Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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16-Jul-2019 00:17:10
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the High-Level Political Forum Ministerial Segment.

He said that development is not sustainable if it is not fair and inclusive, and warned that rising inequality hinders long-term growth.

The Secretary-General said that for development to be fully inclusive, countries must dramatically scale up public and private investments for the Sustainable Development Goals; take global climate action in a manner that reduces inequality by creating jobs and safeguarding the environment; step up the implementation of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration; and strengthen their commitments to justice, tolerance, gender equality and human rights.

He said the people of the world do not want half measures or empty promises. They are demanding transformative change that is fair and sustainable. He called on countries to use the UN meeting in September to ratchet up the ambition and highlight the imperative of inclusion.

And this afternoon, the Secretary-General will speak at the 25th Anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development, where he will stress the need to continue working for access to sexual and reproductive health, as well as gender equality.

You will have seen the statement issued yesterday evening in which the Secretary-General expressed his sadness at the loss of life, displacement of people and destruction of property due to the heavy monsoonal rains and associated flooding across South and South-East Asia, most notably in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

He extended his condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims, to the Governments and people of the affected countries, adding that the United Nations stands ready to work with the authorities in the affected countries as they respond to the humanitarian needs resulting from this ongoing monsoon season.

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, in Bangladesh, more than 270,000 people have been affected by rain and landslides, with 14 people reportedly having been killed. The UN and humanitarian agencies are standing by to provide support if required.

In India, more than one million people have been affected and 11 killed, with more than 16,000 people having been evacuated. UNICEF has been coordinating with state authorities and local partners to provide technical assistance.

Meanwhile, in central and eastern Nepal, more than 60 people have been killed and some 80,000 displaced. Local authorities and humanitarian agencies have been delivering relief items and medical assistance.

The United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei, or UNISFA, reports that two UN peacekeepers on duty were attacked by a group of unknown men at the Amiet Common Market in Abyei yesterday. One peacekeeper from Ethiopia died from gunshot injuries, while the other sustained wounds.

The mission reports that at least five people, including two women and a child, were also killed during the attack.

The injured peacekeeper was immediately evacuated for medical treatment. UNISFA troops have deployed in search for the perpetrators.

The Mission is continuing to monitor developments, and we can expect a statement from the Secretary-General on this incident.

The Security Council held an open meeting on Ukraine this morning.

In her briefing to Council members, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said that the new language law in Ukraine raises concerns, even as many controversial points were addressed in its final version.

She noted that the UN Human Rights Office has recommended that the Ukrainian Government should, without delay, elaborate a law on the realization of the rights of national minorities.

Ms. DiCarlo welcomed President Volodymyr Zelenskyi’s statement that a thorough analysis of the law will be conducted.

On the situation in the east, she said that we have seen signs in recent weeks that, with sufficient political will in the Trilateral Contact Group, concrete steps are possible to improve the security and humanitarian situation along the contact line.

But Ms. DiCarlo noted with regret the persistent failure to reach agreement on a ceasefire, once again echoing the call of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for all concerned to work constructively to reach agreement on this quickly.

And just to let you know that the E6 Ambassadors are scheduled to come to the stakeout shortly on this matter.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, met with Saudi Vice Minister of Defense Khalid bin Salman yesterday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. He later tweeted that they had discussed how to keep Yemen out of the regional tensions, how to make progress in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement, and Saudi Arabia’s support to the peace process.

Also yesterday, he met in Riyadh with President Hadi of Yemen. The Special Envoy said after the meeting that he was grateful for the Yemeni Government's commitment to the Stockholm Agreement and the President’s personal support to finding a political solution to the conflict in Yemen.

The United Nations remains deeply concerned over the safety and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure following continued reports of hostilities in northwest Syria over the last days, including airstrikes, shelling and the alleged use of barrel bombs.

Since 12 July, hostilities in the Idlib de-escalation zone reportedly resulted in over 30 civilian deaths, including women and children.

The hostilities are also reported to have resulted in attacks on civilian infrastructure, some of which have cut off access to clean water for thousands of people.

The United Nations continues to urge all parties to respect their obligations under International Humanitarian Law, to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to exercise restraint.

I have a few updates related to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As we mentioned yesterday, a case of Ebola has been confirmed in Goma, the capital of North Kivu. Our colleagues from the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed this morning that the person’s travel history is known and his contacts are being identified and followed-up. Vaccination of his high-risk contacts has also started.

Goma has been preparing for this possibility. An Ebola Treatment Centre, run by the Ministry of Health and Médecins Sans Frontières, has been operational in Goma since February, and the infected person is now receiving care there.

More than 3,000 health workers have been vaccinated in Goma. Health centres have received intensive training and equipment to improve infection prevention and control.

Goma, as you know, is located at the border with Rwanda, and prevention efforts have been stepped up in that country as well.

In response to this new development, the World Health Organization is convening the 4th meeting of the Emergency Committee on Ebola to determine if the outbreak constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The meeting will take place tomorrow, in Geneva, from 12 pm to 5 pm, Geneva time, and that meeting will be followed by a Virtual Press Briefing.

Also on Ebola, UNICEF reports today that the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is infecting more children than previous outbreaks and calls for an increased focus on boys and girls in the response.

As of 7 July, about a third of all infections were among children, with 750 cases. In previous Ebola outbreaks, the proportion of child infections was about 20 per cent.

Young children have been hit especially hard, with 40 per cent of the 750 children infected below the age of 5.

UNAIDS warns today that the pace of progress to reduce new HIV infections, to increase access to treatment and end AIDS-related deaths is slowing down. A new report shows a mixed picture. Some countries are making impressive gains while others are experiencing rises in new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths.

Globally, last year, around 1.7 million people became infected with HIV. This represents a 16 per cent decline since 2010, driven mostly by steady progress across most of eastern and southern Africa. However, there is still a long way to go in eastern and southern Africa. There have also been worrying increases in new HIV infections in eastern Europe and central Asia by 29 per cent, in the Middle East and North Africa by 10 per cent and in Latin America by 7 per cent.

The report shows that, for the first time, the global resources available for the AIDS response declined significantly by nearly $1 billion. UNAIDS urges all partners to step up action and invest in the response, including by fully funding the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

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