Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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15-Oct-2018 00:20:11
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is now back in New York. He arrived over the weekend after his trip to Indonesia.

On Saturday, he attended the World Bank-IMF annual meetings in Bali, and he took part in the Development Committee, the Climate Finance Ministerial meeting and the International Monetary and Financial Committee.

In his remarks, he focused on climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals, including how to align global economic policies and financial systems with the 2030 Agenda. The Secretary-General also stressed the need to mobilize resources and technologies to better the lives of people.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, condemned the reported killing of at least 15 civilians and injury to 20 others when the minibuses they were traveling in were struck in Jabal Ras District of Hodeidah Governorate yesterday.

She said the incident was horrific and added that United Nations agencies working in Yemen unequivocally condemn the attack on civilians and extend their deepest condolences to the families of the victims.

Humanitarian agencies are rushing to assist the injured. The World Health Organization and its partners are supporting the hospitals in Bait al Faqiah and Zabid which are treating the wounded. Agencies are on standby to provide whatever assistance may be needed.

We were asked last week about the possibility of famine in Yemen, and I can confirm that, as of late 2017, there were 8.4 million severely food insecure people who need emergency food assistance every month to survive.

Due to economic decline, including depreciation of the currency, humanitarian partners estimate that this population could rise by up to 5 million people. The total figure could come to 13.4 million severely food insecure people.

The UN and partners need $3 billion through the 2018 Humanitarian Response to support the millions of people in need across Yemen. To date, a little over $2 billion, about 68 per cent of the resources required, have been received.

The UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), in cooperation with the parties to the Disengagement Agreement, welcomed the rehabilitation of the Quneitra crossing between the Alpha and Bravo sides. The crossing point re-opened today.

The Quneitra crossing point closed in August 2014 due to the deterioration of the security situation in Syria, including in the area of separation. During the time when it was closed, UNDOF was unable to conduct regular crossings of UN personnel between the two sides.

Our colleagues in Zimbabwe report that the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $3 million to provide immediate life-saving assistance to about 600,000 people who are infected or at risk of being infected by cholera in 10 hotspots across the capital of Harare.

More than 8,500 cases have been reported since the Health Ministry declared a cholera outbreak in Harare on 6 September. The Government has issued an appeal for $60 million to address life-saving short- and medium-term needs in water, hygiene and sanitation infrastructure.

Our colleagues at the World Health Organization continue to warn that the recent spike in violent incidents in Ebola-affected areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is making the response more difficult and increasing the risk of the outbreak spreading not only within the DRC, but also to neighbouring countries, with Rwanda and Uganda particularly at risk.

In recent weeks, armed attacks in and around Beni, in North Kivu Province, have severely affected both civilians and frontline workers, forcing the temporary suspension of the response and raising the risk that the virus will continue to spread.

The agency reports it continues to work with all nine neighbouring countries to increase their preparedness.

As of 11 October, a total of 205 Ebola cases – 170 confirmed and 35 probable – have been reported, and the outbreak resulted in the deaths of some 130 people.

On Friday afternoon, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the DRC, Leila Zerrougui, announced to staff that a UN colleague based in Beni had tested positive for Ebola and is now receiving the necessary medical treatment. Medical staff report that the patient is feeling well and that his progress is satisfactory.

Co-workers who have had contact with him will receive appropriate support and follow up. The UN’s emergency operations operation in Boikene in Beni was disinfected on 12 October, and some 100 people from MONUSCO and other parts of the UN, and as well as NGO partners, were voluntarily vaccinated at the center on 13 October. Vaccinations are continuing.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, is in the Horn of Africa region from today through 19 October to reiterate the UN’s support to regional peace efforts. She is expected to meet with leadership of Ethiopia, Eritrea & Djibouti and with African Union and key regional and international partners.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, says that the level of violence and brutality endured by children in South Sudan is dismaying.

A new report shows that more than 9,200 children were verified by the UN as victims of grave violations in the close to four years covered by the report.

Grave violations against children were often interconnected: abductions took place for the purpose of recruitment, recruited boys and girls were killed or maimed or sexually abused, she said in her report.

She added that it was urgent to address the impunity for perpetrators and to prioritize accountability measures and the reinforcement of national law.

Ahead of World Food Day, which is tomorrow, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization today launched its annual State of Food and Agriculture report, which this year focuses on migration, stating that migration must be a choice and not a necessity.

While international migration makes the most headlines, the report shows that internal migration is a significantly larger phenomenon: more than 1 billion people living in developing countries have moved internally, with 80 per cent of moves involving a rural area.

FAO calls on policies that maximize the positive impact of migration while minimizing the negative ones, as well as for efforts for peace- and resilience-building to help communities better withstand the crises that force people to move.

Over the weekend, the Secretary-General sent a letter to President Donald Trump of the United States, expressing his condolences for the loss of life and destruction caused by Hurricane Michael.

The Secretary-General also commended the efforts taken by the US Government in assisting those affected by this calamity.

On Saturday, we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General condemned the lethal attacks against an election campaign rally in Takhar Province and a candidate’s office in Herat Province of Afghanistan.

In a separate statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the twin bomb attacks in Baidoa in Somalia and reiterated the UN’s support and solidarity with the people and Government of Somalia.

Today is the International Day of Rural Women. In his message, the Secretary-General said the empowerment of rural women and girls is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for a healthy planet. He also called on countries to take action to ensure that women and girls fully enjoy their human rights, including the rights of land and security of land tenure, adequate nutrition, and a life free of all forms of violence and quality healthcare and education.
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