HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 20 MAY 2022
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, in her role as Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group, said she is deeply troubled over the recent decisions and proposals to markedly cut Official Development Assistance (ODA) to service the impacts of the war in Ukraine on refugees.
She said it is clear for all to see that the continuing war in Ukraine is having an alarming impact on a world economy already battered by COVID-19 and climate change.
This is the exact moment requiring countries and the United Nations system to respond to the surging humanitarian and development needs by bringing additional resources needed to meet Member State ODA pledges, thus investing in humanity’s resilience and preventing the current crisis from cascading into many others.
The Secretary-General, as you know, has urged all countries to reconsider making cuts that will impact the world’s most vulnerable, Amina Mohammed recalled.
The people who benefit from the work of the UN system need additional and more predictable funding, she said. We must invest to rescue the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure that we can continue to help meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in our human family on a safe planet.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
In a memorial ceremony this morning, the Secretary-General expressed his deepest condolences to the Royal family of the United Arab Emirates, as well as the Government, and the people of the UAE on the passing of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
The Secretary-General said that Sheikh Khalifa had led the UAE with patience and prudence through a dramatic metamorphosis and, out of the arid desert, he had created some of the great metropolises of our world.
The Secretary-General added that, while the tremendous wealth of the Emirates sprang from its oil wells, Sheikh Khalifa recognized the imperatives of sustainable development and climate action to protect our planet for future generations. He ramped up investments and research into renewable energy to diversify the country’s energy mix and lower its carbon footprint.
In a video message, the Secretary-General said today that it is with great honour and with pleasure that he joins the Timorese people in celebrating the 20th anniversary of the restoration of independence to the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. He noted that the country's example was and remains an inspiration to the world. The Secretary-General said the UN is proud of the role it played and the contribution it made to the realization of the Timorese people's right to freedom and self-determination. And today, he added, the UN continues alongside Timor- Leste in its journey of consolidating democracy, deepening human rights and fundamental freedoms and promoting the development and well-being of its people.
To the new President of Timor-Leste who takes office today, José Ramos-Horta, the Secretary-General extended warm congratulations on behalf of the UN and a special and friendly personal greeting.
The UN Mission in Abyei has, in what it calls a major breakthrough, brokered a peace accord between the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka communities.
The leaders of the two communities have reiterated their commitment to achieving lasting peace in the Abyei Area and to dialogue to protect people, livestock and property.
They also called on the UN Mission to enable continued dialogue between the communities to find a sustainable solution to the Abyei issue and also for the Mission to continue to protect civilians in the area.
The accord was signed at the end of a three-day peace conference facilitated by the UN Mission, and that took place in Entebbe, in Uganda.
The Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Hanna Tetteh, pledged to continue working with the key players to find a solution to the final status of Abyei.
In Northern Ethiopia, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that 319 trucks of humanitarian cargo – as well as one tanker of fuel - entered Tigray during the past week. That’s the highest number of trucks entering the region in a single week since 2021.
Yet, humanitarian agencies still face shortfalls of cash, fuel, and supplies. Since aid convoys resumed at the start of April, around 15,500 metric tons of food aid have been brought into the Tigray region and are being distributed in 45 priority districts. But at least 68,000 tons more are needed to reach all those in need.
In the neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions, where needs remain extremely high we, along with our partners, continue to provide assistance to people. In neighbouring Afar’s Zone 2, a recent assessment found extremely worrying levels of malnutrition among some internally displaced people.
Two stabilization centres for treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition with medical complications have now been established in the zone. More than 845,000 people have received food assistance in Afar since late February. In the past week, more than 100,000 people benefitted from the trucking of clean water.
In Amhara, over 10.4 million people have received food assistance since late December.
We, along with our partners, are also working to respond to the severe drought which is affecting more than 8 million people in southern areas of the country.
In Ukraine, particularly in the east and in the southern part of the country, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that people continue to endure intense and escalating hostilities and the humanitarian situation is deteriorating. More than 640,000 people in eastern Ukraine don’t have access to electricity, and access to water is becoming increasingly limited, particularly in Donetsk city.
