Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
01-May-2019 00:22:49
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that hostilities in Tripoli continue to impact health facilities and health personnel. There have been at least four fatalities among health workers since the beginning of this current conflict and 11 ambulances have to date been damaged or destroyed as a result of the hostilities.

The armed clashes, random shelling and explosives placed on roads are hampering the ability of humanitarian actors to evacuate civilians and to deliver needed aid, as well as the ability of civilians to move freely to safer areas or to be able to access vital goods and services.

The UN continues to remind all parties of their obligation under international humanitarian law to take constant care to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure, including medical personnel and medical facilities.

Since the beginning of the conflict, 102 civilian casualties have been verified, including 23 fatalities and over 45,000 people have now fled their homes due to the clashes, according to the UN Migration agency.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that in Mozambique at least 41 people have been killed and more than 37,700 houses have been either totally destroyed or partially destroyed. Humanitarian partners have supplied shelter material, including tarpaulins, family kits, tents and hygiene as well as water, sanitation to families in need.

The World Food Programme has provided for over 14,600 people and yesterday, a team including two medics were deployed to Mutemo island, in Ibo district, with emergency health and water and sanitation as well as hygiene supplies.

In Comoros, the UN’s humanitarian arm says that seven people have died and over 200 people were wounded following the storm. Almost 80 per cent of farms and over 60 per cent of crops have reportedly been destroyed, and the cyclone also reportedly destroyed over 3,800 houses and including 400 schools. The United Nations has deployed team members to assist the Government of the Comoros in rapid assessment and response and emergency supplies are in place for the health, education, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene.

The UN and partners have reach over 400,000 people who are impacted by Cyclone Idai. The UN has provided immediate life-saving relief support including food, medicine, shelter, protection services, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies.

Beyond addressing the immediate needs, the UN is also supporting the Government to assess post-disaster recovery needs that will inform early and long-term recovery efforts. This includes providing support for people who were displaced by the cyclone and wish to return home.

1.7 million people are expected to face crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity until June, representing a 10 per cent increase in food insecurity, following a second consecutive failed rainy season that has led to livestock losses and widespread crop failure.

Malnutrition rates are rapidly escalating due to the drought conditions and 954,000 children are anticipated to be acutely malnourished, and that’s including 174,600 children who are severely malnourished.

The Humanitarian Country Team is preparing a Drought Response Plan to address food gaps in the most severely affected areas and to prepare for substantial increases in needs between May and October.

So far, Somalia’s 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, which is seeking $1.08 billion, is only 19 per cent funded. Insufficient funding has led to the scaling back of water, sanitation and hygiene activities despite serious water shortages across the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that most Ebola response activities – including community engagement, vaccination, and case investigation – have been re-launched in Butembo, in the North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This follows a slowdown caused by the attack that left a Cameroonian doctor – Dr. Mouzoko – dead and two people injured.

The Director-General of WHO, visited the DRC this week. In Butembo, he expressed his gratitude to the WHO and partners and assessed the next steps needed to strengthen both security and the Government-led Ebola response.

Only $83 million have been received under the Strategic Response Plan out of a total requirement of $148 million dollars.

The Acting UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar, Knut Ostby, welcomed the announcement by the Office of the Commander-in-Chief of the Defense Services of a ceasefire extension in Myanmar from 1 May to 30 June.

Mr. Ostby expressed the hope that the ceasefire extension will further strengthen the prospects for Myanmar’s peace process.

The UN in Myanmar is prepared to work with the relevant parties on providing urgent humanitarian assistance to all people in need in the affected areas.

The High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Miguel Angel Moratinos, visited Colombo in Sri Lanka. Yesterday, he paid his respects to the people and Government of Sri Lanka and expressed the support of the UN’s for the Government’s efforts in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism. This was the first visit by any high-level official to Sri Lanka since the terrorist attack on Easter Sunday.

The High Representative conveyed the Secretary-General’s condolences and solidarity to President Sirisena and he told him, “You are not alone.”

He also met with the Prime Minister Wickramasinghe, with whom he exchanged views on the current efforts undertaken to restore the unity and peaceful co-existence within the society. He also met with the leader of the opposition.

Yesterday Geir Pedersen, briefed the Security Council in the afternoon on Syria and he told Council Members he is doing everything he can to move forward on rebuilding trust and confidence, opening the door to a political process in Geneva between the Syrian Government and the opposition.

Friday is World Press Freedom Day. In a message to mark the day, the Secretary-General says that a free press is essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights. This is especially true during election seasons -- the focus of this year’s Day. He says that facts, not falsehoods, should guide people as they choose their representatives.

The Secretary-General is deeply troubled by the growing number of attacks and the culture of impunity, noting that UNESCO says almost 100 journalists were killed in 2018, while hundreds were imprisoned.

On Friday, UNESCO and the Department of Global Communications will be celebrating World Press Freedom Day with a high-level event and panel discussion that will take place at 10 am in Conference Room 1. The theme assigned for this year is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation”.

Journalists are invited to attend the premiere of a film based on the rediscovered diary of a young Polish Jewish girl, who recounts life in Poland under the occupation of the Nazis.

Screening of the film Broken Dreams, directed by Mr. Tomasz Magierski, is followed by discussion with the director and Ms. Ariana Bellak, a Holocaust survivor herself and the sister of the diarist, and that’s from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., in ECOSOC Chamber.

The Under-Secretary-General for Global Communications, Alison Smale, will moderate. The Deputy Permanent Representative of Poland, H.E. Mr. Pawel Radomski, will also deliver remarks.

At 1:00 p.m. there will be a press briefing sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Georgia to the United Nations entitled, “A Vision for Modernizing the Fight Against Hunger.” Speakers will be Ambassador Imnadze, the Permanent Representative of Georgia to the United Nations, and Dr. Davit Kirvalidze, Georgia's Candidate for Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
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