Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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03-Aug-2018 00:17:11
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, told the Security Council that, after having consulted with the parties, he plans to invite them to Geneva on 6 September for a first round of consultations. These consultations, he said, will provide the opportunity for the parties, among other things, to discuss the framework for negotiations, to agree on relevant confidence-building measures and specific plans for moving the process forward.

Mr. Griffiths warned Council members that, despite all our efforts, the pace of war has increased. He said that we have tried to find a way to avoid a battle for the city and the port of Hodeidah. But he added that even though the requirements for such a deal are not yet met, recent efforts have managed to narrow the gap between the two sides in a way that nobody expected.

The Special Envoy said that we must not allow progress or the absence of it on Hodeidah deter us from our primary focus, which is on the search for a political solution to this conflict.

John Ging also briefed the Council on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

Lise Grande, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, said today that strikes yesterday on Yemen’s largest hospital, Al Thawra, were shocking. She added, “Everything we are trying to do to stem the world’s worst cholera epidemic is at risk.”

In response to questions on the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), the Deputy Spokesperson clarified that the Russian personnel mentioned in press reports are not part of UNDOF. In accordance with the 1974 Disengagement of Forces Agreement and its Protocol, UNDOF is comprised of members of the United Nations who are not permanent members of the Security Council.

UNDOF is implementing a gradual return to the area of separation. The ultimate goal for UNDOF is the full return, conditions permitting. Currently, more than one-half of the Mission’s military personnel is deployed on the Bravo side, including its headquarters at Camp Faouar. The safety and security of UNDOF and Observer Group Golan personnel remain paramount as the Mission continues to implement its gradual return.

A key priority in the continued incremental return of UNDOF to the area of separation is the re-opening of the Quneitra crossing between the Alpha and Bravo sides as soon as security conditions permit, as reiterated by the Security Council in its resolution 2426 of 29 June 2018.

As the Secretary-General noted in his latest report on UNDOF, since the resumption of patrolling on the Bravo side in February 2018, the UNDOF mechanized infantry company has conducted in excess of 30 protected patrols from Camp Faouar along designated routes in the northern and central parts of the areas of separation and limitation. The 2 August patrol to the Quneitra crossing point is part of UNDOF’s ongoing efforts to return incrementally to the area of separation.

In this regard, UNDOF liaised with both the Syrian Arab Armed Forces through the Senior Syrian Arab Delegate (SSAD) and the Israel Defense Forces in advance of conducting the patrol to the Quneitra crossing area.

The SSAD and Russian military police personnel simultaneously conducted a patrol to the area. Any Russian military police presence or planned deployment in the Syrian Arab Republic is separate and distinct from that of UNDOF.

UNDOF maintains regular contact with the Israel Defense Forces and Syrian Arab Armed Forces, as well as with relevant interlocutors related to the de-escalation zone in the south-west part of Syria, particularly on the potential implications for UNDOF in relation to the implementation of its mandate and in ensuring the freedom of movement of the Force, as well as the safety and security of its personnel.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said it is ramping up its response to the urgent needs of nearly one million people who have been displaced by recent violence in the south-western part of Ethiopia.

Upon request from the Government, UNHCR and its partners are providing life-saving assistance to the internally displaced people in the Gedeo and West Guji areas. The agency said current conditions are extremely dire, with many people sleeping on the cold ground in public facilities, while others are living in makeshift shelters that cannot keep out the heavy rains of the season, leaving them at risk of serious health problems such as pneumonia.

UNHCR is distributing 50,000 emergency kits. These include cooking sets, sleeping mats, blankets and plastic sheets. The agency has also deployed two Emergency Response Teams to the areas to support local authorities.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that more than 1,500 refugees and migrants have lost their lives attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the first seven months of this year. The bleak milestone was confirmed after more than 850 lives were lost in June and July alone, marking the Mediterranean crossing as the deadliest sea route in the world.

UNHCR is particularly concerned as the rate of deaths is increasing, despite the total number of people arriving on European shores being significantly reduced compared to previous years. Around 60,000 people have crossed the Mediterranean so far this year, around half as many as during the same period last year, and a return to pre-2014 levels. However, one in every 31 people attempting the crossing in June and July died or are missing, compared to 1 in 49 during the course of 2017.

UNHCR urges states and authorities along transit routes to take all necessary action to dismantle and disrupt smuggler networks. In order to save lives at sea, the agency says, we must use appropriate and necessary measures to hold to account those who seek to gain profit from the exploitation of vulnerable human beings.
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