Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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11-Jul-2019 00:16:26
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Earlier today, the Secretary-General arrived in Maputo, Mozambique, from Nairobi.

Shortly after arriving, the Secretary-General met with Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi. In speaking to the press afterwards, the Secretary-General said that he was on a visit of solidarity with the people of Mozambique following the devastation caused by cyclones Kenneth and Idai. The country barely contributes to global warming, but its people are in the front lines of climate change, he added.

From the moment the country was hit by the cyclones this past March and April, the United Nations considered Mozambique to be an absolute priority. The Secretary-General congratulated the Government and the people of Mozambique for an extraordinary response to these natural disasters and appealed for quick delivery of the pledges made in a donor’s conference hosted in the city of Beira in May.

After a briefing by the UN Country Team, the Secretary-General will meet with representatives of NGOs involved in fighting discrimination against albinism.

In the evening, the Secretary-General is to be hosted by the President at a state banquet.

Tomorrow morning, the Secretary-General will fly to Beira, in the north of the country, to take stock of the recovery efforts in the areas impacted by the cyclones.

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that following fighting between criminal gangs in Bangui’s PK5 disctict, a Quick Reaction Force was deployed earlier today to reinforce patrols.

The violence was triggered by the reported attack on a trader by a criminal gang, yesterday.

Peacekeepers fired warning shots and intervened by taking strategic positions to separate the groups and to help protect civilians in the areas.

The Peacekeeping mission is working in close coordination with government security forces, which have also deployed personnel to the surrounding areas. The Mission is also liaising with local peace committees and community representatives to restore calm in the neighbourhood.

The UN mission strongly condemns the behaviour of criminal groups who endanger the security of the population in PK5.

The mission reiterates its determination to continue working with the Central African authorities to end the insecurity and ensure the complete disarmament of gangs.

The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) reports that one of its mine protected vehicles hit a mine early this morning during an operation outside Kidal city in Northern Mali.

Preliminary reports indicate that 10 peacekeepers on board were wounded, including four seriously.

They are currently receiving required medical care. The Mission is investigating the incident and continues to monitor developments.

Also in Mali, as we have reported, inter-communal violence has increased, and nearly 600 people have been killed in the first half of 2019.

The violence is also creating unprecedented humanitarian needs. There are 70,000 people now displaced in the central region, up from 18,000 in 2018.

The number of displaced people has more than tripled in a year across Mali, reaching 147,800 people as of today.

Some 3.8 million people are food insecure across the country including over 548,000 who are severely food insecure and require immediate assistance. In addition, 1.4 million people are in urgent need of health assistance; and 1.3 million people in need of clean water.

Children are also paying a high price. Over 920 schools remain closed, affecting the right to education of more than 285,000 children.

And now, turning to Burkina Faso, the humanitarian emergency in the country is worsening as recurrent armed attacks and insecurity continue to force people to flee their homes.

Nearly 220,000 people are now displaced. This is 50,000 more people than in May (171,000). Most of them have sought refuge in other communities or in displacement sites in the country’s regions of Centre-Nord, Est, Nord and Sahel.

Ongoing rains are making some roads impassable and, as a result, many of the displaced are unable to access basic services. Many also lack shelter and are surviving in deplorable conditions. Access to water is also difficult in many areas hosting displaced people.

In the violence-affected regions, nearly 370,000 people have limited or no access to health services, as health centres have shut or are severely curtailing operations due to insecurity and armed attacks.

The UN and humanitarian organizations are supporting the Government in providing emergency assistance to the affected people. However, the persistent violence remains an impediment to an effective response.

As of July, 44 per cent of the $100 million response budget had been provided.

Four UN officials have welcomed the conviction of Bosco Ntaganda by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Pramila Patten, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict; Adama Dieng, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide; and Karen Smith, the Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, said earlier today that the conviction sends a powerful message that perpetrators of atrocity crimes, including violations against women and children, will be held accountable sooner or later.

“This verdict, if upheld on appeal, will set an important precedent as the first final conviction for crimes of conflict-related sexual violence at the ICC,” they added.

The four UN officials commended the survivors who bravely bore witness in this case and called for the judgement to be swiftly followed by a comprehensive decision on reparations to help the victims rebuild their lives.

They also noted that accountability is crucial to prevent and deter violations against civilians, including women and children, and to confirm in the eyes of communities and combatants alike that no one is above the law.

Meanwhile, In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a vaccination campaign conducted by the Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF and Medecins sans Frontieres, has been launched in the province of Ituri. The aim is to vaccinate 67,000 children.

Adding to the complexity of the operations, the province is also affected by the ebola outbreak and facing renewed violence that has led to massive displacements.

The first sites targeted for measles vaccinations are four displacement camps in Bunia that have seen a huge influx of families uprooted by fighting in recent weeks.

Close to 2,000 deaths due to measles have been reported across DRC this year; over two-thirds of them among children below 5 years in age.

As of 23 June, nearly 115,000 cases of suspected measles had been reported, far more than the 65,000 recorded in all of 2018.

This morning, members of the Security Council held a briefing about their mission to Kuwait and Iraq.

The mission visited both countries at the end of June and met with national senior officials, humanitarian partners and UN interlocutors.

This was the first first-ever visit to Iraq by members of the Security Council and aimed to demonstrate the Security Council’s support for Iraq’s post-conflict recovery and reconstruction and observe and support the efforts of the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq to implement its mandate.

Today the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) of ECOSOC offered Major Groups and other Stakeholders an opportunity to report on their contribution to the implementation of the Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Today’s session had an emphasis on the systemic barriers to achieving sustainable development and strengthening the follow-up and review process to best contribute to “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality”.

The second part of the morning focused on the science-policy interface, including a briefing from the independent group of scientists on the Global Sustainable Development Report.

In the afternoon, the Forum will review progress toward SDG 10, on reducing inequalities.

UNESCO announced today the establishment of the Global Media Defense Fund that will support the UN Plan on the Safety of Journalists.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, has warmly welcomed the establishment of the Fund, at the initiative of the United Kingdom and Canada and their respective pledges of $ 3,8 million and of 1.8 million over five years.

And, today is World Population Day.

This year, this international day calls for global attention to the unfinished business of the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development.

In his message to mark the day, the Secretary-General said that despite progress in lowering maternal mortality and unintended pregnancies, many challenges remain.

“Around the world, we are seeing pushback on women’s rights, including on essential health services. Issues related to pregnancy are still the leading cause of death among girls aged 15 to 19. Gender-based violence, which is rooted in inequality, continues to take a horrific toll,” he said.

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