Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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15-Oct-2019 00:34:03
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Speaking to the Security Council this morning, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Head of Peace Operations, reiterated that the end of peacekeeping in Haiti marks the beginning of a new partnership between the country and the United Nations. He said it is an opportunity to ensure that the UN is providing the right support, at the right time, for the Haitian people.

However, Mr. Lacroix added that the people of Haiti are faced with a vicious cycle they have seen one too many times. Without a confirmed government, key tasks, such as the submission of the budget, and the organization of the legislative elections, remain stalled.

The President’s call for national dialogue and the formation of a unity government has been viewed by the opposition as quote “too little, too late”. But Mr. Lacroix pointed out that making the departure of the President as a precondition for dialogue leaves little room for negotiation. Yet, the formation of such a government may well be providing a way forward to lasting political solutions that are desperately needed.

Turning to progress achieved in the past 15 years, Mr. Lacroix mentioned – among other things - the UN’s support to the justice system and the development of the Haitian National Police, which has led to an almost 50 per cent reduction in the homicide rate. Today, all of Haiti’s communes have full time national police presence. The number of officers has grown from 2,500 in 2004 to 15,400 today.

Since the escalation of violence in the north-east of Syria last week, teams from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have assisted some 31,800 people. UNHCR said it has distributed blankets and other core relief items to some 20,250 people in three camps for internally displaced people and to another 11,550 people living in communal shelters in Al-Hassakeh and Tal Tamer. The agency has also sent additional aid to Qamishli, including blankets for 52,000 people, plastic sheeting for 15,000 people and solar lamps for 20,000. The International Organization for Migration (IOM), meanwhile, has reported the arrivals of hundreds of Syrian Kurds into Iraq following their departure from Syria in recent days.

And the World Food Programme (WFP) says that as of today, they have provided immediate food assistance to more than 83,000 people fleeing towns in north-east Syria. WFP has the capacity to reach over 450,000 people in the area with one round of ready-to-eat food packages.

And the Human Rights Office says that, since the Turkish offensive began on 9 October, it has verified a number of civilian casualties each day as a result of airstrikes, ground-based strikes and sniper fire. The Human Rights Office is also appalled to learn of further attacks that affected medical facilities, which have been a particular and persistent feature of the conflict in Syria. It calls for a thorough investigation of all incidents.

The UN mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) has released a special report describing the severe impact of election-related violence on civilians.

Most of the violence is coming from the Taliban’s deliberate campaign to disrupt Afghanistan’s presidential election.

UNAMA’s findings indicate the attacks targeting the electoral process caused 458 civilian casualties. That’s 85 people killed and 373 injured. This includes 277 civilian casualties, including 28 killed and 249 injured, on September 28th alone (polling day). More than one-third of civilian casualties have been children.

The report not only documents the harm to civilians caused by the Taliban’s violent offensive to disrupt the election but also highlights a pattern of abductions, threats, intimidation and harassment carried out by the Taliban against civilians leading up and during the elections.

Armed attacks and insecurity continue to affect parts of northern, eastern and central Burkina Faso, driving forced displacement and increasing the number of people in need of protection and assistance.

As of today, 486,000 people have been displaced, a steep increase from around 80,000 in January, making Burkina Faso one of the fastest growing displacement crises in Africa this year.

Hundreds of thousands of affected people are struggling to produce or have access to sufficient quantities of food. They also have limited access to water.

The armed violence and insecurity have also decimated health and education services, with more than 68 health centres forced to shut down impacting over 800,000 people, and 2,000 schools closed, impacting over 300,000 students who can no longer go to school.

Over 500 people have been reportedly killed between January of 2018 and September of 2019.

The revised Humanitarian Response Plan, launched in August, called for US$187 million to provide help to 1.3 million people but it is only 35 per cent funded.

A new report from UNICEF, says that an alarmingly high number of children are suffering the consequences of poor diets and a food system that are failing them.

In their report on children, food and nutrition, the Agency finds that at least 1 in 3 children under five, or over 200 million, is either undernourished or overweight.

Almost 2 in 3 children between six months and two years of age are not fed food that supports their rapidly growing bodies and brains.

This puts them at risk of poor brain development, weak learning, low immunity, increased infections and, in many cases, death, according to the report.

We continue to follow the situation in Ecuador closely.

The Secretary-General welcomes the progress made in the dialogue process, as reported by the UN team in Ecuador and the Episcopal Conference.

We congratulate the people of Tunisia for holding peaceful Presidential elections. The Secretary-General will be sending a letter of congratulation to the President-elect.

The Secretary-General is appointing Mamadou Diallo of Guinea as his new Deputy Special Representative of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau. He will also serve as the UN Resident Coordinator in the country.

He succeeds David McLachlan-Karr of Australia, and the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service during his tenure.

Today is the International Day of Rural Women. This year’s theme is “Rural women and girls building climate resilience.”

In his message, the Secretary-General said that rural women represent the backbone of many communities, but they continue to face obstacles that prevent them from realizing their potential. He added that the devastating impacts of climate change add to their hardship.

At the same time, they are a repository of knowledge and skills that can help communities and societies adapt to the consequences of climate change through nature-based, low-carbon solutions, he said and stressed that listening to them and amplifying their voices is central to tackling this issue.

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