HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 31 MARCH 2021
In a statement, the Secretary-General today said that over the years, the Sultanate of Oman has played an important role in building bridges for peace in the region, including in Yemen.
In particular, the Secretary-General is grateful to His Majesty, Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said, for his constructive and essential support to his Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths.
Mr. Griffiths is working to secure a nationwide ceasefire, the re-opening of Sana’a airport, the regular flow of fuel and other commodities into Yemen through Hudaydah port. He is also working to move to an inclusive political process to reach a comprehensive negotiated settlement to end the conflict.
In the statement, the Secretary-General reiterates that no efforts should be spared to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people, to end the devastating conflict in Yemen and to pave the way for a just and sustainable peace. He looks forward to continuing the United Nations work with the Sultanate of Oman and other partners to achieve this goal.
Yemen today received 360,000 vaccine doses shipped via the COVAX facility. These vaccines, licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, will enable health workers and other vulnerable populations to be protected against the virus.
Health authorities, the World Health Organization (WHO), and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) representatives received this first batch, along with 13,000 safety boxes and 1,300,000 syringes that are critical for the safe and effective roll-out of the vaccination campaign. Nearly 2 million doses are expected for Yemen this year.
Trinidad and Tobago also received today an initial 33,600 doses of vaccines, enabling the country to kickstart its vaccination campaign next week.
The delivery is part of the first phase of deliveries to the Caribbean country, with more on the way. Dr. Erica Wheeler, the Pan-American Health Organization’s representative in Trinidad and Tobago, said that the UN team will continue to work with authorities to vaccinate the population, along with the entire package of known public health and social measures that we know can help stop the spread of this virus.
This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, took part virtually in the Climate and Development Ministerial meeting, co-hosted by the United Kingdom.
Ms. Mohammed urged for action to boost climate resilience on five fronts. First, by committing half of all climate finance to adaptation – this includes having the G7 meet its 0.7 per cent ODA target. Second, by making climate support more streamlined and transparent. Third, by scaling-up disaster-triggered financial tools and creating new ones to drive resilience-building. Fourth, helping developing countries embed climate risk in all planning, budget and investment processes. And fifth and last, by supporting locally-led resilience-building efforts and empowering women, indigenous as well as youth actors.
INTERNATIONAL FOUR FREEDOMS AWARD
Today, the Secretary-General was awarded the International Four Freedoms Award by the Roosevelt Foundation.
He said that the award is especially meaningful given its deep connection to both President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt.
For more than 75 years, he added, around the world and around the clock, UN personnel have strived to make fundamental rights real in the lives of people.
However, Mr. Guterres said, today, we are facing the biggest international tests since the idea of the United Nations was little more than a dream in the eyes of Franklin Roosevelt and others.
But through the storm, this award will inspire all of us to keep pushing. To keep striving. And to keep working for a better world.
In Afghanistan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today said that three female polio workers were killed yesterday in Nangarhar province in Jalalabad. Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, condemned this brutal attack against aid and health workers, who are at the frontline in providing life-saving vaccination for children.
Mr. Lowcock extended his condolences to the families of the victims and said that aid workers should never be a target. They must be protected at all times.
For its part, the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that it shares the overwhelming revulsion over this crime, when everyone is working for a safer Afghanistan and a better future for all of its children, as well as a world free from polio. The UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Afghanistan, Ramiz Alakbarov, also underscored that polio workers save children’s lives and that they are not targets.
In Mozambique, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today said that the escalation of violence in Cabo Delgado Province continues to drive massive displacement, following the recent attacks by non-state armed groups and ongoing clashes reported in Palma since 24 March. The security situation remains volatile and concerning.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has already registered about 8,000 people at arrival points in Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba. Thousands more have arrived today in Pemba and other areas of Cabo Delgado.
We have information that hundreds of people are still trying to leave Palma right now and thousands are making their way by foot, boat and road. Some are being rescued by the UN Humanitarian Air Services and other civil society groups.
For its part, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is pre-positioning birthing kits and essential drugs to support displaced pregnant women and mothers.
The World Food Programme (WFP) said that it has ramped up assistance and aims to reach up to 50,000 people affected by the attacks. The UN Humanitarian Air Service, which is managed by the the WFP, is providing an air bridge to transport critical medical staff and humanitarian workers as close as possible to the operational sites, as well as provide medical evacuation of people in need.
