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25 July 2017

Michele Zaccheo, Chief of the Radio and Television Section, United Nations Information Service, chaired the briefing attended by the spokespersons for the United Nations Children’s Fund, International Organization for Migration, and the World Health Organization.


Michele Zaccheo, Chief of the Radio and Television Section, United Nations Information Service, called attention to a number of statements had been issued by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Spokesperson and by the United Nations Security Council on the attacks in the Central African Republic, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo led by the Deputy Secretary-General was ongoing and was meeting today in Kinshasa with President Kabila.

In New York, the United Nations Security Council was holding an open debate on the Middle East including on the situation in Palestine. The thematic session on the global compact on migration was in its second day; yesterday, 24 July, Louise Arbour had spoken in her capacity of the Secretary-General of the Intergovernmental Conference and highlighted the key contributions of migrants to their country of origin, which includes hundreds of billions of dollars in remittances and transfers of ideas, skills and the knowledge.

The Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour was in a mission to Honduras, from 25 to 27 July.


Sarah Crowe, for the United Nations Children’s Fund, presented a new study on the push-pull factors on child migration, said that the data showed that 75 per cent of children on the move actually took a decision to leave home on their own and that initially, many of them did not intend to come to Europe. What was striking in the new findings was that there were far more push factors, pushing children away from home – conflicts or violence at home - than there were pull factors, and this went against the current narrative.

There was a very different picture of children moving to Italy than of those arriving to Greece. In Greece, the majority of children on the move were in fact making the journey in accordance with the decision of their parents, and often going with their parents, or else they were the so-called ‘anchor children’ who were being sent by their parents. This was not the case in Italy, where according to the UNICEF report the majority of migrant children, as many as 93 per cent, were unaccompanied, and most were teenage boys.

Of the children who arrived in Libya, 63 per cent left the country because of the generalized violence and trauma they suffered or witnessed, and this was another push factor. They were more willing to take those terrifying sea journeys because of what happened to them in Libya. As one young Gambian boy said, “if you have a lion behind your back and a sea in front of you, you take the sea”. Ms. Crowe added that one in five of the girls interviewed for the study cited forced child marriage at home as being one of the reasons why they fled.

The study showed that there were far more push factors than pull factors for the children coming to Europe; the study aimed to present an evidence base for a programme response and for the decision makers and the Governments, to better understand the trigger factors behind the number of children who were coming to Italy particularly, but also to Greece. For the first six months of the year, a total of 12,239 children had arrived to Italy, and 93 per cent were travelling alone, Ms. Crowe said.

Joel Millman, for the International Organization for Migration, said that so far in 2017, a total of 160 children had been rescued so far off of Libya by the Libyan Coastguard, although people in Libya believed that this was a low figure. In Spain, 44 migrants from Morocco and various other Sub-Saharan countries had been rescued last night, among them three minors. To date, 46 minors had been registered on boats arriving from Africa to Spain in June and July; a total of 7,774 people had been rescued from boats in Spain while the Spanish police counted around 10,500 arrivals in 2017 and this figure also included also land crossing into the North African enclaves. Most sea arrivals arrived from Morocco, and some from Algeria.

In the Scaramanga refugee hosting site, west of Athens, the police had arrested the parents of a seven-year old Kurdish boy who had been found drowned on Friday 21 July, as they were unable to account how the boy could have wandered off the site.

Sarah Crowe added that the camp was right on the water, in the port, so what had happened was not surprising.

Geneva Events and Announcements

Tarik Jašarević, for the World Health Organization announced a press briefing on the Thursday, 27 July at 10 a.m. at Palais des Nations, on the occasion of the World Hepatitis Day. A number of experts, including Dr. Gottfried Hirnschall, Dr. Marc Bulterys and Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi from World Health Organisation, would talk about mobilizing action towards the final elimination of hepatitis, which is included in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and a new information from 28 focus countries which showed encouraging national response, would be presented. All the material was under embargo until 5 p.m. Geneva time on Thursday 27 July.

Also on Thursday, 27 July at 4 p.m., a virtual press conference on the new research on breastfeeding would take place from New York. The First Lady of Nigeria and the Minister Health of Indonesia would join the officials from the United Nations Children’s Fund, World Health Organisation and partners, to release new research detailing the case to invest in breastfeeding and global scorecard grading countries’ current investment in breastfeeding. The material would be embargoed until Tuesday, 1 August at 1 a.m. Geneva time, and the media advisory for this virtual press conference would be sent later today, concluded Mr. Jašareviæ.

Michele Zaccheo, Chief of the Radio and Television Section, United Nations Information Service, said that the Human Rights Committee would discuss its concluding observations on the reports of Honduras, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Switzerland and Swaziland in a press conference to take place on Thursday 27 July at 1.30 p.m. in Press Room 1.

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The webcast for this briefing is available here: http://bit.ly/UNOG250717