Top stories from the UN News Centre, during the week of 2 – 6 January 2017, featuring: UN welcomes new Secretary-General António Guterres and water crisis in Syrian capital Damascus.
Includes: The provision of urgent assistance by UN agencies and partners to civilians displaced in Aleppo following the end of the fighting; the adoption by the Security Council of a resolution on a ceasefire across Syria; and the UN’s concerns about the lack of water supply affecting four million inhabitants in Damascus, and UN’s call for donor support for displaced civilians in Aleppo More
The Special Envoy welcomes the announcement of a nationwide ceasefire between the Government of Syria and armed opposition groups in Syria, to come into effect at 00:00 hours on Friday, 30 December 2016. The Special Envoy notes that a comprehensive cessation of hostilities remains a cornerstone of the framework laid down in Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). The Special Envoy hopes that the implementation of the agreement will save civilian lives, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance across Syria, and pave the way for productive talks in Astana.
The Special Envoy is of the view that these developments should contribute to inclusive and productive intra-Syrian negotiations to be convened under UN auspices on 8 February 2017.
Geneva, 29 December 2016
JE: Thanks really for waiting. We just finished a difficult humanitarian taskforce meeting. Why is it difficult, because the member states that are supposed to help us get access to civilians in the crossfire are poles apart in how they regard what is happening in Syria. We are not having a united humanitarian diplomacy on the parties and we see that in a diminishing access on the ground.
The December plan for access cross front line was approved finally by the government of Syria and we had 800,000 of the 930,000 people we asked to get access to, were granted permission for.
Geneva, 6 October 2016
SdeM: I am here with my friend and colleague Jan Egeland, because we have just ended an important, in our opinion, Humanitarian Task Force meeting, so will first elaborate, at length actually, about where we are in the situation and then give the floor to Jan Egeland to summarize where we are on the Humanitarian Task Force progress.
No one can deny that we are in an emergency mode, let’s be frank, regarding Syria, regarding Aleppo, about the future of this conflict. What has happened the other day when the two co-chairs, who have been working hard, I have seen them with my eyes, on possible cessation of hostilities based on the 9th of September, decided, unfortunately and sadly, to suspend their own bilateral discussions on the cessation of hostilities, it was and has been a serious setback. So pretending that that was not the case would be unfair towards the Syrian people, and towards common sense and public opinion. So let me take stock first of all and clarify on consequences on that as to the architecture of international involvement on the attempt to solve the Syrian crisis and in particular establish some type of reduction of violence, humanitarian assess and political process.
The Secretary-General has decided to establish an internal United Nations Board of Inquiry to investigate the incident involving a United Nations – Syrian Arab Red Crescent relief operation to Urum al-Kubra, Syria, on 19 September 2016.
In the evening of 19 September, as 31 trucks delivered lifesaving assistance in Urum al-Kubra, a few kilometres west of Aleppo city, humanitarians came under fire. At least 18 people, including the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent in Urum al-Kubra, were killed. The warehouse where supplies were being unloaded, as well as a nearby medical clinic, were also severely damaged.
The Board of Inquiry will ascertain the facts of the incident and report to the Secretary-General upon the completion of its work. The Secretary-General will review the report and decide what further steps to take.
The Secretary-General urges all parties concerned to cooperate fully with the Board.
New York, 30 September 2016
The Secretary-General is appalled by the chilling military escalation in the city of Aleppo, which is facing the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict.
Since the announcement two days ago by the Syrian Army of an offensive to capture eastern Aleppo, there have been repeated reports of airstrikes involving the use of incendiary weapons and advanced munitions such as bunker buster bombs. The Secretary-General underlines that the apparent systematic use of these types of indiscriminate weapons in densely populated areas may amount to war crimes.
The Secretary-General considers this a dark day for the global commitment to protect civilians. The international community has to unite to send a clear message that it will not tolerate the use of indiscriminate and ever more deadly and powerful weapons against civilians.
New York, 24 September 2016
New York, 21 September 2016
I thank Prime Minister Key for organizing this very important meeting.
The Syrian tragedy shames us all. The collective failure of the international community should haunt every member of this Council.
Well over 300,000 Syrians have been killed, half of the country’s population has been uprooted, and much of its infrastructure lies in ruins.
NEW YORK / GENEVA (19 September 2016) – In many countries, defenders of moral values are being outflanked by race-baiting bigots, who seek to gain power by wielding prejudice and deceit at the expense of the most vulnerable, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told Monday’s UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants in New York.
Full text of speech:
Distinguished presidents, Secretary-General, Excellencies, This should not be a comfortable summit. While the leadership of the Secretary-General, and his fine report, should be acknowledged by all – as well as the admirable efforts by Ireland and Jordan to achieve political consensus – this summit cannot be reduced to speeches and feel-good interviews, a dash of self-congratulation and we move on.
Geneva, 15 September 2016
SdeM: Sorry for changing hours but you can imagine there have been a lot of internal discussions and there has been a lot verification with the field as well. So I will say a few words then as usual give the floor to Jan Egeland and we will be taking some questions.
Let me start by saying that the Russian-American, American-Russian agreement last Friday is and remains, and is indeed, potentially a game-changer, on three areas, three areas, let me remind ourselves about them so we can go through them.
The first one is the reduction of violence – talking about cessation of hostilities perhaps is an ambitious word after a war of five years, but reduction of violence, yes. The reduction of violence, and you will be having further reports we will get after we verify today, is by and large frankly holding, in fact it has been substantial.
Second point, the second dividend of the Russian-American, American-Russian agreement was and remains humanitarian access, that is what makes the difference for the people, apart from seeing no more bombs or mortar shelling taking place. On that one, we have a problem and let me explain where and then will go to more details.