Press Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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23-Feb-2021 00:27:28
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Our colleagues at the World Food Programme (WFP) sent us an update following that tragic security incident that took place on 22 February.

This morning, the Secretary-General spoke to members of the Security Council on the topic of “Maintenance of international peace and security: climate and security.”

The Saraf Umrah site in Darfur had formerly been a base for two formed UN police units. When the joint UN-AU mission (UNAMID) ended its mandate at the end of December, the site was closed and then handed over to North Darfur State authorities as scheduled on 21 January, with assurances that it would be transformed into a vocational centre. Instead, the site was looted on 18 February.

Turning to Niger, the Secretary-General commends the Government and people of the Republic of Niger for holding the run-off presidential election on 21 February, despite significant security and humanitarian challenges, as well as, of course, the pandemic.

In a Tweet on Myanmar, the Secretary-General called on the Myanmar military to stop the repression immediately and stressed the need to release the prisoners, end the violence and respect human rights and the will of the people.

The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Libya, Ján Kubiš, has continued his meetings and telephone calls with Libyan and international officials.

A report released today by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office warns that there was a rise in civilians killed and injured in Afghanistan following the start of peace negotiations in September. Nevertheless, overall numbers for 2020 were down due to lower civilian casualty rates earlier in the year.

The Humanitarian Response Plan for Mali was launched yesterday by the UN, our humanitarian partners, and the Malian Government. The plan seeks $563 million to assist 4.7 million people in immediate need – that’s 1.1 million more people than last year.

Today marks a major milestone in Mongolia, which rolled out its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines today. Our UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Tapan Mishra, has been supporting authorities to prepare for this and for Mongolia’s inclusion in the COVAX facility.

UNICEF has sent 100,000 syringes and 1,000 safety boxes for COVID-19 vaccination operations to the Maldives by air freight – that’s from their warehouse in Dubai.

The Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, is scheduled to receive his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this Friday at a school in the Bronx.

Turning to Central America, WFP today said that hunger in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua has increased almost fourfold over the past two years.

Yesterday afternoon, Helen La Lime, the head of the UN Mission in Haiti, told Security Council members that, as the country prepares to enter a tense pre-electoral period, the polarization that has defined most of President Jovenel Moïse’s term in office has become more acute. Signs of a shrinking civic space abound and an already alarming humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, she added.

The ILO today released its latest World Employment and Social Outlook 2021. According to the report, digital labour platforms have increased five-fold worldwide in the last decade.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) says that some 7,000 people have fled escalating violence in Ethiopia’s Benishangul Gumuz region to seek safety in Sudan’s Blue Nile State over the last month.

Yesterday afternoon, we issued a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General in which he expressed his sadness at the passing of our former colleagued, the UN Special Adviser on the Responsibility to Protect, Ed Luck, who passed away on 16 February 2021.

Just ending on some good news: Today, we thank Chad, Croatia and Serbia for their payments in full to the 2021 budget. We are up to 54 Member States who have paid their regular budget dues in full.

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Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General
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