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REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE INFORMATION SERVICE

6 November 2018

Michele Zaccheo, Chief of the Radio and Television Section, United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the briefing, which was attended by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and by spokespersons for the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration and the World Trade Organization.

Children and Armed Conflict in South Sudan and Yemen

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said that she was currently in Geneva for Peace Week where she was participating in a number of events regarding the protection of children in situations of armed conflict.

The mandate of which she was the present holder had existed for 22 years. It authorized her to monitor and report on six grave violations – recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, abductions and denial of humanitarian access – of which five were attributable and one was not. Under that mandate, she was currently monitoring 20 situations around the world. She published an annual report, which included an annex with a list of violations attributed to the parties who had committed them. In addition, she reported every three months to the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and annually to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council.

In July 2018, under Security Council resolution 2427, the mandate had been extended to include the prevention of violations against children in situations of armed conflict and the links between prevention and the Sustainable Development Goals. The extended mandate also envisaged ways to improve the reintegration of children who had escaped or been released from armed groups.

Responding to questions from journalists about the situation in South Sudan, Ms. Gamba said that the level of violations against children there had been immense. They had been committed by all sides and were of all kinds. The government-backed SPLA had been listed for five out of the six grave violations and was responsible for about 80 per cent of recorded incidents. Nonetheless, prospects for the release of child soldiers in South Sudan were currently very good. Nine hundred had been released since January thanks to a peace agreement between warring parties and the Government.

The Government of South Sudan had issued the Child Registration Act and had agreed to engage in a joint action plan covering all six grave violations. That would allow the United Nations to access the areas where the children were located to screen them and assess their numbers. In addition, the United Nations was pushing for the Government to end impunity and to bring perpetrators to justice. The number of children involved was very large, although the exact figure was not clear.

Many of the children had suffered multiple violations and had been forced to commit acts that had effectively severed their links with their families and communities. Thus, they were in dire need of reintegration but their prospective numbers were so high that UNICEF and its partners would not have enough resources to handle them all at once. Already, the 900 who had been released since January had had to be reintegrated over three separate stages. That would mean that many children would have to stay in the bush until humanitarian agencies had the capacity to absorb them. Children who remained in the bush were vulnerable to further violations and risked being re-victimized.

Resources allocated to reintegration had fallen by half over the previous seven years, just as the number of potential beneficiaries was increasing. Current resources allowed only for a six-month reintegration programme, which offered a limited amount of psychosocial support and family reunification. Often the families could not be found or did not want the children back. There was no money for education, so the best that could be done for the children was to teach them a vocation. Without reintegration to deal with stigma and reinsert the children into communities, the cycle of violence would not end. Forty per cent of children recruited in South Sudan were girls between the ages of 12 and 16.

Responding to questions from journalists about the situation in Yemen, Ms. Gamba said that several parties to the conflict had been listed as responsible for violations against children since the conflict began, including the Saudi-coordinated Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen, the Yemeni Government and the Houthi movement. Information available pointed to large numbers of children being enlisted by the Houthi movement – 900 in 2018 alone – and sustained levels of killing and maiming of children on the part of the Coalition and the Government. In addition, many children had fallen victim to unexploded ordinance or stray bullets.

There had been massive levels of denial of humanitarian access during the Yemeni conflict, and she had reported as much under the terms of her mandate. However, the Security Council had not given her the authority to make denial of humanitarian access an attributable violation against children. She had listed the Coalition under just one violation: killing and maiming of children.

Syrian aid convoy

Hervé Verhoosel, for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that, on Saturday 3 November, a UN inter-agency convoy of 70 lorries had reached Rukban camp. The convoy included 43 lorries of WFP food assistance with more than 600,000 metric tons of food. For security and logistical reasons, the operation had taken place 11 km from the camp, where representatives from various tribes and groups had met the convoy to receive the food and humanitarian assistance, which they had then undertaken to allocate to their groups.

