Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

Preview Language:   English
31-Oct-2019 00:14:45
Briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General today spoke at the start of the sixth Istanbul Mediation Conference and said that mediation is one of our most important tools to reduce and end conflict. He said that the tragedy in Syria is a clear illustration of the importance of political solutions to conflict, adding that Wednesday’s first meeting of the Constitutional Committee was a landmark but also “in itself a clear success of mediation.” The Secretary-General hopes that this will be the first step towards a political solution that will end this tragic chapter in the lives of the Syrian people and create the opportunity for all Syrians to return to their places of origin, in safety and in dignity, to end their status as refugees.

The Secretary-General said that mediation cannot wait for a military stalemate or a request for help. Rather, he said, “There is a need for mediation at all stages of the peace continuum, from prevention to peacekeeping, peacebuilding and development, including between parties to protracted conflicts.”

On the sidelines of the conference, the Secretary-General met his High-Level Advisory Board on mediation and reviewed political situations around the globe with them.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General visited the UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries. Inaugurated in 2018, the bank was created by the General Assembly to improve the Least Developed Countries’ scientific research and innovation base, promote networking among research institutions and help the LDCs to access and utilize critical and appropriate technologies in the effort to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Secretary-General met with the bank’s staff and toured an exhibit of companies showcasing innovations by companies that have partnered with the technology bank to deploy SDG-related technologies in a number of key sectors, including water, agriculture health and waste management.

The bank, the Secretary-General said, is already having a very important role in supporting the least developed countries to have access to new technologies, and to be able not to be left behind in the implementation of Agenda 2030.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General is scheduled to meet with President Erdoğan before heading to Thailand.

The UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said today that it has consistently called for the protection of peaceful protestors and the need to address their legitimate demands in the country. The Mission continues to condemn in the strongest terms the loss of life, the many injuries and the destruction of property.

After visiting the demonstrators, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said that violence only breeds more violence. She emphasized that a public national dialogue can bring Iraqis together to draw a roadmap towards a more inclusive, stable and prosperous Iraq.

She added that today, the United Nations stands by Iraq’s side and is ready, if called upon, to bring together all parties and move forward on a roadmap that meets the legitimate demands of the Iraqi people.

This morning, the Security Council held a closed meeting on the International Court of Justice, whose President briefed the press at the UN headquarters earlier this week. This was followed by consultations on Guinea-Bissau.

This afternoon, the Council is expected to renew the mandate of the UN – African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur, UNAMID, for one year.

This will be followed by a meeting on Kosovo.

Our humanitarian colleagues say that, this morning, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck Mindanao in the Philippines. The area had experienced a powerful 6.6-magnitude earthquake just two days ago that caused the death of 8 people and injured nearly 400 others.

National authorities are leading response efforts and conducting search-and-rescue operations.

Humanitarian organizations, including UN agencies and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and others are helping to assess the extent of damage and needs in affected areas.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, has wrapped up a three-day visit to Somalia, calling for stepped up efforts to protect children in the country.

She commended the Federal Government’s commitment to speed up the implementation of UN action plans to end and prevent the recruitment, use, killing and maiming of children.

Ms. Gamba said that the situation of children affected by armed conflict in Somalia is ruthless, with the country having the highest total number of grave violations against children, mostly committed by Al-Shabaab.

Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that heavy rainfall since early October has affected more than 100,000 people, displaced 14,000 and caused at least 29 deaths in Kenya.

Floods have damaged infrastructure, including roads and bridges, while access to food, education and healthcare has also been hampered.

The heavy rains follow a period of prolonged drought which saw the number of severely food insecure people in Kenya rise to 3.1 million.

The United Nations is assisting the Government-led response to distribute food to displaced people in Wajir county after trucks carrying emergency supplies were unable to reach people in need due to a collapsed bridge.

A record 45 million people across southern Africa will be severely food insecure in the next six months.

That’s according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), who are calling for funding to prevent a major hunger crisis and for stepped up investment in long-term measures to combat the impact of climate shocks.

The agencies said that there are more than 11 million people now experiencing “crisis” or “emergency” levels of food insecurity in nine southern African countries.

They also noted that Southern Africa’s temperatures are rising at twice the global average, with the region home to six of the nine African countries set to be hardest hit by adverse weather in the coming years: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Today is World Cities Day.

With over half the world’s population now living in cities, urbanization is one of the world’s most transformative trends and a critical tool for sustainable development if done right.

In a message, the Secretary-General stressed that much of what will be needed to house and serve this increasingly urban world has yet to be constructed, and even some new cities will need to be built.

This brings enormous opportunities to develop and implement solutions that can address the climate crisis and pave the way towards a sustainable future, he added.

This year, World Cities Day – under the theme “Innovations and a Better Life for Future Generations” – will be the culmination of Urban October, a month that started with World Habitat Day and provides an opportunity for the world to reflect on our common urban future.


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