Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
09-May-2019 00:21:02
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General remains in Geneva today, where he opened the spring session of the Chief Executives Board of the UN System. The two-day meeting is hosted by the International Labour Organization on its 100th anniversary.

During today’s session, the heads of the UN entities agreed on ambitious and concrete steps to address climate change in advance of the September Climate Summit. In a statement, the heads of UN agencies said they are committed to strengthening their organization’s responsiveness to Member States’ needs to reduce the adverse impacts of climate change, including on the stability of regions, states and communities, build resilience, address loss and damage caused by climate-induced disasters, and enhance responsiveness of social protection systems to climate-related events. They also committed themselves to raising the UN’s own ambition to take concrete steps to combat climate change and to integrate more systematically sustainable development considerations concerning how the organizations work, both in terms of operations and programmes. The full statement will be out shortly.

In a short while, the Secretary-General will go the International Labour Organization to meet with staff as the organization marks its 100th anniversary. He said at a tree-planting event yesterday that, while he could not predict what the world would look like in a hundred years or how economies and societies will work, he remains absolutely sure that the trees planted today will be here and that the International Labor Organization will be here.

Tomorrow afternoon, the Secretary-General will address a special session of the World Trade Organization’s General Council, where he will stress the importance of preserving the multilateral rules-based order – including on trade – for a fair globalization and the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Secretary-General is pleased to announce today a new class of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Advocates. These 17 influential public figures are committed to raising awareness, inspiring greater ambition, and pushing for faster action on the Sustainable Development Goals.

The group is co-chaired by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the President of Ghana, and Erna Solberg, the Prime Minister of Norway. Six members of the previous SDG Advocates class have been made SDG Advocate Alumni and six new Advocates have been appointed.

The six new advocates are: the Emir of Kano of Nigeria; Hindou Ibrahim of Chad; Dia Mirza of India; Edward Ndopu of South Africa; Nadia Murad of Iraq; and Marta Vieira da Silva of Brazil.

The Secretary-General looks forward to working with the group over the coming years to advance the SDGs. A full list of the SDG Advocates is online.


The Secretary-General would like to acknowledge with much appreciation the recently announced support of Qatar to Palestine, which will be key in helping address economic and humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. The Secretary-General furthermore welcomes the continued excellent cooperation between the State of Qatar and the UN in implementing critical humanitarian and economic programmes in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

The United Nations remains extremely concerned about the health and safety of over 30,000 people in Rukban, Syria, where the humanitarian situation is critical. The last humanitarian convoy to Rukban delivered supplies, which were estimated to last one month, almost three months ago.

The United Nations continues to call for a third humanitarian convoy to Rukban, bringing life-saving assistance, including food, hygiene kits, and nutrition supplies for children, as well as health items. The United Nations also reminds all parties of their obligations to provide safe, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to all people in need.

The World Food Programme (WFP) says that, during the month of March, it reached 10.6 million people with emergency food assistance across Yemen – more than in any other month.

About 10 million people in Yemen are estimated to be one step away from famine, and the United Nations and partners are doing everything to assist these people and roll back the risk of famine.

In the coming months, WFP aims to expand its operations to reach 12 million people per month.

The 2019 Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan aims to assist over 20 million Yemenis with food, water, healthcare and other kinds of aid. The plan requires $4.2 billion and is currently 14 per cent funded.

We welcome recent donor allocations, and we call on all donors to fully fund the 2019 plan as quickly as possible.

The Special Advisor of the Secretary-General for Sudan, Nicholas Haysom, has arrived in Khartoum earlier this week. He has held a meeting with the Transitional Military Council and is engaging with the groups associated with the Declaration of Freedom and Change. His work is closely coordinated with and in full support of the African Union’s efforts to facilitate a consensual and civilian-led transition.

As highlighted in the communiqué of the AU-UN conference of 6 May, we continue to urge all stakeholders to engage in an inclusive dialogue to meet the aspirations of the Sudanese people for democracy, good governance and development. We call upon all concerned to resolve to work together to ensure peaceful transition and sustainable peace throughout Sudan.

On Libya, our colleagues on the ground say fighting in southern Tripoli has intensified with a significant increase in airstrikes. We continue to be extremely concerned about the heavy toll on civilians and health workers.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Ghassan Salamé, continues outreach to international partners and will travel to several European capitals in the coming days to discuss ways to immediately stop the fighting and resume a political dialogue.

Earlier today, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, Maria Ribeiro, and the World Health Organization (WHO) strongly condemned an attack on an ambulance in Tripoli yesterday that left three health workers injured, including the Director of the Ambulance and Emergency Medical Services.

WHO says that, since the conflict escalated in early April, 11 additional ambulances have been impacted or suffered collateral damage. In April, three health workers were killed in Tripoli. As the conflict continues into its second month, more than 400 people have died and over 2,000 have been wounded.

Dr Ahmed Al-Mandhari, WHO’s Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, said the attack was a flagrant breach of the basic rules of warfare that could jeopardize the operations of field hospitals and ambulance teams, and deter health staff from performing their duties. The Humanitarian Coordinator prevailed upon parties to the conflict to respect their clear obligation under International Humanitarian Law to protect medical teams.

You will have seen that, yesterday, we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General expressed his concern over the number of new Ebola cases in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He reiterated the support of the whole United Nations system for efforts to end the outbreak.

He noted that, despite these efforts, the outbreak is now in its tenth month and has claimed more than 1,000 lives. The Secretary-General expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

He stressed that at this critical juncture, additional resources are needed, and called on member states and partner organizations to ensure the responding agencies have the resources needed to succeed.

The full statement is available online.

The global food import bill is likely to decline in 2019, but the poorest and most vulnerable countries will not be the prime beneficiaries, according to a new report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Outlook projects worldwide food imports to drop 2.5 per cent in 2019 to $1.472 trillion. FAO says the lower costs would be enjoyed mostly by developed countries, while the import bill for sub-Saharan Africa is expected to rise.

The full outlook is available on FAO’s website.

Our thanks today go to Chile and the Republic of Moldova for their full payments to the regular budget. That brings to 93 the number of Member States that have fully paid up.
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