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REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE

19 July 2016

Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service, chaired the briefing attended by spokespersons for the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the World Health Organization, the International Organization for Migration and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Nigeria

Sarah Crowe, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that an estimated quarter of a million children in Borno State, north east Nigeria, were facing severe malnourishment and risking death, as the scale of the humanitarian crisis caused by the Boko Haram emergency continued to unfold. As more areas in the north east were becoming accessible to humanitarian assistance, the extent of the nutrition crisis affecting children was becoming even more apparent. UNICEF was urging all partners to join the humanitarian response, and donors to urgently provide resources, as not one agency or one country could manage the situation alone. Out of the 244,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Borno in 2016, an estimated 49,000 children – almost 1 in 5 – would die if they were not reached with treatment.

Ms. Crowe then introduced Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. Speaking on the phone from Dakar, Senegal, Mr. Fontaine said that he had just come back from Borno, where he had spent a number of days, particularly looking at the newly-liberated areas, to which UNICEF had renewed access and could provide humanitarian assistance. The areas in question were towards Dikwa, almost straight east from Maiduguri, and Bama, south east of Maiduguri. There were 700,000 internally displaced people in those areas, in addition to some 1.4 million IDPs in Borno State alone. Most of them were staying in IDP camps or sites. A major concern for UNICEF was that there were still more than 2 million people to whom they had no humanitarian access today. UNICEF would need to progressively access them as soon as possible, given the issues of security and logistics. About 244,000 children would be severely malnourished in Borno State alone, and this was a common estimate with the World Food Programme. If they did not receive help, an estimated 20 per cent of them, or 134 children per day, would die of malnutrition-related causes. Malnutrition was not just a result of a lack of food but also a result of access to poor quality water, poor health treatment and other factors.

Mr. Fontaine also said that what he had found striking during the field trip was the level of destruction of villages and towns along the way. Economic activity such as agriculture was almost non-existent in those areas, and that was extremely worrying in the medium to long-term.

UNICEF was seeing a need to urgently scale up assistance, and had started trying to put health professionals as well as people working in the water sector and other sectors, back into activity, in the areas in question. It was important to support them operationally and with supplies, helping create an environment in which they would be able to provide services. UNICEF had already provided treatment for severe acute malnutrition to over 47,000 children in north east Nigeria, as well as access to primary health care services to more than 100,000 people in the newly-accessible areas of Borno. There were small health centres and nutrition clinics, as well as water in some of the IDP camps, in Bama for example. Mr. Fontaine said that it was striking, walking through the settlement in Dikwa where there were 70,000 people on top of each other just a few meters from the main road, to enter a house and see a two-year-old weighing 5.5 kilos. Talking to people there, he had realized that while they knew about the nearby nutrition clinic, there had been too much of a wait there and they had been turned back several times. There was a need to multiply clinics and have three or four new clinics on the ground.

UNICEF was calling on all partners to join the effort. Great work was already being done by the ICRC, WFP was getting up to scale progressively, MSF and some other actors were there, but very few were present in the newly-liberated areas. UNICEF was looking at its capacity to deploy, and reviewing its plans for the moment, as well as the financial ask to donors. The estimate of needs which had been made at the beginning of 2016 for the humanitarian crisis in north-east Nigeria was only 41 per cent funded. UNICEF would now have to increase the level of funding that was needed as with access to newly-liberated areas some very serious situations were being discovered. More staff were being deployed to Borno as UNICEF was committed to a big scale-up in the face of this extremely serious situation. There was a need for resources and for partners to engage.

In response to questions, Mr. Fontaine said that as the army was progressing, there were areas to which humanitarian access could be restored. Those were basically areas reaching out from Maiduguri along the main roads to the east and the north. The people in those areas were regrouped in IDP sites where they were being given protection and some humanitarian assistance, which needed to increase, keeping in mind that the sooner they could go back to their houses in villages and towns, the better. Driving along those roads, from Maiduguri to Dikwa and to Bama, one could not see a single village or house that was still standing. There would be a huge challenge of reconstruction to bring the people back. In the meantime, it was difficult to go outside of the main roads and IDP sites where it was possible to access people. UNICEF was hoping to be able to progressively enter more inside Borno State and access different areas. There were areas which were inaccessible because of the continuing conflict between Boko Haram and the Nigerian army. Bama, Dikwa and other villages and towns were empty at the moment and people were gathered in IDP sites.

