Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
30-Aug-2018 00:17:04
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, spoke to reporters this morning in Geneva, where he warned of what he called a possible “perfect storm” in Idlib due to the potential military escalation in the area.

He stressed that 2.9 million lives are at stake in Idlib, which is the largest and so-called de-escalation area.

Mr. de Mistura cautioned that, although discussions are taking place to avoid a worst-case scenario, miscalculations could occur, leading to unforeseen escalations.

He also echoed the Secretary-General’s statement from yesterday, underlining that the use of chemical weapons would be totally unacceptable.

The Special Envoy said there is a need to maintain moral pressure to not hurry with a drastic military option and allow more time for a sustainable formula that could be linked to fighting terrorism but also save civilians.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that the number of reported suspected cholera cases has been increasing over the last two months in Yemen. Since April 2017, more than 1.1 million suspected cholera cases and 2,310 associated deaths have been reported across the country. The outbreak is the most serious on record.

Between the beginning of the year and mid-August 2018, nearly 120,000 suspected cases have been reported. Although this figure is lower than during the same period in 2017, the increasing rate of infections over recent weeks is raising concerns of a possible third wave of the epidemic, with the current rains increasing the risk.

Humanitarian partners are working to avoid a large-scale resurgence. This month, our partners vaccinated nearly 400,000 people against cholera in high-risks districts of Hodeidah and Ibb.

This followed by an earlier campaign in Aden in May, which vaccinated nearly 275,000 people.

Our partners also continue to support critical water, sanitation, hygiene and health facilities. Supplies to treat over half a million cases have been pre-positioned in warehouses and health offices in at-risk districts.

The Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed has concluded her visit to Copenhagen, Denmark. While there she met with several senior government officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Development Cooperation. Discussions focused on Denmark’s support to the 2030 Agenda, climate action, multilateralism and the ongoing reforms of the United Nations.

Ms. Mohammed also met with Crown Princess Mary, whom she thanked for her advocacy on behalf of women and girls and discussed key actions needed to advance Sustainable Development Goal 5. She also visited the UN City in Demark where she held a townhall with all staff. Finally, the Ms. Mohammed delivered a lecture at the University of Copenhagen focusing on today’s major global challenges.

Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller continued her visit to Mali today, visiting Mopti in the central region of the country.

Currently, 972,000 people need protection and humanitarian assistance in Mopti, the highest proportion of people in need in the country. Humanitarian needs have increased there due to intercommunal violence and attacks by armed groups.

In Bankass, Ms. Mueller met with internally displaced people, hearing about their desperate need for food, water and shelter.

The number of internally displaced people in Mali has sharply increased since the beginning of the year to over 75,000 by the end of July. In Mopti, the number of displaced increased from 2,000 in April to 12,000 in July.

Ms. Mueller today also met with representatives of aid organizations to better understand the challenges they face in providing life-saving and protection assistance and with local authorities, stressing the need to scale up conflict resolution efforts, access to basic social services and protection.

Also on Mali, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, will travel to Mali from tomorrow to 5 September.

During his visit, he will visit the capital, Bamako, as well as the north of the country.

Mr. Lacroix will meet with the leaders and staff of the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), as well as with officials from the Government of Mali and those involved in the Malian Peace Agreement.

Mr. Lacroix will also hold discussions with the G5 Sahel leadership to discuss MINUSMA’s support to the joint force.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners are providing emergency food aid to Ebola victims in the North Kivu province.

Before the declaration of the Ebola outbreak on 1 August, WFP was already assisting some 12,000 people displaced by armed conflict in the province, but it is now expanding its operations to provide food in hospitals treating those affected by the epidemic and their families.

Some 4,000 people are receiving a one-month supply of cereals, beans, oil, and salt and to reinforce the response to critically ill patients, WFP is airlifting high energy biscuits into Goma from Dubai.

This morning, the Security Council extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts on Mali, followed by an open meeting on Guinea-Bissau.

Addressing the Council, Jose Viegas Filho, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the head of the UN peacebuilding office in the country in Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), said that the political and security situation has remained relatively calm in recent months.

He noted that authorities and political actors have focused on preparations for legislative elections in November.

The envoy said that the consolidation of long-term stability remains contingent on the successful holding of legislative elections, urging international partners to maintain and increase their political, technical and financial support.

In the afternoon, the Council will meet on the extension of the mandate of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), followed by consultations on sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and other matters.

Today is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Enforced disappearance has frequently been used as a strategy to spread terror within a society. It often targets human rights defenders and those who are vulnerable like children and people with disabilities. The Day seeks to raise awareness of this issues which has become a global problem and is not restricted to any specific region.

The United Nations is sad to announce the passing yesterday of Mr. Andrew Hughes of Australia, who was the UN Police Adviser from 2007 to 2009.

Mr. Hughes headed the Police Division with a high level of integrity, dedication, professionalism and strong leadership and he will be missed by friends and colleagues alike.
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