Daily Archives: November 27, 2017

Partnerships ‘the only way’ to tackle global challenges, says UN industrial development chief

27 November 2017 &#150 The Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) was reappointed for a second term on Monday as the 17th UNIDO General Conference opened in Vienna, Austria.

In his opening speech to the General Conference, Director General LI Yong said he was humbled by the trust placed in him to lead UNIDO for another four years, adding that he felt “a sense of profound responsibility.”

“The global community is still facing a number of unresolved and urgent challenges,” added Mr. Li. “Poverty, unemployment, and hunger remain the most persistent and daunting tasks for our world. Climate change, resource-depletion and environmental degradation, as well as the potential impact of the latest technological revolution, add another dimension,” he said.

Mr. Li stressed that “the only way to solve the challenges ahead of us is in partnership…in partnership with governments, UN sister agencies, the private sector, and civil society.”

In a video message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres congratulated the Director General on his re-appointment, calling UNIDO “a key voice on technology transfer, investment flows and skills development.”

“Your efforts can help support economic transformation in Africa and in other regions, and, as we combat climate change, your work can facilitate the transition to low-carbon growth,” underscored the Secretary-General.

The UN General Assembly president also congratulated Mr. Li, saying that he looked forward to working with him.

Speaking to the General Conference, President Miroslav Lajčák said: “Industrialization of the past may have earned a bad name. It may have made us think of pollution, wastewater or labour exploitation. But when industrialization is inclusive and sustainable, the results are positive.”

He pointed out that it leads to decent jobs and improved livelihoods; fosters youth employment; and enable resource preservation and environmental protection, “these outcomes propel us towards eliminating poverty and hunger and reducing inequalities,” he asserted.

Under the theme ‘Partnering for impact – achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,’ hundreds of participants, including UN senior representatives; Heads of State, ministers and other high-level government officials; and prominent leaders from the private sector, civil society and academia gathered to showcase UNIDO’s initiatives, achievements and partnerships.

As its highest policymaking organ, the General Conference assembles UNIDO’s member States and approves the programme and budgets for the forthcoming biennium.

It will also use interactive discussions to explore issues, such as gender, circular economy, and industry 4.0 and will spotlight UNIDO’s leading role in the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa.

The Conference will offer a fully immersive experience for participants, including innovative formats for the events, integrated exhibitions and networking spaces.

Yemen’s Sana’a airport opens after blockade; UNICEF says vaccine delivery ‘cannot be a one-off’

27 November 2017 &#150 The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday warned that more than 11 million Yemeni children – almost every single Yemeni boy and girl – are in acute need of humanitarian assistance, despite the successful delivery of 1.9 million doses of vaccines to Sana’a airport on Sunday.

Yesterday’s success cannot be a one-off,” Geert Cappalaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa said Sunday at a press briefing in Amman, Jordan, welcoming the reopening of Sana’a airport, which enabled the agency’s first humanitarian delivery in three weeks.

Vaccines are urgently needed for a planned campaign to vaccinate 600,000 children across Yemen against diphtheria, meningitis, whooping cough, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

“Today, it is fair to say that Yemen is one of the worst places on earth to be a child,” he said. “The reason behind this is very straightforward: decades of conflict, decades also of chronic underdevelopment.”

Today it is estimated that every 10 minutes a child in Yemen is dying from preventable diseases, he added, noting that the outbreak of acute watery diarrhea and cholera this year is not a surprise, because the water and sanitation system throughout the country is almost entirely devastated and the health system is on its knees.

“The war in Yemen is sadly a war on children,” he said, calling on all parties to the conflict to stop fighting.

VIDEO: UN flights to the Yemeni capital resumed on 25 November, brining vaccines that will immunize 600,000 Yemini children against preventable diseases.

Nearly 5,000 children have been killed or seriously injured over the last two and a half years alone, thousands of schools and health facilities have been damaged or completely destroyed, and two million children suffer acute malnutrition.

Unfortunately, the vaccines stocks, despite the 1.9 million that UNICEF delivered on Sunday, are running out, Mr. Cappalaere said, calling for more vaccines to be delivered.

He also stressed the urgent need for affordable fuel, as pumping water requires using generators in the absence of a national power grid.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said that following the announcement on 22 November by the Saudi-led coalition that Sana’a airport and Al Hudaydah seaport will be reopened for humanitarian and relief efforts, the UN submitted notification of humanitarian movements and static locations to the coalition to resume the transport of aid personnel and humanitarian cargo to northern parts of Yemen.

Almost three weeks after the blockade was imposed, essential commodities like food, fuel, safe water and medical supplies have started running low in the country or have seen their prices skyrocket.

There continues to be a grave risk of further death, disease and starvation. On 20 November, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet) warned that should the blockade continue, many areas of Yemen are likely to experience famine within three to four months, said OCHA.

Gender Equality Gap Growing, Not Narrowing, Says Deputy Secretary-General in Nelson Mandela Lecture on Reducing Inequality through Inclusion

Following is the fifteenth Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, “Centring Gender: Reducing Inequality through Inclusion and Sustainability”, as prepared for delivery by Deputy Secretary‑General Amina Mohammed in Cape Town today:

I am deeply grateful to the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s Board of Trustees for this tremendous honour.  As Deputy Secretary‑General of the United Nations and a former Minister in my country, I have been fortunate to experience many remarkable moments in my life, but few have been more humbling than standing before you today.  The speakers who have come before me have all walked a path of courage, compassion and conviction, they are truly a hard act to follow.

I am particularly honoured to be here this year, as we approach the centenary commemoration of Nelson Mandela’s birth in 2018.  My feelings about Nelson Mandela —Madiba — are deep.  They are shared across this country, this continent and our world.  Twenty‑seven years ago, Mandela was freed after 27 years of unjust imprisonment.  At 71, he finally walked his long road to freedom.  We all stand today on his shoulders, with a shared sense of the respect, admiration and pride for the feat that he accomplished.