Mr. Fontaine also stressed that UNICEF was reviewing its budget for Borno State and some USD 200 million would be needed until the end of 2016 to provide water, cover the needs in terms of severe acute malnutrition, and reestablish some of the primary health care services. The exact figure would be announced in the coming days. Work to be done with children who had been separated from their families by the conflict. UNICEF had already provided services to more than 3,400 of them in the sub-region, and needed to accelerate this work. They were being cared for by other relatives but needed to be identified, registered, traced back to their families and reunited with them if possible. The food was currently being provided by the Government and the ICRC and a few others, and of course more food would be required. WFP was getting on board very strongly. It was possible to deal with malnutrition only if general food distribution was being ensured. Just for Borno State, needs would probably go beyond USD 200 million, before even taking into consideration the spillover in Chad, Niger and Cameroon.

Ms. Vellucci added that the WFP had said that they would need USD 65 million to continue providing assistance until the end of 2016 in the area.

In response to another question, Mr. Fontaine said that the population to which there was no humanitarian access at the moment was about 2.2 million. In the Dikwa IDP camp, some people were from the town of Dikwa itself, so they were a couple of kilometres away from their homes which had been destroyed. There would be a huge challenge in terms of reconstructing basic facilities in the towns, health centres, education facilities, etc. People were still concerned about security, and they were willing to go back to their homes once given the green light by the army. UNICEF did have access to Bama and Dikwa even though in some cases it was necessary to be escorted, but people did not feel that it would be feasible to do back to their villages and towns at the moment. Bama town was about two kilometres away from the Sambisa Forest, which was a Boko Haram stronghold.

Mr. Fontaine also said that malnutrition was killing a lot of children in the region in general, and in Nigeria in particular. In terms of evidence of malnutrition deaths in Borno, there were grave sites near the IDP camps, and during his stay in the area Mr. Fontaine saw a lot of children who were malnourished. Some of them had been transferred to Maiduguri as they required particular care and attention. In the IDP camps UNICEF was providing ready-to-use therapeutic food. The aim was also establish in-patient centres in the areas in question, to be able to treat the children. Cases were becoming more complicated with malaria, diarrhoea and other issues. It was currently the rainy season, which meant an increase in malaria as well as water and sanitation problems.

Syria

Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), informed the press that on 18 July, the second part of an inter-agency convoy with aid had arrived in the besieged neighborhood of Al-Waer, in Homs, delivering humanitarian supplies for 75,000 people. The convoy, with UN, ICRC and Syrian Arab Red Crescent material on board, had delivered food, nutrition, health, education and other non-food items to the people in need. The first part of the convoy had delivered flour, health and other items on 14 July. With this most recent delivery, the total number of people reached in besieged locations in 2016 in Syria had now increased from some 364,000 to 401,650 people. The delivery brought limited, temporary relief for people in inhuman conditions of besiegement. OCHA reiterated its call for unconditional, unimpeded and sustained access to the millions of people in all besieged and hard-to-reach areas in Syria.

In response to questions, Mr. Laerke said that Aleppo was of extreme concern at the moment. There had been in recent days aerial attacks on east Aleppo City, as well as hundreds of mortars and projectiles launched on west Aleppo City over the past week. Numerous civilian deaths and injuries had been reported, and there were also reports that hospitals had been affected by the fighting. The Castello Road, which had been the last remaining entry point into east Aleppo City, had been effectively closed and no humanitarian assistance or other commodities could get in.

Mr. Laerke also said that there were an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people in that area of Aleppo, who were in urgent need of assistance and were trapped there. Food supplies had been prepositioned in east Aleppo City for at least 145,000 people for one month, and there were essential medical supplies for approximately four months. This had been done in anticipation of the recent developments, as part of an ongoing process over the last month or two. He added that besiegement tended to go on for a very long time, which was why the limited stocks did not solve any problems. Sustained and unhindered access was needed. One convoy to Aleppo had been approved in the July plan by the Government for some 60,000 people, before the recent developments. The UN was working to make it happen, one way or another.

In response to another question about the management of food in eastern Aleppo, Mr. Laerke said that the World Food Programme and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent managed the delivery of items but that the distribution was done in collaboration with local communities who had organized themselves.

