HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 13 JULY 2020
FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION
The latest edition of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, published today, estimates that almost 690 million people went hungry in 2019 – up by 10 million from 2018, and by nearly 60 million in five years. That is up by 10 million from 2018, and by nearly 60 million in five years.
High costs and low affordability also mean billions cannot eat healthily or nutritiously.
In a video message, the Secretary-General warned that the pandemic is making things even worse and many more people could slip into hunger this year. He stressed that we cannot let this happen and that the report is clear: if the current trend continues, we will not achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 2, that is zero hunger, by 2030.
And, to talk about this report, today my guest will be Maximo Torero Cullen, the Assistant Director-General for the Economic and Social Development Department at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Over the weekend, the Secretary-General took note of the Security Council’s decision on Saturday to extend the UN cross-border mechanism in northwest Syria via the Bab al-Hawa border crossing for twelve months.
This reauthorization will help ensure that humanitarian assistance for 2.8 million people in need in the northwest is sustained until July next year. Cross-border humanitarian assistance remains a lifeline for millions of people in need in the area and beyond.
The Secretary-General reiterates his call on all parties to the conflict to ensure humanitarian access to all people in need in accordance with international humanitarian law.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In a statement, the Secretary-General strongly condemned today’s attack by alleged Return, Reclamation and Rehabilitation (3R) armed elements on a United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) convoy in Gedze, Nana-Mambere prefecture in the northwest of the country. A peacekeeper from Rwanda was killed and two others were wounded.
The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the family of the victim as well as to the people and Government of Rwanda. He wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.
The Secretary-General recalls that attacks against United Nations peacekeepers may constitute war crimes under international law. He calls on the Central African Republic authorities to spare no effort in identifying the perpetrators of this attack so that they can be brought to justice swiftly.
The Secretary-General reaffirms that the United Nations will continue to support national efforts to advance peace and stability in the Central African Republic, working closely with the country’s international partners.
In Yemen, I can confirm that the local de facto authorities in Yemen have officially communicated to the UN their approval for an UN-led technical assessment and repair mission on board the SAFER oil tanker off the coast of Ras Isa.
We are working to ensure the technical team can deploy as soon as possible to assess the condition of the tanker and undertake initial repairs.
The experts will subsequently advise on any remaining measures that would be needed to avoid an oil spill, which would be catastrophic for Yemeni communities, the Red Sea environment, bordering countries and their communities, as well as international maritime traffic.
In Libya, the UN remains concerned about the military build-up around Sirte and its potential impact on the civilian population.
While active hostilities have ceased, the situation in southern Tripoli remains precarious due to explosive hazards left behind by withdrawing forces.
Fifty-two people have died and 96 have been injured by explosive hazards as they sought to return home or to clear the mine-infected areas.
The humanitarian community in Libya has reached about 34,000 people, who were impacted or displaced by military escalations near Tarhuna and Sirte in June, with food, hygiene kits and other household items, as well as health supplies and health services.
Across Libya, about 430,000 people are now internally displaced.
In addition, Libya continues to report increasing COVID-19 cases with 1,512 confirmed cases and 40 deaths as of yesterday. The south, which accounts for only 8 per cent of Libya’s population, represents nearly half of all infections and two thirds of all deaths.
In Mali, protests led by the Mouvement du 5 Juin-Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques (M5-RFP) have been ongoing in the country’s major cities since Friday.
In Bamako, several protestors were killed following violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces over the weekend and several of the M5 leaders were arrested. The situation is reported to be tense today.
Yesterday, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and representatives of the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union in Mali issued a joint communique condemning the violence on both sides and calling for restraint and urging the Government of Mali to create the conditions for dialogue.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) is monitoring developments closely and continues to work with all stakeholders to find a solution.
In the Central African Republic, our peacekeeping colleagues are also continuing to support local anti-COVID-19 efforts. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) has provided more medical, logistical and personal protective equipment, including masks, water fountains, and hygiene kits to authorities in the 3rd district in Bangui.
