Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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05-Apr-2019 00:22:40
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is now on his way to Jordan. He took off from Libya about 20-25 minutes ago.

He started his day this morning in Tripoli and then went to Tobruk this morning to meet with the President of the Libyan House of Representatives, Agila Saleh, and then on to Benghazi where he met with General Khalifa Haftar.

Just before his departure, the Secretary-General said that he was leaving Libya with a deep concern and a heavy heart. “I still hope it will be possible to avoid a bloody confrontation in and around Tripoli,” he added. And he said the UN will remain committed, as he would as Secretary-General, to supporting the Libyan people.

Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General visited a detention center in Tripoli. After meeting with families, he said he was deeply shocked and moved by the suffering and despair he saw in the center where migrants and refugees are in detention for unlimited amount time and without any hope of regaining their lives.

The Secretary-General is now on his way to Amman where he will speak at the World Economic Forum tomorrow morning and then visit a camp, run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, otherwise known as UNRWA, in fact, there, he will be meeting with students and visiting a school. We will send you updates from there as we get them and we expect the Secretary-General back in New York on Sunday night.

Also on Libya, this afternoon, the Security Council will hold closed consultations on that country and will be briefed by Ghassan Salamé, who is the Secretary-General’s Special Representative there.

Turning to Syria, our humanitarian colleagues tell us they are alarmed by continued reports of civilian casualties due to hostilities in and around the demilitarized zone in the northwest of Syria.

At least 19 civilians have been reportedly killed, dozens injured in hostilities within the demilitarized zone in Idleb and Hama governorates in the last two days. Some 13 people were killed and 14 injured, among them women and children, in airstrikes in southern and eastern rural Idleb governorate, while six are reported to have died and at least 11 are reported to have been injured in artillery shelling in northwest Hama governorate.

The recent surge in violence in Hama, southern Idleb and western Aleppo has displaced at least 90,000 people in the past two months.

I have some updates on Cyclone Idai in southern Africa.

In Zimbabwe, humanitarian partners and the Government today launched a revised flash appeal for Zimbabwe, seeking $60 million to respond to the needs of 270,000 people affected by floods following the cyclone. This is in addition to the $234 million previously requested to support 2.2 million people impacted by the drought.

In Malawi, UN agencies and our partners have provided assistance to approximately 200,000 people, prioritizing 87,000 displaced people in the hardest-hit areas with floods.

Surge support has arrived in the country to support critical sectors – including shelter and displacement tracking – and the Government of Malawi has established emergency operations centres in the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre. Malawi’s humanitarian response faces a gap of $26 million to reach the $45.2 million required for the response plan.

In Mozambique, almost 530,000 people have been reached with dry food, and efforts are underway to accelerate the distribution of education supplies and the cleaning of schools previously used as accommodation centres.

The Mozambique Humanitarian Response Plan for Cyclone Idai requires $282 million and is currently only 21 percent funded, according to OCHA.

Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the World Health Organisation says a marked increase in the number of Ebola cases in that country took place this week, highlighting the difficult environment and the multitude of challenges confronting the response to the outbreak.

As of 3 April, there have been 1,041 confirmed cases reported, including 629 deaths. Some 338 patients who received care at Ebola treatment centres have now been discharged.

The World Health Organization – working under the Government’s leadership and in collaboration with other agencies – says teams are working to build community trust and scale up the response in these areas. The agency reports that a recent shift in the response strategy to promoting greater engagement and ownership by affected communities is beginning to produce results.

On Niger, our humanitarian colleagues say that the Diffa region in the southeast of the country – which borders Nigeria and Chad – has seen a spike in violence and displacement in the past month. There have been at least 21 attacks against civilians and military forces, resulting in 88 civilian deaths following increased activity by non-state armed groups, in particular Boko Haram, in the Lake Chad Basin.

The 88 civilians who were killed last month compare to a total of 107 deaths total throughout 2018.

The new pattern targeting displaced people is emerging.

The 21 attacks that occurred in March triggered the movement of nearly 18,500 people towards the urban center of Diffa and other big settlements in the region, which already hosts over 100,000 internally displaced people and 120,000 refugees.

The humanitarian situation rapid assessments indicate that people critically need water and sanitation, shelter, food and household items.

Turning to Myanmar, our colleagues at the UN Human Rights Office today said that they are deeply disturbed by the intensification of the conflict in Rakhine State in recent weeks.

The Office condemned what appear to be indiscriminate attacks and attacks on civilians by the Myanmar military and armed fighters in the continuing clashes with the ethnic Rakhine Arakan Army.

The conflict has led to credible reports of the killing of civilians, burning of houses, arbitrary arrests, abductions, indiscriminate fire in civilian areas, and damage to cultural property.

The Office called on the Myanmar army and the Arakan Army to immediately cease hostilities and to ensure that civilians are protected. It also said humanitarian access to all areas of northern Rakhine must be urgently restored.

Meanwhile, in neighbouring Bangladesh, the first monsoon of the year is expected in the coming weeks. UNHCR and partners are ramping up emergency preparations and training of Rohingya refugees as first responders in Cox’s Bazar.

Last year’s monsoon was a major test for humanitarian agencies, with more than 740,000 refugees fleeing Myanmar in a matter of months to seek safety in Bangladesh. The Rohingya refugees experienced their first monsoon season in their place of refuge.

Also on Bangladesh, UNICEF released a new report today which found that the lives and futures of more than 19 million children in Bangladesh are being threatened by devastating floods, cyclones and other environmental disasters linked to climate change.

As you know, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. The International Day of Reflection will be observed on Sunday, and a series of events will mark the important anniversary here at Headquarters and around the world in the month of April.

In his message commemorating the anniversary, the Secretary-General describes the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda as one of the darkest chapters in recent human history. On this Day, he says, we honour those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering and resilience of those who survived.

He notes that we are seeing a dangerous trend of rising xenophobia, racism and intolerance in many parts of the world and calls on all political, religious and civil society leaders to reject hate speech and discrimination, and to work vigorously to address, to mitigate, the root causes that undermine the social cohesion and create conditions for hatred and intolerance.

Today from 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. in the UN Bookshop, the author and winner of the 2018 du Prix des Cinq continents, Jean-Marc Turine, will tell the story of Théodora, the main character of his book, La Théo des fleuves. Born at the beginning of the 20th century, Théodora lives through times of war, communism and repeated oppression. Her history as a Roma is revealed over the course of the novel and merges with that of the 20th century.

Tomorrow, at 7:00 p.m., at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium, the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) will present the UN Chamber Music Society Concert for the Homeless. The event will be dedicated to people experiencing homelessness in our host city, and all funds will be directed to the Homeless Trust Fund.

The evening’s repertoire will include music by Vivaldi and Handel, among other classical greats. Remarks will be made by Andrew Gilmour, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Martha Calhoun, the General Counsel for the City of New York.

Mauritius has become the 81st Member State to pay its regular budget dues in full.
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