In response to a final question, Mr. Laerke stressed that there was a distinction between and airdrop and an airbridge, with an airbridge requiring a place to land, which did not exist in Aleppo. Airdrops were a solution of last resort, as they were limited and extremely expensive , with daunting logistics. Still, all options remained on the table for delivery by any modality in Syria, including in Aleppo.

Turkey

Ravina Shamdasani, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that in a press release issued this morning, High Commissioner Zeid had called on Turkish authorities to respond to the attempted coup by reinforcing the protection of human rights and by strengthening democratic institutions and checks and balances.

The High Commissioner deplored the loss of so many lives in Turkey over the weekend, and offered his sincere condolences to the families of those who had been killed. He had said that the Turkish people had bravely taken to the streets to defend their country against those who had sought to undermine its democracy. He urged the Government of Turkey to respond by upholding the rule of law, by strengthening the protection of human rights and by reinforcing democratic institutions. Those responsible for the violence should be brought to justice with full respect for fair trial standards. In the aftermath of such a traumatic experience, it was particularly crucial to ensure that human rights were not squandered in the name of security and in the rush to punish those perceived to be responsible. The High Commissioner expressed deep concern that a large number of judges and prosecutors had been swiftly suspended on Saturday and detention orders had been issued against many. The suspensions had been particularly worrying given concerns about judicial independence in Turkey. The High Commissioner stressed that the independence of the judiciary and of the legal profession was key to the fair administration of justice, and judges should be able to exercise their functions without undue restrictions, pressures, threats or interference. The mass suspension or removal of judges was cause for serious alarm, and reports that many have been subject to detention orders also raised concerns of arbitrary detention.

Given the large number of people who had been detained since Saturday, the High Commissioner stressed the importance of respecting the presumption of innocence, due process, and fair trial guarantees and of allowing independent observers to access places of detention. He also stressed the importance of transparency in the administration of justice, saying that Turkish authorities were obliged to investigate all reports of violence, regardless of the political leanings of the alleged perpetrators.

The High Commissioner also expressed deep regret that high-level officials have suggested that the death penalty may be reinstated. Turkey had abolished the death penalty in 2004, but in fact it had not carried out capital punishment for 32 years – since 1984. Reintroduction of the death penalty would be in breach of Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law – a big step in the wrong direction. The High Commissioner urged the Turkish Government to refrain from turning back the clock on human rights protections.

Ms. Vellucci added that the Secretary-General’s spokesperson had said on 18 July that the constitutional order needed to be fully preserved in Turkey in accordance with the principles of democracy and fundamental rights, including through the full respect of the freedom of speech and assembly, and adherence to due process. He had said, “We are continuing to stress that in the subsequent days, these steps will be critical to help preserve Turkey’s democracy and its future stability.” The UN continued to stand firmly by Turkey and its democracy during those difficult moments.

In response to a question, Ms. Shamdasani said that OHCHR unequivocally condemned the attempted coup and any kind of military interference in breach of democratic principles. OHCHR also deplored the loss of lives, as according to the Government, more than 200 people had been killed and more than 1,000 had been injured. OHCHR paid homage to the Turkish people for bravely standing up to this attempt to undermine democracy. The people responsible for those crimes needed to be brought to justice, but it should be done in line with due process and with fair trial guarantees. OHCHR was calling on the Government to use this opportunity to strengthen democratic principles and human rights, and was concerned that certain steps may be going in the wrong direction. The suggestion to reinstate the death penalty would certainly be a step in the wrong direction, in breach of Turkey’s international human rights obligations.

In response to another question, Ms. Shamdasani said that OHCHR was in touch with the Turkish authorities and had shared the High Commissioner’s views with them. Monitors in places of detention in Turkey needed to be independent observers visiting and ensuring that the conditions of detention were adequate, that the detainees had access to lawyers and to their families. Whether they were UN or non-UN observers, that did not matter as long as they were independent. Regarding the judges, Ms. Shamdasani said that OHCHR had not managed to get confirmation from the authorities on the number of judges removed. OHCHR was concerned that the mass suspension did not allow for an individual assessment of each case, according to international human rights law. Ms. Shamdasani also confirmed that OHCHR had been in touch with the Turkish authorities for a visit of the High Commissioner to the south east of the country. That was before the recent events. OHCHR was awaiting a response from the authorities on whether such a visit could be granted under the required conditions. Those included full and unhindered access to the affected population. So far there had not been a reply from the Turkish authorities.

