Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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14-Jun-2018 00:18:10
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Humanitarian partners are rushing to provide life-saving assistance to thousands of vulnerable families in the port city of Hodeidah, where fighting has escalated.

Lise Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said that dozens of UN staff are in the city helping to deliver food, water and health services. We estimate that 600,000 civilians are in the city—many of whom are dependent on assistance to survive.

Agencies have pre-positioned 63,000 metric tonnes of food, tens of thousands of emergency kits, nutrition supplies, water and fuel. Medical teams have been dispatched and humanitarian service points established.

Ms. Grande said that yesterday, even as the city was being shelled and bombarded, a UN-contracted vessel, which is docked at Hodeidah port, off-loaded thousands of metric tonnes of food. Two more vessels are making preparations to do the same. Today, partners are distributing emergency boxes with food and hygiene supplies to people which have been displaced by the fighting south of the city.

The UN and partners are requesting $3 billion through the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan to support 22.2 million people in need across Yemen. To date, $1.5 billion, half of the resources necessary for the year, has been received.

Today, the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are delivering urgently needed humanitarian assistance for 51,000 women, children and men in Yalda, Babila and Beit Sahem in southern Damascus. The supplies consist of food, health and nutrition supplies, and core relief items.

The area was last reached on 5 June, when the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) delivered aid for 3,500 people in need.

The United Nations continues to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all in need in line with obligations under international humanitarian law.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bintou Keita, will travel to the Central African Republic from 18 to 22 June. She will spend time in the capital, Bangui, and will also visit the sub-prefecture of Ndele, in the country’s northeast.

Ms. Keita will meet with senior government officials, personnel from the peacekeeping mission in the country, MINUSCA, as well as other UN officials, members of civil society and relevant stakeholders to reaffirm the UN’s commitment to supporting the Central African institutions and people. Ms. Keita will also meet with the Panel of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic in support of its efforts to promote peaceful dialogue and an end to violence in the country.

Also on the Central African Republic, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, today welcomed the signing of an Action Plan to end and prevent grave violations against children between the Mouvement Patriotique pour la Centrafrique and the United Nations and asks for its immediate implementation.

A report by the UN Human Rights Office, published today, says that there is an urgent need to address past and ongoing human rights violations and abuses and deliver justice for all people in Kashmir. The report says the Kashmiri people have suffered a conflict for seven decades that has claimed or ruined numerous lives.

The 49-page report – the first ever issued by the UN on the human rights situation in Indian-Administered and Pakistan-Administered Kashmir – details human rights violations and abuses on both sides of the Line of Control, and highlights a situation of chronic impunity for violations committed by security forces.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, will be urging the UN Human Rights Council to consider establishing a commission of inquiry to conduct a comprehensive independent international investigation into allegations of human rights violations in Kashmir.

UNICEF warns today that the torrential rain and strong winds that hit Rohingya refugee camps and makeshift settlements in Bangladesh in the past week are threatening the health and safety of thousands of children.

200,000 Rohingya refugees – over 50 per cent children -- are currently exposed to the dual-dangers of flooding and landslides, with 25,000 at highest risk.

Rehabilitation efforts are underway to fix the almost 900 shelters, 15 water points, over 200 latrines, two UNICEF-supported health facilities and two food distribution sites which have been damaged or destroyed in the camps.

Several learning centres and Child and Women Friendly Spaces run by UNICEF and its partners have been temporarily closed because of the bad weather.

The arrival of the monsoon rain also increases health risks within the camps, particularly water borne diseases such as acute watery diarrhea and cholera.

In response to questions about a request to close the Department of Political Affairs’ Liaison Office in Nepal, the Spokesman confirmed that we received a letter from the Permanent Mission of Nepal last week, requesting the closure of the Liaison Office in Kathmandu in the next three months, in light of Nepal’s achievements in the peace process.

We will review it closely, and discuss with the Government of Nepal how best to proceed.

The UN Development Programme in Guatemala reports that a training session started this week for the national team working on the needs assessment after the eruption of the El Fuego volcano on 3 June, which affected the lives of over 1,7 million people and killed over 110.

It is conducted by the UN Development Programme, the World Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in coordination with the European Union.

The UN and the national authorities have set up the recovery cluster to establish a coordination mechanism to start building back better.

Upon request from the Government, UNDP also deployed a volcanologist and has provided equipment to facilitate the authorities’ emergency management and information sharing.

UNICEF issued a new analysis today that found that almost two-thirds of the world’s children under 1 year old – nearly 90 million – live in countries where their fathers are not entitled by law to a single day of paid paternity leave.

Ninety-two countries do not have national policies in place that ensure new fathers get adequate paid time off with their newborn babies, including India and Nigeria – which all have high infant populations.

In comparison, other countries with high infant populations, including Brazil and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all have national paid paternity leave policies – albeit offering relatively short-term entitlements.

UNICEF urges governments to implement national family-friendly policies that support early childhood development – including paid paternity leave – to help provide parents with the time, resources and information they need to care for their children.

The new analysis forms part of UNICEF’s Super Dads campaign, now in its second year, which aims to break down barriers preventing fathers from playing an active role in their young children’s development.

The campaign moment celebrates Father’s Day – recognized in more than 80 countries in June – and focuses on the importance of love, play, protection and good nutrition for the healthy development of young children’s brains.

Today is World Blood Donor Day. The theme this year is “Be there for someone else. Give blood. Share life” and it highlights the human values of altruism, respect, empathy and kindness which underline and sustain voluntary unpaid blood donation systems. It also seeks to motivate people in good health who have never given blood to begin doing so, particularly young people.

The host country for the Day is Greece, through the Hellenic National Blood Centre. There will be blood donation events in Athens and around the world.

Tomorrow is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which raises awareness of the abuse and suffering inflicted to some of our older generations. This issue will only get worse as the number of older people will substantially grow in the next 15 years, and the Day asks countries to address it in their national action plans.

On Saturday, we observe the International Day of Family Remittances, which recognizes the significant financial contribution migrant workers make to the well-being of their families back home and to the sustainable development of their countries of origin.

And Sunday is the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought. The theme this year is “Land has true value – invest in it,” and calls on people to move away from unsustainable land use and promotes consuming organic products to avoid land degradation.
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