Secretary-General’s Opening Remarks to the Global Refugee Forum
Rhéal LeBlanc, for the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, said that the Secretary-General had, in his opening remarks this morning to the Global Refugee Forum, noted that more than 70 million people in the world had been forced from their homes, including 25 million refugees. The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) had called this the “highest levels of displacement on record”. He recognized the tremendous efforts made by countries and communities to welcome large numbers of refugees and shared his gratitude. But, at this time of turbulence, the international community must do far more to shoulder this responsibility together. More than ever, he said, we need international cooperation and practical, effective responses, and to re-establish the integrity of the international refugee protection regime. In particular, he said the Global Compact on Refugees must be the blueprint to reaffirm the human rights of refugees. He urged attendees to be bold and concrete in the pledges they would make and to work together to build a more equitable response to refugee crises through a sharing of responsibility. He said the world must chart a bold and practical path to help millions of people find protection and dignity, and to help all of us find a shared path towards a better future.
Rhéal LeBlanc, for the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, said that the Secretary-General would, later on Tuesday, travel to Italy for an official visit, during which he would hold bilateral meetings with the President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, the Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, and other senior government officials. He would hold a joint media stakeout with the Prime Minister following their meeting. On Wednesday morning, he would address a special session of the Italian Senate. In his remarks, he would discuss global challenges and appeal for renewed commitment to multilateralism and international solidarity. The following day, he would travel to Brindisi to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the United Nations Global Service Centre, a facility that provided crucial support to peacekeeping operations throughout the world. On Friday, 20 December, he would visit the Holy See for an audience with His Holiness, Pope Francis.
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Qualifications Passport for Refugees and Vulnerable Migrants
Vincent Defourny, for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that UNESCO would hold a press conference at 4.30 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon to highlight its contribution to the Global Refugee Forum and its general efforts related to refugees. On 25 November 2019, the UNESCO General Conference had approved the Global Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education. The new international instrument was of particular importance to refugees, as it would facilitate recognition of their qualifications in their host country while minimizing the related administrative requirements, such as for an official translation. One component of the new instrument was a qualifications passport, which had already been tested in a number of countries, and was currently being piloted in Zambia, Iraq and Colombia. Speakers at the press conference would include Anwar Horani, a Syrian physiotherapist who, thanks to a European Qualifications Passport for Refugees, similar to the UNESCO Qualifications Passport, was now working as a physiotherapist in Norway.
Mr. Defourny noted that, globally, only 3 per cent of refugees were enrolled in higher and tertiary education, compared to 38 per cent of non-refugee students; overcoming that gap was part of the Organization’s pledge to the Global Refugee Forum.
Press conferences during the Global Refugee Forum
Rhéal LeBlanc, for the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, said that the Secretary-General and Filippo Grandi, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, would hold a press conference in the framework of the Global Refugee Forum at 2 p.m. on Tuesday in Press Room III. Accredited journalists were requested to deposit their audiovisual equipment in Room III by 1.15 p.m. at the latest for a security check.
Mr. LeBlanc also said that a press conference would be held by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Bank at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday in Press Room III to discuss development financing for refugee situations.
World Health Organization announcements
Fadela Chaib, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that WHO would hold a virtual press briefing on Wednesday 18 December at 3 p.m. to launch the third edition of the WHO global report on trends in prevalence of tobacco smoking 2000-2025. The report, which would offer some good news on the efforts to curb the global epidemic of tobacco use. The speakers at the press briefing would be Dr. Ruediger Krech, WHO Director of the Department of Health Promotion, and Dr. Alisson Commar, technical officer, WHO tobacco control unit. The report and the news release were available upon request, under embargo until 00.30 Geneva time on Thursday 19 December 2019.
Fadela Chaib, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that WHO would hold a press conference to present an overview of WHO work in current health emergencies and the prospects for 2020, at 2.00 p.m on Thursday, 19 December 2019 in Press Room 1. The speaker would be Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme.
State of the climate in November 2019
Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that, following on from the provisional figures issued by WMO before the recent Madrid Climate Change Conference, the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had on Monday evening issued figures on the state of the global climate in November 2019. Ms. Nullis read the following statement:
“Mother Earth seems to be on repeat with another month of heat: November 2019 was the second-hottest November in the 140-year global climate record.
Moreover, both the season (September through November) and the year to date (January through November) were each the second hottest in recorded history. 2016 was the hottest year on record, with the heat then fuelled by a strong el Niño.
In fact, the world’s five hottest Novembers have all occurred since 2013.
Warming of the ocean continued: the world’s average sea surface temperature ranked second warmest for the year to date. Sea-ice coverage shrank to its second-lowest size on record for November in both the Arctic and Antarctic, behind that observed in November 2016.
NOAA issued its annual Arctic report card last week. It said that the Arctic marine ecosystem and the communities that depend upon it continue to experience unprecedented changes as a result of warming air temperatures, declining sea ice, and warming waters.”
Wildfires in Australia
Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that the current week was expected to see exceptional heat in Australia, which the Australian Bureau of Meteorology said was likely to break numerous December and all-time temperature records across the country. Temperatures might even approach or exceed Australia’s warmest day on record, which currently stood at the nationwide maximum of 40.3 °C set back 7 Jan 2013. Perth had seen temperatures of 7°C above normal. By mid-week, the heatwave was expected to peak in central and southern Australia, with, in some parts, temperatures of 20°C above average for December. Large parts of the country would experience more than 45°C on Wednesday.
An updated fire season outlook had been issued for Australia, showing that a long and challenging fire season was expected, and all states were warning of increased fire danger as the fire season progressed.