Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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05-Feb-2019 00:16:48
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The meeting of the Supervisory Committee on the implementation of the prisoner exchange agreement for Yemen began in Amman today.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, said at the outset that this is an important meeting, as it will lay the basis for the next step, which will be to see the release of prisoners. He made clear that the prisoner exchange is an important issue, as it touches the lives of thousands of Yemeni families waiting to be reunited with their loved ones. Also, the implementation of the agreement will help confidence-building measures among the parties on other issues.

The Committee also includes representatives of the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah and is co-chaired by the Special Envoy and the International Committee for the Red Cross.

In Hudaydah, Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard assumed his duties as the Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) and Head of the UN Mission to assist on the Hudaydah Agreement, and that is of this evening.

Houthi and Government of Yemen representatives of the RCC have been continuing to meet yesterday and today aboard the UN vessel that is berthed in Hudaydah. The parties have engaged in long and intense discussions both yesterday and today in order to find mutually acceptable solutions and associated timelines for the implementation of the Hudaydah provisions of the Stockholm Agreement. The RCC Chair, who chaired the meetings yesterday and today, General Cammaert, commended both parties for demonstrating goodwill and engaging constructively together to overcome trust issues and to find viable solutions that would eventually demilitarize the ports and the city of Hudaydah and facilitate life-saving humanitarian operations.

Weeks of sustained engagement by the Chair and his team are beginning to pay off. Today, the Parties are closer to agreeing to modalities for phase one redeployment than they were six weeks ago. They are also grappling with the complexities of disengaging forces in close proximity of each other and the gradual deployment of heavy weapons, armor, and infantry. The Parties are fully aware of the international spotlight on their efforts to implement the Hudaydah Agreement and its implications in the broader peace process for Yemen.

In the Security Council, the Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Yury Fedotov, noted that two-thirds of the world’s surface is ocean, most of which is not subject to a single state’s criminal jurisdiction.

He said that transnational maritime crime is increasingly sophisticated and expanding.

This was part of an open Security Council meeting on transnational organized crime at sea.

Our humanitarian colleagues remain gravely concerned for thousands of people fleeing the last Da’esh-held areas in Hajin, in Syria’s south-eastern Deir Ezzour Governorate, as well as for those civilians who remain in the area. Those fleeing report many civilian casualties, including women and children, large-scale destruction of civilian infrastructure and shortage of food and medicine.

Since December 2018, more than 25,000 people have arrived from the Hajin area to the Al Hol camp in Al Hasakeh Governorate, effectively tripling the camp’s population to some 35,000 people, and that is surpassing its maximum capacity. Since 22 January, around 10,000 people have arrived at the site.

As of yesterday, at least 35 children have reportedly died, either en route or shortly after arriving,g in the camp since December, mostly from hypothermia.

The UN and humanitarian partners continue to scale up the response at the camp. Twenty-four-hour teams have been set up to receive the newly displaced, quickly identify the most vulnerable cases and provide urgent assistance, including medical and protection support.

The UN continues to call on all parties to the conflict and those with influence over them to take all measures to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The UN and the Libyan Government of National Accord today launched the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for the country, seeking $202 million to provide health support, protection, water and sanitation, shelter and education to support more than 550,000 vulnerable people.

Seven years of instability and insecurity have taken a heavy toll on the well-being of tens of thousands of children, women and men in Libya, with thousands of families unable to afford food, water and basic household items.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), at least 823,000 people across Libya – including a quarter of a million children – are in need of humanitarian assistance. This includes internally displaced people and returnees, conflict-affected people, host communities, refugees and migrants who face grave human rights violations and abuse in the absence of the rule of law.

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned today of increasing attacks on health facilities and workers. The agency has documented more than 41 attacks targeting health workers and facilities across the country over the past year. These attacks resulted in 6 health workers and patients being killed and 25 health workers injured. An additional 7 health workers were also assaulted during the period.

Today is Safer Internet Day, and our colleagues at UNICEF are highlighting the dangers posed to young people by online violence, cyberbullying and digital harassment.

According to the data from UNESCO on the prevalence of cyberbullying in high income countries, the proportion of children and adolescents who are affected by cyberbullying ranges from 5 percent to 21 per cent, with girls appearing to be more likely to experience cyberbullying than boys.

In a statement issued today, the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, called for greater action to make the Internet a safer place for everyone, adding that it was time for governments, families, academia and the private sector to put children and young people at the centre of digital policies.

Today, we also officially celebrate the Lunar New Year. 2019 is the Year of the Pig, and in his message, the Secretary-General sent his best wishes to those celebrating and said the New Year is an opportunity to join hands to build a peaceful and prosperous world for all, leaving no one behind.

Today, we say thank you to Montenegro and Austria as they have paid their dues in full for the 2019 regular budget. The Honour Roll now has 37 members.
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