The Committee on Non-Governmental Organizations today suspended its 2019 resumed session pending one final day of work next month when its report to the Economic and Social Council will be finalized for adoption.Delegates approved 20 to 29 Ja…Read More
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the statement of 7 March 2019 by the Chair of its Subcommittee on Human Rights, Antonio Panzeri, on the situation in Cameroon,
– having regard to the declaration of 5 March 2019 by the V…
Traditional knowledge is at the core of indigenous identity, culture, languages, heritage and livelihoods, and its transmission from one generation to the next must be protected, preserved and encouraged, speakers in the Permanent Forum on Indigenous I…Read More
European Parliament resolution on Cameroon
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the statement of 7 March 2019 by the Chair of its Subcommittee on Human Rights, Antonio Panzeri, on the situation in Cameroon…Read More
European Parliament resolution on Cameroon
The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous resolutions on Cameroon,
– having regards to the statement by the EE…Read More
European Parliament resolution on Cameroon
The European Parliament,
– having regard to its previous resolutions on Cameroon,
– having regard to the statement by DROI Chair Antonio …Read More
European Parliament resolution on Cameroon
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the statement by High Representative Mogherini on the deteriorating political and security situation…Read More
European Parliament resolution on the situation in Cameroon
The European Parliament,
– having regard to statements by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / V…Read More
DROI’s main objectives involve ensuring that human rights are at the forefront of European foreign policy and mainstreaming human rights across all policy areas.One highlight of our work is the annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, which is awa…Read More
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.**Landmines
Good afternoon. I’ll start off with a statement on the occasion of the twentieth annive…Read More
The European Parliament,
– having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and other UN human rights treaties and instruments,
– having regard to the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 Septemb…
THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, and in particular Article 77(2)(a) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the European Commission,
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.**China
The Secretary-General was in Beijing over the weekend, where he spoke at the Forum on China-Africa Coop…Read More
Since the beginning of this crisis, the European External Action Service has been following the situation closely, in spite of the continued difficulties to access reliable information. This sensitive matter is being discussed in the framework of the …Read More
The European Parliament,-having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria,-having regard to the Statement by the Spokesman of the Secretary-General of the UN on Nigeria 21 November 2017, -having regard to the previous statements of the Vice-Preside…Read More
The European Parliament,- having regard to its previous resolutions on the situation in Nigeria;- having regard to the previous statements of the Vice President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy …Read More
The European Parliament,-having regard to its previous resolutions on Nigeria, -having regard to the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and te…Read More
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
In a short while, I will be joined by Amin Awad, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Director for the Middle East and North Africa Bureau and Regional Refugee Coordinator for Syria. He will here to brief you on the current refugee situation in Syria and Iraq.
**Responsibility to Protect
Earlier this morning, the Secretary-General spoke at this morning’s [General Assembly] meeting on the responsibility to protect. He said that today’s meeting comes at a time when the need for strengthened efforts to prevent genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity [is] as strong as ever. It is time, he added, to move beyond the conceptual debate towards improved protection of people from atrocity crimes. His remarks are available online.
As Hurricane Irma is moving west over the Caribbean, our humanitarian colleagues are deploying a team to Barbados today to work with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. Additional teams are on standby to travel. Estimates of population exposure to the hurricane could be as high as 37 million people.
In Haiti, the UN Country Team is fully supporting Haitian authorities and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [in] Haiti has also deployed staff to the northern departments of the country, which are likely to be impacted. As for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), as you know, the drawdown of the uniform component has been almost completed, but we still have some military and police capacity on the ground.
Peacekeepers have deployed two units and some engineering capabilities to Gonaives to be ready to open the main roads to the north, north-east and north‑west, and both military and police officers are ready to be deployed in support of the Haitian National Police.
And as we see more frequent and severe hurricane events like Irma, experts are gathering today at the Standing Committee on Finance Forum in Rabat, Morocco, to discuss how finance can be mobilized for infrastructure that can withstand the impact of climate change. The Forum, which is organized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), will bring together experts and practitioners from local and central governments, banks, UN organizations, infrastructure developers, and the financial sector, including the insurance industry. More information on the UNFCCC’s website.
Our colleagues at the World Food Programme (WFP) say they are distributing food to people fleeing from Myanmar’s Rakhine State to Bangladesh. Some 146,000 people have crossed the border to the Cox’s Bazaar district since 25 August. WFP has provided tens of thousands of people with food, including high-nutrient porridge to women and children who are arriving hungry and malnourished. The agency says that it needs $11.3 million to support the influx of people, in addition to those already living in camps.
Our colleagues at the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) tell us that the population of the largest protection-of-civilians camp in Bentiu has fallen from around 120,000 in January to 114,600 this month. The increase in the number of people leaving the UN protection site has been partly driven by the provision of services outside the sites.