In response to a final question, Ms. Shamdasani said that OHCHR had heard rhetoric from high-level political officials saying that the death penalty could be reinstated in response to the coup. There had been suggestions that those responsible for the coup could be subjected to the death penalty. That would be completely not in line with international human rights law. It was not possible to retroactively apply the death penalty if it had not been in place when the crime had actually been committed. Also, Turkey was a signatory to the second optional protocol to the International covenant on civil and political rights (ICCPR), and international law did not allow a State which had ratified the Covenant as well as its second optional protocol, to denounce it or to withdraw from it. Turkey withdrawing from this convention and reinstating the death penalty, would therefore be a breach of its obligations under international human rights law.

Bahrain

Ms. Shamdasani said that OHCHR deeply regretted the decision by a Bahraini court on 17 July to dissolve Al Wefaq, the country's largest opposition group, following its initial closure on 14 June. In spite of strong calls from the international community for Bahrain to seek to de-escalate the worrying tensions in the country, OHCHR regretted the decision to press ahead with the ban. Reports suggested that the court hearing on the ban had been carried out without due regard for the principles of fair trial.

The ban on Al Wefaq was the latest in a series of measures over the last few months that appeared to be designed to quash dissent. OHCHR urged the authorities, and the national human rights institutions in place in Bahrain, to take immediate confidence-building measures to ensure the rights to freedom of peaceful expression, assembly and association were respected. OHCHR urged them to review the decision to ban Al Wefaq and other organizations that had been suspended for peaceful exercise of their rights.

Israel

Ms. Shamdasani said that OHCHR was concerned at the passage on 11 July of the so-called NGO Transparency Law by the Israeli Parliament, which could have a detrimental effect on human rights and the democratic space in the country.

While the new law had been described as an effort to increase transparency in the NGO sector, it would disproportionately affect NGOs working on human rights, as confirmed by recent research undertaken by the Israeli Ministry of Justice itself. The law imposed new requirements on NGOs that received more than half of their funding from “foreign political entities”, namely foreign Governments or intergovernmental organizations, obliging them to specify this information in their publications and their communications with civil servants or elected officials. The same was not required of NGOs that were funded by other foreign sources that are not classified as political entities or by private donors.

OHCHR feared that this law, which added to already onerous transparency obligations on NGOs receiving funding from foreign political entities, would contribute to the de-legitimization of human rights NGOs in Israel, notably by branding them as “foreign agents”. Given the recent attacks against civil society organizations in Israel by public officials and some specific groups, OHCHR feared that this law would have a chilling effect on human rights defenders and their legitimate and extremely valuable contribution to the human rights debate in Israel, including those challenging the Israeli Government's policy on the occupied Palestinian territory.

OHCHR noted that many NGOs in Israel, including those not affected by the law, had strongly criticized it, as had the Secretary-General, the European Union and individual donor governments. OHCHR urged the Government to listen to those extremely valid concerns and take them into consideration.

In response to a question about similarities with a Russian law on NGOs, Ms. Shamdasani said that there seemed to be a worrying trend whereby NGOs’ funding sources were being scrutinized much more, in a way that OHCHR considered to be unwarranted. NGOs in Israel were already subject to bureaucratic obligations, and this new law was delegitimizing their action, implying that they were under the control of foreign Governments or inter-governmental organizations.

Venezuela

In response to a question, Ms. Vellucci said that the briefing on Venezuela scheduled last Friday was cancelled because colleagues from the different agencies did not have enough information for a full-fledged briefing.

Ms. Shamdasani said that it was an unfair characterization to say that OHCHR had failed to speak out about human rights in Venezuela. She said that, to the contrary, OHCHR had spoken out about emblematic cases, the growing violence and insecurity, as well as emergency decrees and their impact. She said that the problem was that they had not enough people on the ground and had to rely on second-hand reports. Those reports could be verified, and OHCHR offices in Latin America and in Geneva were continuing to closely monitor the situation, which was of grave concern. Growing insecurity, food scarcity, reports of mob lynchings, and the impact of the emergency decree were extremely worrying. There had been shocking reports on the number of homicides since the beginning of 2016 in Venezuela, but this could not be verified.

