Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

The Secretary-General is in Mopti today, in Central Mali, where he visited the G5 Sahel Camp and met with religious and community leaders.

The Secretary-General stressed the great suffering that the people of Mali have been through over the past few years. He said that peace in Mali was in the interest not only of the Malian people but of the region and the world in general, stressing the threat of an expansion of the instability to other countries in Africa, as well as to Europe. He therefore called for intensified assistance and support to Mali at the global level.

He is now on his way back to Bamako where he is expected to meet with opposition representatives before breaking the fast with the parties to the peace agreement.

He will give a press conference in Bamako to wrap up his visit before heading back to New York, where he is expected tomorrow.

Tomorrow afternoon, at 3 pm, the Secretary-General will address the General Assembly in plenary as member states formally adopt his reform plan for the UN’s development system.

At 5 pm, the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General will speak to reporters at the stakeout just outside the Trusteeship Council chamber. They will both make remarks and take a few questions on the development reform.

Accordingly, there will be no noon briefing tomorrow.

The Secretary-General’s next full press conference will happen on 26 June.

Ján Kubiš, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, briefed the Security Council this morning on the recent Iraqi elections, and he said that the decision by more than half of the voting population not to exercise their democratic right sends a strong signal to the elites ruling the country since 2003. He urged the Iraqi political elites to draw the necessary conclusions on the need for improved representation, justice for all, democratic accountability and good governance void of corruption, sectarian quota system, nepotism and patronage.

He also urged the independent electoral management bodies to adjudicate all appeals properly, fully and in time, to enable corrections of the problems, justice and the timely certification of the final election results.

The Head of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism, Vladimir Voronkov, briefed the Council on his recent travel to Iraq, saying that the military setback of Da'esh clearly demonstrates the long-term resolve of the Iraqi authorities in their fight against terrorism. He noted that the Iraqis he had met with stressed that national reconciliation and reconstruction, owned and driven by the Iraqi people, are essential to prevent the resurgence of violent extremism and terrorism in Iraq.

Michele Coninx, the Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate, also travelled to Iraq and briefed the Council.

This afternoon, Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, will brief the Security Council at its formal meeting on the recent developments there.

Yesterday, Mr. Mladenov said that the firing of rockets from Gaza into southern Israel was unacceptable, and such attacks undermine the serious efforts by the international community to improve the situation in Gaza. He said all parties must exercise restraint, avoid escalation and prevent incidents that jeopardise the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.

With regards to the response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Mission in the country reports it is providing an air bridge, with the deployment of an aircraft transporting personnel between Kinshasa and Mbandaka, and another one conducting cargo and passenger flights from Mbandaka to Ibiko, Itipo and Bikoro. Other aircraft are also doing cargo delivery from Goma and Kinshasa to Mbandaka. So far, the Mission’s aircraft have conducted 23 flights in support of the Ebola response.

The Mission is also helping to operationalize the Emergency Operations Center in Mbandaka and has set up a camp for 20 doctors in Iboko. It has improved Internet connectivity in key locations, enabling partners to share critical data. Meanwhile, the UN’s radio, Radio Okapi, is using its networks to disseminate messages and the latest updated information in local languages.

Still in the DRC, the World Food Programme reports that a Cessna Caravan airplane operated by the WFP-run United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) was involved in an accident today on take-off from a remote airstrip in Kamonia in the Kasai region. The two crew members and three passengers sustained minor injuries, and were taken to a local medical facility. A helicopter belonging to the UN Peacekeeping Mission was mobilized to evacuate them from Kamonia to Kananga, where an UNHAS plane was waiting to transfer them to Kinshasa for further treatment. The cause of the crash is being investigated.

In response to questions about the violence in the Anglophone region of Cameroon in recent days, the Spokesman said that we are aware of the clashes between the Cameroonian armed forces and unidentified armed men in the town of Menka, in the North-West Anglophone region of Cameroon, on 24 May. We express our condolences to the families of the victims. The United Nations country team is in contact with the authorities to clarify the circumstances of the incident.

We call for an end to acts of violence in the Anglophone regions of the country and urge all Cameroonians to work together on an open and inclusive dialogue to address the concerns of the population in those regions. We also call on the Government to use restraint in the use force and follow due process for those arrested.

In this regard, we are aware of the sentencing on 28 May of seven Anglophone activists for up to 15 years by a military court in Yaoundé for rebellion and acts of terrorism.

Yesterday the Security Council met on Ukraine. Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that while the conflict may no longer make major international headlines, it is neither dormant nor frozen. It is very much alive, she said, and requires attention, particularly to alleviate the human cost of the conflict. Ms. DiCarlo stressed that repeated pledges to respect the cease-fire have not stopped the fighting, and she expressed hope that the intensification of diplomatic engagements in recent weeks will generate the necessary political impetus for progress in implementing the Minsk Agreements and improving the prospects for a settlement of the conflict.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, drew the attention of Council Members to the dire humanitarian situation impacting 4.4 million Ukrainians. She said civilians continue to be exposed to daily shelling, small arms fire and mine contamination across the “contact line”. And she called for the protection of civilians and critical infrastructure, and urged all parties to the conflict to respect international human rights and humanitarian law. Ms. Mueller also urged donors to increase their funding to the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan, which is seeking US$187 million but is only 13 per cent funded.

In a statement yesterday, the Secretary-General condemned the attack that killed two police officers and a civilian in Liège, Belgium.

He extends his condolences to the families of the victims, the people and the Government of Belgium and wishes those injured a speedy recovery.

The United Nations stands in solidarity with Belgium in its fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

In another statement yesterday, the Secretary-General welcomed the Political Declaration on Libya adopted in Paris by four major Libyan actors convened under the auspices of the United Nations and hosted by President Emmanuel Macron. The Declaration is a significant and welcome step forward in Libya’s political transition.

The Libyan actors -- Prime Minister Faiez Serraj, Speaker of the House of Representatives Agila Essa Saleh Gwaider, President of the High State Council Khalid al-Meshri and General Khalifa Haftar of the Libyan National Army -- committed to work constructively with the United Nations to realize parliamentary and presidential elections in a secure environment by 10 December 2018 at the latest and to respect the results of the elections. The meeting recognized the importance of developing a constitutional basis for elections and support for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ghassan Salamé, as he consults with Libyan authorities on a proposal and timeline for adopting the constitution.

The four Libyan actors agreed to participate in an inclusive political conference to follow up on the implementation of the Declaration under United Nations auspices.

The United Nations, led by Special Representative Salamé, will continue to implement the United Nations Action Plan, as supported by the Declaration adopted yesterday.

The UN Refugee Agency is urging Hungary to withdraw draft laws that would significantly restrict the ability of NGOs and regular citizens from supporting asylum-seekers and refugees.

If passed, these laws “would deprive people who are forced to flee their homes of critical aid and services, and further inflame tense public discourse and rising xenophobic attitudes,” UNHCR said.

The agency further appealed to Hungary to remain committed to protecting refugees and asylum-seekers.

Uzbekistan has paid its regular budget dues in full for 2018. The Honour Roll now has 101 members.

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