Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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03-Dec-2019 00:19:41
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General met with His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain. The Secretary-General expressed once again his gratitude for Spain's support for hosting the Climate Change Conference in Madrid and the impeccable organization that was achieved in record time.

And on the sidelines of the COP 25, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) stressed that 2019 concludes a decade of exceptional global heat, retreating ice and record sea levels driven by greenhouse gases from human activity.

According to a new report released by the agency, average temperatures for the five-year (2015-2019) and ten-year (2010-2019) periods are almost certain to be the highest on record. The year 2019 is on course to be the second or third warmest year on record.

Also, the World Health Organization warned that safeguarding human health from climate change impacts is more urgent than ever, yet most countries are not acting fully on their own plan to achieve this.

According to the first global snapshot of progress on climate change and health released by WHO, countries are increasingly prioritising climate change and health, but only about 38% have finances in place to even partially implement their national strategy. And fewer than 10% are channeling resources to implement it fully.

Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The theme for this year: “Promoting the participation of persons with disabilities and their leadership: taking action on the 2030 Development Agenda”.

In a special message, the Secretary-General stresses that we still have much to do to secure the rights of people with disabilities.

He recalls that almost all UN Member States have ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and urges those who have not yet done so to ratify it without delay.

On this International Day, he also reaffirms the commitment of the United Nations to work with people with disabilities to build a sustainable, inclusive and transformative future in which everyone, including women, men, girls and boys with disabilities, can realize their full potential.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, briefed the Security Council on the situation in that country, including on demonstrations taking place. She said that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis - from all walks of life – have taken to the streets, out of love for their homeland, emphasizing their Iraqi identity. All they are asking for, she added, is a country reaching its full potential for the benefit of all Iraqis.

However, she said that they are paying an unimaginable price for their voices to be heard. Since early October, 400 people have been killed and over 19,000 people have been injured.

The Special Representative told Council Members that we are witnessing an accumulation of frustration for the lack of progress for so many years. The high loss of life, the many injuries, the violence - combined with this long period of undelivered promises - all resulted in a crisis of confidence.

She once more stressed the importance of guaranteeing fundamental rights - above all the right to life, but also the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.

Turning to South Sudan, 75 UN peacekeepers have been temporarily re-deployed from Rumbek to Maper to deter further violence in the northern Lakes region of South Sudan.

This comes on the heels of reports that nearly 80 people have been killed and more than 100 injured in a series of communal clashes and revenge attacks between the Gak and Manuer communities.

While political violence has largely subsided in South Sudan since the signing of the revitalized peace agreement in September 2018, intercommunal clashes continue to result in the killing and injuring of civilians, cattle raiding and the looting of property.

The head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, David Shearer, urged the communities involved and their leaders to put an end to the violence and to come together in reconciliation and peace for the good of the people.

Tomorrow, the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs will be launching the 2020 Global Humanitarian Overview. And that launch will be done simultaneously in five cities: in Geneva, Berlin, Brussels, London and Washington.

The Global Humanitarian Overview presents inter-agency response plans for humanitarian action across the world with an overview of the funding requirements to implement them.

It is based on data sharing, joint analysis and programme coordination by humanitarian UN agencies and hundreds of NGOs, to ensure that the needs of the most vulnerable people are addressed first.

The event will be livestreamed on the UN website. The report, press release and all materials will be available online tomorrow.

And in response to questions about the situation in Libya, I can say that we are very concerned by the intensification of airstrikes in civilian populated areas in the past few days. We stress that indiscriminate attacks are prohibited and all feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental civilians casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure. We remind all parties to the conflict of their obligations under international humanitarian law.

The Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs says that a number of civilians – mostly women and children – were killed in airstrikes in recent days in different parts of the country.

The UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Libya, Yacoub El Hillo, said he is appalled by these horrific attacks, which constitute yet another blatant violation of international humanitarian and human rights laws.

More than 300,000 people remain displaced across Libya, including more than 140,000 people uprooted in the clashes in the capital Tripoli.

In Zimbabwe, the World Food Programme (WFP) is quickly expanding its already sizeable emergency operation in the country, where drought, flooding and macro-economic meltdown have plunged 7.7 million people – half the country’s population – into severe hunger.

The head of WFP, David Beasley, said that Zimbabwe is deep into a vicious cycle of sky-rocketing malnutrition that’s hitting women and children hardest and will be tough to break.

The agency urgently needs $300 million to meet the needs of the hardest-hit Zimbabweans and will more than double the number of people it is helping by January to 4.1 million.

Zimbabwe’s hunger crisis is the worst in more than a decade and is part of an unprecedented climate-driven disaster gripping southern Africa.

Typhoon Kammuri has made landfall in Luzon Island in the Philippines, with homes damaged, power supplies interrupted and widespread flooding along the Bicol River.

The UN and partners, together with the Government, will carry out a rapid needs assessment in the most affected areas as soon as conditions allow.

In Albania, the UN, through the Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is supporting the earthquake response with damage and needs assessment as well as coordination.

Between 5,000 and 10,000 people are estimated to be displaced and living in the vicinity of their homes and over 2,850 are being accommodated in hotels.

And according to local authorities, 51 people died and all those missing have reportedly been accounted for.

Bruno Lemarquis, of France, was named Deputy Special Representative of the UN Integrated Office in Haiti, otherwise known as BINUH. He will also serve as the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator.

Mr. Lemarquis joined the United Nations in 1992 and brings to this position extensive managerial and leadership experience in development, humanitarian affairs and peacebuilding. And we congratulate him on his appointment.

In a statement on the situation in Burkina Faso, the Secretary-General strongly condemned Sunday’s attack on a congregation attending a church service in the village of Hantoukoura, in Burkina Faso.

Plants make up 80 per cent of the food we eat and they produce 98 per cent of the oxygen we breathe. Yet, they are constantly threatened by pests and diseases.

The General Assembly proclaimed 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health. In an event that took place in Rome, at FAO, the year was officially launched and FAO pledged to raise global awareness on how protecting plants can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect the environment, and boost economic development.

In a message, the Secretary-General called for the necessary resources and increased commitment to plant health not only next year, but throughout this Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

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