Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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30-Aug-2019 00:18:14
Noon briefing by Florencia Soto Nino, Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Tomorrow, the Secretary-General is scheduled to arrive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to begin a three-day visit. As you know, assessing the response to the Ebola outbreak will be a main focus of the visit, especially in light of today’s announcement by the World Health Organization that we have reached the sad milestone of 3,000 cases, including over 2,000 deaths.

In addition to this, yesterday, Ugandan health officials confirmed a new case of Ebola in the country: a nine-year old girl who had crossed over from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And tomorrow, the Secretary-General will spend the day in Goma, where meetings will focus on humanitarian issues and the implementation of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s mandate to protect civilians, consolidate peace and stabilize the country. On Sunday, he will go to Mangina, where the first case of Ebola was identified over a year ago. The Secretary-General will visit an Ebola Treatment Center there and he will meet with Ebola survivors and health workers.

On that day, he will also go to Beni, where he will express solidarity with victims of insecurity. And he will also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony to honor fallen peacekeepers.

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

Today is a very special day as we observe the 20th anniversary of the 1999 Popular Consultation in Timor-Leste which put the nation firmly on the path of independence.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General congratulated the people of Timor-Leste on this important date.

He highlighted the tremendous progress achieved by the country over the past two decades, building new institutions, developing its economy, holding four peaceful elections, and laying the foundations for reconciliation, democracy and stability.

The Secretary-General also wished Timor-Leste every success as it continues to consolidate these gains, foster democratic governance and promote sustainable development for its people.

In this endeavor, the Secretary-General affirmed the continued cooperation and support of the United Nations.

Today is an International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances.

In his message, the Secretary-General said that enforced disappearance can be misperceived as an issue of the past, but many cases remain unresolved and new ones continue to arise.

He stressed that the UN Committee and the Working Group on Enforced Disappearances receives new cases daily, many in the context of the fight against organized crime and terrorism.

He also highlighted that these disappearances have a profound impact on the lives of those searching for the victims.

Uncertainty as to the whereabouts and fate of a friend, family member or loved one causes great psychological distress, he said in his message.

And he called on States to do more to prevent enforced disappearances and bring to justice those responsible.

On Lebanon, the Secretary-General remains deeply concerned over heightened tensions and he reiterates the need to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Lebanon.

He urges all concerned to cease violations of resolution 1701 (2006) and exercise maximum restraint to prevent tensions and to maintain calm. The UN continues to work with all concerned to defuse tensions.

Another trip update this time from the Under-Secretary-General Atul Khare. He has concluded his successful 3-day visit to Moscow. He held the 5th annual aviation talks between the UN and the Russian Federation's Federal Air Transport Agency, in conjunction with the biannual International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS 2019).

And today, Mr. Khare had a bilateral meeting with His Excellency Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to discuss issues related to operational support to United Nations.

And during his visit, he also met Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin and the First Deputy Minister of Emergencies Alexander Chupriyan to discuss a range of issues encompassing Russian contributions to peace operations and opportunities for the development of strategic partnerships in logistics and emergency management.

A meeting was also held with the Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who hosted a procurement seminar for the UN delegation to brief representatives of Russian companies on how to do business with the United Nations.”

An update on Burkina Faso, where armed attacks and insecurity continue to affect parts of the country’s north and east, driving forced displacement and increasing the number of people in need of assistance and protection.

An average of 30,000 people has been displaced every month since the start of the year.

Right now, more than 270,000 internally displaced people are living in host communities or displacement sites.

Access to food, livelihoods and basic services is becoming increasingly difficult for both displaced and host communities.

And during July, there was a nearly 35% surge in the number of health facilities closed due to insecurity, depriving over 625,000 people of access to basic health care. Over 2,000 schools have been forced to shut down, depriving over 330,000 children of education.

The Government-led relief efforts, with support from the UN and humanitarian organizations, are underway to improve food, water, health services and protection of affected civilians.

And the revised Humanitarian Response Plan, released in August, is calling for US$187 million to provide urgent assistance to nearly 1.3 million people, including 800,000 affected by violence and insecurity, but it is only 30 per cent funded so far.

Turning to Nigeria, according to authorities, at least 14 people have been killed and over 25,000 directly affected by severe flooding triggered by torrential rainfalls in northeast Nigeria’s state of Adamawa.

Emergency management authorities at the national level are being engaged and partners are mobilizing. The UN and humanitarian organizations are supporting the government-led response with assessing the needs and expediting the delivery of urgently needed assistance.

The priority needs for the affected populations include food; non-food items; water, sanitation and hygiene, as well as health services to mitigate the risk of water-borne diseases, including cholera.

And the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Nigeria seeks nearly US$ 848 million, targeting 6.2 million people for assistance, but is only 39 per cent funded so far.

Turning to a statement by the Joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants, Eduardo Stein. He said that that the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela has now reached 4.3 million people and is growing by the day.

He said there is no end in sight to this massive population movement and that despite strained budgets, social tensions and overwhelmed institutions, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean continue to make efforts to give protection and assistance and to promote the social and economic inclusion of Venezuelans in the country.

A report from UNHCR today said that more than half of the 7.1 million refugee children are out of school, according to a new report released today by the UN Refugee Agency.

The report, titled Stepping Up: Refugee Education in Crisis, shows that only 63 per cent of refugee children go to primary school, compared to 91 per cent globally.

Around the world, 84 per cent of adolescents get a secondary education, while only 24 per cent of refugees get the opportunity.

“We are failing refugees by not giving them the opportunity to build the skills and knowledge they need to invest in their futures, said Filippo Grandi, the head of UNHCR.

The agency says steep decline in refugee enrolment between primary and secondary school is the direct result of lack of funding for refugee education.

UNHCR is calling on governments, the private sector, educational organizations and donors to give their financial backing to a new initiative aimed at kick-starting secondary education for refugees. The report is available online.

This has been a good week in the Accounts Department. We’ve had a fresh full payment, taking us to 115. And we say thanks to our friends in Jordan.

Please be aware that the UN will be closed on Monday for the Labour Day Holiday here so we won’t be seeing you until Tuesday.

And also please note that the deadline to apply for media accreditation to cover the High-Level Week of the General Assembly is on Monday, 2 September.

There will be a briefing here by Mr. Dmitry Polyanskiy, the first Deputy Permanent Representative of the Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations and he will brief you on the 80th Anniversary of the beginning of World War II.

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