Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
11-Jul-2018 00:17:42
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General has written a letter to the Prime Minister of Japan to express his condolences for the loss of life and destruction caused by landslides and flooding across western and central parts of the country.

He commended the Government’s efforts to help people affected and expressed his admiration of the domestic search-and-rescue teams to aid those in need.

The Secretary-General said that the United Nations stands ready to provide support if requested.

This morning the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke to Security Council Members on “Understanding and Addressing Climate-Related Security Risks.”

She said that while the impact of climate change may be spread unevenly across different regions today, no country will be spared from its consequences in the long-term and governments need to act together to find effective and sustainable solutions to this challenge.

She stressed that climate change is linked not just to environmental issues but also to food insecurity and conflicts as she saw first-hand during her recent trip to the Lake Chad Basin region.

“Fragile countries are in danger of becoming stuck in a cycle of conflict and climate disaster,” she warned, and added that action on climate change is urgent and an integral part of building a culture of prevention and ensuring peace.

On South Sudan, this morning the Secretary-General said in a tweet that he is appalled by recent reports on yet more brutally violent attacks, including sexual violence, on civilians in the country.

He said these are gross violations of international law and may amount to war crimes, and he called for all perpetrators to be held accountable.

Yesterday, the Secretary-General congratulated the brave team that rescued 12 boys and their football coach from flooded caves in Thailand.

In a tweet, he said this was such a relief for the boys and their families, adding that it is an example of international solidarity to inspire us all.

The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reports that it has temporarily deployed 40 peacekeepers to Bijombo, an isolated area of South Kivu where violent clashes have been reported between local armed groups for several weeks.

The Mission has received reports that schools, health centres, churches and entire villages have been destroyed, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee to neighboring areas such as Uvira.

The peacekeepers will promote de-escalation of conflict and facilitate the work of the UN Mission’s personnel, including human rights and protection officers, who have been in the field since this morning to assess and respond to the protection needs of the civilian population.

Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock is wrapping up his three-day mission to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Today, he had constructive discussions with authorities, including the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s National Assembly, and the Minister of Public Health.

These meetings focused on the progress made in reducing human suffering in the past 20 years, but also on significant remaining humanitarian needs, particularly in malnutrition, water and sanitation, and availability of life-saving drugs and equipment.

Some 20 per cent of children under five are stunted and nearly half of children in rural areas do not have access to safe drinking water.

While significant progress has been made in health, serious shortages in drugs and equipment remain. For example, a hospital in Sinchon County in South Hwanghae Province has 140 tuberculosis patients but only has drugs to treat 40 of them.

Mr. Lowcock also met with diplomats based in Pyongyang as well as the UN Humanitarian Country Team.

More predictable funding is urgently needed to meet the immediate needs of the most vulnerable people. Funding has declined dramatically since 2012. This year, the Needs and Priorities Plan has received less than 11 per cent of the $111 million requested to provide urgent life-saving assistance for 6 million people.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continues to receive reports of hostilities in Dara’a city as well as in the Yarmouk basin area in Syria’s southwestern Dara’a governorate. Up to 10,000 people were reportedly displaced towards the Dara’a and Quneitra countryside due to the fighting in the Yarmouk basin.

Up to 234,500 people remain internally displaced in Dara’a and Quneitra governorates in southern Syria. This includes a majority who are in camps in Quneitra, as well as some 30,000 to 35,000 who have moved into areas that have recently changed control.

The displaced population reportedly requires food, medical aid and shelter. There are also reports that some people are being prevented from leaving the Yarmouk basin area by the Da’esh-affiliated group in the area.

The United Nations calls on all parties to take all necessary measures to safeguard civilian lives, allow freedom of movement, and protect civilian infrastructure at all times and in accordance with international humanitarian law. It also calls for safe, unimpeded and sustained access to all in need.

Today is World Population Day. This year’s theme is “Family Planning is a Human Right,” which highlights the right of women and men to choose when and how often to embrace parenthood — if at all.

The Day also serves as a reminder for countries to make family planning information and services available and accessible to all their citizens.

The third morning of the High-Level Political Forum convened two sessions: one on perspectives from Small Island Developing States and another on the perspectives of Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and Middle-income Countries.

The session on Small Island Developing States examined the issue of building island and community resilience through the perspective of water and sustainable energy, with acknowledgement that reducing poverty, triggering economic growth and building resilient societies requires harnessing the potential of ecosystems to satisfy the demands of water and energy.

Regarding the other session, many countries in special situations are experiencing rapid urbanization, with rural-urban migration expanding the peripheries of many cities. They often suffer disproportionately from deforestation and loss of biodiversity, declining water availability and degraded water quality, land and soil degradation, desertification, and the adverse impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, floods, droughts and cyclones.

New York City Mayor’s office today announced that New York City has become the first city to submit a voluntary review of its local progress on the Sustainable Development Goals to the United Nations.

The city’s Voluntary Local Review will be presented today at 3:00 p.m. by Commissioner for International Affairs Penny Abeywardena during the High-Level Political Forum session dedicated to local government engagement. The session will be livestreamed on WebTV and the conversation can be followed on social media with the hashtag, #GlobalGoalsNYC.
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