A WFP technical core team had been able to enter the camp to meet families and conduct an assessment, which was currently ongoing. The convoy was due to return to Damascus that afternoon. The overall humanitarian situation in Rukban camp remained critical. The quantity of the food was low, leaving people with fewer meals to eat per day and with very little diversity. In addition, the food security situation was deteriorating because the road between Damascus and Rukban was closed. As a consequence, food available on the market inside the camp was smuggled in in limited quantities and at very high prices. The local population of the camp had limited purchasing power.

Insecurity in south-eastern Syria blocked transport by road and access through Jordan was extremely challenging due to the camp’s geographical location and recent poor weather. WFP called on all parties to facilitate future access to Rukban camp in order to be able to keep delivering food to persons in need.

Christophe Boulierac, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that UNICEF had also been involved in the inter-agency convoy, sending in 21 lorries with humanitarian supplies including water chlorination tablets, health and nutrition supplies for women and children, winter clothing for children under 14 and basic medications including antibiotics. Three UNICEF staff had also accompanied the convoy.

Over recent months, the situation in Rukban camp – where 70 to 80 per cent of the inhabitants were thought to be women and children – had become critical, with significant increases in food prices on local markets and several child deaths reported due to lack of medical supplies and assistance.

UNICEF was supporting a vaccination campaign against measles and polio. The campaign was being carried by 20 volunteer vaccinators from the Syrian Arab Red Crescent using supplies provided by UNICEF.

In answer to questions raised by journalists, Mr. Boulierac said that the situation in Rukban camp was extremely worrying. The goal of UNICEF was to vaccinate children everywhere in Syria, irrespective of whether they were in areas controlled by the Government or by the opposition.

Responding to journalists’ questions, Mr. Verhoosel said that United Nations agencies were acting in a neutral capacity to bring humanitarian aid to civilians inside Rukban camp. The assessment currently being conducted by the WFP technical core team would help to indicate the amount and type of future needs in order to guarantee the food security of the camp.

Mass graves in territory previously controlled by ISIL

Ravina Shamdasani, for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), read the following statement:

“More than 200 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of victims have been discovered in areas formerly controlled by ISIL in Iraq, according to a UN report released Tuesday. The report highlights the legacy of ISIL’s relentless campaign of terror and violence and victims’ calls for truth and justice.

The United Nations has documented the existence of 202 mass grave sites in the governorates of Ninewa, Kirkuk, Salah al-Din and Anbar in the northern and western parts of the country – but there may be many more. While it is difficult to determine the total number of people in these graves, the smallest site, in west Mosul, contained eight bodies while the biggest is believed to be the Khasfa sinkhole south of Mosul which may contain thousands.

The report stresses that these sites could potentially contain critical forensic material to assist in the identification of victims and to build an understanding of the scale of crimes that occurred.

Evidence gathered from these sites will be central to ensuring credible investigations, prosecutions and convictions in accordance with international due process standards. Meaningful truth and justice requires the appropriate preservation, excavation and exhumation of mass grave sites and the identification of the remains of the many victims and their return to the families.

Between June 2014 and December 2017, ISIL seized large areas of Iraq and led “a campaign of widespread violence and systematic violations of international human rights and humanitarian law – acts that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possible genocide.

The mass grave sites documented in our report are a testament to harrowing human loss, profound suffering and shocking cruelty. Determining the circumstances surrounding the significant loss of life will be an important step in the mourning process for families and their journey to secure their rights to truth and justice.

The report also documents how families of the missing face significant challenges in establishing the fate of their loved ones. At present, they must report to more than five separate State entities, a process that is both time-consuming and frustrating for families who remain traumatised by their loss, the report states, calling for the establishment of a public, centralised registry of missing persons as well as a federal office of missing persons.

‘ISIL’s horrific crimes in Iraq have left the headlines but the trauma of the victims’ families endures, with thousands of women, men and children still unaccounted for,’ UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said.

These graves contain the remains of those mercilessly killed for not conforming to ISIL’s twisted ideology and rule, including ethnic and religious minorities. Their families have the right to know what happened to their loved ones. Truth, justice and reparations are critical to ensuring a full reckoning for the atrocities committed by ISIL.

