Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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13-May-2019 00:24:48
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General had breakfast in Auckland, New Zealand, this morning with Māori and Pasifika young climate activists. After the breakfast, which was hosted by the Minister for Climate Change, James Shaw, the Secretary-General and Mr. Shaw spoke to the press, and the Secretary-General stressed, that to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, more ambitious political will is needed. He emphasized that countries need to shift taxes from salaries to carbon. “We must tax pollution, not people,” he said.

He also stressed the need to stop subsidies to fossil fuels, adding that taxpayers’ money should not be used to boost hurricanes, to spread drought and heatwaves, to bleach corals or to melt glaciers. And he called for halting the construction of new coal plants by 2020. “We want a green economy, not a grey economy, in the world,” he said. The statement and the Secretary-General’s remarks have been sent to you.

Today, the Secretary-General also participated in a roundtable with Pacific Community Organizations and International NGOs, where he heard their concerns about climate change, and he talked to students at the Auckland University of Technology and answered their questions. The Secretary-General focused his talk on the need to take climate action and to ensure that new technologies are a force for good that do not put mankind in danger.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre. All refugees resettled in New Zealand spend the first six weeks at the Centre, where they receive mental health, English language and cultural orientation programmes. The Secretary-General had the chance to see the renovated facilities and to speak to families there coming from all parts of the world – including Syria, Colombia, Myanmar and Eritrea. The Secretary-General heard from families who have escaped very difficult circumstances and now have hope to establish a new home in New Zealand.

On Sunday, he was welcomed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. In remarks to the press, the Secretary-General said his visit was one of solidarity and gratitude – solidarity with the victims of Christchurch, their families and the people of New Zealand, and gratitude for the country’s leadership on climate change. He praised the Prime Minister’s efforts to curb violent extremism on social media and her visionary leadership on the global climate emergency, which he called a model of urgent climate action for all countries to follow.

Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, the Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee in Yemen, said yesterday that the first day of the redeployment of Ansar Allah forces from the three ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras-Issa went in accordance with established plans on Saturday. All three ports were monitored simultaneously by United Nations teams as the military forces left the ports and the Coast Guard took over responsibility for security. In the following days, activities are expected to focus on removal of military manifestations and demining. The formal verification by the United Nations of this first redeployment will take place at the three ports on Tuesday.

General Lollesgaard stresses that this initial step is to be seen as the first part of the agreed concept for phase 1 of the broader redeployments in Hudaydah, in accordance with the Stockholm Agreement. The Government of Yemen has expressed commitment to deliver their part of phase 1 when requested so by the United Nations. Consultations with the parties on commencement of these next steps are ongoing.

On Friday, General Lollesgaard said that the redeployment is a first practical step on the ground since the conclusion of the Hudaydah Agreement, but stressed that it must be followed by the committed, transparent and sustained actions of the parties to fully deliver on their obligations.

We are alarmed by the ongoing reports of violence and hostilities in northwestern Syria, resulting in at least 100 civilians dead or injured and more than 180,000 displaced since the end of April. Reports indicate that large numbers of people are seeking refuge in the open, facing dire conditions.

Since 28 April, a total of 18 health facilities have reportedly been struck, including 11 in Hama Governorate, 6 in Idlib and 1 in Aleppo Governorate. At least four health workers have been killed. As of today, these facilities – collectively serving a minimum of 193,000 women, children and men – remain out of service. At least 17 schools and 3 internally displaced settlements have reportedly been affected, as well.

Humanitarian workers continue to respond to needs where security allows. This includes pre-positioning stocks inside Syria, including food for 125,000 people, and health and protection services, in particular to areas where people are displaced.

We continue to call on all the parties to the conflict to protect civilians at all costs, to end the destruction of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Also, the Security Council discussed chemical weapons in Syria and received a briefing in closed consultations this morning from Under-Secretary-General Izumi Nakamitsu.

On Libya, the UN continues to be extremely concerned about the mounting impact of the fighting on civilians in and around Tripoli. There were again reports of casualties from the fighting in Tripoli over the weekend.

Today in Brussels, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ghassan Salamé, briefed the European Union Foreign Affairs Council on the situation in Libya and also met the Secretary General of NATO and the German Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Salamé stressed that more than a month after the outbreak of fighting, it is becoming clear to everyone that a military solution cannot replace a political solution, and that it is high time now to return to the negotiating table.

Our colleagues on the ground say the humanitarian impact of clashes in and around Tripoli continues to deepen. The UN’s Migration Agency, IOM, says nearly 67,000 people have now been driven from their homes, while an estimated 100,000 more people are thought to remain in frontline areas.

Among those trapped in frontline areas are approximately 3,200 refugees and migrants in detention centres that are already exposed to, or are in close proximity to, fighting. Access to food, water and healthcare is severely restricted at these facilities as a result of the conflict.

Wherever access is possible, humanitarian partners are continuing to provide aid; more than 34,000 people – including refugees and migrants – have received assistance to date.

Humanitarians continue to call on all parties to allow and facilitate rapid, unimpeded and sustained humanitarian access to the affected areas, to allow the evacuation of civilians and the wounded and sick, and the relocation of all refugees and migrants to safer areas.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan today expressed its grave concern over the increased violence in the country and its impact on civilians during the first week of Ramadan.

The Mission condemned the Taliban for incidents in which civilians were deliberately targeted, including the 8 May attack in Kabul against the non-governmental organization, Counterpart International, in which six civilians were killed and 28 others injured.

Tadamichi Yamamoto, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said there can be no justification for deliberate or indiscriminate attacks against civilians.

The Mission reiterated its call for the parties to halt the fighting during Ramadan and uphold their obligations to protect civilians from harm.

In a statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemned Sunday’s attack on a Catholic Church during mass, in the village of Dablo, in the Center-North Region of Burkina Faso.

He expresses his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.

He recalls the sanctity of all places of worship and hopes the perpetrators can be swiftly brought to justice.

The Secretary-General conveys the solidarity of the United Nations to the Government and people of Burkina Faso in this difficult moment for the nation. He urges all citizens of Burkina Faso to stand firmly with one another across communities and not to succumb to efforts to sow discord and breed further violence. The UN stands ready to assist in any way it can.

The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, yesterday concluded a joint mission to South Sudan with the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The visit was designed to demonstrate the three organizations’ collective support for the full implementation of the peace agreement signed last September, following a decision by parties to delay the formation of a transitional Government for six months.

The delegation met twice with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and held discussions with the National Pre-Transitional Committee, which is tasked with overseeing the implementation of the agreement. They also met with women’s groups and committed to helping them realize 35 percent representation of women in the new government.

While the delegation acknowledged the need for a six-month delay to resolve key issues, including the formation of a unified armed force and new states, it stated very clearly that this extension of time should be the last one.

Mr. Lacroix said that the primary responsibility for implementing the agreement clearly lies with the political parties and their leaders, but the UN, AU and IGAD would provide concrete support, including technical expertise, capacity-building, financial help and political support.

Our thanks today go to Barbados, for its full payment to the United Nations regular budget. That brings to 96 the number of fully-paid-up Member States.
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