African Union Summit & other topics - Daily Briefing (7 February 2020)
Noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
- UN Secretary-General at the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
As we mentioned yesterday, the Secretary-General is now on his way to Addis Ababa, where he will take part in the 33rd African Union Summit.
On Sunday, he will speak at the summit's opening ceremony, held this year under the theme "Silencing the Guns, Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development".
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will participate in a meeting organized by the African Union's Peace and Security Council to discuss the situation in Libya and the Sahel.
He will also speak at a high-level forum focusing on Africa's development Agenda 2063, as well as in a number of additional events, including one on gender equality.
Throughout the weekend, the Secretary-General will meet with African leaders.
He is scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow afternoon. We will share transcripts of his remarks there and at other events.
Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Office on Counterterrorism, briefed the Security Council this morning on the threat posed by Da'esh, and said that, even following the death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Da'esh remains at the centre of transnational terrorist activity. He said that Da'esh's regional affiliates continue pursuing a strategy of entrenchment in conflict zones by exploiting local grievances.
He noted the pressing challenge of 100,000 people detained in north-eastern Syria, of whom 70,000 are women and children stranded in the Al Hol camp, for their actual or alleged relationship with Da'esh. Mr. Voronkov said children should be treated primarily as victims and that the best solution is to get children out of harm's way and back to their own countries as soon as possible.
Yesterday, the Security Council heard from the Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, and the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, who both described the rise in violence in north-western Syria and called for a ceasefire there.
Mr. Pedersen said that heavy strikes from both air and ground are causing massive waves of civilian displacement and major loss of civilian life in the area. He said, "We appear to have lost sight of the principle of proportionality." He emphasized that attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including on healthcare and educational facilities, are unacceptable. Mr. Pedersen said that all military operations -- including those against and by terrorist groups designated by the Security Council - must respect the requirements of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and civilian objects.
Mark Lowcock announced the release of $30 million from the UN's Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to immediately scale up critical assistance to thousands of civilians who are trapped in the unfolding humanitarian disaster in north-west Syria. The emergency allocation will help kick-start the UN's Readiness and Response Plan for north-west Syria and will fund a scale-up of shelter assistance and essential relief items, which are urgently needed in the middle of a harsh winter.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) welcomed the verdict of the Bangui Court of Appeal in the trial of 32 individuals tried for violence committed in 2017 in Bangassou and other communities in the country's southeast.
Today, 28 of them were convicted and received sentences ranging from 10 years' imprisonment to forced labor for life.
The 32 individuals on trial, associated to the Anti-Balakas, were accused of committing violent acts, including the murder of several civilians as well as 10 UN peacekeepers. They had also attacked the MINUSCA office in Bangassou, using heavy weapons, and forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
In a statement, the Head of the mission, Mankeur Ndiaye, said that today's verdict demonstrates the will of the Central African State to fight against impunity through its judiciary system. This step, he added, is essential for the country to move forward towards an effective reconciliation.
The Mission reiterated its support to help strengthen the rule of law in the country.
Noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
- UN Secretary-General attending the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia)
- Central African Republic
- Food price index
- Ending Female Genital Mutilation
- Honour roll Noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- African Union Summit
- Honour Roll
African Union Summit
The Secretary-General has headed back to New York, after being in Addis Ababa over the weekend, where he attended the 33rd Assembly of the African Union.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General spoke at the official opening ceremony of the African Union. He told the gathered African leaders that the United Nations' strategic partnership with the African Union is of paramount importance. He said that stronger ties now exist between the UN and the AU, based on shared values, mutual respect and common interests and he expressed his deep conviction that Africa's challenges can only be solved by African leadership.
On Saturday, he attended a breakfast on Gender Equality and Women's empowerment, where he noted that, in Africa, girls' access to education and healthcare continues to increase and that Africa is the only region in the world where more women than men choose to become entrepreneurs. However, he added, progress still falls short of commitments made during the Beijing conference in 1995.
In a press conference on Saturday, the Secretary-General discussed Libya, the Sahel, Coronavirus, and South Sudan. He made a passionate call to the leaders of South Sudan, telling them: You do not have the right to continue a confrontation when your people are suffering so much. It's time for South Sudanese leaders to agree to cooperate and to deserve the wonderful people they have, he said.
The Secretary-General also participated in the meeting of Heads and State and Government of the African Union Peace and Security Council, during which the situations in the Sahel and Libya were discussed. Supporting peace and stability in Libya and the Sahel is a priority for the United Nations and the African Union, he told the members of the Council. He also outlined a framework to ensure a greater cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations efforts in Libya.
And you received over the weekend the many readouts we issued of the Secretary-General's bilateral meetings with African leaders.
Next week, the Secretary-General will be in Pakistan, where he will speak at the International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, which is being organized by the Government of Pakistan and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). He will also hold meetings with high-level Pakistani officials.
The Secretary-General will arrive in Islamabad on Sunday, and he will hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Hussain Qureshi that day and speak at an event on sustainable development and climate change.
On Monday, the Secretary-General will speak at the International Conference, along with High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, and will participate in a high-level panel discussion and other events at that conference. The Secretary-General, the High Commissioner and the Foreign Minister will also speak to the press. The Secretary-General will also meet with the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, on Monday.