The head of the UN Mission, David Shearer, said that humanitarian partners provide a wide range of services inside the Bentiu camp, but have now stepped up outside and are delivering some of the same services to people who are returning home. If people are confident enough to go home, we can help them and make the transition so much easier, he said. UN peacekeepers have also supported the provision of humanitarian assistance and conducted confidence-building patrols in areas to which people are returning. Some 213,000 people live in 7 protection-of-civilians’ sites provided by the UN Mission across the country.
Our humanitarian colleagues say that a cholera outbreak has been reported in Borno State, in north-eastern part of the country. The first case was recorded on 16 August. Over 530 suspected cases have now been registered as of yesterday. That includes, unfortunately, 23 deaths, mainly in Muna Garage, a camp hosting about 20,000 internally displaced persons on the outskirts of the capital, Maiduguri. The Nigerian authorities, along with humanitarian organizations and UN agencies, are responding to the outbreak. And more information on the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ website.
From Sierra Leone, half a million people in that country will now be able to access cholera vaccine within weeks. Vaccines will be received from the global stockpile and will target areas particularly affected by August’s floods and deadly landslide, which resulted in 500 deaths. Hundreds more people were reported missing in the wake of the disaster, while thousands were displaced from their homes. Two rounds of vaccination are planned to run from September and will be delivered in 25 affected communities by the Government of Sierra Leone, supported by the Global Alliance, Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Kingdom Government, as well as other health partners.
A note that our colleague, the Under-Secretary-General for Field Support, Atul Khare, is in Mali to launch a new Supply Chain Management system for all UN field offices operated through Umoja. The new system will help streamline inventory, property and fleet management; enable global inventory visibility; improve financial compliance; and help the UN be more transparent, efficient and nimble.
From Lebanon, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Sigrid Kaag, extended her deep condolences today to the families of the fallen Lebanese soldiers, who were kidnapped in 2014. She said that the servicemen will always serve as a symbol of courage, commitment and dedication to the country. The Special Coordinator commends the Lebanese Armed Forces and the security forces in their continued efforts to safeguard Lebanon’s stability, security and territorial integrity, including from the threat of terror.
UNICEF today says that nearly zero progress has been made over the past decade in reducing the global out-of-school rate. The percentage of 6 to 15 year olds who are out of school has barely decreased to 11.5 per cent — compared to 12.8 per cent in 2007. Pervasive levels of poverty, protracted conflicts and complex humanitarian emergencies have caused this rate to stagnate. Of the 123 million children missing out on school, 40 per cent live in the least developed countries and 20 per cent live in conflict zones. However, UNICEF notes some progress in countries like Ethiopia and Niger, where enrolment rates have increased by 15 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively.
You will have seen that yesterday afternoon, we issued a statement by the Secretary-General welcoming the announcement by the Government of Colombia and the National Liberation Army (ELN) of a temporary bilateral cease-fire from 1 October 2017 to 12 January 2018.
And we also issued a statement on Mali in which the Secretary-General condemned the attack carried out against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), which resulted in the death of two peacekeepers and seriously injured two others. Khalas. Yes, sir?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Stéphane, on Myanmar, does the UN have workers, staff, within the country? And out of these $13.3 million needed, is there a call for these funds to be found? What is the Secretary-General doing to get these necessary funds?
Spokesman: I think the… you will have seen that yesterday, the Secretary-General spoke at length of his concern for the situation in Myanmar, particularly in Rakhine State. We do have humanitarian workers in Rakhine State, but as we flagged here a number of occasions, the security situation in the area makes it challenging for us to work there freely and without risk. There is a UN component on the Bangladeshi side of the border, as we just said with the World Food Programme. The Secretary-General is continuing his diplomatic contacts regarding the situation in Myanmar. Yes, Carole? It’s been a while.
Question: On Myanmar, following the letter to the Security Council, what does the Secretary-General expect the Security Council to do now? I mean, at least a meeting? And Aung San Suu Kyi said in a statement that there was a lot of misinformation about what’s going on in Rakhine State. I’m wondering if you feel you’re getting a lot of misinformation?
Spokesman: I think we are… I can only speak for the Secretary-General. He is getting information on the humanitarian situation inside the country and in Bangladesh, which he feels is reliable. I think his statement yesterday was fairly clear and to the point as to his concern and his suggestion on the way forward. As for the Security Council, I think the fact he wrote an official letter to the Security Council underlines how seriously he takes the situation. We’ll have to see what the Council does. Ali and then…
Question: Thank you, Steph. The US ambassador, Nikki Haley, has been fiercely criticizing UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] and its commanders, including yesterday in an article… column in The Jerusalem Post. So, I wonder why the Secretary-General has taken a soft position on this criticism from the US ambassador.
