HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 18 MAY 2021
This morning, the Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, kicked off a three-day virtual session with Member States on the state of the UN development system.
Mr. Guterres said that the pandemic has reversed years of development progress and stressed the importance of international cooperation. However, he outlined how the UN development system has responded in full force, including by rolling out 121 immediate socio-economic response plans covering 139 countries and territories.
More than $3 billion was repurposed and an additional $2 billion was mobilized to prioritize – above all else – effective, immediate support to the people we serve, he said.
Looking forward, he highlighted areas for improvement, including the ability to deliver integrated policy advice, consolidating accountabilities at the country level, and increasing funding and investment in development activities. The Secretary-General appealed to governments to give serious consideration to further capitalizing on the Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund and similar joint funds, noting that the shortfall in funding for the Resident Coordinator system also undermines our shared objective of a more effective, accountable and transparent UN development system.
Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, told a UN forum on the question of Palestine this morning that the recent fighting has now claimed more than two hundred civilian lives, including children. The suffering, damage and destruction are immense, she said.
Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo said the UN has been actively involved in mediation efforts with all sides with a view to ending the violence immediately. She echoed the Secretary-General’s call on the parties to allow for the intensification of mediation efforts, which are also critical for delivering much needed humanitarian aid to the affected people in Gaza. She commended the Member States who have intensified their diplomatic efforts to bring the parties back from the brink.
OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY
On the humanitarian situation, the opening of the Kerem Shalom crossing today has allowed dozens of fuel trucks from UNRWA to enter Gaza. Regrettably, other essential humanitarian cargo was unable to cross.
It is critical that the Erez crossing is also opened for the entry and exit of critical humanitarian staff.
Humanitarian access into and out of Gaza for staff and goods must be sustained and appropriate measures taken to ensure safe movement within Gaza.
Overnight, the U.N. received extremely worrying reports of additional civilian infrastructure being hit in Gaza, including the central COVID-19 testing lab and other health and humanitarian facilities.
In addition, the U.N. continues to receive reports of significant displacement of Palestinians within the Gaza strip. More than 58,000 men, women and children have been displaced, 47,000 of whom are seeking protection in some 58 UNRWA schools across Gaza.
And, as far as the security situation allows, the UN, along with its partners, provide food and non-food items to displaced families, and immediate cash assistance to more than 56,000 people.
The Security Council met on the G5 Sahel Force this morning. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Head of the Peacekeeping department, said that in the past months, the fight against terrorist armed groups in the region has intensified.
Coordination between security actors on the ground remains paramount, he added. The Joint Force of the G5 Sahel has continued to enhance its operational capabilities and remains a vital part of security responses to address extremist armed groups in the region. Mr. Lacroix added that on
the logistical support provided by the UN peacekeeping Mission in Mali to the G5 Sahel, he said there is progress in this area, but also noted challenges in implementing the enhanced support mandate.
Mr. Lacroix reiterated the UN’s call for more predictable funding for the G5 Sahel. The Force, he said, plays a critical role in the regional response to violent extremism. In this regard, it is essential that it receives the assistance it requires to carry out its mandated tasks.
Ján Kubiš, the Special Envoy for Libya, was in London yesterday where he met with high-level British officials, including those in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the Ministry of Defence.
Mr. Kubiš also met with Martin Reynolds, the Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister. They discussed the UK’s support to the Libyan people and authorities in their quest for peace, stability, unity, and prosperity, including through the Security Council.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) reports that 300 peacekeepers were deployed to Bakouma, in the Mbomou prefecture. They repaired six bridges on the Bangassou-Bakouma axis to allow freedom of movement and also to help ensure the safe conduct of legislative elections that are scheduled for Sunday.
The bridges had been destroyed by armed groups trying to isolate the town of Bakouma from Bangassou.
The peacekeepers also provided support to the final consignment of sensitive legislative election materials, which have arrived in Bangui. Election materials were officially received by the National Electoral Authority (ANE).
As of yesterday, the deployment of electoral materials was completed in all prefectures except Ombella M'Poko and Bangui.
The World Food Programme said that five years after the 2017 influx into Bangladesh of Rohingya refugees, food security in Cox’s Bazar remains a top priority.
A Joint Response Plan calls for $943 million to help Rohingya refugees, as well as their host communities, and more than a quarter of those funds will go to fight hunger and malnutrition.
The UN team in Chile welcomed the conclusion of an electoral process through which citizens elected their representatives for the Constitutional Convention, mayors and municipal councils and, for the first time, regional governments.
A statement issued by the UN team on the ground said that through this act, citizens have expressed their will to build a common future, with this civic spirit reaffirming Chile’s commitment to a solid and inclusive democracy. The UN team also highlighted the historic gender parity in the constituent process and commended the allocation of 17 seats to members of ten indigenous groups, with an additional quota for people with disabilities. This inaugurates an opportunity to reaffirm the commitments assumed by Chile in the area of human rights and to accelerate the achievements towards sustainable and inclusive development.
Armenia received its second shipment of COVAX doses, bringing the total received so far to 74,000.
The UN team in Yerevan has been supporting the national vaccination campaign that kicked off last month, with nearly 20,000 people having been vaccinated so far.
We continue to help authorities to address the health dimensions of the pandemic by providing technical support and medical equipment, including oxygen concentrators. We are also providing food aid and hygiene kits for the most vulnerable. We are also working to counter misinformation; help asylum-seekers and refugees access information on vaccines.
In the Philippines, the UN team, led there by Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez, continues to support the response to the pandemic, including by helping the country’s vaccine campaign.
The Philippines has received 60 per cent of the 4.5 million doses from COVAX so far. More than 2 million people have received the shot.
The UN team is providing equipment, including mobile storage units and generators, as well as cold chain materials.
The Department of Global Communications, joined by the Permanent Missions of Namibia and the United Kingdom are inviting journalists to a webinar discussion on how government communicators can rise to the challenge of countering misinformation related to the pandemic and the vaccine.
The session will take place tomorrow from 9 am to 10:30 am and will stream live on Webtv.un.org.
The session will feature remarks by Ambassador James Roscoe of the Permanent Mission of the UK, and Melissa Fleming, the UN Head of Global Communications. The discussion will be moderated by Marianna Spring, the BBC’s Disinformation Reporter.
The Spokesman thanked Ethiopia, who has paid its contribution to the regular budget. There are now 102 Member States who have paid in full this year.
PRESS BRIEFING AND PRESS ENCOUNTER
Immediately after this briefing, the Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, Ambassador Riyad Mansour will answer questions from the press, along with Ambassador Sofiane Mimouni, the Permanent Representative of Algeria and Chair of the Arab Group for the month of May and Ambassador Abdou Abarry, the Permanent Representative of Niger and Chair of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for May.
At 4:30 p.m., Ambassador Zhang Jun, the Permanent Representative of China and President of the Security Council for this month, will brief reporters at the Security Council Stakeout.