Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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25-Nov-2019 00:19:57
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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The UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo, MONUSCO, is calling for calm and responsibility as violent protests continue in Beni, in the country northeast. The UN peacekeeping office in Beni was damaged after an attack and staff members have been redeployed to other sites for their safety.

At the invitation of the Government, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Leila Zerrougui, took part today in a meeting National Security Council chaired by the President with ministers and military leaders.

She stressed that she understood the people’s anger and frustration of the population after further deadly attacks by the ADF. The Mission will work closely with the authorities to jointly find solutions for the people of Beni.

The UN Peacekeeping Mission is also concerned about both the dissemination of misinformation and calls for violence that have been seen on social media. The Mission calls on all political, religious and media leaders to support a return to calm, which is necessary both to fight the ADF and to continue the response to Ebola.

Just to note that there are 557 UN peacekeepers from Malawi stationed in Beni, as well as a Formed Police Unit from India with about 150 officers. There are also 150 Tanzanian peacekeepers who are stationed at airport.

The Secretary-General has just arrived in Berlin and he is getting ready for an informal dinner with the leaders of the Greek Cypriot community and the Turkish Cypriot community.

Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will join Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, at the opening ceremony for the Internet Governance Forum. The Forum, a gathering of thousands of members of civil society, governments and technology specialists, is held this year under the theme ‘One Vision. One Net.’

As we mentioned on Friday, the Secretary-General is expected to call for universal and affordable access to the Internet by 2030, as well as for a world in which greater access to technology does not give rise to social and political divisions.

Also, on Tuesday, the Secretary-General is expected to visit a school, which provides technology training for refugees and he will also hold several bilateral meetings with Government officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Today is the International Day to End Violence against Women. In a special message, the Secretary-General reiterated UN’s commitment to end all forms of violence against women and girls.

These abuses are among the world’s most horrific, persistent and widespread human rights violations, affecting one in every three women in the world, he said.

The Secretary-General also stressed that sexual violence against women and girls is rooted in centuries of male domination. He called on governments, the private sector, civil society and people everywhere to take a firm stand against sexual violence and misogyny.

This day also marks the first day of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-based Violence.

And in a speech delivered in Abuja, in Nigeria, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said this year’s theme is “Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”. She called for all to collectively spotlight the pervasiveness of rape and other forms of sexual violence in our societies, and to take urgent actions to stop these crimes.

Over the weekend we’ve issued a statement on the attack on the United Nations in Kabul.

The Secretary-General strongly condemned the attack, which killed a UN colleague, an American citizen, and injured two others. He expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the victim and wished a swift recovery to the injured.

The Secretary-General called on the Afghan authorities to spare no efforts in identifying and swiftly bringing to justice the perpetrators of the attack.

He also reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to continue to assist the Government and people of Afghanistan as the country strives for sustainable peace and development. There were also statements from the UN Mission in Kabul as well the administrator of UNDP as our fallen colleague worked for the Development Programme.

In Geneva, the World Meteorological Organization today said the levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached another record high.

WMO’s latest Greenhouse Gas Bulletin showed that globally averaged concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) reached 407.8 parts per million in 2018, up from 405.5 parts per million (ppm) in 2017.

In a tweet, the Secretary-General said this record “shows that we are not doing enough to address the climate emergency. Strong & decisive Climate Action cannot wait.”

Concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide also surged by higher amounts than during the past decade, and WMO said there is no sign of a slowdown despite the commitments under the Paris Agreement.

Over the weekend we also issued a statement in which the Secretary-General acknowledged the largely peaceful spirit that characterized the 21 November marches in Colombia and welcomed the willingness of the Government to engage in a national conversation.

However, he also voiced his concern over the incidents of violence and vandalism and called on all actors to exercise maximum restraint and engage in peaceful dialogue.

In Sudan, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, wrapped up a two-day visit to the country yesterday, calling on the international community to act faster to scale up humanitarian support in the country.

The deepening economic crisis, the climate crisis and violence have led to more than 8.5 million people needing food, protection and another humanitarian assistance just to survive. Millions more struggle to make ends meet, and these numbers are projected to rise.

Years of conflict have left nearly two million people displaced in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile areas of Sudan.

There is a press release available with more details.

Turning to South Sudan, our peacekeeping colleagues tell us that community leaders have apologized after drunken youth rioted last week in a UN Protection of Civilians site in Bentiu, which resulted in the deaths of two civilians and injury to eight UN staff members.

The leaders have urged young people to refrain from violence against other displaced people and UN personnel, and have also promised to help with the efforts to hold the perpetrators of the violence to account.

The UN Mission (UNMISS) is investigating the rioting.

Protection of Civilians sites were set up in 2013 to provide sanctuary to civilians fleeing violence. The Mission stresses that it is unacceptable for community members to attack each other or peacekeepers who are trying to protect the most vulnerable displaced families.

More than 100 vulnerable refugees – including some babies born in detention centres in Libya – have now arrived in Rwanda on a humanitarian evacuation flight organized by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Most of these refugees are under the age of 18 and have been separated from their families, with most from Eritrea and some coming from Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan.

More information online.

Turning to Syria, the humanitarian situation throughout Syria remains dire, with more than 11 million people in need of assistance and over 6 million people displaced, according to our humanitarian colleagues.

We are particularly concerned over the safety and protection of some 3 million people in Idlib and surrounding areas of north-west Syria, including 1.6 million internally displaced people.

Over this weekend, airstrikes and shelling were reported in at least 20 communities in Idlib, Aleppo and Hama governorates. At least eight people, including two children, were reportedly killed and six others reportedly injured by the hostilities. In addition, a medical facility in Kansafra town in Idlib governorate was reportedly damaged due to the hostilities.

The UN calls on all parties to the conflict to take necessary measures to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

I just want to inform you that we do expect a statement on Bolivia a bit later today. In the meantime, we do welcome recent positive developments in the search for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Bolivia.

Tomorrow I will be joined by Ninan Varughese, Director ad interim of the UNAIDS New York Office will be here to brief you on the launch of the World AIDS Day report.
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