Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

29 May 2020

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

Good morning, everyone, I hope you can hear me.  Happy Friday, and I apologize for the delay.  Stephane [Dujarric] is taking a well-deserved day off, and the guest that we anticipated for the briefing is not going to be able to make it.  But we will have Reem Abaza after I am done.

**Secretary-General — Peacekeeping

This morning, to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, the Secretary-General laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers’ memorial to honour the more than 3,900 women and men who have lost their lives since 1948, while serving under the UN flag. 

In his remarks at a related event, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything we do, but not the service, sacrifice and selflessness of the more than 95,000 women and men serving in 13 peacekeeping operations around the world.

The theme of the international day this year is “Women in Peacekeeping:  A Key to Peace”.  In his remarks, the Secretary-General emphasized how women help improve all aspects of our operations and performance. 

He said peacekeeping is more effective for everyone when we have more women peacekeepers at all levels, including in decision-making.  He added that we will continue to do everything we can to reach this goal. 

The Secretary-General also awarded the 2019 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award to Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian naval officer serving with the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and to Major Suman Gawani from India, who served in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). 

**COVID-19 — Peacekeeping Missions

On a related note, we have an update on how peacekeeping missions continue to support Member States’ response to COVID-19. 

Our colleagues from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) report that the Mission provided personal and household goods, including televisions and computers, to communities in Kosovo, including a children’s shelter and a shelter for victims of trafficking.  This support will help the children to continue online learning to finish the academic year.  The UN Peacekeeping mission also reports it is working with young innovators, who are helping build 3D face shields for health workers.

The UN mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) recently handed over personal protective pquipment (PPE) and veterinary medicines to benefit communities in a number of villages in southern Lebanon. 

The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) continues awareness and information campaigns as part of COVID-19 prevention efforts, through the Mission’s community violence reduction projects in Bangassou and Gambo, located in the country’s south-east.  In addition, the UN Mission, in partnership with local stakeholders, conducted sensitization training workshops in Bouar. 

**Climate Change

Last night, the bureau of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with the United Kingdom and its Italian partners, agreed on new dates for the COP26 (26th Conference of Parties) UN Climate Change Conference, which will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021, in Glasgow.

The UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said that efforts to address climate change and COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive and that if done right, the recovery from this crisis can steer us to a more inclusive and sustainable climate path.  There is more information on the UNFCCC website.

**Honduras — COVID-19

In Honduras, there have been more than 4,600 cases and nearly 200 deaths from COVID-19.

The UN team, led by acting Resident Coordinator Martín Arévalo, yesterday presented its COVID-19 plan to the Government.  This plan was developed by the Humanitarian country team with 40 national and international organizations.

It calls for nearly $100 million to help some three million Hondurans who are most in need.  The new plan seeks to slow down transmission and strengthen health services.  It will focus on mitigating the pandemic’s impact on livelihoods and promoting human rights.

The UN team is also working to “recover better” by identifying long-term solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As of today, more than 740,000 people have benefited from actions already taken by the Humanitarian Network in the country.

**COVID-19 — Brazil

In Brazil, our team, led by Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic, is working with national and local authorities on the health and socioeconomic pandemic response.  The country now has over 411,000 cases and over 25,000 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, according to the latest World Health Organization figures. 

The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) is purchasing 10 million COVID‑19 tests and is helping the Government identify global suppliers for urgently needed medical material.  With funds from local governments, the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) purchased personal protective equipment such as masks, non-surgical gloves and safety glasses for health teams in several cities.

The UN team is also working with local authorities in the Amazon region, focusing on protection of indigenous peoples and migrants, especially those coming from neighbouring Venezuela.  On the border with Peru and Bolivia, the UN and partners donated 1.5 tonnes of food to more than 250 migrants who were in transit and were unable to leave Brazil due to the COVID-19-led border closure.

UN-Women is also working with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for specialized police stations that serve women and support centres for women who have suffered domestic violence.