In response to another question, Ms. Shamdasani said that OHCHR’s regional representative for South America had repeatedly requested a visa for Venezuela, since 2014, and there had been no reply.

In response to a final question, Ms. Shamdasani said that it was not a normal situation that 65,000 people had crossed the border from Venezuela to Colombia to buy food and that the food scarcity was of grave concern. She said that OHCHR was continuing to monitor the situation and had spoken out on various occasions regarding the independence of the judiciary, targeting of human rights defenders, food protests, the suppression of the freedoms of assembly, of expression and of association. She also said that pressure from States did not stop OHCHR from speaking out.

Fadela Chaib, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that she would check again with PAHO what action they were taking and what information they were receiving from the country. As soon as there would be more information, it was not excluded that WHO would brief the press on the topic.

In response to a question regarding the border between Venezuela and Colombia, Leo Dobbs, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that he had been in touch with the UNHCR regional office in Mexico and they had said that this was not a refugee issue. He would be happy to put the press in contact with the UNHCR regional public information officer.

Itayi Viriri, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that he was in touch with IOM’s mission in Colombia and would try to get direct information for the press.

Pakistan

In response to a question about the killing of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch, Ms. Shamdasani said that “honour killings” were prevalent in many parts of the world. She said that this was clear-cut murder and that OHCHR called on the Pakistani authorities to take more awareness-raising measures, and to bring to justice the perpetrators of those so-called honour killings.

South Sudan

Leo Dobbs, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), informed that the number of people seeking shelter and safety in Uganda from South Sudan had risen significantly in the past few days. UNHCR believed the influx would keep growing in the days ahead as tensions remained high across the border.

A total of 1,326 people had crossed into Uganda between 15 and 16 July, with 1,633 more arriving on 17 July. The majority were South Sudanese, but there were also believed to be some Ugandans. Prior to 15 July, the average daily rate had been 233. Those new arrivals brought the total number to have fled to Uganda since the beginning of the latest violence in South Sudan on July 7, to 5,015. More than 90 per cent of the new arrivals were women and children. UNHCR expected more people to flee to Uganda, especially since the 200-kilometre Juba-Nimule road, linking the South Sudan capital to Uganda, had been cleared of checkpoints. As a result, more people were now coming by truck, and many were also bringing belongings.

The new arrivals were mostly fleeing from Eastern Equatoria state, with a smaller number arriving from Juba. They reported that the security situation remained volatile and fighting could return at any time. The refugees talked of an increase in looting.
People arriving at the border were tired and hungry. Many of them had walked for days carrying belongings. Others were suffering from malnutrition after walking without food for days. Militia activities in some areas of South Sudan had made it difficult to harvest crops in recent months. The situation was being exacerbated by the devaluation of the South Sudanese pound, leading to skyrocketing prices and making the food that is available too expensive for many.

In Uganda, UNHCR was taking people to a settlement in the Adjumani district in the northern region. Others were waiting at collection points to be transferred to this settlement, but its capacity would probably be reached later in the week. UNHCR was working with the Government on other areas where people could be settled. In other neighbouring countries, Ethiopia and Kenya, the number of people crossing were not that great, but this could change.

On 15 July, UNHCR had presented a revised appeal for its South Sudanese refugees operations, seeking USD 701 million. The earlier appeal for USD 638 million had been only 17 per cent funded.

Fadela Chaib, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that in response to the crisis in South Sudan, WHO was working with other partners to provide access to basic health services to the displaced. Displaced people were enduring a situation where inadequate access to water and sanitation services had resulted in poor living, hygiene and sanitation conditions, resulting in threats of outbreaks.

One of those threats was an upsurge of reported cases of acute watery diarrhoea/ suspected cholera. The suspected cases were from Juba and Duk Counties in Central Equatoria and Jonglei States respectively. WHO was concerned and was working with the Government and partners on the ground to try to confirm that it was indeed cholera. For the time being, some samples had been taken and confirmed as cholera by rapid diagnostic tests, but laboratory culture testing was still needed. Whether it be acute watery diarrhoea or cholera, the same treatment and prevention action were needed.

