Afghanistan & other topics – Daily Briefing (27 October 2020)

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    Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General. Highlights: – COVID-19 – Syria – Tanzania – Afghanistan – Afghanistan/Humanitarian Assistance – Afghanistan/Report – Yemen – Armenia/Azerbaijan – Peacekeeping – Ecuador/COVID-19 – Global Foreign Direct Investment – Climate – World Day of Audiovisual Heritage – Financial Contribution COVID-19 Yesterday, the UN Secretariat was informed by a permanent mission that they had five positive cases among their staff. The UN Medical service immediately initiated contact tracing with the full cooperation of the permanent mission. As of now, all in-person meetings have been suspended for today.  SYRIA Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, spoke to Security Council members via videoconference today from Beirut. He described his recent visit to Damascus, including his meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Walid al-Moallem. He said he will seek to deepen his dialogue with the Syrian parties and key players in the months ahead in the reviewing where we stand on resolution 2254 and seeking to identify how best to develop a wider process.  Mr. Pedersen noted that Syria’s frontlines have not changed in recent months and that the number of civilians killed during that period has, according to monitoring groups, been the lowest since 2011. But he warned that the situation in Syria, including the involvement of foreign militaries in continues to be tense.  Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock also briefed the Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in the country. He said that he was alarmed of the violence and insecurity affecting civilians and aid workers and he called for their protection, as shelling in front-line areas in the north-west, as well as airstrikes in Idlib, have continued.  Mr. Lowcock also updated the Council on the humanitarian impact of the economic crisis, humanitarian access and the assistance being provided by humanitarian organizations across Syria.  TANZANIA In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary‑General called on all national stakeholders to ensure that the polls are conducted in an inclusive and peaceful manner.   He recalled that an inclusive electoral process and a broad effective participation of political parties and their candidates, particularly women, remain essential for safeguarding the progress made by Tanzania in consolidating stability, democracy and development.   The Secretary-General urged all political leaders and their supporters to participate in this exercise peacefully and to refrain from violence. He calls on the authorities to provide a safe and secure environment, which will allow Tanzanians to exercise their civil and political rights.   AFGHANISTAN In a statement, the Secretary-General, said that he is following with great concern the violent incidents which have occurred in Afghanistan over the past several days. These incidents have claimed the lives of 40 civilians and injured many others, many women and children.   The Secretary-General strongly condemns the suicide attack that targeted civilians at an education centre on 24 October in Kabul, which killed at least 25 civilians and injured 50 more, most of them young students. He recalls that deliberate attacks against civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes. He said those who carry out these crimes must be held accountable and that we stand in solidarity with the people and Government of Afghanistan. Full Highlights: https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/noon-briefing-highlight?date%5Bvalue%5D%5Bdate%5D=27%20October%202020

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    Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan to the east and south; Iran to the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to the north; and China to the northeast.

    Occupying 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi), it is a mountainous country with plains in the north and southwest. Kabul is the capital and largest city. The population is around 32 million, composed mostly of ethnic Pashtuns, Tajiks, Hazaras, and Uzbeks.

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