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un-building-350-230The United Nations is the one organization with the vision and reach to address the world’s most pressing challenges. When disaster strikes, the world turns to one organization for hope, help, leadership, and coordi­nation: the United Nations. When there is peace to keep between warring factions, the world asks the UN to mobilize peacekeepers, oversee elections, and create stability. In the face of challenges such as climate change, disease or poverty, the United Nations provides the platform for international cooperation.

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UN Updates: October 4, 2016

SG Travels:  This morning in Bern the SG had a working breakfast with the President of the Swiss Confederation, Johann Schneider-Ammann. The SG thanked the President for Switzerland’s support for the work of the UN, including the country’s assistance in hosting a number of peace talks and especially for the Strategic Heritage Plan for the UN’s Geneva headquarters.  They also exchanged views on the issues related to migration and refugees, Syria and Haiti, among other topics. The SG then flew to Strasbourg to speak to the European Parliament as its members approved fast track legislation allowing individual EU member states to deposit their ratification instruments individually to the UN in New York. Afterwards, the SG joined EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Parliament President Martin Schultz and the President of the 21st Conference of Parties and France’s Minister of the Environment, Segolene Royal, at a press briefing. The SG told journalists that he was grateful to the EU for the support and leadership it was displaying for the Paris Agreement.  He said that European Parliamentarians have underscored their commitment to international cooperation, which is at the heart of the EU’s identity. While in Strasbourg, the SGl met with the head of the Council of Europe, Thorbjorn Jagland. And before flying to Brussels, where he arrived just now, the SG was hosted to lunch by the EU Parliament President, Martin Schultz.

Sudan: The Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous, briefed the Security Council this morning on the situation in Darfur. He noted that the security situation remains volatile and the humanitarian impact of the conflict significant. Despite access and reporting restrictions, the UN–African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) remains focused on its objective of protecting civilians and continues to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance, while engaging the parties to immediately cease hostilities. Mr. Ladsous noted that an important step in the peace process had been reached with the signing by all Sudanese parties of the political roadmap proposed by the African Union High-level Implementation Panel. In order to consolidate those gains, he said, the parties should now implement the document and commit to resuming negotiations in order to quickly reach an agreement on a cessation of hostilities and on modalities for humanitarian access to conflict zones.

Mali: In a statement issued yesterday, the SG condemned the series of attacks against the UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and presented his condolences to the family of the fallen peacekeeper and to the Government and people of Chad. He called for swift action to bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice and recalled that attacks against UN peacekeepers constitute war crimes under international law. The UN Mission informed today that following the attacks on its camp in Aguelhok, a second peacekeeper died yesterday evening.

CAR: The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCAcondemned the violence that erupted in the PK5 neighbourhood of Bangui today. The UN Mission appealed for calm. It has sent reinforcements to PK5 and is closely monitoring the situation across town, as well as any movements in the regions. The UN Mission and national security forces are strengthening their coordination to ensure that the situation remains calm. MINUSCA is also in touch with the communities and the Government, to prevent an escalation of the situation.

Palestine: Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, welcomed today’s decision to postpone local Palestinian elections. He said that it is in the national interest of the Palestinian people that when such elections take place, they be organized both in the West Bank and Gaza. Mr. Mladenov urged all Palestinian bodies to work together in good faith to overcome internal divisions and uphold democracy. Local elections, conducted in line with established international standards, must contribute to advancing Palestinian reconciliation based on PLO principles as well as to ending the occupation and establishing a democratic, unified Palestinian state as part of a negotiated two-state solution.

Syria: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said today that the human rights calamity unfolding in the Syrian city of Aleppo demands bold new initiatives, including proposals to limit the use of the veto by the permanent members of the Security Council. He said since 21 September, hundreds of civilians have been killed, including at least 100 children. He said that the attacks over the past ten days have been the most intense the inhabitants of eastern Aleppo have endured since the conflict began, and not a single neighbourhood is now considered safe. The use of weapons such as high-explosive blast bombs and incendiary weapons in heavily populated areas is having a devastating impact on the civilian population and structures. High Commissioner Zeid proposed that the UN Security Council should, without any further delay, adopt criteria to restrain members from using the veto when there are serious concerns that war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide may have been committed. He added that the use of weapons with indiscriminate effects – such as incendiary weapons – in heavily populated areas is of particularly grave concern. He reminded all State parties to Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons that they are strictly prohibited from using incendiary weapons in airstrikes on heavily populated areas, and that the use of such weapons by ground forces is severely restricted.

YEMEN: The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien, concluded his three-day visit to Yemen today, calling for all parties to grant humanitarian access and uphold their responsibilities to protect civilians in a conflict that has displaced three million people, injured and killed thousands of innocent civilians, shattered the civilian infrastructure, and destroyed livelihoods in a country which was already suffering from endemic poverty. In Hudaydah yesterday, he was able to go to Al Honood, where he saw the devastation and terrible losses suffered from the airstrike on September 21. Meanwhile, yesterday afternoon in Taiz, Yemen, at least 10 civilians – including six children – were killed, and 17 others were wounded after an artillery shell struck a busy street next to a market in Bir Basha, Al Mudhaffar district. The shell appeared to have been fired from an area in Al Ta’iziyah district, where the artilleries of Popular Committees affiliated with the Houthis and Army Units loyal to former president Saleh are positioned. The overall casualty figures verified by UN human rights staff in Yemen from March 2015 up until 30 September stand at a total of 10,963 civilian casualties, including 4,014 people killed.

Kashmir: The High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed serious concern about the human rights situation in Kashmir, as well as the rising tensions between India and Pakistan. His Office urges India and Pakistan to engage in a dialogue and to deescalate the situation, adding that the inflammatory remarks on both sides only fuel the tensions. It reiterated its call for unconditional access to all areas of Kashmir to independently and impartially monitor the human rights situation.

Hurricane Matthew: Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti this morning with winds up to 145 mph. The storm is expected to make landfall in Cuba later this afternoon and evening. Although the eye of the storm has passed over Haiti, continued damage from intense rain and wind is expected. At least three people have been killed in incidents related to the storm.  OCHA issued their first brief situation report yesterday. More substantive analysis should be available by tomorrow, as UN disaster teams and local officials are able to complete evaluations and assess the need for assistance.

UNICEF: Children are more than twice as likely as adults to live in extreme poverty, according to a new analysis from the World Bank Group and UNICEF. Ending Extreme Poverty: A Focus on Children finds that in 2013, 19.5 per cent of children in developing countries were living in households that survived on an average of US$1.90 a day or less per person, compared to just 9.2 per cent of adults. Globally, almost 385 million children are living in extreme poverty. UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake stressed that children are the worst off of the worst off – adding that this not only limits their futures, it drags down their societies.

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