Our colleagues on the ground tell us that over the last few days, shelling and hostilities in Donetska oblast have caused several deaths— including some children—and destruction of houses and civilian infrastructure, including schools. Bakhmut city has been shelled again, for the third day in a row, reportedly destroying apartment buildings and killing several civilians.
In Luhanska oblast, the situation is extremely tense in Sievierodonetsk, where local authorities say that more than 15,000 people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, as shelling over the last week has killed many and left the entire population without access to piped water, gas or electricity. The situation is similar in Khersonska oblast, where more airstrikes have been reported, impacting civilians trying to flee the area.
We, along with our partners, continue life-saving work across the country, and have supported more than 6.8 million people out of the nearly 16 million who need humanitarian aid in Ukraine. This is 400,000 more men, women and children reached with assistance over last week’s reporting.
Martin Griffiths, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Security Council this morning. He said close to $ 6.7 billion have been pledged for 2022 and beyond, following the Brussels conference for Syria last week. Yet, despite the considerable funding pledged, the commitments represent less than 50 per cent of the total funding requirements for 2022, he added, noting that this is the largest appeal yet for the Syria crisis, because we have the largest-ever number of people in need.
Hostilities, including airstrikes and shelling in the north-west, continue to affect civilians, including women and children, Mr. Griffiths said, adding that constant care must be taken to spare them.
The Office of the Special Envoy for Syria, that is Geir Pederson’s office, announced today that the Eighth Session of the Constitutional Committee Small Body will convene in Geneva from 30 May to 3 June. The Constitutional Committee will be meeting in closed sessions.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs informs us that up to 18 million people in Africa’s Sahel region will face severe food insecurity over the next three months, the highest number since 2014, according to our projections.
The situation has reached alarming levels in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, and Niger, where people will experience emergency levels of food insecurity during the lean season between June and August.
To help people and their urgent food security and nutrition needs, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has released $30 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund for the four countries, including $6 million for Burkina Faso and $8 million each for Chad, Mali and Niger.
This injection of cash will help aid agencies on the ground scale up the emergency response right away.
To date, the six humanitarian appeals launched earlier this year in the Sahel for a total of $3.8 billion to provide aid throughout the region for 2022 are less than 12 per cent funded.
The UN Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reports that they helped train and support 100 newly-appointed members of the Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State legislative assembly in the city of Aweil on issues related to good governance. The capacity-building session included discussions on parliamentary processes, responsibilities at the local level to contribute to the implementation of the revitalized peace agreement as well as issues related to performance and women's political representation.
UNMISS also continues to support local authorities to meet the needs of internally displaced civilians, expected to return home, including to promote peaceful coexistence between host communities and returnees. A two-day training session with some 40 participants was held in Bor, Jonglei State, with local authorities, the judiciary, community leaders, civil society organizations, the police and the armed forces.
SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND ABUSE
Today, a high-level informal strategic dialogue took place between 86 Member States representatives and senior UN Officials from across the system to exchange on ways to strengthen our response to sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. The partnership dialogue sought to identify priorities to accelerate progress to eradicate sexual exploitation and abuse and harassment by prioritizing the rights and dignity of victims’ and accountability for perpetrators.
The dialogue was chaired jointly by Jane Holl Lute, the Special Coordinator on improving the UN’s response to sexual exploitation and abuse, and the Chairperson of the Chief Executives Board Task Force on Addressing Sexual Harassment within the Organizations of the United Nations System, and that is Kelly Clements, who is the deputy High Commissioner for Refugees.
WORLD BEE DAY
Today is World Bee Day which aims to raise awareness of the importance of pollinators, the threats they face and their contribution to sustainable development.
Bees and other pollinators, such as butterflies, bats and hummingbirds, are increasingly under threat from human activities. Present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts. Close to 35 per cent of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, and about 17 per cent of vertebrate pollinators, such as bats, face extinction globally.
There are three other international days to flag. Tomorrow is International Tea Day and also the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. And Sunday is the International Day for Biological Diversity, and this year’s theme is “Building a shared future for all”.
The Dominican Republic has paid its regular budget dues in full, bringing us up to 102.
PRESS BRIEFING TODAY
The President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, and Antonio Vitorino, the Head of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) briefed reporters on the inaugural International Migration Review Forum.