Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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27-Feb-2019 00:13:01
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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As we speak, the Security Council is having debate on the initiative “Silencing the Guns in Africa” and how the association between the UN and the African Union can contribute to a continent free of conflict.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, said that the UN and the African Union share a common mission – to prevent conflict. In the last two years, she added, we have strengthened our joint ability to detect and defuse crises before they escalate, as well as our cooperation to resolve those crises.

She noted that this partnership was bearing fruit in different countries on the continent – highlighting the developments in the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Somalia.

Rosemary DiCarlo said that silencing the guns for good requires the participation of all as well as resilient societies with strong institutions, good governance and inclusive politics.

She said African countries had a central role to play in making the “Silencing the Guns” initiative a success but that the international community’s support was also vital.

Ramtane Lamamra, the African Union High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa, also addressed the Security Council.

As you saw yesterday, Rosemary DiCarlo also briefed Security Council Members on the situation in Venezuela during a long debate yesterday.

Today, the Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe [and he] traveled to Epworth, one of the urban areas most affected by food insecurity and economic conditions.

Mr. Lowcock met affected people including disabled people, women groups, orphans, people affected by HIV/AIDS to better understand how the situation has impacted [them[ and how they were coping. He also met with local officials and the Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss UN support and collaboration to address the situation.

Zimbabwe is facing rising humanitarian needs as a result of erratic rains and the economic crisis, with 5.3 million people estimated to be in urgent [need of] assistance.

And on Mali, today, the UN and our humanitarian partners launched the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan requesting US$296 million to assist 2.3 million people in the country. These people are in need and over half of the requirement requested is for food security and nutrition response.

Our humanitarian colleagues say that the situation in Mali has significantly deteriorated over the past years due to increased conflict and intercommunal clashes, as well as a high level of food insecurity in [certain] regions.

The number of internally displaced people has tripled since the beginning of last year, to over 120,000 as of earlier this month. And around 3.2 million people are in need of assistance and protection this year.

Turning to the Central African Republic, the World Food Programme (WFP) says it has launched an airlift operation to deliver life-saving food supplies to 18,000 people in Zemio, about 1000 km East of the capital Bangui.

The region is on the brink of a severe food and nutritional crisis, due to a combination of insecurity and transport infrastructure challenges, which hamper humanitarian access to the area.

WFP says the airlift is the first step in a more comprehensive plan to address the humanitarian situation in the south-east of the country.

Long-running conflict is having devastating effects on people in the Central African Republic. Up to 2.1 million people, [almost] half of the country’s 4.7 million population, are food insecure according the National Food Security Assessment (NFSA) released in January.

Staying on the World Food Programme but turning to Yemen, the WFP assessment team that gained access yesterday to the Red Sea Mills in Yemen – that’s their first access since September of last year.

WFP sent samples of the wheat to labs to test the quality and is awaiting the results. Some of the wheat is infested, which is something that was anticipated. WFP will need to fumigate the wheat. But they do not see any evidence of water damage to the wheat, which is in itself a very good sign.

The agency said that Tuesday’s visit was a great first step but WFP needs sustained access to the mills in order to fumigate the wheat and then start milling it. To do that, we need safe unconditional passage to the mills for humanitarian staff and the mill workers. This will take weeks of sustained access to the mills to get the facility up and running again.

Turning to Syria, we welcome all efforts that will ease the suffering of those displaced in Rukban in Syria and promote a durable solution to their plight.

These efforts need to uphold key humanitarian principles, especially on return which must be voluntary, safe, dignified and well-informed.

Dialogue is ongoing to aim to ensure that any initiative abides by these core protection standards. It also remains essential that the UN together with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent can again have access to the Rukban population to continue to meet their critical needs.

The Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, and the Secretary-General’s Humanitarian Envoy, Ahmed Al Meraikhi, today wrapped up a visit to Cox’s Bazar.

There are half a million Rohingya children who are stateless refugees in Cox’s Bazar and there is no viable solution in sight for them.

Ms. Fore stressed that the global society has an obligation to give the children and the young people the world has defined as stateless the education and skills they need to build decent lives for themselves.

A survey conducted last December found that more than 90 per cent of Rohingya children between the ages of 4 and 14 years old had learning competencies at the pre-primary to grades 1-2 [levels].

Today we say thank you to Brunei Darussalam, Nicaragua and Greece and for their payments to the regular budget - which brings us up to 68.
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