Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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08-Jul-2019 00:26:17
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General is traveling out of New York as we speak, and he is on the way to Nairobi, Kenya, where he is scheduled to speak at the opening session of the African Regional High-level Conference on Counter Terrorism and Prevention of Violent Extremism Conducive to Terrorism. While in Nairobi, he will meet with the President of Kenya and participate in a town hall meeting with youth involved in programs to prevent violent extremism.

Later this week, the Secretary-General will go to Mozambique to take stock of the recovery efforts in the areas impacted by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit just a few weeks apart earlier this year. He will visit both the capital, Maputo, and the city of Beira, which is still recovering from the impact of the two cyclones.

Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Mirko Manzoni of Switzerland as his Personal Envoy for Mozambique. In this role, Mr. Manzoni will provide good offices support in facilitating the dialogue between the Government of Mozambique and RENAMO and towards the signing and subsequent implementation of a peace agreement between the parties.

Mr. Manzoni has more than 20 years of experience in the diplomatic and humanitarian fields and has, in fact, served as Ambassador of Switzerland to Mozambique since 2014. We have more on this in our office.

The Integration Segment of ECOSOC is taking place today, one day before the start of the High-Level Political Forum. The theme of the Integration Segment is “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality."

The Secretary-General joined the Integration Segment this morning to present the annual overview report of the United Nations System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB). The Secretary-General said that his aim is for each CEB member to leave their sessions with a shared understanding and vision of the immediate priorities of the United Nations system, with clarity about each entity’s respective contribution, and with the conviction to lead courageously. His remarks are online.

And tomorrow, the High-Level Political Forum will begin, gathering countries and leaders from civil society, business, the UN System, specialized agencies, academia and other stakeholders to review progress made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The theme this year is “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” and forty-seven countries will present their Voluntary National Reviews (VNRs).

The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, is in Niamey, Niger, where yesterday she spoke at an event marking the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the beginning of its transitional phase to full operationalization.

She said that, with the signing of the Agreement by Nigeria and Benin at this Summit, is deeply gratifying to see that the African Continental Free Trade Area market will bring together almost all African Union member states.

She said that the African Continental Free Trade Area would be the world’s largest free trade area, encompassing 54 countries and 1.2 billion people. And she added that it will bring the promise of trade-led economic growth closer to reality for Africa’s entrepreneurs, industrialists, investors, innovators and service suppliers.

The Deputy Secretary-General promised that the entire United Nations System will continue to support African countries as they accelerate the continent’s development. Her full speech is online.

While in Niamey, the Deputy Secretary-General also had bilateral meetings with the Presidents of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Niger, and Nigeria, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission and the President of the African Development Bank. The Deputy Secretary-General will be back in New York tomorrow.

Human rights colleagues have issued a new report on the situation in Indian-Administered Kashmir and Pakistan-administered Kashmir between May 2018 and April 2019.

The report says the number of civilian casualties reported over that 12-month period may be the highest in over a decade.

The full report is available on the website of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

As of today, the outbreak of cholera in Yemen has reached over 460,000 suspected cases this year, including approximately 200,000 children. This exceeds the 380,000 total suspected cases in all of 2018.

So far this year, 705 deaths have been recorded from suspected cholera – versus 75 deaths in the same period last year.

Recent flash flooding has accelerated the spread of cholera across the country, which has also been exacerbated by poor maintenance of waste management systems and lack of access to clean water for drinking or irrigation.

This year, the UN and partners are running nearly 1,200 cholera treatment facilities around the country. However, funding remains an urgent issue.

The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan requires $4.2 billion to deliver humanitarian assistance to more than 20 million people this year. As of today, only 32% of those requirements have been met.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that at least seven children have been killed in an attack this weekend on the village of Mhambel in northwest Syria.

UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, issued a statement saying these deaths adds to the mounting child casualties caused by intensifying violence over the past few weeks.

According to UNICEF at least 140 children have been killed in northwest Syria since the beginning of the year.

Ms. Fore urged the parties of the conflict and those who have influence over them to ensure that children in the northwest and across the country are protected from the ongoing violence.

Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, is travelling to Mali today for a 5-day mission. She will meet children released by armed groups and undergoing reintegration programs; members of the Government, the diplomatic community; UN partners as well as civil society. Her goal is to assess the impact of conflict on children, engage and advocate to improve the protection of boys and girls.

During her visit, she will also take part in a national launch of her new initiative “Act to Protect Children Affected by Conflict”.

In other news from the Children and Armed Conflict office. A new action plan was signed last Friday between an armed group from the Central African Republic and the United Nations. The Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC), which is part of the Former Séléka coalition, and also a signatory to the Peace agreement, has formally committed to ending and preventing grave violations against children. This includes the release of all children recruited and used by the armed group.

This is the 2nd Action Plan signed by a member of the ex-Seleka coalition.

On the Democratic Republic of the Congo, there is a new update on the humanitarian situation in the province of Ituri. As you are aware, the situation has been deteriorating, following an upsurge in violence last month that has led to massive displacements.

More than 730,000 people are now estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance, including over 300,000 displaced people in Djugu, Irumu and Mahagi territories.

The UN and humanitarian partners are scaling up their response, but humanitarian access remains a serious challenge due to insecurity.

In total, the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for the DRC is seeking $1.65 billion to assist 9 million people. It’s only 24% funded.

Humanitarian colleagues told that directors from UN aid agencies and NGOs, representing the Interagency Standing Committee, have wrapped a five-day visit to Nigeria.

Now in its tenth year, the crisis in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states in northeast Nigeria is not abating, with 7.1 million people in need of life-saving assistance, including nearly 3 million people who are food insecure. Since January, some 134,000 people have been displaced by continued clashes between the Nigerian security forces and non-state armed groups.

The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria is seeking $848 million to support 6.2 million people and is 32 per cent funded.

The UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration welcomed today the adoption of a road map to facilitate the integration of Venezuelan refugees and migrants to Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The road map was adopted during the 4th International Technical Meeting of the Quito Process, held in Argentina.

Eduardo Stein, the Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants said the continuing exodus of Venezuelans surpasses and exceeds the capacities and resources of governments in the region.

More details are available online.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is releasing its Global Study on Homicide in a high-level event that is taking place here at Headquarters.

According to the Report, 464,000 people around the world were killed in homicides in 2017.

While the study shows that overall homicide numbers have gone up in the past quarter of a century, due to the increase in global population, the global rate of homicide has declined.

This Study also states that homicide kills far more people than armed conflict and organized crime is responsible for 19 per cent of homicides.

You can find more information online.

And tomorrow, the guests at the Noon Briefing will by Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs and Francesca Perucci, Chief of the Statistical Services Branch in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs. They will brief you on the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals Report.

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