Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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17-Apr-2019 00:13:12
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Throughout the night, Tripoli witnessed the heaviest fighting since the outbreak of clashes, with indiscriminate rocket fire on a high-density neighbourhood in the Libyan capital. At least five civilians have been reportedly killed and several others injured.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Libya, Ghassan Salamé, condemned in the strongest terms the overnight shelling, recalling that responsibility for actions that may constitute war crimes lies not only with the individuals who committed the indiscriminate attacks, but also potentially those who ordered them. In a statement to the media yesterday, Mr. Salamé renewed his call for international unity to spare Libya from the devastating consequences of a civil war.

In the past 24 hours we’ve also seen the highest single-day increase in displacement, with more than 4,500 people displaced, and that’s according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). This brings the total number of people forced out of their homes to 25,000.

Wherever access allows, humanitarian partners continue to respond to the rapidly increasing needs through the provision of humanitarian support.

However, according to our humanitarian colleagues, yesterday’s request for a temporary ceasefire to allow for the safe and voluntary exit of civilians from the conflict areas did not materialize. Civilians trapped in conflict areas are reportedly running low on basic food items as well as fuel, and experiencing prolonged electricity and water cuts.

The humanitarian community continues to call on all parties to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.

Yesterday, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners relocated another 150 vulnerable refugees who were detained in the Abu Selim detention centre – close to the ongoing clashes – to UNHCR’s Gathering and Departure Facility in the centre of Tripoli. Efforts are underway to bring more vulnerable individuals to safety.

We have seen the reports of a ferry accident on Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The Secretary-General will be writing to President Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to express his condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and government of the country.

The United Nations stands in solidarity with the Government as it responds to this incident, and is ready to help with the response, as requested.

The Joint Special Representative for the UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, UNAMID, Jeremiah Mamabolo, briefed the Security Council this morning via VTC on key developments on his mission following the 12 April removal of President Omar al-Bashir.

He said that changes at the federal level have an obvious impact on Darfur, including protests and violent acts; he assured the Council that in the midst of all these developments, the UN-AU Mission has remained vigilant, maintaining a robust posture particularly in the Jebel Marra area of responsibility, where the peacekeeping Mission has troops.

Also briefing the Council was the Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Ursula Mueller, who noted that well before the latest developments in Sudan, humanitarian needs in Darfur and other parts of the country were already growing due to the economic crisis.

She said that the direct impact on humanitarian operations from the recent political events has so far been limited, and regular operations have continued, but she expressed concern about the protection of civilians, particularly in Darfur.

Around 23.4 million people are currently food insecure in the Greater Horn – including 10.7 million people across Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda’s Karamoja region – that’s according to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group, which is a regional platform co-chaired by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

At a press conference in Nairobi earlier today, the Group said that although the food insecure population is lower than numbers observed during the 2017 drought, there is a high risk of a worsening situation due to the forecast rainfall deficits and a delay in the start of the March-to-May long rains.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) says it is closely monitoring conditions in case of a new regional drought, and is coordinating with governments and humanitarian responders. The agency is ready to respond if needed, but would rely on increased donor support to do so.

A new UN report on Afghanistan has found that, although there has been a reduction in the number of torture cases since 2016, there are still many detainees who continue to say they have been subject to ill-treatment.

The joint report by the UN Mission in Afghanistan and the UN Human Rights Office found that nearly one-third of the more than 600 detainees who were interviewed provided credible and reliable accounts of having been tortured.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said that while the Government’s policies to combat torture and ill-treatment has led to some progress, they are far from sufficient.

For his part, Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Afghanistan, said that respect for the rule of law and human rights is the best way to create the conditions for sustainable peace.

Following heavy rains and flash flooding that impacted large parts of Iran, three UN inter-agency missions visited Lorestan, Golestan and Ilam provinces last week to assess the humanitarian impact.

The missions reported extensive damages to crops, basic infrastructure and people’s livelihoods. A mission to Khozestan is underway.

The UN is mobilizing support in coordination with the international community. The UN has also provided emergency health supplies, emergency shelter kits and household items.

On 10 April, at the request of the Iranian Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization (WHO) had airlifted essential medical supplies, including trauma supplies and cholera and non-communicable disease kits.

In Geneva, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has called for action to better manage electronic waste, also known as e-waste, so it can be turned into a valuable source of decent work.

The organization says the world produces as much as 50 million tonnes of e-waste a year. However, only 20 percent is formally recycled, even though it is valued at $62 billion dollars. E-waste is also becoming an increasingly important resource for informal workers who recover, repair, refurbish, re-use, repurpose and recycle electrical and electronic equipment.

The agency called for an increased promotion of management of e-waste as well as infrastructure to manage in ways that create decent jobs. It also urged the protection of people working with this material which is toxic, hazardous and negatively impacts the environment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) today released new recommendations on ways that countries can use digital health technology to improve people’s essential health services.

WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros, said digital technologies are an essential tool to achieve universal health coverage, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

The guidelines also stress that people must be assured that their own data is safe and that they are not being put at risk because they have accessed information on sensitive health topics, such as sexual and reproductive health.
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