DEBT AND LIQUIDITY
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the opening of the High-Level Event on Debt and Liquidity.
He said that we face the spectre of a divided world and a lost decade for development unless we take urgent action. He said richer countries have benefited from an unprecedented $16 trillion of emergency support measures, while many developing countries cannot invest in recovery and resilience because of financial constraints. He emphasized that developing countries need access to additional liquidity to respond to the pandemic, and to invest in recovery. The global community must urgently provide the necessary support to all developing countries in need, he added.
The Secretary-General spoke to the press following the event with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke virtually to the Generation Equality Forum which was launched in Mexico City.
He said that progress on gender equality has been too slow and that in many places the very idea of gender equality has come under attack.
“It is time to regroup and re-energize our quest to create a more equal, more just, more sustainable world in which all people can realize their human rights without discrimination and without fear,” he said.
He added that, as we recover from the pandemic, we must focus on five critical steps: first, protecting women’s equal rights and repeal discriminatory laws; second, ensuring equal representation through special measures and quotas; third, advancing women’s economic inclusion through equal pay, job protection, targeted credit and investments in the care economy and social protection; fourth, enacting emergency response plans to address violence against women and girls and fifth, giving space to the young people who are advocating for a more just and equal world.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the Secretary-General condemned in the strongest terms the killing of dozens of civilians, including children and young people, by security forces in Myanmar. The continuing military crackdown, which today resulted in the highest daily death toll since demonstrations against the coup began last month, is unacceptable and demands a firm, unified and resolute international response. It is critical to find an urgent solution to this crisis.
The Secretary-General reiterated his urgent appeal to the military to refrain from violence and repression. Those responsible for the serious human rights violations committed in Myanmar must be held accountable.
Henrietta Fore, the Executive Director of UNICEF, said that least 10 children were killed and another injured on Saturday in the latest child casualties.
She said that, in less than two months, at least 35 children have allegedly been killed, countless others seriously injured and almost 1,000 children and young people reported arbitrarily detained by security forces across the country. Millions of children and young people have been directly or indirectly exposed to traumatizing scenes of violence, threatening their mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Ms. Fore said she is appalled by the indiscriminate killing, including of children, taking place in Myanmar and by the failure of security forces to exercise restraint and ensure children’s safety, warning also of the longer-term consequences of the crisis for the country’s children could be catastrophic.
She said that the delivery of critical services for children has ground to a halt, with nearly 1 million children without access to key vaccines and nearly 5 million missing out on vitamin A supplementation. Nearly 12 million children could lose another year of learning, while more than 40,000 children are without treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
We must not let down the children of Myanmar at this critical time, when their lives, wellbeing and future are at stake, Ms. Fore stressed.
In a joint statement, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, and High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, issued a clear warning of a heightened risk of atrocity crimes in Myanmar, following another day of widespread bloodshed by the Myanmar military.
At least 107 people were killed by security forces on Saturday, they said, with hundreds more wounded and detained during these seemingly coordinated attacks in over 40 locations throughout the country.
Ms. Nderitu and Ms. Bachelet called on the military to immediately stop killing the very people it has the duty to serve and protect.
The shameful, cowardly, brutal actions of the military and police – who have been filmed shooting at protesters as they flee, and who have not even spared young children – must be halted immediately, they said. The international community has a responsibility to protect the people of Myanmar from atrocity crimes.
The Special Adviser and the High Commissioner called on the Security Council to take further steps and for ASEAN and the wider international community to act promptly to uphold the responsibility to protect the people of Myanmar from atrocity crimes.
They called for an end to systemic impunity in Myanmar and also noted that the current situation has also put at further risk the already vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities in Myanmar, including the Rohingya.
This morning, the Security Council met on the humanitarian situation in Syria.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said, in recent weeks, he has spoken to Syrians in many parts of the country who told him that they see no respite.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates 13.4 million people across all parts of Syria require aid – 20 per cent more than last year.
Mr. Lowcock told the Council that the UN cross-border operation is one of the most heavily scrutinized and monitored aid operations in the world. Because this programme is so well monitored and scrutizined, we know aid gets to the people it is supposed to, he stressed.
In spite of the complexities and constraints across Syria, the UN-backed humanitarian operation currently reaches about 7.7 million people across the country every month. This is a significant increase in what we were doing last year, which is a reflection of the deterioration of the situation, the Emergency Relief Coordinator said.
