The Secretary-General is following with great concern recent statements regarding northeastern Syria, in particular the risk to civilians from any potential military actions. He calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint.
The Secretary-General emphasizes that civilians and civilian infrastructure need to be protected at all times and that sustained, unimpeded and safe humanitarian access to civilians in need must be guaranteed in order to [allow the] United Nations and its humanitarian partners to carry out their critical work in northern Syria.
The Secretary-General reiterates that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict. The only sustainable solution is a UN-facilitated political process pursuant to Security Council resolution 2254 (2015).
The Secretary-General has written to Member States about the worst cash crisis facing the United Nations in nearly a decade. The Organization runs the risk of depleting its liquidity reserves by the end of the month and defaulting on payments to staff and vendors. Stressing the Charter obligation of Member States, the Secretary-General thanked the Member States who have paid their regular budget assessments in full, which is now up to 129, and urged those who have not paid to do so urgently and in full. This is the only way to avoid a default that could risk disrupting operations globally. The Secretary-General further asked governments to address the underlying reasons for the crisis and agree on measures to put the United Nations on sound financial footing.
By the end of September, Member States had paid only 70 per cent of the total assessment for the regular budget, compared with 78 per cent at the same time last year. The Secretariat had put in place multiple measures since the beginning of the year to align expenditures with cash inflows. These included adjusting hiring and other non-post expenses based on expected cash availability. Had it not contained expenditures globally from the beginning of the year, the cash shortfall in October could have reached $600 million and the Organization would not have had the liquidity to support the opening of the General Assembly debate and the high-level meetings last month. To date, the UN has averted major disruption in its operations.
These measures are no longer enough. The Secretariat could face a default on salaries and payments for goods and services by the end of November unless more Member States pay their budget dues in full. The Secretary-General has therefore requested additional steps to be taken immediately, including further reduction in official travel; postponing spending on goods and services; and discontinuing events scheduled outside official meeting hours at headquarters duty stations. In addition, conferences and meetings may have to be postponed or services be adjusted. The Secretary-General is reviewing further options.
The Secretary-General noted that this is a recurrent problem that severely hampers the Secretariat’s ability to fulfil its obligations to the people we serve. We are now driven to prioritize our work on the basis of the availability of cash, thus undermining the implementation of mandates decided by inter-governmental bodies. The Secretary-General therefore looks to Member States to resolve the structural issues that underlie this annual crisis without further delay.
The Secretary-General has also kept the staff informed of these developments.
The latest Member State to have paid up in full is Syria which brings us up to 129.
At this time, Member States have paid $1.99 billion towards the 2019 regular budget assessment. The outstanding amount for 2019 for regular budget is about $1.3 billion.
The Secretary-General spoke to the Fifth Committee of the General Assembly today, and not only on the budget crisis but also the statement was meant to introduce the proposed programme budget for 2020 – the first one to cover an annual, rather than a two-year, period.
The Secretary-General said that the move from a biennial to an annual programme budget is a huge step forward to more realistic budgeting and a greater focus on results. And he added that it will improve the accuracy of our resource estimates and enable us to adapt more quickly to change in mandates.
He said that for the first time, the budget document includes the Plan Outline, which highlights the policy orientation of the UN, the longer-term objectives and strategy, and future challenges.
The Secretary-General told the Member States that, to do our work and achieve our planned results, we require $2.8 billion, which represents no growth in real terms compared to 2019, despite additional initiatives and newly mandated activities. The proposal calls for a net decrease of 96 posts.
In the Security Council this morning, Mahamet Saleh Annadif, the head of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali, welcomed the launch of an inclusive national dialogue, and called on all Malians to take part in the initiative to ensure a “massive and inclusive participation.”
The Special Representative also pointed out that, despite a challenging situation, marked by recurrent deadly attacks - including in the past few days - there were fewer civilians killed or injured by violence in the last three months.
However, he added that the humanitarian situation continued to deteriorate. There are currently over 170,000 people displaced in the Centre region, the highest number since 2015.
These people face extremely difficult conditions, due in part to difficulties of access for humanitarian workers and lack of adequate funding.
The Special Representative said it is essential to re-establish State authority in this region to reduce violence and to ensure better access to services.
Unrest in the country has created serious challenges for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable.
UN staff in the country report that a relatively calm weekend provided opportunities for several organizations to resume their operations.
The UN Children’s Agency began the delivery of diesel and oxygen to 29 hospitals affected by the crisis. The World Health Organization delivered medicine to hospitals in Port-au-Prince, the capital, and on Sunday, for the first time in three weeks, the World Food Programme was able to deliver food to 14 schools that are still functioning.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs continues to encourage all actors to allow for the normal functioning of hospitals, emergency services and schools, as well as the work of humanitarians, who are trying to assist the most vulnerable.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mohamed Ibn Chambas, is in the Gambia for a three-day mission.
He will meet with President Adama Barrow, officials of the Gambian government, political parties, civil society and UN colleagues.
In Banjul today, Mr. Ibn Chambas will also co-chair, with Vice-President Isatou Touray, the tenth edition of the Open Day on Gender, Women, Youth, Peace and Security.
Yesterday, UNICEF chartered a plane carrying 1.6 million doses of Oral Cholera Vaccines to Sudan.
The vaccines arrived in the country at a critical time as cholera cases continue to be reported.
According to the Federal Ministry of Health, since the beginning of the outbreak on 8 September, eight deaths were reported in the Blue Nile and Sennar states.
Timely procurement and urgent delivery of vaccines is a top priority for UNICEF to prevent cholera from spreading further in Sudan.
The agency and its partners are working to strengthen water treatment systems, distribute water purification products for stagnant water and provide technical support.
Yesterday, the Secretary-General officially transmitted to the General Assembly the report of the Eminent Person, Mohammed Chande Othman, on the way forward in the search for the truth relating to the conditions and circumstances resulting in the death of Dag Hammarskjöld, UN former Secretary-General and members of the party accompanying him.
The Secretary-General noted that Judge Othman has received new information about possible causes of the crash and that advancements have been made in the body of relevant knowledge.
The Secretary-General is pleased that the Eminent Person concluded that Member States’ engagement has, on the whole, been excellent. While much progress has been made, the he considers that it is equally clear that the work will need to continue with renewed urgency, with a view to establishing the truth of the tragic event.
The World Health Organization (WHO) launched its first world report on vision.
According to the report, globally, at least 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness, of whom at least 1 billion have a vision impairment that could have been prevented or has yet to be addressed.
The report, launched ahead of World Sight Day on 10 October, also found that ageing populations, changing lifestyles and limited access to eye care are among the main drivers of the rising number of people living with vision impairment.