HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 4 AUGUST 2021

LEBANON 
The Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, spoke this morning by videoconference to the international conference in support of the Lebanese people, which takes place one year since the tragic explosion at the port of Beirut left some 200 people dead and thousands more displaced.    
Speaking on behalf of the Secretary-General, she said that twelve months on, our thoughts are with the families of the victims and the survivors, and all those affected. We continue to reiterate the need for an impartial, thorough and transparent investigation into the explosion, she added.  
The Deputy Secretary-General added that a people-centred reform, recovery, and reconstruction framework, otherwise known as 3RF, has been developed with support from the European Union, the World Bank and the United Nations, in consultation with all stakeholders. That framework, she said, is anchored in participation, transparency, accountability, inclusion, social justice and partnerships.   
She also noted the UN’s help to emergency recovery efforts and added that the international community must lay the foundations for longer-term recovery, anchored in the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development. 

UNIFIL 
Just after noon today, local time, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, received reports that at least two rockets had been fired from Lebanon towards Israel. 
The Israel Defence Force confirmed the reports to UNIFIL and responded with artillery fire. 
UNIFIL’s Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Stefano Del Col, was in immediate touch with the parties. He urged them to cease fire and to exercise maximum restraint to avoid further escalation, especially on this solemn anniversary. 
UNIFIL remains fully engaged with the parties through our liaison and coordination channels. It is imperative to restore stability immediately so that UNIFIL can begin an investigation. 
 
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
A report today by the United Nations details the dire and worsening human rights situation over the past year in the country, where armed groups carried out a violent bid to disrupt elections. In response, the country’s defense and security forces launched military operations to retake territory from them. 
The joint report by the UN Office for Human Rights and the UN Mission in the Central African Republic covers the period from July 2020 to June of this year in the context of the presidential and legislative elections. 
The Human Rights Division of the UN Mission on the ground documented 526 incidents of abuses and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law across the country during this period. Among these are extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests and detentions, conflict-related sexual violence and serious violations against children, including their recruitment by parties to the conflict.  
According to the report, a coalition of armed groups, known as the CPC, was responsible for 54 per cent of the documented incidents. The remainder of the incidents were committed by the Central African Armed Forces, Internal Security Forces bilateral personnel, and private military contractors. 
 
AFGHANISTAN 
We are deeply concerned about the safety and protection of people in Lashkargah, in the south, where tens of thousands of people could be trapped by fighting. 
Our humanitarian colleagues also tell us that in Helmand and Kandahar there are reports of increased civilian casualties, destruction or damage to civilian houses as well as to critical infrastructure, including hospitals. Hospitals and health workers are becoming overwhelmed by the number of wounded people. 
We, along with our humanitarian partners in Afghanistan, are assessing needs and responding in the south, as access allows. On 1 August, more than 2,000 people were reached with food, water, sanitation and cash assistance in Kandahar. 
Since the start of the year, nearly 360,000 people have been forcibly displaced by the conflict in Afghanistan. About five million people have been displaced since 2012.  
Attacks on health facilities in the first half of the year have deprived 200,000 people in Afghanistan of access to basic care. 
We urge the parties to the conflict to protect civilians, aid workers and civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, in compliance with international humanitarian law. 
Also humanitarians are committed to staying and delivering in Afghanistan and expect to have reached almost half of the nearly 16 million people targeted for assistance, so far in 2021, despite the worsening conditions. 
We also call on donors to urgently fund Afghanistan’s Humanitarian Response Plan, which requires $1.3 billion but has only received $485 million to date. By my calculation that is less than 50 per cent funded.
 
AFGHANISTAN/CHILDREN 
To give you an example, as if we needed more examples of the horrific violence faced by children in Afghanistan, UNICEF said today that it is outraged by a report that a 12-year-old boy from Shirin Tagab district, in Faryab province, suffered a brutal flogging by a member of an anti-government group. 
The UN Children’s Fund said that the young boy endured wounds to his back, legs and feet, and is traumatized by the vicious attack. UNICEF, with local partners, is providing urgent help to the child and his family, including psychosocial support, medical care as well as other immediate needs. 

SECURITY COUNCIL
Just to flag that in the Security Council today they held a meeting on the issue of Syria and c hemical qeapons. Thomas Markram of the Office of Disarmament Affairs briefed the Council members. We will circulate his remarks as soon as we get them.
At around 1:00 p.m., there will be a joint stakeout by Security Council Members: Estonia, France, Ireland, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States and incoming Council member Albania. They will make a joint statement on the situation in Georgia. This will take place at the Security Council Stakeout here. 

YEMEN 
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says heavy rains and flooding have affected at least 28,000 people, according to initial estimates. Our humanitarian partners on the ground are conducting assessments and providing assistance, including shelter, food and healthcare. 
Meanwhile, the virus cases have increased over recent days, with concerns that the country is entering a third wave. So far, just over 310,000 vaccines have been administered – meaning only 1 per cent of the population has received their first dose. 
At the same time, more than half of Yemenis are facing crisis levels of food insecurity, and five million people are only one step away from famine.  
The Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is currently 47 per cent funded - $1.82 billion has been received out of the $3.85 billion required, but most of the money will run out in September. Additional and predictable funding is urgently needed so that we can continue to send lifesaving assistance to the people who need it. 
 
SOUTH SUDAN 
The UN Mission in South Sudan said it welcomed the swearing into office of 504 members of the Revitalized Transitional National Legislative Assembly and 84 members of the Council of States, calling this a positive step forward in the peace process. 
The legislature is responsible for passing new laws and reforms that will help move forward the full implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement. 
The UN Mission said the appointment of the country’s first female Speaker, Jemma Nunu Kumba, is also a notable achievement. The peace agreement targets 35 per cent representation for women in governance structures in South Sudan. 

COVID-19 
Our UN team in Cabo Verde tells us that 40 per cent of people eligible have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The country has received more than 61,000 doses through COVAX. 
The UN team is supporting the vaccination campaign by providing technical assistance and helping to address misinformation. We are also helping authorities with their online COVID-19 digital certificates to help the economy, which is highly dependent on tourism. 
The Resident Coordinator, Ana Patricia Graça, said that, with a forthcoming donation of 200,000 doses from the United States through COVAX, 70 per cent of eligible people could be fully vaccinated by the end of the year. Good news.
Yesterday, Belize received its third shipment of vaccines from COVAX of more than 33,000 doses. This brings the total number of doses from COVAX to more than 100,000. 
Since the start of the pandemic, the team has been supporting authorities to protect those who are most at-risk, especially vulnerable communities. Our colleagues are working on all aspects of the response, including health, education, nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, child protection, ending gender-based violence, and socioeconomic recovery.

FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION 
We are now up to 118 Member States having fully paid up their dues. We thank El Salvador for its contribution.