Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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04-Sep-2019 00:13:16
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock should’ve just landed or is about to land in Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, where the team there is updating him on the impact of the hurricane and the ongoing efforts to respond to the urgent humanitarian needs.

The UN pre-deployed teams to Nassau to support the Government-led assessment that is supported by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and the teams there are expected to deploy to Abaco and Grand Bahama later today.

The UN Force Commander, Major-General Stefano Del Col, today met with Prime Minister Saad Hariri in Beirut, and after the meeting, he said he had shared his serious concern at the incident on Sunday when anti-tank missiles claimed by Hezbollah were fired from southern Lebanon across the Blue Line. He said that this was a serious breach of the cessation of hostilities and a gross violation of UN Security Council resolution 1701.

Maj. Gen. Del Col said that UNIFIL’s liaison and coordination mechanism played a critical role in deconflicting the situation along the Blue Line. At this time, he added, UNIFIL remains closely engaged with the parties to contain tensions and incidents and enable a safe and secure environment in the area.

He added that it is of paramount importance that the area between the Blue Line and the Litani River is free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons other than those of the Government of Lebanon and UNIFIL. And he said that he and the Prime Minister agreed on the importance of strengthening the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in the UNIFIL area of operations in order to enable it to take greater security responsibilities along the Blue Line.

The United Nations remains gravely concerned over the ongoing hostilities in the northwest part of the country. Since hostilities increased in late April, the UN human rights office reports that more than 1,000 civilians have been killed. Civilian infrastructure has also been significantly impacted, with entire towns having largely been destroyed.

However, a unilateral ceasefire announced on 30 August by the Government of Syria has resulted in a degree of respite for civilians who have suffered under the intense hostilities of recent months.

While artillery shelling reportedly continues to result in casualties, there have been no reported airstrikes since the announcement of the ceasefire. With some 15,000 aid workers on the ground, the UN and our humanitarian partners continue to provide shelter, food assistance and health services to those impacted in the northwest, where security allows.

The UN continues to call on all parties to the conflict to do their utmost to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and to follow their obligations under international law.

The UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali reports that at least 14 people were killed and many more injured, including children, yesterday, when a bus hit an improvised explosive device near Douentza, in the Mopti region.

The UN mission supported Malian armed forces with the medical evacuations of 16 victims and helped secure the site after the incident.

The UN is outraged by this horrendous attack on innocent civilians. We convey our condolences to the families of the victims and the Government of Mali; and wish those injured a speedy recovery.

A statement was issued yesterday on Afghanistan in which the Secretary-General strongly condemned the attack in Kabul by the Taliban that took place on Monday.

Such indiscriminate attacks can never be justified, he said.

The Secretary-General also expressed his concern about civilian casualties caused by pro-government aerial and search operations, including on 31 August in Faryab Province.

The Special Representative for the Secretary-General for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, briefed the Security Council on the situation in the country.

In his remarks delivered by video link Mr. Salamé payed tribute to the three UN staff members that lost their lives in the attack a few weeks ago and he said the UN will remain in Libya and is working to mitigate further risk to UN personnel and operations.

The Special Representative said that the worse the situation gets on the ground, the greater the need for UN presence, mediation efforts and provision of humanitarian assistance.

According to him, since 4 April, the conflict has spread geographically and has exacted a heavy toll on civilians and those fighting.

To date, more than 100 civilians have been killed and over 300 injured, and 120,000 civilians have been displaced.

After accompanying the Secretary-General on his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo over the weekend, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix wrapped up a two-day visit to South Kivu.

In Bukavu, Mr. Lacroix met with the Governor of the province and with UN staff. He also visited several peacekeeping bases, including a Standing Combat Deployment in Bibatama. Standing Combat Deployments are structures placed in remote areas to provide a more nimble and efficient protection to civilians affected by ethnic tensions and armed groups in the province.

In Minembwe, Mr. Lacroix also met with civil society representatives to discuss issues of security and community reconciliation.

Today, as she concluded a week-long mission in the Central African Republic, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, called for urgent additional funding to meet the humanitarian needs of 2.9 million people in the country.

She said the situation in this country continues to deteriorate.

As mentioned recently, two-thirds of the population depends on aid to survive.

This year’s Humanitarian Response Plan requires US$430.7 million but is less than 50 per cent funded.

The people of this country need our help now and we cannot fail them, Mueller concluded.

Yesterday, a third armed group committed to protect children by signing an action plan with the United Nations.

This time, the Unité pour la paix en Centrafrique, otherwise known as the UPC, a member of the ex-Seleka coalition, made a formal commitment to take a series of measures to end and prevent grave violations against children, such as releasing all child soldiers within their ranks, ending killing and maiming, sexual violence against children and attacks against schools and hospitals.

Virginia Gamba, the head of the Children in Armed Conflict Office, said she is encouraged to see that the February peace agreement is bringing more opportunities to engage with armed groups.

UNICEF today said one in three young people in 30 countries said they have been a victim of online bullying, with one in five reporting having skipped school due to cyberbullying and violence.

Those are some of the outputs of a new poll released today by UNICEF and the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence Against Children, Virginia Gamba.

Speaking out anonymously through the youth engagement tool U-Report, almost three-quarters of young people also said social networks are the most common place for online bullying.

The fourth UN high-level conference on counter-terrorism ended today in Minsk. Organized jointly with the Government of Belarus, the conference aimed to assess the complex threats arising from terrorist misuse of new and emerging technologies.

More than 400 conference participants, including senior officials from 55 countries, exchanged views on how technological and digital change has made terrorist groups more connected, more resilient and capable than ever before.

The conference ended with a call to strengthen international cooperation and to share innovative approaches to counter this threat.

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