Continuing Regular Session, Non-Governmental Organizations Committee Recommends 42 Entities for Special Consultative Status, Defers Action on 44 Others

Continuing its regular session for 2018, the Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today recommended 42 organizations for special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and deferred action on the status of 44 others. The 19…

Read More

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary General

The following is a near‑verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.**Democratic Republic of the CongoWe have Jean‑Pierre Lacroix, Under‑Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, as…

Read More

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near‑verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.

Good afternoon, thank you for coming.


The Secretary‑General will speak to the Security Council this afternoon about the security challenges in the Mediterranean Sea.  He expects to tell the Council that the Mediterranean region faces serious challenges on multiple fronts, including illicit trade in narcotics, weapons and petroleum products; large movements of refugees and migrants; maritime piracy; and human rights violations.  So far this year, at least 2,800 refugees and migrants have perished in the Mediterranean, while countless others died on their way across the desert.  The Secretary‑General will argue that we need a more effective cooperation in cracking down on smugglers and traffickers, while protecting their victims and opening up meaningful opportunities for regular migration.  And right now, as you know Security Council members are holding consultations concerning the Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) for Syria.


Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that approximately 620,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh since 25 August.  The refugees are mostly living in makeshift settlements without adequate infrastructure or services.  As of today, the Rohingya Refugee Crisis Response Plan has received nearly $140 million, or just under one third of what is actually needed.  Donors have pledged a total of $360 million for the response, and we urge them to disburse these funds as quickly as possible. For its part, the UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] says that, over the past 10 days, it has received reports of some 30 improvised rafts, carrying more than 1,000 people, arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar.

As of today, more than 100 Rohingya refugees are known to have drowned in shipwrecks and boat incidents since the start of the crisis, with recent arrivals telling UNHCR that they had been waiting for more than a month in desperate conditions on Myanmar’ shores.  Also, the Secretary‑General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, wrapped up a visit to Bangladesh.  She said her observations point to a pattern of widespread atrocities, including gang rape and sexual slavery.  Ms. Patten said her office has agreement to develop a framework of cooperation with the Government to strengthen sexual- and gender‑based violence services and programmes.


Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that, as the blockade by the Saudi‑Led Coalition on Yemen’s Sana’a airport and the country’s main ports in Hodeidah and Saleef is now in its twelfth day, millions of Yemenis continue to require urgent humanitarian assistance to stave off starvation and disease.  The warring parties are obligated under international humanitarian law to allow and facilitate safe, rapid, unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief to all people in need, through all sea ports and airports and throughout the country.  To prevent a health catastrophe, medical supplies need to be imported to contain a new outbreak of diphtheria, which is putting at risk approximately 1 million children.  In addition, fuel is necessary to provide water, but reports say the lack of fuel imports has resulted in three cities shutting down their clean water and sewage systems.  In ten days, there will be no petrol supplies left in the northern parts of Yemen.


Turning to Iraq, our humanitarian colleagues there tell us that preliminary findings of a humanitarian assessment mission to Tal Usquf in Iraq’s Ninewa Governorate have recorded 250 houses as either partially or fully damaged following the military realignment in northern Iraq in the middle of last month.  The primary needs in the area were found to include school rehabilitation, medical equipment, and winterization, such as the supply of heating fuel.  Humanitarian workers continue to struggle with effective access to Tal Usquf, due to the closure of key checkpoints in the area.  Meanwhile, some 4,800 people, who had left in the context of the military realignment, have since returned to the area.  Regarding earthquake recovery near the Iran‑Iraq border, the delivery of humanitarian services and assistance continues, as do assessments in the affected areas.  The Darbandikhan water treatment plant has been found to be operational at only 20 per cent capacity following the quake.  Distribution of water purification tablets and water purifiers is planned to ensure people are not exposed to waterborne diseases.

