HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2020
The Secretary-General was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Saeb Erekat, Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) Secretary-General and Chief Negotiator for the Palestinians in the Middle East Peace Process.
The Secretary-General was grateful to have known Dr. Erekat and to have called him a friend. He was dedicated to the peaceful pursuit of justice, dignity and the legitimate rights of Palestinians to self-determination, sovereignty and statehood.
Now is the time to continue his crucial work and end the conflict that has tragically affected the lives of so many. The Secretary-General reiterates his own and the United Nations’ commitment to support all efforts to bring the parties together to achieve a long-awaited, just and sustainable two-State solution, with Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.
On behalf of the United Nations, the Secretary-General extends our heartfelt condolences to Dr. Erekat’s family, President Abbas, the people of Palestine and his many friends and supporters around the world.
SECRETARY-GENERAL/SHANGHAI COOPERATION COUNCIL
The Secretary-General also sent a pre-recorded video message to today’s meeting of the Council of Heads of State of Member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
He said that the pandemic has intensified vulnerabilities, inequalities and fragilities across the world, and that the recovery will require global cooperation to protect lives and livelihoods, and to keep economies and businesses afloat.
The Secretary-General said that he counts on the strong engagement of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s Member States and welcomes their support for his appeal for a global ceasefire.
THEODOR HERZL AWARD
Yesterday evening, the Secretary-General spoke by video message to the World Jewish Congress after they conferred upon him the Theodor Herzl Award. In those remarks, he warned that in recent months, a steady stream of prejudice has continued to blight our world: anti-Semitic assaults, harassment and vandalism; Holocaust denial; a guilty plea in a neo-Nazi plot to blow up a synagogue. And with COVID-19, another virus has spread, he said — anti-Semitism and hatred of many kinds.
He said that disinformation and conspiracy theories have gained alarming ground. They come in different forms, he added, but they all traffic in the same venom: dehumanizing and scapegoating the other, whether it is Jews, Muslims, migrants, refugees, or so many others.
We must stand together against hatred in all forms, he added.
Today, the Deputy Secretary-General travelled to Borno State, in Nigeria’s northeast. In Banki, a town located at the border with Cameroon, she visited a camp hosting internally displaced people, as well as Nigerian refugees returning from Cameroon.
In addition to challenges related to security and growing humanitarian needs, Amina Mohammed saw first-hand the efforts undertaken by authorities, NGOs and our partners, to respond to the impact of COVID-19 in some of the country’s most vulnerable communities.
Later in the day, in Maiduguri, Ms. Mohammed met with the Governor of Borno State. She visited a girl’s secondary school, and a discussion with colleagues from the humanitarian community.
She is on her way back to Abuja as we speak and her mission will continue tomorrow.
TROPICAL STORM ETA
The Spokesman presented an update on humanitarian operations following tropical storm Eta. In Honduras, UN agencies and NGOs launched a rapid assessment yesterday that will be completed by Thursday. To date, we, along with our partners have delivered nearly 19,000 hygiene, health and food kits; 500 shelter and nearly 11,000 food rations and other kits. Preparations are also underway to distribute more than 150,000 food rations to shelters. In addition, some 340,000 COVID-19 detection supplies and 46,000 kits of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have been distributed to shelters.
In Guatemala, 135, 000 litres of drinking water have been delivered, and our friends at UNICEF are procuring hygiene kits and protective equipment for schools.
In Nicaragua, PPE is being provided, including 26,000 disposable surgical gowns, caps and masks and 1,370 face shields for frontline health workers in impacted areas.
And in El Salvador, 7,000 hygiene kits have been distributed. The Food and Agricultural Organization is also supporting impacted families in rural areas with [supplies for] some 20,000 farmers. And the World Food Programme has US$250,000 available for immediate food emergency needs.
The UN is very pleased to announce that Major General Bettina Patricia Boughani of France will be the next Police Commissioner of the UN Peacekeeping Mission in Mali. She will lead one of the larger UN police mission components and is expected to assume her post in January.
Major General Boughani, of the Gendarmerie, also becomes the first woman to lead the UN Police Component in Mali, which currently has almost 1,700 police officers from 29 countries, including 221 women. Major General Boughani has extensive command experience in various posts with the French Gendarmerie in France, as well as UN experience. And we thank her predecessor, Police Commissioner Issoufou Yacouba, for his service, and you spoke to him last week on Friday.
COVID-19/MIGRANTS AND DISPLACED COMMUNITIES
The International Organization for Migration and the World Food Programme warn that COVID-19 could push more people to move out of necessity, as hunger surges among migrant and displaced communities.
It shows that the world’s 164 million migrant workers, especially those working in the informal sector, are some of the worst hit by the pandemic.
The report notes that the World Bank expects a 14 per cent drop in remittances to low- and middle-income countries by 2021 and that will have consequences for food security, and those consequences could be devastating.
LACROIX – COVID
As he announced in a tweet this morning, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Under Secretary-General for Peace Operations, has tested positive for COVID-19. The diagnosis was made while he was in Portugal, where he was scheduled to attend a meeting on Security Council Resolution 1325.
As soon as he received a positive result, he notified local authorities and isolated himself in Lisbon. He is asymptomatic and will remain isolated for the required number of days as per standard medical guidance. Contact tracing was immediately implemented accordingly.
We are grateful for the Portuguese Government for their testing and logistical support. Mr. Lacroix is in fine spirits, as I can report.
WORLD SCIENCE DAY FOR PEACE AND DEVELOPMENT
Today is World Science Day for Peace and Development. The theme this year is “Science for and with Society”, focusing in particular on dealing with the current pandemic.
In a message for the Day, the Director-General of the UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, highlighted that science will play an important role in overcoming this crisis and will also help to build more just, and more compassionate, and sustainable societies.