Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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15-May-2019 00:17:43
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is in Fiji today, where he addressed the Pacific Island Forum and told Pacific leaders that he is there to see the region’s climate pressures first-hand and learn about the work being undertaken by communities there to bolster resilience.

He said, “I know that Pacific Island communities have been responding actively to today’s hardships and tomorrow’s dangers. You are drawing on a long history of adaptation and traditional ecological knowledge.” He praised the region’s governments for challenging the status quo and being at the forefront of global climate negotiations.

The Secretary-General also spoke about the need to tackle marine pollution and stressed that “we have the blueprints, frameworks and plans. What we need is urgency, will and ambition.” He said that this is why he is convening his Climate Summit in September. He said he wants the Summit to demonstrate the benefits of climate action and how everyone can benefit. The Secretary-General reiterated the UN’s commitment to supporting the Pacific Islands’ response to climate change and reversing the negative trends that have put their cultures and very existence at risk.

He also Tweeted out his support and welcoming the pledge made by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, to make sure that Germany goes carbon-free by 2015.

The Secretary-General also held a joint press conference with the Pacific Islands Forum Troika, which is made up of the President of Nauru, the Prime Minister of Samoa and the Prime Minister of Tuvalu, as well as with the Forum’s Secretary General.

He emphasized that the joint message from the Pacific is not one of generosity, but of determination. What we ask for is not solidarity, it’s not generosity; it is enlightened self-interest from all decision-makers around the world because it is not only the Pacific that is at stake, but the whole planet, he said.

On the margins of the Forum, the Secretary-General also met with leaders of the region.

Tomorrow, he will address the Fijian Parliament and speak to youth at the University of the South Pacific.

I have been asked in recent days about the different developments in the Gulf, and I can say that the Secretary-General is following with growing concern recent incidents and hardening rhetoric in the Gulf region, which threaten to further destabilize an already volatile situation.

In particular, he condemns the recent attacks on commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates and stresses the need for further investigation to determine the facts and hold accountable the perpetrators.

He also condemns the drone attacks on oil facilities in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for which the Houthis have claimed responsibility.

The Secretary-General recalls that attacks targeting civilian infrastructure violate international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General calls upon all actors to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation amid heightened tensions.

I wanted to update you on the status of our colleague, Moncef Kartas.

Since the previous statement of 12 April 2019 with regard to the arrest and detention by the Tunisian authorities on 26 March 2019 of Moncef Kartas, a member of the Security Council’s Sanctions Panel of Experts on Libya, the Government of Tunisia provided the Organization with documents concerning the prosecution of Mr. Kartas by the Tunisian authorities.

Following a careful review of the documents, the Organization formally notified the Government of Tunisia that it has reaffirmed the immunities enjoyed by Moncef Kartas in relation to the legal proceedings against him in Tunisia and requested Mr. Kartas’ immediate release and for the charges against him to be dropped.

The United Nations remains very concerned by the continued detention and prosecution of Mr. Kartas by the Tunisian authorities, which is in violation of the privileges and immunities that have been granted to Mr. Kartas in the interests of the United Nations. The Organization calls upon the Government of Tunisia to release Mr. Kartas immediately.

The United Nations will continue to engage with the Government on this serious matter.

Turning to Libya, our colleagues at the UN Migration Agency report that, since early April, nearly 70,000 people have been displaced as a result of the clashes in and around Tripoli, while another 100,000 are thought to remain in the frontline areas amid deteriorating conditions.

Some 3,300 refugees and migrants are trapped in detentions 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.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, told the Security Council today that between 11 and 14 May, Ansar Allah have undertaken an initial deployment of forces from the ports of Al-Hudaydah, Saleef and Ras Issa under UN monitoring. He said that General Michael Lollesgaard and his team from the UN Mission to Support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) were there at each of the three ports to monitor and verify the redeployments. The military forces of Ansar Allah have now left the three ports Al-Hudaydah, Saleef and Ras Issa, he confirmed.

Mr. Griffiths told the Council that this is only the beginning and that these redeployments must be followed by concrete actions of the parties to deliver on their obligations under the Stockholm Agreement.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock also briefed the Council, warning that the spectre of famine still looms. He said that ten million Yemenis are still reliant on emergency food assistance to survive. He added that a resurgent cholera outbreak has affected already 300,000 people this year compared to 370,000 cases in the whole of 2018.

The fighting also impacts aid operations. Mr. Lowcock said that, because many main routes are not usable, travelers, humanitarian agencies and traders now rely on a patchwork of back roads and mountain passes, often going through insecure areas with numerous checkpoints.

The UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, told Council members that, since the fighting in Yemen began four years ago, 7,300 children have been killed or seriously injured. Each day, she said, another eight children will be killed, injured or recruited to the fighting. Every 10 minutes, another child will die from a preventable disease, she told Council members.

Turning to Sudan, the African Union-UN Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) has condemned an incident that took place yesterday in its El Geneina super camp in West Darfur, when an unruly crowd forcefully entered the camp, looting UN property and contingent-owned equipment, vandalizing premises and putting the lives of UN staff and personnel at grave risk.

The crowd of looters included individuals in Government of Sudan (GoS) Police and military uniforms. The Mission said these acts constitute a blatant violation of international norms governing the presence of UN peacekeepers across the world.

The Mission’s Joint Special Representative, Jeremiah Mamabolo, called on the relevant authorities to bring to account the uniformed personnel alleged to have taken part in this looting.

The Mission has dispatched troop reinforcements to El Geneina to strengthen protection arrangements ahead of the planned handover of the camp to the Government of Sudan which took place earlier today.

This year’s meeting of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is now under way in Geneva.

In a video message to the gathering, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said the need to tackle climate change and disaster risk reduction is growing by the day – and so is the public’s call for action.

She said that climate change is helping to drive the rise of extreme weather events, which, in turn, is upending jobs; threatening sources of food and water; and devastating lives.

Ms. Mohamed also stressed that the proliferation of disasters is undermining the efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
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