The report was aimed at supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting and excavating these mass graves, through the work of Iraq’s Mass Graves Directorate and its international partners.

Among its recommendations, the report calls for a multidisciplinary approach to the recovery operations with the participation of experienced specialists, such as weapons contamination and explosives experts and crime scene investigators. It calls for a victim-centred approach and a transitional justice process that is established in consultation with, and accepted by, Iraqis, particularly those from affected communities.

The report also calls on the international community to provide resources and technical support to efforts related to the exhumation, collection, transportation, storage and return of human remains to families.”

Responding to questions from journalists, Ms. Shamdasani said that support from the international community continued to be vital as Iraq’s Mass Graves Directorate was under-resourced and under-staffed. To date, it had excavated only 28 mass graves. Although the report placed the overall number of victims in mass graves between 6,000 and 12,000, it was difficult to be precise about the exact figure. One of the problems was that the exact number of missing persons was itself unknown. For that reason, OHCHR was calling on the Government of Iraq to establish a central register of missing persons and to consult with victims’ families in order to set up a simplified, victim-centred process for registering missing persons.

Yemen (WFP, WHO)

Tarik Jašareviæ, for the World Health Organization (WHO), read the following statement:

“The prolonged conflict which soon enters its fourth year, has taken its toll on the people of Yemen. The country prior to the war had one of the highest rates of malnutrition globally, and the increased clashes in Hudaydah that has affected the flow of humanitarian aid, food and fuel as well as the near-collapse of the Yemeni rial has taken the buying power from the people of Yemen. So much so, that they cannot even afford to buy basic food items at the local grocery store.

Acute malnutrition affects 1.8 million children under five, while about one-third of the country’s districts face a risk of sliding into famine. The prevalence of chronic malnutrition in children under 5 is 47 per cent. There is a 44 per cent increase in children aged 6 to 59 months with severe acute malnutrition (SAM).

The nutrition response in Yemen involves UN agencies like UNICEF, WFP, FAO and WHO, as well as local health authorities, and nutrition cluster partners from international and local NGOs.

The magnitude of the problem requires a collective, collaborative and robust response that cannot be done alone. WHO focuses on the treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition, and is responsible for setting up therapeutic feeding centres in areas with the highest numbers of persons suffering severe acute malnutrition. WHO also supports the health sector in general, such as by providing medicines and fuel to keep health centres supplied and functioning.

WHO has established 51 therapeutic feeding centres in 17 governorates, 27 of them were opened in 2018 to provide life-saving treatment for severely malnourished children with medical complications.

From January to September 2018, more than 7,360 under the age of 5 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition with medical complications received treatment at WHO-supported therapeutic feeding centres. WHO has also trained 340 health workers on case management of severe acute malnutrition cases.

Severe acute malnutrition is defined by a very low weight for height growth standards, by visible severe wasting, or by the presence of nutritional oedema. The median under-five case-fatality rate for severe acute malnutrition typically ranges from 30 to 50 per cent.”

Responding to questions from journalists, Mr. Jašareviæ said that he had no information about how cases of malnutrition were divided between government controlled areas and those in the hands of the Houthi movement. It was important to remember that fuel imports through the port of Hudaydah only covered around 50 per cent of national requirements. That fuel was vital to keep hospitals running and the hospitals housed the therapeutic feeding centres.

Responding to questions from journalists, Hervé Verhoosel, for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that Yemen currently represented the worst humanitarian crisis and the worst food-security crisis in the world. WFP was feeding between 6 and 8 million persons per month. The situation in the country was currently categorized as a pre-famine. An assessment was underway to determine whether it fulfilled the criteria to amount to a full-blown famine. The results of the assessment would be made public later that month.

In answer to additional questions, Mr. Verhoosel said that Hudaydah remained the main port of entry for WFP food aid. Currently WFP had 42,000 tons of cereal stored at the Red Sea Mill silos 15 km outside the port, which it was unable to access due to the activity or armed groups. That quantity would be enough to feed 2 million people for one month. WFP therefore called on all sides to allow it to access its facilities.

