Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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07-Mar-2019 00:15:46
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, today addressed the 40th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and she saluted the Council for its outstanding contribution for human rights and, in particular, for Agenda 2030.

She said she wanted to reinforce the rock-solid commitment to delivering on people’s rights and wellbeing through implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Deputy Secretary-General said that the 2030 Agenda is a People’s Agenda which commits all of us to put people first and realize a more equitable and sustainable world – a world where no one is left behind. And she added that human rights are core to the 2030 Agenda. But, as the Secretary-General has warned, we are off track to achieving the 2030 Agenda. She said that we are falling behind in achieving the promise to ‘leave no one behind’.

Our colleagues in Yemen are alarmed by the military activities in Hajour and the humanitarian consequences resulting from a continuation of violence on the civilians. We call on the parties to exercise restraint and to refrain from any acts that lead to further escalation.

Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that civilians continue to pay a high price in the conflict in Yemen. On average, almost 100 civilian deaths or injuries were recorded each week in 2018.

According to the Civilian Impact Monitoring Report for 2018, more than 4,800 civilian deaths and injuries were reported over the course of the year, resulting in an average of 93 civilian casualties per week.

Today, the United Nations and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) completed an interagency convoy delivering humanitarian assistance to meet the urgent needs of 50,000 people in Menbij area and surrounding areas in northwest Aleppo Governorate.

A total of 37 trucks carried 862 metric tonnes of food and other items, education materials, nutrition and medical supplies that the Red Crescent will distribute in the coming days. Female-headed households, people living with disabilities and those living in informal settlements – all considered particularly vulnerable – will be prioritized in the distribution. The food supplies for 50,000 people are expected to last for approximately 30 days, while the medical supplies will treat more than 80,000 people.

Menbij and surrounding areas have witnessed periods of heightened hostilities and large-scale displacement throughout the Syria crisis. Humanitarian response has been limited in the area, and despite a gradual cessation in hostilities in the past two years, needs remain high.

The United Nations calls for safe, sustained and unimpeded access to Menbij to facilitate the regular delivery of assistance and services to meet the needs of the population.

The Government of Ethiopia and humanitarian partners today launched the country’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, seeking US$1.3 billion to reach 8.3 million people with emergency assistance.

An increase in conflict-related displacement in various parts of the country has led to a near doubling in the number of internally displaced people (IDPs), according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Some 2.7 million IDPs and returnees will benefit from emergency shelter and non-food assistance.

Both displacement and a lack of recovery opportunities have contributed to the high humanitarian needs this year - some 8 million people need relief food, 4.4 million need nutrition support and 7.2 million are in need of support to regularly access safe drinking water.

Without additional funding, our humanitarian colleagues say most life-saving operations will cease beyond March.

A new report from the International Labour Organization (ILO) says that over the past 27 years there has been very little improvement in closing the work gender-gap. In 2018, women were 26 percentage points less likely to be employed than men, despite 70 per cent of women saying they would rather be employed than stay at home. This is an improvement of only two percentage points in almost three decades.

In addition, women are still underrepresented at the top, with less than one third of managers being women, although they are likely to be better educated than their male counterparts. The report says education is not the main reason for lower employment rates and lower pay of women, but rather that women do not receive the same dividends for education as men. Moreover, mothers experience a ‘motherhood wage penalty’ that compounds across their working life, while fathers enjoy a wage premium.

ILO said a ‘quantum leap’ is needed to make progress, including by changing policies that would ensure equal opportunities, the right to be free from discrimination, violence and harassment, and equal pay for work of equal value.

A new UNICEF report has found that at least 75 per cent of the more than 5 million children living with disabilities in Eastern and Central Europe and Central Asia are excluded from quality, inclusive education.

Evidence points to millions of children with disabilities never entering school, and, for those that do, hundreds of thousands of them are segregated from their peers and communities.

UNICEF is calling for investments in the availability and affordability of assistive technologies – such as special tablets and lightweight wheelchairs.

Our colleagues at the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) report that global food prices rose in February, with the agency’s Food Price Index up 1.7 percent from January, in part driven by sharp increases in dairy prices.

The Index – an indicator of the monthly changes in international prices of a basket of food commodities – is currently at its highest level since August 2018, but remains nearly 2.3 percent below its value at the same month last year.

In its new Cereal Supply and Demand Brief, also published today, FAO lowered the world's 2018 cereal production estimate to 2,609 million tonnes, down 2.8 million tonnes from January, reinforcing an overall year-on-year decrease in global cereal production.

Today, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will appoint Emmy-nominated television personality, award-winning author and internationally acclaimed food expert Padma Lakshmi as its newest Goodwill Ambassador.

In her new role, Ms. Lakshmi will mobilize support for the Sustainable Development Goals with a focus on fighting inequality, discrimination and empowering the disenfranchised.
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