Security Council, Syria, Yemen & other topics - Daily Press Briefing

Preview Language:   English
30-May-2023 00:26:51
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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**Security Council

All right, good afternoon. Just a quick note that this afternoon, as you all well know, the Security Council will be holding a meeting on threats to international peace and security. Rafael Grossi, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), will be the briefer.

Following the meeting, he and the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, Ignazio Cassis, will be speaking to you at the stakeout, followed by Mr. Grossi, so that will be whenever the meeting ends, so just keep your eyes on the TV.

This morning, Council members unanimously voted in favour of the renewal of the mandate of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) for one year — until 31 May 2024.

Also, they adopted resolution 2683 that renews sanctions on South Sudan until 31 May 2024 and also renews the Panel of Experts of the 2206 South Sudan Sanctions Committee until July 2024, and that was done by 10 votes in favour and 5 abstentions.


They also heard from our friend Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, who told Security Council members that this past month has seen diplomatic activity quicken.

At the same time, he underlined the importance for the Syrians to engage in dialogue and return to discussing their own future together in the Constitutional Committee.

For her part, Ghada Eltahir Mudawi, the Deputy Director of Operations at the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, briefed Council members and said that a staggering 15.3 million people — that’s nearly 70 per cent of the population of Syria — require humanitarian assistance throughout the country.

She called for greater solidarity and urgently increased humanitarian funding to save lives and prevent further suffering.


Just a quick update on Yemen that has not been mentioned — that the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $18 million to address food security in the country to help reduce high levels of food insecurity and rising malnutrition rates driven by the conflict, economic shocks and climate change, among other factors.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is telling us that more than 17 million men, women and children — that’s around 80 per cent of the population — are facing high levels of food insecurity across the country.

Recent UN analysis shows rising malnutrition rates, with children under the age of 5 being particularly impacted.

The $4.3 billion appeal for Yemen [in 2023] is currently just over 24 per cent funded.

This allocation from the Central Emergency Response Fund will allow humanitarian agencies and partners to support people in the governorates of Hajjah, Al Hodeidah and Ta’iz — which are among the most vulnerable and affected by both food insecurity and malnutrition.

**Permanent Forum of People of African Descent

Back here, the Second Permanent Forum of People of African Descent began this morning and will run until 2 June. The theme of the Forum is: “Realizing the Dream: A UN Declaration on the promotion, protection and full respect of the human rights of people of African descent”.

In a pre-recorded video message, the Secretary-General said that the establishment of this Forum by the General Assembly crystalized the commitment of the international community to accelerate along the path towards full equality and justice for people of African descent everywhere.

In a separate video message, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, commended the Forum for its commitment to broad-based discussions of human rights issues that impact people of African descent. Those remarks were shared with you.


Meanwhile, our Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, participated in a conference held in Portugal, by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In her remarks in Lisbon yesterday, she called for equality and the removal of barriers to science and technology.

She said that by harnessing the power of industrial property, we can unlock the potential of ground-breaking technologies, advance inclusive growth and achieve greater equality.

She also met with the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, João Gomes Cravinho, as well as other government representatives and the leadership of WIPO.

To conclude her trip, Ms. Mohammed visited the Oceanarium and the Blue Ocean Foundation, to discuss the oceans agenda and links to climate action.

She’s on her way back here.


Moving to Sudan, as of yesterday, at least 100 trucks loaded with humanitarian assistance had reached their destinations in several states and including the capital, Khartoum. They were carrying 2,600 tons of supplies, including nutrition, water, sanitation and health items for up to 2 million men, women and children.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has reached some 675,000 people across Sudan since restarting operations — and on Saturday, WFP began distributing food in Khartoum. So long as the security situation allows, the agency plans to reach at least half a million people who need food in the capital, Khartoum.

Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that more than 13.6 million children in Sudan are in urgent need of humanitarian aid, after six weeks of conflict.

And the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, has welcomed the extension of the ceasefire in Sudan, as the humanitarian community there continues to scale up deliveries, as we are showing you.

For his part, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, concluded a three-day visit to Egypt with an urgent call for support for people fleeing Sudan, and support for the countries hosting refugees. He called for the borders to remain open.

