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 afternoon, everyone.

Today, we will be joined by our guest, Mohamed Moustapha Malick Fall, the UN Resident Coordinator in Nigeria, who will brief on the situation in the country.  He will do that right after this part.

And allow me to remind you that our next briefing will be on Tuesday.  Monday is a UN Holiday for Eid al-Adha.

**Secretary-General’s Travel

A few moments ago, the Secretary-General participated in the outreach session of the G7 summit in Italy.

As outlined in his press conference in Geneva, the Secretary-General carried a number of messages to the G7, notably on climate change, artificial intelligence, and reform of the international financial architecture

He encouraged the G7 to step up and go further, faster in climate action by showing greater climate solidarity by finance, technology transfer, and so forth.

He reiterated his call for real reform of the international financial architecture so that it better represents developing countries and responds to their needs.

on artificial intelligence, he told the gathering that these technologies must support human rights, sustainable development and benefit all humanity — instead of racing ahead of regulation, exacerbating power imbalances, further concentrating wealth and raising tensions and divisions. He highlighted the recommendations of his Advisory Panel on Artificial Intelligence in that regard.

The Secretary-General is also scheduled to hold some bilateral meetings later in the day.


On Lebanon and Israel, we remain very concerned by the recent escalation across the Blue Line and beyond.

In her engagements this past week with key Lebanese and international interlocutors, the Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, conveyed her deep concern at the escalating situation across the Blue Line.

The Special Coordinator calls on the parties to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any action or statement that could further fuel tensions.  She also stresses the urgency of ensuring the protection of civilians.

UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) peacekeepers remain on the ground, conducting their mandated operational activities and working at all levels to de-escalate tensions.

Since October, we have seen too many lives lost, families uprooted, and neighbourhoods destroyed.  The danger of a wider conflagration is very real.

We continue to engage with the parties and urge all actors to avoid hostile actions, return to a cessation of hostilities under the framework of Security Council resolution 1701 (2006), and work towards a diplomatic solution.

**Occupied Palestinian Territory

Turning to the situation in Gaza, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says that displaced families continue to face dire conditions and significant challenges in accessing basic services.  That’s according to multiple humanitarian assessments carried out over the past month.

OCHA led two such assessments last week at informal displacement sites in Deir al Balah, where thousands of people are sheltering.  Families there said that shelters are overcrowded and lack sanitation infrastructure.  Food distributions are irregular, and residents reported a range of health issues, such as hepatitis A, skin diseases and respiratory illnesses.  Access to water is also critically low.

Our partners working on water, sanitation and hygiene in Gaza report that critical infrastructure continues to sustain significant damage.  They say the recent intensification of military operations has resulted in additional losses of key water and sanitation assets, including five water production wells in Jabalya in the north, as well as two water wells and two desalination plants in Rafah in the south.

These partners estimate that over the past eight months, more than two thirds of water and sanitation facilities and infrastructure in Gaza have been destroyed or damaged due to the conflict.  Once again, OCHA underscores that humanitarian operations in Gaza must be fully facilitated and all impediments must be lifted.

To give you just one example of these challenges — UNICEF’s (United Nations Children’s Fund) spokesman, James Elder, said that one of the agency’s trucks carrying medicines and nutrition supplies for 10,000 children in Gaza was turned back on Wednesday — despite approvals for the mission. Mr. Elder says they were held for eight hours at checkpoints, and it took 13 hours to move just 40 kilometres.


A group of senior UN officials and heads of international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) issued a statement yesterday in which they called for the immediate and unconditional release of all personnel held in Yemen by the Houthi de facto authorities.

The officials in the joint statement said that they are extremely concerned about the Houthi de facto authorities’ recent detention of 17 members of the UN and international NGOs and many others associated with civil society organizations, national and international NGOs and other organizations supporting humanitarian activities.

These detentions are unprecedented — not only in Yemen but globally — and directly impede our ability to reach the most vulnerable people in Yemen, including the 18.2 million people who need humanitarian aid and protection.

They asked the de facto authorities to confirm the exact whereabouts of those detained and the conditions in which they are being held, as well as for immediate access to them.  All those detained must be immediately released, they added.

The signatories included the heads of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), UNICEF, WFP (World Food Programme), WHO (World Health Organization) and the Human Rights Office.

**Deputy Secretary-General’s Travel

This weekend, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will travel to Paris, France, to take part on Monday in the SDG4 High-Level Steering Committee and the opening of the Transforming Education Summit Stock-take aimed at galvanizing global efforts to transform education and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4.

While in Paris, the Deputy Secretary-General will also meet with senior government officials and other stakeholders including on issues relating to development finance, debt and global taxation issues.

She will return to New York next Tuesday.


