Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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29-Apr-2019 00:20:33
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Further to the Secretary-General’s tweet on Saturday evening following the attack on the synagogue in California, the Secretary-General issued a statement on hate-based violence:

Around the world, we are seeing a disturbing groundswell of intolerance and hate-based violence targeting worshippers of many faiths. In recent days alone, a synagogue in the United States and a church in Burkina Faso have come under attack.

Such incidents have become all-too-familiar: Muslims gunned down in mosques, their religious sites vandalized; Jews murdered in synagogues, their gravestones defaced with swastikas; Christians killed at prayers and their churches often torched.

Houses of worship, instead of the safe havens they should be, have become targets.

Beyond the murders, there is a loathsome rhetoric: xenophobia, aimed not only at religious groups, but also at migrants, minorities and refugees; assertions of white supremacy; a resurgence of neo-Nazi ideology; venom directed at anyone considered the “other”.

Parts of the Internet are becoming hothouses of hate, as like-minded bigots find each other on-line, and platforms serve to inflame and enable hate to go viral.

As crime feeds on crime, and as vile views move from the fringes to the mainstream, the Secretary-General is profoundly concerned that we are nearing a pivotal moment in battling hatred and extremism.

That is why the Secretary-General has set in motion two urgent initiatives: devising a plan of action to fully mobilize the United Nations system’s response to tackling hate speech, led by his Special Representative on Genocide Prevention, Adama Dieng; and exploring how the United Nations can contribute in ensuring the safety of religious sanctuaries, an effort being led by his High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations, Angel Miguel Moratinos.

The world must step up to stamp out anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim hatred, persecution of Christians and all other forms of racism, xenophobia, discrimination and incitement.

Hatred is a threat to everyone – so it is a job for everyone. Political and religious leaders have a special responsibility to promote peaceful coexistence. The Secretary-General will count on the strong support of Governments, civil society and other partners in working together to uphold the values that bind us to a single human family. And that statement, in the Secretary-General’s name, is being issued as we speak.

As you know, the Secretary-General returned from Beijing, China, late Saturday evening.

Before leaving China, he took part in Leaders’ Roundtable Sessions as part of the Belt and Road Forum.

He delivered the keynote speech at a session on the topic of promoting green and sustainable development to implement the 2030 Agenda. He noted that addressing the deepening climate crisis requires action that is rooted in solutions that are sustainable and aligned with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda.

The Secretary-General stressed that the green economy is the future as it fosters prosperity, creates decent work, addresses root causes of conflict and contributes to the full enjoyment of all human rights – civil, politic, economic, social and cultural.

Back here, Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, told the Security Council this morning that the continuing absence of a political solution to the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict undermines and compounds our efforts. She said the United Nations has repeatedly warned that the conflict cannot be managed in perpetuity. The status quo will only lead to further deterioration of the situation, radicalization on all sides, more suffering and conflict.

Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo urged a renewed focus on the prospect of two peaceful and secure states living side by side in harmony, adding that only determined action by the parties themselves can salvage the two-state solution.

She also welcomed the NGO EcoPeace for joining the Security Council debate, noting that their commendable efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian-Jordanian collaboration around shared environmental challenges are exemplary.

Turning to Libya, the UN Mission in that country is concerned that access to food is becoming a greater challenge for civilians, refugees and migrants in conflict areas of the capital, Tripoli. We continue to call for unconditional access for all humanitarian partners to respond to the urgent needs of conflict-affected populations.

We are also gravely concerned about the new reports of indiscriminate shelling of residential areas and airstrikes affecting the civilian population. We remind all parties [of] the imperative of protecting all civilians and we call on Libyan authorities to uphold protection of civilians and human rights.

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that shelling and airstrikes, including on residential areas, continued over the weekend. One child was killed and three children were injured in airstrikes over the past three days – that’s according to our health sector partners.

Overall, 96 civilian casualties, including 22 fatalities, have been verified since the start of hostilities. An unknown number of civilians remain trapped in their homes by frontline fighting, including the urban refugees and migrants, with access to food is becoming an increasing challenge.

