Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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28-Jun-2018 00:15:39
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General will travel to Bangladesh, on 1 July, in a joint visit with Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

Their visit will highlight the generosity of Bangladesh in hosting the largest refugee influx of 2017 and the need for the international community to do more. The visit also aims to lay the ground for further dialogue with the Government of Bangladesh on medium-term planning for the refugee situation and to reiterate the UN and World Bank’s support for finding comprehensive solutions to the situation of the Rohingya people.

In Dhaka, the Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank Group will have bilateral meetings with Bangladeshi authorities, including with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

On 2 July, they will travel to Cox’s Bazar to visit Rohingya refugee communities and humanitarian workers and advocate for more donor support.

The Secretary-General and the President of the World Bank Group will be accompanied by the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, Dr. Natalia Kanem.

They will review the situation of the newly arrived Rohingyas in Bangladesh, and assess progress towards a safe, voluntary and dignified return of refugees in line with international standards.

The Secretary-General is expected back in New York on 3 July.

The Secretary-General spoke this morning at the inaugural global High-level Conference of heads of counter-terrorism agencies of the UN Member States, telling them that the frontline against terrorism is increasingly in cyberspace. He said that terrorists are exploiting social media, encrypted communications and the dark web to spread propaganda, recruit new followers and coordinate attacks.

He said that recently, there has been a shift towards less sophisticated attacks against softer targets that are more difficult to detect and prevent.

As the threat from terrorism continues to evolve, the Secretary-General said, we must adapt and learn lessons from what works and what does not, and our response needs to be as agile and multifaceted as the threat. He said that means starting at the grassroots, where families and local communities are at the front line of efforts to protect vulnerable people from succumbing to pernicious ideologies. He added that it means increasing our support to civil society organizations, who make a unique and invaluable contribution to tackling terrorism and preventing violent extremism.

In a statement, the Secretary-General said he is deeply concerned about the increasing frequency, intensity, complexity and geographic scope of violent conflict between farmers and herders, as well as related banditry, extortion and cattle rustling, in several countries across West and Central Africa. He condemns the resulting loss of life, property and livelihoods, as well as population displacement, which undermines peaceful coexistence between communities in many of the affected countries. It is also detrimental to regional stability.

The Secretary-General stresses that all attacks targeting civilians violate international humanitarian law. He urges all concerned governments, regional organizations, civil society and other relevant actors to work together to find acceptable and lasting solutions to these conflicts, in full compliance with existing regional regulatory frameworks and international humanitarian and human rights law.

The Secretary-General expresses the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and governments of the affected countries. He reiterates the readiness and commitment of the United Nations to support national and regional efforts to resolve disputes between farmers and herders.

In a statement yesterday, the Secretary-General welcomed the visit to Ethiopia on 26 June by a high-level delegation from Eritrea as a first concrete step in the process of normalizing relations between the two countries. The Secretary-General notes that diplomatic overtures to ease tensions and resolve the longstanding dispute between the two countries will have a far reaching positive impact on the whole region.

The Secretary-General once again reiterates the readiness of the United Nations to play a role in support of the two countries in the implementation of the boundary decision or in any other area they would deem useful for the United Nations to assist.

As hostilities escalate in southern Syria, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that civilian deaths continue to be reported and up to 66,000 people have been displaced. Reportedly, the majority of the displaced fled from eastern Dara’a towards the Jordanian border, many of whom remain stranded in the desert area with little access to humanitarian assistance. At least 13,000 have fled toward Quneitra governorate and hundreds of others have reportedly fled to Government-controlled areas in As-Sweida governorate. The number of internally displaced people is expected to rise as hostilities continue.

At least 29 civilian deaths have been reported as a result of ground-based strikes and airstrikes in the last day, and at least 50 have been reported since 17 June.

While routes used by interagency cross border convoys from Jordan remain open, planned convoys in the past two days were postponed due to ongoing hostilities and safety concerns. The United Nations is monitoring the situation closely and the convoy will proceed as soon as the security situation allows.

Aid to people in need continues to be delivered to newly displaced people from supplies that were pre-positioned in anticipation of the emergency in south and supplies delivered in the past week.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners stand ready to respond to tens of thousands of displaced people at shelters and sites and through crossline deliveries from Syria as soon as access allows.

