Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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07-Sep-2018 00:21:38
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the Peacebuilding Commission meeting on “Leadership, Accountability and Capacities.”

He said that effective, responsive and accountable leadership – supported by the right capacities and resources – lies at the heart of his vision for sustaining peace.

He also noted the need to invest more - and much earlier - in prevention and peacebuilding and added that it’s important to work together to enhance the authority and capacities of UN leaders and their teams, particularly those who work in conflict areas, as they navigate a complex and politically sensitive environment, while operating with limited staff and resources.

The Secretary-General also called for an increase in contributions to the Peacebuilding Fund, which often plays a catalytic role in assisting countries seeking to build and sustain peace.

In addition, he highlighted the progress in allocating more resources to gender parity. Last year, he said, the Peacebuilding Fund devoted 36 per cent of its funds for projects supporting women’s peacebuilding work.

Staffan de Mistura, the Special Envoy for Syria, briefed the Security Council this morning by videoconference on the situation in Idlib.

He said the situation there had all the ingredients for a perfect storm, with devastating humanitarian consequences. He noted reports suggesting the increased deployment of Syrian Government and allied forces near the Idlib de-escalation zone.

Mr. de Mistura said that the dangers are profound that any battle for Idlib would be horrific and bloody. He said that efforts to combat terrorism do not supersede obligations under international law, and he urged all sides to find a formula to avert a tragedy in Idlib.

John Ging of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs told the Council that there are some 3 million people living in the Idlib de-escalation zone, which includes parts of Idlib, Aleppo, Latakia, and Hama governorates. Of these, he said, 2.1 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including 1.4 million people who are internally displaced.

He added that humanitarian aid is already being prepositioned inside Idleb, including ready-to-eat food rations sufficient for one week to cover as many as 850,000 people, both through cross-border operations via Turkey and from inside Syria.

On Myanmar, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and UNDP, the UN’s Development Agency, say they stand ready to commence assessment activities in 23 villages – following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by the two agencies and the Government of Myanmar 3 months ago.

These assessments would be a first step only - with the expectation being that access will then be expanded to allow for the larger scale comprehensive assessments that continue to be needed.

The assessments in the initial list of villages are part of a broader work-plan that has been under discussion with Myanmar authorities since July. By commencing with needs assessments to identify and implement quick-impact projects, UNHCR and UNDP hope to jump start confidence building measures aimed at rebuilding trust and social cohesion with those communities that remain in Rakhine State.

Substantial progress however remains urgently needed in three key areas covered by the MoU: granting effective access in Rakhine State; ensuring freedom of movement for all communities; and addressing the root causes of the crisis, including a clear pathway to citizenship for those who are eligible.

The UN Department of Political Affairs (DPA) marked the official closure today of its Nepal Liaison Office, established in 2011 following the closure of the United Nations Mission in Nepal.

For the past two decades, the United Nations has accompanied the Nepali Government and Nepali leaders on the county’s pathway to peace, including the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Nepal’s homegrown and nationally owned peace process reached an important milestone following the adoption of an inclusive and democratic Constitution in 2015 and completion of three-tier elections in 2017.

The United Nations is committed to continue to work with Nepali political leaders and civil society on consolidating the peace agenda, including on broader human rights and development goals, towards a future of sustained peace and prosperity.

On 4 September, a UN-Government team conducted a joint assessment mission in North and South Hwanghae Provinces in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), following the late August heavy rains and flash floods in the area.

Needs have been identified in the sectors of food security, nutrition, health, water and sanitation, shelter, and disaster risk reduction. Currently, many areas remain inaccessible as bridges and roads have been destroyed.

The floods follow a period of high temperatures in July and August, which already affected crop production in the provinces considered to be the ‘food basket’ of the country.

Some forty percent of the population in DPRK is food insecure and undernourished.

In Colombia, the UN Verification Mission says that in recent weeks, six leaders of four Territorial Areas for Training and Reintegration and one new regrouping point in the Southeastern region of the country decided to leave these Areas and abandon their responsibilities to approximately 1,500 ex-combatants residing there.