At the invitation of the President of the Swiss Confederation, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo, will travel to Switzerland over the weekend to attend, as an observer, the Summit on Peace in Ukraine to be held in Bürgenstock.

The United Nations reiterates its support for a just and sustainable peace in Ukraine in line with the UN Charter, international law and relevant General Assembly resolutions.

**Security Council

This morning, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, briefed Security Council members on the implementation of resolution 2686 on tolerance and international peace and security.  Among other issues, this resolution refers to the importance of combating intolerance, promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue, advancing human rights, promoting women’s full, equal, meaningful and safe participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making; strengthening education for peace; and addressing and countering hate speech.

Ms. Nderitu encouraged Council members to continue the consideration of hate speech, including by requesting more regular briefings on this topic by relevant UN entities.  She also encouraged them to continue engaging with tech and social media companies to emphasize their roles and responsibilities in tackling online hate speech.  And to continue supporting the inclusion of women in the peace and security agenda, including on issues related to countering hate speech against women.

Ms. Nderitu’s briefing comes ahead of the International Day for Countering Hate Speech, which is next Tuesday.

This afternoon, at 3 p.m., the Security Council will reconvene for a briefing on threats to international peace and security.

The High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, is expected to brief Council members.


Turning to the situation in Sudan, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Martin Griffiths, warned that the humanitarian nightmare in El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, is worsening by the hour.  In a social media post, he said he hopes the Security Council resolution adopted yesterday will ease the suffering of civilians in the city.

Mr. Griffiths stressed that they must be protected, aid must be able to reach them, and the fighting must stop now.

Meanwhile, our colleagues from the World Food Programme in Sudan are underscoring the urgency of getting food to people in need before rains cut off access to remote areas.  The agency reports that a convoy carrying aid for some 160,000 people crossed into Darfur this week from Chad.

It’s the third convoy to enter the country through the Tine border crossing in the past two months.  That assistance is bound for Central, East and West Darfur.

WFP says food distributions are also under way for over 50,000 people in South Darfur and an estimated 200,000 people in Aj Jazirah state.  The distributions there are the first since conflict spread to the state capital Wad Medani and other parts of Sudan’s breadbasket in December.

**South Sudan

Our colleagues from the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, UNMISS, tell us that they recently held a three-day electoral administration skills training session in Yambio, Western Equatoria, as the country prepares for elections.

The training, attended by civil society representatives and members of the National Election Committee, focused on understanding standards, principles, and administrative techniques crucial for the smooth functioning of the electoral process.

Meanwhile, the Mission recently built and handed over a new police post in Yambio to support local authorities in strengthening the rule of law and protection of civilians.


The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, today called for concrete measures to halt the human rights violations and abuses that continue to endanger reconciliation and peace in Ethiopia.

His call came as his office issued an update that presents an analysis of the human rights situation across Ethiopia from January 2023 to January this year.

The update says that violent conflicts, particularly in the Amhara and Oromia regions, have led to serious human rights violations and abuses in 2023.

In the northern Tigray region, there was a significant improvement in the human rights situation following the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement in November 2022, but the human rights office says that concerns persist regarding ongoing violations by members of the Eritrean Defence Forces.

You can find the update online.

**Female Genital Mutilation

And the Human Rights office has also issued a report which found that the global fight against female genital mutilation is being undermined by the practice of crossing national borders and beyond to have girls undergo the procedure.

The report adds that although many States have intensified their efforts to eradicate female genital mutilation, the practice continues across the world, in part due to “the clandestine nature of cross-border and transnational female genital mutilation”.

An estimated 4.3 million girls were at risk of being subjected to this practice in 2023.  The full report is online.

**International Days

Today is World Blood Donor Day, and the theme this year is “20 years of celebrating giving:  thank you blood donors!”.

The World Health Organization points out that blood transfusion saves lives and improves health, but many patients requiring transfusion do not have timely access to safe blood.  Providing safe and adequate blood should be an integral part of every country’s national health care policy and infrastructure.

Tomorrow is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, with the theme “Spotlight on Older Persons in Emergencies”, emphasizing the urgent need to protect and support older individuals during crises.

And Sunday is the International Day of Family Remittances, which highlights the economic impact of this money on households, communities and nations, and recognizes the sacrifice, separation and generosity often involved.

And then Monday is the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

In his message, the Secretary-General notes that the security, prosperity and health of billions of people rely on thriving lands supporting lives, livelihoods and ecosystems.  But we’re vandalizing the Earth that sustains us, he says, adding that every second, around four football fields of healthy land are degraded.

**Financial Contribution

And we end the week with the good news that another Member State has paid its dues.

Elephants are a big part of this country’s national identity. Earlier this month, this nation proudly welcomed the rare birth of twin elephants — a male and a female.

