This morning, the Secretary-General took part in the “Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better Health Security to Prepare for the Next,” hosted by the United States.
The Secretary-General said that global health security until now has failed, to the tune of 4.5 million lives and counting.
He said that we have effective vaccines against COVID-19 and that we can end the pandemic.
The Secretary-General said that it is not only disappointing but also baffling that vaccines, which were developed with public funds, are emerging as a $100 billion industry.
He repeated his call for a global vaccination plan to at least double vaccine production and ensure 2.3 billion doses are equitably distributed through COVAX to reach 40 per cent of people in all countries by the end of this year and 70 percent in the first half of 2022, as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Secretary-General noted that the world cannot manage the next pandemic with tools tailored to the past, calling for the WHO to be empowered, its authority enhanced and better funded so that it can play a leading role in coordinating emergency response.
Speaking at a high-level event today to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, the Secretary-General recalled the determination of world leaders and human rights advocates to eradicate racism in all its abhorrent forms and manifestations.
This anniversary, he said, offers an important opportunity to reflect on where we stand and where we need to go. Racism and racial discrimination still permeate institutions, social structures, and everyday life in every society.
The Secretary-General also noted the unmistakable linkages between racism and gender inequality and pointed out that we are witnessing a troubling rise in anti-Semitism — a harbinger throughout history of discrimination against others.
But, Mr. Guterres said, something more hopeful has come into view. A movement for racial justice and equality has emerged with unprecedented force, reach and impact. This new awakening — often led by women and young people — has created momentum we must seize upon.
The Secretary-General called on every Member State to take concrete actions – including through policy measures, legislation and more granular data collection – in support of all these efforts at the national and global level.
The Secretary-General has welcomed the announcements made by the leaders of the United States of America and China on climate action during the first day of the General Assembly Debate.
President Joseph Biden announced that the US will significantly increase its international climate finance to approximately US$11.4 billion a year. This increased contribution from the United States will bring developed countries closer to meeting their collective commitment to mobilize US$100 billion a year in climate finance.
He also welcomed the announcement made by President Xi Jinping that China will end all financing of coal fired power plants abroad and redirect its support to green and low carbon energy. Accelerating the global phase out of coal is the single most important step to keep the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement within reach.
The Secretary-General added that while today’s announcements are welcome, we still have a long way to go to make COP26 a success and ensure that it marks a turning point in our collective efforts to address the climate crisis.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, today released $45 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for life-saving support to help prevent Afghanistan’s health-care system from collapsing.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warns that medicines, medical supplies and fuel are running out in Afghanistan. Cold chains are compromised and essential health-care workers are not being paid.
The funding will go to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – working through national and international NGOs – to keep health-care facilities operating until the end of the year.
On 13 September donors pledged more than $1.2 billion for humanitarian and development aid to Afghanistan. To date, more than $121 million, 20 per cent of the $606 million required through the end of the year, has been received.
The UN urges donors to disburse pledges so we can keep getting life-saving assistance, including food, medicines, healthcare and protection to people in need.
AFGHANISTAN/WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Today, the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and the WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, Dr. Ahmed Al-Mandhari, issued a statement after they visited Kabul, Afghanistan, where they met with senior members of the Taliban leadership, UN partners, health care workers and patients, and WHO staff.
Mr. Ghebreyesus and Dr. Al-Mandhari warned that Afghanistan’s health system is on the brink of collapse. They said that unless urgent action is taken, the country faces an imminent humanitarian catastrophe.
WHO particularly emphasizes the need for women to maintain access to education, health care, and to the health workforce. Mr. Ghebreyesus and Dr. Al-Mandhari warned that with fewer health facilities operational and less female health workers reporting to work, female patients are hesitant to seek care.
AFGHANISTAN/WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
The World Food Programme (WFP) today said that only five per cent of households in Afghanistan have enough to eat every day. According to recent surveys conducted by WFP, half of households reported they had run out of food altogether at least once in the past two weeks.
WFP said that the middle classes are also struggling and only 10 percent of households headed by someone with a secondary or university education were able to buy sufficient food for their families every day. Though the situation is worse for those less well-educated, the unprecedented prevalence of hunger among families that had previously been spared the scourge of hunger signals the depth of the crisis facing Afghans.
According to WFP, on average, breadwinners are finding work just one day a week, barely enough to afford food that is rapidly increasing in price. Cooking oil, for example, has almost doubled in price since 2020, and wheat is up by 28 per cent.
WFP has provided 6.4 million people with food assistance this year, including more than 1.4 million people since the Taliban takeover on 15 August. WFP runs programmes designed to both address the immediate needs of people facing emergencies, while also building community resilience so they are better able to cope in times of crisis.
The International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG), which includes the UN, today welcomed the formation of the new Government and of the Lebanese Parliament’s vote of confidence in the government and its programme.
In line with key provisions of the approved ministerial statement, the ISG urged Lebanon's leaders to move quickly to alleviate the burden of socio-economic hardship on the people of Lebanon and restore basic services. It also urged the leaders to prepare for fair and transparent elections to take place on time in 2022 and to initiate the critical reforms needed to restore trust and deliver justice, stability and prosperity for the Lebanese people and to pave the way for enhanced international support.
The ISG reiterated the importance of swiftly completing the investigation into the Beirut port explosions.
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) expressed its concern at reports that the House of Representatives has passed a no-confidence motion against the Government of National Unity (GNU).
The Mission confirms that the current GNU remains the legitimate Government up until it is replaced by another Government through a regular process, following the elections. Its focus remains on bringing the country towards the parliamentary and presidential elections on 24 December 2021 and to provide the necessary services to the people.
UNSMIL urges the House of Representatives to complete the work on the parliamentary elections law the latest, in the course of the next week. The Mission reminds the parties in Libya to adhere to the legal and constitutional framework governing the Libyan political process.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLC
Yesterday, 120 Tunisian peacekeepers joined the UN Mission in the Central African Republic yesterday. They will strengthen the mission’s operational capacities through their specialization in transport and air support, which will facilitate access for humanitarian assistance as well as the protection of civilians.
This increase in the number of military personnel was mandated by the Security Council, in its resolution 2566, adopted in March this year.
FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
A new report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) shows decades of development efforts on food and agriculture have been undermined by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report says the pandemic might have pushed an additional 83-132 million into chronic hunger in 2020, making the target of ending hunger even more distant. In addition, food price volatility has increased, due to the constraints placed by the pandemic and associated lockdowns.
FAO’s report coincides with this week's UN Food Systems Summit, which aims to raise global awareness and spur actions to transform food systems, eradicate hunger, reduce diet-related diseases and heal the planet. The report also includes a special chapter on measuring the contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals of the private sector, which FAO regards as playing a key role.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today published a report showing that children under the age of 2 are not getting the food or nutrients they need to thrive and grow well, leading to irreversible developmental harm. The report, released ahead of the UN Food Systems Summit this week, warns that rising poverty, inequality, conflict, climate-related disasters, and health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic are contributing to an ongoing nutrition crisis among the world’s youngest that has shown little sign of improvement in the last ten years.
In an analysis of 91 countries, the report finds that only half of children aged 6-23 months are being fed the minimum recommended number of meals a day, while just a third consume the minimum number of food groups they need to thrive. Further analysis of 50 countries with available trend data reveals these poor feeding patterns have persisted throughout the last decade.
Globally, UNICEF estimates that more than half of children under the age of 5 with wasting – around 23 million children – are younger than 2 years of age. UNICEF also noted that the prevalence of stunting increases rapidly between 6 months and two years, as children’s diets fail to keep pace with their growing nutritional needs.