HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2021
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the High-Level Dialogue on Energy. He said that we have a double imperative – to end energy poverty and to limit climate change - and he added that we can do that by investing in clean, affordable and sustainable energy for all.
He outlined four priorities for a sustainable energy future: closing the energy gap, shifting to decarbonized energy systems, mobilizing finance and promoting technology transfer to the developing world, and ensuring that no one is left behind.
More than 150 voluntary commitments in the form of Energy Compacts have been submitted to the Dialogue, including more than $400 billion in new finance and investments from governments and the private sector to increase electricity and clean cooking for hundreds of millions of people, and significantly expand renewables and energy efficiency.
This morning, in a side event entitled Supporting a Future for Girls' Education in Afghanistan, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, underscored that the focus now must be to stop the reverse of the gains made by women and girls in Afghanistan. She emphasized the need to engage with the Taliban to make sure that what we have succeeded in doing with every girl in school, in leadership positions and work, is not reversed.
Among the speakers in the panel were Henrietta Fore, the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund and Malala Yousafzai, the Co-founder of the Malala Fund and a UN Messenger of Peace.
Also on Afghanistan, Since September 1st, the UN, along with its partners on the ground, have provided food assistance to more than 340,000 people.
The UN and partners have also treated more than 20,700 children under five suffering from acute malnutrition across the country.
More than 10,000 children have been reached with community-based education activities and 4,200 people have received health screening services at Afghanistan border crossing points.
In addition, some 177,500 drought-affected people have been helped through water trucking.
UN humanitarians add that new routes - by road - between provinces have started for staff for the first time in many years. The UN Humanitarian Air Service is fully operational on a daily basis. International staff are arriving in the country and are being deployed to provincial hubs.
However, humanitarians stress that more flight options are needed, as well as the loosening of administrative requirements, including for visas and other waivers for humanitarian aid workers.
On Sudan, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that more than 300,000 people have been affected by heavy rains and flooding. This is leading to increased humanitarian needs, but aid organizations are warning that stocks are running out.
Fourteen out of 18 states in Sudan have been hit by floods since the start of the rainy season in July. Flooding has destroyed and damaged homes, bridges have collapsed and farmland have been inundated.
The Sudanese Government is leading the response with the UN and NGO partners. Some 183,000 people have been reached with assistance, including food and shelter supplies.
Humanitarians warn that relief supplies most urgently must be replenished.
The Humanitarian Response Plan for Sudan calls for $1.9 billion this year but is currently only 25 per cent funded. This is 10 per cent below the average across all UN-coordinated response plans, which is already pretty low.
In Kenya, the World Food Programme said today that it is further cutting food aid for 440,000 refugees in the country due to severe funding shortfalls. WFP warns that it may be forced to stop assistance altogether by the end of the year if funding is not available immediately.
The agency says that cutting food assistance to already highly vulnerable families is a heart-breaking decision to have to make, more so with a national drought emergency declared by the Government in Kenya recently. It added that low funding levels have left WFP with no choice – and this is the absolute last resort.
WFP is urgently seeking $ 40 million to restore full food rations to refugees in Dadaab, Kakuma and Kalobeyei camps over the next six months.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The UN Mission in the Central African Republic tell us that, as requested by UN headquarters, national investigation officers from Gabon have been deployed on the ground to conduct investigations into allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by their peacekeepers in the country.
We were also informed that the Gabonese authorities have agreed to hold joint investigations and the Office of Internal Oversight Services and the Mission will provide all necessary support to the national investigators in that regard.
The Senior Victims’ Rights Advocate and our UN partners are ensuring that the needs of the victims are properly assessed and met. The Advocate will also work with OIOS to ensure that the national investigation is done in a victims-centered manner.
The repatriation of the Gabonese contingent started today and it is ongoing.
PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM
Yesterday evening, the Secretary-General spoke at a virtual meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum leaders.
He noted that their nations are confronting what he called a dual crisis of climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic, both of which threaten Pacific lives and livelihoods.
The Secretary-General warned that if we follow the current path, the consequences of climate disruption for prosperity, well-being and the very survival of Pacific communities will be severe.
He called for more ambition on climate change from every country. And also said that recovery from the pandemic presents us with a rare opportunity to change course to put the world on a more sustainable path.
Those remarks were shared with you.
In response to a question on the numbers of people coming into the UN building during the General Assembly, the Spokespan said the following.
This year, the first day of the General Debate, we had 1,929 swipes into the building. That’s for Tuesday.
As a point of comparison, last year, on the first day of the General Debate, we had 874 swipes. And that was the 75th session, which was completely remote. In 2019, if you can remember that far, pre-COVID times, 26,000 people came on to the campus that day, for the first day of the General Debate. So you can see the big difference.
As a reminder, the building remains under phase 2, which means a significant reduction in our overall footprint in the building. To do this, access is restricted to delegates, staff and resident correspondents. Decisions relating to the different phases and efforts to limit the footprint are based on recommendations from the Senior Emergency Policy Team and advice from our medical services and the Occupational Safety and Health Committee. The relevant departments only transmit that information to their constituencies – for example, DGC informs visitors and journalists and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs informs NGOs of the decisions that have been taken.
The World Food Programme today said that more than 1.3 million people in the three south-western provinces of Cunene, Huila and Namibe are facing severe hunger due to the worst drought in four decades. WFP noted that the region is highly dependent on agriculture and has been suffering from the devastating impacts of climate change.
According to WFP, 114,000 children under the age of five are suffering or are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in the next 12 months, with serious effects on their physical and mental development.
WFP’s plan is to expand activities to other drought-impacted areas and is calling for $ 6.3 million for the period from October 2021 to May 2022.
Brazil received nearly 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this week through COVAX. This brings the total number of doses from COVAX to nearly 12 million.
The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Silvia Rucks, is working with authorities to protect the most vulnerable, including refugees and migrants, as well as people in the Amazon region.
In the northern state of Roraima, the UN team is working with partners on campaigns to prevent the spread of the virus and to boost the vaccination drive.
The International Organization for Migration provided medical and psychological help to more than 700 people in the Northern region this month, while UNCHR is helping refugees and migrants to become more employable.
In Timor-Leste, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Roy Trivedy, has provided five cold and freezer rooms for vaccine cold-chain storage. We have also upgraded isolation facilities by providing intensive care unit beds, and transported equipment and medicine to medical facilities.
Timor-Leste has received nearly 300,000 vaccine doses through COVAX. Combined with other vaccine deliveries, more than half of the population has had at least one dose, with one third being fully vaccinated.
Our UN team continues to help to raise awareness on how to stop the spread of the disease while mobilizing people to get their vaccines.
NOON BRIEFING GUESTS ON MONDAY
On Monday, the guests at the Noon briefing will be the ECOSOC President, Collen Vixen Kelapile and Citi Vice Chairman for Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, Jay Collins. They will brief reporters on the SDG Investment Fair, which will take place on the 28th and 29th of September.