Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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12-Nov-2018 00:15:04
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Good afternoon everyone. The Secretary-General is just about to leave Paris, where he took part yesterday, along with other world leaders, in the commemoration of the 100th Armistice Day. In a tweet, he said he hoped that we would draw from its lessons and strengthen international cooperation to face the tests and threats of today and tomorrow.

Yesterday afternoon, he spoke at the opening of the Paris Peace Forum – along with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In his remarks, the Secretary-General said multilateralism was a necessity and that the United Nations remained at the centre of the harmonisation of efforts to achieve peace and sustainable development. He added that governments would not be able to meet their people’s expectations for protection in the absence of international cooperation.

This afternoon, the Secretary-General opened the Internet Governance Forum with President Macron and Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO. He told the Forum that technology should empower and not overpower us. The Secretary-General also encouraged the Forum to focus especially on innovative solutions that can increase trust in the Internet.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General met with President Macron at the Elysée. They discussed Africa and particularly the Central African Republic and the Sahel; the situations in Yemen and Syria; and the forthcoming Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP-24) in Poland next month.

He also had bilateral meetings on Saturday with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and on Sunday with Chancellor Merkel and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

The Secretary-General will travel on Tuesday to Washington. D.C., where he will make remarks as the Templeton Prize is presented to King Abdullah of Jordan. He will be back in the office on Wednesday.

This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke to the members of the Peacebuilding Commission, which is focusing this year’s Annual Session on the Sahel.

She noted that this morning’s session, as well as the joint session with ECOSOC tomorrow on climate security in the Sahel, are opportunities to reiterate commitment to addressing the multidimensional challenges in the Sahel region in a coordinated, comprehensive, coherent and efficient way.

Only a collective, integrated and inclusive approach, owned and led by the countries of the region, will support sustained progress towards the lasting peace and development that are so urgently needed in the Sahel.

“Investing in this region is vital” she said, “to prevent countries experiencing fragility today from becoming failed states of tomorrow.”

You can find her remarks online.

We issued a statement over the weekend expressing the Secretary-General’s concern at President Maithripala Sirisena's decision to dissolve Sri Lanka's parliament and move to new parliamentary elections on 5 January 2019.

The Secretary-General underlines the utmost importance of respecting democratic processes and institutions and resolving differences in accordance with the rule of law and due process. He renews his call on the Government to ensure peace and safety for all Sri Lankans and uphold its commitments to human rights, justice and reconciliation.

Our humanitarian colleagues are concerned by reports of ongoing hostilities and airstrikes in Syria’s southeastern Deir Ezzour governorate, which have resulted in civilian deaths and injury.

Yesterday, four internally displaced people were reportedly killed in an airstrike on Hajin city. The attack follows reports of intensified airstrikes on residential areas in Hajin, in which at least 10 civilians were killed last Thursday.

The United Nations continues to call on all the parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including ensuring the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.

In a statement issued yesterday, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said that his agency supports the voluntary and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya refugees in safety and in dignity to their places of origin or choice, and will work with all parties towards this goal.

The High Commissioner said that, before making a choice of whether to return or not, the refugees reportedly verified by Myanmar as having the right to return should be allowed to visit their places of origin in Rakhine State, or other places to which they might choose to return, so that they themselves can make an independent assessment of whether they feel they can return there in safety and dignity.

He emphasized that the responsibility to improve those conditions rests with Myanmar. Although UNHCR does not believe current conditions in Rakhine State are conducive to the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of refugees from Bangladesh, the agency remain committed to supporting the Government of Myanmar’s efforts to create such conditions, under the terms of the tripartite Memorandum of Understanding.

UNHCR also remains deeply grateful to the Government of Bangladesh as it continues to generously host Rohingya refugees until they can voluntarily return to Myanmar in safety and dignity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that new measures to overcome challenges in the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are having a positive impact, although the outbreak remains dangerous and unpredictable.

Led by the Ministry of Health, WHO and partners are using targeted, multidisciplinary teams to accelerate community engagement in eastern DRC’s North Kivu Province. The UN peacekeeping mission, MONUSCO, has also taken an active approach to armed groups operating in North Kivu, which has contributed to a period of calm in and around the city of Beni, although some attacks have continued in surrounding villages.

Since the start of the outbreak in August, some 294 Ebola cases have been confirmed, with 170 deaths confirmed.

In Bonn, Germany, the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) today kicked off an expert meeting to use space data to respond to natural disasters.

The meeting is focusing on increasing use of big data - including social media and crowdsourced geographic information - and satellite imaging to respond to challenges posed by natural hazards in African countries.
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