Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
10-Oct-2018 00:10:49
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

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Good afternoon. As you know, the Secretary-General is in Indonesia; he arrived in Bali late yesterday.

Tomorrow morning, he is also scheduled to meet with the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo. And then later he will take part in the Leaders Gathering of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, otherwise known as (ASEAN), and we’ll have his remarks to that meeting available for you once he’s delivered them.

And as we’ve been telling you, on [Friday] he will visit Palu island, which was struck by an earthquake and a tsunami almost two weeks ago.

In a statement issued on the World Day Against the Death Penalty, the Secretary-General said that he was deeply disturbed that, this year, a number of juvenile offenders have been executed after being sentenced to death, in violation of the relevant treaties. Hundreds of others have been executed without being able to receive legal assistance during criminal proceedings which might have spared them from death penalty, due to being poor, or women or from a minority group.

He added that in some countries, people are sentenced to death in secret trials, without due process, increasing the potential for error or abuse, as is sometimes later demonstrated.

The Secretary-General commends the efforts of the great majority of Member States to end the practice of the death penalty, and he calls on those remaining to join that majority and put an end to the death penalty now.

In a report issued today by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, it says that global economic losses due to climate-related disasters have risen dramatically over the past 20 years.

In the period from 1998 to 2017, disasters related to climate led to $2.9 trillion dollars in economic losses, of which climate-related disasters accounted for $2.2 trillion dollars - that’s 77 percent of the total.

It is a 151 percent increase from the previous 20-year period, in which climate related disasters accounted for $895 billion dollars.

The greatest economic losses have been experienced by the United States ($944 billion), China ($492 billion), Japan ($376 billion) and India ($ 79.5 billion).

The report also evaluated the number of fatalities over the last 20 years, climate-related and geophysical disasters being responsible for the deaths of 1.3 million people and 4.4 billion injured, homeless, displaced or in need of emergency assistance.

This morning, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Colombia, Jean Arnault, briefed members of the Security Council on the Secretary-General’s report on the UN Verification Mission to the country.

He noted that since the report was issued, the key mechanisms provided for the implementation of the Peace Agreement have resumed their work for the first time since the start of the new Government.

Regarding the political participation in the country, Mr. Arnault said the current situation was positive, as eight FARC representatives were afforded seats in Congress and a collegial spirit is being displayed by all parties in spite of sharp political differences. However, he stressed that economic reintegration remains a subject of serious concern as the vast majority of those in that process still have no clear economic prospects. To succeed, the National Council on Reintegration will need to empower local authorities and to link up with the private sector, universities and other partners, he said, and reiterated the UN’s commitment to continue supporting the reintegration process.

In Haiti, our humanitarian colleagues say that according to new Government assessments, over 7,700 families are in need of assistance, particularly shelter, in the aftermath of the earthquake on Saturday.

Following a meeting between the Prime Minister, the Humanitarian Coordinator and the Humanitarian Country Team, the UN has [been] authorized to travel to affected areas and support Haiti’s Civil Protection Committee as required and UN staff are now in the impacted area working alongside Government counterparts.

The UN Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration as well as the World Food Programme are also supporting authorities.

The Haitian Government has said that no request for additional international humanitarian assistance is planned or expected.

Civilians in Afghanistan continue to suffer high casualties, with the leading cause continuing to be the combined use of suicide and non-suicide improvised explosive devices by non-government fighters.

This is according to the latest report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, produced by the UN Mission in Afghanistan.

Covering the period from 1 January to 30 September, the report documented nearly 3,000 deaths and more 5,000 people being wounded.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said that, as there can be no military solution to the fighting in the country, the UN renews its call for an immediate and peaceful settlement to the conflict to end the suffering of the Afghan people.

Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator Ursula Mueller is on a 3-day mission to the Philippines.

Yesterday, she visited Marawi City in southern Mindanao, where she met with humanitarian and development partners to discuss the continuing humanitarian response following the 2017 Marawi conflict and the challenges facing the transition to recovery.

She called for more resources to address the continuing humanitarian needs of people displaced by the conflict in Marawi.

Today, she met with national government emergency management leaders, the Humanitarian Country Team, and donors, and she expressed her sympathies over the loss of life and devastation to communities following Typhoon Mangkhut, which affected more than 3 million people and she commended the Government for its preparedness efforts that saved many lives during the typhoon.

In response to questions about the Bosnian elections, the UN commends the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina for the peaceful conduct of general elections held on 7 October. The UN encourages all political actors to engage in dialogue and forge agreement towards a swift establishment of the country’s legislative and executive bodies and implement necessary reforms in the interest of the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The United Nations will continue to work with the elected authorities and other national stakeholders and relevant international actors in support of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s sustainable development, long-term stability and reconciliation.

Today is World Mental Health Day. This year’s theme is ‘Young People and Mental Health in a Changing World.’

In his message, the Secretary-General said that for too long, mental health has been mostly an afterthought, despite its overwhelming impacts on communities and young people, everywhere.

He added that those struggling with mental health problems are still being marginalized and called on countries to integrate mental health into broader social care systems.

If we change our attitude to mental health – we change the world, he said.
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