Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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16-Apr-2019 00:13:50
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The UN Support Mission in Libya condemns the increased use of heavy weapons and indiscriminate shelling that has damaged civilian houses, schools and infrastructure. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ghassan Salamé, continues his outreach to call for a humanitarian truce to allow for emergency services to access civilians trapped in conflict-impacted areas.

Yesterday, Mr. Salame met with Libyan representatives, who transmitted an appeal for an end to the hostilities and a return to dialogue signed by more than one hundred Libyan academics, civil society activists, journalists, politicians and representatives of women’s organizations.

The number of people displaced due to hostilities in and around Tripoli is now approaching 20,000, according to the UN’s Migration Agency. More than 2,500 people were displaced in the last 24 hours alone.

Many families fleeing conflict areas are heading towards central Tripoli and its immediate surroundings, but more than 14,000 of those displaced have sought safety outside of the capital, including in Tajoura, Al Maya, Ain Zara and Tarhouna.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that centers set up by local authorities to accommodate displaced families now house some 1,500 people. Humanitarian assistance – including emergency healthcare, food, water, hygiene supplies, and psychosocial support – is being provided at these and other locations where hostilities are impacting civilians. More than 8,000 people have been reached with some form of humanitarian assistance.

Libyan first responder teams report that civilian evacuations are increasing, with a significant number of casualties amongst those evacuated.

Fifty civilian casualties have so far been confirmed, including 14 deaths. These figures represent cases that could be individually verified and must therefore be considered a minimum.

Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General spoke to Moussa Faki, the chair of the African Union Commission, to tell him that he has requested Nicholas Haysom, one of his Special Advisors, to be available to support the African Union’s mediation efforts in Sudan.

Yesterday afternoon, the Secretary-General expressed his horror at the pictures he saw of the fire in Paris engulfing the Notre Dame Cathedral, which he said is a unique example of world heritage that has stood tall since the 14th century.

The Secretary-General said that his thoughts are with the people and Government of France.

For her part, Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, said that we are heartbroken by the fire that ravaged Notre Dame, which is inscribed on the World Heritage List.

She was at the site with French authorities immediately, and noted that Notre Dame represents a historically, architecturally and spiritually outstanding cultural heritage.

Ms. Azoulay also announced that UNESCO will take part in a rapid damage assessment and will support the French authorities in the rehabilitation of the cathedral.

Regarding the ongoing joint high-level mission of the African Union, United Nations and the European Union to the Central African Republic, the African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and the European External Action Service Managing Director for Africa, Koen Vervaeke, today met with the Prime Minister of the Central African Republic. They reaffirmed their full support to the implementation of the Political Accord for Peace and Reconciliation in the Central African Republic by working together to make progress on the Agreement.

Following that meeting, Mr. Lacroix told reporters that this Agreement is a unique window of opportunity in the country, which must be seized.

Yesterday, the AU-UN delegation also visited Bambari and Bangassou in the Ouaka prefecture and reiterated the importance of the peace agreement for a lasting peace and reconciliation in the Central African Republic.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says that in the month since Cyclone Idai made landfall, they have now reached one million people in Mozambique with food assistance.

WFP intends to assist a total of 1.7 million people requiring urgent food and nutrition support in the country’s most affected provinces, but the agency still requires US$130 million to be able to fully implement its response through June.

For its part, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization has also begun the distribution of maize, bean and vegetable seeds and tools for up to 14,700 farmers, that is in Mozambique.

And in Zimbabwe, the UN Children’s Fund says an oral cholera vaccine campaign targeting some close to 488,000 people began today in the two districts worst-affected by cyclone Idai.

In Nicaragua, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said that one year after the country’s political and social crisis began, more than 60,000 people have been forced to flee their country. The vast majority of people – about 55,000 – have sought refuge in Costa Rica.

The UN agency said many people, including young children, have walked for hours through difficult terrain, exposed to heat, humidity and the risk of malaria.

UNHCR says it is developing, together with other UN partners, an inter-agency humanitarian response plan to support the [Costa Rican] Government in addressing the immediate needs of increasingly vulnerable asylum-seekers and host communities.
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