Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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27-Nov-2018 00:20:57
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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In a statement issued this morning on the situation in the Black Sea, the Secretary-General said he is greatly concerned over the 25 November incident near the Crimean Peninsula in the Black Sea at the approach to the Kerch Strait and involving Ukrainian and Russian vessels. He underlines the immediate need to avoid any risk of further escalation of the situation.

The Secretary-General urges both parties to exercise maximum restraint and to take steps without delay to contain this incident and reduce tensions through all available peaceful means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. He underscores the need to fully respect the rights and obligations of all concerned parties under relevant international instruments. The sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions, must also be fully respected.

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at a high-level event on the Multi-Partner Human Security Trust Fund for the Aral Sea Region.

The Secretary-General recalled his visit last June where he saw for himself the drying of the Aral Sea, which is calls one of the largest ecological catastrophes of our time.

But he said that he also witnessed enormous local resilience and a yearning to look ahead, adding that he is heartened that Governments and the UN system are poised to help write a new chapter for the communities in the region.

The Secretary-General also spoke earlier at the high-level special event on cooperation between the UN and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

He called the Organization a leading player in regional diplomacy, representing the largest combined population of any regional grouping in the world, with more than 3 billion women and men.

This afternoon the Secretary-General will speak to a closed plenary meeting of the General Assembly to brief the membership on the status of his reforms of the United Nations.

The UN Environment Programme today released its Emissions Gap Report which assesses the gap between anticipated emission levels in 2030 compared to the levels consistent with a 2°C / 1.5°C target.

The report warns that the current pace of international action is insufficient to meet the Paris targets and concluded that nations must triple their efforts to meet the 2°C target, and increase their ambitions five-fold to meet the 1.5°C target.

The report added that if the emissions gap is not closed by 2030, it is extremely unlikely that the 2°C temperature goal can be reached.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) today said there is a 75-80 percent chance of an El Niño event developing by February next year.

The last El Niño took place in 2016 and was linked to droughts, flooding and coral bleaching in different parts of the world. WMO said that while the upcoming event is not expected to be as powerful as the previous one, it can still significantly affect rainfall and temperature patterns, with important consequences to agricultural and food security, as well as water resources.

WMO said the El Niño could also combine with long-term climate change to boost 2019 global temperatures.

The Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, in consultation with the Secretary-General, has accepted an invitation to participate in the high-level meeting in Astana on 28 and 29 November. He will chair a meeting with senior representatives of Iran, Russia and Turkey in their capacity as the conveners of the Sochi meeting of 2018. This meeting will seek to accelerate a concrete outcome on the establishment of a constitutional committee.

The presence of the Special Envoy in Astana will be in a spirit of not leaving any stone unturned and maximising the chances of upholding the Istanbul Joint Statement.

Mr. de Mistura has offered clear proposals and a full range of creative ways forward. He strongly appealed to the three countries to do what needs to be done now to support the UN-facilitated political process. He will report on these consultations to the Secretary-General and the Security Council in due course.

The World Food Programme (WFP) completed distributing food to all residents in Hodeidah City, reaching approximately 30,000 families, or some 200,000 people.
Humanitarian partners have also prepositioned enough supplies inside the city to support the population for two months.

Since June, a vast majority of the 130,000 households displaced by conflict in Hodeidah have received assistance, including emergency food aid, water and sanitation, shelter and non-food items.

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that the port in Hodeidah remain open and operational.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are also supporting a three-day Polio vaccination campaign which aims to reach nearly 700,000 children under the age of five in Hajjah, Mahwit, and Raymah governorates.

The UN peacekeeping mission in tehCentral African Republic (MINUSCA) deployed peacekeepers yesterday along the Ippy-Bambari axis in Ouaka Prefecture in response to reports of clashes between Unité pour la Paix en Centrafrique (UPC) and anti-Balaka members.

The Mission also reports that its Joint Task Force has intensified patrolling in the city’s 3rd district in Bangui following clashes yesterday between three different criminal gangs.

And to the country’s west, in Ouham Prefecture, peacekeepers prevented the lynching of two combatants of the Révolution et Justice group after they clashed with members of a local self-defense group in Bondoro-Kota, leaving two members of that Révolution et Justice group dead.

Our peacekeeping mission Democratic Republic of the Congo, MONUSCO, reports that the situation remains tense in the Beni area of North Kivu as the joint operation by the Mission and the Congolese army against the ADF (Allied Democratic Forces) continues. In addition to these operations, peacekeepers continue to provide escorts to health workers in charge of the Ebola response.

For her part, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Leila Zerrougui, was in Beni today to pay tribute to the peacekeepers who were killed earlier this month. She also visited the wounded and reiterated her support to all troops based in that part of the country. She met with the Malawian peacekeeper who was recovered over the weekend. He had been missing since 14 November, following the launch of the joint operation. The Mission continues to undertake efforts to recover the remaining three peacekeepers from Malawi who are still missing.

As world leaders converge in Geneva for a two-day Conference on Afghanistan, UNICEF says that 2019 will mark 40 years of conflict in that country, with four decades having left a terrible impact on the country’s children.

The agency said 2018 has been especially challenging due to a spike in violence; unprecedented levels of drought and insecurity; and increased poverty taking a disproportionate toll on children.

UNICEF said that some 5,000 children have been killed or maimed in the first three quarters of 2018, compared to all of 2017.

And the Secretary-General will have a message to the Conference tomorrow, where he will be represented by the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) meanwhile said today, over the weekend it begun its first airlifts to western Afghanistan to bring thousands of tents to people uprooted by both conflict and an ongoing drought.

The World Food Programme (WFP) reports that together with UNCEF, it has launched a major programme to improve the delivery of quality nutrition services in northeastern Uganda.

The programme will support more than 100,000 malnourished children under the age of 5 with supplementary feeding, as well nearly 15,000 severely malnourished children with specialized treatment in hospitals and health centres in Uganda’s northeastern Karamoja region.
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