Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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12-Jul-2019 00:17:25
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General traveled to Beira, in the north of Mozambique, today to take stock of the recovery efforts in the areas impacted by the cyclones.

He visited the 25 June school in the Munhava neighbourhood, where he was able to see first-hand the damage caused to classrooms, many of which remain operational but without a roof. He also saw hurricane-proof classrooms, built with support from UN Habitat, which survived the storms intact. He encouraged the students to continue with their studies and pledged that their classrooms would be rebuilt, and he later tweeted, “It breaks my heart to see children get an education in a classroom with no roof.”

The Secretary-General then visited the Mandruzi resettlement centre, where he met with the residents and participated in a focus group with women leaders. The resettlement area was set up by the Government as a durable solution in the cyclones’ aftermath. It currently houses about 375 families who are each given a plot of land. The Secretary-General told the residents that he was visiting so that he could gather support from all over the world to ensure that they get the help they need to rebuild their lives. He asked about their needs and said that more permanent help in health, education and energy was on its way.

Prior to returning to Maputo, the Secretary-General spoke to the press at a World Food Programme (WFP) warehouse. He noted the courage and the resilience of the people of Mozambique as they rebuild their lives in the face of so much loss of life and so much destruction. The UN will not leave, he pledged, adding that we need much more support from the international community.

The Secretary-General said that, although Mozambique doesn’t contribute much to climate change, the country is on the front lines in suffering the effects of climate change. Referring to his recent travels, he said that, whether in Tuvalu, Dominica or Mozambique, the people who are the most vulnerable to the changing climate are the least responsible for global warming. He once more urged countries to commit themselves to make sure that we will not have an increase of temperature higher than 1.5°C at the end of the century. For that to happen, there will be a need for a strong political will to take bold action.

The Secretary-General will be back in New York on Monday evening.

In a statement we issued last night, the Secretary-General strongly condemned ongoing airstrikes impacting civilians in northwest Syria, including those on medical facilities and medical workers.

Civilians and civilian infrastructure, including medical facilities, must be protected. Parties to the conflict must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. Perpetrators of serious violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.

The Secretary-General reiterates his urgent call for the September 2018 Memorandum of Understanding on Idlib to be upheld.

The Human Rights Office said today that it is deeply alarmed by the imposition of the death penalty on 30 people by the Specialised First Instance Criminal Court of the de facto authorities in Sana’a, the Yemeni capital. The 30 men – most of whom are academics, students and politicians affiliated with the Islah party that has been critical of the Houthis – were sentenced to death on Tuesday.

The UN Human Rights Office has received credible information suggesting that many of those convicted were subjected to arbitrary or unlawful detention, as well as torture and other ill-treatment in custody.

It understands that the convictions and sentences will be appealed and the Human Rights Office calls on the Appellate Court to take heed of the serious allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, and of violations of the fair trial and due process rights of the convicted people. And you are aware that the UN opposes the use of the death penalty in all circumstances.

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, in Somalia, some 5.4 million people are estimated to be food insecure through the end of 2019. Nearly half of these people are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity and are urgently in need of assistance and interventions. Some 1.2 million children are believed to be malnourished this year.

Prolonged drought, armed conflict, displacement and a spike in evictions of internally displaced people are again pushing Somalia towards a major humanitarian emergency.

The Government of Somalia, with support from the UN and humanitarian organizations, are implementing a $686 million Drought Impact Response Plan to help 4.5 million Somalis between now and the end of the year.

On Monday, in Geneva, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General, and Mark Lowcock, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, are convening a high-level event on preparedness and response to the Ebola outbreak.

The event will provide an opportunity for the Government of the Congo, the UN, civil society, donors and other partners to assess the status of the outbreak, the response, and to discuss actions needed over the next six months.

This will be an opportunity for the international community to re-affirm its commitment to reach zero new Ebola cases; and to support the response politically and financially.

In total, the World Health Organization says there have been 2,451 people infected by Ebola. Close to 1,650 of them have died.

The event will be livestreamed on UNTV and a media stakeout is scheduled after the event.

We mentioned a few days ago that Virginia Gamba, the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, is in Mali this week.

While in Bamako, she launched her new campaign, “ACT to Protect Children Affected by Conflict”, with members of the Malian Government, representatives of non-governmental organizations and the diplomatic community.

In Mali, ACT to Protect will work to strengthen advocacy and action to improve the protection of children.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) are jointly appealing to the European Union and African Union to prevent another tragedy such as the one on 3 July where more than 50 refugees and migrants were killed in an airstrike on the Tajoura Detention Centre east of the Libyan capital Tripoli. The agencies underscore that the protection of human lives must be the overriding priority.

As a priority, the two agencies ask that the 5,600 refugees and migrants who are currently being held in centres across Libya be freed and their protection guaranteed or that they be evacuated to other countries.

UNHCR and IOM also stress that the detention of those who disembark in Libya after being rescued at sea has to stop, noting that practical alternatives – such as living in the community or in open centres – exist.

You can read their full statement online.

There have been unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic since the beginning of June, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Over 100 intense and long-lived wildfires were recorded in the Arctic Circle. In Alaska and Siberia, some were large enough to cover almost 100,000 football pitches.

Unusually hot and dry conditions have contributed to the spread of wildfires. Alaska has had its 2nd hottest June and hit a record high of 32°C, or 90°F, a week ago. In parts of Siberia, the average June temperature was almost 10°C higher than the long-term average.

WMO says the northern part of the world is warming faster than the planet as a whole. That heat is drying out forests and making them more susceptible to burn.

Wildfires also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing further to global warming. In June alone, the Arctic fires emitted 50 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. To give you an idea, this is equivalent to Sweden’s annual CO2 emissions.

In view of the risks, WMO has initiated a Vegetation Fire and Smoke Pollution Warning and Advisory System to harmonize fire forecasting across the globe and to provide a better picture of related impacts and hazards.

This morning, the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) of ECOSOC conducted a review of progress toward Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on climate action, including the link to the Climate Action Summit. This thematic review session evaluated progress and challenges in empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality in the world’s least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs). Climate change and the risks associated with it have put additional pressures on households and government resources.

This afternoon, the Forum will conduct a review of progress toward SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.

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