**Climate Change

Today, the Climate Change Conference in Bonn is coming to an end.  Our colleagues there tell us that this evening countries are expected to adopt a series of decisions that will advance the process of implementing the Paris Agreement.  Some of the announcements made today include a Global Alliance by more than 20 countries to phase out coal, the launch of an initiative to promote clean biofuels; the expansion of a G7 initiative to increase insurance coverage for climate‑related disasters; a $59 million commitment by Germany to help developing countries in their adaptation efforts; and a pledge by the EU to make up any shortfall in funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Going forward, countries will discuss progress made through the newly established “Talanoa Dialogue”, a mechanism to facilitate dialogue among the Parties.  More information on the UNFCCC’s [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change] website.


Our colleagues at the UN Regional Office for Central Africa (UNOCA) said yesterday in a statement that they are concerned about the increase in the number of security incidents in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon.  The UN, they say, condemns the use of any form of violence by any party and reiterates its call for calm and restraint.  The UN has continuously stated that the best way to address the situation in the two regions is through a genuine and inclusive dialogue.  The Secretary‑General reiterates the availability of his Special Representative, François Louncény Fall, to assist national efforts in the search for a lasting peaceful solution to the crisis.


Turning to Colombia, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) there tells us they have noted an increase in murders and threats against human rights defenders and community leaders in the Pacific Coast region.  In most cases, the victims are from indigenous and Afro‑Colombian communities.

**El Salvador

Staying in the Southern Hemisphere, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, today wrapped up a visit to El Salvador, the first ever by a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.  He said that, 25 years after the end of the civil war, El Salvador has proven itself to be a functioning democracy that honours freedom of expression and the political discourse there is vibrant.  Moreover, by presiding over the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner said the country has demonstrated its willingness to take a leadership role internationally, along with the responsibilities of being on the Council, which is much appreciated.  The High Commissioner thoroughly condemned the violence perpetrated by gangs and organized crime there.  He took note of the Government’s plan to curb and prevent violence, stressing that it needs to be implemented in a comprehensive way, in accordance with international human rights standards.


The High Commissioner has also released a statement expressing his grave concern over the conduct of credible, free and fair elections in Cambodia next year following the Supreme Court’s decision to dissolve the main opposition party.

**Antimicrobial Resistance

Our friends at the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and the World Health Organization (WHO) today released a survey which reveals that countries have stepped up their efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance on farms and in food systems.  The survey found that more than 6.5 billion people — or more than 90 per cent of the world’s population ‑ now live in a country that already has, or is developing a national action plan to tackle the issue.  Nearly all of these plans cover both human and animal health in line with the recommended “one health”, multi‑sectoral approach.

**Sustainable Development Goals

A couple of things to flag for you over the weekend and Monday: Over the weekend, in Doha, Qatar, there will be a High‑level Conference to jump‑start 2018 discussions on financing for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Hosted by Qatar, with the support from the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the event will address current challenges in advancing [financing for] the SDGs and implementing the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  The results of the Conference will be presented during next year’s high‑level political forum [on sustainable development], which will take place here at UN Headquarters.  More information on Department’s website.

**Children’s Day

On Monday, our colleagues at UNICEF [United Nations Children’s Fund] will host an event here at Headquarters to mark World Children’s Day.  The Secretary‑General will be in attendance along with high‑profile supporters, special guests, and 150 children representing some of the world’s most vulnerable children to speak out to the international community on issues that matter to them.  Some of the participants include:  singers, songwriters and musicians Chloe and Halle, who will debut a specially penned track to mark the day; Isabela Moner from Transformers:  The Last Knight and Nickelodeon; Logan actress Dafne Keen; Jaden Michael, the star of Wonderstruck; and Zari, the star of the local Afghan version of Sesame Street.  There will be a blue carpet photo call from 9 a.m. in the East Foyer which you are all welcome to attend.

