DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 21 JULY 2021
This morning, the Secretary-General addressed, by a video message, the eleventh CARICOM-UN General Meeting.
He said that the combined effects of the pandemic and climate change in the Caribbean region have created the conditions for an epic “perfect storm,” and said that this crisis requires innovative thinking in a number of areas.
He reiterated his call for G20 countries to ensure that vaccines are distributed equitably, and also his call to the international community to urgently help countries in dire financial distress to tackle both short and medium-term debt and liquidity challenges. He also stressed the importance of climate financing ahead of the COP26 in Glasgow.
The Secretary-General also thanked CARICOM for its unwavering support to the UN mission in Haiti and its willingness to play a role in facilitating this national dialogue.
On Thursday, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will arrive in Rome to take part in the Pre-Summit of the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, co- hosted with the Government of Italy.
Convened by the Secretary-General António Guterres, the event is a “People’s Summit” that will bring together youth, farmers, indigenous peoples, civil society, researchers, private sector and policy leaders, among other participants. It is also framed as a “Solutions Summit” with the aim to deliver the latest evidence-based and scientific approaches to a food systems transformation from around the world, set the stage for a set of new commitments through coalitions of action, and mobilize new financing and partnerships.
The Pre-Summit will take place in a hybrid format from 26–28 July 2021. It will tee up the UN Food Systems Summit in New York in September by bringing together diverse actors from around the world to leverage the power of food systems to deliver progress on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
While in Rome, Ms. Mohammed is expected to meet with ministers and other high-level officials, civil society representatives and others on the sidelines of the Pre-Summit. She will also hold meetings with Vatican officials.
Ms. Mohammed will also travel to London, United Kingdom, from Rome to attend the first day of the July Ministerial meeting convened by the incoming COP President, Alok Sharma, on 25-26 July 2021. She will deliver opening remarks, presenting the UN’s priorities to get ambitious and equitable results at COP26. The informal meeting will provide an opportunity for participants to discuss the shape and substance of the potential outcome, and to provide guidance on outstanding negotiations issues.
The Secretary-General has been concerned about recent devastating floods in different parts of the world and has been in touch with leaders accordingly.
You will have seen our statement last week on the floods in Western Europe, including in Germany. The Secretary-General sent a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to express his condolences for the lives lost due to those floods and his sympathies to all those who have suffered losses.
Over the weekend, China was also hit by heavy rain and flooding, and the Secretary-General is sending a letter to President Xi Jinping to convey his heartfelt condolences on the tragic loss of lives and devastation.
The Secretary-General’s sympathies and thoughts go to the bereaved families and to the Chinese Government and people.
Elisabeth Spehar, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus, briefed the Security Council in closed consultations this morning on the situation there.
And as you saw, she just spoke to reporters at the stakeout and emphasized the need for the parties to avoid unilateral actions.
Turning to Ethiopia, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that while there are improvements in access within Tigray, the last entry point open to get into the region - the road between Afar and Tigray via Semera city - remains blocked due to security reasons. This prevents humanitarian personnel, food stocks, fuel and other humanitarian goods from entering.
The UN Humanitarian Air Service first regular flight is scheduled to begin tomorrow, July 22nd.
Meanwhile, humanitarian stocks are rapidly depleting inside Tigray. As of this past Monday, WFP and partners only had enough food to feed about 1.9 million people for one round of its common food basket. Despite challenges, at least 167,000 people were reached with food and nutrition support last week.
Shortages of fuel and cash, as well as communications blackouts, are significantly hindering the resumption of the humanitarian response and preventing its scale-up.
NGOs and UN agencies are running out of cash and are unable to pay staff or suppliers. Unless fuel, cash, supplies, and aid workers are able to enter Tigray in the coming days, some humanitarian programmes will not be able to function.
We continue to call for the restoration of electricity, communications, commercial flights and the banking system to prevent further deterioration in the humanitarian situation.
The head of the peacekeeping mission in Mali, El-Ghassim Wane, condemned yesterday’s attempted stabbing attack on the President of the Transition, Assimi Goïta. As you know, the attack took place during the prayer marking Eid al-Adha – or Tabaski - as the holiday is called in Mali.
Mr. Wane reaffirmed the UN’s support to the transition underway in the country.
In a statement, the local Transition Monitoring Committee, which includes the Economic Commission for West Africa and the Sahel – ECOWAS, the African Union, the UN Peacekeeping Mission, and members of the international community, also condemned the attack. They reiterated their determination to continue working with Malian authorities and to support efforts aimed at ensuring the success of the transition and its completion on schedule.
You will have seen that we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General strongly condemned the horrific bomb attack targeting civilians at a market in Al-Sadr City in Iraq on Monday.
He said that the deadly attack ahead of the Eid al-Adha holiday is a reminder to us all that the scourge of terrorism knows no bounds.
The Secretary-General underlined the need for the perpetrators of this crime to be swiftly brought to justice.
In Brazil, a new batch of 1 million vaccines is arriving today. To date, the country has received 6.9 million vaccines– since March this year. Brazil is one of the COVAX self-financed countries, where vaccines are purchased with resources from the Government.
And in Ecuador, more than 379,000 vaccine doses arrived for the first time through COVAX. The Government is aiming to immunize 9 million people in 100 days. To date, more than 1.8 million people have been fully immunized, and more than 4.1 million people have received their first doses.
The International Labour Organization says that there have been significant job losses and deteriorated labour market conditions in the country since the military takeover. Employment contracted by an estimated 6 per cent in the second quarter of this year compared to the fourth quarter of 2020, reflecting 1.2 million job losses. In the first half of 2021, an estimated 14 per cent of working hours were lost, which is equivalent to the working time of at least 2.2 million full-time workers. Women are estimated to have been affected more than men. All sectors of the economy have been affected, with construction, garment-making and tourism, and hospitality among the hardest hit.
The Secretary-General appointed today a group of 25 tax experts from around the world to serve as members of the UN Committee of Experts on International Cooperation in Tax Matters for the 2021-2025 term.
The UN Tax Committee guides countries’ efforts to advance stronger and more forward-looking tax policies adapted to the realities of globalized trade and investment, an increasingly digitalized economy and worsening environmental degradation. It assists countries in their efforts to prevent double or multiple taxation as well as non-taxation, broaden their tax base, strengthen their tax administrations, and curb international tax evasion and avoidance.
The list of 25 experts is being emailed as we speak.