Spokesman: I beg to differ on your interpretation. The Secretary-General, I think, in his last statement was very clear in expressing his confidence in the leadership of the mission. Abdelhamid? I’ll come back to you.
Question: Thank you, Stéphane. Going back to Myanmar, is the Secretary-General aware of the severity of the atrocities committed against the Muslims? Did he see the videos, burning people alive? And the second question: What did he mean by either they could grant them citizenship or at least legal status? Isn’t that some kind of discrimination? They are citizens. They were born there. They have no other…
Spokesman: I think, first of all, I think if you read what the Secretary-General said yesterday, you will realize that he’s fully aware of the severity of the situation. I think the point the Secretary-General is making is to give… he calls on nationality or at least some other legal status so that people can have access to basic services, as something that needs to be done with some rapidity, so people have access to health services, education services, basic social services. Yes, sir? And then Mr. Lee.
Question: Please allow me two questions on the Cyprus issue; is that okay?
Spokesman: I always enjoy getting questions on the Cyprus issue.
Correspondent: Thanks. Two weeks ago…
Spokesman: I do. I don’t have much to say, but I enjoy the questions. Sorry, go ahead.
Correspondent: Hopefully, you do have something to say, because it’s a very important problem. I hope so.
Spokesman: No, I do. I don’t mean to make light of it. Go ahead.
Question: Okay. Two weeks ago, Farhan [Haq] said: “We’re in a period of reflection and a period of cooling off. After that, we certainly hope and expect the parties would come back ready to talk to each other.” This is what he said. The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. [Nikos] Anastasiades, indicated several times that he’s ready to talk once Mr. [António] Guterres’s framework is accepted by all parties. On the other hand, Turkey continuously issues legal notices, violating the Cyprus’s exclusive economic zone, and also restricts the Greek Cypriots to visit some of their churches in the occupied area. Under the circumstances, which prevent their reunification of Cyprus, how could the General Secretary develop any potential? Are the United Nations still classifying the Cyprus problem as a problem of Turkish integration and incubation and not just a problem between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots? Do you want me to go to the second one?
Spokesman: I think that’s quite a lot there to digest. I think… the Secretary-General’s position remains unchanged. I think he was very clear at the end of the talks in Crans-Montana that he is waiting. It’s a period of reflection, and it’s now up to the parties to come back to him, and then decisions will be made on the next step and the way forward. I’m not going to get into the details of things that may be happening now on the ground. What is important for the Secretary-General is that a solution be found to the so-called Cyprus problem, and as he said, he… we continue to be in a period of reflection. And let’s see what happens. But, his good offices remain available. And your second question?
Correspondent: Okay. Four Cypriot members of the European Parliament sent a letter to our colleagues, wondering about Mr. [Espen Barth] Eide’s role in Crans-Montana.
Spokesman: Mister whose role?
Question: Mr. Eide.
Spokesman: Yeah, yeah.
Question: Okay. More particularly, they said the following question: “Would you accept the invader to keep troops on your land and to guarantee your citizenship and rules of law as Mr. Eide was pushing Cyprus to do?” We know that the letter was copied to the Secretary-General. How does the General Secretary respond to this?
Spokesman: I don’t know if the Secretary-General has received the letter. I think he was very thankful and supportive of the role that Mr. Eide played. His role was as the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to help with the discussions. They were not being led by the UN. They were being facilitated by the UN. As to what may have been said or not been said within the talks, we have no… I have no comment on that. But, Mr. Eide’s role was to be the Special Envoy.
Question: Do you see any potential, Stéphane? That’s the question.
Question: For the Cyprus issue. Do… does the General Secretary… the Secretary-General and the United Nations, can they see any potential?
Spokesman: Well, as we said, we’re… the process, as participated in… with by the Secretary-General in Switzerland, did not end in a way that we would have all have liked, which was to find a solution. We’re now in a period of reflection, and we’ll wait to see what the parties decide. Is that a viewfinder? Is that a laser tag? Is that a…?
Correspondent: Whatever it takes to get answers, but it’s to improve your audio quality. Thank you, welcome back and it seems to me that of 21 questions submitted to you in writing, you answered three. So, I’m going to ask two now.
Spokesman: That’s a pretty good average for me. Go ahead.
Question: Okay, well, let’s start. So, in Togo, when you left, there had been the shooting of protesters by the Government and you or Farhan said that Mr. [Mohamed ibn] Chambas was going. So, can you now… now that there’s a protest there today, and… and quite a bit of crackdown, slowing down and turning off of the Internet, can you say if Mr. Chambas has gone and what the UN has done?
Spokesman: Right. I’ll get… I don’t have an update on his travels.
Question: Okay. On Cameroon, I had asked you in writing yesterday, the school… the school year opened and the Government used live bullets and, in fact, one student has been very publicly killed. Some other civilians were shot. So, I wanted to know. I saw the statement that was put out on the release of some of the political prisoners. What is the UN’s… what does it think of this seemingly ongoing standoff and…?
