HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 02 MARCH 2021
The Secretary-General today welcomed the holding of peaceful general elections on 7 February and took note of the announcement of the official results by the National Electoral Council on 21 February. He trusts that the Electoral Disputes Tribunal will address any complaints promptly and diligently.
The Secretary-General calls on all stakeholders to act responsibly and with respect for the institutional and legal frameworks during the period leading up to the holding of the presidential run-off election on 11 April.
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke by video message to the Powering Past Coal Alliance virtual Summit hosted by Canada and the United Kingdom.
The Secretary-General called on governments, private companies and local authorities to take three steps: first, to cancel all global coal projects in the pipeline and to end the deadly addiction to coal. He urged all countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), to commit to phasing out coal by 2030 and urged non-OECD countries to do so by 2040.
Second, to end the international financing of coal plants and shift investment to renewable energy projects.
And third, to jump-start a global effort to finally organize a just transition, going coal plant by coal plant if necessary.
Yesterday afternoon, following the High-Level Pledging Event on Yemen, the Secretary-General said that the outcome was disappointing. The Secretary-General warned that cutting aid is a death sentence He thanked those who did pledge generously, and he asked others to consider again what they can do to help stave off the worst famine the world has seen in decades.
Pledges announced totaled approximately $1.7 billion. This is less than what was received for the humanitarian response plan in 2020, the Secretary-General said - and a billion dollars less than was pledged at the conference we held in 2019.
The UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Edward Kallon, today strongly condemned the attack by armed groups in Dikwa in Borno State. Several aid facilities were attacked during that incident.
We are still receiving information from the attack, which started last night. The premises of several aid agencies and a hospital were reportedly set ablaze or sustained damage.
Mr. Kallon expressed concerns about the safety and security of civilians in Dikwa, including the internally displaced people that are inside and outside the camps, as well as the thousands of people who had returned to the community after years of being displaced.
He said that this violent attack will impact the support provided to nearly 100,000 people who are desperately in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic could spread in Borno State.
Mr. Kallon stressed that civilians and aid workers, their facilities and assets should never be a target and must be protected at all times. He called on all armed parties to immediately stop the violence and respect international humanitarian and human rights law and ensure the protection of civilians and humanitarian workers.
The Secretary-General is delighted at the news that more than 200 schoolgirls who were kidnapped last week in Zamfara State have been released.
Peter Hawkins, the Representative in Nigeria of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), reiterated that attacks on students and schools are not only reprehensible but a violation of the right of children to an education.
UNICEF calls on the Government of Nigeria to take all measures to protect schools in the country so that children will not be fearful of going to school, and parents afraid of sending their children to school.
Today, Nigeria received nearly 4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility. The delivery of the vaccine from India is part of a first wave of arrivals in Nigeria that will continue in the coming days and weeks.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Edward Kallon, said that his team is committed to supporting the vaccination campaign.
The arrival of the vaccines marks the beginning of the national vaccination plan, which targets priority groups, starting with frontline healthcare workers.
The UN team has repurposed more than $6 million in existing funding to address the multiple impacts of the pandemic.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
A virtual meeting in the Central African Republic brought together the African Union Commissioner, Smaїl Chergui, the President of the Commission of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Ambassador Gilberto da Piedade Veríssimo, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and EU High Representative, Josep Borrell. They met with the Central African President Faustin-Archange Touadéra.
The discussion focused on the political situation and the peace process in the country. They congratulated the President on his election and invited all national actors to accept the outcomes of the election as proclaimed by the Constitutional Court, and called on them to work together the electoral process within the legal deadlines and in a free, transparent, credible and inclusive manner.
They also urged the President to open an inclusive political dialogue to de-escalate current tensions and help create conditions conducive to the strengthening of democracy, good governance, humanitarian access, as well as the promotion of human rights and to enable the sustainable return of internally displaced people and refugees.
They also urged the President Touadéra to relaunch the peace and reconciliation process, including through the implementation of the February 2019 Political Agreement for peace and reconciliation.
In Ethiopia, our humanitarian colleagues have seen the media and other reports of abuses in Tigray and call on all to ensure that access is granted for humanitarian workers to provide required assistance and aid to victims and survivors.
Looting of humanitarian supplies, destruction and vandalization of civilian infrastructure have been reported by our national and international partners on the ground. The UN, along with our humanitarian partners, continue to call on the parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.
More than 80 aid workers have received clearances to go to Tigray, but the permits are for short missions and for personnel returning to Tigray. Authorizations for needs assessment missions are still pending with the authorities.
Hundreds of thousands of people affected have not been reached, particularly in the rural areas of Tigray.
Despite the challenges, humanitarians on the ground are working to increase the response, with some progress made, especially on food assistance in the main cities. In addition, more than 280,000 people received clean water, more than 35,000 refugees in Mai Ayni and Adi Harush camps are getting food assistance and more than 65,000 displaced people received shelter and critical household items.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) today appealed for $266 million to end food ration cuts for over 3 million refugees in Eastern Africa. Funding shortages have forced cuts of up to 60 per cent.
The UN agencies warned of growing risks including increased malnutrition, anaemia and stunted child growth.
UNHCR and WFP said that the impact of the funding shortfalls on refugee families is compounded by COVID-19 lockdowns and measures to contain the pandemic’s spread. This has already reduced the availability of food in markets in refugee camps and wrecked many refugees’ hopes of helping to support their families through casual labour and small businesses.
On Myanmar, the Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, continues her conversations with various parties regarding the current situation.
She continues to stress the need for Member States to act collectively and in unity to help the people of Myanmar and safeguard their democratic aspirations.
The Special Envoy will be the guest at the noon briefing tomorrow. She will brief virtually on her efforts.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) today strongly encouraged the House of Representatives to meet as scheduled to discuss and consider the vote of confidence on the cabinet to be proposed by the Prime Minister-designate. They encourage the Prime Minister-designate to present the line-up of the government without further delay.
This call comes in line with the increasing public demand for the urgent need to form a unified government to address the most pressing needs and facilitate the holding of national elections in December 2021.
The UN Mission said it is not in a position to comment on media reports circulated about allegations of bribery during the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum in Tunisia. The Panel of Experts who produced the report in which those allegations were cited is completely independent from UNSMIL and reports to the Security Council Sanctions Committee.
On Ukraine, the first UN-organized humanitarian convoy with 133 tons of shelter materials and other relief items passed through Shchastia crossing point to the non-government-controlled area of Luhanska oblast. The Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, said that this was an achievement and congratulated all relevant parties for their assistance.
She also stressed the importance of ensuring that humanitarian convoys continue to pass directly to the Donetsk region through the crossing point at Novotroitske. This is only partially operational and has been temporarily closed to the passing of humanitarian convoys.
With the growing needs of 3.4 million Ukrainians in the COVID-19 pandemic, Ms. Lubrani urged all concerned parties to ensure the unimpeded humanitarian aid delivery and access of humanitarian workers to people in need.
The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is launching its “Technology and Innovation Report 2021: Catching Technological Waves – Innovation with Equity”, tomorrow at 9.30 a.m. The report focuses on frontier technologies and their impact on inequalities, in particular for countries already impacted by the digital divide. Details on how to tune in live are available on the UNCTAD website.
Italy, Namibia and Nepal have all paid their regular budget dues in full, bringing us up to 63.
***The guest at the Noon Briefing was the Chief Economist of the United Nations, Elliott Harris. He spoke to reporters about a new system of natural capital accounting known as SEEA, “the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting”. This is expected to be adopted by the fifty-second session of the UN Statistical Commission, organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.