Christophe Boulierac, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that in Yemen during any given year 1.8 million children were suffering from acute malnutrition. In addition, 400,000 on any given day were suffering from a life-threatening form of severe acute malnutrition. Of them, 40 per cent were living in Hudaydah and in neighbouring governorates where the war was raging.

Half Yemeni children under the age of 5 were chronically malnourished and 30,000 children under the age of 5 were dying every year from malnutrition. At the same time, 1.1 million pregnant or lactating women were anaemic meaning that their children would have a low birth weight and the cycle of malnutrition would be perpetuated. Every 10 minutes, a child in Yemen died from diseases that could easily be prevented.

Nonetheless, UNICEF investment in Yemen had produced some positive results in that levels of acute malnutrition had stabilized across the country. That showed that, with the right investment at the right time, it was possible to change outcomes. Parties to the conflict should ensure that humanitarian assistance could continue to be delivered.

Central African Republic

Hervé Verhoosel, for the World Food Programme (WFP), read the following French-language statement:

“La détérioration de la sécurité en RCA depuis la semaine dernière, en particulier à Batangafo, Bambari et Zémio, fait peser un risque important pour la protection des civils, freinant les efforts en cours pour promouvoir la paix et la stabilité dans le pays.

De nouvelles informations, toujours plus préoccupantes, continuent à émerger, suggérant une détérioration continue d'une situation déjà extrêmement grave.

Une attention et une action internationales et régionales rapides sont nécessaires pour prévenir une tragédie humaine, à commencer par cette sécurité alimentaire.

À Batangafo, dans le nord de la République centrafricaine, le 31 octobre lors de violents affrontements entre des groupes armés, le camp de personnes déplacées situé au centre-ville a été incendié, ainsi que de nombreuses maisons et un marché, fragilisant davantage les communautés déplacées, ces communautes sont déjà dans une situation extrêmement précaire, manquant de nourriture, d’abri et d’autres nécessités de base.

Les rapports préliminaires font état de plusieurs morts et blessés et du déplacement d’environ 27 000 personnes dont 10 000 ont trouvé refuge dans la brousse.

En réponse à la situation actuelle à Batangafo, le PAM a immédiatement activé sa réponse avec World Vision, son partenaire de coopération en place, afin de fournir une assistance alimentaire et nutritionnelle d'urgence.


Des quantités additionnelles de vivres ont été acheminées de Kaga-Bandoro et sont arrivées le lundi 5 novembre pour compléter les stocks déjà en place et permettre de fournir une assistance à toutes les populations touchées.

Les conditions sécuritaires demeurent cependant extrêmement difficiles et ont provoqué la suspension des distributions de nourriture prévues pour aujourd'hui.

La situation reste particulièrement instable. On peut s'attendre à court terme à de nouveaux affrontements entre milices et à des attaques aveugles visant des civils.

À Bambari également, la situation reste très tendue à la suite des affrontements entre groupes armés et des affrontements entre la MINUSCA et l'UPC la semaine dernière.

Ces incidents aggravent encore plus la situation complexe qui règne actuellement à Bambari, où l’on observe un nouveau cycle de violences .

Des restrictions à la circulation à l'intérieur et à destination de Bambari ont été imposées et six employés du PAM ont été temporairement relocalisés à Bangui.

Bambari est un hub stratégique pour la communauté humanitaire en RCA et une halte prolongée des activités dans la zone pourrait affecter les activités du PAM visant à sauver des vies au niveau de Bria où plus de 70 000 déplacés et membres de populations hôtes requièrent une assistance.

L’action humanitaire dans toute la région du sud-est serait par ailleurs perturbée.

De plus, les résultats de la classification de la phase de sécurité alimentaire intégrée (IPC) qui est un outil de lecture consensuelle et concertée de la situation alimentaire et nutritionnelle, de septembre indiquent une détérioration de la situation de la sécurité alimentaire avec une augmentation du nombre de personnes en phase 3 et au-dessus - les pires résultats depuis 2014 avec 1,9 million de personnes nécessitant une action alimentaire urgente. C’est donc un niveau très préoccupant.