And a new music video was released with artists Iza, from Brazil, and Maejor, from the United States.  The video has reached nearly 3 million views in a week and has UNHCR-supported refugees participating alongside celebrities, calling on young people to be agents of change for all people and our shared planet.

**COVID-19 — Postal Sector

The volume of items sent by post has dropped 21 per cent so far this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) said today.

This is the biggest drop the UPU has seen since electronic data started being recorded between its 192 member countries in 2010.

UPU adds that only one of every approximately two items sent are arriving at their destination within the same week, as opposed to around one during normal times.  You can read more about this online.

**COVID-19 — Tourism

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released yesterday a set of guidelines to reopen tourism and help the sector to emerge stronger and more sustainably from COVID-19.

The guidelines highlight the importance of restoring the confidence of travellers through safety and security protocols designed to reduce risks in each step of the tourism value chain.

These protocols include the implementation of check procedures where appropriate.  Among them are temperature scans, testing, physical distancing, enhanced frequency of cleaning and the provision of hygiene kits for safe air travel, hospitality services or safe events.

Depending on when travel restrictions are lifted, the UN agency warns that international tourist arrivals could fall by between 60 per cent and 80 per cent.  This puts 100 to 120 million jobs at risk and could lead to $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in lost exports.

The guidelines are available on the World Tourism Organization website.

**Yemen

In Yemen, seven weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was announced, the virus is spreading unchecked across the country. 

The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said that “if we don’t get the funding we need and if more isn’t done to suppress the virus, COVID-19 could engulf Yemen.”

Of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, 30 will close in the next few weeks.  A week after the first confirmed case was announced, humanitarian agencies were forced to suspend incentives for up to 10,000 frontline health workers from lack of funding.

In spite of the lack of funding, the UN and other humanitarian agencies are staying and delivering aid to millions of Yemenis.  Some 14,000 volunteers are informing communities about the virus; more than 4,500 metric tonnes of medical equipment, testing kits and medicine has already arrived in country; 4,500 metric tonnes are on the way; and partners are helping to build, upgrade, equip and train staff in 59 intensive care units across the country.

**Security Council

This morning, the Security Council held a closed meeting by video conference on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and sanctions.

This afternoon, the Council is expected to vote on resolutions on the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), South Sudan sanctions, the UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

**Nepal

Turning to Nepal:  The High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed her shock at the killing of five men by opponents of a relationship between people of different castes.  She also condemned other cases of caste-based discrimination and violence that have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michelle Bachelet said that it is distressing that caste-based prejudices remain deeply entrenched in our world in the twenty-first century.

She stressed that ending caste-based discrimination is fundamental to the sustainable development vision of leaving no one behind.

**Libya

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) deplores the killing of 30 migrants in a shooting on Wednesday involving a trafficker in Libya. 

The tragedy occurred is a smuggling warehouse in Mezda, south-west of Tripoli, where a group of migrants were being held.  Eleven migrants who sustained severe injuries have been rushed to the hospital. 

IOM is calling on Libyan authorities to immediately launch an investigation to bring those responsible to justice.   

**Kenya

In Kenya, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that seasonal heavy rains have affected nearly 302,000 people in 43 of the 47 counties.  Currently, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society, over 211,000 people are displaced, up from 116,000 at the beginning of the month.

Nearly 27,000 livestock have been lost and over 30,000 acres of crops submerged, increasing the risk of food insecurity across the country.

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has allocated $3 million to the response, which will support partners in providing shelter, food, water, sanitation and health services to the affected population.  Emergency shelter and non-food items have been distributed to over 5,600 households.

**Ethiopia

Turning to Ethiopia, excessive heavy rains which started in April have led to flooding, displacement, loss of lives and livelihoods, as well as damage to infrastructure in different parts of the country.

According to authorities, flooding has affected more than 470,000 people, of whom over 300,000 people are displaced.

The Government, the UN and other humanitarian agencies and communities are responding to the needs of flood-affected and displaced people, although with limitations.

Our humanitarian colleagues say that $25.6 million is urgently required to address unmet needs as well as early recovery support.