As a young girl growing up in Nigeria, I was proud of our country’s contribution to the liberation struggle in South Africa.  For the first time, paying taxes had a profound meaning for many of us.  History has moved on since then — but we should never forget this solidarity.  To reach across borders is to transcend differences, protect our core values and combat all that threatens our humanity.  Today, our world needs this more than ever.  The fabric of our society is fast losing its vibrancy and strength.

Multilateralism, peace, development and human rights are all threatened by a leadership vacuum across the globe.  Yet we see sparks of hope in our continent where the African spirit of solidarity is expressed even in the most challenging of times.  For example, Uganda with its myriad challenges still manages to host hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese refugees, giving them hope and a chance to survive and thrive.

As a young girl, my earliest memory of the liberation struggle was when I was 11 years old and I asked my father if we could visit South Africa.  He sighed and said no, that was impossible for a family like ours of mixed heritage.

Why not? I wanted to know.  He tried to explain the unexplainable; that as constituted — black father, white mother — we would be breaking the law.  In apartheid South Africa, we would be segregated — mother, father and child — by race.  The horrifying reality saddened me — that human beings could do that to one another.  Later in life, like millions of other people, I instinctively understood that this racist system was a truly frightening abomination — a violation of all that makes us human and a threat to the fabric of society.

Yet the unbending courage and conviction of Nelson Mandela, his leadership and his comrades kept the world full of hope.  President Mandela once observed that the depth of oppression in South Africa at that time created the height of character demonstrated by the leaders of the African National Congress (ANC).  I believe solidarity and the deep sense of one’s right to justice kept the flame alight.

In the course of history, among great leaders, Mandela towered — but he was the first to say he was not a perfect human.  In fact, yesterday I had the privilege of being given a tour of the office and archives at the Nelson Mandela foundation, and read in his own writing how Madiba reflected on this, when writing a book on his years as President.  He noted that he was concerned that he not be regarded as a saint.  He would have preferred to live as a man — to remind us that the possibility of such humanity exists in each of us — than to be turned into a myth.

Mandela confessed some qualities that could be considered flaws.  But he manifested them as virtues.  For example, we learned he was stubborn — but his stubbornness was attached to a profound sense of fairness.  Nelson Mandela was unrelentingly stubborn where it counted: in fighting for justice and equality.  These are core values that I believe are reflected in the issue that I am pleased to have been asked to speak to today — centring gender and reducing inequality through inclusion and sustainability.

This struck me as an ideal subject for a lecture in the name of Nelson Mandela, as it provides an opportunity for me to address what remains perhaps the most pervasive inequality globally, in every country and every society — that of gender inequality.  And to reflect on it at an opportune moment — as we launch today the 16 days of activism and mark the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women — but also as we witness a now a global movement, building momentum to say no more will this violence against half our populations (our mothers, sisters, daughters) be invisible or, worse still, treated with indifference.

Nelson Mandela’s profound legacy contains the inspiration we need to address the core of my lecture: putting people at the centre to reduce inequality through inclusion and sustainability.  Contemplating the driving force behind Mandela’s spirit — its depth, its compassion, and source of energy — I would have to sum it up simply by saying: the courage of one’s convictions.  Madiba was courage even when in his darkest moments he thought he may not have any to give.  His moral courage was defined in his DNA.  He would never compromise his convictions even at the cost of his freedom.  He stared life‑threatening danger in the face and refused to be cowed.  He lived through his family’s suffering, for his long walk to freedom was also that of his nearest and dearest.

When he declared that he was prepared to die for the ideal of a democratic and free society, this was not an academic promise even if it started as an ideal.  Mandela made his declaration in an entirely undemocratic, racist society before a judge who was weighing whether to impose the death penalty.  The judge stopped short of capital punishment — but his sentence to imprisonment on Robben Island put Mandela at grave risk and tantamount to being the living dead.

Today, I had the immense honour of seeing Robben Island for the second time.  I thank Tokyo Sexwale for granting me a personal tour.  As I walked across the landscape, I thought about Nelson Mandela’s arrival, along with his fellow political prisoners.  The prison warders spoke to them like animals, urging them to move faster.  But Mandela led his fellow political prisoners to slow their pace.

The State could rob Mandela of his freedom but never his dignity.  As Mandela himself said often, the struggle succeeded thanks to the bravery and sacrifice of thousands of nameless individuals who stood up to the violent, racist ideology of apartheid and gave their lives to the cause.  We must honour this legacy by realizing their vision of true equality.

The Constitution of South Africa is a shining example of turning the most brutal lessons of a bloody history into the most humane protections of a rights‑based ideal.  In so many ways, South Africa has been a leader internationally.  The United Nations is proud to have benefited from the wise counsel and active contributions of a number of sons and daughters of this great nation.  This includes my colleague, the outstanding head of UN‑Women, Phumzile Mlambo‑Ngcuka, who I am proud to call a sister, friend and mentor.  I know that she is saddened to not be here with you today, however today marks the International Day on the Elimination of Violence against Women, and her leadership in raising awareness on this global pandemic is needed elsewhere.

She follows in the footsteps of other South Africans, including Navi Pillay, our former High Commissioner for Human Rights.  There are many others — Charlotte Maxeke, Lilian Ngoyi, Albertina Sisulu, Gertrude Shope, Ruth First, Fatima Meer, Adelaide Tambo, Emma Mashinini, Winnie Madikizela‑Mandela, Sophia [Williams]‑De Bruyn, Helen Suzman, Mamphela Ramphele.  I highlight these few only to show how South African women have been at the vanguard of change globally.  They are the product of an incredible women’s movement in this country.

