UN chief urges media spotlight on CAR crisis

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UN Secretary-General António Guterres has announced that he would be travelling to the Central African Republic (CAR) early next week to draw attention to the fragile situation in the country.

The Secretary-General told the press at the UN headquarters on Thursday that the crisis in the country “is often far from the media spotlight”.

“Across the country, communal tensions are growing. Violence is spreading and the humanitarian situation is deteriorating,” the Secretary-General said.

According to him, the deteriorating situation has driven about a quarter of the people in the country from their homes since the start of 2017.

The UN chief said the number of internally displaced persons had reached 600,000 and refugees in neighbouring countries number over 500,000.

“Despite these rising needs, humanitarian personnel and aid workers are being targeted and access restricted,” Guterres regretted.

He noted that so far this year, 12 relief workers and an equal number of peacekeepers from the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in the country, have lost their lives in hostile acts.

“My upcoming visit will be an opportunity to engage with the Government and others in order to ease suffering, halt the current backsliding, and strengthen international support for peace,” he said.

The UN chief announced that he would be spending United Nations Day, celebrated on Oct. 24, with the Mission’s “blue helmets”

According to him, this is to pay tribute to the work of peacekeepers around the world who show tremendous courage in volatile environments.

Guterres would be accompanied by Jane Connors, appointed recently as the UN’s first Victims’ Rights Advocate.

“We are determined to ensure that the voices of victims are heard – I will myself be ready to meet with victims and their families – in and beyond the Central African Republic.

“Victims must be at the centre of our response if we want our zero-tolerance policy to be successful,” the UN chief said.

On the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, Guterres said that unity in the Security Council is crucial to achieve denuclearisation in the region and that it also creates the room for diplomacy.

“Diplomatic engagement is the way to be able to achieve the objective of denuclearisation that we all cherish. I think that a war situation would be a tragedy that we need to avoid,” he said.

The Secretary-General added that he remained available for any action that might be useful and in agreement of the relevant parties.

Concerning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme, the Secretary-General underscored that the agreement was essential and needed to be preserved.

“It is up to the parties to the agreements to look into whatever development they might consider, but it is absolutely essential, in my opinion, to preserve this agreement for peace and stability in the world.” (NAN)

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