HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 13 APRIL 2021
In a joint statement, the Republic of Turkey, the State of Qatar and the United Nations, said that they are co-convening a high level and inclusive conference from the 24th of April to the 4th of May between the representatives of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. Turkey will be hosting the conference in Istanbul.
The statement said that the co-conveners are committed to supporting a sovereign, independent and unified Afghanistan. It adds that the overriding objective of the Istanbul Conference on the Afghanistan Peace Process is to accelerate and complement the ongoing intra-Afghan negotiations in Doha on the achievement of a just and durable political settlement.
Participation in the Conference and its agenda have been the subject of extensive consultations with the Afghan parties. The Conference will focus on helping the negotiating parties reach a new set of shared, foundational principles that reflect an agreed vision for a future Afghanistan, a roadmap to a future political settlement and, of course, an end to the conflict.
The co-conveners said that their expectation is that the Conference will provide an important opportunity for all parties to reiterate support for the people of Afghanistan on their path toward an inclusive peace, stability, and prosperity.
This morning, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Kosovo, Zahir Tanin, briefed the Security Council by video link. He said that a strong desire for change was expressed in Kosovo’s recent elections.
Mr. Tanin said that the expectations expressed were for a shift in the responsiveness of a government to the real hopes and needs of its voters, for greater equality of opportunity, accountability, and the rule of law.
On the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Tanin briefed the Council on the alarming infection rates in Kosovo and said that Kosovo remains under relentless pressure from the spread of COVID-19. He urged Member States to accelerate vaccine-related support for Kosovo, amid global struggles to ensure vaccination supplies.
ST VINCENT & GRENADINES
In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the World Food Programme today said that its staff with expertise in food security, cash and social protection, vulnerability analysis and logistics have now arrived in Saint Vincent. They are working closely with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and national authorities to identify and address immediate needs and strengthen the logistics response.
According to the World Food Programme, the eruption of La Soufrière volcano has displaced an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 people, out of a total population of around 100,000. Initial estimates indicate that 3,500 persons are in shelters as of April 12th. Other evacuees are being housed in private homes. Neighbouring countries are also making plans to host potential evacuees.
WFP is currently planning for food, cash or voucher assistance to evacuees, including in neighbouring areas. WFP has nearly 2,800 ready-to-eat meals on standby to be used.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund and its partners are also on the ground providing humanitarian assistance to approximately 4,800 children in need. Within 24 hours of the eruption, UNICEF provided an estimated 9,000 people, including children, with access to safe water and hygiene services in the evacuation shelters.
UNICEF says they need about $925,000 to cover needs for the next six [weeks].
In Ethiopia, the Spokesman provided an update on the nutrition situation in Tigray. Multiple displacement sites have reportedly not received food and other assistance since the conflict started five months ago.
While nutrition data remains inadequate, available data indicates alarming malnutrition rates. Out of more than 69,000 children in Tigray screened for malnutrition, more than 1,900 cases of severe acute malnutrition have been identified and more than 17,700 cases of moderate malnutrition.
We, along with our humanitarian partners, continue to provide services at health facilities. This includes supplementary feeding programmes for hundreds of children and breastfeeding mothers, as well as transportation of nutrition supplies.
The World Food Programme says they are targeting nearly 867,000 children and about 415,000 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers in 78 districts throughout Tigray through its feeding programmes. Since February, more than 95,000 children and women in 15 districts have been reached.
The humanitarian presence is gradually increasing with improved access in Tigray. As of April 6th, there are 186 UN staff supporting the humanitarian response in the region, most of them obviously national staff with more than 1,500 more aid workers with NGOs.
The UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan reports that its peacekeepers have assisted victims of a cattle raid in Bouda, in Warrap State.
Working with local authorities and the South Sudanese army, the peacekeepers assisted in the treatment, recovery, and evacuation of 27 people. Among those injured were women, children, and youth. At least 19 people were killed in this incident.
The UN Mission has established a number of temporary bases in conflict-prone areas to protect civilians and deter violence. In this case, it has allowed peacekeepers to respond quickly and effectively to help wounded civilians and monitor the area of the attack.
