Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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21-Aug-2019 00:21:11
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General will be departing New York on Friday, 23 August, for a three-country trip that will take him to France, Japan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

His first stop will be in France, where he will attend the G7 Summit in Biarritz.

At the Summit, the Secretary-General will participate in sessions on climate biodiversity and oceans, on fighting against inequalities and on the partnership with Africa and the Sahel.

He will also hold bilateral meetings with world leaders on the sidelines of the Summit.

The Secretary-General will travel then to Yokohama, in Japan, on the evening of Tuesday, 27 August, to participate in the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD). That meeting is led by the Japanese Government and co-sponsored by the United Nations, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the African Union Commission (AUC) as well as the World Bank.

The Secretary-General will speak at the opening session, a special conference on peace and stability in the Horn of Africa and the neighbouring region, and a thematic session on climate change and disaster risk reduction.

While in Japan, he will meet with the country’s Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Taro Kono, as well as with a number of heads of State and government attending TICAD.

Then, on Saturday, 31 August, the Secretary-General is scheduled to arrive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a three-day visit to take stock of and mobilize additional support for the response to the Ebola outbreak.

In the province of North Kivu, he is scheduled meet with Ebola survivors and health workers during a visit to an Ebola Treatment Center. While in the country’s east, the Secretary-General will also assess the implementation, by the UN peacekeeping mission (MONUSCO) and the Intervention Brigade, of its mandate to protect civilians and support the authorities of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to consolidate peace and stabilize the DRC.

The Secretary-General will then go on to Kinshasa to meet with the President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Félix Tshisekedi, and other government officials, members of the opposition and representatives from civil society organizations.

He is expected back in New York on 3 September.

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of a photo exhibition to mark the second International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism.

He reiterated that the “threat of terrorism and violent extremism is among our most complex challenges”, and paid tribute to the innocent victims of attacks around the world.

The Secretary-General said he was deeply moved by the courage and resilience of survivors of terrorist attacks that he met earlier in the year. Their message was clear and simple, he said. People and communities need to become closer to grow stronger and turn these harrowing experiences into powerful and positive forces for change.

He concluded his remarks by calling for more support for victims and survivors of terrorism, notably by finding innovative ways to support the victims’ rights to justice, reparations, healing and livelihoods.

The photo exhibit – titled “Surviving Terrorism: The Power of Resilience”, is going to be on display in the Secretariat lobby through the end of the month.

In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General said that he is deeply troubled by the continued escalation in northwest Syria and the prospect of an offensive deeper into Idlib, which could trigger a new wave of human suffering possibly impacting more than three million people.

He strongly condemns continued attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including on healthcare and educational facilities. He urges all parties to respect fully international humanitarian law.

The Secretary-General reiterates his urgent call for the September 2018 Memorandum of Understanding on Idlib to be upheld. He stresses the importance of advancing the UN-facilitated political process in Geneva, mandated by (Security Council) resolution 2254.

And to the point on Syria, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, yesterday, three civilians were reportedly killed and 14 others wounded, including two children, in clashes in Idlib.

People continue to be displaced, with some 1,500 people living in northern Hama Governorate reportedly uprooted further northwards into Idlib Governorate yesterday.

And, between 1 May and 18 August of this year, 576,000 movements by displaced people have been recorded in the northwest of the country. Many people have been displaced up to five times, with some having been forced to move as many as 10 times due to the ongoing fighting.

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said today that commitments made by donor countries at a pledging event in February for the crisis have failed to materialize, with several major programmes having been forced to close in recent week.

A staggering 22 life-saving programmes will close in the next two months unless funds is received. The UN was forced to suspend most of Yemen’s vaccination campaigns in May, and the procurement of medicines has stopped and thousands of health workers are no longer receiving financial support.

Unless the funds promised at the February conference are received in the coming weeks, food rations for 12 million people will be reduced and at least 2.5 million malnourished children will be cut off from services which have been keeping them alive. Some 19 million people will lose access to health care, including one million women who depend on the UN for reproductive health. Clean water programmes for five million people will shut at the end of October and tens of thousands of displaced families may find themselves homeless.

“This is the largest humanitarian operation in the world addressing the worst humanitarian crisis,” Ms. Grande said. “When we receive funding, we make a huge difference.”

The Security Council held an open briefing today, followed by consultations, on Somalia.

Briefing Council members for the first time since taking office, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, James Swan, noted the progress Somalia has made towards constitutional and security sector reform, among other priorities.

But he said that the window to achieve further necessary progress is narrowing, with key benchmarks risking falling behind agreed deadlines.

Mr. Swan stressed the need for political consensus and compromise.

Also speaking at the open debate was Pramila Patten, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, who visited Somalia in July.

She noted that, as a direct outcome of her visit, the Government committed to working with the UN system to develop a new implementation plan for the Joint Communiqué, in the form of an Action Plan on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today appealed for more than $70 million to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to 900,000 children across Venezuela through the end of the year.

The agency said it is ramping up its work to help children and families who are struggling against food shortages, and limited access to essential services like healthcare, safe water and education.

This is part of the UN’s overall humanitarian response plan, announced earlier this year.

The United Nations warmly welcomes the nominations by the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) for the Sovereign Council as well as its subsequent formal formation and swearing in today. We take note of the inclusion of two women in the Sovereign Council and strongly further encourage the inclusion of women in all transitional bodies in Sudan, including in, but not limited to the Transitional Legislative Assembly. We also understand that the Prime Minister designate, Mr. Abdalla Hamdok is set to arrive in Khartoum today to be sworn in. We wish Mr. Hamdok all the best in leading the new transitional government and look forward to the speedy selection of his cabinet.

As the Secretary-General said in his statement after the signing ceremony this weekend, the UN looks forward to engaging with and supporting the transitional governing institutions. We also reiterate our commitment to assisting the transition process as it seeks to achieve the long-standing aspiration of the people of Sudan for democracy and peace.

Paraguay has paid its dues in full for 2019, for a total of 112 Member States who have now paid their dues in full.

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