Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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18-Oct-2018 00:13:39
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, warned the Security Council this morning that Gaza is imploding. In an intervention via video-conference, he noted that the World Bank recently warned that the Gaza economy is in “free fall” with an official unemployment rate of 53 per cent, and over 70 per cent among Palestinian youth. Every second person in Gaza now lives below the poverty line.

At the same time, he said, there is a growing consensus and determination among key international and regional partners on moving forward to defuse the powder keg that is Gaza. He said that humanitarian efforts there are taking place in coordination with, and in support of, Egyptian efforts to bring Gaza back under the full control of the legitimate Palestinian Government. He added that the Government’s return to Gaza and the lifting of the suffocating movement and access restrictions are necessary for addressing the humanitarian and economic needs of the population in a sustainable manner.

Mr. Mladenov also said that violence is on the rise and Israeli authorities have continued the demolition and confiscation of Palestinian-owned structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. He once again called on Israel to cease demolitions and other measures that run contrary to the obligations under international law. And he noted the recent killings of two Israelis and one Palestinian in the West Bank, which he condemned in the strongest of terms while calling on everyone to stand up to violence and condemn terrorism.

Turning to Syria, today, the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) delivered food and wheat flour for 13,500 women, children and men in need in Al Lajat in southern Syria.

This is the second such convoy to the area this week. Two days ago, the UN and the Red Crescent delivered food and wheat flour for 14,000 people in need.

Between July and September, the UN provided food aid for more than 630,000 people in the south of Syria, mostly delivered through the Red Crescent.

The UN continues to call on all parties to allow safe, sustained and unimpeded access to all people in need in line with their obligations under International Humanitarian Law.

A new UN report has documented the immense suffering of civilians in South Sudan’s Western Equatoria region, where 900 people were abducted and 24,000 forced to flee their homes during a surge in violence between April and August of this year.

The report, jointly published by the UN peacekeeping mission and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), notes that starting in April this year, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in-Opposition (SPLA-IO) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) engaged in attacks that resulted in harm to civilians.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called for the release of the abducted civilians, and said it was essential for the Government of South Sudan to hold the perpetrators to account.

For his part, David Shearer, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan, said the country’s new peace agreement puts the onus on the warring parties to ensure that no atrocities are committed in future.

Yesterday, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus], announced that a decision has been taken not to declare the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a public health emergency of international concern.

The decision was taken during a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee. The Committee also expressed concern about the outbreak and emphasized the need for the response to be intensified.

And it highlighted the risk that the outbreak could spread to neighboring countries remains very high. It added that resources needed to be made available immediately for the ongoing response and for preparedness in surrounding provinces and countries.
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