Spokesman: We’re aware of those reports and we’re looking into them.
Correspondent: And I wanted to ask you, I’ve… there’s a… what seems… a self-described UNHCR community protection officer on Facebook has… from Cameroon has called the protesters terrorists, and has said that there should be an even more harsher crackdown on them. So, many people are up in arms about that.
Spokesman: I don’t… I’ll look into it. I’m not aware. Pam?
Question: Thanks, Stéphane. The Secretary-General yesterday said at the stakeout that, “I have signaled to the parties on DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] my availability to support any serious efforts.” Can you be more specific of what those signals were? And has there been any response? Is there an effort by the Secretary-General to mediate, as Switzerland proposed, some kind of talks?
Spokesman: I think what the Secretary-General was saying is that he has told the parties, he’s signaled to them, that he is available. His good offices are available. He… there’s no proactive effort to mediate. He’s available. As… as with any time with his good offices, they have to be… all the parties involved have to, you know, agree for him to participate so that it’s constructive. So, that’s where we stand. There have been contacts… there have been various contacts. We saw the public comments made by the Russian Foreign Minister earlier today on welcoming the Secretary-General’s statement, and let’s see where things go.
Question: But, Ambassador [Vasilly] Nebenzia yesterday said he welcomed even the Swiss; whoever can do it, he said, it would be good. Is there any… any response from anyone? And is there a reason the Secretary-General wouldn’t be more proactive in trying to get these talks going?
Spokesman: I think he is being proactive in signaling his availability.
Question: And any response?
Spokesman: Not that we can emerge with at this point. Carole?
Question: Stéphane, I wanted to ask about this event on UN reform during UNGA [United Nations General Assembly] week. How is this political declaration on supporting the SG’s efforts at reform going to help him in reforms? And the Secretary-General is, we understand, supposed to address this event. Can you… can you tell us more about it?
Spokesman: My understanding is that the Secretary-General will address this event, which has been sponsored by the United States. I think it’s very important for the Secretary-General to participate and hear from all the Member States who are interested in reform and this is part of that ongoing conversation. Yes, sir?
Question: Stéphane, back to Myanmar. Aung San Suu Kyi has been criticized by the international community for not speaking up in the wake of these crimes that are taking place in Rakhine State and against the Rohingya. What does the Secretary-General think of her? Has he spoken to her at all during this last couple of…?
Spokesman: I think I would refer you to what the Secretary-General said yesterday on the issue, but yes, he’s been both in phone and in correspondence with her. And then we’ll go to our guest. Go ahead, Matthew.
Question: Well, I guess on UN reform, I wanted to ask you. In the continued release of exhibits by the prosecution in the Ng Lap Seng/John Ashe case, photos have emerged of current UN security officers that accompanied John Ashe not just to the Macau conference, but to another trip that he made prior to that, one in which he charged $60,000 to unveil the UN flag. And I wanted to know: What is the responsibility of UN security officers? I know that some are assigned as close protection. But, what is, internally to the UN at a minimum, what is their responsibility to report if they engage… if they observe and witness corruption in front of their face?
Spokesman: Well, their main task is to protect the people. Obviously, I can’t speak to the specific event, because I don’t know what was seen and what wasn’t seen, but obviously, we all have the same duties as staff members.
Question: But, if somebody commits, I mean… Is there a written rule…?
Spokesman: I’m just saying… I think every staff member has the same responsibility. Amin. Let’s… we’ll go to our guest now. Thank you.Read More
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
In a statement issued earlier this morning, the Secretary-General said that he remains deeply alarmed at the depths of human suffering being endured across Syria. Daily life is dangerous and desperate for millions of people. Civilians continue to be killed, injured and displaced at a terrifying rate. He is also alarmed that places of refuge, such as hospitals and schools continue to be targeted.
The Secretary-General is particularly concerned about the perilous situation for civilians in Raqqa who are trapped and face threats from every direction. The situation is also grim for those civilians stuck in other besieged and hard-to-reach areas, some of whom have been deprived of food and basic medical assistance for years on end.
The United Nations and humanitarian partners are doing all they can to stem the suffering in Raqqa and across Syria, often at great personal risk.
The Secretary-General made an urgent appeal to all those conducting military operations in Syria to do everything in their power to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure, as fighting continues in Raqqa and elsewhere. It is also critical for all parties to facilitate improved humanitarian access to allow aid to reach those in urgent need of life-saving assistance without delay.
I have two appointments to announce today.
Today, the Secretary-General is announcing the appointment of Vladimir Ivanovich Voronkov of the Russian Federation as Under-Secretary-General of the newly created UN Counter-Terrorism Office.