**Toilet Day

I also want to flag that Sunday is World Toilet Day.  This year’s theme is wastewater, and it seeks to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.  Today, more than 4.5 billion people live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.  As in previous years, there will be a giant inflatable toilet in front of the UN Secretariat on Monday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  The toilet is installed by UN Water with the support of the Mission of Singapore.

**Press Briefings

Press conferences:  at 9.45 a.m, Monday, you are expected to hear from Danny Danon, the Permanent Representative of Israel.  He will speak to you at the Security Council stakeout.  At 11 a.m. there will be a press briefing right here in this room on the CARICOM [Caribbean Community]‑UN High‑level pledging conference: Building a more Climate‑resilient community.  This is in the aftermath of the terrible hurricanes that struck the Caribbean region.  After I’m done, you will hear from my competitor, Brenden Varma.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Sure.  I was going to start with… with rosewood, but I have to actually ask you about this… this this François [Louncény] Fall statement.  And the reason I’m… I’m asking is that, as you may know and… and… and five experts of Geneva‑based special rapporteurs, including on freedom of expression, defence of human right defenders and others, issued a statement.  I don’t know… I guess I want to ask you about it.  The statement says… is largely focused on abuses by the Government of Anglophones, censorship, turning off social media.  They have a… a… a death figure.  They talk about torture.  And so I’m wondering.  How is it… how is… I know that they’re not part of the UN system.  They do give briefings in this room.  They are appointed by the Human Rights Council.  What’s the relationship between human rights experts saying the Government is killing Anglophones and François Fall saying territory is important and gendarmes have been killed? It seems like they’re two opposing statements.

Spokesman:  A, I don’t think they’re in contradiction of each other, and everybody has a different role within the wide and varied UN system.  The special rapporteurs, as you do note, are independent from the Secretariat and the Secretary‑General, appointed by the Human Rights Council.  They are an extremely important part of the UN’s human rights mechanism and, as a matter of principle, countries should cooperate with these human rights experts.  I’m not privy to their research or how they get their information.  As I said, they’re independent.  We have over the past months, expressed our concern at the violence.  We’ve expressed our concern at the lack of Internet access.  The basic message that Mr. Fall and that the Secretary‑General have reiterated is the fact that the situation in these two regions will best be addressed by an inclusive and genuine political dialogue.

Question:  Just… thanks.  I want to ask one follow-up.  And I asked you before, but I think you’ll see the need to… to actually… to answer it now.  Mr. François Fall, in an interview played on UN Radio, said that secessionists are extremists and that federalism, which used to be the status of this area, is off the table.  Number one, that’s why people don’t see him as a credible mediator, but more importantly, the equation of nonviolent secessionists with extremists is exactly the logic that the Government uses to kill people from… from helicopter gunships, so that’s why I’m asking you.  It seems like some of the problems that the human rights experts are criticizing are, in fact… I don’t want to say caused by Mr. Fall’s statement, but in some way resonant with the logic of… of saying that anyone that says we should be independent is an extremist and should be shot at from a helicopter.

Spokesman:  I don’t agree with your logic, and I don’t think in any way, shape, or form Mr. Fall should be blamed for what is going on in the country.  Yes, sir?

Question:  On the JIM Mechanism… is… is the Secretary‑General disappointed by yesterday’s vote and what’s the expectations from today’s consultations?

Spokesman:  Well, our understanding is that there are consultations going on.  We’ve seen the press reports, as you have, of some sort of a draft resolution calling for a technical rollover.  It’s obviously up for the Security Council to decide on the fate of the JIM, which operates under its mandate.  I think the Secretary‑General has been very clear from the beginning about the importance of the work of the JIM, especially in assigning… excuse me, let me take that again.  The importance of the work of the JIM, especially in terms of accountability and setting accountability for the horrendous use of chemical weapons that we have seen in Syria.  But at this very moment, it’s in the hands of the Security Council.  And the shelf life of the JIM, if unchanged, ends at midnight tonight, if I’m not mistaken.  Stefano?