Any guesses which country?  [response from the crowd:  “Thailand?”]

You got it.  Amélie is right, it’s Thailand.

We thank our friends in Thailand for taking us to 115 fully paid-up Member States.

**Alan Bulkaty

And last, he is not here but I hope he is watching on TV.

Seasons change, and reporters have to move on, but it still makes me a little sad to say goodbye to Alan Bulkaty, who has been here as the UN correspondent for RIA-Novosti and is now returning to the Russian Federation.

Alan has been a valued participant at the noon briefing and, even when he had to ask us questions on weekends or late in the evening, he was always unfailingly polite and considerate.  Alan has been a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, and I wish him the best even as he leaves New York.

**Questions and Answers

Deputy Spokesman:  Amélie, since you won, you get to ask the first question.

Question:  Thanks, Farhan.  I have a question on Afghanistan.  The Doha meeting is approaching.  It’s been a few weeks now that Ms. DiCarlo handed over the invitation to the Taliban, so any information on that front?  And there are sources saying that there are doubts about whether the meeting is going to happen altogether.  Do you have any comment on that and what would be the consequences if the meeting does not happen?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don’t want to speculate about that possibility. Obviously, until arrangements are finalized, every meeting has the possibility that it may or may not take place. For now, we’re continuing to proceed with making arrangements.  We hope that it will work out, and closer to the date, we expect to be able to announce arrangements once those are finalized; but at this stage, of course we’re still in preparations.  Regarding that, you saw the language we put out about the invitation being extended and we’ll have to see what the result is.  Edie and then Dezhi.

Question:  Thank you.  Farhan, has there been any reaction from the Houthis to the spate of letters and appeals yesterday for the release of the UN and NGO staffers?

Deputy Spokesman:  On that, no, at this stage there’s nothing to say by way of response either to yesterday’s appeal or to the appeal that was made today by our human rights colleagues in Geneva in the name of Volker Türk.  So, we’re continuing to make various appeals, but there’s no improvement in the conditions that I can report back.

Question:  Another follow-up and then a question.  Will Rosemary DiCarlo be speaking at any event in Switzerland related to the Ukraine meeting?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don’t know whether she’ll be asked in any informal capacity, but we’re there as an observer so there’s no formal remarks anticipated.

Question:  And on Gaza, can you give us an update on what’s happening with fuel deliveries?  A little while ago, the situation was dire, things were being rationed.  Has more fuel been getting in?

Deputy Spokesman:  What I’ve been told is that there have been small amounts getting in, but as we pointed out about a week ago, it’s a minimal amount, and so we have had to restrict some activities; and so that situation continues to be the case and we’re hoping for a much more regular and fuller supply of fuel for our activities.

Question:  And as a final question, is there any update on the review on the US pier?

Deputy Spokesman:  To reiterate, the World Food Programme, of course, remains in charge of logistics and has not been able to report any resumption of activities.  And our security colleagues are still working to ensure that secure conditions for humanitarian work can be re-established.  Dezhi?

Question:  Edie just asked my first question.  But anyway, so two parts.  First on Ukraine, has the UN officially announced that who will be participating in the Peace Summit already?

Deputy Spokesman:  It’s Rosemary DiCarlo.  The announcement I made is about her participating as an observer at the Bürgenstock meeting.

Question:  Okay.  So today, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a, what he called a peace advice to negotiate with the Ukrainian side.  I don’t know whether the Secretary-General has already seen that proposal and what is his position?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, on that, I think what we can say about that is what we’ve been saying, that what we want to see in Ukraine is peace based on the United Nations Charter and the relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and in accordance with international law.

Question:  Okay.  And then on Gaza yesterday, Ms. [Virginia] Gamba said the CAAC (Children and Armed Conflict) report is an action-originated report.  So, she will engage with the parties in on that list. Has she ever been in contact with Israeli Government?

Deputy Spokesman:  She’s had contacts with the Israeli Government prior to this.  I believe she talked to you about this yesterday in her briefing.

Question:  So today, I think yesterday, the Israeli Government said that they will have some reaction and they are debating on how to react on that list. Any reaction from the Secretary-General?

Deputy Spokesman:  I don’t want to speculate on what actions will be taken.  So, we’ll have to see what the response is.

Question:  Are you ready for the action?

Deputy Spokesman:  We’re ready for any actions from any Member States. Obviously, we work with all Member States trying to promote a good, healthy relationship between the United Nations and the Member States of the United Nations and will continue to do so in this case.  Gabriel?

Question:  Thank you.  Farhan. Today the US Government designated an Israeli group called the Tsav-9, a violent extremist Israeli group that has been, according to the US Government, blocking, harassing and damaging convoys carrying aid into Gaza.  I know you don’t comment specifically on decisions by Member States per se. However, some of this aid was UN aid going in.  You’ve spoke about it in the past.  The Secretary-General has.  What is the hope now that this designation might assist in radical Israeli groups attacking aid going into Gaza from the UN?

