HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 9 APRIL 2021
PRINCE PHILIP, DUKE OF EDINBURGH
The Secretary-General is saddened at the passing of His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He extends condolences to Her Majesty, the Queen, and to the people of the United Kingdom.
As royal consort, the Duke of Edinburgh capably supported the Queen in her duties as sovereign for over 60 years. He was known for his dedication to charitable causes as a patron of some 800 organizations, in particular those focused on the environment, industry, sport and education.
The Secretary-General pays tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh for his active work for the betterment of humankind.
Ahead of Sunday’s presidential election in Benin, the Secretary-General calls on all national stakeholders to ensure that the poll is conducted in a transparent, credible and peaceful manner.
The Secretary-General urges political leaders, political parties and their followers to resolve any disputes that may arise from the electoral process through peaceful dialogue and legal means.
He reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support the country’s efforts to consolidate democratic gains and social cohesion.
FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
The Secretary-General welcomes the steps announced by the International Monetary and Finance Committee and the World Bank Group Development Committee to address debt crises and other damage arising from the Covid-19 crisis.
He also welcomes the Committee’s calls for a new allocation of Special Drawing Rights and voluntary reallocations to countries in need. He is also encouraged by the support for the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which has provided $5 billion in temporary relief for vulnerable countries, and for the Common Framework for Debt Treatments.
Reforming the international debt architecture is also critical as a debt crisis amidst the current pandemic emergency would put the Sustainable Development Goals out of reach. This week’s discussions on the international debt architecture are a major step in the right direction.
The Secretary-General calls on all stakeholders to join in a global effort to rethink the principles underpinning today’s debt architecture and urges action to complement existing instruments with more effective debt crisis resolution mechanisms. The full statement is being emailed and posted online.
On Myanmar, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Christine Schraner Burgener, has arrived in Bangkok, Thailand, for talks.
She tweeted that she regrets that the Tatmadaw told her yesterday that it is not ready to receive her.
The Special Envoy said she is ready for dialogue and stressed that violence never leads to peaceful sustainable solutions.
The UN Human Rights Office in Sudan is appalled by the latest resurgence in fighting in West Darfur that has killed at least 87 people and forced thousands to flee their homes.
The Office is also disturbed by the slow progress in ensuring accountability for this and previous violence, despite repeated calls by victims and their families. It noted that, as with previous fighting, authorities failed to stop these recent clashes despite a robust security force presence in the town.
Our humanitarian colleagues said the violence in the West Darfur capital of Ag Geneina continues to affect humanitarian operations in the region.
Humanitarian operations and flights remain suspended, affecting aid to some 700,000 people in West and Central Darfur states.
Although power has been restored in parts of Ag Geneina, sites for displaced people lack access to water. There have also been reports of attacks against healthcare workers and facilities.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the UN Joint Human Rights Office has expressed its concerns, following acts of violence committed by police against some protesters in the eastern province of North Kivu. Violence against demonstrators by security forces is contrary to Congolese law and the DRC's international commitments, the human rights office added.
The Office recalls that the freedom to demonstrate peacefully is a fundamental right recognized by the constitution and calls on demonstrators to refrain from any recourse or calls to violence.
They reiterated that the UN is committed to freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful demonstration.
The UN peacekeeping mission in the country, MONUSCO, continues to work with the Congolese authorities at the national and provincial levels to defuse tensions.
In Niger, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs say that about 1.6 million people in the country are likely to face severe food insecurity, from March through May. This is a 30 per cent increase compared to projections done last November. During the lean season – or between June and August – the number of people facing severe food insecurity could reach 2.3 million.
The country’s eastern region of Tillaberi is the most affected. Over 30 per cent of its population - over 686,000 people – will be at risk of severe food insecurity this Summer (between June and August).
Increasing hunger in Tillaberi comes on top of growing protection concerns in the region. More than 300 civilians have lost their lives since the beginning of the year following a spate of armed attacks.
Already, half a million people in Tillaberi need humanitarian assistance, including 125,000 internally displaced people and refugees.
As Chad prepares for the presidential election on the 11th of April 2021, the Secretary-General calls on all stakeholders to work towards a peaceful and credible electoral process.
The Secretary-General stresses the need to respect civil and political rights, including the rights to freedom of assembly and expression, and encourages the media to promote social cohesion.
The Secretary-General urges all stakeholders to resolve any disputes that may arise from the electoral process through dialogue and legal channels.
The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to support national efforts to promote social cohesion and sustainable development in Chad.
ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES
The La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted today.
As part its response, the UN Emergency Technical Team for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries met today to discuss preparedness and the pre-positioning of relief items.
The World Food Programme has been in contact with the Government to outline support implementing food and basic needs assessment, including distribution points. In-kind and cash support, ready to eat meals and food kits are available upon request.
UNICEF has prepositioned supplies and stands ready to support any other areas including cash or non-food items.
For its part, the UN Population Fund donated 400 dignity kits for women and families.
In addition, the UN Migration Agency indicated that they can provide support in shelter management trainings, monitoring and tracking of the affected people.
In Chile, the UN Team is helping local authorities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in the face of a rising number of cases.
We have helped expand a telephone support network for seniors. The UN Team has also supported the creation of a text messaging tool for women to seek guidance on gender-based violence. It allows them to use text messaging to protect their privacy.
The UN team has also helped more than 12,000 migrants and refugees by providing food and protection services.
In Libya, nearly 60,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Tripoli yesterday through COVAX.
The Government will begin a vaccination campaign soon, with this first batch of vaccines going to frontline workers, including healthcare workers. people over the age of 75, and people with pre-existing conditions.
The UN team will help deliver the vaccines safely to sites and also support risk communication and community engagement.
The International Organization for Migration today said that hundreds of people displaced by recent attacks in Palma have found temporary shelter this week in a transit centre established in Pemba City by the Government of Mozambique, with support from the IOM and partners.
As of yesterday, IOM has recorded nearly 14,000 people displaced to Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba by the latest surge in violence. This number is growing by the day.
Since the attacks, IOM has scaled up humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons in Cabo Delgado, in cooperation with humanitarian and government partners.
The Organization has provided mental health and psychosocial support and protection assistance to more than 1,000 newly displaced persons. It has also supported referrals to health and social services and distributed wheelchairs, crutches and other in-kind assistance.
The Spokesman shared an update on the FSO SAFER vessel to reiterate that the UN is making every effort to resolve all pending logistical issues and security arrangements. The UN has had some constructive discussions with the de facto authorities in Sana’a this week and are cautiously optimistic that we’re moving closer to a solution.
The Spokesman said that as mentioned before, we need all pending issues to be resolved before we can commit additional donor funds to rent the vessels and move forward with the technical mission. The Spokesman added that we do seem to be moving in that direction, and he said he is hoping to have more news on this soon.
The UN also wants to highlight the urgency of moving as quickly as possible. Once logistical arrangements are in place, the UN will still need time to book the vessels, confirm personnel, deploy equipment and make all the other necessary arrangements. The sooner everything is agreed, the sooner this work can start.
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENT
The Secretary-General is appointing Lieutenant General Marcos De Sá Affonso Da Costa of Brazil as Force Commander of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, known as MONUSCO.
Lieutenant General Affonso Da Costa succeeds Lieutenant General Ricardo Augusto Ferreira Costa Neves of Brazil, and the Secretary-General is deeply grateful for his important contribution and service to MONUSCO.
Lieutenant General Affonso Da Costa has several years of experience in command-and-control structures in the Brazilian Army.