Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
18-Jul-2019 00:12:41
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Today is Nelson Mandela Day, and the Secretary-General has paid tribute to the lifetime of service he gave to South Africa and the world.

The Secretary-General said that Nelson Mandela exemplified courage, compassion, and commitment to freedom, peace and social justice.

He added that Mr. Mandela’s calls for social cohesion and a culture of peace are particularly relevant today, with hate speech casting a growing shadow around the world.

The Secretary-General said that, with the multilateral system under strain and human rights under siege from many quarters, we should be guided by Nelson Mandela’s courage and wisdom to stand up for the values and principles of the UN Charter.

As happens every year, the UN calls on people and organizations around the world to mark Nelson Mandela Day by making a difference in their communities.

Here in New York, staff members and diplomats are volunteering to support social justice by cooking for and serving disadvantaged people in Brownsville, Brooklyn, a neighbourhood that Mr. Mandela visited when he came to New York for the first time in 1990.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, briefed the Security Council by videoconference from Amman and said that the way forward there is clear and supported by international consensus: to implement the Hudaydah agreement and with that experience engage swiftly the parties on a settlement. He congratulated both parties on their meeting this week under the leadership of General Michael Lollesgaard, which he said was a notable success.

The Special Envoy said in recent days, he met with President Hadi and visited Sana’a and met Ansar Allah leaders, and said he was able to discuss ways to advance the implementation of Stockholm agreement, as well as the political process.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock said that, as he has previously reported, conditions for most people in Yemen are getting worse, not better; and if the current trajectory continues, we should all expect they will continue to get worse.

He said that the fighting rages on. Since June, Mr. Lowcock noted, 120,000 more people have fled their homes, bringing total displacement this year to more than 300,000 people – on top of the millions forced to flee in previous years.

David Beasley, the head of the World Food Programme (WFP), discussed the suspension of food aid to Sana’a and said that he was assured early this morning that an agreement is within reach, and he is hopeful that we can use this positive momentum to resolve these outstanding issues in the coming days, if not hours.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory, Jamie McGoldrick, and other senior officials in the region called on Israeli authorities yesterday to halt plans for demolitions in the Sur Bahir area of the Jerusalem governorate.

The senior UN officials join others in the international community in calling on Israel to halt plans to demolish these and other structures and to implement fair planning policies that allow Palestinian residents of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the ability to meet their housing and development needs, in line with its obligations as an occupying power.

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that some 450 combatants from five armed groups have been disarmed and demobilized in the west of the country, since the signing of the peace agreement in February this year.

This includes elements from the Front Démocratique du Peuple Centraficain (FDPC) and the Union des Forces Republicaines (UFR).

The disarmament of members of armed groups allows for the creation of mixed special units that will bring together the ex-combatants, who have already gone through disarmament and demobilization, together with the country’s armed forces, the gendarmerie and the police.

Yesterday, the World Health Organization has declared the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo a public health emergency of international concern.

The declaration followed the fourth meeting of the Emergency Committee for Ebola in the DRC. The Committee said recent developments in the outbreak, including the first confirmed case in Goma, justified its decision.

As Dr. Tedros explained, this declaration means it is time for the world to take notice and redouble efforts to work together with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system.

The committee issued recommendations on the following: how to strengthen the response; how neighbouring countries can prevent the spread of the disease; and on how the international community can support the DRC.

The committee and WHO do not recommend any restrictions on travel or trade, which they believe can hamper the fight against Ebola by affecting the movement of people and supplies.

The recommendations will be reviewed in three months by the Emergency Committee.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more than 10 million people are suffering from severe food shortages following the worst harvests in 10 years due to prolonged dry spells, heatwaves and flooding.

This is according to a recent joint assessment carried out in May by the World Food Program (WFP) and the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO).

The UN and humanitarian organizations continue to respond to the humanitarian needs of civilians, including in the areas of health, water and sanitation, food and nutrition.

The 2019 Needs and Priorities plan is asking for $120 million to target 3.8 million people – primarily children under five and pregnant and lactating women. With the plan being only 16 per cent funded, there is an urgent need for funds to prevent a further deterioration of an already serious food security situation.

In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General recalled with sadness the 298 victims who lost their lives on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 five years ago.

He acknowledged the important work of the independent Joint Investigation Team to establish accountability and called on all Member States to fully cooperate with the investigation pursuant to a Security Council resolution to establish the truth and achieve justice for the victims and their families.

The UN Refugee Agency said that last year, 10.5 million refugees received health care through public programs, or with the assistance of UNHCR and other partners.

The “Annual Public Health Global Review”, published today by UNHCR, shows that among progress made in 2018, mortality rates among refugee children under the age of five continued to decline.

Efforts also continued last year to promote and facilitate access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including maternal, new-born health and family planning.

The report also highlights significant progress made on the inclusion of refugees into national health systems, with some countries also making notable efforts to expand opportunities to include refugees in health insurance schemes and other pillars of social protection.

With 84 per cent of refugees hosted in developing regions where basic services are already strained, UNHCR calls for more support of national health systems to ensure refugees and their local host communities can access life-saving and essential health care.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today released a report that says the world is off track to meet most of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals related to hunger, food security and nutrition.

FAO analyzed major global data from up to 234 countries and territories and found that hunger is on the rise, with 820 million people being undernourished today. It also found that small-scale food producers earn about half of what larger food producers earn, that 60 per cent of local livestock breeds are at risk of extinction in 70 countries and that one third of fish are now estimated to be overfished.

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Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General
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