Deputy Spokesman:  Our hope is that, whatever happens, that there are no attacks on UN or other humanitarian convoys going into Gaza, given the essential need of such aid to saving the lives of the people inside Gaza. And so, we continue to implore all parties to make sure that aid goes through without any hindrance or obstruction.

Question:  Can I ask one other question, Farhan?  Thank you.  There are reports that the US might have to dismantle this floating pier again in the coming hours or days.  You get a lot of questions about this pier.  How would the Secretary-General characterize how it’s working?  There have been humanitarian organizations that have said publicly it’s just become a very expensive distraction.  Would the Secretary-General concur to some degree with that characterization?

Deputy Spokesman:  I’ll just repeat what we’ve been saying.  This has been an additionality to our aid efforts in terms of getting aid in.  So, we welcome it in that regard, but we have never relied on it as the main way of getting aid in, given the imperative need in particular to get aid in by road.  Serife?

Question:  Thank you, Farhan.  I have a question on the increasing tension on the Israeli-Lebanese border.  There are footages circulating on social media showing Israeli forces using a type of catapult to launch fireballs into southern Lebanon to ignite fire.  And it seems that this would have significant impacts in an area where they’re trying to actually prevent forest fires due to increasing heat.  There are also reports claiming that the Israeli army is using this to reduce costs.  So, it looks like we’re back in medieval times.  Do you have a reaction to this?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, my reaction is simply to repeat what I said at the top of this briefing, that we are encouraging all parties to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from any action or statement that could further fuel tensions and that we’re continuing to engage with the parties and urge all actors to avoid hostile actions, return to a cessation of hostilities under Resolution 1701, and work towards a diplomatic solution.  Yes?  Yes, please, in the back.

Question:  Thank you.  Damilola from PassBlue.  This is sort of a repetition of my emails yesterday.  Might you have words now on what the UN is doing in Sudan?  Second question, interview with MSF (Médicins Sans Frontières), we were told, PassBlue was told that the UN is not present in El Fasher and all the 26 agencies that used to be there before the war no longer operating in El Fasher or anywhere in Sudan.  What your response to this and what exactly is the situation?  Also, in a separate interview with some Sudanese authorities, we were told that the Sudanese provided aid routes and passports to UN aid workers so that they can access and provide aids in this place.  But that hasn’t happened.  Just asking, why is the UN not using any of these routes?

Deputy Spokesman:  First of all, we do use aid routes when we have the access granted.  So, we’ve been pushing to make sure that we have access to use aid routes throughout. Of course, one of the problems is the intensity of conflict, which is itself hindering aid from travelling.  We and of course the Security Council yesterday are calling for the fighting to be halted to allow, among other things, for aid to get in.  The Secretary-General remains deeply concerned over the fighting in and around El Fasher and across the country.  A ceasefire is urgently needed to prevent further atrocities, protect critical infrastructure, and alleviate civilian suffering.  Yesterday’s resolution, resolution 2736, calls for an immediate halt to the fighting and for de-escalation in and around El Fasher.  A de-escalation could be the first step towards finding a sustainable solution to the conflict, and, I would add, towards making sure that humanitarian aid can get in.  Regarding our presence, we do not have any international aid staff present in El Fasher.  I would point out that we do have staff present in Port Sudan.  So, there are staff still working in different parts of Sudan, where possible.  Okay, Dezhi, and then we’ll go to our guest.

Question:  Oh, sorry.  Just a quick question on the delivery of humanitarian aids in Gaza.  We heard a lot about the difficulties of delivering aids now in Gaza Strip.  Do you have any data how much of those aids has been looted by Hamas?  Or how did Hamas ever, in past few months, ever try to loot those aids for military purposes?

Deputy Spokesman:  I wouldn’t be able to attribute, necessarily, responsibility.  Obviously, there have been diversion of aid, or what my comrade Stephane [Dujarric] referred to as self-distribution.  A lot of that has been actually from hungry crowds who have been worried that once there are aid shipments going in, that it would be a one-time-only thing and so they wanted to make sure that they would get that aid.  So, part of the problem is being able to reassure the local communities that there will be a regular flow of aid, and that therefore, each aid delivery is not simply their last chance to get food.  So, we need more regular distributions.  But certainly, there has been looting, and we’re trying to get evaluations about how much of the stock has been lost.

Question:  But are those lootings from Hamas?  Can you…?

Deputy Spokesman:  I have no confirmation, like I said, in terms of attribution of who has been taking what.  All right, let’s go to our guest.

For information media. Not an official record.