Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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06-Sep-2019 00:09:23
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Today is United Nations Staff Day.

The Secretary-General presided this morning over a wreath-laying ceremony and memorial service honouring civilian and military personnel who have fallen in service to the United Nations and this serves as the opening Staff Day.

In his remarks, he recalled that it is our duty to remember and commemorate our fallen colleagues. So far this year, we have lost 25 civilian staff members, 43 peacekeepers and four UN police officers.

The Secretary-General expressed his sympathy to their families and friends who feel their loss so keenly.

He remembered the sacrifice made by our fallen colleagues in working to make the world safer and more dignified for those less fortunate than themselves.

The Secretary-General also stressed that United Nations staff are working on the front lines of the most pressing challenges: addressing acute humanitarian needs, keeping the peace, defending human rights, feeding the hungry and helping build resilience to climate change.

The UN Migration Agency today said it is providing 1,000 tarpaulins to replace roofs stripped from homes by Hurricane Dorian on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

The UN Migration Agency stressed that the priority right now is the search and rescue operations. After everyone has been rescued and the wounded safely evacuated, the agency will focus on providing temporary shelter for those who lost their homes. We believe that about 70,000 people are currently homeless in the Bahamas.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization says it is focusing on providing clinical care, food supplies, safe drinking water and sanitation to survivors. However, the agency warned that due to floodwaters and potential contamination with sewage, the risk of diarrheal and waterborne diseases is high. It added that many medical facilities in Grand Bahama are flooded and patient evacuations will be needed. WHO will be working with the Government to provide medical supplies and emergency physicians as needed.

The impact of cyclones Idai and Kenneth continues to be felt in Mozambique.

The storms impacted over 2.2 million people and left over 1.6 million people severely food insecure.

To help boost food production, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM), has started to distribute seeds and farming tools to approximately 11,000 families impacted by Cyclone Idai and living in resettlement sites.

Families who experienced crop damage and loss of food, or seed reserves and livestocks have been prioritized. Households headed by women and other disadvantaged groups were also given priority.

The Deputy Secretary-General arrived in Rwanda today, where she participated in a Kwita Izina, or ceremony for the naming of gorillas. She gave the name “Courage” to a gorilla as part of the ceremony.

Over the weekend, she will travel to India to attend the 14th Conference of Parties for the Convention on Desertification.

The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, and the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support, Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, will be in Ethiopia from 8-11 September.

They will see the response to the displacement crisis and the Government’s effort to find durable solutions for the millions of internally displaced people in the country.

Mr. Lowcock and Mr. Fernandez-Taranco will be joined by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, for a visit to Chitu Kebele in the Gedeo zone, one of the areas most impacted by inter-communal conflicts.

They will meet with people who have returned to their places of origin and need urgent assistance. They will also hold talks with authorities and aid partners on how-to step-up support for these people.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that over eight million people in Ethiopia need food, shelter, medicine or other emergency assistance.

A human rights report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo says the UN recorded fewer human rights violations there in the first half of the year.

With over 3,039 violations documented, the UN Human Rights Office report noted what they described as an encouraging improvement in the country, especially since last year’s elections.

However, while this year’s numbers are lower, the number of human rights violations committed until June remains higher than two years ago.

The report released today states that majority of violations documented were committed by agents of the State, including the extra-judicial executions of at least 245 people. Violations committed by armed groups accounted for 41 per cent of all those documented.

Jan Kubis, the Special Coordinator for Lebanon, met today with President Michel Aoun of Lebanon. He said afterwards that he was grateful for an open discussion with President Aoun on the recent security developments and the role of different actors and forces. Following the Baabda economic meeting, he said, he was glad to confirm the UN’s commitment to support reforms necessary for Lebanon to deal with the economic emergency.

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