NOON BRIEFINGS 18 APRIL 2023 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. **Noon Briefing Guests Good afternoon. We are delighted to be joined today by two very esteemed guest. We are joined by the Co-chairs of the High-Level Board on Effective Multilateralism: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whom you know, former President of Liberia, and Stefan Löfven, the former Prime Minister of Sweden. So welcome to both of you. Madame President, we will give you the floor first. [Press briefing by the Co-chairs of the High-Level Board on Effective Multilateralism.] **Sudan Why don’t we start off in Sudan. We have obviously been in touch with our colleagues in Khartoum almost constantly throughout the morning. As of now, the fighting in Sudan, including in Khartoum and in various other locations, is continuing, no sign of real abatement of the fighting. We renew our call on the parties to protect civilians and refrain from attacks on schools and medical facilities. All the parties need to respect international law, including the obligation to ensure the safety and security of all United Nations and associated personnel, their premises and assets and all humanitarian workers. Our representative on the ground, Volker Perthes, remains in Khartoum. He is continuing to engage with General [Abdel Fattah] al-Burhan and General [Mohamed] Hamdan Dagalo, and other key Member States on the ground in efforts to secure an immediate de-escalation and cessation of the fighting. Going beyond the initial calls for a daily pause in fighting from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. local time to be fully upheld, there are also ongoing discussions on an extended ceasefire to ensure that civilians, including UN staff, who are currently under threat can receive assistance, access essential supplies, and evacuate to safer zones where needed. On the ground, also, just more on the humanitarian operations, those operations continue to be severely hampered as security situation worsens, particularly, obviously where the intense fighting is going on. There is limited ability to move personnel and supplies. The targeting and looting of humanitarian premises must stop. Obviously, any attack on humanitarian personnel, whether United Nations or others, looting of premises, has an extremely and immediate detrimental impact on our ability to help people. We want to resume life-saving operations as soon as possible. The World Food Programme (WFP), as you know, announced that it is temporarily suspending operations across Sudan, following the killing of its three staff members, who were caught in the crossfire in North Darfur. And we’ve also seen reports of attacks on key public facilities — including health, water, sanitation and hygiene. All of that is not only against international law, but, also, obviously, has an immediate impact on the people of Sudan. Nine hospitals in Khartoum and two in Bahri, which is Khartoum north, are closed due to shelling and insecurity. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that several of Khartoum’s hospitals have run out of blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids and other vital medical supplies. As you may have seen, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, in a statement yesterday, called the situation a devastating setback for the country, where a staggering 15.8 million men, women and children are already in dire need of humanitarian assistance. **Libya Back here, the Special Representative for Libya, Abdoulaye Bathily, briefed the Security Council via video link. He said he has engaged key Libyan political leaders through shuttle diplomacy to seek common ground and encourage them to make compromises that will clear the path to elections. He told the Council that his interlocutors have all expressed their readiness to discuss the parameters of the organization of elections, adding that the meetings between military units and security formations from the east, west and south represent a breakthrough. These meetings were of great symbolic value on the path to reconciling and unifying the country. He pointed out the need to complete the electoral law so elections can be held this year. Besides finalizing the constitutional and legal framework for elections, he added, a level playing field is needed that does not give undue advantage to particular candidates and that engenders trust in elections among all sides. **Democratic Republic of the Congo Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, our humanitarian colleagues in the country are telling us that the security situation in Ituri Province remains extremely concerning due to ongoing attacks against civilians. The attacks have left communities in dire need of assistance and protection. On 14 April, just a few days ago, more than 55 civilians were reportedly killed, and others injured, when armed assailants attacked villages in Djugu Territory — that’s according to what local authorities are telling us. This was just one of several attacks that have targeted communities in Ituri. Since early April, armed groups have reportedly killed at least 150 civilians in Djugu, Irumu and Mambasa Territories. We and our partners are committed to supporting the people impacted by this violence. Since 12 April, WFP has sought to provide food and cash to nearly 239,000 people in these areas, that also includes internally displaced people. We are also providing shelter, water and sanitation facilities, as well as health-care and