The Secretary-General appreciates the hard work of Member States and the many partners who share his commitment to this agenda. The Under-Secretary-General will provide strategic leadership to UN counter-terrorism efforts, participate in the decision-making process of the UN and ensure that the cross-cutting origins and impact of terrorism are reflected in the work of the Organization.
Mr. Voronkov brings to the position more than 30 years of experience within the foreign service, working primarily on the United Nations, as well as responsibilities ranging from public diplomacy and social and economic development issues to intergovernmental affairs.
He is currently Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the International Organizations in Vienna.
And the Secretary-General is also appointing Ana Maria Menéndez of Spain as the next Senior Adviser on Policy. She will succeed Kyung-wha Kang of the Republic of Korea, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for her commitment and dedicated service to the Organization.
Ms. Menéndez has more than 30 years of experience in diplomatic service involving bilateral, regional and global issues, and currently serves as Spain’s Ambassador to the UN Office and other international organizations in Geneva.
Biographical notes on both individuals are available in our office.
UN agencies said today that famine has eased in South Sudan after a significant scale up in the humanitarian response. However, they warned that the situation remains dire across the country as the number of people struggling to find enough food each day has grown to 6 million — up from 4.9 million in February — and is the highest level of food insecurity ever experienced in South Sudan.
The accepted technical definition of famine no longer applies in former Unity State’s Leer and Mayandit counties, where famine was declared in February. However, 45,000 people in former Unity and Jonglei states are still experiencing catastrophic conditions and face the prospect of starvation if humanitarian assistance is not sustained. Meanwhile, the number of people facing emergency levels of hunger — one step below famine — is 1.7 million, up from 1 million in February. FAO’s (Food and Agriculture Organization) Director of Emergencies, Dominique Burgeon, warned that the crisis is not over. “We are merely keeping people alive but far too many face extreme hunger on the edge of a cliff”, he said.
And the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, will brief the Security Council this afternoon on the situation in South Sudan.
**Central African Republic
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that clashes took place yesterday in Bria, in Haute-Kotto prefecture, between members of the anti-Balaka and the FPRC (Front Populaire pour la Renaissance de la Centrafrique). UN peacekeepers intervened and exchanged fire with the armed individuals. They secured key locations in town, including an internally displaced persons’ camp and a local hospital. Peacekeepers also continue to maintain a robust presence and conduct patrols in key locations to deter further clashes.
The UN Mission condemns the violence and calls for an immediate cessation of violence in accordance with the agreement signed in Rome on Monday.
This morning, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, briefed the Security Council.
He said that the months since his last briefing have been unusually tense in the country, and that the deteriorating security situation has brought underlying political tensions to the surface.
He noted that there have been indications since last summer that Afghanistan’s broad political consensus was fraying, and in recent months, a growing number of political factions have begun to criticize and demand reforms to the Government.
While the existence of opposition is natural in any political scene, Mr. Yamamoto noted that the amount of mistrust is growing and there is an increasing resort to uncompromising slogans and statements that can fuel further violent protest. He stressed that efforts at inclusiveness and building consensus for political stability are critical to address these issues. We expect Mr. Yamamoto to come to the stakeout shortly.
The UN system in Colombia condemns the continuing detention of its official, held since 3 May, and demands a proof of life, as well as direct contact with those responsible for holding him.
In accordance with human rights principles and national and international law, the UN will continue to demand the immediate and unconditional release of its colleague, as well as full respect for his personal integrity.
The detained colleague has been working with dedication as a member of the UN System to serve the populations most in need. Our priority continues to be his well-being and that of his family, as well as his safe and immediate release.
Our humanitarian colleagues released today the Global Humanitarian Overview 2017 Status Report, showing that a record number of people — 141 million people across 37 countries — are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Since the UN and partners launched the 2017 humanitarian appeal and coordinated response plans in December, international donors have generously provided $6.2 billion in funding.
However, requirements have since climbed to $23.5 billion — leaving the global appeal funded 26 per cent halfway through the year.
New disasters and deteriorating protracted emergencies are driving up the numbers, including the rapid escalation of violence in the Kasai provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, drought in Kenya, tropical cyclones in Madagascar and Mozambique, and flooding in Peru.
This is in addition to some 20 million people who are at risk of famine across north-eastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.
On Nigeria, the High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, said today that he is extremely worried that large numbers of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon are returning to north-east Nigeria into a situation which is dangerously unprepared to receive them.
Three weeks ago, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had warned about the dire situation in the Nigerian border town of Banki, which was already hosting 45,000 people and thousands more were returning.
In the town, shelter is lacking; there is severe overcrowding; water supplies and sanitation facilities are wholly inadequate; and humanitarian aid is in short supply.
Mr. Grandi said that it is his firm view that returns are not sustainable at this time.