The Secretary-General will be in Lahore on Tuesday, where he will meet with students and attend an event on Pakistan's polio vaccination campaign.
He will also travel to Kartarpur to visit a holy site, Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.
The Secretary-General will return to New York on Wednesday the 19th. Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
- Small Arms
- Central African Republic
- Honour Roll
This afternoon at 4 p.m. the Secretary-General will meet with members of civil society and philanthropic organizations who will hand over a call to urge governments and corporations to take bold actions to safeguard the ocean at the next UN Ocean Conference that takes place in Lisbon from 2-6 June.
At 1:15 p.m., there will be a briefing on the Ocean Conference. The speakers will include the Ambassadors of Palau and Denmark, along with Peter Thomson, the Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the Ocean, and Karen Sack, the Managing Director of Ocean Unite.
Izumi Nakamitsu, the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, briefed the Security Council in its open debate today on small arms and light weapons, and she said that the destabilizing accumulation, illicit transfer and misuse of small arms and light weapons continue to initiate, sustain and exacerbate armed conflict and pervasive crime.
On a global scale, she said, small arms were used in nearly 50 per cent of all violent deaths between 2010 and 2015. This translates to more than 200,000 deaths each year. She added that diversion remains a major source of weapons and their ammunition for gangs, criminal organizations and terrorist groups.
Ms. Nakamitsu added that the negative impact of illicit small arms and light weapons flows is cross-cutting and multi-dimensional. Illicit small arms and light weapons have a multitude of implications for security, human rights, sustainable development, gender equality and conflict prevention.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs today said the humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate in the northwest as airstrikes and shelling continue to be reported.
Some 586,000 people have been displaced since 1 December, with over 100,000 others facing an immediate risk of displacement.
Many of those affected are living in particularly appalling humanitarian conditions and most of the displaced are moving north and west away from the conflict in search of safety.
Food, shelter, water and sanitation hygiene, health, education and protection assistance are all urgent priorities as many of the displaced left with nothing more than the clothes on their back.
The humanitarian community has released an emergency response plan to address the needs of up to 800,000 people in the north-west of Syria over a six-month period. The requirement of the plan is about $336 million.
Despite political efforts and commitments, civilians continue to suffer the brunt of the fighting in and around Tripoli.
Yesterday, two more children were killed in shelling on the residential neighbourhood of al-Karamiya al-Sharqiya in Tripoli. The medical team trying to rescue those injured in the attacks were themselves affected by shelling near a local hospital.
This is the third attack to affect health personnel and facilities this year - two health workers have been killed and five others injured in such attacks since the beginning of the year, that's according to the World Health Organization.
Around 749,000 people are estimated to be in areas impacted by clashes in and around Tripoli, including almost 345,000 people in frontline areas.
Humanitarians continue to call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure and to avoid the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
Where access and capacities allow, humanitarian partners continue to provide assistance to the internally displaced, to returnees, migrants, refugees and other vulnerable and conflict-affected groups.
The Libya Humanitarian Needs Overview for 2020 was published last week and estimates that 900,000 people are in need of assistance in Libya. This is over 13 per cent of Libya's population.
In a press conference in Bangui in the capital of the Central African Republic, the Government and the UN Peacekeeping Mission have reaffirmed their commitment to the implementation of the Peace agreement, that was signed on February 6th 2019, exactly a year ago tomorrow.
The Mission highlighted progress achieved in the past year, but also urged armed groups - some of whom are still committing violations and human rights abuses - to honour their commitments under the peace agreement.
The UN reaffirmed its commitment to work with the guarantors - the African Union, the Economic Community of Central African States, the Government and other partners to implement the Agreement and to protect civilian population. Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
- Deputy Secretary-General
- Hosni Mubarak
- Burkina Faso
- Sdg Advocates
- Postal Union
- Honour Roll
The Secretary-General is on his way back from Geneva.
This morning, he called on the international community to face up to the devastating and complex issue of internal displacement as he opened the inaugural meeting of a new High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement.
The Secretary-General said it is unacceptable that millions of people are so brutally dislocated from their home and then linger without solutions for years. Being displaced should not be an interminable problem, he said.
The Secretary-General expressed confidence that the High-Level Panel will bring fresh ideas to prevent forced displacement, better protect and assist displaced people and identify swifter solutions to displacement.
The Secretary-General also met with young people at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, as part of the global conversation on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the United Nations.
The Deputy Secretary-General is in Zimbabwe today. She spoke at the sixth Session of the African Regional Forum for Sustainable Development. She said that 2020 is an opportunity for all of us to chart a different course and to kickstart a Decade of Action to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.
As we begin this exciting decade, she said, it is vital that we recognize the progress being made in Africa on multiple fronts. She said that Africa continues to have some of the world's fastest-growing economies, and growth is projected to remain stable in 2020. And the proportion of people living in poverty in Africa is declining -- from 34.5 per cent in 2015 to 32.5 per cent in 2019.
The Deputy Secretary-General said that in Africa - as elsewhere - we need to accelerate the pace and scale of our collective action.