In the mid‑1950s, some 20,000 women of this country marched to protest the pass laws.  Their slogan was powerful: “You Strike a Woman, You Strike a Rock”.  Many have cited this moment as a turning point in the struggle against apartheid.  From that moment in the 1950s, through the struggle, the negotiations for a democratic country, and the constitutional assembly that provided this country with one of the most progressive constitutions globally, South Africa women have been leaders for change.  They are proof of one simple fact: given the opportunity to participate fully, we have in half our population the capacity, resources, and potential to address the most pressing challenges we currently face.  What is needed is to break down institutional and attitudinal barriers and invest in the full contribution of women and girls to their societies and countries.

Gender equality was central to Madiba’s vision of equality, and central to the struggle for freedom.  This was the result of women’s tireless mobilization.  But it was also a reflection of leadership that understood that equality cannot be selectively applied.  Leadership who held a vision of a society where there was no discrimination on the basis of race, class, gender or any other category.  Nelson Mandela taught that freedom is indivisible, noting that “the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them; the chains on all of my people were the chains on me”.

Speaking before the first Parliament in 1994, he declared that “freedom cannot be achieved unless the women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression”.  He practised what he preached.  A number of women here today were present in 1992 at an historic ANC conference in Durban, where Mandela stood up to men who opposed his firm pledge of a 30 per cent quota for women MPs.  It is this kind of leadership that we need globally at the moment to achieve transformative and sustainable change within a short period of time.

This is important.  As when it comes to gender equality we are often told that change takes time — perhaps even generational change.  This country is evidence that wholesale change is possible.  During the democratic transition, women’s representation in Parliament increased ten‑fold, from 2.7 per cent to 27 per cent.  African women went in a few short years from the indignity of being a minor from the cradle to the grave, to holding some of the most powerful positions politically and economically.

Yet sadly, the long walk to freedom for women and adolescent girls globally remains unfinished.  The continuous battle of overcoming structural barriers as well as cultural and social challenges must be fought with a new narrative that addresses the current context and constituency of young people left behind.  Around the world, women still hold less than one third of senior management positions in the private sector.  Fewer than one quarter of all parliamentarians are women.  Violence against women — in homes and war zones — remains a global pandemic.  Up to one in three women has experienced violence in her lifetime.  There are nearly 50 countries that do not even have laws against domestic violence.  In 37 countries, marriage excuses rape.

This country knows these statistics all too well.  Reading the front page of a Johannesburg daily newspaper yesterday, I saw similar facts — one in four women are the victims of violent abuse, an estimated 100 rapes occur per day, and half of children are abused before they turn 18.  Marginalized and younger women are particularly at risk and often suffer greater consequences.  Young women who experience intimate partner violence are 50 per cent more likely to have acquired HIV than women who have not experienced violence.  And while we have seen positive progress to address violence against women in some countries, in others we have, in fact, witnessed a push back on women’s rights and the dismantling of legal protections from violence weakening our struggling democracies.

On the economic front, if we look at the labour force, we find women doing some of the most important work in society for the least compensation.  Unpaid domestic work — which often involves taking care of loved ones — falls on three times more women than men.  In the formal workplace, women’s equal contribution is not valued equally.  And women earn on average 70 cents to every dollar earned by a man.  This ratio is far greater among marginalized groups.

A report issued by the World Economic Forum last month noted that it would take 217 years to equalize the pay and employment opportunities of men and women.  Perhaps most disturbing is that this number has increased from the 170 years researchers calculated a year ago — meaning that we are in fact seeing the gender equality gap increasing rather than decreasing.  Reproductive health services and reproductive rights have been hard‑won in many places — but now they face new threats.  This despite the fact that we know that access to family planning measures are some of the most impactful tools we have to address poverty among women.  These stark statistics and facts are only one side of the picture, however.  The empowerment of women is more than a social imperative or a matter of justice.  It is essential to achieving sustainable development, protecting our environment and securing peace.

According to the World Bank, girls who finish school earn nearly 70 per cent more than girls who have to drop out — and that boosts GDP annual growth rates by 1.5 per cent.  When women are kept out of the labour force, everyone pays the price.  Put another way, we know that women’s equal participation in the labour force would unlock $12 trillion in global growth.  Money that could be used to further access to education, health and services for all.

We have evidence that one of the greatest predictors of stability and resilience to conflict is levels of gender equality in a society, and that women’s meaningful participation in peace processes increases the sustainability of peace by 30 per cent over the long term.  There could not be a more important moment to realize the importance of gender equality to the challenges that we face.  Our current global context includes sustained and horrifying levels of violence across a number of new and protracted conflicts, taking development gains backwards and leading to the highest levels of individuals uprooted from their homes at any time since the end of [the Second World War].

One of the greatest threats to global security is violent extremism.  I have seen its effects in my own country and around the world, and I have met with the survivors.  Extremists of all types seek to curtail women’s rights — the rights to education, health, political life; freedom of association and movement, and freedom to make choices.  Violent extremists are using gender norms to radicalize and recruit, redefining the roles and identity of men and women.  It is for this reason that gender equality is anathema — and a big part of the solution — to ending violent extremism.  Coming from north‑eastern Nigeria, I know terrorists are not born but shaped from an environment that excludes young people, decimates religious teaching and cultural beliefs, converting communities to an ideology of subjugation.

Two weeks ago, I had an extraordinary set of meetings in my office.  As Deputy Secretary‑General, it is common for me to speak to high‑level officials, but that day I met with teenagers.  First, I had a dialogue with a young girl named Ekhlas Bajoo.  She is a Yazidi woman who was captured and held by Da’esh, suffering horrific atrocities.  I was deeply moved by her plight.  But what struck me even more than her incredible story of endurance was her powerful voice for justice.

This young girl had been through worse crimes than most of us could imagine.  And yet she was an outspoken, strong and unstoppable advocate for the cause of peace and an end to violence against women and girls.  As we walked out of my office, there were two young women ready for my next appointment, one of whom was Hauwa Mohammed, victimized by Boko Haram.  A lone face out of the thousands of girls, like the Chibok girls, who have suffered as a result of the terrorism in my own country, Nigeria.  The young woman from Nigeria and this young woman from Iraq instantly embraced each other.  Although they spoke different languages they easily communicated messages to each other.  They said, “Don’t give up hope.  Let us win over the terrorists.  Let us reach across divisions.  Let us build a better world.”