Question:  Yes, about Libya.  Yesterday, there was the Security Council meeting on Libya, and today, the Italian Foreign Minister, I know, is going to meet also the Secretary‑General.  Just three days ago, the High Commissioner for Human Rights was saying he had… had a very strong critic on the policy of the European Union on… on the agreement that they reached with Libya to hold the migrants, because the situation of those camps, he said that it’s inhumane and the situation is getting worse instead of better.  So there was just a press conference with the Italian Foreign Minister.  I asked the question what is his… what is his reaction to this critic? And he said that… that Italy is doing anything possible.  He’s also helping the UN agency, and then he said… in Italian, he said… “più buona azione e meno lezione.”  Rough translation is, “more good action and less lecture”.  Now, what is the reaction to something like this? I mean, it looks like Italy…

Spokesman:  Listen, I… my knowledge of Italian is good, but I will not delve into the subtleties of commenting on something I haven’t heard.  I think the UN system has expressed its concern at the fate of the people who are stuck in Libya, migrants and refugees.  We have seen horrendous reports come out.  There’s been talk of slavery and of just horrendous conditions, and these things need to be addressed.

Question:  Just a quick follow‑up on that specific question.  What do you think about what, for example, Filippo Grandi had to say we are here, but there are not the security conditions yet to be able to run those… those camps? What does the General Secretary think?  Are the conditions of security…

Spokesman:  We’re not going to second‑guess the High Commissioner for [Refugees] in terms of when he says what the conditions are needed in order for him to deploy more people on the ground.  That’s his call, and it’s up to him to decide.  The Secretary‑General is not going to second-guess him.  Our efforts, through Mr. [Ghassan] Salamé, is on creating a political solution… working with the Libyan parties to move forward on a political solution to create the conditions that will restore peace and stability to the country.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  Sure.  Actually, just one… first, a follow‑up on the JIM thing.  I don’t know if you’ll answer it or not, but I did notice that between the two resolutions yesterday, you were… you went into the Council, which is obviously your right, well within your rights.  I just wanted… I guess I’m interested.  Was it within the capacity of knowing whether it would pass so the Secretary‑General could… could report on it?  Just in what capacity…?

Spokesman:  No, I… the Secretary‑General doesn’t rely on his spokesman to find out what’s going on in the Security Council.

Correspondent:  That’s why I’m asking.  That’s why it was interesting.

Spokesman:  I go in because I have the privilege to be able to go into the room and once in a while, I like to go into the room and soak up the atmosphere and see what’s going on.

Question:  Okay.  Fair enough, fair enough.  Yesterday, I had asked you about… about some questions about this rosewood situation, and I want to say that yesterday, there were 46,000 people petitioning for the Secretary‑General.  Now, there’s 62,000.  But you had said to me, go and read Le Monde, so I did read Le Monde, and… and there’s no mention of Cameroon in it, but, in fact, in the report by the Environmental Investigation Agency, there is… and in other reports, there are talk that some of these logs don’t over come from Nigeria, which would make them outright illegal, signing any certificate for their export.  So, I wanted to… this is the kind of thing I would like to ask Amina Mohammed if she did a press conference, just what did she know about… I’m sure there’s answers.  I’m sure there’s many things that could be said.

Spokesman:  Next time she’s in front of the press, she will be… she has engaged with journalists who have written stories on this and has not been hiding from anything.  Quite to the contrary.  We have said what we’ve had to say.  I think any further questions on how this issue is dealt with should go to the Nigerian Government.

Correspondent:  But just so you know, the petitioners are not writing to the Nigerian Government.  They’re saying that there’s inconsistencies…

Spokesman:  I’ve answered the question about the petitioners.