Also today, in a joint statement, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba; along with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten; and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Najat Maalla M’jid, strongly condemned the brutal and horrific acts of violence reported in the province of Cabo Delgado. They stressed that the protection and humanitarian needs of the civilian population, especially women and children, must be urgently addressed.
In Ethiopia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today said the situation in Tigray remains extremely dire. Access in parts of Southern and South Eastern Tigray has been curtailed for a month and the road from Alamata to Mekelle remains closed, blocking humanitarian response in the area.
An estimated 2.5 million people in rural areas have not had access to essential services for the last four months.
The UN continues to receive concerning reports of attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, including the looting and vandalization of health centres, schools, as well as several cases of sexual and gender-based violence.
The conflict continues to drive massive displacement across the region, with tens of thousands of people arriving in the towns of Shire, Axum and Adwa over the last weeks.
The UN and its humanitarian partners on the ground are scaling up the response and have assisted more than 1 million people with food baskets. More than 146,000 displaced people have received emergency shelter and vital relief items and distribution is ongoing for nearly 60,000 people. More than 630,000 people have received clean water.
To date, 67 per cent of the targeted districts have been accessed through 50 mobile health teams compared to 25 per cent last month.
The response is, however, still inadequate to reach an estimated 4.5 million people who need life-saving assistance. We urgently need more funding to make sure we can urgently assist affected people.
A new report released today by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) says that community-based militias in the country were responsible for 78 per cent of killings and injuries caused to civilians, as well as abductions and conflict-related sexual violence during the attacks in pockets of South Sudan.
The report documented killings of 2,421 civilians in 2020. That is more than double the previous year. Just over 1,500 people were injured, up from 866. And there is particular concern about the sharp rise in abductions, which more than tripled.
The Mission said that while the figures represent a significant increase in violence compared to 2019, the clashes were concentrated in just 13 per cent of the country’s 540 administrative areas and largely involved community-based militias rather than conventional parties to the conflict.
In Niger, the Secretary-General is following with great concern the unfolding developments in the country. He urges all involved to desist from any form of incitement that threatens democratic consolidation and the stability of the country. The Secretary-General particularly calls on the armed forces to strictly abide by their constitutional obligations. He urges all stakeholders in Niger to adhere to democratic norms by respecting the outcomes of the 21 February presidential election and allow for an orderly and peaceful transfer of power.
The Secretary-general reaffirm the solidarity and the support of the United Nations to the Government and the People of Niger in their efforts to promote peace, the rule of law and sustainable development.
Yesterday, the Head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mahamet Saleh Annadif, met with representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), to discuss repairs to Timbuktu's cultural heritage, following the damage it suffered in 2012. Discussions with the ICC also reaffirmed the Mission's commitment to end impunity in Mali at all levels.
The Mission also recently concluded a meeting with youth organizations in Timbuktu. The meeting was meant to build awareness among young leaders on the role of the UN Mission in restoring peace to Mali.
SYRIA/BRUSSELS V PLEDGING CONFERENCE
Participants at the fifth Brussels conference on “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” pledged $ 4.4 billion for 2021, and another $ 2 billion for 2022. In addition, international financial institutions and donors announced around $7 billion in loans on concessional terms.
Our colleagues tell us that while the total number is lower compared to the $ 5.5 billion pledged in 2020, a number of donors stepped up their contributions this year. The UN also joined the EU in welcoming those countries who exceeded their pledges from last year and will continue to work with donors to seek funding throughout the year.
Needs remain staggering in Syria, with the UN and humanitarian partners seeking an estimated $10 billion for the response inside Syria and for support to countries hosting Syrian refugees in the region.
Last year the UN, along with its partners, increased by nearly 30 per cent the number of people assisted – up to 7.7 million people – each month in Syria, even with funding that fell short of overall requirements. The UN will continue to do its part to deliver to people in need.
Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said at the end of the event that if we are going to continue to help Syrians, access and funding are needed. On access, he reiterated that the cross-border operation is essential if we are going to reach all of those in need. The humanitarian assistance, he added, depends on donors’ generous and continuing funding.
***The guests at the Noon Briefing were experts from the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS). They briefed reporters ahead of the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. The guests were Ilene Cohn, Deputy Director and Officer in Charge of UNMAS; Abigail Hartley, Chief of Policy, Advocacy, Communication and Resource Mobilization of UNMAS; and Stephen Pritchard, Chief of Programmes, Planning and Management, also of UNMAS.