I left that day knowing that there is nothing more important than giving girls like these a platform to reach the world for those left behind without an authentic voice.  Sadly, the context we face in our world today poses new threats beyond terrorism; we also face the major threat to security and development posed by climate change, exacerbating poverty and vulnerability of the poorest in our societies.  No one can deny that climate change is real, man‑made and has a role in pushing up global temperatures — and therefore we know humankind is responsible for and can address the problem before it is too late.  The signs are with us everywhere across the globe.

We know that women — especially in poor countries — are more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.  In the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone, five times as many women as men died.  In the Indian Ocean tsunami, women accounted for more than two thirds of all deaths.  In recent months, the Caribbean witnessed hurricanes that wiped out the GDP of a country overnight.  These storms will become more intense and frequent in the coming months and years

These crises as a result of climate change can be turned into opportunities to build back better for all, addressing the investment gap for women that reduces the potential and value of a country by 50 per cent.  Socially, environmentally and politically, women have proven that when you invest in them, you get results for all.  The question is how to build on these gains and achieve true gender equality.  The answer is investment in women’s empowerment in all its ramifications, along with a cultural shift in mindsets so that women’s equality is a given in all societies.

I have skirted the surface of the huge challenges we face today and I believe, from Cape Town and its drought to the lost opportunity of South Sudan and its hard‑won independence, to the Sahel and its battle with terrorism, human slavery and drug trafficking, to Myanmar and the ethnic cleansing we are witnessing, to femicide in Latin Amercia, opiod wars in middle [United States], to migration and refugee crises in Europe, our global village is truly in a mess.  But all is not lost.  In 2015, the world came together and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was born.  It was a four‑year journey that was the most inclusive process ever held by the United Nations for development.

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Graça Machel, who served as one of the eminent Sustainable Development Goal advocates — and a member of the High‑level Panel on the post‑2015 agenda.  The 2030 Agenda constitutes a universal plan of action for ending poverty and ensuring a life of dignity for all.  It has been called a “declaration of interdependence” composed of 17 Goals and 169 targets.  The Goals represent unprecedented ambition to free humankind from the tyranny of want.  They envisage transforming the way Governments interact with people, businesses interact with communities, and all of us interact with our environment.  The Goals have already achieved a seismic shift in our approach to development.

The framework builds on the many successes since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing.  About two thirds of countries in developing regions have gender parity in primary education, fewer women die in childbirth, and more girls survive past childhood.  We could literally fill this entire hall with documents proving that well‑educated women who have equality in political participation and the jobs market raise income for everyone — and improve living standards for generations to come.

Women and girls are at the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  These Goals can change history by ensuring women’s rights and leadership around the world.  In the United Nations, I am very proud that our Secretary‑General, António Guterres, speaks out at every opportunity against misogynist mindsets.  He is working for gender equality within the United Nations and around the world.  His new strategy on gender parity provides a road map to reach parity within the United Nations, and we are working on strengthening our own financing, capacity and expertise on gender equality so that we can better support countries to achieve their own goals.  So we are walking the talk.  But we will only realize the potential of the SDGs if we take seriously the values of inclusion and leaving no one behind.  The sustainable change that we need to see will only be possible if we are including young people — girls and boys.

I have spoken at length about women and equality because it is true that women continue to be less equal then men globally.  But gender is not equal to women.  Gender inequality, norms, and stereotypes affect men and women, girls and boys.  When young boys are taught that it is not manly to cry, they learn to suppress their emotions.  When young men are taught that violence is masculine and accepted, we create the next generation of those who seek solutions at the barrel of a gun.  When society dictates the role of men as bread winners or aloof and distant fathers, we disempower families and create public policies that don’t match the reality of households.

In the past week I have invited those on social media to send me their thoughts on how we can achieve gender equality.  I thank all who participated.  Many of the comments were insightful and spoke of concrete actions and the need to ensure financial inclusion, address violence, and increase protections and services.  But what also struck me was the number of men who spoke of the need for gender inequality not to dispossess or disempower men.  While the dismantling of privilege is never easy, this country has perhaps shown us that it can only be done sustainably when all see the benefits for themselves and feel part of the solution.

Gender inequality affects every one of us.  And addressing it is equally our shared responsibility.  That change will need to happen with our youth.  Over the past two days we have heard the voices of our young girls here in Cape Town.  What they have spoken about is the need for girls to have space to convene, to support each other, to be listened to.  We are witnessing, as we speak, an unprecedented moment — a global momentum that may have begun in a perhaps unlikely place — but which is carrying reverberations in many corners of the world.  The #MeToo movement is opening new conversations, establishing new shared understandings of unacceptable behaviour, and shedding new light on the pervasive nature of gender inequality, as did the He4She campaign.  It is an opportunity to shift the tide, and one we should collectively seize for positive change.

Nelson Mandela had a very long walk to freedom.  Most of us could not even fathom his journey.  At the end, he said he “discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds there are many more hills to climb”.  Leadership at all levels is the key.  Madiba showed tremendous integrity in stepping off the platform when the applause was loudest.  We should be inspired by his necessarily long walk and make a fast run to gender equality.  We need to galvanize the international community which includes us all, to invest in women and girls — and to give them space — so they can contribute to progress.

I am perhaps the first person to deliver this lecture who never met Nelson Mandela.  In a sense, I represent generations of people to come who will take inspiration from his life without ever having had the privilege of a personal encounter.  However, I believe I learned a little of who he was through a great woman of Mozambique and South Africa — his wife, his better half, his best friend, Graça Machel.  She embodies the same vast courage as her late husband — the same inspiring commitment and passion to raising a new generation of girls — and the same immense spirit of humanity.  A rare woman of substance who tells it like it is.