Question:  This is kind of a related question that you may or may not like, but there’s a lot of interest by… by Greenpeace and other environmental organizations in a… in a… in a move by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to end what’s called an embargo on logging, or an embargo on new, you know, industrial logging concessions.  And so people… I could imagine a UN body or the Secretariat itself, since it relates to climate change, might have a position on this.  Sorry to ask you, but given the 62,000 signatures, would Amina Mohammed, otherwise, you know, responsible for sustainable development on many issues, would she be recused from deciding the Secretariat’s position on logging matters until this logging matter is cleaned up?

Spokesman:  You’re jumping over conclusions that, I think, that have… over facts that have been an Olympic record.

Correspondent:  Read the petition.

Spokesman:  I’m not talking about the petition.  I’m talking about your… the logic within your question.  I think Amina Mohammed has, in her past capacity, in her current capacity, has been a very strong advocate against illegal logging and has shown that through her actions.  Thank you.

Read More

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near‑verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary‑General.


A few announcements:  on Monday, the Secretary‑General will be in Lisbon to participate in the Web Summit 2017, which brings together the leaders of key Internet companies with officials from different Governments.  You are aware of the attention the Secretary‑General has been devoting to the uses of the Internet.

His remarks to the Web Summit will be live‑streamed both on the Summit’s website and on the UN Web TV platform, I expect.

The Secretary‑General will be [back] in the office on Tuesday.


Tomorrow, the Deputy Secretary‑General, Amina Mohammed, and the Secretary‑General’s Special Envoy for Haiti, Josette Sheeran, will depart New York for Port‑au‑Prince, Haiti, to meet with high‑level Government officials and key stakeholders, to visit communities that have been hardest hit by the cholera epidemic, as well as to visit Government flagship development initiatives.

After her visit to Haiti, Ms. Mohammed will travel to Washington, D.C.  While there, she will meet with high‑level Government officials and the senior leadership at the World Bank.  She will also speak at the Foreign Policy 2017 Diplomat of the Year dinner.

The Deputy Secretary‑General will be back in New York on 6 November.


This morning, the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Filippo Grandi, briefed the Security Council, and presented the stark reality the international community now faces, with major new crises causing massive displacement across virtually all regions.

He noted that the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide is now approaching 66 million, up from 42 million in 2009.  This includes 17.2 million refugees under UNHCR’s responsibility, a 70 per cent increase in the last eight years.  He stressed that securing solutions for the millions of uprooted people, and avoiding a repeat of the massive outflows that have taken place over recent years, ultimately rests on political solutions.

Mr. Grandi urged the Council to support measures to address the causes of conflict.  He also spoke of the need to fight human trafficking, and sustain the protection of displaced people while solutions to conflict are pursued.

His remarks are available online, and we expect him to be at the stakeout with Vincenzo Amendola, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy.


Turning to Myanmar, a senior official from the UN Refugee Agency, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker [Peter] Türk, has wrapped up a visit to Myanmar.

In Naypyidaw, he met with Government officials, urging them to allow unrestricted humanitarian access to communities in need, and for the voluntary return of Rohingya refugees in safety and dignity.

Mr. Türk welcomed the Government’s renewed commitment to rapidly implement the recommendations of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, which was chaired by former Secretary‑General Kofi Annan.


Also on Bangladesh — on a related note, rather — our colleagues at OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) say that the rate of Rohingya refugees entering Bangladesh from Myanmar has slowed in recent days, though there are reports that several thousand are believed to be waiting to cross into Bangladesh.

As of this past weekend, 607,000 refugees had arrived in Cox’s Bazar since 25 August — roughly equivalent to the entire urban population of Copenhagen [Denmark] — bringing the total number of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh to well over 800,000 people.

Authorities and aid workers continue to race to prevent a public health crisis due to overcrowding, unclean water and poor sanitation in many camps through measures such as vaccination campaigns and the construction of emergency latrines.


From Syria, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that a joint US‑Syrian Arab Red Crescent‑International Committee of the Red Cross convoy delivered food, nutrition, health, education and other items for more than 92,000 people in Talbiseh (in Homs) and Tlul ElHomor (in Hama).  The last time these two locations were reached with assistance was in August.