Les conditions nutritionnelles en RCA continuent de se détériorer en raison de l'insécurité persistante, des déplacements difficiles, de la baisse de la production agricole, de la hausse des prix des denrées alimentaires et de l'accès limité à de l'eau potable et aux services de santé de base. L'évaluation nationale de la sécurité alimentaire en cours et l'enquête nutritionnelle SMART devraient confirmer les résultats susmentionnés.

Quelque USD 167 millions sont nécessaires d'ici fin 2019 pour permettre au PAM de mettre en œuvre ses interventions.

Une fois de plus, le lien entre conflits et pauvre sécurité alimentaire est établi. Le PAM tient à souligner que la situation alimentaire en République centrafricaine est donc très préoccupante et invite les différents acteurs a supporter une réponse appropriée.”

Mediterranean Migrant Arrivals

Charlie Yaxley, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), read the following statement:

“Some 17 people have been found dead this week off the Spanish coast, meaning that the number of lives lost on the Mediterranean this year has now exceeded 2,000. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has called repeatedly for urgent action to address this situation. The Mediterranean has for several years been the world’s deadliest sea route for refugees and migrants. That it continues to be so, should be unacceptable to all.

Around 105,000 asylum seekers and migrants have reached Europe so far this year, representing a return to pre-2014 levels. However, the 2,000 drownings mean that the rate of deaths, particularly in the Central Mediterranean, has escalated sharply. In September, one life was lost for every eight people who crossed.

In light of this, UNHCR continues to be very concerned about the legal and logistical restrictions that have been placed on a number of NGOs wishing to conduct search and rescue operations, including the Aquarius. These have had the cumulative effect of the Central Mediterranean currently having no NGO vessels conducting search and rescue. We are equally concerned by reports that many commercial vessels do not respond to distress calls for fear of facing disembarkation problems.

Should NGO rescue operations on the Mediterranean cease entirely we risk returning to the same dangerous context we saw after Italy’s Mare Nostrum naval operation ended in 2015 and hundreds of people died in an incident off the coast of Lampedusa.

UNHCR welcomes the rescue efforts of the Libyan Coast Guard, as without them more lives would have been lost. Nonetheless, with the Libyan Coast Guard now having assumed primary responsibility for search and rescue coordination in an area that extends to around 100 miles, it has a dire need for further support. Any vessel with the capability to assist search and rescue operations should be allowed to come to the aid of those in need.

UNHCR reiterates that people rescued in international waters (i.e., beyond the 12 nautical miles of the territorial waters of Libya) should not be brought back to Libya where conditions are not safe.

The largest proportion of deaths have been reported in crossings to Italy, which account for more than half of all deaths reported this year so far, despite Spain having become the primary destination of those newly arrived. More than 47,000 people have arrived there by sea, compared to around 21,800 in Italy and 26,000 in Greece.

There is an urgent need to break away from the current impasses and ad-hoc boat-by-boat approaches on where to dock rescued passengers. UNHCR reiterates that in recent months, together with IOM, we have offered a regional solution that would provide clarity and predictability on disembarkation for vessels carrying rescued passengers on both sides of the Mediterranean.

UNHCR also reiterates its call for the international community to address the root causes of displacement and drivers of onward movement that are forcing people to take increasingly dangerous and perilous journeys.”

Joel Millman, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that total arrivals across the Mediterranean had exceed 100,000 for the fifth consecutive year. Notably, however, the threshold of 100,000 had been crossed much later in 2018 than had been the case in previous years. In the past, that figure had been reached around June or July and, in 2016, as early as February. Spain currently accounted for 50 per cent of all arrivals.

According to figures released by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, Tunisians, Pakistanis and Algerians had made up one third of all migrants coming into Italy in 2018. Pakistanis and Algerians were not traditionally associated with the Central Mediterranean route. The number of migrants with nationalities that were traditionally associated with the Central Mediterranean route – notably persons from sub-Saharan Africa – had fallen sharply, with the exception of Iraqis.

