Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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28-Oct-2019 00:26:53
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, briefed the Security Council by videoconference on the Israeli-Palestinian situation and said the past month has witnessed the continuing deterioration of the situation on the ground. With no prospect of final status negotiations on the horizon, he said, facts on the ground continue to deteriorate, pushing us ever further from a viable two-State solution.

Mr. Mladenov warned that violence continues to be a major part of the day-to-day reality of the conflict. However, he added, in recent weeks we have seen a welcome reduction of violence in Gaza and the launching of rockets and the agreements for calm brokered by the UN and Egypt continue to hold. Despite the overall improvement, he said, three Palestinians were killed by the Israeli Defence Forces, and over 500 injured during protests at the Gaza perimeter fence.

The Special Coordinator told the Security Council that we can no longer continue to address Gaza’s critical needs on a month-to-month basis, while failing to confront the broader political reality including the stiffening closures, violence and lack of unity. Similarly, he said, we also can no longer disregard the cracks emerging in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Settlement construction and expansion continues, the Palestinian Authority financial crisis is not fully resolved, and the economy continues to stagnate.

Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, spoke to the press in Geneva today, and he noted that as he was speaking, 150 members of the Constitutional Committee are arriving in Geneva.

He said that the Constitutional Committee talks will begin on Wednesday and added that the agreement to establish the Constitutional Committee marks the first political agreement between the Government of Syria and the opposition.

He said that the Constitutional Committee commits the government and the opposition and their nominees to sit together face-to-face in dialogue and negotiations and also creates spaces for the voices of civil society to be heard. And it could be a door-opener to a broader political process.

Mr. Pedersen stressed, however, that the Constitutional Committee alone cannot and will not resolve the Syrian conflict. For that, he said, concrete and tangible progress is needed on other aspects of Security Council resolution 2254, as well as meaningful progress on the ground.

The UN remains deeply concerned for the safety and protection of hundreds of thousands of civilians in north-east Syria following reports of sporadic fighting.

Some 106,000 people remain displaced of the over 180,000 previously reported.

The UN continues to call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and reiterates that the only sustainable solution to the conflict is a UN-facilitated political, negotiated solution among all parties which respects Syria’s unity and territorial integrity; the legitimate concerns of neighbouring countries; and the diversity of the Syrian population.

The UN continues to call for an immediate de-escalation and urges all parties to resolve their concerns through peaceful means.

Over the weekend, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, deeply regretted and condemned the further loss of life and injuries in Iraq and strongly denounced the destruction of public and private property.

She also expressed grave concerns about armed entities seeking to hinder Iraq’s stability and unity, undermining the people’s right to peaceful assembly and their legitimate demands.

The Special Representative reiterated that implementing the many measures, announced by the Government in recent weeks, will take time. A constructive dialogue on the way forward is in the interest of all, she said.

The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, was in Sudan this weekend to meet with the authorities, including the Prime Minister and senior women Government officials.

Earlier today, Ms. Mohammed also travelled to Darfur.

At the conclusion of her visit to the country, she tweeted that the UN and partners stand ready to respond to Prime Minister Hamdok’s call to join Sudan, as the country comes together to “rebuild and restore the values of human coexistence and social cohesion” for peace and development. To succeed, she added, women’s leadership will be critical, today and tomorrow.

Her trip to Sudan came on the heels of a one-week solidarity mission with the African Union to highlight issues linked to Women, peace and security in the horn of Africa. That mission took her to Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea. The Deputy-Secretary is expected back in New York tomorrow.

And now turning to Mali. We have learned with sadness that over the weekend, a UN peacekeeper from Togo has succumbed to injuries he sustained on October 6th, in Bandiagara (in the Mopti region), when the MINUSMA temporary base was attacked by unidentified assailants.

He was seriously injured in the attack and evacuated to a hospital in Dakar, where he received medical treatment.

We extend our deepest condolences to his family, the Government and the people of Togo.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, James Swan, met yesterday with President Said Abdullahi Deni and members of his cabinet in Garowe, the capital of Puntland state.

Mr. Swan said the visit was another welcome opportunity for him to hear first-hand from Puntland’s leadership about the progress being made with its ambitious agenda.