**Somalia

In Somalia, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that seven Somali health workers were abducted two days ago from a mother and child health clinic run by an NGO (non-governmental organization) in Gololey village in the Middle Shabelle region.  These seven health workers and another civilian were subsequently killed.

The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, said any attacks against medical facilities and personnel are unacceptable and a breach of international humanitarian law and any common decency.  He called for a thorough and transparent investigation.

**Venezuela

In Venezuela, a plane carrying 12 tonnes of humanitarian aid from UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) has landed in the country to support the UN humanitarian response.

This shipment includes 127,000 water purification tablets, 18 water tanks and 40,000 nutritional support packages.  These supplies complement UNICEF's response, which has already delivered some 90 tonnes of supplies to 189 health institutions, including 38 hospitals, clinics and community health centres in 13 states.

To date, the UN and other partners have reached 1 million people as part of the COVID-19 response and in the continuity of other critical response areas of health, shelter and equipment, food, protection, education and nutrition, including for returnees.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency today warned of worsening conditions for displaced Venezuelans in the southern region of the continent as winter approaches.  UNHCR is worried that their plight could now worsen with the onset of winter as temperatures drop in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, which together host more than 1.5 million Venezuelans.

UNHCR is also strengthening humanitarian partnerships to be able to provide essential health care for refugees in vulnerable conditions.  More information on UNHCR’s website.

**Nigeria

In Nigeria, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) and its partners are stepping up their assistance for nearly 4,000 displaced people who lost all of their possessions in a large fire in a camp in Maiduguri in eastern Borno State.

Two people died in the fire and thousands were left without shelter. 

UNHCR is working with authorities, aid agencies and local partners to make sure those affected receive shelter and other relief items as people are once again displaced inside and outside of the camp.  Many, including young children, are living under the open skies, needing immediate help with shelter, food and clothing.

**World No Tobacco Day

This year the World No Tobacco Day is to be marked on Sunday.  It will focus on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry.

Today the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new kit for school students aged 13 to 17 years old, alerting them to the tobacco industry's tactics.

WHO notes that every year the tobacco industry invests more than $9 billion to advertise its products.  Increasingly, it is targeting young people with nicotine and tobacco products in a bid to replace the 8 million people that its products kill every year.

**Press Briefings

And, today, after I am done, Reem Abaza, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, will be on this virtual platform to brief you.

On Monday, at 3:30 p.m., Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere, Permanent Representative of France and President of the Security Council for the month of June, together with Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, Permanent Representative of Germany and President of the Security Council for the month of July, will have a joint press briefing on the Council’s programmes of work for June and July.

And with that, I am prepared, I think, to take your questions, and we can get started.  Let's see who we have.  Florencia, let me know what we have. 

**Questions and Answers

Question:  When is the German Ambassador briefing?

Deputy Spokesman:  The German and French Ambassadors will co‑brief at 3:30 on Monday, and so that will be the start of the normal programme of work briefings. 

Let me look and see…  at the chat, who's got questions.  I see one from Betul.  Betul, you're on. 

Question:  Hi, Farhan.  Thank you.  A question on Libya.  Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that a French Navy ship stopped an oil tanker loaded with oil, and it prevented it from reaching its destination.  I was wondering if the UN has any knowledge of where this tanker was going.  And it's being held offshore for almost a week, according to the report.  Can you tell us anything about that?  Do you have any information on what is going to happen and where it was going?  Thank you. 

Deputy Spokesman:  Yeah.  Thanks for that.  Yes, regarding the oil tanker, I do have a response from the UN Mission in Libya, UNSMIL.  The UN welcomes France's actions and, indeed, all efforts to uphold the UN oil embargo as stipulated in UN resolutions 2146 and 2362.

There have been multiple and concerted efforts on the part of the UN Member States and the UN Panel of Experts to contact all companies and countries involved in the current affair regarding the JAL LAXMI to caution all involved against proceeding.  This type of concerted and collective action is a good example of how the international community can cooperate to uphold the implementation of Security Council resolutions.  We urge that this cooperation be extended to the UN's arms embargo on Libya, which is violated on a daily basis.