Collectively, we see the hills before us and we are challenged to climb them.  For climb we must.  If we feel defeated, we can return to Madiba’s indomitable bravery and humanism.  Nelson Mandela possessed a character that none of us could emulate — but we can all be inspired to try.

Just as the world came together to support the end of subjugation on the basis of race in this country, we need today to birth a new movement that calls for true equality, everywhere.  We as leaders must stand up and take collective responsibility for our current failings but also for the actions we must take to end the conflict, injustice, inequality, corruption and ensure true inclusive democracy, peace and prosperity for our people.

I leave you all with a call to action: to invest in the missing 50 per cent of our human asset base, the potential of our women and unleash their power for good; and to make good on the new era of the Sustainable Development Goals, starting with Goal 5 as your docking station for the other 16 Goals to create a world of true gender equality.

My promise to you as woman of colour, a Muslim, a proud mother of six and granny of one in a position of privileged responsibility serving alongside António Guterres, to strive to leave the United Nations fit for the purpose of healing our world and ensuring we keep hope alive for those who deserve a life of respect and dignity.  In Madiba’s words, it always seems impossible until it’s done.

I thank you all for your kind patience and attention.

Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 26 November 2017

This report is for the media and the general public.

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions between the evenings of 24 and 25 November compared with the previous reporting period. In both regions the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations between the evenings of 25 and 26 November compared with the previous 24 hours. The SMM heard from soldiers and residents that Ukrainian Armed Forces had moved into the village of Travneve on 21-22 November. Some residents of Travneve told the SMM that they had been without electricity since 16 November. The Mission continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske; it recorded ceasefire violations inside the Petrivske disengagement area. It followed up on reports of a civilian casualty in Popasna and observed damage caused by shelling in Dokuchaievsk and Holmivskyi. Its access remained restricted in the disengagement areas and elsewhere, including at a Ukrainian Armed Forces weapons holding area.* The Mission saw weapons in violation of withdrawal lines near Volnovakha. The SMM visited seven border areas outside of government control.The SMM monitored a gathering in front of the regional prosecutor’s officein Odessa.

In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 24 and 25 November, the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations[1], including about 400 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (about 60 explosions). Between the evenings of 25 and 26 November, the SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including about 280 explosions, compared with the previous 24 hours.

While in government-controlled Svitlodarsk (57km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 24-25 November the SMM heard: 83 explosions assessed as outgoing rounds (41 assessed as artillery and eight as mortar rounds, the rest undetermined) 3-6km south-east and south, 4-7km north-west, 4-6km north-east and 4-6km east; 57 explosions assessed as impacts 6-8km south and south-east, 8-10km south-west; 25 undetermined explosions 2-5km south and south-east, 4-6km south-west and 4-7km east; and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire – including periods of uncountable overlapping bursts of fire – 2-4km south-east.

While in Svitlodarsk on the night of 25-26 November the SMM heard 59 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms-fire 2-7km south-east and 6-9km south-west, 15 explosions assessed as outgoing artillery rounds 5-7km north-west and 21 explosions assessed as impacts 7-10km west-south-west.

On the night of 24-25 November the SMM camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station (15km north-west of Donetsk) recorded, in sequence, four undetermined explosions, one projectile in flight from west to east and 24 from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. On the afternoon of 25 November the camera recorded six undetermined explosions and one projectile in flight from east to west, all 0.5-1.5km south. From the late afternoon of 25 November and overnight from 25-26 November the camera recorded 43 undetermined explosions, 124 projectiles in flight from east to west, nine from west to east and one from north to south, 0.5-1.5km south.

During the daytime on 26 November the camera at the Donetsk Filtration Station recorded, in sequence, 19 undetermined explosions, two projectiles in flight from east to west, followed by a total of 13 undetermined explosions, 13 projectiles in flight from east to west and three from west to east, all 0.5-1.5km south.

On 25 November, positioned at the railway station in “DPR”-controlled Yasynuvata (16km north-east of Donetsk) for about four hours, the SMM heard 142 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms-fire – and periods of overlapping uncountable bursts – 1-6km west and north, 2-3km north-west, 3-5km north-east, 3-5km south-west and 1-6km south-west.

On 25 November, positioned on the south-western edge of government-controlled Avdiivka for about four hours, the SMM heard nine undetermined explosions 4-6km south and south-west. Positioned at the same location on 26 November for about four hours, the SMM heard 23 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 3-6km south-east.

While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city on 25 November the SMM heard 15 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire, all 5-8km west.

Positioned 2km south-south-east of “DPR”-controlled Sakhanka (24km north-east of Mariupol) on 25 November the SMM heard four explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds (120mm) 1km north-west, 42 shots of automatic-grenade-launcher fire 1-2km west and 0.5-1.5km north-west and small-arms-fire 1-2km west and north-west.

On 25 November the SMM camera in Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) recorded, in sequence, one explosion assessed as an impact, one undetermined explosion and 42 projectiles in flight from east to west, followed by a total of four undetermined explosions, 62 projectiles from east to west and three from west to east, all 5-8km north. On 26 November the camera recorded, in sequence, two projectiles in flight from east to west, one undetermined explosion, followed by a total of eight projectiles in flight from east to west, five from west to east and two undetermined explosions, all 5-8km north.

While in “DPR”-controlled Horlivka (39km north-east of Donetsk) on the night of 25-26 November the SMM heard 25 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun and small-arms fire, all 2-6km west and south-west.

While in “DPR”-controlled Donetsk city on the night of 25-26 November the SMM heard ten explosions assessed as outgoing and ten subsequent impacts, nine undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire, all at an unknown distance north-west.

On 26 November the SMM camera in Avdiivka recorded 24 undetermined explosions, all 4-6km east-south-east.

Positioned about 1km north-east of government-controlled Krasnohorivka (24km north of Donetsk) the SMM heard 19 explosions assessed as outgoing mortar rounds (82mm) 4-5km south-east.