He congratulated Puntland’s leaders for the recent successful investment conference and the start of the Ethiopian Airlines flights to Garowe, noting that these developments were positive signals of economic revival in Puntland.

More on his visit online.

Also, on Somalia, seasonal rains have started early in many parts of the country and have led to flooding in the states of Hirshabelle, Jubaland and the South West.

Over 180,000 people are estimated to have been displaced thus far. Farmland, infrastructure and roads have been destroyed, and livelihoods disrupted in some of the worst-hit areas.

South Sudan is also affected by Severe seasonal flooding that have devastated large areas of the country since July. An estimated 900,000 people are affected, including internally displaced people, refugees and their host communities. The rains are likely to continue for another four to six weeks and will put more people at risk.

The heavy rains have hit areas that were already facing high humanitarian needs. Considerable damages to crops, arable land and livestock are anticipated.

In both countries, humanitarian partners are working to scale up their response capacity.

To support the Government of Zambia, the UN and humanitarian partners have launched a 7-month Humanitarian Response Plan to address rising humanitarian needs triggered by the poorest rainfall season since 1981 in the southern part of the country.

More than 2.4 million people, out of a total population of some 17 million, are expected to be severely food insecure during the lean season, which goes from October to March 2020), with at least 430,000 people in emergency levels (IPC 4).

In response to this crisis, the UN and international NGOs are seeking US$89.5 million to provide immediate humanitarian assistance and early recovery support for 2.3 million people for seven months. The main portion of this plan is for food assistance.

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that they are deeply concerned by the impact of stepped up fighting in Myanmar’s Rakhine State, where civilians have been caught up in an escalation of fighting between the Myanmar Military and the Arakan Army in Rathadaung Township in recent days. Human rights violations and abuses continue to be reported.

Some 32,000 people remain displaced in Rakhine and Chin states, and this is in addition to the 128,000 internally displaced people – mostly Rohingya – who remain in camps in Rakhine state, many for more than seven years.

Insecurity and access restrictions across much of Rakhine State are impeding humanitarian organizations to assess and respond to the needs of affected people.

The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians and facilitate timely access to people in need. The Humanitarian Response Plan for this year seeks $214.4 million to assist some 1 million people in need in Myanmar. That Plan is 78.5 per cent funded so far.

For her part, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, has repeatedly expressed her concern over how the clashes between the Arakan Army (AA) and the Myanmar Military have exacerbated the precarious situation in Rakhine, one of the nation’s poorest regions.

The international solidarity conference on the Venezuelan refugee and migrant crisis started today in Brussels.

Co-hosted by the European Union, together with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), this conference aims to mobilize support and to demonstrate solidarity of the international community to the affected host countries.

It is estimated that, so far, approximately 4.5 million Venezuelans have fled as a result of the political turmoil, socio-economic instability and humanitarian crisis in their country.

The international community is actively involved in supporting the host countries bearing the burden of the refugee and migrant crisis.

On Friday afternoon, we issued the announcement that the Secretary-General has appointed David McLachlan-Karr of Australia as his Deputy Special Representative in the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or MONUSCO. He will also serve as UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in the DRC.

His bio is online.

Yesterday was World Day for Audiovisual Heritage.

The General Conference of UNESCO approved the commemoration of this observance in 2005 as a mechanism to raise general awareness of the need to preserve and safeguard important audiovisual material for coming generations, and for urgent measures to be taken to conserve this heritage and ensure it remains accessible to the public now and in the future.

In a special message to the World Radiocommunication Conference, that is taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, in Egypt, the Secretary-General highlighted how radiocommunication technology has transformed information sharing, revolutionized industries, saved lives and advanced development.

He pointed out that technologies such as 5G, high-altitude platform stations and satellite communications offer great promise to help close the digital divide and advance the Sustainable Development Goals.

Tomorrow, at 10 a.m., there will be press briefing by the President of the International Court of Justice, Judge Abdulqawi A. Yusuf, who will brief you on the Court’s role and jurisdiction, its latest activities, and an overview of its current caseload.

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