Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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29-Oct-2018 00:16:10
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Members of the Security Council stood for a moment of silence, in remembrance of the victims of the Saturday shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Over the weekend, a statement was issued from the Secretary-General strongly condemning the attack and adding that the shooting in Pittsburgh is a painful reminder of continuing anti-Semitism. Jews across the world continue to be attacked for no other reason than their identity. Anti-Semitism is a menace to democratic values and peace and should have no place in the 21st century.

The Secretary-General called for a united front -- bringing together authorities at all levels, civil society, religious and community leaders and the public at large -- to roll back the forces of racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred, bigotry, discrimination and xenophobia gaining strength in many parts of the world.

In a statement, the Secretary-General said he is following the latest developments in Sri Lanka with great concern. He called on the Government to respect democratic values and constitutional provisions and the process, uphold the rule of law and ensure the safety and security of all Sri Lankans.

The Secretary-General also urged all parties to exercise restraint and address the unfolding situation in a peaceful manner.

Regarding the attack that took place over the weekend against the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) that involved an improvised explosive device and small arms fire in the Mopti Region, the Mission reports that five Togolese peacekeepers were wounded and were evacuated to UN medical facilities in Sevare, where they are been treated for injuries.

In a statement over the weekend, the Secretary-General condemned this attack as well as the one against the camp in Ber – which resulted in two peacekeepers from Burkina Faso being killed and eleven others being wounded.

The Secretary-General recalled that attacks targeting UN peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law and that the perpetrators need to be brought to justice.

In Uppsala, Sweden today, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke at the third General Assembly of the Act Alliance, which is a coalition of 150 church and church-related organizations. She told the group that faith organizations and their leaders have long played a critical role in addressing the needs of those left behind.

She said the continued support and activism of faith-based organizations will be essential as we forge ahead in our quest to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all people.

When we speak of “putting people first,” she said, we must especially consider how the promise of the SDGs can be made real for marginalized people. For, as the Bible says, we should “love our neighbour as ourself.”

The Deputy Secretary-General is expected back in New York later today.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, briefed the Security Council on Syria this morning, and said that we have seen a glimmer of hope in the weeks of relative calm since the agreement on Idlib was reached. He added that it is very important for millions of people in Idleb that this remains the case.

He noted that over the first seven months of the year, an average of almost 5.5 million people were reached with life-saving assistance each month. In September, nearly 2.5 million people were reached with food aid from Damascus.

Mr. Lowcock said a humanitarian convoy had been planned on Saturday for Rukban, which has not received assistance since January, but reports of insecurity along the route forced the UN and its partners to postpone the convoy. Mr. Lowcock warned that the dire humanitarian situation in Rukban cannot be allowed to continue and that the UN is ready and willing to proceed with the convoy immediately.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator called on the Security Council to support the renewal for another year of resolution 2165, in particular to sustain cross-border aid essential to support and protect more than three million people in Idlib.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it is concerned about the resurgence of insecurity in the Lac region in the west of Chad. The situation has forced some aid agencies to suspend operations leaving tens of thousands of people without food and health services. Efforts are underway to resume operations and ensure the safe delivery of aid to the most vulnerable people.

In the Lac region, Boko Haram activities have led to internal displacement of 124,000 people and the arrival of 11,000 Nigerian [refugees]. Food insecurity and malnutrition have worsened over the past months. Some 187,000 people face severe food insecurity while severe and global acute malnutrition levels have surpassed emergency thresholds.

The World Health Organization (WHO) today released a report that says that 93 per cent of the world’s children breathe toxic air every day.

According to the report, that says 1.8 billion children breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk, while many of them die. WHO estimates that in 2016, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.

Air pollution also impacts neurodevelopment and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma, and childhood cancer. Children who have been exposed to high levels of air pollution may also be at greater risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases later in life.
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