And the UN Mission in Libya stresses that Libyan National Oil Corporation, based in Tripoli, is the sole sovereign institution that is legally able to sell or purchase oil and oil‑related products.

Hold on one second.  So now I have a question from Philippe Rater, who says, how many “Blue Helmets” were killed by COVID?  Is it MINUSMA, the Mission, that is most concerned and affected?

Regarding that, let me look at…  in terms of casualties, we did mention that the two new deaths in MINUSMA, those are the only ones…  those are the only casualties that are directly COVID-related that I have to say from peacekeeping, although I would like to point out that there are some casualties…  I know, for example, that there was a recent malaria casualty in a peacekeeping mission that was not a COVID casualty directly, but, of course, COVID‑19 itself had an impact because it hindered efforts to be able to transport that person to a place where the peacekeeper could have received sufficient health care. 

So, the figures are a little bit vague, but right now, the two MINUSMA casualties are the ones…  are the only peacekeeper casualties that we have directly linked to this pandemic. 

Who else wants the floor?

Correspondent:  Farhan, I had requested…

Correspondent:  I put my name.

Correspondent:  Yeah.  Abdelhamid, go ahead, and then I'll go.

Deputy Spokesman:  Okay.  Abdelhamid and then Edie.  Okay.  Abdelhamid first. 

Correspondent:  And then me.

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  I have two questions, one on Yemen and one on Palestine.  On Yemen, the Secretary‑General said yesterday Aden is the hardest hit by COVID‑19, about 17 per cent.  And the UN is asking for $2.2 billion on 2 June.  Do you think the UN can save Yemen from this disastrous pandemic that is hitting hard, especially in the south?

Deputy Spokesman:  It's a very big challenge for many reasons.  The war in Yemen has grinded on for several years, and despite our best efforts, it has not come to a full halt, although Mr. [Martin] Griffiths is pushing ahead, and you've seen the progress he's made in recent months. 

But even beyond that, the fact is that, prior to the start of COVID‑19 coming to Yemen, about four out of every five Yemenis needed our assistance to survive.  We're talking about millions of people, including about 14 million people, which is a huge caseload, just at the end of last year who needed our regular humanitarian assistance. 

And, so, it's been a huge challenge dealing with all of that, and now the fact that the pandemic has entered the country adds to those challenges.  And we're very, very worried because, with all of the problems, the war, the restrictions in movement that the war has caused, the rise in the price of food and basic products, the previous humanitarian needs and devastation and now the onset of this virus. 

Yemen has a lot to deal with, which is why we do need a huge amount of support.  You'll be hearing more from us on this next Tuesday, 2 June, when we will have an effort to attract more pledging for Yemen.  But this is something where all of the arms of the United Nations, whether it's our diplomacy, whether it's our humanitarian agencies, whether it's people who are dealing with…  simply with issues like health or with food, more specifically, all of us have to be involved in making sure that this country does not face a worst‑case scenario.

What was your second question?

Question:  My second question, yesterday, Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu gave an interview, and he said he was determined to annex 30 per cent of the West Bank — that's his word, 30 per cent — of the West Bank and, of course, the Jordan Valley.  And when asked about Palestinian citizens in those annexed areas, he said they would not be given the Israeli citizenship. 

First, isn't that a flagrant case of apartheid?

And the second question, when the UN…  when Netanyahu give these kind of flagrant statement in violation of UN resolutions and international law and there is no outcry for action from the upper echelon of the United Nations, wouldn't that be a signal for him that the world community is living with this kind of behaviour?

Deputy Spokesman:  We have come out against this behaviour.  We've made very clear that we are against these unilateral steps.  I think Nickolay Mladenov spoke very eloquently about the need to avoid these steps that will endanger the two‑State solution, and he also made very clear, in his remarks to the Security Council, that he believes the recent reaction from the Palestinian side is basically a cry for help, and it must be listened to. 

And, so, we will continue both to work on the diplomatic tracks and to make clear our opposition to annexation or unilateral steps. 

