REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE
25 June 2013
Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing which was also attended by Spokespersons for the World Food Programme and the International Organization for Migration.
Elisabeth Byrs for the World Food Programme (WFP) said WFP monitoring visits had taken place in seven governorates during the April cycle: Damascus, Rural Damascus, Homs, Lattakia, Tartous, Al-Hasakeh and Aleppo. As part of this process Aleppo City was monitored for the first time since December 2012, and was one of 27 different locations within these governorates.
Through April-cycle distributions, WFP provided food assistance to almost 2.2 million people at 200 locations in all 14 governorates of Syria. It was discovered that the main coping strategy adopted by 82 per cent of interviewed beneficiaries was switching to lower quality foods, adversely affecting dietary diversity. Interviewed families also noted using the same basic commodity for every meal in order to spend less.
Other negative coping strategies such as begging for assistance were also on the rise, increasing from five per cent in March to nine per cent of all interviewed beneficiaries in April. Those who cited begging as a coping strategy noted that it had become their only option to cope with the deterioration in their living conditions.
It was noted that 42 per cent of families interviewed needed assistance in paying rent. WFP field monitors were also told that it was common to see two or more families in Rural Damascus, Damascus and Tartous renting one flat in order to share rental expenses. In Rural Damascus, some household visits revealed that up to 25 individuals lived in a single two-room apartment. It was also observed that families unable to cover rent costs occupied uncompleted buildings, abandoned stores, old bus stations, factories or warehouses.
In all visited locations in Damascus, Rural Damascus and Aleppo, children of displaced families were not attending school. In Tartous, some interviewed families noted that children participated in occasional work in order to assist their families.
The WFP was in the process of increasing its transport of food for prepositioning into Syria as it was foreseen that organizations which assisted with transportation were to limit their activities during Ramadan. In June/July, the WFP hoped to reach 2.5 million people, in May that figure was 2.4 million.
Answering questions, she said close to 1,000 ready to eat rations were pre-positioned in Aleppo City and 537,810 persons had been reached in Aleppo Governorate as of 23 June. On another point, she said the study offered an insight into how people were living and how to help improve their living conditions. Sadly, conditions on the ground limited the amount of help that could be offered, and the highly useful information the study brought forward was a good framework for moving forward.
Ms. Momal-Vanian said that Mr. Lakhdar Brahimi, Joint Special Representative for Syria was to speak to the press ahead of tripartite discussions being held today. This was thought to happen at around 12:45 at Door IV. It was not foreseen that he would briefing again after the meeting.
Jumbe Omari Jumbe for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said a baseline study on trafficking in persons in Tunisia, showed that young Tunisians were vulnerable to transnational trafficking.
Traffickers frequently used false promises of well-paid jobs abroad as bait. They then exploited their victims on arrival at their destination. The report stressed the increasing use of the Internet and social networks as a recruitment method. The report also showed that irregular migrants, unaccompanied minors, refugees, asylum seekers, and rejected asylum seekers were also at high risk of being trafficked into forced labour or domestic exploitation in Tunisia.
During the Libyan crisis of 2011, Tunisia faced a massive influx of migrants fleeing Libya in search of protection. They included victims of human trafficking and IOM worked with UNHCR and local NGO partners to identify and assist them. The report also highlighted domestic human trafficking, which mainly affected children who were forced to beg in major cities or were subjected to domestic servitude as housemaids.
Answering questions, he said the persons trafficked came from a variety of nationalities, though were mainly of sub-Saharan African origin. However, poor Tunisians from the south were also being trafficked to other parts of the country. This was the first report of its kind and provided a baseline for future work. The next steps were to ask the country to indigenize anti-trafficking laws and then implement them.
Elisabeth Byrs for the World Food Programme (WFP) said the Cost of Hunger in Africa study showed that the Ethiopian economy suffered an estimated loss of 16.5 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) each year associated with undernutrition.
The study also showed that 24 per cent of cases of infant mortality were related to undernutrition, and 379,000 children died as a result between 2004 and 2009. In the wake of this new evidence, Ethiopia had launched a two and half year National Nutrition Program (NNP), which was estimated to cost $547 million.
Answering questions she said the figures were important as they looked at the historic cost of the problem for Ethiopia, and considered climate change, refugee influxes, food prices and other issues. In coordination with the Government, WFP was now working to offer programmes to six million people, covering not just food distribution but also tackling work, food security, and programmes for children, all as part of a massive effort to tackle the issue of malnutrition and those that stem from it.
Jumbe Omari Jumbe for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said a worldwide survey of Peruvian migrants reported that 80 per cent of Peruvians living outside their country of birth had regular migratory status in their current country of residence.
The survey of 12,274 migrants also established that 49.3 per cent of respondents had permanent residence; 16.4 per cent had acquired citizenship; 11.1 per cent had a work visa; 2.1 per cent had a student visa; and 1.6 per cent had an unexpired tourist visa. The rest of those interviewed for the survey, or 19.5 per cent, said they were in an irregular migratory situation.
Thirty-two per cent of Peruvians interviewed for the survey live in the United States; 16.3 per cent in Spain, and 13.3 per cent in Argentina. The number of Peruvians living abroad was estimated at 2.4 million, almost 10 per cent of the total population.
United Nations reform
Ms. Momal-Vanian answered a question saying there was an intergovernmental working group of the General Assembly which met regularly to look at reform of the Security Council. There were a number of countries that were very engaged in this process, and the Security-General had spoken on the topic many times. There was a consensus that the Security Council needed to change, particularly in terms of enlargement, though there was no agreement on how this should be done.
Ms. Momal-Vanian said the Conference on Disarmament met this morning (26 Jun) for a public plenary session, the first of the presidency of Iraq. The meetings was to hear interventions from Mr. Hoshyar Zebari, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq,
Ms. Anita Friedt, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear and Strategic Policy, and Ms. Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs of the United States of America and Ambassador Hellmut Hoffmann of Germany.
Tomorrow, (26 June) at 13:00, the United Nations Economic Commission on Europe and the United Nations Population Fund would hold a joint press conference in Press Room 1 to present the main issues to be discussed at the regional conference “Enabling Choices: Population Priorities for the 21st Century” (1-2 July, Palais des Nations). All material under embargo until 1 July, 9:00 a.m. CET.
Finally, the normal press conferences would follow the latest round of the Geneva International Discussions between Russia and Georgia which finished tomorrow. These normally happened around 5:30 and saw first the Co-Chairs take the podium, then possibly representatives of the countries involved in successive press conferences.
Also in the room but not briefing were representatives of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the International Telecommunications Union, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Children’s Fund, International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization.
The webcast for this briefing was available here: http://goo.gl/8vSbD