Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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06-Mar-2019 00:17:11
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Tonight, the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed will travel to Geneva to address the Human Rights Council. She will also have bilateral meetings with senior Government officials and senior officials of UN entities in Geneva. The Deputy Secretary-General is expected back in New York on Thursday.

In Geneva today, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, addressed the 40th session of the Human Rights Council.

She stressed that inequalities stir grievances and unrest, and that they also fuel hatred and violence.

But Ms. Bachelet said that human rights build hope, binding humanity together with shared principles and a better future, in sharp contrast to the divisive, destructive forces of repression, exploitation, scapegoating, discrimination and inequalities.

The United Nations today released the 2019 Needs and Priority Plan for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which calls for $120 million to urgently provide life-saving aid to 3.8 million people.

Some 11 million people – or more than 40 per cent of the population – lack sufficient nutritious food, clean drinking water or access to basic services such as health and sanitation.

Widespread undernutrition threatens an entire generation of children, with one in five children stunted due to chronic undernutrition. Coupled with limited healthcare and a lack of access to safe water and sanitation and hygiene services, children are also at risk of dying from curable diseases.

Humanitarian activities in the DPRK are critically underfunded and last year’s Needs and Priorities Plan was only 24 per cent funded, making it one of the lowest funded humanitarian plans in the world. Without adequate funding this year, some agencies will be forced to close down projects providing life-saving aid to the most vulnerable people.

Tapan Mishra, the UN Resident Coordinator in the country, said that if we are to address and mitigate the impact of food insecurity on the most vulnerable in the country, including women and children, the time to act is now.

Last year, aid agencies were only able reach one third of the people to whom the UN planned to provide humanitarian assistance, with an estimated 1.4 million people not receiving food assistance.


The United Nations and NGO aid officials today sounded the alarm over rising conflict and insecurity that have accelerated forced displacement across the Sahel, where millions of people are still reeling from the impacts of 2018’s food and nutrition crisis.

The Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, who was just in Burkina Faso, said that growing insecurity was generating a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the Sahel and that increased efforts were needed.

Around 4.2 million people are displaced in the Sahel – a million more than in 2018 – due to escalating armed violence in parts of Mali, across the Lake Chad Basin and the Liptako-Gourma region – that’s the border between Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

Experts say that in this year’s lean season, between June and August, 9.5 million people will be critically food insecure in the Sahel, including 4.4 million people in the Lake Chad Basin.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, today released US$500,000 from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund for the creation of a regional logistics centre in Entebbe, Uganda, to strengthen Ebola readiness and response to the region.

The new centre, led by the World Food Programme (WFP), will support early action in countries neighbouring the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to prevent the spread of the disease and respond if needed. – As you know, the DRC has been dealing with an Ebola outbreak since August last year, with more than 800 confirmed cases and 500 deaths to date.

The allocation is part of a $10.5 million regional contribution from the Central Emergency Response Fund towards mitigating the possible impact of Ebola should it spread beyond the DRC’s borders – measures include surveillance, community mobilization, vaccination campaigns and training for health workers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) today reports that together with South Sudan’s Ministry of Health, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), they have embarked on a campaign to immunize 40,000 children against measles.

The nine-day campaign follows the recent confirmation of a measles outbreak in Mayom, former Unity State, with 17 cases reported so far.

Measles outbreaks in South Sudan are attributed to an accumulation of unvaccinated children due to low immunization; access to health care across the country is very limited.

The World Health Organization (WHO) today announced the most wide-ranging reforms in the Organization’s history, aimed at modernizing and strengthening it to play its role more effectively as the world’s leading authority on public health.

The changes are designed to help countries achieve the “triple billion” targets at the heart of WHO’s five-year strategic plan: one billion more people benefitting from universal healthcare coverage; one billion more people better protected from health emergencies, and one billion more people enjoying better health and well-being.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria Do Valle Ribeiro, visited Sebha this week, in the second UN humanitarian mission to the town in two weeks. Libya’s southern Sebha region has seen recurring conflict since 2011 and hosts an estimated 21,000 internally displaced Libyans as well as 43,000 migrants. In January, the UN accessed Sebha for the first time since 2014.

During her mission, Ms. Ribeiro discussed priority areas for support with local authorities and humanitarian partners, including supporting under-resourced medical facilities and establishing referral systems for survivors of gender-based violence and civil documentation for displaced families.

The UN Environment Programme today said that, according to international laboratories’ test results, the deaths of [one million] of farmed carp in Iraq in late 2018 was caused by fish disease, not pollution.

This mass fish kill episode was traced to the Koi Herpes Virus (KHV), which is a lethal disease known to cause almost 100 per cent mortality rates in carp.

Based on all the samples taken by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, test results showed no significant contamination from heavy metals, hydrocarbons or pesticides. Therefore, UNEP said, the public should be aware that the farmed carp is safe to eat.

Tomorrow at 11.45 a.m., Miroslav Lajčák, Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Foreign Minister of the Slovak Republic and a former President of the General Assembly will speak at the stakeout, following his briefing to the Security Council members on the OSCE.

At noon, Zachary Mwangi Chege, the Chair of the 50th Session of the UN Statistical Commission and Director General of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics and Stefan Schweinfest, Director of the UN Statistics Division will brief on the work of the Commission, including the ongoing discussions on a refined indicator framework and measures to close the funding gap.
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