Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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01-Mar-2019 00:12:39
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General welcomes the meeting that took place on 27 February in the United Arab Emirates, that was convened by his Special Representative for Libya, Ghassan Salamé. That meeting was between the Prime Minister of Libya and President of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord, Faiez Serraj, and the Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar.

The Secretary-General commends both parties on the progress made, in particular the agreement on the need to end the transitional stages in Libya through the holding of general elections, and also the commitment to maintain stability in the country and unify its institutions.

The Secretary-General hopes further progress can be achieved on the basis of what has already been agreed upon, with the support of the international community.

The Secretary-General spoke this morning in a meeting of the Group of Friends on Preventing Violent Extremism and he said that the focus of today’s meeting was on how to defend the rights of women, place their voices and expertise at the centre of our strategies, and work together with them to limit and prevent violent extremism.

He said that groups like Da’esh, Boko Haram and others have systematically subjugated hundreds of thousands of women to slavery, sexual exploitation, kidnapping, trafficking and other horrific ordeals.

The Secretary-General said that many UN entities are integrating gender dynamics into their responses. In Nigeria, the UN has helped establish a gender desk as part of national counter-terrorism and prevention of violent extremism efforts, which recruited additional female investigators. In North Africa, the UN is supporting national institutions to research the gender specific dimensions of violent extremism.

In the next few months, he added, the United Nations will launch a handbook on Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism, to help countries develop gender-sensitive security measures.

Today, the UN published its 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview for Syria – which highlights the scale of humanitarian needs in that country.

The overview is a reminder that the crisis is far from over for millions of people in Syria who have lived through eight years of crisis. 11.7 million people remain in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, including food and livelihood assistance, health care, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene support. Over 2 million boys and girls are currently out of school in Syria. People’s resources are depleting and more than eight in ten people live below the poverty line.

Displacement continues to be a defining feature of the crisis, with an estimated 6.2 million people who are internally displaced. Last year saw a 16 per cent increase in the number of displaced people living in last resorts sites. More than 5.6 million people remain displaced across the borders and in neighbouring countries.

In 2018, the UN and humanitarian partners reached 5.5 million people each month on average with humanitarian assistance. The UN and its partners are appealing for continued donor support to support the critical life-saving, protection and livelihood needs of over 11 million people.

Yesterday afternoon the Security Council wrapped up its work for February by hearing from the Special Envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, who told the Council members that, since she began her assignment nine months ago, she has been in Myanmar five times, Bangladesh three times as well as other tours in the region.

Ms. Schraner Burgener said that while Bangladesh and host communities have been very generous, we cannot expect this to continue indefinitely. The recently launched UN Joint Response Plan for 2019 to benefit both refugees and host communities needs urgent funding, she told Council members, adding that she is concerned that the heavy fighting with the Arakan Army will further impact efforts toward the dignified, voluntary and safe return of refugees.

The Special Envoy said that we must collectively continue to build trust and work in partnership with the Government of Myanmar.

Ursula Mueller, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, will be in Ouagadougou as well as in displacement sites in the Centre-Nord region of the country from 2 to 5 March.

Ms. Mueller is expected to meet with Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and other officials, local authorities in conflict areas, displaced people, UN agencies, as well as international and local NGOs.

Burkina Faso is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Armed violence and insecurity have caused population displacement in a number of regions and across the Sahel.

Conflict and intercommunal clashes have uprooted over 100,000 people from their homes, more than half of them in the first two months of this year.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that yesterday, an estimated 20,000 refugees reportedly returned to the northeastern Nigerian town of Rann from Cameroon; since Wednesday, some 30,000 refugees have returned to Rann. They are among the more than 40,000 Nigerian refugees who originally fled Rann following deadly attacks by non-state armed groups in December last year and January of this year.

Reports indicate that the returnees are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. International and national humanitarian organizations have not returned to Rann since 17 January due to ongoing insecurity.

An estimated 5,000 Nigerian refugees remain in Goura in Cameroon and are expected to return to Rann today.

Today marks one year since the deadly attack on Rann town that claimed the lives of three aid workers and another three aid workers were also kidnapped during the attack.

UNICEF warned today that global cases of measles are surging to alarmingly high levels. According to UNICEF, ten countries account for more than 74 per cent of the total increase in global measles cases; those are Ukraine, the Philippines and Brazil. Those saw the largest increases from 2017 to 2018. In Ukraine alone, there were 35,120 cases of measles in 2018.

UNICEF and its partners are supporting governments to urgently reach millions of children in countries around the globe.

Measles is a highly contagious viral disease which remains an important cause of death among young children globally, despite the availability of safe, effective and inexpensive vaccines.

Sunday is World Wildlife Day. This year’s theme is “Life Below Water: For people and planet” and it focuses on the importance of conserving and sustainably using marine wildlife.

In his message, the Secretary-General said that ocean life is under severe pressure with causes ranging from climate change to pollution, the loss of coastal habitats and overexploitation of marine species. However, he stressed that solutions are available and called on countries to sustainably manage marine wildlife by following the recommendations of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Today is Zero Discrimination Day. In a tweet, the Secretary-General said that discrimination based on a person’s HIV status is a violation of their human rights and he called for an end to laws that discriminate.

He joined UNAIDS and called on countries to make positive changes to ensure equality, inclusion and protection.
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