Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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15-Nov-2018 00:16:43
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Our Peacekeeping colleagues tell us that six peacekeepers from Malawi and one from Tanzania, who were part of the UN peacekeeping operation in the DRC, were killed yesterday in Beni territory, in North Kivu. As you know, this is the area where there is an Ebola outbreak and insecurity has been an obstacle to the response of the outbreak.

The peacekeepers were killed during a joint operation carried out by the UN peacekeeping mission and the Congolese armed forces against the Allied Democratic Forces, known as ADF. Initial reports indicate that 10 additional peacekeepers were wounded, and another one is missing. Several soldiers from the Congolese armed forces were also reportedly killed or wounded during the operation.

The Secretary-General expresses our condolences to the families of the killed peacekeepers and the Government and people of the Republic of Malawi and the Republic of Tanzania.

We do expect a more formal statement to be issued shortly.

Back here, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, briefed the Security Council this morning on the G-5 Sahel Joint Force.

He said the security situation in the Sahel was still very worrying and the operationalization of the G-5 Sahel Joint Force has not been easy.

Mr. Lacroix noted that now more than ever, the G-5 Sahel Joint Force depends on the support of the international community. Remarkable progress has been in made in the area of force generation, he said, but the Joint Force has still not attained full operational capacity. Major equipment shortfalls, capacity gaps, insufficient infrastructure and a lack of secured operational bases continue to delay its full operationalization.

Also this morning, the Security Council adopted resolutions on Abyei, renewing the mandate for six months, and another resolution on the peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic, which was a two-week technical rollover.

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that earlier today, clashes took place in Alindao, in the Basse-Kotto Prefecture between anti-Balaka and UPC (Mouvement pour l’Unité et la Paix en Centrafrique) armed members. Four civilians are reported to have been killed.

The fighting led to the deaths of an unknown number of other civilians, and also the displacement of thousands more, who fled to local MINUSCA premises seeking protection.

The UN Mission dispatched patrols to the area and provided security to those displaced.

The situation is reported to be calm now and the Mission is closely monitoring the situation.

In response to questions following yesterday’s Council session on Eritrea: The Secretary-General closely follows the recent developments in the Horn of Africa and trusts that the lifting of the sanctions on Eritrea will contribute to further advancing peacebuilding efforts in the region and to consolidate a conducive environment for greater economic integration and sustainable development.

The United Nations stands ready to support countries in the region in addressing the remaining peace and security challenges. It also stands ready to support the ongoing dialogue between Djibouti and Eritrea and other regional efforts to settle outstanding issues between the two countries.

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that the Yemeni ports of Hodeidah and Saleef are functioning normally but at reduced capacity since the gantry cranes in Hodeidah were destroyed in August of 2015.

There are currently three vessels – two carrying food and one carrying fuel – that are currently offloading at Hodeidah, and one is offloading food at Saleef.

Since 10 October, the Government of Yemen has imposed new restriction on vessels carrying fuel, with four currently being denied clearance by the Coalition at the Government’s request. These four vessels are carrying more than 40 percent of the average month’s supply of fuel.

As you will recall, in his briefing to the Council on 23 October, Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, stressed that humanitarian and commercial imports must flow to all ports and onwards to their final destinations. He called for the lifting of restrictions on imports and keeping the main transport routes open and safe.

Mr. Lowcock will brief the Security Council tomorrow on Yemen’s humanitarian situation, including the risk of famine.

Also briefing the Council tomorrow is David Beasley, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

Mr. Beasley has just wrapped up a three-day visit to Yemen, where he also included a visit to the port of Hodeidah.

The World Food Programme is currently reaching up to 7 to 8 million Yemenis with food aid and is scaling up its efforts to feed up to 12 million people.

Our humanitarian colleagues also today spotlighted the increasingly forgotten plight of millions of people inside eastern Ukraine who are facing temperatures of well below zero in the midst of an ongoing active conflict.

Osnat Lubrani, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, today called on international donors to urgently step up funding to help vulnerable families through the long, harsh winter.

While more than one million people most in need have received vital assistance and protection services, funding is falling short, with only 36 percent of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan funded.

Ms. Lubrani warned that a lack of funding means that the basic needs of millions of men, women and children continues to be denied.

We had been asked earlier about our response to the Palermo talks being hosted by Italy on Libya. We welcome the unity of the international community in supporting the UN Action Plan, including the holding of a Libyan-led inclusive national conference in early 2019, and the efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ghassan Salamé, in the Libyan-owned political transition, as reiterated in the conclusions of the Palermo Conference.

Today is World Philosophy Day. In Paris, UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is having three days of events to mark the Day. These include a Night of Philosophy at the Organization’s Headquarters in which philosophers, artists and the general public exchange ideas; a discussion about Barbara Cassin, initiator of the International Network of Women Philosophers; and a presentation of recently digitized philosophy archives.

Tomorrow is the International Day of Tolerance.

Tomorrow, at 11 o’clock in the ECOSOC Chamber, there will be a screening of short films from YouTube’s 2018 Creators for Change programme; a panel discussion on tolerance and the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; as well as a musical performance.

At a time when the Internet is criticized for fueling division and distrust, the event seeks to demonstrate how it can be used to create positive social impact.
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