Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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11-Oct-2018 00:16:42
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

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Today in Bali, the Secretary-General attended the Leaders’ Gathering of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) which focused on sustainable development. In his remarks, he said that our world is simply not going far enough and fast enough to realize the Sustainable Development Goals and stressed [two] areas of particular concern: inequality and climate change.

To tackle inequalities, he said, we must take a broad range of strategies to eradicate poverty and ensure inclusive development – among them, improving access to quality education, health care, reforming the tax system to make it more equitable and harnessing the rich diversity and demographic dividend of youth.

On climate change, the Secretary-General said that we can limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and have many of the technologies we need. Ahead of the twenty-fourth session of the Conference of Parties (COP24) of the UN Framework on Climate Change, which will take place in December in Poland, he urged countries to resolve the sticking point and make sure the world leaves Katowice with critically important implementation guidelines for operationalizing the Paris Agreement.

Also this morning, the Secretary-General met with President Joko Widodo of Indonesia. Tomorrow he will visit Palu on Sulawesi Island, which was struck by an earthquake and a tsunami almost two weeks ago.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that, in Central Sulawesi, more than 2,000 people have died, almost 11,000 have been seriously injured and 680 are still missing following the recent earthquake, tsunami and landslides.

Buildings have collapsed, been swept away, or suffered extensive damage, with whole villages having been submerged when the ground is liquified. Some 67,000 houses have been damaged and nearly 88,000 people are currently displaced.

18,000 people have left Palu and are staying with relatives in other parts of the country.

While many families’ homes are still standing, many people are choosing to sleep outside at night in the displacement camps, fearing further aftershocks.

Despite the damage to infrastructure, life in Palu is returning to some sense of normalcy, with shops, markets, banks reopening and electricity and telecommunications being accessible across most of the city.

Yesterday evening, the Deputy Secretary-General spoke at a UN Foundation Global Leadership Dinner. She paid tribute to former Secretary-General Kofi Annan, calling him her touchstone. For all of us who believe in affirming the power of our common humanity, he was an inspiration, Ms. Mohammed said. She paid tribute to his courage, compassion, humility, commitment to peace and enduring conviction in the dignity of every person and in the power of collective action.

She stressed the need for more leaders like Kofi Annan, adding that that best way to honor him is to take up the torch he passed.

Earlier today a statement was issued on Nigeria in which the Secretary-General said he is deeply saddened by reports that 200 people have died, 1,300 have been injured and nearly two million are affected by recent floodings along the rivers Niger and Benue in Nigeria.

More than half a million people have been internally displaced and over 350,000 are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.

The Secretary-General extends his condolences to the families of the victims and to the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the UN also expresses its solidarity with Nigeria during this difficult time and stands ready to support as required.

A statement was also issued last night on the very fatal bus crash in Kenya.

The Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is in Muscat, in Oman today, where he arrived after visiting Riyadh over the past few days, where he met with Saudi and Yemeni officials.

Meanwhile, humanitarian partners are monitoring cyclonic storm Luban, which is likely to move towards Yemen, and preparing to respond alongside local authorities, as needed. The storm is currently in the west-central Arabian Sea, and is expected to intensify further and move westward over the next four days, along the Gulf of Aden, and it is east, northeast of Socotra island currently.

OCHA is in contact with the Government of Yemen's High Relief Committee and Ministry of International Cooperation, as well as local authorities in the impacted Governorates.

NGOs are preparing to undertake rapid needs assessments in affected areas. Rapid Response Kits for over 5,000 people are pre-positioned in Mukalla/Hadramawt and in Shabwah for 7,000 people.

Humanitarian partners are also pre-positioning supplies in Socotra if needed. Rapid response for Abyan and Aden will be supported from stocks available in Aden.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is reporting an escalation in airstrikes and ground-based hostilities that continue to impact civilians as part of the anti-Da’esh operations in Deir Ezzour in Syria.

Yesterday, several civilians were reportedly killed, including a child, and several others were injured by airstrikes on Al-Sha’afa town in southeastern rural Deir Ezzour.

Over the past month, scores of civilians have reportedly been killed and injured, while up to 10,000 civilians remain trapped inside the Hajin area.

Thousands of civilians from Hajin have been displaced due to fighting. Some of the displaced are in makeshift camps where conditions are reportedly dire, with a lack of access to healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene.

The UN continues to urge all parties to respect their obligations under International Humanitarian Law, and to take constant care to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian personnel and assets.

Earlier today, Leila Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Head of the UN peacekeeping mission there, briefed the Security Council via teleconference on the situation in the country.

She thanked members of the Council for its recent visit to the DRC, and Ms. Zerrougui said the trip gave the Council a unique opportunity to witness -- first-hand -- the situation on the ground ahead of the December elections. She noted that the electoral process was progressing according to the set calendar, but also highlighted major challenges in the process, including armed group activity in east of the country, the opposition’s lack of trust in the process and the low number of female candidates on the ballot.

She further highlighted that insecurity in the east – notably armed attacks around Beni, and had complicated ongoing efforts to end an ongoing Ebola outbreak.

Today is the International Day of the Girl Child. The theme this year is ‘With Her: A Skilled Girl Force’, and it looks at today’s generation of girls preparing to enter a world of work that is being transformed by innovation and automation.

In his message, the Secretary-General said that far too often, girls are not given the space and opportunities they need to achieve their full potential and they face multiple barriers such as systematic discrimination, biases and lack of training.

He stressed the need to equip girls with transferable and lifelong skills such as critical thinking, creativity and digital awareness, as well providing them with role models, especially in the sciences and other fields where the presence of women is sparse.

The Secretary-General noted that his Youth2030 strategy aims to work with girls, understand their needs and help put their ideas to work.
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