Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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06-Jun-2019 00:12:07
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General spoke at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia today and he drew attention to the need to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and achieve Agenda 2030, noting that there are several factors – including slowing economic growth and trade conflicts – that are obstacles to realizing those goals.

He underscored the need to provide education to prepare people better for the jobs of the future, saying that we need to base things on lifelong learning and we need to create a new generation of safety nets for many people who have difficulties adapting. And he added that climate change is a major threat to us all and a major limitation to our capacity to deliver in relation to the Goals.

The Secretary-General is traveling to Moscow from St. Petersburg, where tomorrow he will meet with President Vladimir Putin before heading back to New York over the weekend.

The Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, has wrapped up a three-day visit to Madagascar, calling for urgent action to tackle climate change and for increased investment to help the country address acute humanitarian needs as well as their root causes.

Ms. Mueller noted that extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense in Madagascar, with already vulnerable people bearing the brunt of climate change.

In the past 20 years, Madagascar has been struck by 35 cyclones, 8 floods and 5 periods of severe drought – a three-fold increase over the previous two decades.

The country is also grappling with food insecurity and disease outbreaks, with 1.3 million people severely food insecure. Measles broke out last September and the outbreak is still continuing, with more than 1,200 people – mostly children – having died.

The UN has received reports that a field hospital in Al-Swani in Libya’s Tripoli District was hit by shelling today, injuring a doctor and two paramedics. Details of this incident are still being verified.

Two more ambulances were also hit this week, resulting in the complete destruction of one ambulance, though no casualties were reported.

This brings the number of health worker casualties since the start of hostilities in April to six people killed and 10 injured. Sixteen ambulances have been damaged or destroyed and three health facilities have also been fully evacuated due to the conflict.

This high incident rate is of deep concern and humanitarians continue to call on the parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law. Medical personnel trying to reach and assist casualties must be respected and protected in all circumstances, as must medical facilities and transportation.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, yesterday allocated $45 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, or CERF, to help people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya facing food shortages following another season of low rainfall and drought.

The bulk of the funds - $30 million – will go to Somalia, where 2.2 million people may face acute food insecurity by September, marking a 40 per cent jump from January.

Mr. Lowcock noted that it was forecast that Somalia would have an average rainy season this year, but it has turned out to be the driest on record in nearly four decades.

With droughts still a repeated weather phenomenon across the Horn of Africa, the Emergency Relief Coordinator has been calling for more systematic early action, including the release of funds, based on early warnings.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is concerned about the impact on people’s livelihoods that dozens of incidents of farmland in Iraq being set on fire may have.

Nearly 50 cases of presumed arson have been reported since May, mostly in Salah al-Din, Ninewa, Kirkuk and Diyala.

In Ninewa’s Sinjar district alone, thousands of acres of wheat fields have burned this week, destroying the main source of income for several hundred families who had previously been displaced by the conflict with Da’esh. That group has claimed responsibility for some of the fires.

Authorities are facing difficulties extinguishing the fires due to their scope of the fires, coupled with high winds and hot weather conditions.

In a new report, the World Health Organization today said that there are more than 1 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections among people aged 15-49 years.

This amounts to more than 376 million new cases annually of four infections: chlamydia, gonorrhea, trichomoniasis, and syphilis.

On average, approximately 1 in 25 people globally have at least one of these four STIs, according to the latest figures, with some experiencing multiple infections at the same time.

WHO expressed concern at the lack of progress in stopping the spread of these infections and said this is a wake-up call for a concerted effort to ensure everyone has access to prevent and treat STIs.

The Food and Agriculture Organization today released its monthly food price index which says that global food prices rose for the fifth consecutive month mainly due to the rise in the price of cheese and maize.

The surge in these prices was caused by flooding and rain in the United States which affected production of maize while a drought in Oceania has affected the production of cheese.

The index averaged 172.4 points overall in May, up by 1.2 per cent from April.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has paid its budget dues in full, bringing the honour roll up to 103 Member States.

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