And with that, I turn now to Edie Lederer. 

Correspondent:  Thank you.  Thank you. 

Question:  Thank you very much, Farhan.  One question and one follow‑up.  Hong Kong's last British governor, Chris Patten, called today for a United Nations Special Envoy to be appointed to defend human rights in Hong Kong following China's decision to enact national security laws.  What is the Secretary‑General's reaction to this request?  And I have a follow‑up on something else.

Deputy Spokesman:  At this point, just to say that I don't have anything to add to what Stéphane said about the question of Hong Kong on Wednesday.  So, he stated our position, and we stick with that.

Question:  But this is a specific request for the UN to appoint a Special Envoy.  That's different than what your general reaction is.

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, I'm aware of that, but we're just in keeping with what we had said two days ago.

Question:  Well, it would be nice if you could follow up and get back with a better response.

Also, on the Yemen pledging conference, are we going to get any kind of a readout at the end on how much has been pledged, how much cash was raised?  How…  how…  what are the logistics for how this is going to work?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, we'll try to provide that.  I believe also the Secretary‑General will be present, or virtually present, at this event, and we'll try to provide you with the remarks that he makes.  But we'll also try to provide a wrap‑up as the day goes, and we'll be in touch with our colleagues in the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Deputy Spokesman:  Thanks.  Iftikhar, I believe you have a question. 

Correspondent:  Yes, Farhan, can you hear me?

Deputy Spokesman:  Yes, I can.

Question:  Oh, good.  Michelle Bachelet, the human rights chief of United Nations, has strongly condemned the murder of George Floyd, the African‑American person who was killed in Minneapolis.  And does the Secretary‑General endorse that condemnation?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, as you know, she speaks in her capacity as the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and she's supported in the work that she does, and so I don't have anything in particular to add to what she said about Mr. Floyd's case. 

Question:  And, secondly, since the USG (Under-Secretary-General) for peacekeeping is not here, I was going to ask him, has the coronavirus pandemic…  how is it has affected basic operations of peacekeeping missions?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I mean, the missions have taken particular precautions, basically to make sure that peacekeepers both are themselves protected but also are not any source of any of the spread of the pandemic.  So, we have been taking additional precautions.  It does mean that there is an impact on the way we can travel. 

At the same time, it's…  I think it's impressive.  We have more than 150,000 personnel deployed across peacekeeping missions, and the number of confirmed cases as a percentage of that is still fairly low.  And we're continuing with our operations.  We're continuing to perform vital peace and security tasks within the constraints that we've had, but the biggest impact has been, as you're aware, that we have had to suspend rotations, repatriations and deployment of uniformed personnel until 30 June, and that has been with some limited exceptions. 

Correspondent:  Thank you.

Deputy Spokesman:  All right.  I don't…  I got an email from Margaret Besheer, who is asking about any reaction concerning the situation in Minneapolis following the killing of George Floyd. 

The only thing I have to add in response to what Margaret…  to what Maggie and Iftikhar have been asking is, naturally, the Secretary‑General was shocked by the killing. 

And do I have any further questions?  Either flag me on chat or…

Correspondent:  Yes…

Deputy Spokesman:  Hello?  Is there someone else?  Who?

Correspondent:  Yes.  Can I speak?

Deputy Spokesman:  Okay.  Sure, sure, come on.  You can speak.

Correspondent:  Nice seeing you again, Farhan.

Deputy Spokesman:  Nice seeing you.

Question:  Okay.  Couple of questions.  When Michelle Bachelet talked about castes, was she talking about Nepal, India, what?

Deputy Spokesman:  This was about Nepal.  There's further information on the High Commissioner for Human Rights' website.

Question:  Okay.  Secondly, I'm back to Brazil, which seems to be a weekly concern of mine.  It has 25,000 people dead.  The President is in denial.  The health minister's resigned, and now a general holds that title.  How is the…  who is the UN speaking to as a partner, since it's a very strange Government these days?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the simple fact is that we always deal with Government authorities, and our colleagues in the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) deal with the relevant counterparts in the health ministry of Brazil. 

