Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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16-Sep-2019 00:25:53
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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At 3pm this afternoon, the Secretary-General will speak at the closing of the 73rd General Assembly.

He will commend the work of the outgoing General Assembly President, calling her a champion for multilateralism and making the United Nations relevant for all.

The Secretary-General will point to the adoption of the General Assembly’s 73rd session of two Global Compacts, one on Migration and one on refugees, as examples of what can be achieved through international cooperation.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, briefed the Security Council by VTC today from Geneva. He said we have no time to waste before moving forward with purpose and resolve towards the political solution to end the conflict in Yemen.

In particular, he warned that the attack on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia over the weekend, has consequences well beyond the region. At a minimum, he said, this kind of action carries the risks of dragging Yemen into a regional conflagration and makes the chances of a regional conflict that much higher.

The Secretary-General condemned Saturday’s attack on the Aramco oil facilities and called upon all parties to exercise maximum restraint, prevent any escalation amid heightened tensions and comply at all times with International Humanitarian Law.

Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock also spoke to Council members and said that we have seen numerous incidents since last month in which innocent civilians have been killed and injured. He said there is a persistent pattern of attacks on Yemen which kill and injure civilians and damage civilian infrastructure and he once again urges accountability for violations.

Mr. Lowcock added that the operating environment for aid agencies has perhaps never been worse than it is now. Almost 90 percent of the incidents are due to bureaucratic blockages, he said, noting in particular the restrictions imposed by Ansar Allah.

On Saturday, Antonio Guterres visited some of the areas most impacted by Hurricane Dorian in Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands.

The Secretary-General was able to survey the damage by air and he also walked through the area known as the Mudd, a poor neighborhood where many Haitian migrants lived.

He said he was horrified by the level of destruction. “I've never seen such a level of systematic devastation. Hurricane Dorian has been classified as category five. I think it is category hell,” he said.

He added that while we have always had many hurricanes, they are now more intense, more frequent, and more powered by climate change.

He stressed that the international community should learn two things from this disaster: first, we need to stop climate change. Second, countries like the Bahamas do not contribute to climate change but are already experiencing its impacts deserve support to fully respond to the humanitarian emergency and also recover and build resilience.

During his visit to the Bahamas, he met with Prime Minister Minnis and discussed the progress of relief efforts, and he said the UN remains committed to keep supporting the government going forward.

He also visited an evacuation centre, where he listened to hurricane victims, and later on from various international organizations that are helping to coordinate the recovery.

The United Nations remains gravely concerned over violations in the northwest of Syria, despite a ceasefire announced on 30 August.

Nine people, including two women and three children, were reportedly killed in Idlib Governorate since Friday. Several civilian facilities were also reportedly damaged due to airstrikes and shelling.

The two-week suspension of hostilities has given some respite to civilians who have suffered immensely under intense hostilities during the recent months in which nearly 1,100 people have lost their lives and numerous populated areas were left in ruins, with entire towns largely erased.

The UN reminds all parties to the conflict, and those who have influence over them, of their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure at all times.

Turning to Lebanon, the Pre-Trial Judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Daniel Fransen, today lifted the confidentiality of his decision confirming the indictment against Salim Jamil Ayyash, relating to three attacks committed in 2004 and 2005.

The confirmation of this indictment marks the opening of a new case before the Special Tribunal.

An arrest warrant was issued against Mr. Ayyash, who is charged, among other counts, with committing terrorist attacks and intentional homicide and attempted homicide.

The indictment and arrest warrant were transmitted to the Lebanese authorities. They have the obligation to search for, arrest and transfer the accused to the Special Tribunal’s custody.

This weekend, there were new clashes in the town of Birao, in the Central African Republic. The UN peacekeeping mission reports that 38 combatants from 2 armed groups died, and others were injured. There were reportedly no civilian casualties.

Today, the situation remains calm, but tensions persist in the city. The Mission continues to patrol the streets in and around the town to protect civilians.

Over the weekend, the UN force commander, Gen. Balla Keita, met with the mayor of Birao, to assess security measures and developments. The Mission also continues to engage at the political level with regional groups and the Central African Government to find a durable solution.

As a reminder, violence in Birao has forced over 13,000 people to flee their homes since the beginning of the month.


And in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Peacekeeping Mission said today they are reinforcing their capacity to protect civilians, following a new wave of violence in South Kivu province.

In the past few days, villages in the Minembwe region have been attacked by militias, resulting in the loss of lives and population displacements.

The Peacekeeping mission has deployed attack helicopters to support the national armed forces. They have also intensified patrols and set up a temporary base in the region.

According to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, this new wave of violence has directly impacted 34,000 displaced people. In addition, hundreds of people have been gathered near the UN bases in the area to receive assistance and protection.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of MONUSCO, Leila Zerrougui, has called upon all parties to the conflict to put an end to the violence.

Nearly 1 million people, including 160,000 children under five, in northern Mozambique are facing food shortages and a nutrition crisis. According to UNICEF conditions are expected to worsen over the coming months.

The dire situation is a direct result of the devastation wrought by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which struck earlier this year.

UNICEF stressed the number of children under five facing ‘crisis’ levels of food insecurity and is expected to rise to 200,000 in storm-affected areas by February of next year.

Around 38,000 children could become severely malnourished and at risk of death in the same period.

And today, the UN Network on Migration reiterated its call to end the detention of children for immigration purposes in every region of the world.

They said detaining children in this context- whether they are traveling alone or with their families – have been recognized as a child rights violation. They added that studies have consistently shown that detention and family separation are traumatic experiences that have a profound impact on children’s health and long-term development.

The New York Islanders are partnering with the United Nations Environmental Department (UNEP) to host a segment of The Last Game, a series of hockey games designed to raise awareness about the impact of climate change.

The game will take place tomorrow, at 3 p.m., prior to the Islanders preseason game against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Secretary General and His Holiness the Pope are the honorary captains of The Last Game, which is a series of hockey games that will take place in and over 30 countries that are threatened by climate change.

The game will be followed by a meet-and-greet with various distinguished guests, as well as an educational session where guests can speak to scientists, local citizens and national leaders to discuss the challenges of climate change.

Today is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer. This year's theme celebrates over three decades of international cooperation to protect the ozone layer and the climate under the Montreal Protocol.

In his message, the Secretary-General said that as we prepare for the Climate Action Summit next week, we should remember that the Montreal Protocol is both an inspirational example of how humanity is capable of cooperating to address a global challenge and a key instrument to tackling today’s climate crisis.

A healthy ozone layer and climate are essential to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, he said.

Tomorrow, the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed will be joined by Luis Alfonso de Alba, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Climate Action, to brief you on the all the High-Level meetings that are taking place next week.

Mr. de Alba will focus on the Climate Action Summit, while Ms. Mohammed will talk not just about climate, but also on the Sustainable Development Goals Summit, the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health care, the High-Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, and the Small Island Developing States meeting.

As a reminder that the Secretary-General himself will brief reporters on Wednesday, at noon.

The United Nations were made aware over the weekend that the UN Gift Management website incorrectly attributed the historical atrocities at Guernica, depicted in the tapestry by Pablo Picasso, to the Republic of Spain. The Republicans were the victims, not the perpetrators.

The website has been placed under maintenance in order to make the necessary correction and to enable a full review of the website contents.

We regret the error and extend our apologies to the people and Government of Spain.

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