education services. However, the delivery of this assistance may be delayed in areas that were impacted by recent attacks. Months of violence and insecurity in Ituri have already forced 1.6 million people to flee their homes. The authorities must strengthen protection measures for civilians in affected areas and urge armed groups to respect human rights and international law. **Afghanistan Turning to Afghanistan. You will have seen the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today issued the Socioeconomic Outlook for Afghanistan. The study finds that despite some improvements in economic indicators last year, growth remains below the levels required to break the poverty trap. It warns that restrictions on women’s rights could lead to a significant reduction in international assistance with grave consequences for all Afghans. UNDP simulations suggest that if aid were to hypothetically drop by 30 per cent, gross domestic product (GDP) could contract by 0.4 per cent in 2023 and per capita income could decline to $306 next year. That is a 40 per cent drop from $512 per capita income just back in 2020. UNDP warns that measures restricting women’s and girls’ right to a full education and to work will worsen the economic catastrophe and it calls for their reversal. **Democratic People’s Republic of Korea You will have seen that yesterday, Khaled Khiari, the Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, briefed Council members on non-proliferation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. That text was shared with you. **Republic of Korea Just south of that, in the Republic of Korea, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, just concluded her visit to the North-East Asia. She had meetings in Seoul, where she discussed collaboration with senior Korean officials and the role of multilateral diplomacy for fostering regional stability, including the latest developments on the Peninsula. **West Africa Food Insecurity So, I should have included these two Africa-related notes. Turning to West and Central Africa. Our colleagues from WFP, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have released a new study showing that by June of this year, food insecurity in the region is on track to reach a 10-year high. They say there is a worrying expansion of food insecurity into coastal countries and, for the first time in the Sahel, 45,000 people are forecast to experience catastrophic levels of hunger — one step away from famine — including 42,000 in Burkina Faso and the remainder in Mali. More online.
**United Republic of Tanzania
And in Tanzania, our team, led by the Resident Coordinator Zlatan Milisic, has been working with the Government to respond to the Marburg virus outbreak, which was declared last month. Our team has deployed health experts, mobilized funds and supplied medical equipment. WHO and UNICEF have also provided about two metric tons of personal protective wear for health-care workers. Additionally, with support from WHO, the Government established a mobile lab in the Kagera region to detect and respond to potential outbreaks.
I want to read something on behalf of our colleagues at the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), because there has been a lot of — how to say — malicious misreporting on a recent report on the age of legal consent. And I can tell you that the report released by the International Commission of Jurists in March has recently been misrepresented on a number of websites. It did not call for the decriminalization of sex with children, nor did it call for the abolition of the age of consent. The International Commission of Jurists report set out legal principles to guide the application of the international human rights law to criminal law across a range of issues. In the application of law, it is recognized that criminal sanctions are not appropriate against adolescents of similar ages for consensual non-exploitative sexual activity. So, too, it is recognized that adolescents should not be prevented from accessing health services, which protect them. The UN is resolute in fighting the sexual exploitation of children, upholds that sexual exploitation and abuse of children is a crime, and supports countries to protect children.
Tomorrow, the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) lead demographer, Rachel Snow, will be talking about the State of the World Population report from UNFPA.
Lastly, financial contribution. If one were to take a vacation in this generous country, you could technically ski and surf within the same day. You could ski at Valle Nevado, El Colorado, and then drive directly west to the coast. Depending on where you’d like to go skiing and surfing, the drive, it’s about a three-hour drive. This country’s surf capital is Pichilemu. And let’s not forget, since you can’t guess that the island in Polynesia that has been part of this country since September 1888. It has about 900 giant stone figures that date back many centuries. It’s about 2,000 miles from the homeland. Chile. Easter Island is what we are talking about. We thank our friends in Santiago, and on Easter Island and everywhere else. Okay, sorry. James?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Yeah. Can I ask more on Sudan? As you know, there have been a number of reports of robberies and attacks. For example, the EU [European Union] Ambassador was attacked. Can you tell us what’s incidence, what you’re aware of on the ground in terms of incidents, interference, harassment?