Responding to questions from journalists, Mr. Yaxley said that, although NGO rescue vessels were no longer operating in the Central Mediterranean, they continued to operate in the Western Mediterranean. UNHCR had concerns about the fact that persons rescued by the Libyan Coast Guard were being taken back to Libya, where the security situation remained extremely volatile, returned migrants were routinely held in detention and there had been reports of human rights violations. UNHCR was calling on resettlement States for assistance in evacuating persons out of Libya.

Mr. Millman said that, according to recent statistics from the Libyan authorities, the Libyan Coast Guard had rescued 14,377 migrants at sea up to 31 October 2018. That figure was very close to the number of migrants that IOM had taken out of Libya via its Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programmes: 14,349. The correlation between the number of migrants who drowned trying to cross the Mediterranean and the reduction in search and rescue operations was a difficult one to make. In fact, in previous years when search and rescue operations had been more active, there had been more deaths. IOM unequivocally placed the blame for migrant deaths on the recklessness and ruthlessness of the smugglers.

Greek islands

Charlie Yaxley, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), read the following statement:

“UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is today reiterating its call to the authorities in Greece to take urgent steps to address the humanitarian situation for around 11,000 asylum-seekers on the islands of Samos and Lesvos. Conditions in the Reception and Identification Centres (RICs) on the two islands are abhorrent. With winter approaching and more people arriving, time is of the essence and emergency measures are needed.

Efforts to substantially improve conditions and reduce severe overcrowding in the two RICs needs to be prioritized by every government body engaged in the response. It is urgent to get people into better accommodation, and accelerating transfers to the mainland for the more than 4,000 people eligible to go.

UNHCR welcomes recently announced Government plans for an additional 6,000 accommodation places on the mainland, and the Government-led transfer of more than 6,500 people from the islands to the mainland since August. However, more than 11,000 people have arrived to the islands in the last three months, outpacing the departures. We are particularly concerned that transfers have recently slowed, while new accommodation on the mainland is in short supply.

Conditions at the RICs have to be seen to be properly comprehended. At the Vathy RIC on Samos, the situation has been worsening. Despite having capacity for 650 people, the centre and its surrounding area are currently hosting around 4,000 people – six times its design. By any measure, things are in crisis.

New arrivals are left having to buy flimsy tents from local stores, which they are pitching on a steep slope in adjacent fields. This offers little protection from the cold weather, without electricity, running water or toilets. There are snakes in the area, and rats are thriving in the uncollected waste.

Many of the asylum-seekers arrive in Greece in a vulnerable state, but even those who turn up at the RIC in good condition soon find themselves suffering from health problems. A single doctor per shift provides medical care to the entire population and often only the most urgent cases get seen. Doctors at the local hospital are also overwhelmed.

Many of the toilets and showers are broken, resulting in open sewage close to people’s tents. Others are using nearby bushes as a toilet.

Tension and frustration is rising, particularly over administrative delays. The Moria RIC has become a tinderbox, with any further delays or deterioration in conditions posing a serious threat to the safety of those living and working inside.

In light of the growing needs on the islands, UNHCR has continued its support to transfers until the end of 2018 and has assisted 5,300 asylum-seekers authorized by the Government to move to the mainland since the beginning of September. UNHCR is also procuring 400 prefabricated containers to help boost Greece’s hosting capacity in mainland sites and delivering some 19,000 relief items for the islands, such as winter kits, sleeping bags, winter clothes, and hygiene items. Additionally, UNHCR is expanding its available places in apartment from 25,500 in September to 27,000 by the end of November.

As well as appealing to the Greek authorities UNHCR is also calling on the European Commission and Member States, to continue preparations for emergency support and relocation measures at the request of the Greek Government.

UNHCR remains ready to continue supporting the authorities, including with transfers of eligible people to the mainland and enhancing their capacity to address the needs of asylum-seekers and refugees in Greece.”