His agency has stepped up its efforts in a camp in Cameroon to ensure that refugees are given adequate information on the conditions in Banki before they make the choice to return. You can read more about this on UNHCR’s website.
In Brussels, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for International Migration, Louise Arbour, today spoke before the High-Level Conference on Migration Management at the European Parliament.
She emphasized that a crisis of migration governance at the national, regional and global levels is currently unfolding before our eyes, and stressed the need for all stakeholders to work together to increase legal pathways to regular migration and promote the successful integration of migrants, including through addressing their vulnerabilities, as well as the needs of the communities that host them. Her remarks are available online.
Today is the International Day of Yoga. The theme for this year is “Yoga for Health” and it seeks to highlight the fact that yoga can contribute to achieving an equilibrium between mind and body.
To mark the Day, you may have seen yesterday evening that there was a yoga demonstration in the North Lawn, and this morning there was a talk in the [Economic and Social Council] chamber on the Day’s theme.
Our Honour Roll is welcoming a new member today as Tonga became the 109th Member State to pay its budget dues in full.
In a short while, I will be joined by Jean-Paul Laborde, Assistant Secretary-General and Executive Director of the Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED). He will brief you on threats stemming from terrorism.
Then tomorrow at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press briefing by Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica, President of the UN Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading towards Their Total Elimination.
And then at 1 p.m., there will be a briefing by Jean-Luc Lemahieu, Director of Policy Analysis and Public Affairs of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
**Questions and Answers
And that is it for me. Are there any questions? Yes?
Question: Sure. I just… first, on… on appointments, yesterday afternoon, the President of the Security Council, Bolivia, said they’ve returned a letter to the Secretariat about Ghassan Salamé. Did… did you announce that or…
Deputy Spokesman: I don’t have an announcement to make just yet. We’re aware that some of you have seen the letter. I do expect that we’ll have an announcement to make, although it’s not ready right now.
Question: And is there… on the Western Sahara envoy, I wanted to ask about that again. That seems like that was… that letter went even, you know, earlier. Is there… can you give some idea what the hang-up is?
Deputy Spokesman: Sometimes what we do is we negotiate to make sure that not just that Member States are happy, which is one step of the process, but also that the candidates themselves are willing to accept the job. And sometimes we have discussions with them. Once everything is in place, we’ll make the announcements.
Question: And just… I mean, and maybe you’ll answer this or not, but I’d heard actually that… that Mr. [Horst] Köhler… that one of the issues is both the size of the staff that he would require and whether he would be based in Germany. Is it fair… is it fair to ask… would he as… as the Personal Envoy of the Secretary‑General of the Western Sahara be expected to be based in Germany? And would he get to select his own team from people that he’s known historically as a diplomat or would they be UN DPA (Department of Political Affairs) personnel?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, I wouldn’t have that level of detail about the nature of the appointment. Like I said, what we try to do is make sure that they have offices that are functional and in place as part of the process before bringing them on board. Stefano?
Question: Thank you, Farhan. Yesterday, during the press conference on the Refugee’s Day, Secretary‑General… seems the Secretary‑General, during the speech, he was talking also how much… he was criticizing develop… developed countries not doing much for the refugee, and also he touched the issue of refugee that stays in countries, they are not prepared to… to respect their rights, to take care of them. And so, I wasn’t able to do that question when… on the microphone, but then I reached to him, and I asked him a specific question. I say, so, do you think the agreement for example that is going on between Italy and Libya on keeping migrants during the case, you know, you can recognize very well when there are migrants or refugee in groups of migrants. And I ask him the specific question, do you think that Libya is, in this case, disagreement; it doesn’t respect international law because Libya is not able to take care of them? And he… he answered yes; in the case of Libya, you cannot have agreement with Libya in this moment because they will not be able to take care of the refugees. Well, that’s what I reported because it was clear with me. And then Stéphane [Dujarric] sent me an email what he… qualified to say that the Secretary‑General was speaking in general terms about the… the… what should be respected about the general situation, but he was not referring in it to Italy in particular. Now, my question is, he was speaking to me specifically about Libya, the situation in Libya. And he say, about Libya, you cannot have a situation where you keep refugee there in Libya; you stop them there because Libya is not able to take care of them. Is this confirmed? Does the… the Secretary‑General think that any agreement that will let refugees from any country to not be able to… to move out from Libya is something that doesn’t respect international law?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, first of all, I wasn’t privy to this conversation, which happened after the press briefing had ended. So I don’t have that on recording. Stéphane was there, and he did tell me about it. His impression was, as he told you, that the Secretary‑General was talking more generally about international norms. And that is something that he also said in the briefing. So I don’t believe, from what I know from Stéphane, that this was more specific to the question of this particular agreement of… for which he does not know the details. [inaudible]
Question: And I agree with that… I… I… I… I take note of that. It was not specifically referring to the agreement with Italy. And now my question is changed, and it’s, it first has to do with Libya, the country, does the Secretary‑General think that any situation, any agreement in this… today, that the rest of the [inaudible] that Libya should hold and take care of, I would say including migrants, migrants and refugees will be in a situation where will put the life of these people in danger and so it doesn’t respect international law?
