Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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05-Nov-2019 00:24:43
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General says he is shocked at the death toll we have seen in recent days in Iraq since the start of the demonstrations.

And today, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) published a report in which it found that serious human rights violations and abuses continued to occur during a second wave of demonstrations that started on 25 October in Iraq.

The latest report indicates that demonstration-related violence from 25 October to 4 November caused at least 97 further deaths and thousands of injuries. Although Iraqi security forces displayed more restraint than in previous protests earlier in October, particularly in Baghdad, the unlawful use of lethal and less-lethal weapons by security forces and armed people requires urgent attention. The report attributes at least 16 deaths – and many serious injuries – to demonstrators being struck by tear gas canisters.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq said that the report also highlights areas where immediate action is needed to stop the vicious cycle of violence and stressed once again the imperative of accountability.

Martin Griffiths, the Special Envoy for Yemen, today congratulated the Government of Yemen and the Southern Transitional Council on reaching an agreement in Riyadh on the way forward.

He said the signing of the Riyadh Agreement is an important step for our collective efforts to advance a peaceful settlement to the conflict in Yemen.

The Special Envoy expressed his gratitude to Saudi Arabia for mediating successfully this agreement and for their strenuous diplomatic efforts.

Mr. Griffiths says that this agreement will strengthen stability in Aden and the surrounding governorates and improve the lives of the citizens.

Yesterday, the Head of the UN Mission to support the Hudaydah Agreement (UNMHA) and Chair of the Redeployment Coordination Committee, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Abhijit Guha, called on all parties to adhere to the ceasefire in Hudaydah Governorate as agreed to in the Stockholm Agreement from December 2018. We condemn any violations committed by air, sea and land on areas agreed by the Hudaydah Agreement.

This morning, the Security Council held a debate on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and adopted unanimously a resolution authorizing a European Union military operation in the country.

The resolution reiterates that the primary responsibility for the further successful implementation of the Peace Agreement lies with all the authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina themselves and notes the continued willingness of the international community and major donors to support them in implementing the Peace Agreement.

In Venezuela, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, is in Caracas to be briefed about the humanitarian situation there and strengthen cooperation among the humanitarian organizations operating in the country.

At his arrival, Mr. Lowcock met and discussed the humanitarian response with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Venezuela. He also met people affected by the deteriorating humanitarian situation.

Today, he is scheduled to meet with members of the National Assembly, senior government officials and members of civil society.

Today, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel welcomed the approval of a Parity Law by Cabo Verde’s Parliament.

In a statement, Mohamed Ibn Chambas congratulated the Parliament for this historical accomplishment and added that the country’s commitment to ensure the equality of rights and duties between men and women will contribute to consolidating social justice and development.

And in other news related to Mr. Chambas, he has started a three-day tour to support the peacebuilding efforts of countries of the Mano River Union, which includes Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. He is travelling with the Chair of the UN Peace Building Commission, Guillermo Fernández de Soto, and Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, the Assistant Secretary-General and Head of the Peacebuilding Support Office.

In October, the UN began its winterization campaign in Syria, providing winter clothes, blankets, heaters, stoves, heating fuel, mattresses, carpets, and plastic sheeting, to people who would otherwise not be prepared to face the cold winter months.

Some 900,000 people in northwest Syria are expected to benefit from the winter assistance this year. However, there is a 40 per cent funding gap of about $32 million that still is needed.

The UN calls on all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure and allow for the winter response operation to be implemented with safe, unimpeded and sustained access to all in need.

The first flight of humanitarian aid organized by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) arrived in Somalia to help more than 20,000 people cut off by the worst flooding in years.

UNHCR is scheduling up to 10 flights to airlift up to 60 metric tons of urgently needed supplies, including soap, blankets and plastic sheets.

More than 270,000 people have been displaced by flooding in the past two weeks, highlighting Somalia’s increasing vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

We have an update from Cameroon, where UNICEF said today that 855,000 children are out of school in the country’s northwest and southwest, as a result of three years of violence and instability.

Two months into the new school year, about 90 per cent of the region’s public primary schools and 77 per cent of public secondary schools are closed or non-operational.

Fear of violence also means that more parents choose to keep their children home, and not all teachers and staff report to work.

Without urgent action and without a commitment from all parties to the conflict to protect education, the future of these children is at risk.

In the meantime, UNICEF has initiated community-run learning. They are also procuring learning materials and will use radio to disseminate literacy and numeracy lessons to help children while they cannot attend school.

A new report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) says that tariffs imposed by the United States on China are economically hurting both countries, and this is a paper that was released today.

The study shows that the ongoing US-China trade war has resulted in a sharp decline in bilateral trade, higher prices for consumers, and trade diversion impacts.

With the alarmingly high rates of self-harm, suicide and anxiety among children and young people around the world, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) are teaming up with some of the world’s leading minds to tackle the growing threat of mental disorders.

In a joint push to put child and adolescent mental disorders higher up on the global health agenda, both agencies will co-host their first ever conference on the topic in Florence, Italy, 7-9 November.

According to the latest data up to 20 per cent of adolescents globally experience mental disorders and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-19-year-olds worldwide.

Today is World Tsunami Awareness Day. In his message, the Secretary-General said that there has been great improvement in early warning systems since the Indian Ocean Tsunami occurred 15 years ago. However, he stressed that we have not yet fully learned the importance of disaster-proofing critical infrastructure, which is essential to avoid the disruption to important public services that can occur during tsunamis, earthquakes and extreme weather events.

He encouraged governments, local authorities and the construction industry to pursue risk-informed development and investment in resilient construction.

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