Big Name Brands Visit Rohingya Refugee Camps in Bangladesh

Joel Millman, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that representatives from a number of big-name companies had visited Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar on Monday, with IOM, the UN Migration Agency. The purpose of the visit was to explore how private businesses could help support one of the world’s biggest humanitarian responses.

Professionals from the textile, aviation, technology, telecommunications, and financial services industries had met with Rohingya refugees and spoken to IOM programme managers in the field, as well as to IOM chiefs over two days, before going on to discuss a range of innovative approaches to ongoing challenges in the camps.

The visit was part of a three-day event organized by IOM Bangladesh, which began in the capital Dhaka and was aimed at developing partnerships with the private sector to end modern slavery and human trafficking by supporting ethical recruitment and fair supply chains.

Companies involved in the initiative included Coca Cola, GAP, Mastercard, Turkish Airlines, Korea Telecom, NEC and a number of Bangladeshi firms including the textile manufacturer DBL. Also present were private sector partnership experts from Innovation Norway and Humanity United.

IOM Libya Provides Essential Medical Supplies to Health Ministry

Joel Millman, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that, thanks to funding from the European Union Trust Fund, IOM had delivered essential medical items and equipment to 14 health facilities run by the Libyan Ministry of Health across Libya. The supplies, which had been consigned on Monday 5 November, included ultrasound machines, medical monitors and wheelchairs. The distribution had been effected in a number of cities, some of which had previously been the scene of armed conflicts and migrant deaths. They included Tobruk, Benghazi, Kufra, Misrata, Garaboli, Tripoli, Bani Waleed, Azzawya, Zwara, Sebha, Ubari and Ashati.

Announcements

Ravina Shamdasani, for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), said that OHCR was planning a month-long series of events leading up to the commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The events, each one focusing on a specific human right, would be held in cities around the world, including Dakar, Pretoria, Marrakesh, Suva, Bangkok, Manchester, Paris, Geneva, Mexico City, Panama City, Santiago, Doha, Los Angeles and New York. In addition, OHCHR would be publishing a series of 30 articles, each focusing on one of the 30 articles of the Declaration.

Fernando Puchol, for the World Trade Organization (WTO), said that a WTO event entitled “Trade for Peace – WTO accessions for peace and nation building” would be held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva on Friday 9 November. The event, which was intended to contribute to the theme of the current Geneva Peace Week, aimed to raise awareness on the contribution of trade to peace and nation-building by providing a platform to consider and exchange ideas among representatives from countries and regions that had undergone conflict.

Tarik Jašareviæ, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom and its head of emergencies Peter Salama were visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo that week to meet with teams in the field. They were being accompanied on their mission by the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix.

They had arrived on Monday and would visit Beni on Wednesday before departing on Thursday. While in Beni, they were due to meet with the local mayor and civil society groups, and to visit an Ebola treatment centre..

Michele Zaccheo, of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, said that 6 November marked the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. To mark the commemoration, United Nations Environment Programme was running an online course, which was open to the general public and aimed to raise awareness about environmental issues.

Mr. Zaccheo said that UNRISD would be hosting an international conference on 8-9 November entitled: “Overcoming inequalities in a fractured world: between elite power and social mobilization.

Mr. Zaccheo said that China was undergoing its universal periodic review that morning and that it would be the turn of Nigeria that afternoon.

Mr. Zaccheo said that the Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which was holding its fifteenth session in Palais Wilson from 5 to 16 November, would that morning conclude its review of the report of Japan, which it had begun on Monday afternoon. In the afternoon, the Committee would begin consideration of the report of Portugal, which would be concluded on Wednesday morning. On Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, the Committee would hold a dialogue on follow-up to its previous concluding observations on Mexico.

Mr. Zaccheo said that, before the closure of its seventy-first session, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would hold a public informal meeting with States Parties. The meeting was scheduled to take place on Thursday, on 8 November from 10 to 12 a.m. The session was due to come to an end on 9 November when the Committee would present its concluding observations on the States it had reviewed during the session: Nepal, the Republic of the Congo, the Bahamas, Samoa, Mauritius, Tajikistan, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

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The webcast for this briefing is available here: http://bit.ly/unog061118