Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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

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Next Wednesday, the Secretary-General will be traveling to Washington, D.C. for bilateral meetings with the US administration and with members of Congress, as part of his ongoing engagement with US officials.

We expect back in New York on Thursday.

Today as you know– and really has every day should be – is International Women’s Day.

In remarks at a special event here this morning, the Secretary-General said this year’s observance falls at a time when our world faces many challenges, ranging from climate change to inequality to the weakening commitment to multilateralism. He stressed that gender equality and women’s rights are fundamental to addressing each of these challenges.

Despite remarkable progress on women’s rights and leadership, the Secretary-General said that these gains are far from consistent and they have sparked a backlash from an entrenched patriarchy.

At present trends, it will take two centuries to close the gap in economic empowerment. The Secretary-General said that he does not accept a world that tells his granddaughters that economic equality can wait for their granddaughter’s granddaughters.

He stressed that investing in women and respecting their human rights is the surest way to lift communities, companies and countries, [and] to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adding that the longer we put off gender equality, the more we lose.

Turning to Syria, our humanitarian colleagues are deeply concerned over the welfare of tens of thousands of people who have recently arrived at the Al Hol camp in Al Hasakeh Governorate from Da’esh-held areas in Deir ez Zor Governorate.

Last night, more than 3,000 people – mostly women and children in a poor state – reached the camp, bringing the total population to more than 65,000.

There are grave concerns over the fragile health of the camp’s residents, with nearly 100 people having died since early last December en route to the site [or] shortly after arrival or referral. Two-thirds of these people who have died are children under the age of five, with the main causes of death being hypothermia, pneumonia, dehydration and complications from malnutrition.

Just yesterday, three children under the age of one reportedly died while on their way to the camp.

At least 243 unaccompanied and separated children have been identified in the camp, of whom 41 have been reunited with their families.

The UN and aid agencies are scaling up their efforts at the camp, providing round-the-clock emergency health and protection assistance. All of the people arriving at the camp are receiving food, water, shelter, warm clothes or blankets.

Urgent funding is needed to ramp up the response, especially in the areas of shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene, health and protection services.

This morning, the Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, briefed the Security Council.

Mr. Shearer said the peace agreement signed last September continues to hold; he highlighted recent positive developments, including – for the first time in three years – people expressing a willingness to return home, dozens of meetings and rapprochements held across the country, and a significant decrease in overall levels of political violence.

However, he also acknowledged that suffering goes on: security continues to impede returns of refugees and displaced people. Mr. Shearer noted that five months of a more stable environment cannot, overnight, redress the issue of food insecurity, nor the absence of health or education services.

A team from the UN Human Rights Office will visit Venezuela, at the invitation of the Government, between March 11 to March 22.

The team will meet with Government officials, representatives of the National Assembly, civil society organizations and victims of human rights violations. The team is expected to go to Caracas and other cities.

And also ,just want to flag that UNHCR tells us that together with the Colombian authorities, they today opened a reception centre – the first of its kind – to support people arriving from Venezuela to the border city of Maicao.

UNHCR says the new center can initially take in up to 350 people and has the possibility for growth in the future.

The Regional Refugee and Migrant Response Plan for 2019for the area calls for $738 million to help 2.2 million Venezuelans and 500,000 people in host communities in 16 countries.

The Department of Global Communications announced today that Maruxa Cardama, the Secretary-General for Partnerships on Sustainable Low Carbon Transport – otherwise known as SloCat- has been selected as the Chair of the 68th UN Civil Society Conference, which will take place from 26 to 28 August in Salt Lake City, in the great state of Utah, in the United States.

Ms. Cardama brings over 17 years of experience with multilateral institutions, national, regional and local governments, NGOs and philanthropy in 33 countries across continents to develop public policies, capacity and implementation projects and multi-stakeholder partnerships [that] advance sustainability and equitable prosperity.

The UN Civil Society Conference, formerly known as the UN DPI/Non-Governmental Organizations (UN DPI/NGO) Conference, is the premier event in the civil society calendar at the UN. The 68th conference will focus on SDG 11, “building inclusive and sustainable communities”.

And lastly but not last. Today, we are announcing the appointment of Workneh Gebeyehu Negewo of Ethiopia as Director-General of the UN Office at Nairobi, otherwise known as UNON.

Mr. Gebeyehu succeeds Hanna Tetteh of Ghana who was appointed as Special Representative to the African Union and Head of the UN Office to the African Union.

Currently Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia since 2016 and Member of the Addis Ababa City Council since 2012, Mr. Gebeyehu previously served as Minister of Transport and Member of the Ethiopian House of People’s Representative.

The Secretary-General wishes to extend his appreciation and gratitude to Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the Executive Director of UN-Habitat, who will continue to serve as Acting Director-General until Mr. Workneh Gebeyehu assumes his position.
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