In Luhansk region the SMM recorded more ceasefire violations between the evenings of 24 and 25 November, including 17 explosions, compared with the previous reporting period (two explosions). It recorded fewer ceasefire violations, including one explosion, between the evenings of 25 and 26 November, compared with the previous 24 hours.

While in government-controlled Popasna (69km west of Luhansk) on the night of 24-25 November the SMM heard 16 undetermined explosions and heavy-machine-gun fire 5-10km south-east and 10km east.

The SMM followed up on allegations of the Ukrainian Armed Forces having moved into the village of Travneve (51km north-east of Donetsk). In nearby government-controlled Novoluhanske (53km north-east of Donetsk) a woman in her sixties told the SMM that between 21 and 22 November, members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Aidar battalion and the 54th brigade had entered Travneve. She also said that on the evening of 14 November the regular bus service bringing workers back to Travneve from the pig farm in Novoluhanske could not enter Travneve as the Ukrainian Armed Forces commander of the checkpoint near Dolomitne (53km north-east of Donetsk) did not let them pass. As a result, she said, these workers had to stay in Novoluhanske. In the days after, according to her, some workers returned to Travneve through the Maiorsk entry-exit checkpoint, although the majority remain in Novoluhanske. The woman said the electricity supply to Travneve had been cut since 14 November and that the (mostly elderly) residents of Travneve have been unable to leave the village to buy groceries in nearby “DPR”-controlled Holmivskyi (49km north-east of Donetsk). She told the SMM that the Travneve has no shop.

At a checkpoint adjacent to the pig farm near Dolomitne a soldier, who identified himself as part of the Aidar battalion of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, told the SMM that his unit had moved into Travneve on 22 November and now controls it. A few minutes later, the commander, who identified himself as the head of the first assault unit, arrived and referred all queries to his superiors.

Aerial imagery of the area taken on 13 November revealed a forward observation trench north of the village with the main trench system and revetted vehicle positions a further 1200m to the north.

In addition, the SMM spoke separately by telephone with four residents from Travneve (three women and a man) and a resident from Novoluhanske (a woman). They told the SMM that the Ukrainian Armed Forces had been present in Travneve since the night of 21-22 November. Four of the residents told the SMM that there has been no electricity in the village since 16 November, which had also affected their water supply. A resident from Travneve, also a member of the Novoluhanske village council, told the SMM that there has been no electricity in Hladosove since 26 November and that on 27 November, the road between Travneve, Hladosove and Holmivskyi was re-opened to pedestrians (after having been closed since 22 November). 

The SMM followed up on reports that an eight-year-old girl was injured by shelling in government-controlled Popasna on 17 November. At 51 Vodoprovidna Street four of the girl’s relatives (a man and a woman, both in their thirties and the girl’s grandparents, both in their sixties) told the SMM that the girl had bruising on her foot and arm as a result of the shelling and also that she now fears being in the dark. The SMM observed a crater in the yard about 10-12m west of the house that the girl’s relatives said was caused by shelling on 17 November. It observed shrapnel damage to the roof and walls and broken windows on all sides of the house, assessed as caused by the blast wave and shrapnel. Windows on the west-facing side of the house had been removed, some window frames had been damaged and other windows had been covered with plastic film. The SMM saw that the roof of the house, which it had observed as destroyed on 18 November, had been partially repaired. It also saw that a shed 10m south-west of the house had been completely destroyed.

The SMM followed up on allegations from Russian Federation Armed Forces officers of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) of damage caused by shelling in residential areas of “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (30km south-west of Donetsk). At a house on 37 Lenina Street the SMM saw a hole of approximately 50cm diameter in the side of a west-south-west-facing wooden roof. The SMM also observed a number of broken wooden planks and roof panels. The occupants of the house, a man and woman in their sixties, said that they had heard two explosions in the area between 09:50-09:55 on 26 November and said that no one had been injured.

At 10a Tsentralna Street, the SMM observed a fresh 3-4cm hole in a south-west-facing fence. In the yard of the house the SMM saw fresh shrapnel damage to a tree. The SMM spoke separately to three teenage boys on Tsentralna Street who said that they had heard something impacting in the yard of the house at about 13:00 on 24 November. They also said that no one lived in the house.

The SMM visited “DPR”-controlled Yasne (30km south-west of Donetsk) following up on allegations of shelling given to the SMM by the Russian Federation Armed Forces of the JCCC. At the addresses specified (8, 10 and 16 Shchorsa Street) the SMM observed no signs of shelling and two residents of the street – independent of one another – told the SMM that the street had not been shelled since 2015.

In Holmivskyi the SMM, accompanied by a Russian Federation Armed Forces officer of the JCCC, observed damage caused by shelling at 54 Radianskoi Armii Street. The SMM observed an 80cm diameter impact site on the west-facing wall of a house and that parts of the west- and east-facing parts of the roof – said by the homeowners to have been damaged in shelling – had been repaired. In the yard of the house the SMM saw four craters and shrapnel damage to a fence and shed. Based on marks on the asphalt, the SMM assessed that two of the craters had been caused by rounds fired from a north-westerly direction. The homeowners, a couple in their fifties, told the SMM that their house had been shelled on 15 November. In the yard of the house next door (58 Radianskoi Armii Street) the SMM saw shrapnel damage to the east-facing wall. The SMM assessed that the damage had been caused by the impact at 54 Radianskoi Armii Street.

On 24 November the SMM saw both Ukrainian Armed Forces and “DPR”positions close to the Donetsk Filtration Station. The SMM saw Ukrainian Armed Forces about 170m and “DPR” positions about 300-500m from the station, as previously observed (see SMM Daily Report, 25 November 2017).

The SMM continued monitoring the situation in Luhansk city (see SMM Daily Report, 25 November 2017). The SMM noted that no armoured vehicles or armed persons were observed in the area of a hotel at 48 Radianska Street and that a sports facility to the rear of the hotel, that had been housing armed persons, had re-opened for public use. Mobile patrols near the former Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) and different former administration buildings were no longer there. The SMM observed also that the static position outside the former MIA building was no longer there.

