Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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13-Jun-2018 00:29:49
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, said today that he is extremely concerned about the military developments in Hudaydah. Further military escalation will have serious consequences on the dire humanitarian situation in the country and will have an impact on his efforts to resume political negotiations to reach an inclusive political settlement to the conflict in Yemen. He reiterated that there is no military solution to the conflict.

Mr. Griffiths said that he is in constant contact with all the parties involved to negotiate arrangements for Hudaydah that would address political, humanitarian, security concerns of all concerned parties.

He calls on the parties to engage constructively with UN efforts to spare Hudaydah any military confrontation. He also calls on the parties to exercise restraint and to give peace a chance.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are present in Hudaydah and continue to work to deliver the most critical programmes in partnership with local organizations.

Humanitarian partners are positioning 70,000 rapid response kits at humanitarian service points across Hudaydah governorate, including in Hudaydah City. Rapid response kits include food rations for a family for two weeks, as well as hygiene items and other essential goods. They are intended to cover people’s most immediate needs in line with planning projections.

Partners will provide rapid response kits to newly-displaced families. In addition, vulnerable families are receiving monthly food rations, hygiene kits, non-food items kits, emergency shelter kits and protection services. Partners are also providing fuel for water pumps and emergency rooms, as well as sewage pumps and support for healthcare services.

All parties must uphold their obligation to facilitate humanitarian assistance, including by ensuring access and refraining from targeting humanitarian supplies or other assets. Aid operations will be severely challenged in the event of sustained fighting in densely populated urban areas. People seeking to flee conflict-affected areas must be allowed to leave without hindrance.

The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has invited senior Iranian, Russian and Turkish officials to Geneva for consultations on 18 and 19 June 2018 on the way ahead in the establishment of a constitutional committee, and they have accepted. The Special Envoy will in addition be inviting other countries for relevant discussions in due course. He will update the press corps during a press availability in Geneva tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the UN continues to be deeply concerned for the safety and protection of up to 2.5 million civilians in Idleb Governorate, including some 1.2 million internally displaced people, following continued airstrikes in the area. At least 66 women, children and men have reportedly lost their lives and scores more have been injured in airstrikes over the past week.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also continues to receive alarming reports of airstrikes endangering and killing civilians in Hassakeh Governorate, following a recent intensification of anti-Da’esh operations.

According to a new study by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, infant mortality, which in most parts of the world is in decreasing, has not declined for the last decade in Gaza.

The Director of UNRWA's Health Department, Dr. Akihiro Seita, says that this is an extraordinary warning sign and an alarming trend in the overall situation not only of health for infants but also the health of entire Palestine refugee population in Gaza. Infant mortality is a barometer of the health of an entire population.

The new study found that the infant mortality rate among Palestine refugees in Gaza was 22.7 per 1,000 live births. This is within the same range of the previously reported rate of 22.4 per 1,000 live births in 2015 and 20.2 per 1,000 live births from the study conducted in 2006.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa, François Louncény Fall, briefed the Security this morning, warning that serious threats remained on the political, security and socio-economic stability of the region.

All 11 countries are either in the middle or at the start of an electoral cycle, he noted, and are experiencing political tensions, including countries impacted by conflict such as the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Mr. Fall detailed recent political developments in Chad, Gabon, the Republic of Congo and Burundi. He also stressed that violence in Cameroon, both linked to Boko Haram and to tensions in the anglophone regions, were a source of major concern. The UN will continue to call on all actors to refrain from any act of violence, he said.

Mr. Fall also stressed that the situation in the Central African Republic continues to have a negative impact on the situation in the region, with massive movements of population.

He said that since its mandate was last renewed in 2015, the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) has proved its effectiveness as a tool to advance the Secretary-General’s prevention agenda in Central Africa.

We look forward to the Security Council’s support to the renewal of UNOCA’s mandate for another three-year period, as recommended by the Secretary-General in his report, he said.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, yesterday said he is increasingly concerned by the situation in the Sahel, where nearly six million people are struggling to meet their daily food needs. Severe malnutrition is also threatening the lives of 1.6 million children in the region. These are levels unseen since the crisis of 2012, and the most critical months are still ahead.