We continue to call for safe, unimpeded and sustained access for close to 3 million people in hard to reach and besieged areas, including the facilitation of medical evacuations in line with international humanitarian and international human rights law.


Our colleagues in the UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Human Rights Office, in a report issued today, found that Da’esh [ISIL] perpetrated serious and systematic violations amounting to international crimes during the nine‑month military campaign to liberate Iraq’s Mosul.

The report is based on direct witness testimony, and documents mass civilian abductions, the use of thousands of people as human shields, the intentional shelling of homes and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians trying to leave Mosul.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights said that, during the course of the operation to retake Mosul, civilians were subjected to shocking human rights abuses and clear violations of humanitarian law.

The report calls on the international community, including the Security Council and the Human Rights Council, to take action to ensure that those responsible for international crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are held accountable.


Our colleagues at UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) in Afghanistan today said that 9,500 children die each year from diarrhoea.  This amounts to 26 diarrhoea-related deaths every day across the country.  UNICEF is calling on all districts in the country to adopt a community‑led sanitation approach, and for donors to support the movement to improve and save the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the country.

**Food Prices

Our monthly Food Price Index, for those of you who watch the Food Price Index:  global food prices dipped in October, with the decrease led by dairy products.  That’s according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Price Index.

The Dairy Price Index declined 4.2 per cent during the month, marking its first drop since May.  Vegetable oil, sugar and meat also declined, while cereal edged up a notch, led by higher rice prices.  FAO estimates point to a 1 per cent expansion in world cereal utilization in the coming year, with world cereal stocks on course to set a new record level by the close of the 2018 harvests.


Today is the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes Against Journalists.  In his message for the Day, the Secretary‑General said that when journalists are targeted, societies as a whole also pay the price.  He also reiterated the UN’s commitment to help create the environment journalists need to perform their vital work, and said he’s mobilizing a network of focal points from throughout the UN system to propose specific steps to intensify our efforts to enhance the safety of journalists and media workers.

Over the past 11 years, more than 900 journalists have been killed for doing their jobs.  Only one in ten cases committed against media workers over the past decade has led to a conviction.  To mark the Day, there will be a panel discussion at 1 p.m. in Conference Room 8, organized by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).  You can also follow the Day on social media using the hashtags #EndImpunity and #JournoSafe.

**News App

I wanted to flag that our friends in the Department of Public Information’s (DPI) News and Media Division have recently launched an enhanced version of the UN News mobile application.

The new version of the app is available in the six official languages and includes features like access to the latest UN news, activities and events, as well as videos, photos and other multimedia products. It is of course free of charge and available on Apple and Android devices.

**Press Briefings

Lastly, Jane Connors, the first Victims’ Rights Advocate, who recently travelled with us to the Central African Republic, will be here tomorrow to take your questions and speak to you.

**Questions and Answers

Question:  Is there any update on the UN position regarding Sochi conference?

Spokesman:  No.  Unfortunately, nothing new to share with you.  We’re obviously looking at the framework of the meeting, and as soon as we can give you something a little clearer, we will share that with you.

Question:  Did Mr. [Staffan] de Mistura receive an invitation, at least?

Spokesman:  He’s… I don’t know if he’s formally received an invitation, but I know he and his team are very much aware of the proposal.

Question:  But no decision about attending this conference yet?

Spokesman:  No.

Correspondent:  I see.  Thanks.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  Refugees in Greece went on hunger strike, demanding reunification with their families in Germany.  Do you have anything to say on that?

Spokesman:  I know our colleagues at UNHCR and I think at UNICEF have expressed their concern about the situation of some of the refugees in the detention centre.  I know Greece, like many countries… European countries bordering the Mediterranean, have shown solidarity towards these refugees who have made extremely dangerous crossings, but it’s important that they be treated within their rights and with the respect and dignity they deserve.  Mr. Lee?