WHO with other partners were currently responding by conducting active case search in the two communities where recent cases resided and had pre-positioned commodities and other supplies including tents, cholera kits providing treatment for 400 people, cholera preparedness and response materials for health workers, laboratory reagents and rapid diagnostic tests. WHO was also expanding disease surveillance and laboratory investigation of suspected cases, providing support for the care and treatment of cases, and strengthening public health education and social mobilization.

South Sudan had several problems before the current crisis happened, with several diseases due to malaria, diarrhoea, including acute watery diarrhoea, pneumonia, and severe and moderate malnutrition.

The risk of further spread of acute watery diarrhoea was a major concern. With the coming rains, it was realistic to expect an increase in malaria and water-borne diseases, so medical needs could be expected to rise in an environment where WHO and partners were already working hard to keep up with existing health needs.

This week WHO was deploying additional staff to South Sudan, including an emergency logistician, an information management expert and Public Health Officers to support the WHO and health partners’ response to the crisis.

In response to questions, Ms. Chaib said that cholera was always a threat in those kinds of situations. From a public health perspective, acute watery diarrhoea and cholera required the same treatment and prevention. On 17 July, the Government of South Sudan had issued a cholera alert, but they had been very cautious as more elaborate lab culture testing was needed. It was up to the Government to declare a cholera outbreak in their country.

Many WHO staff had been relocated to Nairobi, but more than 100 staff members remained in the country, mapping needs, monitoring the situation, providing advice to partners and to the Government. An estimated 1.6 million people affected by the ongoing crisis were in need of help. WHO had delivered lifesaving treatments and supplies including trauma kits, surgical kits, body bags, IV fluids, and iodine solutions. In addition, WHO was also shipping to Juba several kits of essential drugs and medical supplies. The supplies were expected to be in Juba early next week.

In response to other questions, Ms. Chaib said that the situation in South Sudan was deteriorating under the current crisis, despite many gains in the last five years, as the country had been trying to build a health system. WHO would be preparing for a cholera outbreak as it would be preparing for other water-borne diseases including malaria, and assessing needs. Cholera was a diarrhoeal disease leading to dehydration. It could kill within a few hours if not treated, and was especially dangerous in vulnerable persons. If caught early, death could be prevented, which is why social mobilization and providing latrines and water points was very important. Cholera and acute watery diarrhoea had the same rate of deaths.

In response to another question, Ms. Chaib said that if people were gathered in camps it could be a little easier to control the disease if the right measures were taken, such as providing drinking water, sanitation facilities and places where people could cook food. All those measures could prevent the spread of water-borne diseases in the camps. Having a vulnerable population moving from one place to another could also reinforce the risk of spread of water-borne diseases.

Itayi Viriri, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said that IOM was working with partners to start the mapping of the potential cholera hotspots to know where the outbreaks could be. They were working together with Medair to set up oral rehydration stations in Juba. An estimated 6,800 new arrivals were sheltering in the UN base on the outskirts of Juba, which already had over 28,000 IDPs. IOM was working to try and provide more support, especially with regards to clean water, ensuring that there were enough pit latrines and water points to mitigate the impact of the crowding and difficult living conditions.

Geneva Events, Announcements and Press Conferences

Ms. Vellucci informed that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) would be meeting in private from today until 22 July, before holding a final public meeting for the closing of its sixty-fourth session in the afternoon on that day.

Ms. Chaib announced a WHO briefing to sports journalists covering the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, to share basic knowledge on Zika and other complications, today at 3 p.m. via YouTube with William Perea, Health Technical Expert. Questions should be sent to media@who.int. In response to a question, Ms. Chaib said that she would check regarding a new Zika infection in the U.S: and would get back to the press.

She also said that in advance of World Hepatitis Day on 28 July, a press conference would take place on 20 July in Press Room 1 at 10.30 a.m. The speaker would be Dr. Stefan Wiktor, Team Lead, Global Hepatitis Programme, WHO.

Rhéal LeBlanc, Chief, Press and External Relations, United Nations Information Service, said that the first Sustainable Development Goals report would be launched by the UN Secretary-General today at 3 p.m. ET, during the opening of the High-Level Segment of ECOSOC. The event would be webcast live at webtv.un.org. There would be a press briefing on the report on 20 July at 11 a.m. ET at UN Headquarters in New York, which would also be webcast.

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The webcast for this briefing is available here: http://bit.ly/unog190716