HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 17 FEBRUARY 2021
This morning the Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council’s open meeting on COVID-19 vaccination.
He said that vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community.
Progress on vaccinations has been wildly uneven and unfair, with just ten countries having administered 75 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, more than 130 countries have not received a single dose.
Mr. Guterres warned that if the virus is allowed to spread like wildfire in the Global South, it will mutate again and again. New variants could become more transmissible, more deadly and potentially threaten the effectiveness of current vaccines and diagnostics.
This can prolong the pandemic significantly, enabling the virus to come back to plague the Global North and delaying the world economic recovery.
The Secretary-General called on the G20 to set up a task force to create a Global Vaccination Plan to bring together all those with the required power, scientific expertise and production and financial capacities.
He said that the G7 meeting later this week can help create the momentum to mobilize the necessary financial resources.
Also speaking at today’s meeting was the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director, Henrietta Fore. She asked Council members for their support in three areas:
Firstly, to urge all Member States to ensure that everyone is included in national vaccination plans, regardless of their legal status or if they live in areas controlled by non-state entities.
Second: on a global ceasefire and, at a minimum, for a humanitarian pause for the duration of vaccine delivery.
Lastly, to help UNICEF re-start stalled immunization campaigns for other diseases.
Tomorrow, at 11:00 a.m., the Secretary-General and the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Inger Andersen, will brief journalists on the triple emergencies of climate, biodiversity, and pollution, which are the focus of the latest report by UNEP.
On Friday, at 3:00 p.m., the Secretary-General will take part live in a virtual conversation with the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, and that is to mark the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement. The chat will be part of the opening session of UNA-USA’s virtual 2021 Global Engagement Summit and it will be live on the UN WebTV.
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENT
The Secretary-General is appointing Usha Rao-Monari of India as Under-Secretary-General and Associate Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
The Secretary-General expresses his gratitude and appreciation to Mourad Wahba of Egypt for his commitment as Associate Administrator ad interim and his 30 years of service in the United Nations. He also wishes to extend his appreciation to Tegegnework Gettu of Ethiopia for his significant contributions to the development agenda as UNDP’s Associate Administrator.
As Senior Adviser to Blackstone’s Infrastructure Group, Ms. Rao-Monari is an investment professional with almost 30 years of investment experience, particularly in the infrastructure area.
On the Ebola outbreaks in Africa, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, vaccination teams are working in the northeast of the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), as well as other partners are mobilizing to support the response, rehabilitating treatment centres and boosting contact-tracing capacity. Communication campaigns are also helping combat misinformation among local population to promote safe vaccination.
In Guinea, the UN team started a four-day mission today to assess the situation in the southeastern region of Nzérékoré, where the first case of Ebola was reported. The mission is led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Vincent Martin, with representatives from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and WHO.
Less than 24 hours after the official declaration of the epidemic, the UN Humanitarian Air Service, with logistical support from WFP, organized a first humanitarian flight to the area. It carried personal protective equipment for health care personnel, assistance kits for infected people and disinfection equipment. The UN delegation met with local authorities as well as community leaders. They also took part in a crisis meeting organized by national authorities to roll out a rapid contact-tracing mechanism to assess the spread of the disease and establish an effective response plan. This includes emergency vaccine distribution, case management, crisis communications, and help with border management.
On Somalia, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today that more than 2.6 million people in the country are expected to be in extreme food insecurity.
Poor rainfall, flooding and desert locusts are the main contributing factors. The situation could worsen through the middle of the year, barring large-scale and sustained humanitarian assistance.
From July to December of last year, aid reached more than 1.8 million people per month on average in parts of Somalia. This large-scale humanitarian and government support helped to minimize the magnitude of the crisis. However, funding is needed urgently to boost efforts to reduce the new food security threats the country is currently facing.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
The Secretary-General has congratulated Karim Khan on his election as the next Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The Secretary-General affirms the continued support and cooperation of the UN under the Relationship Agreement between the UN and the International Criminal Court.
Cyprus, Philippines and France have now paid its regular budget dues, taking it up to 46 fully paid-up Member States.