Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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07-Jan-2019 00:13:06
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Good afternoon. Geir Pedersen has started his duties today as Special Envoy for Syria, based in Geneva. In a tweet, he said that he was honoured to assume his duties in service of the Syrian people and their aspirations for peace. He added that he looks forward to consulting broadly within and outside of Syria.

Mr. Pedersen succeeds Staffan de Mistura. We have all greatly appreciated Mr. de Mistura’s tireless efforts on behalf of the Syrian people. As a mediator, Mr. de Mistura demonstrated many times his ability to bring together the international community as he tried to bring peace to the country.

Meanwhile, we strongly condemn the abduction and killing of a humanitarian aid worker in Syria. Mark Cutts, the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the country, said today that he was appalled and outraged by the news of the abduction and killing of an aid worker representing a Non-Governmental Organization last week in Idleb, in the northwest part of the country. Parties to the conflict have an obligation not only to protect their lives, but also to ensure that aid workers can work unhindered.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy, is in Riyadh today, and he expects to meet President Hadi of Yemen tomorrow.

Over the weekend, he was in Yemen, where he met with the Ansarallah leadership, as well as with UN officials.

Our humanitarian colleagues say they were shocked and saddened by the killing of a humanitarian worker in Batangafo town, in the Central African Republic’s Ouham Prefecture, on Saturday. A guard of a Non-Governmental Organization succumbed to injuries following a shooting during a violent break-in at his organisation’s premises.

The Central African Republic is one of the most dangerous places for humanitarian aid workers, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Some 396 incidents directly affecting humanitarian personnel and assets – that’s more than one incident per day – were recorded in 2018. And that was a 17.5 percent increase compared to incidents in 2017.

Also on the Central African Republic, the Government and the the UN’s Humanitarian Country Team have today launched the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which requests US$430.7 million to assist 1.7 million extremely vulnerable people.

The number of people in need of assistance and protection has increased from 2.5 million to 2.9 million, a 16 percent rise compared to 2018. Of these people, 1.9 million people require immediate assistance.

Over the weekend we issued a statement on Burkina Faso, in which the Secretary-General said he was concerned over the deteriorating security situation in some parts of the country, where the authorities declared a state of emergency. He is also concerned about intercommunal violence.

In Vienna, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime released a report that says the number of human trafficking victims is on the rise and calls on countries to strengthen their cooperation to protect victims and bring criminals to justice.

The report found a clear increase in the number of children being trafficked, and who now account for 30 percent of all detected victims, with far more girls detected than boys. Sexual exploitation continues to be the main purpose for trafficking, accounting for some 59 percent.

The report draws on information from 142 countries and examines trafficking trends and patterns, while focusing on human trafficking in armed conflict.
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