Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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16-Aug-2018 00:15:11
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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In a statement, the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest terms the suicide attack yesterday on an education centre in Kabul. According to reports, many of the victims at the co-educational facility were students under the age of 18. Those responsible for this heinous attack must be held accountable.

The targeting of civilians, in particular children, is unacceptable. The Secretary-General conveys his deepest sympathies to the Government of Afghanistan and condolences to the families of the victims, and wishes a swift recovery to the injured.

In another statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General conveyed his condolences to the families who have suffered from the recent Taliban attacks in Ghazni.

The Secretary-General stresses the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire and the opening of talks between the parties to the conflict to negotiate a sustainable peace. The targeting of civilians and of civilian facilities are clear violations of international humanitarian law.

The warring parties must do everything feasible to ensure that no civilians are further killed or injured by the fighting, and must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance so that it can reach Ghazni.

The Secretary-General once again stresses that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan and urgently calls for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in the interest of building a more stable and prosperous future for all Afghans.

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General welcomed the Israeli decision to reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing to its full operating capacity and to expand the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza.

He is encouraged to see that those concerned have responded to calls to avoid the devastating impact of yet another conflict on the civilian population in and around Gaza.

The Secretary-General calls on all parties to support the efforts of UN Special Coordinator Nickolay Mladenov and Egypt to avoid an escalation and address all humanitarian issues in Gaza and the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.

The Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl, today announced in Amman that the school-year for 526,000 Palestine refugee girls and boys will open on time in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

Mr. Krähenbühl also underlined the ongoing severe risks facing the Agency, saying that UNRWA is by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods. Since January 2018, he said, UNRWA has mobilized $238 million of additional funding, which is very encouraging. However, the Agency currently only has funding to run its services until the end of September, and it needs a further $217 million to ensure that the schools can be run until the end of the year.

Mr. Krähenbühl confirmed that UNRWA will take ongoing robust measures to safeguard the financial situation of the Agency, focusing on reform initiatives and the identification of efficiencies. He reaffirmed the Agency’s deep commitment to preserving the dignity of Palestine Refugees, its services and its important mandate.

The United Nations is concerned about the safety and protection of civilians in Syria’s rural Deir Ezzour Governorate, where fighting in Hajin and Dashesha have reportedly displaced more than 20,000 people since July.

Internally displaced people have reportedly settled in makeshift camps in the Governorate and are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance.

While humanitarian organizations are able to access some displacement camps, other camps have yet to receive humanitarian assistance.

About ten international non-governmental organizations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent are providing assistance, including food, hygiene, health, cash, early recovery and protection services, in the different areas hosting displaced people.

The UN continues to call on all parties to ensure safe access for humanitarian aid workers to reach people in need and to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in line with international humanitarian and human rights law.

The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) reports that the provisional results of the run-off of the 2018 presidential election were published by the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Decentralization this morning.

The incumbent, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, came first with 67.17 per cent, while his main challenger Soumaila Cissé obtained 32.83 per cent. Voter turnout stands at 34.54 per cent. Pursuant to the law, the final results will be published by 20 August by the Constitutional Court.

The International Community stands with Malians across the political spectrum who are working together to advance democracy, build prosperity, and strengthen governance and security in their country. The UN Mission in Mali will continue to work with the elected government of Mali for lasting peace and security throughout the country.

Yesterday the Secretary-General spoke by phone with both Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and Soumaila Cissé.

Regarding the Ebola outbreak in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission in the country (MONUSCO) is providing logistical support to the Ministry of Health and its partners in order to facilitate operations on the ground.

In Beni, an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is being established in MONUSCO facilities to host the personnel from the Ministry of Health and other partners leading the response. The Mission has also provided containers to the World Health Organization (WHO) for use as storage facilities.

Over the past week, the Mission has flown 30 experts dispatched by WHO to Goma and Beni, as well as seven tons of cargo, including medical personal protective equipment from the capital, Kinshasa, to Beni. MONUSCO has also moved three ambulances from Kinshasa to Goma by air, and onward by road to Beni.

In addition, a MONUSCO Force is ensuring security for humanitarian workers deployed in the affected areas.

The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, said he was concerned by the recent decision by the Republika Srpska National Assembly to revoke its endorsement of the 2004 Srebrenica Commission Report.
Mr. Dieng said that the rejection of the Commission’s findings is a step backwards for Bosnia and Herzegovina. It undermines the rule of law and national and international efforts to achieve justice for victims of crimes committed against people of all ethnicities during the 1992-1995 Bosnian war.

In addition, he said that, given the timing of this decision, it is likely to exacerbate tensions ahead of the 7 October elections and damage prospects for long-term stability and reconciliation.

According to a UNICEF report released today, children in Central America who have been deported from Mexico and the United States are at great risk of violence, stigma and deprivation, worsening the root causes of irregular migration in the region.

The report shows that dangerous journeys and deportations intensify poverty, extreme violence and lack of opportunity as it is common that children who are sent back to their countries of origin have no home to return to, end up deep in debt or are targeted by gangs. Being returned to impossible situations makes it more likely that they will migrate again, the agency said.

More than 68,000 migrant children were detained in Mexico between 2016 and April 2018, 91 per cent of whom were deported to Central America. UNICEF urged governments to work together in implementing solutions shown to help alleviate the root causes of irregular and forced migration and safeguard the well-being of refugee and migrant children along the journey.

The report also outlines a series of recommendations to keep refugee and migrant children safe and reduce the factors that push families and children to leave their homes in search of safety or a more hopeful future via irregular and dangerous migration routes.

As part of our commemoration of World Humanitarian Day, which falls this year on Sunday, the Secretary-General will lay a wreath tomorrow morning in observance of the fifteenth anniversary of the bombing of the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad. There will be a moment of silence for fallen staff.

There will also be a ceremony tomorrow in Geneva, which will include family members of staff who died in the attacks in Baghdad and Algiers.
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