Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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04-Feb-2019 00:14:12
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the Security Council at a High-Level Debate on Mercenary Activities in Africa. The Secretary-General said that the shadowy nature of mercenary activities makes data hard to come by, but while the numerical picture may be murky, the impacts of mercenaries is all too clear.

He highlighted illicit activities and trafficking by terrorist and mercenary groups in the Sahel, the alleged involvement of mercenaries in post-election violence in Cote d’Ivoire in 2010 and the many violations of human rights and humanitarian law against civilians in the Central African Republic.

The Secretary-General said meeting these challenges requires stronger legal regimes, globally and nationally and increased bilateral, regional and international cooperation, adding that we need to examine the political, economic, social and psychological factors that give rise to mercenary activities.

On his way to the Council this morning, the Secretary-General said a few words about Venezuela. He said he’s been following with concern the evolution of the situation in that country, adding that he has been in contact with leaders of a number of initiatives by several groups of countries but stressed the UN Secretariat had decided not to be part of any of these groups in order to give credibility to the UN’s continued offer of good offices to the parties to be able at their request to help find a political solution to the crisis.

The Supervisory Committee on the implementation of the prisoner exchange agreement for Yemen is scheduled to reconvene in Amman tomorrow. The Committee includes representatives of the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah and is co-chaired by the Office of the Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Mr. Griffiths, and the President of the ICRC, Peter Maurer, are scheduled to take part in the first day of the meetings of the committee.

During this round of technical meetings, the Supervisory Committee will discuss the steps taken by the two parties to finalize the lists of prisoners to advance the implementation of the agreement.

Meanwhile, the third meeting of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, chaired by Patrick Cammaert, convened yesterday on board a UN vessel berthed in the port of Hudaydah, and that meeting is continuing today. Both the Government of Yemen and Houthi RCC representatives are present aboard the ship.

Both parties have reiterated their commitment to implementing the Hudaydah aspects of the Stockholm Agreement, and in particular, underscored their commitment to finding a solution that would open up the Hudaydah-Sana’a road to allow humanitarian access to the Red Sea Mills.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reports that the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $2 million to support critical Ebola preparedness activities to protect an estimated 440,000 people in high-risk areas of South Sudan, as the outbreak continues in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Although there have been no cases confirmed in South Sudan, the World Health Organization says the country is at ‘very high-risk’ due to its proximity to the DRC.

The CERF funds will help to strengthen surveillance, build case management capabilities, enhance laboratory services and increase infection control and prevention.

Allegra Baiocchi, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Cameroon, and representatives from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and local authorities, visited the Goura refugee site in the Far North of the country on February 1st.

That site is hosting 35,000 Nigerian refugees following clashes between non-State armed groups and the Nigerian military.

Aid organizations are providing food, shelter and water and sanitation, among other services. At the end of January, the World Food Programme began distributing food for 13,500 Nigerian refugees.

However, the response needs to be scaled up significantly to cope with the influx of people, with many refugees reluctant to return to Nigeria’s Rann area or any other camp in Ngala without assurances of their safety and security.

Aid workers are working with authorities to protect the refugees’ right to asylum and to relocate them to safer areas away from the border.

The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Cameroon seeks nearly $300 million to assist 2.3 million vulnerable people.

Food security in Somalia has deteriorated slightly due to below-average seasonal rains in 2018, the lingering effects of the 2016/17 drought and ongoing conflict in parts of the country. That’s according to the latest analysis of the Food and Agriculture Organisation-managed by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.

Today is World Cancer Day. Nearly every family in the world is touched by cancer, which is now responsible for almost one in six deaths globally, according to the World Health Organization.

This year, WHO is focusing on cervical cancer, with the theme, “Cervical cancer: It is preventable, treatable, and it is time to eliminate it.”

The agency warned that accelerated action is needed to achieve global targets for reducing premature mortality from cancer and ensuring universal health coverage, adding that a renewed emphasis on strengthening health systems is needed to ensure early diagnosis and accessible, high-quality care for patients.

Today the Honour Roll reached 35, thanks to Iceland.
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