You saw that I just read a note about Brazil and the work we did in the top part of the briefing, and we continue with our cooperation.  And with every country, whatever the challenges are on the ground with the pandemic, we're working to surmount them.

Question:  Yeah, I just wondered how you work in a country where the President and a lot of the top officials are in denial.

Deputy Spokesman:  I think, as time goes on, all countries are aware of the need to deal with this pandemic seriously.

And do we have anything further?

Question:  I have a question, not a serious or heavy one, but in the case of the ship that was arrested illegally carrying petroleum, where does the petroleum go? And can it then be sold for some of these needs that we have in the United Nations for the debilitated people?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the basic point for us is that oil shipments to parties in conflict and countries in Libya should not be in violation of sanctions.  So, I refer you to what I just said earlier in this broadcast about that. 

We're very pleased at efforts by countries to make sure that sanctions, including the sanctions in Libya, are upheld.  But, in general, of course, oil is a commodity, and as it's…  where it goes is wherever the parties who are contractually dealing with this want it to go. 

And with that…

Correspondent:  I have a question…

Correspondent:  It's a very valuable commodity, let's face it, and it's much in need by many, many different countries who really have the need for it to continue their manufacturing, production, et cetera, so at least if it could be designated to be sold in a proper place.

Deputy Spokesman:  Your point is taken.

And I see some further questions about the killing of Mr. Floyd.  Like I said, the Secretary‑General has made it clear that he was shocked by this.  Beyond that, I don't have anything further to say at this point.

And if that is it, then I will turn the floor…

Correspondent:  Farhan, I have a question.

Deputy Spokesman:  Oh.  Oh, yeah, Ibtisam.  Okay.  Go ahead.

Question:  Sorry.  I was put…  I don't know why it's not working in the chat.  Anyway, I have follow‑up on…  I have two questions, the first one on the killing of Mr. George Floyd.  So, it's not clear…  I mean, I hear your answers, but it's not clear for me whether the SG stands behind the statement that the UN Commissioner for Human Rights released.  Does he support her statement?  What exactly is his position?  I mean, to say…  is he also calling for investigation for police killing of African‑American man?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, I just refer you to what Ms. Bachelet herself said.  As you know, the Secretary‑General and the High Commissioner have differentiated responsibilities.  He supports her work and her ability to speak out on a wide range of topics relevant to her mandate.  It's not that he needs to then himself comment on those.  Those are her responsibilities, and we leave it to her judgement.  And, so, he does support her work as High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

And you had a second question?

Question:  Yeah, but I have a follow‑up.  It's not clear for me; why are you actually so hesitant to call clearly and in a clear way for investigation or to condemn the killing of…  whether Mr. Floyd in this case or other killing of African‑American men in this country by police officers or others?  I mean, there is an issue, and it's not one…  something that happened one time.  It has been happening all the time, and why you are not taking a clear position?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, the High Commissioner has taken a clear position.  And like I said, there is a system of differentiated responsibilities.  And within that, her work is fully supported by the Secretary‑General.

Question:  Okay.  My second question is on the donor conference next week regarding Yemen, do you think or do you see that it's a little bit problematic to hold…  to have a co‑host of this conference a country, in this case Saudi Arabia, that is also a party to the conflict?  Thank you.

Deputy Spokesman:  We think it's important to have all countries who are willing to ensure that the crisis in Yemen is put to a halt participate, and that will include all countries.  Unfortunately, there have been many parties to the fighting in Yemen.  We're trying to get that to halt.  And as you know, Martin Griffiths has been in touch with a number of countries, including Saudi Arabia, and has made progress with them in terms of having a halt to fighting in different parts of Yemen. 

But it is important, at this stage, that we bring everyone together in the effort to support the Yemeni people at a time when we are very, very worried that the country is facing far more challenges than it can possibly deal with.

And with that, I wish you all a good weekend, and I'll turn the floor over to Reem.  Reem, the floor is yours.

For information media. Not an official record.