Our colleagues report that over 42,000 people have now been displaced as a result of the fighting.

The UN and our humanitarian partners continue to remind parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to take all feasible measures to avoid civilian harm, and call on all parties to avoid using explosive weapons in populated areas, given their likely indiscriminate effect.

Turning to southern Africa, at least five fatalities have been reported in Mozambique and more than 18,000 people have been displaced and are sheltering in accommodation centers as a result of Cyclone Kenneth, which made landfall in the country late last week. At least 3,380 houses have been destroyed and schools and health facilities have been damaged – that’s according to our humanitarian colleagues.

In the Comoros, more than 41,000 people have been affected, while four people lost their lives and 182 suffered injuries related to the cyclone.

The UN’s humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, yesterday unlocked $13 million from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund to provide life-saving food, shelter, health, water and sanitation assistance to people impacted both in the Comoros and Mozambique.

The UN and our partners are continuing to support the Government-led humanitarian responses to both Cyclone Kenneth and Cyclone Idai.

As you will have seen, in a statement yesterday, the Secretary-General extended his condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims and the Government and peoples of Mozambique and the Comoros.

Pramila Patten, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, today commended the Security Council for adopting resolution 2467 (2019) on conflict-related sexual violence. She said the resolution represents a powerful new instrument in the fight to eradicate this heinous crime, significantly strengthening prevention through justice and accountability, and affirming, for the first time, that a survivor-centred approach must guide every aspect of the response of affected countries and the international community.

Critically, she said, resolution 2467 affirms that a survivor-centred approach is required to address conflict-related sexual violence in all UN peace-making, peace-keeping and peace-building initiatives, including in the context of security and justice sector reform efforts, as well as in negotiations of peace agreements and ceasefire verification mechanisms. The full press release is available.

Earlier today, the Secretary-General received a report compiled by the UN, international agencies and experts today, demanding immediate, coordinated and ambitious action to avert a potentially disastrous drug-resistance crisis.

The UN Ad hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, who released the report, says that drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050. Currently, at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases. The world is already feeling the economic and health consequences as crucial medicines become ineffective.

The report recommends prioritizing national action plans, stronger regulatory systems, investments in research and urgently phasing out the use of critically important antimicrobials as growth promoters in agriculture.

More information on the World Health Organization’s website.

Speaking of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of WHO, is in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He was the town of Butembo in North Kivu on Sunday, one of the areas affected by the Ebola outbreak. He met personnel involved in the response, and you will recall that, on the 19th of this month, Dr. Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, an epidemiologist deployed by WHO, died during an attack on a hospital in Butembo.

Dr. Tedros said on Twitter that he was moved to meet brave colleagues who have remained strong after their colleague’s death. He reaffirmed that WHO will not be intimidated, and will finish the job, adding that engaging and working with communities is vital to fighting Ebola in the DRC.

He has warned that the Ebola outbreak will only be contained if the response is allowed to take place without violence. WHO remains committed to supporting the Ministry of Health to end the outbreak as soon as possible.

And from Colombia, UNICEF said today that more than 300,000 Venezuelan children need humanitarian assistance, including health, education and protection services.

The agency says that, while Colombia has been very generous in welcoming its neighbors, the international community should step up support as many of Venezuelans are living in vulnerable host communities with overstretched resources.

UNICEF is seeking to increase its current response budget from $5.7 million to $29 million. This will help, among others, to vaccinate more than 30,000 children and provide water.

Today, the UN Resident Coordinator in Iran, Ugochi Daniels, presented the Iran Flood Response Plan to the donor community in Tehran in a meeting hosted and co-chaired by the Iranian Government.

The Plan seeks $25 million to cover the emergency and early recovery needs of 115,000 highly vulnerable people in the most hard-hit provinces of Golestan, Khuzestan, Ilam and Lorestan.

The UN has allocated $2 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to respond to the urgent needs.

We say thank you to Bosnia and Herzegovina and Colombia, for paying their budget dues in full, which brings the total number of Member States who have done so to 88.
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