Ahead of tomorrow’s Brussels V Conference in support of Syria and neighbouring countries affected by the crisis, co-hosted by the UN, humanitarian organizations are seeking an estimated $4.2 billion for the response inside Syria to reach 12.3 million people in need. Another $5.8 billion is required for support to countries hosting Syrian refugees in the region.
Also speaking at today’s Council meeting was UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore, who said that, since the fighting began in Syria a decade ago, it has been verified that 12,000 children – and likely many more – have been killed or injured.
She said a generation of children are growing up knowing nothing but war and that nearly 90 per cent of children now require humanitarian assistance.
Ms. Fore said that, in the northeast, more than 37,000 children are languishing in the al-Hol and al-Roj camps, with more than 800 children in detention centres and prisons.
In the southeast, she said 11,000 people, half of whom are children, are living in Rukban camp under worsening conditions, including a lack of food and medicine, and growing concerns about the spread of COVID-19. Ms. Fore called for the Security Council’s help in four areas: regular access to northwest Syria to provide lifesaving humanitarian assistance; an immediate end to attacks on children, hospitals, schools and other vital civilian infrastructure like water plants; support for UNICEF’s call for the safe, voluntary and dignified release, repatriation and reintegration of children in the northeast; and support for the UN’s call for peace.
The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Libya, Ján Kubiš, met yesterday in Tripoli with the Head of High Council of State, Khaled Al-Meshri.
They discussed the latest development in Libya and the progress made so far on the political process. The Special Envoy urged the expedition of the process of finding a constitutional and legal framework in order to ensure the holding of national elections on 24 December 2021, as prescribed by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum Roadmap.
The Special Envoy also visited Misrata city and met with the leadership of Misrata Municipal Council, members of the House of Representatives and High Council of State of the city, and with a group of activists representing several civil society organizations.
In Mozambique, the UN and our humanitarian partners are deeply concerned about the safety of civilians in the Palma District following the recent attack by non-state armed groups and ongoing clashes reported in the region since 24 March. Communications are down in Palma and it is extremely challenging to verify information on the situation. However, we have received alarming reports that dozens of civilians may have been killed during the attacks and clashes.
We anticipate that thousands of people have fled Palma and are making their way by foot, boat and road to reach safer destinations. Many of these people will be fleeing with nothing, some traveling through the bush. They will require urgent assistance at their destinations.
The UN and our humanitarian partners have responded rapidly, ensuring we have teams ready to receive those fleeing. However, we urgently need additional funding to respond to this new crisis.
The World Food Programme (WFP) also expressed concern about the worsening humanitarian crisis and food security situation in the region. WFP is deploying 2,000 immediate response rations to support displaced population should they arrive in Pemba or in Ibo Island, as well as displaced population reaching Mueda.
An additional 2,000 response rations kits are being prepositioned to support displaced populations in the southern parts of Palma district. People being evacuated via Afungi both by air and sea is also being supported with High Energy Biscuits
WFP and partners delivered 258 metric tonnes of food assistance on 21 March to meet the needs of nearly 16,000 people for a month in Palma. Further food assistance in the Palma district has been temporarily put on hold as a result of the ongoing violence in Palma district.
The WFP-managed Humanitarian Air Service is currently supporting the evacuation of civilians, including women and children. The UN is transporting medical staff and humanitarian workers to support the injured and those most in need.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today warned that the food insecurity situation in Cabo Delgado has deteriorated due to ongoing violence that has disrupted the livelihoods of more than half a million people, who have had to leave behind almost all of their possessions, including crops and livestock assets. Local authorities in Cabo Delgado estimate that the conflict has resulted in a 30 percent drop in production compared with the previous agricultural season.
FAO is currently implementing projects in four districts that host families in Cabo Delgado and three in Nampula Province. The aim is to help restore the livelihoods of the affected population.
FAO is also assisting families that host displaced people to relieve pressure on their resources and food supply.
Between December 2020 and January 2021, FAO reached more than 14,000 families, using electronic cards to provide each family with access to credit to buy cereal, vegetable seeds and farming tools, guaranteeing that affected people can produce their own food and thus reducing their dependency.
The High Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Ángel Moratinos, has strongly condemned what he called the heinous and cowardly attack yesterday on the Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral in Makassar, Indonesia.
Some 19 people were injured as worshippers were wrapping up a mass marking Palm Sunday.
The High Representative stresses that all acts of violence and terror targeting places of worship and worshipers are unjustifiable and should not be tolerated. This resurgence of violence against people based on their religion or belief should not obstruct nor undermine our collective efforts to prevent and combat all forms of discrimination and related intolerance, he added.