The SMM continued to monitor the disengagement process and to pursue full access to the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-east of Luhansk), Zolote (60km west of Luhansk) and Petrivske (41km south of Donetsk), as foreseen in the Framework Decision of the Trilateral Contact Group relating to disengagement of forces and hardware of 21 September 2016. The SMM’s access remained restricted but the Mission was able to partially monitor them.*

On 23 November the SMM camera in “DPR”-controlled Petrivske recorded one tracer round in flight from west to east and one undetermined explosion (both assessed as inside the disengagement area).

In the early hours of 25 November, while on the eastern edge of Stanytsia Luhanska the SMM heard one undetermined explosion 2-3km south-west (assessed as outside the disengagement area). On 26 November, positioned in Stanytsia Luhanska the SMM heard one shot 1km east (assessed as outside the disengagement area) and one undetermined explosion 2km east (assessed as outside the disengagement area).

Positioned on the southern edge of “LPR”-controlled Zolote 5-Mykhailivka (60km north-west of Luhansk) on 26 November the SMM heard two shots of small-arms fire 1km north-west (but was unable to assess whether it was in or outside the disengagement area)

The SMM continued to monitor the withdrawal of weapons, in implementation of the Package of Measures and its Addendum, as well as the Memorandum.

In violation of the respective withdrawal lines in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw two stationary self-propelled howitzers (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) near Volnovakha (53km south of Donetsk).

Beyond withdrawal lines but outside designated storage sites in government-controlled areas, the SMM saw two stationary tanks (T-64) near Volnovakha.

The SMM observed weapons that could not be verified as withdrawn, as their storage did not comply with the criteria set out in the 16 October 2015 notification from the SMM to the signatories of the Package of Measures on effective monitoring and verification of the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The SMM observed 12 towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint B, 152mm), four multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) (BM-21, Grad 122mm), 13 tanks (T-72), one mortar (M-120 Molot 120mm) and one surface-to-air missile system (9K33 Osa) at such holding areas. It also noted that 25 towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) and one surface-to-air missile system (9K33, Osa) continued to be missing from weapons holding areas. The SMM observed that six weapons holding areas continued to be abandoned.

The SMM revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site and observed that five mortars (Molot, 120mm) were missing for the first time and noted that 29 tanks (20 T-72 and nine T-80) continued to be missing.

The SMM observed armoured combat vehicles[2] in the security zone. In government-controlled areas the SMM saw an armoured reconnaissance vehicle (one BRDM 2), an armoured personnel carrier (BTR-80), and an armoured vehicle (Cougar) near government-controlled Pyshchevyk (25km north-east of Mariupol) on 25 November.

In non-government-controlled areas the SMM observed an armoured recovery vehicle (BREM-type) on a T-72 chassis transported on a flatbed trailer heading south near Starobesheve (32km south-east of Donetsk) on 25 November.

Also in non-government-controlled areas the SMM observed fresh tracks consistent with self-propelled howitzer (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) chassis in multiple locations: on roads between Zaichenko (26km north-east of Mariupol) and Pikuzy (formerly Kominternove, 23km north-east of Mariupol), between Sosnivske (35km north-east of Mariupol) and Khreshchatytske (formerly Krasnoarmiiske, 33km north-east of Mariupol) and between Verkhnoshyrokivske (formerly Oktiabr, 29km north-east of Mariupol) and Kachkarske (35km north-east of Mariupol).

On 25 November the SMM observed a large number of persons in military-type clothing (25-30 persons), some of whom were armed with assault rifles (AK-47 variant), arrive in Pikuzy by bus. Some tried to hide their faces from the SMM.

Positioned on both sides of the contact line, the SMM facilitated adherence to the ceasefire to enable the transfer of the remains of three Ukrainian Armed Force soldiers from non-government-controlled to government-controlled areas over Shchastia bridge (20km north of Luhansk) on 25 November.

The SMM visited seven border areas outside of government-control. At the Uspenka border crossing point (73km south-east of Donetsk) for about an hour on 25 November, the SMM counted 29 cars (with the following licence plates: eight Ukrainian, eight Russian Federation, two Lithuanian; 11 “DPR” plates) leaving Ukraine; five vans (four with Ukrainian licence plates, one with “DPR” plates), 17 trucks (with the following licence plates: 15 Ukrainian, one Georgian; one with “DPR” plates) and a bus (with Ukrainian number plates) carrying around 30 passengers. About 15 pedestrians exited Ukraine. The SMM saw 24 cars (with the following licence plates: 12 Ukrainian, six Russian Federation, one Georgian, one Lithuanian; four with “DPR” plates), six vans (with the following licence plates: three Ukrainian, one Russian Federation; two with “DPR” plates), one truck with Ukrainian number plates, three tanker trucks (one with Ukrainian licence plates; two with “DPR” plates) and two buses (one with Ukrainian and one with Russian Federation licence plates) carrying a total of about 70 passengers.

At the border crossing point near Ulianivske (61km south-east of Donetsk) for about 20 minutes on 25 November, the SMM observed seven pedestrians leaving Ukraine.

At the border crossing point in Dovzhanske (84km south-east of Luhansk) for about 35 minutes on 25 November, the SMM saw seven vehicles (two with Ukrainian and five with Russian Federation licence plates), one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates, carrying about 35 passengers), three covered cargo trucks (two with Ukrainian licence plates; and one with “LPR” plates) and two male pedestrians (aged about 30) enter Ukraine. The SMM also saw five vehicles (three with Ukrainian and two with Russian Federation licence plates) and six pedestrians (five men, aged about 30 and a woman aged about 50) exit Ukraine.