Deputy Spokesman: I… again, I don’t have anything particular to say about Libya. He did make clear in his opening remarks and his responses to questions yesterday that nations have to take care to make sure that refugees and migrants’ lives are not endangered, and that needs to be a priority. So that is where international law and international norms need to be respected. Yes? Oh, sorry. Actually, you first, and then you, because your hand’s been up.
Question: Thank you. Dov Levy from the Jewish Press. My question touches on terrorism in Israel. On 4 June, the Secretary‑General strongly condemned the horrific attack by three operatives in London, in the London attack. And on 8 June, he strongly condemned the attack in Tehran and the Parliament. Was there any reason in particular that the… that the SG did not condemn the double terrorist attack this past Friday that left a young woman… young policewoman dead and wounded four others, including two Arab pedestrians?
Deputy Spokesman: Not to correct you, but [on Monday], Stéphane read out a statement from the Special Coordinator, Nikolay Mladenov, that did, in fact, condemn these attacks, and he mentioned that we share that condemnation. So that is where we stand. Yes?
Question: Sure. I also wanted to… this was something that the Secretary‑General said on the record and… and… he said… I asked him about the chol… the seeming change in the cholera in Haiti plan. And he said that that policy was announced by my predecessor and had two dimensions; one is fighting cholera, and the other is the possibility to support communities impacted. It was devised not as individual support. And just, since then, I went back and actually looked at the November A/71/620 document, and there’s a whole section on individual support. It was called track 2B. So I just wanted to… I mean, I… rather than…
Deputy Spokesman: And I was here at the time. And I remember the discussions that the former Secretary‑General, Ban Ki‑moon, had about this. And, at that point, it was not determined whether it would be individual or community-based. Even at that point, I believe the discussion was towards community-based. So that’s something that’s… a process that’s been crafted.
Question: But I guess… what I was… I wish I’d had that document in front of me when he answer… when he said that, just because there are many people that are in Haiti that have seen the new announcement made by Amina Mohammed as a retrenchment, as a taking back of that before even consulting people. I don’t know if you’ve seen the international… you know, various… Mario Joseph and others have put out a press release; they’re protesting on Thursday. So I wanted to just get your quote before that protest. What is it… are they wrong that… that at one time the idea of individual reparations to people harmed by the… by cholera was in a UN document as being considered and it’s now not being considered at all?
Deputy Spokesman: I wouldn’t say that it’s not being considered at all. And I wouldn’t say that initially it was something that was devised as the primary idea. This is something that’s been under consideration. It remains under consideration, but the primary focus, for reasons that were described at the end of last year and again at the start of this year, have been community-based. And if you look at what Ban Ki‑moon said in December, again, it mentions the community‑based approach. Yes, Sylviane?
Question: Thank you, Farhan. I have a question on the tribunal for Lebanon. The president of the tribunal for Lebanon met with Secretary‑General here in New York. Do you have any readout on it? Do you have any update on the tribunal?
Deputy Spokesman: No. I believe the tribunal themselves are putting out… or have put out a press release about that meeting, so I would refer you to that. Beyond that, the Secretary‑General, as you know, meets with the key officials of the various courts and tribunals of the UN system. And this was one such meeting, and, of course, he’s been very clear about his support for the work of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. Yes?
Question: You don’t have readout at all…? [inaudible]
Deputy Spokesman: That’s the extent of it, really.
Question: Okay. Thank you.
Deputy Spokesman: Yes, please. Abdelhamid?
Question: Thank… I have three brief questions.
Deputy Spokesman: Why don’t you have one, and then we’ll go to a colleague, and then we can go back to you. Yes?
Question: Sorry. Some of them you can answer yes or no. Ghassan Salamé had been confirmed by the Security Council as a Special Envoy to Libya?
Deputy Spokesman: I believe the Security Council has been in dialogue with the Secretary‑General about this. I don’t have a formal announcement to make just yet. Hopefully, fairly soon, we’ll have something.
Question: Another victim of hate crime, Nabra Hassanen, a 17‑year‑old Muslim, was murdered in Virginia going out of the mosque around 3… 3:30 in the morning on early Sunday. Are you aware of this hate crime? There was no statement of this or of the attack on the mosque in London. Are you… do you follow these hate crimes against Muslims?
Deputy Spokesman: Yes, we do. And, in both cases, we’ve been concerned about the possibility of hate crimes directed against people on the basis of religion. Obviously, these particular attacks need to be fully and thoroughly investigated. And, of course, any hate crimes would need to be fully prosecuted.
