Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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26-Oct-2018 00:13:59
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General, in a video message out today to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists, which is observed on 2 November, warns that more than a thousand journalists have been killed while carrying out their work in just over the last decade. Ninety percent of those killings are unresolved with no one held accountable.

The Secretary-General says that the attacks and harassment of journalists are outrageous and should not become the new normal and he calls on governments and the international community to protect journalists and create the conditions they need to do their work.

In a statement we issued late last night, the Secretary-General expressed his deep sadness by the loss of life and extensive damage that resulted from the large-scale flash flooding at the Zara Maeen hot springs area near the Dead Sea in Jordan. He wishes to convey his condolences and deepest sympathy to the families of the victims and the Government of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

The United Nations stands ready to support ongoing rescue and relief efforts.

On Sunday, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Sweden to give a keynote speech at the ACT Alliance – which is a coalition of 150 church and church-related organizations. That will take place, that meeting will take place from 28 October to 1 November 2018 in Uppsala, in Sweden. She will also have bilateral meetings with senior Government officials from Sweden during her visit.

The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on Monday.

This evening, she will speak at the opening of a photo exhibit entitled “War and Peace in Liberia” at the Bronx Documentary Center.

We strongly encourage you to visit the exhibit, which showcases the work, some never shown before, of photographers Tim Hetherington and Chris Hondros. The photos helped to build global momentum which resulted in the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission.

In 2011, both photographers were killed by artillery in Misrata, in Libya.

This exhibit is financed by the UN Foundation in collaboration with UN Peacekeeping.

The Department of Field Support is pleased to announce the Government of India has donated approximately US$ 300,000 for the “Pipeline to Peacekeeping Command Programme” with a specific focus on issues of conduct and discipline.

The programme will, over a period of three years, help develop the capacity of future commanders and managers to lead by example and raise awareness of UN standards of conduct among their personnel.

Back here, Staffan de Mistura, the Special Envoy for Syria, briefed the Security Council via video-conference. He spoke to the Council members about his meeting with the Syrian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moalem which took place in Damascus on 24 October. That meeting focused on the political process and the efforts to convene a constitutional committee. Mr. de Mistura said that he appreciated the frank, and sometimes quite frank, nature of the exchanges that had in Damascus and discussed the points each of them made about selecting committee members.

Tomorrow, Mr. de Mistura will be traveling to Istanbul to brief the Presidents of France, Germany, Russia and Turkey when they meet to discuss Syria. He said that he will use that occasion to remind these four important leaders that there is still a clear window of opportunity that needs to be urgently seized.

On Yemen, I wanted to flag that amid rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Yemen, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has stepped up its efforts to ensure that tens of thousands of displaced Yemenis have access to cash support.

Current pre-famine conditions and cholera cases in Yemen come on top of the disastrous impact the conflict has had so far - massive displacement and mounting civilian casualties. Therefore, it remains vital that the critical life-saving activities - including protection and emergency shelter - are addressed and supported in parallel with food, health and education programmes.

More than two thirds of an estimated 2.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs) have been living in displacement for more than two years. Many of them fled to safer parts of the country and have now depleted all their resources. In order to meet their immediate needs and strengthen their resilience, UNHCR is providing cash assistance to the most vulnerable families.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, warned that the mass deportation of Congolese nationals from Angola has already resulted in serious human rights violations by security forces on both sides of the border, and left at least 330,000 returnees in an extremely precarious situation.

In interviews with people in the border town of Kamako in the Kasai region, the UN Human Rights Office received reports indicating that security forces in Angola used excessive force in their operations to deport the Congolese nationals.

High Commissioner Bachelet called on the Government of Angola to halt any ongoing deportations until it can be assured that any returns will be carried out in full respect of the rule of law and human rights of all affected migrants. She also urged the Government to ensure that security forces and others responsible for violations in the course of these expulsions be held accountable.

Our humanitarian colleagues also tells us that these Congolese who have returned from Angola are looking for safety and aid.

The United Nations and humanitarian partners are present in Kamako and along the border with Angola, and have already conducted several rapid needs assessments. They are responding to ensure that those most at risk are provided with food, non-food items, water, sanitation and transportation to health facilities.

Our colleagues at UNICEF said today that there are approximately 2,300 children travelling with the migrant caravan which is now in southern Mexico and warned that they’re in need of essential services like healthcare, clean water and adequate sanitation.

The long and arduous journey has left children exposed to inclement weather, including dangerously hot temperatures, with limited access to proper shelter. Some have already fallen ill or suffered from dehydration, according to UNICEF teams on the ground.

The UN’s Children Agency is working with the Government by providing technical assistance on nutrition and child protection and expanding access to psychosocial support. They are also providing children and families in the caravan with more than 20,000 litres of safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation packs, oral rehydration salts, sunscreen and soap.

For its part, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is supporting the Mexican Government to ensure timely registration of asylum seekers. It is also setting up identification and referral processes for those with vulnerabilities and needs. And in Honduras, UNHCR continues to monitor the situation at the border with Guatemala.

Turning to Indonesia, nearly one month after the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck Sulawesi, UNICEF says that some 375,000 children still need lifesaving supplies and services.

More than 2,000 were killed, and key services for children – such as schools and health centres – have been rendered inoperable due to the tsunami and the earthquake.

UNICEF continues to work with the Indonesian Government and other partners to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable children through medical assistance, clean water, hygiene and sanitation, education, shelter and protection.

And just a sad note to report -- we have received the sad news that our friend and long-time colleague Evgeniy Menkes, the former President of UNCA and a long-time TASS correspondent here, passed away yesterday in Moscow.

As you know, he served the UN for 25 years in various capacities, including as the TASS correspondent, a diplomat with the Russian Mission and a colleague as a Senior Radio Producer in UN Radio. We send our condolences to his family.
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