HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 17 AUGUST 2022
Today, the Secretary-General arrived in Lviv where, tomorrow, he will join President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a meeting hosted by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, as we mentioned to you yesterday.
The Secretary-General will also go on to visit Odesa and then Istanbul in the following days.
The Special Envoy of the Secretary-General on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer, met with State Administration Council (SAC) Chairman Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw today, in her first visit to Myanmar as Special Envoy. She discussed in person the pragmatic steps to de-escalate the violence, address the multidimensional crisis and advance unfettered humanitarian assistance free of discrimination to all people in need. Her visit follows her extensive consultations with actors from across the political spectrum, civil society and communities affected by the conflict.
In a statement, the Special Envoy said that her visit was to convey the concern of the United Nations and to propose concrete steps needed to reduce the conflict and suffering of the people. UN engagement does not in any way confer legitimacy, she added.
Ms. Heyzer stated that any progress in Myanmar depended on an end to the violence and visible and significant improvements in the lives of people on the ground. Following the recent death sentences carried out against pro-democracy activists that the United Nations has strongly condemned, the Special Envoy directly urged the Senior General to impose a moratorium on all future executions. She also reiterated the United Nations Secretary-General’s call for the release of all political prisoners.
The Special Envoy raised her request for a meeting with State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi following her latest sentencing. She added that she was deeply concerned about Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s health and well-being in her current situation and requests that she can return home soon. We have more details in a press release.
In Sri Lanka, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, signed today with authorities a new roadmap to advance the Sustainable Development Goals in the next five years—the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. This aims to revitalize economic activities, also impacted by the pandemic and improve social services, decent employment, social cohesion, health and well-being for all people.
The UN team is also supporting Sri Lanka’s most immediate needs to prevent a humanitarian crisis, targeting 1.7 million people with health care and essential medicines.
In addition to the $38 million that our team has raised, the development framework further injects an estimated $60 million from the UN team’s core budget allocations – and we thank our Member States for this essential contribution – also bringing an additional $325 million through other resources in the next five years.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, is concluding her visit to Bangladesh, where she met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other officials, as well as representatives of civil society. You can find more details on her visit online.
Also in Bangladesh, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis, continues to support authorities to tackle the impacts of the pandemic on the health, social and economic fronts. With our colleague’s support, nearly 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered –that covers over 76 per cent of the population. About 65 per cent of all these vaccines were provided through the COVAX facility. Our team is also supporting authorities to deliver hybrid education modalities, with the continued use of distance learning. Also backed by the UN, authorities are monitoring the safe reopening of schools, while boosting school curricula with catch-up programmes and an extended school calendar.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
At a press conference today, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Central African Republic, Valentine Rugwabiza, outlined progress in the peace process, notably the June strategic review organized with support from the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and regional partners. She also highlighted the importance of the first coordination meeting on the implementation of the peace accord and the Luanda roadmap for peace that was held earlier this month.
MINUSCA is continuing its efforts to deter armed groups and protect civilians, including through joint deployments with national forces to Ouanda-Djallé, Bakouma, and – as of this week - Sam-Ouandja, near the border with Sudan, where the situation remains calm.
The Special Representative has also met with communities and local authorities, undertaking joint visits with Government officials to Bambari, Bria and Bossangoa, and working with media to counter disinformation and hate speech which, she said, are at odds with the political process and reconciliation efforts.
From Yemen, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today said that heavy rainfall and flooding in recent weeks has affected over 200,000 people across 16 governorates, with displacement sites particularly impacted. Local authorities report that 77 people, including children, have been killed between late July and early August as a result of the flooding.
The UN and its partners are working to support the worst affected families with shelter, food assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene services and other critical supplies.
However, agencies are limited due to a severe lack of funds, with many of the main sectors for the floods response critically underfunded. This includes the camp coordination and camp management cluster, which has received less than 1 per cent of its required funding this year, and the Rapid Response Mechanism cluster, which has not received any of its required funding.
Early warning reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warn of continued heavy rainfall up to 20 August in many of the already affected areas, with up to 20,000 people estimated to be affected. The UN encourages all donors to increase support for Yemen’s humanitarian response plan.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today said that torrential rains have killed 22 people and destroyed more than 2,000 hectares of farmland since June in Chad. More than 110,000 people throughout the country are impacted, according to authorities. This number is expected to rise.
The city of N'Djamena has the largest number of flood-affected people, with more than 41,000. The UN, along with its partners, is supporting the Government in providing emergency assistance of food, shelter, malaria management and other critical help.
OCHA notes that the humanitarian needs prior to floods were only funded at 34 per cent as of mid-August - $171 million received out of $510 million needed. A comprehensive response plan has been launched today, with support from OCHA – and we’re calling on donors for their support.