Meanwhile, in Aweil town in the state of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, the Mission conducted training for 15 directors of the South Sudan National Police Service. The training focused on crime prevention, human rights, including in relation to children, and the role of the police in protecting and promoting the rights of detainees.
UNHCR says us that following intercommunal clashes in El Geneina, in Sudan’s West Darfur, 1,900 people have sought refuge in Chad.
El Geneina is only 20 kilometers from the Chadian border. The refugees are currently being hosted just 200 metres inside of Chad, across the border.
The agency says that conditions on the ground are dire, with displaced families staying in the open, with barely any protection from the elements, in an area where temperatures can rise up to 40 degrees Celsius during the day. Food and water are also urgently needed.
UNHCR, along with government counterparts and humanitarian partners, are on the ground to coordinate the response. The priority is to relocate the refugees to a safer place where essential assistance and access to health care can be provided, and quarantine measures for COVID can also be implemented.
In Mozambique, the UN Children’s Fund today warned that the Cabo Delgado region is facing a large and likely long-lasting humanitarian situation. UNICEF said it is concerned about the rising rate of malnutrition, and also about cholera, which is not yet under control and is spreading to other provinces.
For its part, the sister agency World Food Programme said they are appealing for $82 million to ramp up its response in northern Mozambique. More than 950,000 people in the region are facing severe hunger, according to our friends at WFP.
The World Food Programme also said that while there were certain places humanitarian workers could access, the security situation was not stable enough to travel to Palma and is expected to remain intermittently difficult for several months to come.
The UN Migration Agency says that at least 42 people have died after a boat operated by smugglers capsized on its way to Djibouti in the early hours of Monday. The boat was transporting approximately 60 migrants, who were escaping the conflict in Yemen.
Every year, tens of thousands of young African migrants from the region make the dangerous journey from countries like Somalia and Ethiopia through Djibouti and Yemen in search of work in the Gulf. The pandemic is forcing many of them to turn back due to widespread border closures that have reduced access to Gulf states. It is unknown what caused this vessel to capsize.
Despite the dangers, the number of migrants arriving in Djibouti is continuing to increase. In March, over 2,300 migrants arrived from Yemen, compared to 1,900 in February. Most were trying to head home to Ethiopia and Somalia.
In both Djibouti and Yemen, IOM is providing food, water, medical care and counselling for survivors of such tragedies.
Last month, the agency launched the Regional Migrant Response Plan for the Horn of Africa and Yemen. They are asking for $99 million to support the needs of migrants in those areas.
In Brazil, there are over 13.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 350,000 people have died from the virus.
The UN team continues to support local responses, reiterating the importance of preventive measures and focusing on vulnerable groups, including indigenous communities.
More than 180 Warao indigenous people in the northern regions of Natal and Teresina received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. UNHCR produced information material in the Warao language to support the campaign. IOM provided health care to the indigenous community, reaching 200 people, and delivered disinfection kits to three health units to assist 7,200 people.
For its part, UNICEF continues to provide health and nutrition support to more than 300 pregnant and breast-feeding women impacted by the lockdowns in Belem and Ananindeua while UNHCR and the World Bank launched policy research on work permits to support socio-economic recovery.
Comoros received 12,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses yesterday from the COVAX facility. The UN team there continues to support the Government and other local partners on the vaccination rollout.
This newly arrived shipment will continue to increase the coverage of targeted populations, including frontline workers, people over 60 years of age, those with comorbidities, and schoolteachers. The Government launched the national vaccination campaign over the weekend, with WHO and UNICEF’s help.
And in Zambia, 228,000 doses of the vaccine have arrived yesterday. Authorities will launch a vaccination campaign tomorrow at the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka, with the help of the UN.
In a tweet, the Secretary-General expressed his best wishes to those celebrating Ramadan. “May the Ramadan lessons of solidarity, compassion and mercy be an inspiration to all of us – now more than ever.”
And from Libya and Somalia to Yemen and Iraq, the UN’s Special Envoys and Representatives wished a blessed Ramadan to those who are observing the season. They expressed their hopes that the coming month would help to bring people together and overcome differences.