Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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19-Dec-2018 00:16:59
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General welcomes the adoption by the General Assembly of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. The Compact is a non-legally binding agreement that reaffirms the foundation principles of our global community, including national sovereignty and universal human rights, while pointing the way toward humane and sensible action to benefit countries of origin, transit and destination as well as the migrants themselves.

He said that at a time when international cooperation is more important than ever, this new Global Compact provides a platform for precisely that. It calls for greater solidarity with migrants in situations of appalling vulnerability and abuse. The Compact underscores the need to anticipate future trends, from labour markets to the impacts of climate change. And it also highlights the imperative of devising more legal pathways for migration, which would help to crack down on trafficking and exploitation.

The Secretary-General thanks all those who have helped to bring this landmark step to fruition: the current President of the General Assembly and her predecessor; the co-facilitators; his Special Representative, Louise Arbour; and the UN’s many partners, including civil society, diaspora communities, the private sector, trade unions, academic experts and municipal leaders and of course, migrants themselves.

He also welcomes the overwhelming global support for this Compact and hopes that those countries that have chosen to remain outside of the process will come to see the Compact’s value and join this venture. The Secretary-General said leadership will be crucial in bringing the Compact to life, and in avoiding the myths and disparaging discourse that have become all too frequent. The newly established United Nations Migration Network stands ready to support Member States and all our partners as we strive together in a spirit of respect and common purpose, to make migration work for all.

General Patrick Cammaert and members of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, the RCC, met today through video- and telephone-conference and discussed the general outlines of the work of the Committee.

The RCC members all expressed support for the work of the United Nations and to General Cammaert and his team.

The RCC will adopt a code of conduct, based on the Hodeidah Agreement, to be the basis of its work.

General Cammaert reiterated the commitment of the UN to help the parties fulfill their obligations and commitments and to help the parties to de-escalate tensions.

He highlighted the primacy of the humanitarian goal of the ceasefire and the importance of securing unhindered flow of humanitarian aid.

General Cammaert and the members of the Committee will stay in close contact in the coming days until the Committee convenes a meeting in Hodeidah as soon as possible, per the request of the Chair.

Both parties remain constructively engaged with the work of the Committee and vowed to facilitate the work of the Committee in good faith, and to cooperate in the implementation of the Hodeidah Agreement

General Cammaert will travel on Thursday to Amman, Jordan, with a small initial advance team, and he will then travel onwards to Sana’a and Hodeidah.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, briefed the Security Council this morning on Israel’s “Operation Northern Shield” to uncover and disable tunnels believed to cross the Blue Line from Lebanon into Israel, which has been going on for two weeks. During this period, he said, the UN peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, carried out a series of technical visits at suspected tunnel sites identified by the Israel Defense Forces near the Blue Line. Based on its own findings, the UN confirmed the existence of four tunnels south of the Blue Line. UNIFIL technical assessments, he added, have further determined that at least two of these tunnels cross the Blue Line and constitute a violation of resolution 1701.

Mr. Lacroix said that UNIFIL is acting judiciously to complete its investigation of the tunnels – with technical teams on the ground - and to work with both parties to ensure that any tunnels that are in violation of resolution 1701 are disabled decisively and safely. UNIFIL has requested the Lebanese authorities to work with the Mission to identify and disable any tunnels crossing the Blue Line from Lebanon.

The Under-Secretary-General also commended both the Israel Defense Forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces for their stated commitment to continue to use the liaison and coordination arrangements established by the UN and their intention to maintain the prevailing calm along the Blue Line and avoid any escalation. The potential for miscalculation, however, cannot be underestimated, Mr. Lacroix warned.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it is facing a severe funding shortfall that will impact some 193,000 of the poorest people in the occupied Palestinian territories both in the West Bank and Gaza.

As WFP prioritizes its operations based on available funds, 27,000 people in the West Bank stand to receive no further assistance, while the rest are to receive only 80 per cent of their monthly entitlement. Those cuts will go into effect as of 1 January.

WFP is very concerned that these cuts may have a devastating effect on the food security, livelihoods and welfare of the people it serves in Palestine.

WFP needs $57 million to maintain the current level of support to 360,000 people in 2019. In the absence of additional contributions, further cuts in assistance will have to be made.

Food insecurity is on the rise, affecting one third of the Palestine population and is worst in Gaza, where nearly 70 per cent of the population are food insecure.

In Afghanistan, humanitarian organizations in Herat City have started distributing food and non-food items to displaced people who have been affected by drought.

As part of the ongoing full-scale drought response, the World Food Programme and its partners reached nearly 287,000 affected people from 6 – 12 December with food and cash assistance, in rural and urban areas in 11 provinces.

In the past week, 381,236 people affected by conflict and drought received humanitarian assistance including cash, food, hygiene kits, emergency household items, emergency shelter and safe drinking water.

On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a new UN report has found that hundreds of extrajudicial killings and cases of torture and sexual violence against civilians have been documented in the past two years in North Kivu province.

The number of human rights violations account for one-third of all such violations documented in the entire country.

The security and humanitarian situation in North Kivu steadily deteriorated between January 2017 and October 2018, resulting from more armed groups fighting against both security forces and among themselves to gain control over territory and natural resources.

The new report found that women and children are often kidnapped, frequently for the purpose of sexual exploitation, with rapes and gang rapes committed both by armed groups and by the army. Children are also subject to indoctrination by armed groups and forced to serve as child soldiers.

A new study released today by the UN Refugee Agency and the OECD shows that more refugees are being helped by family, work and study permits than by resettlement schemes in the last eight years. Some 560,000 people from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Eritrea entered OECD countries through these methods, compared to 350,400 through resettlement schemes.
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