Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message to the Sustainable Development Goals Conference and Human Rights Festival, which opened in Berlin today:
The United Nations human rights office called today for urgent action to address the dire situation of migrants attempting to cross the central Mediterranean Sea in search of safety in Europe, and to tackle the shocking conditions they face in Libya, at sea, and frequently, upon their reception in Europe.
Devastating flooding along the White Nile River has affected some 625,000 people in South Sudan since July, United Nations humanitarian officials in that country report. The United Nations and partners are providing food, temporary shelter, fishing kits, water purification tablets, medicine and other supplies.
We are devastated by the sudden passing of our long-time friend and colleague Reynaldo Naval of the Media Documents Centre. Rey proudly served the United Nations for 39 years, and we always appreciated his kindness, sunny disposition, dedication and pride in belonging to the Organization.
The Secretary-General expressed concern over the number of restrictions and attacks against journalists, as many face harassment, intimidation, killing and arbitrary detention. He called on Governments to immediately release journalists detained while exercising their profession, stressing: “No democracy can function without press freedom.”
In Sudan, nearly 720,000 people have been affected by floods, with more than 100 deaths reported, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. While the United Nations and its partners have reached 200,000 with health, food and other assistance, the $1.6 billion Humanitarian Response Plan is less than half funded.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are helping the Government of Cambodia with distance learning programmes for the more than 3 million students who are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has put two reports online, one detailing violations in eastern Ukraine and Crimea, and the other warning that accountability for violations committed in the context of demonstrations remains elusive, despite promising steps by the Government of Iraq.