Question: The last question…
Deputy Spokesman: Okay. Let me go to someone else and then to you. Yes, Olga?
Question: Thanks, Farhan. On this counter… counter‑terrorism offices… I’m sorry. Since there is a new head, a new appointment, do you know when this office after all the transitional period when it will start working?
Deputy Spokesman: Well, it was only approved earlier this month, so it will take some time to get off the ground. Our guest, Mr. Laborde, will be here to talk about counter‑terrorism efforts and can probably provide some more details on that. Stefano?
Question: Yes, as a follow‑up, Secretary‑General yesterday also explain again the difference between the migrants and refugee. We know all well. But the question is, in a situation, let’s say, like a country like Libya, thousand people arrives, what is in place, does the UN has anything, any system, to… can you explain how it works, actually?
Deputy Spokesman: Yes, there’s a screening process, and there are questions asked and ways to determine who constitutes a refugee, who has a right, in other words, to asylum, who… you know, who is a migrant. That screening process is basically one that is in the hands of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR. [inaudible]
Question: And it’s in place in this mom… in Libya is functioning at the moment?
Deputy Spokesman: What?
Question: In Libya at the moment you think is functioning well, and can you assure that there are not refugees stopped in Libya… arriving in Libya and stop and put it together… along with migrants?
Deputy Spokesman: I would refer you to UNHCR for the in‑depth details about Libya’s situation. Obviously, they’ve made clear their own concerns about the situation in Libya, and that’s clear on their own website. Sylviane?
Question: On Ghassan Salamé appointment in Libya, can you be more specific? Is he in New York? That will be… for this appointment, that will be the second Lebanese to head the mission in… UN Mission in Libya. Do you have any comment or something to say about it? [inaudible]
Deputy Spokesman: Not at this stage, no. As with your colleagues, I have to say that, for right now, I don’t have an official announcement to make. Hopefully, soon, we will have something. Yes?
Question: The Palestine Observer Mission requested from the UN to put a banner at the doors of the UN, which says 50 years of occupation, end occupation now, or something like that, along this language. And the banner is not there. Can you verify that, please?
Deputy Spokesman: I’m not aware of any of the arrangements outside the building. I’ll have to check. Yes?
Question: Sure. One other thing on announcements. It seemed from yesterday’s press conference that the only thing that was lacking to announce the repatriation of the Republic of Congo peacekeepers from [Central African Republic] for sexual abuse was communicating to the mission. Has that communication taken place?
Deputy Spokesman: I believe we’re in the process of that. At some point, when there’s a further development, I expect we’ll have a note to share with you.
Question: And, also, I wanted to ask you about the… this indictment yesterday. I tried to ask at the DESA [Department of Economic and Social Affairs] press conference earlier today, and they said it was one for the Noon Briefing. I’m sure you’ve seen the indictment of Mr. [Hamidu] Rashid of DESA for… for not paying a domestic worker. And I wanted to ask you, the indictment itself, not press coverage, but the actual… well, the… the press release put out by the US Attorney talks about Rashid created a sham bank account purportedly belonging to witness one, in which Rashid deposited what would have amounted to the unlawful… the lawful wage. He then provided bank statements to the UN as proof that Rashid was paying witness one as required. Does the UN… I wanted to sort of understand this better. Does the UN require all of its officials to provide proof of payment of domestic workers, or was this a unique thing applied to Mr. Rashid? What does this section mean?
Deputy Spokesman: I wouldn’t have any comment on an ongoing case, obviously. This is something that will play out in the courts. I would point out, regarding Mr. Rashid and, indeed, staff, that staff wouldn’t enjoy immunity with respect to any private matter. In this regard, all UN personnel are expected to honour their private legal obligations, including with respect to engaging foreign domestic workers.
Question: My question, I guess… and I understand you won’t get into the… whether he’s guilty or not guilty, but just, is there since… since the US Attorney seems to believe that he was providing the UN with proof of payment, is this something that… that other officials are required to do, or was it uniquely imposed on him?
Deputy Spokesman: Again, I wouldn’t comment on the details of an ongoing case.
Question: I want to ask you one more thing about the Rif region of Morocco. I’d asked Stéphane a few times. It seemed like a comment might be coming down. Since then, at least two… two media, one editor of Rif24 has been put under solitary confinement; another one has been sued with criminal defamation charges. Press freedom groups like Ifex have been speaking about it. There have been other arrests. Is it something that… was it just… did it almost give rise to a DPA [Department of Political Affairs] comment? Is DPA, in fact, looking at this… this… this situation which it doesn’t seem to be abating?
Deputy Spokesman: We’re looking at the matter. If we have any further comment, I will let you know. And with that, unless there’s anything further, let me get to our guest. Thanks.Read More