HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC, SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES FRIDAY, 31 JANUARY 2020

STEPHANE DUJARRIC

MALAWI

As the country awaits a decision of the Constitutional Court on the outcome of the May 2019 presidential elections, the Secretary-General calls on the Malawian stakeholders to continue upholding the rule of law and promoting peace, unity and stability in the larger interest of the people.

The Secretary-General stresses the need for all political parties to send a message of peace to their supporters.

The UN Country Team and the Resident Coordinator continue to actively work with the Malawian stakeholders to preserve calm.

 

Full Briefing Notes

CORONAVIRUS
The World Health Organization has declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.
It is also important to note that this designation did not include any travel or trade restriction, based on the current information available.
In a tweet published a few minutes ago, WHO’s Director General, Dr. Tedros, reiterated his confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.
WHO is actively involved in the response coordination and working on things such as increasing the clinical management capacity of vulnerable countries and interacting with networks of experts to accelerate access to therapeutics and vaccines.
Elsewhere in the UN system, the International Organization for Migration said today they are ready to offer technical support to governments to enable people to travel in a healthy manner and to help enact public measures with minimum impact on society and the economy.

OMAN
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at a ceremony in the General Assembly to extend his profound condolences to the Royal family, the Government and people of Oman on the passing of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.
The Secretary-General said that Sultan Qaboos led Oman for nearly half a century and transformed it into the remarkable country it is today.
He noted that Oman has consistently played a critical role in ensuring lines of communication among disputing parties. And within his country, the Secretary-General added, His Majesty’s vision for Oman saw levels of education for women and men rise exponentially – with a manifold increase in schools, hospitals and roads. His remarks are available online.

SYRIA
Recent reports indicate airstrikes and shelling continue in southern Idlib and western Aleppo in Syria, with frontlines moving quickly along the M5 highway towards Saraqeb. Across numerous villages, dozens of civilians – including women and children – have reportedly been killed or injured in the fighting. Many medical facilities have suspended activities due to growing insecurity.
Humanitarian organizations on the ground are still trying to organize and support evacuations of people seeking to leave Ariha, Saraqeb and the surrounding areas—many civilians are leaving spontaneously by whatever means available. Meanwhile, the United Nations and humanitarian organizations are urgently looking at all options to scale up the humanitarian response to help displaced families.
In Idlib, an already dire situation is getting worse. Families are traumatized and feel totally abandoned by the world. Their message is simple: “We are afraid. Please help us. Make it stop.”
The UN urges all parties to the conflict to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure and to facilitate humanitarian activities without hindrance. For humanitarian reasons and as a matter of international humanitarian law, human suffering must be minimized.

MALAWI
As the country awaits a decision of the Constitutional Court on the outcome of the May 2019 presidential elections, the Secretary-General calls on the Malawian stakeholders to continue upholding the rule of law and promoting peace, unity and stability in the larger interest of the people.
The Secretary-General stresses the need for all political parties to send a message of peace to their supporters.
The UN Country Team and the Resident Coordinator continue to actively work with the Malawian stakeholders to preserve calm.

COUNCIL
This morning at the Security Council, the mandate of the sanctions regime in the Central African Republic was renewed until the end of July.

LOCUSTS
In the Horn of Africa, the UN is increasingly concerned about the current desert locust outbreak, which is the worst to strike Ethiopia and Somalia for 25 years and the worst infestation that Kenya has experienced in 70 years. Djibouti and Eritrea are also being affected.
In a tweet, the Secretary-General said the outbreak is making the dire food security situation in the region even worse, and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Director-General today appealed for urgent funding to tackle the outbreak, noting that it now threatens to become a humanitarian crisis.
FAO has already mobilized $15.4 million of the $76 million requested for the five countries but expects the needs will rise amid concern that the outbreak will spread to other countries, in particular South Sudan and Uganda.
The agency is also working to monitor the situation in Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen for any developments.

APPOINTMENT
The Secretary-General has appointed Jack Christofides of South Africa as the Deputy Head of Mission for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon otherwise known as UNIFIL.
Jack succeeds Imran Riza of Pakistan, who became the UN Resident Coordinator for the Syrian Arab Republic in September. The Secretary-General is grateful for Mr. Riza’s dedicated service in that post.
Mr. Christofides brings a wealth of experience in diplomacy, international affairs, human rights and peacekeeping. Most recently he served as the Director of the Northern Africa Division of the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations.

PRESS BRIEFINGS NEXT WEEK
On Monday, at 1:30 p.m., there will be a briefing by Ambassador Marc Pecsteen, the Permanent Representative of Belgium to the United Nations and President of the Security Council for the month of February.
The Secretary-General’s press conference is scheduled for Tuesday at 11 a.m.

HONOUR ROLL
Azerbaijan, Georgia and Montenegro have paid their budget dues in full bringing the Honour Roll up to 34.

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