Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
13-Jun-2019 00:18:16
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning, the Secretary-General briefed the Security Council’s session on cooperation between the United Nations and the League of Arab States.

The Secretary-General noted with deep concern this morning’s security incident in the Strait of Hormuz and strongly condemned any attack against civilian vessels.

“Facts must be established, and responsibilities clarified,” he said. “If there is something the world cannot afford, it is a major confrontation in the Gulf region.”

With regards to the cooperation with regional organizations, he reiterated it has been one of his priorities from day one to prevent conflict and sustain peace, and our cooperation with the League of Arab States is pivotal, he said.

While acknowledging the challenges facing the region, the Secretary-General highlighted the potential “for action that will bring real change to the peoples of the Arab world and beyond”.

He also announced that the UN Liaison Office to the League of Arab States in Cairo will become operational this month and thanked the Government of Egypt for its support with this facility.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will meet the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Aboul Gheit tomorrow morning in his office and we will organize a brief press encounter afterwards in the Secretary-General’s Conference Room.

We remain alarmed by the extensive humanitarian impact of hostilities currently unfolding in the northwest Syria de-escalation zone, particularly in northern Hama and southern Idlib.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights documented incidents in which at least 231 civilians, including 69 women and 81 children, were killed and scores of civilians injured since the escalation of hostilities on 29 April.

More than 300,000 people have fled towards the border with Turkey. Camps for the displaced are overcrowded, with many people forced to stay in open fields or under trees.

Reports of heavy fighting, airstrikes and artillery shelling on several fronts in northern rural Hama governorate continue despite the announcement of a ceasefire yesterday between parties to the conflict.

The United Nations urges all parties to the fighting to recommit fully to the ceasefire arrangements agreed to between Russia and Turkey last September and reminds all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to respect the principles of distinction and proportionality.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, briefed the Security Council yesterday afternoon.

He told Member States that Sunday’s attack in Central Mali was another reminder of the gravity of the situation and he highlighted steps taken since March to improve the protection of civilians, including an increase in the number of patrols and actions to promote reconciliation.

“The infernal cycle of violence must be stopped,” he said, as he emphasized the importance of fighting against impunity.

Also on Mali, we shared a joint statement issued yesterday afternoon by Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide; and Karen Smith, the Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect. They condemned the attack on 9 June and called for immediate actions to de-escalate the cycle of intercommunal, ethnic violence and retaliatory attacks that have been unfolding in central Mali.

On Yemen, you will have seen that the head of UN Mission in support of the Hudaydah Agreement, Lieutenant General Michael Lollesgaard, provided a status update to the parties on the initial redeployment undertaken by Ansar Allah from the three Red Sea ports of Hudaydah, Salif and Ras Isa. That update was issued yesterday evening, or afternoon.

General Lollesgaard noted that, since 14 May, the Houthi military presence was not detected in the ports by regular verification patrols by the UN Mission. He called on Ansar Allah to expeditiously complete the removal of all military manifestations, including trenches, as part of their commitment to the process.

He also reiterated that the initial redeployments from the ports were significant, not only as the first part of the broader redeployments in Hudaydah, but also as it transformed the ports into “civilian space” that facilitated the work of the Yemen Red Sea Ports Corporation, supported by the United Nations.

Noting the continued commitment of the parties to the Hudaydah Agreement, General Lollesgaard urges them to finalize the outstanding negotiations to allow full implementation of Phases 1 and 2.

With cases of Ebola now confirmed in Uganda, the World Health Organization is reconvening the Emergency Committee on the International Health Regulations. That meeting will take place tomorrow in Geneva. That meeting’s objective will be to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. This will be the 3rd meeting of the committee since the beginning of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As of this morning, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s most recent number of cases stands at 2,084, with 1,405 deaths. And, as of this morning, Ugandan authorities reported two deaths linked to Ebola.

I want to say we welcome the announcement by Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global, which has decided to give the go-ahead for the largest fossil fuel divestment to date by dropping more than $13bn of investment.

The Global Compact Office said that a broad coalition of business, civil society and UN leaders continue to call to action for private companies to make their critical and necessary contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to limit the worst impacts of climate change.

In the lead-up to the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September, Chief Executive Officers are being challenged to set even more ambitious targets for their companies in line with the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has made the case for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

The call to action comes in the form of an open letter addressed to business leaders and signed by Lise Kingo, the head of the Global Compact Office, with more than 20 leaders, including María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, the President of the GA [General Assembly]; Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; Jayathma Wickramanayake, the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth; and SDG Advocate Paul Polman, the former CEO of Unilever.

This afternoon, the Secretary-General and Klaus Schwab, the founder of the World Economic Forum, will witness them signing a Memorandum of Understanding on a strategic partnership between the UN and the World Economic Forum, which outlines areas of cooperation to deepen engagement between the two institutions and to jointly accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

One from the World Health Organization (WHO) published in the Lancet that found no link between HIV infection risks and the contraceptive methods used by women. The study was conducted in four African countries with a high HIV incidence – notably, [eSwatini], Kenya, South Africa and Zambia – and involved over 7,200 sexually active, HIV-negative women, who used 3 different reversible contraceptive methods.

The study found, however, that incidence of HIV infections among all of the women participants was high – an average of 3.8 per cent per year – indicating that HIV remains a significant personal risk and public health challenge for many women in these countries.

A new report by UNICEF has found that Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Estonia and Portugal offer the best family friendly policies among 31 of the world’s richest countries.

These policies include the duration of parental leave at full pay and childcare services for children between 0 and 6.

There’s a full press release available to you.

Today is the International Albinism Awareness Day. This year’s theme is "Still Standing Strong" and is a call to recognize, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism and to support their cause – from their accomplishments and positive practices to the promotion and protection of their human rights.

Persons with albinism have faced, and continue to face, stigma, discrimination, barriers in health and education, and invisibility in social and political arenas.

In solidarity, the campaign is asking people to use the hashtags #stillstrong, #AlbinismDay, and #standupforhumanrights.

For further details please see SOURCE below.
Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General
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