressing Anti-Semitism Through Education – Guidelines for Policymakers. This publication is the first on the subject by a United Nations agency and was produced with experts from Europe, Central Asia and North America.

It examines the complex manifestations of anti-Semitic prejudice and discrimination and offers best practice recommendations to fight them through education.

UNESCO will organize a high-level debate on the subject within the framework of the General Assembly next September. UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay stressed that the struggle against anti-Semitism cannot be undertaken by Jewish communities alone. Fighting it means defending human rights and liberties, because racism and anti-Semitism are one and the same in that they share hate of otherness, she said.

Guidelines for Educators on Countering Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims were published in 2011.

Today is Russian Language Day, which falls on the birthday of the great Russian poet A.S. Pushkin.

Here in New York, there will be a poetry recital at 1:15 p.m. in the Albano Building and at 6:30 p.m. there will be a music, poetry and play performance in the Trusteeship Council sponsored by the Russian Mission.
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