Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
20-Dec-2018 00:18:11
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General welcomes the resolution of the political crisis in Sri Lanka through peaceful, constitutional means, and applauds the resilience of the country’s democratic institutions.

The Secretary-General calls on all political actors to seize the opportunity of the appointment of the new cabinet to resolve outstanding political differences in the same spirit of respect for democracy and in the interest of the people of Sri Lanka.

Today the Secretary-General is appointing Karen Smith of South Africa as his Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect. She will succeed Ivan Šimonović of Croatia to whom the Secretary-General is deeply grateful.

Ms. Smith will work under the overall guidance of Adama Dieng, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide.

Ms. Smith is currently a lecturer of International Relations at the Institute for History at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

And the Secretary-General is also appointing Maria-Francesca Spatolisano of Italy as Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter-Agency Affairs in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. She will succeed Thomas Gass of Switzerland, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.

Ms. Spatolisano has 33 years of experience in public service including senior leadership in multilateral affairs.

In his final briefing to the Security Council as Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura said that the agreement to halt fighting in Idlib has held so far. But he added that we have never had for any length of time a nation-wide ceasefire or confidence-building measures that [had] been asked for in resolution 2254.

The Special Envoy said that since Sochi, he has been undergoing a marathon of consultations to enable the creation of a credible, balanced, Syrian-owned and Syrian-led constitutional committee. He said that in recent weeks, diplomacy beyond the UN Secretariat has intensified, and he detailed the recent developments, which, he said, would leave him with the confidence that there has been real progress, although he added that we need to go an extra mile in order to have a list of names for the constitutional committee.

He offered his successor, Geir Pedersen, all the success in his vital work and ended his briefing by shaking hands with all the members of the Security Council, and he thanked them for their support over the years.

The UN remains concerned about ongoing hostilities in the southern Idlib governorate in Syria, with reports of civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure.

Between late November and 12 December, over 18,500 women and children and men were reportedly displaced, with the vast majority moving within Idlib governorate. Initial food and non-food items have been provided by local humanitarian partners.

The new displacement comes on top of the more than 1 million women and children and men facing long-term displacement in the governorate, many of them having been displaced multiple times.

The UN continues to urge all parties to respect their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.

In a new UN report that further underscores what our guests here said yesterday in the briefing, migrants and refugees are subjected to unimaginable horrors from the moment they enter Libya, during their stay there, and – if they manage to make it that far – during any attempts to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

The joint report of the UN Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) and the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) details violations – including unlawful killings, torture, gang rape and slavery – committed by State officials, armed groups, smugglers and traffickers.

The report says that Libya cannot be considered a place of safety following rescue or interception at sea. It also notes that the policies of the European Union and its Member States to curb the ability of migrants and refugees to reach Europe have contributed to trapping thousands of desperate people in Libya.


The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the needs have been growing steadily in the South-West and North-West regions of Cameroon this year, with insecurity leading to nearly 440,000 people being internally displaced.

Aid workers are ramping up their response but are impeded by lack of funding. As of last month, only 35 per cent of the $15.2 million needed for the crisis in the South-West and North-West had been provided.

As of today, only 39 per cent of the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan for Cameroon… only 39 per cent of the $318 million needed had been funded, making it one of the lowest-funded emergencies.

The World Food Programme said today it reached 5 million people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo this year, this is double the number of people reached last year.

WFP significantly expanded its operations in the country due to the widening violence and displacement, poor harvest and endemic poverty. The UN agency scaled up its interventions in the eastern provinces of Ituri, Tanganyika and North and South Kivu, where flaring conflicts forced many more people from their homes.

Assistance was provided in the form of commodities and cash, and specially fortified foods for the treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition, which affects 4.6 million children countrywide.

Yesterday, the Security Council held an open meeting on drug trafficking in West and Central Africa.

Yury Fedotov, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), briefed and said that new and alarming trends in drug trafficking have been registered in the region, with disruptive and destabilizing effects on governance, security, economic growth and public health.

He said that post-conflict states and states in transition, including Guinea-Bissau, require greater ambition to address drug and organized crime challenges.
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