Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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25-Jun-2019 00:14:46
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General this morning spoke at a pledging conference for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, otherwise known as UNRWA. He told diplomats at the meeting that, for nearly seven decades, UNRWA has faithfully and effectively fulfilled its mandate to assist Palestine refugees until a just and lasting solution is found. He said that millions of children have benefitted from an UNRWA education. He added that UNRWA’s innovative health care services maintain high standards and are remarkably cost-effective; its emergency and social services address the fundamental needs of millions; and, in Gaza alone, one million Palestine refugees depend on the agency for food.

If we are proud of these accomplishments, he said, we need to support them in concrete ways. Given what is at stake at the human level, at the political and security level, and at the multilateral level, we must rise to the challenge and empower UNRWA to continue its important and impressive work, he said.

The Secretary-General noted that UNRWA has taken extraordinary reform and cost-control measures to reduce inefficient spending, and over the past five years, UNRWA has saved $500 million through these internal measures.

Yesterday, the Deputy Secretary-General met with His Excellency Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria. The Deputy Secretary-General thanked the Vice President for the visit, conveyed the Secretary-General’s greetings and expressed appreciation for the ongoing collaboration between the UN and Nigeria.

The Deputy Secretary-General and the Vice President exchanged views on the strengthening the solid relationship between the United Nations and Nigeria on issues ranging from sustainable development, sustaining peace, preventing crisis, addressing violent extremism and other challenges especially across the Sahel, and West Africa.

The Security Council this morning held an open meeting on South Sudan.

Addressing Council members, David Shearer, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), said that the peace agreement continues to progress and that the ceasefire is holding in most states.

Mr. Shearer noted that the drop in political violence has meant that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are alive who otherwise would not be, and more than half a million people have returned to their homes. He said that the desire for peace is palpable and that there is a fierce aversion to any renewal of fighting.

The Special Representative said that, while disappointing, the postponement of the formation of a transitional government will give time to resolve outstanding issues that might otherwise derail the peace deal.

The African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD, and the UN have been working collectively to support the process and are strongly unified in our position that the six-month extension must be the last one.

Also speaking at today’s meeting was Andrew Gilmour, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights. He called on South Sudanese parties to abide by and implement their commitments to end hostilities and stop conflict-related sexual violence.

Also in the Council this morning, the members of the Security Council mmbers adopted a resolution that will transform 15 years of peacekeeping in Haiti into a new political mission.

On October 16, the BINUH mission – Bureau Intégré des Nations Unies en Haïti – will be established as a special political mission for an initial period of 12 months to advise the Government of Haiti to promote and strengthen political stability and good governance.

Among other things, the mission will provide assistance with the planning and holding of elections; will work to reinforce the capacity of the Haitian National Police; improve prison management; and strengthen the justice sector.

Turning to Sudan, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that civil unrest in the country continues to impact aid operations.

The continued internet blackout continues to hamper aid operations, with humanitarian partners encountering delays in the processing of visas, travel permits, and other clearances for both personnel and supplies.

There has been an uptick in security incidents affecting aid workers and facilities, with 20 incidents of looting recorded since April.

Since January, there have been over 100 security incidents – including robberies, arrest, arson and harassment – in Darfur affecting humanitarian operations.

The $1.1 billion Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan is just 26 per cent funded.

Our colleagues at UNHCR said today that about 7,500 Congolese refugees have arrived in Uganda since the beginning of June. Facilities to assist refugees are overstretched and UNHCR warns that the pace of new arrivals generates needs that far outstrip what humanitarians are able to deliver.

On Yemen, we are told that the number of people in the country affected by recent torrential rains and flooding has increased to nearly 80,000 in over 10 governorates.

The rains have now subsided, but thousands of people need of shelter, food and other items.

Humanitarian agencies are working with local institutions to assess needs in the southern governorates and are also planning to help 28,000 internally displaced people in Hajjah Governorate.

You just saw earlier today the press briefing by the head of UN Women that just launched a new report to put forth policy agenda to end gender inequalities within families.

Today is one of my favorite days of the year – it’s the Day of the Seafarer. This year’s theme, “I Am On Board with Gender Equality,” focuses on the importance and value of women within the professional ranks of the maritime world.

The theme is also in line with this year’s theme for World Maritime Day: “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.”

This afternoon, the Secretary-General will meet with the ten Chairs of the human rights treaty bodies who are in New York for their annual meeting to discuss their work.

They meet once a year to share observations on positive and negative trends, improve their cooperation and share good practices and working methods with the aim of harmonizing them and improving their collective efficiency and effectiveness.

Tomorrow in the General Assembly Hall, the Secretary-General will deliver remarks at a meeting organized by the President of the General Assembly on combating anti-semitism.

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