Question:  I wanted to ask about Haiti.  I had seen the Secretary‑General’s piece in the Miami Herald, but I’m assuming you’ve seen the Guardian piece which reports that… first, just as a question, is it correct, as the Guardian reports, that… that none of the permanent five members of the Security Council have agreed to the $40 million leave‑behind of funds from the mission to deal with the cholera that the UN brought to Haiti?  And is it true, as the Guardian reports, that the UN Haiti Cholera [Response] Multi‑Partner… Multi‑Partner Trust Fund, which gathered $2 million, quote, “now lies almost emptied”?  What’s… how much is in there?  How much has been raised and how does this square with what he said?

Spokesman:  I think what was clear, and what we’ve said in terms of funding the initiatives, we encourage and we ask Governments to give whatever balances there were towards the appeal, leftover money from the peacekeeping mission.  As far as I understand it, there was no formal agreement to just move over the remnants of what was left in the mission budget to the new appeal.  You know, since… if you look back to 2010, I think the international community has spent almost $680 million on… to combat the spread of cholera in Haiti.  As we’ve announced from here, the Secretary‑General’s new approach is… builds on our recognition to improve our response and obviously, the reflection and the regret, as well as the moral responsibility, on our continued commitment to the elimination of [cholera in] Haiti.  As for the exact number… the exact cash number in the Multi‑Partner Trust Fund, we can get you that figure.  We obviously would like to see it funded at a greater rate.  I think part of the Deputy Secretary‑General’s trip is to obviously… for her to see first‑hand what has been going on and to bring attention to the issue.

Question:  Please, if you can… however you would choose to figure out that number.  But also I mean, since… you’ve… you’ve spoken for both previous Secretary‑General and this one.  What would you say to an analysis that says, in a way, six years of denial of responsibility results in a situation where the Member States now being asked for money don’t feel the urgency they might have felt earlier in the process?  Do you think… do you see any connection between that?  What explains…?

Spokesman:  I think that’s a question to ask Member States.  I think… you know, we’ve recognized I think what went… we’ve recognized that things did not go well, to put it mildly, in Haiti, our need to do better.  We’re sort of asking for a second chance, I think, to prove our worth.  I think the Secretary‑General laid out a pretty detailed plan in terms of a two‑track approach, and our long‑term commitment to the people of Haiti, and to bring some solace to those communities that were the hardest hit, and as, just as important, I think, on the first track to ensure that Haiti has the health system, the sanitation system to ensure that this… that an outbreak like we’ve seen in the past cannot occur again.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Thank you.  I want to ask about the UN response to the bubonic plague and the pneumonic diseases that are spreading in Madagascar, Indian Ocean, Seychelles, and is expected to make landfall somehow in Africa… the east of Africa.  Is the situation under control?

Spokesman:  I’m not able to characterize whether or not the situation is under control or not.  This is an issue that we’ve been talking about for some, some time.  Obviously, I think the spread of such a deadly disease, especially in a country that already has a pretty fragile health system, is of great concern.  The UN team on the ground is mobilized and, if I’m not mistaken, we’ve launched a financial appeal to help stem the flow, but it is something that we’re watching, especially our colleagues at the World Health Organization (WHO) are watching extremely closely.  Yes, sir?

Question:  Sure.  A couple of things.  On Kenya, the… the… I was told last week by… I guess by Farhan [Haq], that Roselyn Akombe is on leave until the end of the year and I had asked whether Ambassador [Macharia] Kamau had somehow démarched the Secretary‑General about [Ms. Akombe’s] role on the IEBC (Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission) and things that she said.  I’m asking you now because I see an interview in the [Daily] Nation of Kenya quoting Roselyn Akombe as, “‘Yes, I’m back at my old job, but I am prevented from talking to the press.  This was contained in the new contract I signed recently,’ she said via phone.”  Maybe they talked to the wrong Roselyn Akombe but… or maybe talking to the wrong spokesman, but did she get her job back?  I mean…

Spokesman:  It’s… that would be… I can’t vouch for the veracity of the quotes, but that’s not the information I have, but I will be happy to look at what the [Daily] Nation says.