At the border crossing point in Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) for about 75 minutes on 25 November, the SMM saw 118 pedestrians (53 women, 65 men, aged 30-50 years old), 17 cars (with the following licence plates: nine Ukrainian, six Russian; and two with “LPR” plates), one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates, carrying about 80 passengers) and three covered trucks (one with Ukrainian, one with Russian and one with Belarussian licence plates) exit Ukraine. The SMM observed 72 pedestrians (45 women, 27 men, aged 30-40 years old), 12 cars (eight with Ukrainian and four with Russian licence plates), two covered trucks (with Ukrainian licence plates,) and one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates, with around 50 passengers) enter Ukraine.

At the Izvaryne (52km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about an hour on 26 November, the SMM saw 22 pedestrians, 20 cars (with the following licence plates: 15 Ukrainian, three Russian Federation, one Finnish; and one with “LPR” plates), one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates, carrying about 60 passengers) and one covered truck (with Ukrainian licence plates) exiting Ukraine. The SMM also observed 14 pedestrians (11 females, three males, including three children), four cars (three with Ukrainian licence plates, one with Russian Federation licence plates), one covered truck (with Ukrainian licence plates) and one bus (with Ukrainian licence plates, carrying about 70 passengers) entering Ukraine.

At the Verkhnoharasymivka (57km south-east of Luhansk) border crossing point for about ten minutes on 26 November, the SMM saw two people (a man and a woman) leaving Ukraine and six people (two women and four men) entering Ukraine.

On 26 November the SMM visited the Novoazovsk (102km south-east of Donetsk) border crossing point, and during 30 minutes of observation, noted two cars and one covered truck (licence plates not observed) exiting Ukraine.

On 26 November, the SMM monitored a gathering in Odessa of about 60 people (mostly men, mixed ages) in front of the regional prosecutor’s office on Pushkinska Street. The SMM saw ten police officers on the opposite side of the street. One of the participants told the SMM that they were protesting against the arrest of the leader of the “Street Front” group and the former leader of Right Sector in Odessa. The two have been in pre-trial detention since 23 and 24 November, respectively, arrested in relation to their participation in the 18 November city garden protest in Odessa. (See SMM Daily Report, 20 November 2017.) He also told the SMM that they planned to block the prosecutor from entering his office on 27 November. The SMM saw some of the participants sitting in front of the door of the prosecutor’s office. During the SMM’s presence, no incidents were observed.

The SMM continued monitoring in Kherson, Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Chernivtsi, and Kyiv.

*Restrictions of SMM’s freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate

The SMM’s monitoring and freedom of movement are restricted by security hazards and threats, including risks posed by mines, unexploded ordnance (UXO) and other impediments – which vary from day to day. The SMM’s mandate provides for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine. All signatories of the Package of Measures have agreed on the need for this safe and secure access, that restriction of the SMM’s freedom of movement constitutes a violation, and on the need for rapid response to these violations. They have also agreed that the JCCC should contribute to such response and co-ordinate mine clearance. Nonetheless, the armed formations in parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions frequently deny the SMM access to areas adjacent to Ukraine’s border outside control of the Government, citing orders to do so. (See, for example, SMM Daily Report 21 November 2017) The SMM’s operations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions remained restricted following the fatal incident of 23 April near Pryshyb; these restrictions continued to limit the Mission’s observations.

Denial of access:

  • On 25 November Ukrainian Armed Forces denied the SMM access to a heavy weapons holding area. The SMM informed the JCCC.

Related to disengagement areas and mines/UXO:

  • On 25 and 26 November the SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads south of the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. Armed “LPR” members positioned on the southern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC. 
  • On 25 November the SMM was prevented from accessing secondary roads in the Zolote disengagement area due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. Ukrainian Armed Forces officers of the JCCC at a checkpoint on the northern side of the Zolote disengagement area told the SMM that no demining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • On 25 and 26 November the SMM was prevented from accessing parts of the Stanytsia Luhanska disengagement area, with the exception of the main road, due to the possible presence of mines and UXO. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC told the SMM that no de-mining had taken place during the previous 24 hours. The SMM did not consider it safe to proceed and informed the JCCC.
  • On 25 and 26 November the SMM could not travel across the bridge in government-controlled Shchastia due to the presence of mines. A Ukrainian Armed Forces officer of the JCCC said there were mines on the road south of the bridge. The SMM informed the JCCC.

[1] Please see the annexed report for a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations as well as a map of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions marked with locations featured in this report. During this reporting period the SMM camera at the Oktiabr mine (Donetsk) remained non-operational. Nine SMM cameras are in a testing phase, which will last until 30 November 2017.

[2] This hardware is not proscribed by the provisions of the Minsk agreements on the withdrawal of weapons.

Secretary-General Strongly Condemns Deadly Attack against United Nations Peacekeepers in Central African Republic

SG/SM/18799-PKO/692

26 November 2017

The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary‑General António Guterres:

The Secretary‑General strongly condemns today’s attack perpetrated by suspected anti‑Balaka against a convoy of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), on the Bangassou‑Kongbo axis, in the country’s south‑east.  As a result of the attack, one peacekeeper from Egypt was killed and three others were injured.  The injured peacekeepers have been evacuated for medical treatment to Bria.  The Secretary‑General offers his deepest condolences and sympathy to the family of the victim and to the Government of Egypt.  He wishes a swift recovery to the wounded. 

With this latest attack, hostile acts have claimed the lives of 13 peacekeepers in the Central African Republic since January 2017.  The Secretary‑General firmly recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute a war crime.  He calls on the Central African Republic authorities to investigate the attack in order to swiftly bring those responsible to justice.

The Secretary‑General reaffirms the determination of the United Nations to advance the implementation of MINUSCA’s mandate, recently renewed by the Security Council, in particular to protect civilians and to help advance the political process in the Central African Republic.  He notes that this latest attack occurred as members of the Panel of Facilitators of the African Union‑led Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation are beginning their good offices role to support dialogue and help bring about an end to conflict in the country.

For information media. Not an official record.