Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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07-Feb-2019 00:22:37
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The members of the Redeployment Coordination Committee (RCC) met for a third time between Sunday and yesterday aboard a UN vessel berthed in the inner harbour of Yemen’s Hudaydah port. In discussions facilitated by the RCC Chair, the parties worked together constructively to resolve outstanding issues related to the mutual redeployment of forces and the opening of humanitarian corridors.

Nevertheless, challenges remain, not least the complex nature of the current frontlines. To help overcome these issues, the RCC Chair tabled a proposal that proved acceptable, in principle, to both parties to move forward on the implementation of the Hudaydah Agreement. A preliminary compromise was agreed, pending further consultation by the parties with their respective leaders. The RCC Chair, Gen. Michael Lollesgaard, expects to reconvene the Committee within the next week, with the aim of finalizing the details for the redeployment.

Both parties have given a firm commitment to observe and enhance the ceasefire in the interim.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said today he is deeply concerned that the United Nations has been unable to access the Red Sea Mills in Hudaydah since September of 2018.

He said that enough grain to feed 3.7 million people for a month has sat unused and possibly spoiling for more than four months while nearly 10 million people across Yemen remain just a step away from famine.

Mr. Lowcock stressed that no one gains anything from this, but millions of people suffer.

He noted that Ansar Allah-affiliated forces have declined to authorize the United Nations to cross into Government-controlled areas to access the mills, citing security concerns.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator said that, while he appreciates the genuine efforts that have been made on all sides to find a solution, such a solution still remains elusive.

He implored all parties to finalize an agreement and facilitate access to the mills in the coming days.

The United Nations and its humanitarian partners are scaling up efforts to reach 12 million people with emergency food assistance, which is a 50 per cent increase over the 2018 targets. In December, the World Food Programme reached more than 10 million people – which in itself was a record achievement.

Tonight, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, to give the keynote speech at the World Government Summit, at the invitation of the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Ruler of the Emirate of Dubai. She will have bilateral meetings with senior Government officials on Climate Change, the Sustainable Development Goals and the upcoming World Expo 2020.

The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on Monday.

In Geneva today, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) launched its 2019 Mine Action Portfolio, which says that clearance of landmines and explosive ordnance is advancing rapidly in many regions, but the amount of new contamination is keeping up with these advances.

According to the agency, broad swaths of territory in Iraq, Libya, Syria, where millions of people reside, are heavily contaminated and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons need to go through “risk education” before they can safely return to their homes.

The Portfolio represents 19 countries and 146 projects, with a total cost of $495 million dollars.

The Food and Agricultural Organization's latest Food Price Index says that global food prices started 2019 on a high, driven by rising prices of dairy and palm and soy oils.

Efforts to find and treat an additional 1.5 million so-called tuberculosis patients who are undiagnosed, unreported and untreated by the end of 2019 have been showing signs of success, according to the UN-backed Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

A large part of this progress has been driven by Asia, which is home to six countries – India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Pakistan – with the highest TB burdens in the world.

Peter Sands, the Executive Director of the Global Fund, said that these results show what can be achieved when greater resources are put into the fight against TB.

In response to questions about recent statements made in Sri Lanka regarding UN peacekeeping, the Spokesman said he has seen the media reports. Sri Lanka is a very important contributor to UN Peacekeeping. The Secretary-General has condemned the attack against Sri Lankan peacekeepers and extends his condolences to the Government and people of Sri Lanka.

It is the policy of the UN that individuals and units deployed to UN Peacekeeping by any member states, including Sri Lanka, are screened through a thorough and credible process in order to safeguard the integrity of our peacekeeping missions.

The procedures for conducting the screening of UN peacekeepers in Sri Lanka were only agreed to in December of last year. Since then, it is not the Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission alone, but the UN together with the Human Rights Commission, that have been jointly screening the personnel nominated by the Government of Sri Lanka. The aim is to ensure rapid deployment of Sri Lankan peacekeepers to the field.

Georgia and Slovenia have paid their budget dues in full bringing the Honour Roll up to 41.
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