Question:  Sure.  And because it’s Journalism Day and I know this is…

Spokesman:  Every day is Journalism Day here.  Every noon is Journalism Day.

Question:  All right.  I had asked you yesterday about Cameroon locking up journalists, but I actually want to ask you something a little closer to home, and if you bear with me, I wanted to ask you because it bears on… if you want to read something out…

Spokesman:  No, no, go ahead.  It’s my lunch menu.

Question:  It’s… one if it’s appropriate and what the 38th floor role is and the thing I’m asking about is a statement made by Cameroon’s Permanent Representative to me at the Security Council stakeout, in a public area, saying, on 38, “Who asked you to be up there?  I’m going to make a call to make sure Matthew is not up there anymore.  You ask nasty questions.”  So my question to you is, if a Member State, in this case a Member State that is subject to questions, nasty or not, were to call the 38th floor and say, I want a particular media to not be up there, why are [they] up there — what would be the response from the 38th floor?  I ask because I’ve gotten an accreditation threat for being up there.  That’s why it’s strange…

Spokesman:  Well, I think you’re mixing… you know, if an event is open to the press, to the wider press, then everybody is welcome.  We are not… journalists here have to do their job.  There are obviously restrictions placed, depending on the event, but I guess the answer would be no.  Thank you.

Read More

News in Brief Tuesday 31 October 2017 (PM)

31 Oct 2017

Listen /

Immunization against Hepatitis B in Argentina. Photo: WHO/PAHO

WHO reports progress in fight against hepatitis

A record three million people were able to obtain treatment for hepatitis C over the past two years.

Furthermore, some 2.8 million people began lifelong treatment for hepatitis B in 2016.

The figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) were released ahead of the start of the World Hepatitis Summit which opens in São Paulo, Brazil, on Wednesday.

WHO said there has also been an increase in the number of countries developing plans to eliminate hepatitis, indicating that this can become a reality.

The hepatitis C virus affects an estimated 71 million people and can cause serious liver disease including cancer and cirrhosis.

Hepatitis B is transmitted through contact with the blood or other body fluids of an infected person, making it an occupational hazard for health workers.

While a vaccine exists for hepatitis B, research into one for hepatitis C is still ongoing.

Condemnation for deadly airstrikes in Libya residential area

The death of civilians due to airstrikes in Libya earlier this week has been condemned by the UN mission in the country, UNSMIL.

At least 12 children and three women were killed in airstrikes on a residential neighbourhood in the city of Derna on Monday night, according to information received by the mission.

Three other adults and four children also were injured.

Stéphane Dujarric is the UN Spokesperson:

“Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that some medical supplies for Derna hospitals have reached the area last week. More items, including food and fuel, are pre-scheduled to enter but permission is still pending. The UN calls for immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access and for the lifting of restrictions on movement, especially for those needing medical treatment.”

UNHCR helping scores of Cameroonians in Nigeria

Thousands of people who have fled from Cameroon to Nigeria are receiving assistance from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Cameroon is a predominantly French-speaking nation and the arrivals have fled following renewed violence in Anglophone areas of the West African country earlier this month.

So far, UNHCR and local authorities in south-eastern Nigeria have registered 2,000 people.

An additional 3,000 are awaiting registration, while others might be trapped in forests, attempting to cross the border.

UNHCR teams on the ground have provided the people with relief items including mattresses, blankets, mosquito nets and cooking utensils, as well as 40 tonnes of food.

The UN agency said it is working with the government and other partners on a contingency plan for as many as 40,000 people crossing into Nigeria.

“Our fear, however, is that 40,000 might actually be a conservative figure in a situation where the conflict might continue,” UNHCR said in a statement.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration:  2’57″

Read More