Just to flag that more than 170,000 people have entered Egypt since the start of the conflict, half of the more than 345,000 people who have reportedly left Sudan since the start of the hostilities.


Quick note on Mali: The Arab Republic of Egypt and the United Nations have jointly agreed to the gradual phasing out of the Combat Convoy Battalion from the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Mali — MINUSMA — and that’s effective in June 2023 and has been done in light of the reconfiguration of the MINUSMA Force to address the evolving security situation in Mali.

We express our gratitude to the Republic of Egypt for its continued contribution to MINUSMA and for Egypt’s commitment and the sacrifices made by the Egyptian peacekeepers serving in Mali.

**Hunger Hotspots

The World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) yesterday released a report warning that acute food insecurity is set to potentially increase in magnitude and severity in 18 hunger “hotspots” comprising a total of 22 countries.

The report notes that the risk of a spillover of the Sudan crisis — raising the risk of negative impacts in the neighbouring countries — shows that deepening economic shocks continue to drive low- and middle-income nations deeper into crisis. It also warns that a likely El Niño climatic phenomenon is raising fears of climate extremes in vulnerable countries around the globe.

WFP and FAO are calling for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods to prevent starvation and death in hotspots where acute hunger is at a high risk of worsening from June to November of this year. The full report is online.

**Democratic Republic of Congo

And just an illustration of one of these hotspots, which is the Democratic Republic of the Congo: According to the latest food security analysis released by the Government, nearly 26 million [people], that’s about one out of four people, continue to face crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity, including 6.7 million people who are experiencing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity in North and South Kivu, as well as Ituri, all in the east. FAO and WFP are stepping up their action to support the most vulnerable, but they warn that record hunger levels in the country will also require livelihood support and long-term investments by the international community.


Also, we routinely tell you the risks of what happens if humanitarian agencies such as WFP don’t get the funding they require. I want to highlight what is going on in Palestine. WFP says they’re facing a critical situation in Palestine, with the suspension of assistance to over 200,000 people set to take effect in June if funding is not secured urgently.

In light of the recent escalation in Gaza, which has further worsened the struggles faced by vulnerable families, it is imperative that people in need continue to receive vital assistance provided by WFP.

This assistance serves as a crucial safety net, even more so now.

Without the necessary financial support, WFP will be forced to suspend its operations entirely by August. That means that 350,000 of the most vulnerable and food-insecure Palestinians will be deprived of assistance that allows them to feed their families.


To flag the situation in Kosovo, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Caroline Ziadeh, said that she is alarmed by the violence in northern Kosovo, and the preceding actions over the past few days that led to that violence.

She strongly condemned the actions that resulted in serious injuries of the KFOR (Kosovo Force) military personnel, as well as civilians, in Zvečan/Zveçan municipality yesterday.

Ms. Ziadeh stressed that violence in any form, including against KFOR who are deployed to provide a safe and secure environment in relation to resolution 1244 (1999), is unacceptable. She expressed solidarity with KFOR and wished all the injured, including civilians, a speedy recovery, stressing that the loss of life must be prevented at all costs.

She has urged de-escalation and called for responsible leadership and actions to defuse tensions and moves toward sustainable political solutions as soon as possible.

She said that the UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo will continue to coordinate closely with international presence on the ground. That press release was shared with you.


And also, just to flag that a number of UN agencies, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme against HIV/AIDS), have said they are appalled that the draconian and discriminatory anti-gay bill is now passed into law in Uganda.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, had recently expressed concern about the further worsening of laws criminalizing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, including in Uganda. He said these laws violate human rights, and they lead to violence, and they drive people against one another.


I also want to flag the start of the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. The session is taking place at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris and will go on until Friday. The work of the Committee is facilitated by our colleagues at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

**Earlier Statements

Also, just for the record, you saw we issued a statement over the weekend in which the Secretary-General strongly condemned the recent attack against the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), staffed by Ugandan peacekeepers, in Buulo Mareer in Lower Shabelle province in Somalia. The Secretary-General conveyed his heartfelt condolences to the people and Government of Uganda.

Also, over the weekend, the Secretary-General congratulated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his re-election as President of Türkiye and said he looks forward to further strengthening the cooperation between Türkiye and the United Nations.

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