The peacekeeping mission also financed the construction of a Women's House in Ngoubi, in the Bria Haute-Kotto prefecture. The house aims to provide a space where women can produce soap and provide hand-washing advice to the local population. The Mission and its partners are also committed to supporting women in the region by providing them with income generating opportunities.
And in South Sudan, the United Nations Mission (UNMISS) has distributed face masks and soap, as well as training sessions to police officers in Rumbek in Lake State on how to use protective gear.
In the Philippines, where there are more than 56,000 cases of COVID-19, with more than 1,500 deaths, the UN team there, led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez, has been operating in full emergency mode to support the Government in its response.
The UN arranged for two cargo flights carrying more than 1.3 million pieces of personal protective equipment for frontline health workers. In an effort to leave no one behind, the UN has been helping the most vulnerable refugees and migrants, including 5,000 Filipino workers who recently returned from overseas.
The UN team has also been working to prevent the spread of the virus through communications campaigns, including webinars and training sessions in rural health centres.
In Kazakhstan, where today is a Day of National Mourning in memory of the victims of COVID-19, the head of the UN team there, Norimasa Shimomura, issued a statement expressing the UN team’s condolences to the families who have lost loved ones.
Mr. Shimomura said that the pandemic is more than a health crisis, having hit the most vulnerable people the hardest. He stressed that, if we manage the recovery process right, we can better achieve sustainable development that creates a country that is more resilient against future challenges, reiterating the UN’s solidarity with the people of Kazakhstan.
A new research brief released today by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) analyzed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on organized crime infiltration in the legal economy and illegal governance.
The research shows that the pandemic has both reduced certain organized crime activities, while providing opportunities for new ones.
Organized criminal groups are trying to increase their profits not only by infiltrating private companies but also by misusing public funds.
UNODC warns that these groups are seeking to benefit from the COVID-19 response, just as they have done in the past during other humanitarian crises. More is available online.
We are happy to announce that we have a new Resident Coordinator in Honduras. Alice Shackelford from Italy has been appointed and that comes following confirmation from the Government of Honduras.
As you know, Resident Coordinators seek to boost development coordination among UN agencies, funds and programmes. They are mobilizing resources to support Government and local partners on the COVID-19 response.
They are activating the full capacity of the UN on all fronts, including health, humanitarian and socio-economic. This is fundamental to supporting countries in this Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We are also proud to announce that we remain at full gender parity among all our Resident Coordinators serving 162 countries and territories.
HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL FORUM
The High-Level Political Forum continues this week with presentations of the Voluntary National Reviews from Member States, reporting on their progress in implementing the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The morning included two panel sessions, the first with presentations was from Nepal and Georgia. The second panel featured presentations from Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda.
Individual presentations were also given by Bangladesh, India, Morocco, and Niger and in the afternoon, Panama will present its review, and this will be followed by two panel presentations: the first from Benin and Costa Rica, and the second panel with Peru and Argentina.
And this morning in a virtual side event, the Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman Every Child launched a report entitled “Caught in the COVID-19 storm: progress and accountability for women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health.” This side event was co-hosted by the Governments of Japan, South Africa and Georgia.
It highlighted the importance of health accountability as a practical tool to ensure that countries deliver on the promise of universal health coverage for women, children, adolescents and those furthest left behind—especially as the pandemic threatens to disrupt progress and reverse the gains.
RISE FOR ALL
Tomorrow at 8 a.m., New York time, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will convene a special event that brings together women across different sectors in recognition of front-line leadership to build back better.
The special event will look at how women leaders globally and locally are winning against COVID-19 on the health and socio-economic fronts, and why intergenerational leadership is needed now, with a focus on inspiring action to advance sustainability and inclusion. Some of the participants of the “Rise for All” event will include the President of Switzerland, the Prime Minister of Barbados, and Africa’s first female elected president, the former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. A keynote will be delivered by the Sustainable Development Goals Advocate Graça Machel.
For more information and the full list of leaders who have joined Rise for All, go to www.un.org/riseforall.