Home » General » Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

This morning, the Secretary-General received the report from the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation. The report was handed to him by the Panel’s co-chairs Ms. Melinda Gates, Co-Chair of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group.

As you may have seen the online conversation they had right after in which they discussed the findings of the report which focuses on issues of human rights, human agency, trust and security in the digital age.

The Secretary-General said “the Digital Cooperation report is the first step on how we can transform the digital era into an era of digital good for everybody.”

He added that he is enthusiastic and optimistic of the enormous potential of the digital era but also about bringing people together to address the risks of technology, and he emphasized the need for digital inclusion, noting that almost half of the world population still has no access to the internet.

This evening, the Deputy Secretary-General will travel to Lisbon, Portugal, to deliver the Annual Pluralism Lecture 2019, taking place tomorrow and hosted by the Global Centre for Pluralism. She will further meet with representatives from government and civil society, as well as faith leaders.

The Deputy Secretary-General will be back in the office on Thursday, 13th June.

The Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, is in Saudi Arabia.

She held productive meetings in Riyadh today with officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, including H.E. Ibrahim Abdulaziz Al-Assaf, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Dr. Abdel Aziz Hamad Aluwaisheg, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Negotiations of the Gulf Cooperation Council. They discussed a wide range of regional issues, including the situation in Yemen. Both expressed their support for the work of the United Nations in Yemen and for the efforts of the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General, Martin Griffiths.

Ms. DiCarlo is expected to meet with the President of Yemen, Abdrabuh Mansour Hadi, later today.

The UN Mission in Mali today said that a deadly attack that took place yesterday evening in the village of Sobanou-Kou in the Mopti region.

According to preliminary information, armed men led an attack that left at least 95 people dead and many others wounded.

The Mission is coordinating its response in support of Malian authorities, and the United Nations system in Mali is mobilizing to provide humanitarian assistance to help people affected.

The Mission also provided air support this morning, in support of the Malian Government, to prevent further attacks.

[In a statement, the Secretary-General expressed his outrage at reports that at least 95 civilians, including women and children, have been killed and many injured following an attack yesterday on Sobanou-Kou village, Mopti region, in central Mali.

He strongly condemns this attack and calls on the Malian authorities to investigate this tragedy and to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Secretary-General expresses his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims, the people and the Government of Mali, and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.

The Secretary-General appeals to all Malian stakeholders to show restraint and to refrain from retaliatory acts. He urges the Government and all actors to engage in intercommunal dialogue to resolve tensions and differences.

On Sudan, our humanitarian colleagues have noted that Sudan’s main opposition group called a nationwide civil disobedience campaign yesterday, with public transport reportedly barely functioning, and most commercial banks, companies and markets closed in the capital Khartoum.

Of the 11 main hospitals in Khartoum, half have been closed or partially closed since 3 June. Two major maternity hospitals in Khartoum, which provide maternal health services to approximately 2.5 million people, have also stopped providing services since 8 June, leaving some 250,000 women at risk of not being provided with maternity services.

The United Nations continues to support hospitals and health centres. The World Health Organization is coordinating with the Ministry of Health and health partners on operational issues, including donations and distributions, ambulances services, verification of incidents, assuring security of hospitals, and providing medical supplies. The World Health Organizations is also supporting with providing meals and transportation to health personnel.

On 7 June, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs set up an emergency operation centre in Khartoum to coordinate information sharing, response, logistics, liaison and planning.

The UN calls for rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need the expediting of medical supplies into the country, and faster visa issuance for international staff.

In Zimbabwe, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ursula Mueller, visited Chimanimani district yesterday to see first-hand the impact of Tropical Cyclone Idai and the wider humanitarian and development challenges facing the country.

Ms. Mueller saw the devastating level of destruction and spoke with displaced people who have lost loved ones, their property, and livelihoods and are currently living in temporary shelter with basic services. She also visited a school which was damaged by the cyclone, as well as a food distribution site. She also met with the President and other senior officials to discuss humanitarian needs.

The UN Mission in Afghanistan has condemned the deliberate targeting of civilians by anti-Government elements throughout the holy month of Ramadan, urging all parties to the conflict to protect civilians from harm.

There were more than 100 civilian casualties in Kabul alone resulting from attacks by anti-government elements using improvised explosive devices.

The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Tadamichi Yamamoto, said that by definition these are war crimes and may amount to crimes against humanity. He added that there is no justification whatsoever for any party to the conflict to attack civilians.

On Syria, our humanitarian colleagues remain alarmed by the continued intense hostilities in the de-escalation zone in the country’s northwest.

Over the weekend, artillery shelling and airstrikes continued in Idleb, Hama and Aleppo governorates.

The heightened violence has led to a higher death toll, with at least 180 people having been killed since April, as well as increasing numbers of people fleeing their homes. Since the beginning of April, up to 300,000 people have been displaced, most moving towards Turkey’s borders. Camps for the displaced are overcrowded, with many people forced to stay in the open in fields or under trees.

The humanitarian response continues, with tens of thousands of people being reached with food, protection, nutrition, shelter, education and clean water.

The United Nations continues to call for safe, sustained and unimpeded access to all in need. Any evacuation of civilians must also be safe, voluntary, and to a place of their choosing. It is imperative that any civilians who flee have the right to return as soon as the situation allows. The United Nations calls on all parties to enable the freedom of movement for affected people.

This morning, the Security Council met on Libya, and members unanimously adopted a resolution extending the arms embargo on the seas off the coast of Libya for a further 12 months.

Members of the Council were then briefed by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Kosovo, Zahir Tanin, who updated members on the current situation in Kosovo, including the events in May which resulted in mistreatment and arrest of two staff members.

João Miguel Ferreira de Serpa Soares, the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and the UN’s Legal Counsel, briefed on the same incident, specifically on the topic of immunity.

And I want to flag two conferences for you.

In Rome, the Food and Agriculture Organization today began its symposium on “The Future of Food”, which brings together academics, policymakers, civil society and businesses to discuss topics such as hunger, obesity and how to transform our food systems.

And in Geneva, the International Labour Organization kicked off its Centenary International Labour Conference where employers, worker representatives and governments will discuss issues such as the transformation of jobs and sexual harassment in the workplace.

I have two personnel appointments for you.

Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Catherine Pollard of Guyana as the next Under-Secretary-General for Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance. She will succeed Jan Beagle of New Zealand to whom the Secretary-General is deeply grateful for her extraordinary work in management reform in the UN system and 40 years of dedicated service to the Organization.

Ms. Pollard brings to the position over three decades of experience in human, financial, information communications technology and support operations and services and has a proven record of transformational leadership in the United Nations system.

In turn, and succeeding Ms. Pollard, the Secretary-General is appointing Movses Abelian of Armenia as the next Under-Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management.

He is currently Assistant Secretary-General for General Assembly and Conference Management.

For further details please see SOURCE below.
Office of the Spokesperson for the UN Secretary-General

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