Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
10-Apr-2019 00:15:12
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General attended this morning’s Security Council meeting on Venezuela, in which Council members heard from the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock.

After that, the Secretary-General met with the US Vice President, Mike Pence.

The Secretary-General will be returning to the Security Council this afternoon, where he will speak in closed consultations on Libya following his travels to Libya.

The Secretary-General continues to closely follow the situation in Libya. The Secretary-General remains very concerned about the continued fighting in and around Tripoli, where clashes are reportedly intensifying, with increased use of artillery and airstrikes. He reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law to ensure the safety of all civilians. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and his leadership team, the leadership team from the UN Mission in Libya, remain in Tripoli and continue to engage in talks with local and international interlocutors in an effort to de-escalate the situation.

Ghassan Salamé, the head of the Mission, met today with the President of the Presidency Council, Fayez Serraj, and discussed the best way the UN can support Libya and its people at this critical period. In a statement yesterday, Mr. Salamé reiterated his commitment to convene the National Conference as soon as possible but that the security conditions need to be in place.

The UN Mission is working to address the humanitarian situation, including the need for emergency services to access those injured and civilians trapped in conflict areas. Our colleagues at the International Organization for Migration (IOM) say a further escalation of violence in and around Tripoli has led to an upsurge in displacement, with over 5,800 people having fled their homes.

Many Libyans and detained refugees and migrants are currently unable to flee the violence due to their proximity to the conflict, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The humanitarian community is extremely concerned by the use of explosive weapons in densely inhabited areas and continues to call on parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international law and to take all feasible precautions to spare civilian [lives and] infrastructure, including schools, medical facilities and power stations.

The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, told Security Council members that there is a very real humanitarian problem in Venezuela, with some seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance, and that is 25 per cent of the population.

The Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants, Eduardo Stein, also addressed the Council and stressed that Venezuelans continue to move across the region and that it is in the best interests of receiving countries to avoid situations where Venezuelans remain undocumented, invisible and without access to basic rights. Mr. Stein called for more support for countries employing open doors policies and for more international cooperation and resources for these humanitarian efforts.

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and he said, despite being among the oldest members of the UN family, the ILO remains to this day one of the most unique gathering places of the international system.

In recent years, the Secretary-General said, the ILO has been out front in recognizing the need to build a fair globalization that expands opportunities, reduces inequalities, and answers people’s demands for support for decent work – a concept which itself is firmly embedded in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Secretary-General added, “Let us make the most of this pivotal anniversary to renew our collective commitment to international cooperation, to peace and to social justice.”

We welcome all efforts to find durable solutions for the people of Rukban, in southeast Syria along the border with Jordan, in line with the results of the survey carried out by the UN and Syrian Arab Red Crescent in February. It says that 95 per cent of the people surveyed expressed a desire to leave but also had expressed protection concerns. Between 23 March and 10 April, a total of 1,726 people reportedly exited Rukban camp for collective shelters in and around Homs.

The UN is providing limited support to the evacuees through the Red Crescent, including food, nutrition, water, hygiene kits, and medical services.

The UN has not been granted access to shelters. It reiterates its willingness to engage more directly if granted full access to shelters, the areas of origin and destination, and to displaced people on their way to Homs.

Pending the realization of durable solutions for the population of Rukban, the UN also continues to strongly advocate for additional assistance to be provided. Conditions for the approximately 40,000 displaced women, children and men at Rukban are dire.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, is wrapping up a five-day visit to Mexico.

She praised Mexico’s new Government for its willingness to put human rights at its centre, and reiterated her office’s readiness to support the policy change.

While in Mexico, the High Commissioner also called for the strengthening of the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders and Journalists.

Following the recommendation by an international jury of media professionals, the Reuters journalists Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone of Myanmar will share this year’s UNESCO/Guillermo Cano Press Freedom Prize.

The two journalists are serving seven-year prison sentences. At the time of their arrest in December 2017, they were reporting on alleged human rights violations in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.

The choice of these two journalists pays tribute to their courage, resistance and commitment to freedom of expression.

The Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the defence and promotion of press freedom, especially in the face of danger.

We congratulate them.

On Myanmar, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, as the fighting continues in Rakhine and Chin states, civilians caught in the crossfire are being killed and injured. They are also concerned by reported use of indiscriminate and heavy weapons in populated areas.

At least 26,000 people across Rakhine and Chin states have been forced to flee their homes.

Access restrictions across Rakhine have limited or cut off support and services to some 95,000 people. The longer this continues, the more at risk these already fragile and in need communities across the state become.

The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law to find a peaceful solution.

At 3pm today in Conference Room 12, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, otherwise known as the OECD, will hold an event to present a new report by the OECD on the challenges facing the middle class.

The report, “Under Pressure: The Squeezed Middle Class,” published today, highlights how middle-class households feel left behind and are questioning the benefits of globalisation. In many countries, middle incomes have grown less than average incomes and, in some countries, they have not grown at all.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría will present the report with Luis Felipe Lopéz-Calva, UNDP Assistant Secretary-General for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Spain has paid its regular budget dues in full, becoming the 82nd Member State to do so.
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