Meanwhile, we are alarmed by reports of two vehicle-borne improvised explosions yesterday in Afrin city, which reportedly killed 11 people and wounded 23 others. The explosions came hours after armed clashes reportedly took place in the same area.

The United Nations reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligations to take all feasible measures to protect civilians.

Yesterday, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary di Carlo, briefed the Security Council on the implementation of resolution 2231, concerning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for Iran.

This morning, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Bintou Keita, briefed the Security Council on South Sudan. She said that the security situation on the ground remains of serious concern, with parties to the conflict in consistent breach of the cessation of hostilities agreement that they themselves pledged to honour. She added that the continued fighting has had a direct impact on the humanitarian situation. Hunger and malnutrition have reached record levels and 1.75 million people are on the brink of a catastrophe.

Turning to the peace process, Ms. Keita said that engagement by regional leaders and face to face meetings between President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar are positive developments which must be supported and capitalized upon. However, she stressed that peace in South Sudan will not be achieved or sustained merely on the basis of a bilateral deal between the two leaders, adding that peace will only be sustained if the revitalized agreement is inclusive, fair, addresses the root causes of the conflict and engages all stakeholders, including women and youth. She also emphasized the need for support and engagement of the Security Council so that all stakeholders understand that a peaceful South Sudan will be supported by the international community, while there would be consequences for those who continue to fuel the conflict.

In a statement yesterday the Secretary-General commended the continued efforts of the High-Level Revitalization Forum led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development to facilitate the peace process in South Sudan. In this connection, he said he is encouraged by the Declaration of Agreement signed by the Parties yesterday in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Yesterday we also issued a statement on Libya in which the Secretary-General said he is concerned about the latest developments in the "Oil Crescent" region. He called for de-escalation and for the return of all natural resources, their production and their revenues to the control of the recognized Libyan authorities.

The Secretary-General also recalled the need for unity of Libyan institutions and the exclusive right of the National Oil Corporation to export the country's oil.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General announced the appointment of Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia as his Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU).

She will succeed Haile Menkerios of South Africa to whom the Secretary-General reiterates his deep gratitude and appreciation for his dedicated service to the organization.

Ms. Zewde is the first woman appointed to this position. Currently Director-General of the United Nations Office at Nairobi (UNON), she brings three decades of progressively responsible experience at the national, regional and international levels.

The International Labour Organization today released a report which warns about a looming global care crisis.

In 2015, 2.1 billion people were in need of care, including 1.9 billion children and 200 million older persons. By 2030, this number is expected to reach 2.3 billion, driven by an additional 200 million older persons and children.

The report stresses that investment is needed to deal with this rising demand. Around 269 million new jobs could be created if investment in education, health and social work were doubled by 2030, the report says. At the moment, women are performing more than three-quarters of the time spent in unpaid care work, that’s three times as much as men.

UNICEF reports that they spent over half a billion dollars to deliver emergency, life-saving supplies to children in urgent need of assistance in 2017. This is the agency’s highest expenditure on supplies for humanitarian crises, as famine, droughts, conflict and malnutrition threatened the survival of millions, especially in South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and north-east Nigeria.

Besides nutrition-related supplies, UNICEF sent life-saving water and sanitation supplies, vaccines and pharmaceuticals, as well as education and clothing items to children and families caught in, or displaced by conflict, natural disasters and other crises across 61 countries.

Most emergency supplies went to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, Syria, the Lake Chad region and South Sudan.

In 2017, UNICEF and its partners substantially reduced vaccine prices, thanks to efforts to influence markets. For the first time, a full round of vaccines for a child under the age of one is available at under US$18 for low-income countries – down from the 2013 price of US $24.46.

In total, UNICEF procured US$3.46 billion worth of supplies and services for children in 150 countries and areas last year.

A study led by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that a new formulation of a drug to prevent excessive bleeding following childbirth could save thousands of women’s lives in low- and lower-middle-income countries.

Currently WHO recommends oxytocin as the first-choice drug for preventing excessive bleeding after childbirth.

But this drug must be stored and transported at 2–8 degrees Celsius, which is hard to do in many countries.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, has shown an alternative drug – heat-stable carbetocin – to be as safe and effective as oxytocin. The next step is regulatory review and approval by countries.

Approximately 70,000 women die every year because of post-partum haemorrhage – increasing the risk that their babies also die within one month.
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