Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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22-Jan-2019 00:12:22
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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As the Secretary-General mentioned announced last week, he will be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he will arrive tomorrow morning.

On Thursday, the Secretary-General will give a special address focusing on the need for a coordinated response to global challenges.

He will also participate in a Facebook live event on Thursday morning, so please feel free to send in whatever questions you may have through Facebook.

The Secretary-General will return to New York on Friday.

The Secretary-General is announcing today the appointment of Huang Xia of the People’s Republic of China as his Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region. He succeeds Said Djinnit of Algeria, to whom the Secretary-General is deeply grateful for his dedicated service and distinguished United Nations career.

Mr. Xia brings over 30 years of diplomatic experience across the world, with experience in Africa, having served in several high-level positions. Over the years, he has served as China’s Ambassador to Niger (2009-2012), Senegal (2012-2015) and the Republic of Congo (2015-2018). Most recently, he has served as the Ambassador at large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.

Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council by VTC this morning that, as 2019 begins, we should have no illusions about the dangerous dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continue to unfold before our eyes. He said that over time, the possibility of establishing a viable, contiguous Palestinian state has been systematically eroded by facts on the ground. In recent months, he said, we have seen additional attempts in Israel to pass legislation that would directly apply Israeli law to the territory of the occupied West Bank, raising fears of future annexation.

On the Palestinian side, Mr. Mladenov added, there are growing pressures on the foundations of the future Palestinian state, many of them imposed by decades of occupation and internal divisions. Despite the tireless efforts of Egypt and the United Nations, hopes for a genuine intra-Palestinian reconciliation are fading by the day as the sides blame each other for the lack of progress.

The Special Coordinator informed the Security Council that the situation in southern Lebanon and along the Blue Line remained calm but tense. The UN Interim Force, UNIFIL, was able to confirm that two of the tunnels discovered by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) crossed the Blue Line and thereby constituted violations of Security Council resolution 1701.

The Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, was in Moscow yesterday for high-level meetings with senior Russian Federation officials. Mr. Pedersen said afterwards on Twitter that he had comprehensive and fruitful talks with both Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu. He said that there was strong support for a UN-facilitated political process based on Security Council resolution 2254 and an agreement for closer UN-Russian cooperation. The Special Envoy said that the discussions had focused on the constitutional committee, building confidence and moving ahead, and highlighted the positive discussions on a second UN humanitarian convoy, desperately needed for Rukban camp in Southern Syria.

The Special Envoy will be travelling to Davos today, and plans to consult with the Secretary-General and with regional and international players attending.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, will travel to Khartoum, Sudan, tonight to participate at the start of the African Initiative direct dialogue between the Government of the Central African Republic and armed groups, convened by the African Union with support from the United Nations.

The dialogue will also be attended by representatives of political parties, the national assembly and civil society, including women’s groups.

The African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic is an African Union-led initiative, for which the initial roadmap was adopted in Libreville in 2017. The UN Mission in the country, MINUSCA, has been providing support for this initiative, as mandated.

Our humanitarian colleagues report that, since November, an upsurge in clashes between non-state armed groups and the military in northeastern Nigeria – mainly in Borno State – has led to the forced displacement of more than 80,000 people. This is in addition to the 1.8 million people already displaced in the north-east.

The humanitarian country team is currently finalizing a 90-day plan to further escalate humanitarian response to meet the immediate lifesaving needs of 312,000 people in the area.

The UN and its humanitarian partners are also concerned about the potential implications of increased violence and insecurity around the Presidential elections on 16 February, including potential population movements and limited humanitarian operations in some locations.

The UN is urging all parties to the conflict to protect civilians and civilian assets and uphold international law.

Also on Nigeria, the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, says the recent upsurge in violence in northeastern Nigeria has forced an estimated 6,000 people – most of them women and children - to seek safety in Chad’s Lake Chad region.

UNHCR, together with the Chadian authorities, is carrying out registration and pre-screening of new arrivals to evaluate the needs for assistance.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said it is watching with increasing alarm the situation in the Mediterranean, where over the past few days there have been two shipwrecks and other rescue incidents. Close to 170 lives are believed to have been lost in the shipwrecks.

UNHCR said it had become urgent for States to take action to reassert effective rescue capacity in the Mediterranean by increasing coordinated multi-state rescue, restoring rapid disembarkation and lifting impediments to the work of NGO rescue vessels.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet today has expressed serious concern after the approval in first reading of a bill to amend Guatemala’s long-standing National Reconciliation Law. If adopted, the amendment would result in a generalized amnesty for all cases of grave human rights violations and crimes committed during the internal armed conflict.

She said that, if passed, the amendment “will represent a drastic set-back to accountability and the rule of law in Guatemala. At the same time, it will gravely endanger the progress made by the country to grapple with the legacy of the civil war and to prevent further violence.”

The International Labour Organization (ILO) today is kicking off celebrations of its 100th anniversary with the launch of a report on the future of work.

The report calls on governments to commit to a set of measures to address the challenges caused by the unprecedented transformational change in the world of work.

Among its ten recommendations are: universal labour guarantees that protects fundamental workers’ rights, a universal entitlement to lifelong learning, and greater investments in the care of green and rural economies.
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