Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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17-Jul-2018 00:21:25
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

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Yesterday evening, the Secretary-General held a press conference in San Jose with Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada.

The Secretary-General said that it is absolutely essential to end the violence in Nicaragua immediately and revitalize the national dialogue there for a political solution. He noted the recent human rights report on Nicaragua and affirmed the Government’s responsibility to protect its citizens – a principle that should not be forgotten at a time when we unfortunately have a death toll that is absolutely shocking.

The Secretary-General also spoke at the inauguration of the commemorative week of the 40th Anniversary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. He stressed the importance of the Court, saying that “there can be no development without peace, or peace without development. And there can be no development or peace without respect for human rights.”

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says today that, three months after the violence started there, an estimated 280 people have died and 1,830 have been injured, in violence that has been overwhelmingly perpetrated by the State and by pro-government armed elements. Those killed include at least 19 police officers.

In closed consultations this morning, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar, briefed the Security Council on the UN force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).

In the afternoon, the Security Council will hold an open meeting followed by closed consultations on West Africa. Mohammad Ibn Chambas, the head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA) will give a briefing.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, has wrapped up her first official visit to Bangladesh.

In the capital, Dhaka, she met with the Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and others, and also traveled to Cox’s Bazar where she visited refugee camps and heard of the atrocities committed in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.

In her meetings, the Special Envoy discussed the plight of the Rohingya refugees and expressed her appreciation to the Government and people of Bangladesh helping those seeing refuge from violence.

She said that the ongoing crisis requires a political solution that addresses the underlying issues.

Also visiting Bangladesh is William Lacy Swing, the head of the UN Migration Agency (IOM).

He stressed that it is crucial for the world to remain focused on the crisis, warning that as monsoon rains turned many hillsides to mud and with just one quarter of joint funding appeal for the entire response met so far, much of the progress made in recent months was at serious risk of collapsing.

He also emphasized that, in addition to the refugees’ needs, the crisis is having a tremendous impact on the host community.

The UN mission in the Central African Republic reports that three UN peacekeepers were wounded today in an exchange of fire when they responded to an attack by anti-Balaka combatants on Pombolo village, in the southeastern prefecture of Mbomou. At least one civilian was killed and 20 others were injured. The casualties of the armed combatants are currently being verified. The assailants fled into nearby bushes, while local villagers sought protection outside the UN mission’s base, where the injured also received first aid.

Separately, the mission also reports that peacekeepers yesterday responded to an intrusion into the premises of an international NGO in Batangafo, in the northwestern prefecture of Ouham. The unidentified intruders shot and injured a local employee of the NGO.

The UN Human Rights Office said today they are deeply concerned about a surge in violence perpetrated across communal lines in the Mopti region of central Mali. In recent weeks, UN human rights staff have documented an alarming trend of civilians being driven from their homes, either after being directly targeted because of the community they belong to, or after deadly attacks on members of their community in neighboring villages.

The Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, will visit Uganda from 19 to 21 July. Mr. Khare is expected to meet with President Yoweri Museveni and senior officials of the Government of Uganda. He will also visit and meet with the leadership and personnel of the UN Regional Service Centre in Entebbe. The Regional Service Centre provides a wide range of administrative, logistics and information and communications technology services to 13 missions in Africa, representing over 63 per cent of all UN peacekeeping and special political missions worldwide.

Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča is in Geneva today for the 14th General Cooperation Meeting between the Secretariats of the United Nations and the League of Arab States.

He is co-chairing the three-day meeting with Khaled Al-Habbas, the Arab League’s Assistant Secretary-General for International Political Affairs.

Representatives of more than 30 UN and Arab League funds, programmes and agencies will take part in the meeting to discuss international peace and stability and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, among other issues.

Today, the Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Jamie McGoldrick, visited the Gaza Strip and called for urgent measures to prevent further deterioration in the humanitarian situation there, following intensified movement restrictions. These were reportedly applied in reaction to fires caused by incendiary kites from Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) is implementing various employment generation interventions in Gaza to mitigate the impact of the harsh socio-economic conditions.

First, UNDP will create more than 2,500 immediate and short-term job opportunities over a 12-month period, directly benefiting nearly 3,000 people, with the aim ensuring that 40% of job placements are women. Second, a rapid employment scheme was also recently launched, covering approximately 1,500 young men and women, including persons with disabilities, who benefit from short to medium term employment opportunities.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that hostilities in southwestern Syria continue to take a heavy toll on the civilian population, with airstrikes reported on towns in Quneitra Govenorate.

Today, airstrikes on Ain Teineh in rural Quneitra reportedly hit a school used as shelter for Internally Displaced Persons, killing at least 10 women and children and injuring many others.

The situation remains extremely precarious for people displaced by recent hostilities. We estimate that some 160,000 people are currently located in Quneitra Governorate, part of up to 234,500 people who are displaced throughout southern Syria.

The focus of the High-Level Political Forum today is centered on the presentation of Voluntary National Reviews, with parallel sessions held this morning.

The Voluntary National Review Lab also continued to conduct sessions, providing an informal platform for reflection by Member States, major groups and other stakeholders to take stock of the experience thus far with the Reviews, with the aim to further improve the process at the High-Level Political Forum.
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