The UN system is stepping up its efforts to help the people in Lebanon following the explosion one week ago in the port of Beirut. A rapid assessment of the 55 primary health centres in the blast areas show that some 35 per cent sustained moderate to severe damage. Damage to the port could also worsen problems in providing food to Lebanon.
The Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, is currently in-country at the moment to assess needs there. As an immediate response following the blasts, WFP allocated food parcels for 5,000 highly vulnerable households and is preparing to scale up as needed.
For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that an 18-tonne shipment of personal protective equipment landed in Beirut this morning. Early reports indicated that many health centres and primary care facilities were also damaged or are out of action. WHO is supporting the Lebanese Ministry of Public Health in a detailed assessment of the damage to and functioning of the health facilities in Beirut.
In coordination with Lebanese authorities and the Lebanese Red Cross, a rapid shelter assessment identified districts in close proximity to the blast site as priority districts.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), meanwhile, reports that education assessments indicate that some 20 technical schools were damaged. Providing precautionary tetanus shots for the injured was among the priorities, and personal protective equipment supplies are on their way, according to UNICEF.
And you will have seen, the pledging event co-chaired by the Government of France and the United Nations on Sunday has so far yielded more than 250 million Euros in pledges.
Back here, the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis, briefed the Security Council’s members in a closed session on the developments in the country since the publication of the Secretary-General’s most recent report on the implementation of resolution 1701 (2006). The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, also briefed in respect to developments in the area of operations of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), as well as the mandate renewal of UNIFIL. The mandate renewal is expected to go to a vote in the Security Council on 27 August.
On the ground, UNIFIL continues to work in close coordination with the Lebanese Armed Forces and stands ready to assist the Armed Forces and the Lebanese people during these difficult times. The Mission remains fully committed in fulfilling its mandate in accordance with resolution 1701 and UN peacekeepers are working 24/7 in order to monitor and maintain the cessation of hostilities along the Blue Line.
Let’s turn now to Yemen, where heavier than usual rains throughout 2020, including monthly flash floods since March, have affected at least 16 of the country’s 22 Governorates. Local authorities estimate that 130 people have died, and more than 120 people have been injured across the country’s northern governorates. The floods have led to the repeated displacements of people, with about 29,000 people already displaced in the affected areas.
Humanitarian organizations are assessing the situation and mobilizing emergency assistance, including relief items for flood-affected families.
Movement restrictions due to COVID-19 and limited non-food supplies are challenging the humanitarian response.
To date, the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is only 21 per cent funded. Donors are urged to pay all outstanding pledges immediately and to consider increasing their support.
Limited donor funding is forcing core programmes to close or reduce support across different sectors, including food, water, health and nutrition.
We have some updates from our peacekeeping colleagues in South Sudan:
The UN Mission in that country says that it has received reports from authorities in Tonj that more than 70 people were killed and dozens injured during clashes between members of the South Sudan People’s Defense Force and armed civilians over the weekend. The violence was sparked by a disagreement over a disarmament exercise being conducted in the area. During the fighting, the local market in Romich was reportedly looted and some shops were burnt to the ground. Many women and children fled in fear of their lives.
A UN peacekeeping patrol is on its way to assess the security situation.
The Mission is urging all those involved in the violence to lay down their weapons and to help restore calm for the sake of their communities. The Mission continues to engage with political and community leaders to prevent further conflict. It will support locally led reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts.
Our colleagues at the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said today that clashes in Sudan’s Western Darfur region have forced refugees to seek safety in neighbouring Chad.
Since the end of July, the unrest has impacted some 20,000 people in Western Darfur in Sudan, with dozens having been killed.
At least 2,500 people have fled to Chad, the vast majority of them being women and children.
From neighbouring Abyei, the UN peacekeeping mission there says that, on Saturday, there was an attack in the village of Ibrahim, in which three people were killed, one of them a four-year-old boy. UN peacekeepers were immediately deployed to the area when they heard gunshots, but did not find the attackers. UN Police also visited the Ngok Dinka Paramount Chief to help de-escalate tensions.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
We also have an update from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where, as we mentioned yesterday, violence in the South Kivu province has been impacting a growing number of people. UNICEF is now providing assistance to 40,000 people who have fled violence since May and have taken shelter in the forest, near Mikenge. The agency warns that thousands of displaced people in the South Kivu’s highlands, or Hauts Plateaux, are in dire need of food, shelter, health and education assistance. UNICEF calls on humanitarian partners to step up their responses in the area.