The Mission is closely monitoring this situation and have confirmed that, despite the departure of these leaders, the ex-combatants and their families continue to live, study and work there, and remain committed to the reintegration process.

The Mission stressed renewed Government support for productive reintegration is needed now more than ever, and it called upon the National Reincorporation Council and its working groups to resume with their efforts on to implement productive projects with a community-based approach.

It added that in these southeastern Areas, former FARC-EP members and their families have developed more than 40 productive projects, which are fundamental to the effective reintegration of these individuals.

On the Central African Republic, the UN Mission there (MINUSCA) strongly condemns the killing of a number of internally displaced people in Bria, in Haute-Kotto prefecture by alleged members of the ex-Seleka FPRC[Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de Centrafrique].

MINUSCA Police are investigating reports that the IDPs from PK3 camp were abducted on Thursday outside the camp and reportedly killed.

The Mission received information about the bodies and sent a patrol who found the deceased IDPs on the Ippy road axis.

The Mission has increased the security of the PK3 camp to protect the population.

MINUSCA urges all armed groups to stop violence against civilians and to end current tensions in Bria. It reiterates that the perpetrators of attacks against civilians will be arrested and brought to justice.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, wrapped up a four-day visit to South Sudan.

She said that grave violations against children in the country remain at unacceptably high levels, with close to 1,400 children verified as having been directly affected in 2017 and thousands more bearing the brunt of the conflict.

Ms. Gamba called on all parties committing grave violations against children to take immediate concrete actions to end the devastating number of violations and prevent them from reoccurring.

On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) says it is deeply concerned about the violent suppression of peaceful protests by civil society organizations and opposition political parties ahead of the start of the electoral campaign.

It says that the Congolese police has continued to use excessive force leading to the killing of one political activist in the southeast of the country on 1 September and the arrests of dozens of others during a nationwide protest on 3 September.

These incidents follow the violent suppression of protests in early August.
Ahead of the 23 December national elections, our Human Rights colleagues are urging the Congolese authorities to uphold the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. They also stress the need to investigate any allegations of excessive use of force by the police and security forces.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is urging more support for nearly one million people displaced by recent violence in south-western Ethiopia, including those who have returned home.

Following more than a year of drought and tension over resources, conflict between communities in the country’s southwest has – since April of this year – forced civilians to flee their homes. UNHCR is responding to the urgent needs of the displaced persons and returnees after requests by the Ethiopian government for humanitarian assistance.

Although people have continued to flee, government estimates suggest that over 200,000 people have returned to their areas of origin. UNHCR and partners are calling for all returns to be voluntary and conducted in safety and dignity.

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has welcomed Qatar’s decision to end exit visa requirements for most migrant workers.

The Director-General, Guy Ryder said in a tweet that this is a “positive step towards decent work” and added that the agency is committed to working with the Qatari Government as it pursues further reforms.

The Secretary-General adds his welcome to the voice of ILO’s in this development.

Over 45 countries today renewed their commitment to globally eradicate, by 2030, Peste des petits ruminants (PPR), a highly contagious and devastating disease responsible for the death of millions of sheep and goats each year.

At a global conference organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Brussels, participants stressed that PPR directly threatens the livelihoods of the poorest people in their countries, noting that the disease causes more than $2.1 billion in economic losses per year.

The Secretary-General António Guterres today announced the appointment of Charlotte Petri Gornitzka of Sweden as Assistant Secretary-General to serve as the Deputy Executive Director, Partnerships for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Ms. Petri Gornitzka, who recently served as the Chair of Development Assistant Committee for the Organization Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), brings to the position 20 years of experience in international development. She has successfully built innovative partnerships with leaders from the civil society, national governments, and the private sector to deliver programme results and influence critical policy changes.

The Secretary-General announced today the appointment of Ingrid Hayden of Australia as his Deputy Special Representative (Political) for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

With over 27 years of distinguished service with the United Nations, Ms. Hayden has served as the Acting Deputy Special Representative of UNAMA since January 2018. She has extensive experience working for the United Nations in the areas of peace and security, and management, including in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan and Timor-Leste.
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