Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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

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The Secretary-General will be heading to Washington tonight, where he will have bilateral meetings with members of the US Administration, as well as members of the US Congress, and this is part of his regular engagement with US officials and US authorities.

Tomorrow in Washington, the day will be focused on the Administration, with a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The Secretary-General will also meet with US National Security Advisor John Bolton.

On Thursday, he will be spending most of the day on Capitol Hill, meeting with members of Congress.

He will be back in New York on Thursday.

Tonight, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will depart for Nairobi in Kenya to participate, on behalf of the Secretary-General, in the Fourth UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4) and the One Planet event, which forms part of the build-up to the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in 2019.

The Deputy Secretary-General will also meet with Government officials, as well as UN officials in Nairobi.

Then, on 16 March, she will head up to London to engage with academia on insecurity and prosperity at the 8th African Development Forum organized by the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the high-level event on Women in Power. He said he was here to listen to the voices of women leaders who are helping to shift power in today’s world and reiterated the UN’s determination to achieve gender parity and push back against resistance to changes within the Organization. “We need to push back against the push back,” the Secretary-General said.

The Secretary-General also stressed that gender parity is key to advance peace and security, promote human rights, and ensure development for all.

He thanked the women leaders at the event for their leadership, for setting an example, and for powering the change the world needs.

This afternoon, the Secretary-General will be having a town hall meeting with members of civil society on the margins of the meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women.

There will also be a press briefing on the High-Level Event on ‘Women in Power’ organized by the President of the General Assembly, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, along with the President of Croatia; the President of the Republic of Estonia; the President of Trinidad and Tobago; and the Prime Minister of Iceland.

The Security Council today is holding an open meeting on cooperation between the United Nations and the European Union.

On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a new report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office there found that 535 people were killed and 111 injured in Yumbi territory, due to intercommunal attacks carried out between 16 and 18 December of last year.

The number of casualties is likely to be higher, as the bodies of some who died are believed to have been thrown into the Congo River. It was also not possible to confirm the number of persons still missing, with an estimated 19,000 people displaced by the violence.

The report adds that the attacks were executed with the support of customary chiefs and may amount to crimes against humanity.

The investigation also found that the attacks followed strikingly similar patterns and were characterized by extreme violence and speed.

The report also stresses that the violence was facilitated by the absence of State action to prevent it and warns of the risk of renewed violence.

The head of the UN Mission in the DRC, Leila Zerrougui, called for urgent action to restore the authority of the State in Yumbi territory and to create conditions for the safe and voluntary return of those who have been displaced, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, stressed the importance of justice and accountability to establish the facts and hold those responsible to account.

We are extremely concerned for safety and protection of civilians that may still be trapped in the last Da’esh-held enclave of Al Baghouz in Southern rural Deir ez-Zor Governorate in Syria.

Following an offensive yesterday on Al Baghouz, there are reports of at least 50 civilians killed and dozens injured by airstrikes, most of those injured are children and women. The attacks are reported to have taken place while civilians were attempting to flee the area.

The UN reiterates its call on all parties to this conflict and those with influence over them to take all measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with International Humanitarian and Human Rights Law.

Our humanitarian colleagues there say that scores of civilians have reportedly been killed by strikes on houses in Kushar District in Hajjah Governorate in Yemen in the past few days. Medical sources report that 22 people were killed, including 12 children and 10 women.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, condemned these deaths and injuries unequivocally and shared deep condolences with the families of the victims.

Hajjah is one of the provinces most affected by the crisis in Yemen. More than a million people are hungry and thousands of new cholera cases are being reported across the governorate.

Conflict in Hajjah has increased sharply over the last six months, which has increased the number of displaced people from 203,000 to about 420,000 today.

In the Philippines, there is a measles outbreak and cases of the disease continue to surge after that country’s Department of Health has declared a major measles outbreak on 6 February.

The Government is conducting a mass immunization campaign, reaching so far 54 per cent of its target to vaccinate all children between the ages 6 and 59 months.

More than 18,000 suspected cases of measles and at least 280 deaths have been reported since the beginning of the year, a 380 per cent increase compared to 2018.

UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to provide financial, technical and logistical support for the response, including the vaccination campaign, and UNICEF is also helping to procure vaccines.

A report released today by the International Labour Organization (ILO) says that more than half of the world’s population lacks access to essential health care and just 29 per cent have comprehensive social security coverage.

The report examined the implementation of social protection policies in 100 countries and found that only 68 per cent of people of retirement age receive some form of pension, and in many low-income countries, this drops to 20 per cent. In addition, fewer than 60 per cent of countries surveyed had benefits to ensure income security for children.

Today, in Nairobi, at the UN Environment Assembly, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched its Global Resources Outlook report which examines trends in natural resources based on our consumption patterns.

The report says the extraction and processing of materials, fuels and food make up about half of the global greenhouse gas emissions and more than 90 per cent of biodiversity loss. By 2010, changes in the way that we use land had already caused a loss of global species of approximately 11 per cent.

UNEP said that unless we urgently rethink the way we use resources, we are at risk of doubling our greenhouse gas emissions by 2060. This would entail a combination of extending the life cycles of products, intelligent product design and the standardization of reusing, recycling and remanufacturing products.

We thank Mongolia, which has paid its budget dues in full, bringing the total number of Member States on the Honour Roll to 71.
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