The High-Representative recalls the UN Plan of Action to Safeguard Religious Sites, developed by his office, and encourages all relevant stakeholders to support its implementation.
ACTION FOR PEACEKEEPING (A4P)
Speaking by video message at an event to mark the third anniversary of the initiative “Action for Peacekeeping” (A4P), the Secretary-General acknowledged progress to make peace operations more efficient and impactful.
He thanked peacekeepers for their outstanding service, adding that under the Action for Peacekeeping umbrella, the UN has taken steps to better protect them. However, the Secretary-General said, the recent spike in deadly attacks demonstrates the need to expand our efforts.
The next phase of the initiative, Action for Peacekeeping Plus, aims to focus on key priorities designed to be catalytic and enhance the missions’ impact.
Accountability, he added, will continue to be at the heart of the UN’s shared efforts: accountability to peacekeepers by ensuring the safety, security and wellbeing of our personnel, and accountability of peacekeepers.
Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the head of the Department of Peace Operations, also spoke at this event and emphasized how the A4P plus initiative will require strengthened partnership and cooperation with Member States and other peacekeeping partners to make progress on all priority areas.
On Saturday, the United Nations received 200,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Government of India for UN peacekeepers serving in our missions. The vaccines are in Copenhagen, Denmark, where they will be safely stored and repackaged to be quickly distributed to all peacekeeping missions.
The Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said an effective roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine to all peacekeepers is a key priority for the UN to protect our personnel and their capacity to continue their crucial work and help protect vulnerable communities. He thanked the Government and people of India, calling the country a longstanding and steadfast supporter of peacekeeping.
For his part, the Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, Atul Khare, called this an important donation that will allow UN peacekeepers to remain healthy and deliver in some of the most difficult environments in the world. He noted that we also remain engaged with our troop- and police-contributing countries to ensure that, wherever possible, uniformed personnel are vaccinated through their national systems prior to deployment.
Over the weekend, COVAX-backed vaccines arrived in five countries: Argentina, Botswana, Mauritius, Montenegro and North Macedonia.
Argentina yesterday received the first batch of 218,000 doses, with another nearly 2 million expected to arrive in the next three months. The Pan-American Health Organization/World Health Organization and UNICEF helped buy 5,000 vaccine carriers and cold boxes to secure the transportation and distribution of vaccines. The COVAX-backed vaccines are boosting the nation-wide vaccination campaign that started three months ago.
Mauritius also received 24,000 doses of vaccine doses yesterday. The UN team in the country has been supporting authorities address multiple impacts of the pandemic, including the national vaccination campaign that kicked off two months ago. Frontline workers, including health care professionals, employees of the tourism industry as well as senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions, are being given priority for the vaccines.
Botswana received 24,000 doses of vaccines over the weekend. Resident Coordinator Zia Choudhury said vaccines are a critical tool in the battle against COVID-19 and the only way out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available to all. UNICEF supported authorities with logistical arrangements, while WHO helped draw up the vaccination plan and trained health workers to manage and dispense vaccines.
Montenegro received 24,000 doses yesterday, which is the first batch of a total 84,000 doses scheduled to arrive soon. The UN team and authorities called on all the population to respond to the call for vaccination, while keeping up with the regular COVID-19 prevention measures, including washing hands frequently, using masks and keeping physical distance. Resident Coordinator Peter Lundberg said that only together can we make vaccination possible and ensure that vaccines reach all people, he said.
In North Macedonia, an initial batch of 24,000 doses of doses were delivered yesterday ahead of the start of the country’s vaccination campaign on Wednesday. It will prioritize people with underlying health conditions and those over 75 years of age, among other risk groups.
The Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, today said that she is very concerned at pronouncements from officials in Montenegro questioning the commission of the crime of genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in 1995. She also notes a series of concerning developments in that country that contribute to sowing fear, mistrust and hate.
Ms. Nderitu stressed that genocide and other atrocity crimes must not be a matter of any kind of arbitration, especially those legally processed based on evidence.
The terrible events that occurred at Srebrenica in July 1995 have been adjudicated by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Both of them have concluded that the acts committed at Srebrenica constituted genocide. There is simply no space for denial or relativization of Srebrenica genocide and the legitimacy of the ICTY.
The Secretary-General, in his message on the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina last year, called on “everyone in the region and beyond to counter hate speech and the rhetoric of division and narratives of mistrust and fear”. He noted that acknowledging the past is a vital step towards rebuilding trust, and that reconciliation means rejecting denial of genocide and war crimes and of any effort to glorify convicted war criminals. It also means recognizing the suffering of all victims and not attributing collective guilt.