Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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21-Nov-2019 00:20:25
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The Secretary-General has appointed Ghada Fathi Waly of Egypt as the next Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. Ms. Waly will also serve as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna.

She succeeds Yuri Fedotov of the Russian Federation, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service to the Organization.

Ms. Waly brings to the position over thirty years of experience in the field of sustainable development, poverty reduction and social protection, women and youth empowerment. Currently Minister of Social Solidarity, a position she assumed in 2014, Ms. Waly developed the national anti-drug strategy, led a nation-wide drug awareness and prevention campaign among youth and pioneered innovative programmes to rehabilitate and reintegrate persons with substance abuse into society.

Her previous positions include her time as the UNDP Assistant Resident Representative for Egypt.

This afternoon, the Secretary-General will speak at the first meeting of the Group of Friends on Digital Technologies. He will stress the impacts – both positive and negative – of digital technologies on international peace and security, sustainable development and human rights, and he will call on the group of friends to support UN initiatives like the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation to mitigate the risks of these technologies and ensure that everyone can benefit from them.

The Security Council is holding an open meeting, followed by consultations on Somalia.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, James Swan, told Council members that Somalia, together with its international partners and friends, wants to see the progress made in the past decade – including building state institutions and the military gains against al Shabaab – consolidated in 2020.

He stressed the importance of political consensus, especially ahead of next year’s elections, as well as the adoption of an amended Federal Constitution to address the threat posed by al Shabaab, and as well as address economic development.

At 3 p.m., the Council will reconvene in closed consultations to take up the issue of Cyprus.

Yesterday afternoon, Bintou Keita, the Assistant Secretary-General for Africa, reminded members of the Security Council that the situation in the Sahel is of serious concern and that urgent action is needed. Since the beginning of the year, she said, security incidents have tripled in Burkina Faso. For example, 489 incidents have been recorded so far, compared to 151 last year.

Terrorism today is a common problem, she said, and she called on the international community to support the G5 Sahel Joint Force, and to also renew their efforts towards development initiatives in the region.

Najat Rochdi, Senior Humanitarian Adviser to Geir Pedersen the Special Envoy on Syria, condemned today in the strongest terms the missile attack, reportedly fired from Syrian Government-controlled territory, that hit the densely populated Qah camp for internally displaced people and exploded near a maternity hospital in Idlib. At least 12 people were killed and some 50 injured, including children—with confirmed casualties expected to rise.

Ms. Rochdi called on all warring parties to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. The humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Syria must come to an end, she said.

The Deputy Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Mark Cutts, also condemned the attack in the strongest terms and called for a full investigation.

He reiterated calls on all parties to the conflict to take all necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in line with their obligations under international law.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, has wrapped up a ten-day visit to the country.

She met with Government and Tatmadaw officials in the capital Nay Pyi Taw, and also participated in the opening ceremony of the 3rd Consultation Forum of Religions for Peace.

On next year’s elections, the Special Envoy held talks with several groups, including the Union Electoral Commission, representatives of the main political parties in parliament, and Rohingya and Rakhine political parties and activists. Her discussions focused on voting rights, eligibility for elections and encouraging women’s participation.

In northern Rakhine state, she met with local officials, community leaders and with returnees to understand their experiences and needs. She also travelled to Sin Tet Maw camp in Pauk Taw to speak with Kaman and Rohingya internally displaced people to hear their perspectives and expectations.

In Rakhine, the Special Envoy noted that the toll of the continued clashes between the Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw are taking on people. She called on all sides to protect civilians and to respect International Humanitarian Law, stressing for the need for combat to stop.

Voting in the referendum on the political future of Bougainville, in line with the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, begins on 23 November, in two days, and will take place over two weeks.

Voters will be choosing between two options: greater autonomy or independence. The vote will lead to consultations between the two governments on the way forward.

The referendum will be observed by more than 100 international observers, representing the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum, as well as Australia, European Union, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States and the Australian National University and more than 140 domestic observers.

The United Nations has been providing technical support to the referendum process and to the ongoing dialogue process between the two parties. We will continue to support, at the request of the parties, the post-referendum consultation process.

The Special Coordinator, Jan Kubiš, has called upon the leadership of Lebanon to urgently nominate the Prime Minister-designate, start the mandatory process of parliamentary consultations and maximally accelerate the process of the formation of the new government of personalities known for their competence and integrity and trusted by the people.

He believes that such a Cabinet, formed in line with the aspirations of the people and supported by the broadest range of political forces through the Parliamentary vote of confidence, will also be in a better position to appeal for support from Lebanon’s international partners.

The Spokesman made it clear that the Special Coordinator Kubiš has not otherwise intervened in the details of government formation, its character or its composition, as that remains a sovereign matter for Lebanon and its people to decide.

Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, is travelling to Sudan for a three-day visit, his first to the country since the transitional Government was formed in August.

Mr. Lowcock will meet with senior Government officials, diplomats and aid agencies in the capital, Khartoum.

He will also travel to Kassala in the country’s east to visit health facilities and meet people impacted by the recent economic shocks and disease outbreaks, as well as youth volunteers responding to the situation.

Erratic weather, multiple disease outbreaks and the economic crisis have led to [more than] 8.5 million people – including nearly 2 million who are internally displaced – needing humanitarian aid. These needs are expected to increase further.

Over 8,600 children associated with armed groups have been released in the Central African Republic between 2016 and the middle of this year, making the country one of those on the children and armed conflict agenda with the highest number of children released.

While this, in itself, is a positive development, a new report by the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Central African Republic shows that children continue to endure dreadful acts of violence.

While the inclusion of child protection measures in the peace agreement was a milestone, said Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative, mechanisms to tangibly end and prevent grave violations against boys and girls and to verify the compliance of signatory parties must be implemented.

Tomorrow the noon guests will be Alain Noudehou, the Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan along with Mohammed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan; and Kamil Kamaluddeen, UNDP’s Resident Representative in South Sudan. They will brief journalists on the humanitarian and development situation in the country.

Later in the afternoon, the Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, will be speaking at the stakeout after the Security Council consultations and the open meeting on Syria.

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