FLOODING IN ASIA
An update for you from our humanitarian colleagues on flooding in Asia:
In Bangladesh, people are experiencing the worst and longest monsoon flooding in years, with a quarter of the country being inundated. At least 5.4 million people have been affected by severe flooding, with 11,000 households displaced and 135 people killed. Humanitarian partners are working with the Government to provide food, shelter, clean water, hygiene supplies and other supplies.
A $40 million response plan has been launched to help the more than one million of the people most in need in the country.
In neighbouring India, the monsoon there has reportedly claimed more than 770 lives. According to authorities, more than 500,000 people have been evacuated. The UN stands ready to provide humanitarian support to the most vulnerable and affected communities in India.
And the Korean Peninsula has also experienced heavy rainfall. In the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the unusually heavy rains this month have resulted in flooding. The UN team is in contact with authorities and stands ready to support its response to the most vulnerable communities if required and requested.
Some COVID-19 related news from the Pacific region: the UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Sanaka Samarasinha in Fiji, is organizing a virtual concert called “Pacific Unite: Saving Lives Together” and that will take place on August 15th and will bring together local, regional and international artists to pay tribute to essential workers across the region and will help renew the Secretary-General’s call for global solidarity in the fight against the virus through music and art.
The event will invite global leaders to build a more inclusive and resilient Pacific and a more sustainable and equitable global community.
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will participate by video. Also participating will be His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales; Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama; and New Zealand Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern.
The concert will be shown across some 17 countries in the Pacific and will be streamed live on UN WebTV on the 15th of August at 7:00 p.m. in Fiji, 3:00 a.m. in New York.
UNICEF today said that the polio immunization campaigns have resumed in Afghanistan and Pakistan, months after COVID-19 left 50 million children without their polio vaccines. In Afghanistan, polio immunization programmes restarted in three provinces in July. A second campaign covering almost half of the country will start this month.
In Pakistan, an initial round of vaccinations took place at the end of July, covering about 780,000 children. A nationwide vaccination campaign is scheduled to start later this month.
UNICEF said that while every effort will be made to reach children in both countries, there is concern that up to 1 million children in Afghanistan could miss out as door-to-door vaccinations are not possible in some areas. In Pakistan, the suspension of vaccination drives has also resulted in the expansion and introduction of the disease into new areas of the country.
Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies, launched its annual report today. Last year, activities financed by the fund reached 2.6 million crisis-impacted children and youth. Nearly half of those who benefited were girls, and over a third of them were refugees or internally displaced.
As the world tries to address the pandemic’s impact on education, and to answer the Secretary General’s call to avoid a generational catastrophe that could undermine decades of progress, Education Cannot Wait and its partners are working to urgently mobilize an additional $310 million to support the COVID-19 emergency education response, as well as other ongoing crises. The head of the Fund, Yasmine Sheshif, said they are aiming to reach close to 9 million children annually. The report is available online and there will be a High-Level Advocacy Discussion on the launch tomorrow morning.
U.N. VIRTUAL TOURS
While the UN Headquarters remains closed to the public, the UN Visitor Centre announced today that it is offering of virtual tours and briefings.
By taking the one-hour virtual tour with one of the multilingual UN tour guides, participants will go on a live journey through the UN’s history with a focus on the current work of its principal organs. They will learn how the UN addresses issues such as disarmament, peace and security, development, and human rights. Through this interactive experience, the online visitors will also be able to admire the General Assembly Hall and the Security Council Chamber, as well as some of the works of art that are in the UN Headquarters.
Visitors’ Services has also created an online tour specifically for younger children, mirroring their on-site children’s tours.
Visitors can book at visit.un.org.
After somewhat of a dry spell, we get to thank our friends in Tunis, as Tunisia has paid up its regular budget dues for 2020, bringing us up to 108 Member States of these United Nations.