The crisis has been triggered by scarce and erratic rainfall in 2017, which resulted in acute water, crop and pasture shortages and livestock losses.

With support from the UN and partners, national authorities in the impacted countries have developed response plans focusing on pastoral and food security needs. A scale-up in operations to reach 3.6 million people with food security interventions is already underway. However, UN response plans across the six countries are only 26 per cent funded. Mr. Lowcock called on donors to urgently provide further funding, adding that the worst could still be averted.

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General welcomed the agreement settling the difference between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the so-called ‘name issue.’

The Secretary-General commended the parties for their determination to bring this long-standing dispute to an end, and he also paid tribute to his Personal Envoy, Matthew Nimetz, who, he said, “embodied the values of perseverance, patience and quiet diplomacy” in facilitating this historic agreement. That statement, and one from Mr. Nimetz himself, are online.

Some interesting facts about Mr. Nimetz, that attest to his perseverance - he was appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in December 1999, following the resignation of the first Personal Envoy for the Greece-FYROM talks, Cyrus Vance. Mr. Nimetz had been involved in the process since March 1994, was deputy to the Personal Envoy since November 1997.

In a statement also issued yesterday, the Secretary-General welcomed the formation of a new Government in Madagascar and the recent appointment of Christian Ntsay as Prime Minister.

He appealed to all political actors to strengthen dialogue in the country and reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to support peaceful, credible and inclusive elections this year.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime today released a study that says that at least 2.5 million migrants were smuggle worldwide in 2016. Migrant smuggling occurred in all regions of the world and generated an income for smugglers of $7 billion dollars that year.

The study found smugglers advertise their business where migrants can be easily reached. This includes neighbourhoods that are home to diaspora communities, refugee camps or various social networks.

The report recommends making regular migration opportunities more accessible in origin countries and refugee camps, improving international cooperation to tackle smuggling networks, and raising awareness in communities of origin about the dangers involved in smuggling.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and its Global Soil Partnership launched today a new programme to boost soil productivity and reduce soil degradation for greater food and nutrition security in Africa.
The Afrisoils programme aims to increase soil productivity in 47 African countries by 30 percent, and reduce soil degradation by 25 percent in the next ten years.

Africa is the second driest continent, with nearly half of its surface made up of desert, and 40 percent of it affected by desertification.

About 65 per cent of the continent's farm land is affected by erosion-induced losses of topsoil and soil nutrients. On top of this, less than half of Africa's land is suitable for agriculture, and of this, only 16 percent is of high quality.

Faced with these challenges, despite progress in improving agriculture, Africa as a whole remains largely food insecure, directly affecting 70 percent of its population who rely on the little available land to grow food and make a living.

Out of the 815 million undernourished people globally, 243 million are from Africa.

Today is International Albinism Awareness Day. In his message, the Secretary-General urged for more to be done globally to raise awareness about the challenges that people with albinism face so they can live free of discrimination, and he commended the Regional Action Plan on Albinism in Africa, which has been endorsed by the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, as well as by the Pan African Parliament.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) welcomed the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly which proclaims 16 June as the International Day of Family Remittances. The resolution calls for IFAD to facilitate the observance of the Day.

It further acknowledges the importance of remittances for development. Remittances are expected to exceed a cumulative US$ 6.5 trillion during the 2015 to 2030 timeframe to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Half of these flows will go to rural areas where hunger and poverty are the highest.

Today, remittances are an important source of income for 800 million people across the globe. Recipient families spend about 75 per cent of remittances to fulfil basic needs. The remaining 25 per cent – over$100 billion a year – are available for savings, education and investments in income generating activities that help families build their future and potentially transform local economies.

IFAD said the resolution is a reminder that more needs to be done to develop investments mechanisms, customized to the needs of remittance families, and more efficient and cheaper money transfers and financial services for families to invest.
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