HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 01 DECEMBER 2020
Tomorrow, at 8:45 a.m., the Secretary-General will be speaking at Columbia University’s World Leaders Forum on the state of our planet. He will stress that we are at a crucial point in time in which we need to make peace with nature to avert the worst impacts of climate change. He will also talk about how the pandemic provides us with an opportunity to rethink human activities and transform our economies. The Secretary-General will also call on all countries, businesses and financial institutions to adopt plans for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050.
His speech will be followed by a virtual Q&A session with Columbia university students and you’ll be able to watch it live on WebTV.un.org.
SECRETARY-GENERAL/REPORT ON GLOBAL COMPACT ON MIGRATION
This afternoon, the Secretary-General spoke via a pre-recorded video message to the launch event for his report on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration.
He says that the report describes how the Global Compact is taking root in promising ways and reflects a growing global understanding of the great benefits of human mobility. But he says that if poorly managed, migration can also generate huge challenges, from tragic loss of life to rights abuses and to social tensions.
The pandemic has heightened those challenges and has had negative effects on more than 2.7 million migrants, particularly women and girls.
On Ethiopia, our humanitarian colleagues continue to call on all parties to the conflict in Tigray to allow unconditional, free and safe humanitarian access to the region.
Nearly one month since the start of the conflict, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate. Our colleagues on the ground have reported that there is a critical shortage of emergency supplies to respond to increasing needs.
The conflict in Tigray is taking place in a context where more than 800,000 people were already in urgent need of assistance and protection. This includes nearly 96,000 Eritrean refugees, who are in Ethiopia, and mostly Tigray, and nearly 600,000 people relying on food aid to survive.
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that aid workers in Tigray need immediate access to food, water and medical supplies, as well as fuel to run water pumps and other activities.
From our side, we have pre-deployed personnel to key locations in Afar and Amhara region to support possible assessment and response missions in Tigray, while negotiations on access continue.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) also appealed to Ethiopia’s federal Government for urgent access to reach Eritrean refugees in Tigray.
They say that concerns are growing by the hour, noting that camps will now have run out of food, which makes hunger and malnutrition a real danger.
The agency also said that Ethiopian refugees continue to arrive in the hundreds to Sudan, with nearly 46,000 people having arrived since the start of November.
Over the weekend, UNHCR launched a response plan to deal with the growing number of refugees in eastern Sudan.
The plan brings together 30 humanitarian partners working together with the Government to provide shelter, water, food and other supplies at a cost of $147 million to meet the needs of up to 100,000 refugees for the next six months.
We confirmed in a note last night that the Secretary-General had spoken by telephone with President-elect Joseph R. Biden to extend his personal congratulations to the President-elect.
Mr. Guterres underscored the essential role played by the enduring close cooperation between the United States and the United Nations. He looks forward to working with the President-elect and his team to building on our partnership to address the many urgent issues facing the world today, including the pandemic, climate change, upholding peace and security, promoting human rights, and addressing humanitarian needs.
The Secretary-General spoke at today’s session to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. He said that he had a deep sense of worry about the grim realities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the diminishing prospects of resolving the conflict. Meanwhile, he warned, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the already dire humanitarian and socio-economic situation.
The Secretary-General said that he hopes that recent developments will encourage Palestinian and Israeli leaders to re-engage in meaningful negotiations, with the support of the international community, toward a two-State solution and will create opportunities for regional cooperation. Only a two-State solution that realizes the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis can lead to sustainable peace, he added.
He also called on Member States to provide the necessary resources to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to continue delivering its vital services to millions of Palestine refugees.
Yesterday afternoon the Secretary-General spoke at the virtual Summit of Heads of State of the Central American Integration System (SICA).
He offered his support and condolences for the loss of life and damage to communities impacted by hurricanes Eta and Iota, reflecting the vulnerability of the region to climate change despite having a minimal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. He said that the UN will continue its humanitarian response and support the region in any way possible.
The Secretary-General also said that it is more urgent than ever to strengthen multilateralism and cooperation to ensure that the economic recovery from the pandemic prioritizes inclusion and that no one is left behind.
2021 GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN OVERVIEW
Earlier today, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs presented the 2021 Global Humanitarian Overview.
Next year, the aim is to mobilize $35 billion to help 160 million of the most vulnerable people in 56 countries.
The shock of COVID-19 has increased the number of people who need humanitarian assistance by 40 per cent compared to the same time last year. This is a record high.
Addressing the launch by pre-recorded message, the Secretary-General said that the humanitarian system again proved its worth in 2020. But the crisis is far from over. He emphasized that humanitarian aid budgets face dire shortfalls as the impact of the global pandemic continues to worsen.
Also speaking at the event, Mark Lowcock, the UN humanitarian chief said that a clear choice confronts us. We can let 2021 be the year of the grand reversal – the unravelling of 40 years of progress –or, he added, we can work together to make sure we all find a way out of this pandemic.
In Brazil, the Resident Coordinator, Niky Fabiancic, is leading the UN team’s support to authorities on the health and socioeconomic response to the pandemic. This month the Joint SDG Fund for Brazil launched a campaign targeting candidates who ran for mayors' offices in over 5,500 municipalities. The runoff in several cities took place this past Sunday.
The goal is to engage local leaders to invest in early childhood development as a means to recover better from COVID-19 and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The campaign targeted 11,000 candidates from key municipalities, with five agencies working on the ground to roll out the Joint SDG fund. That’s the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Women and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as lead entity.
The UN team is also boosting its “tele-medicine”, or online consultation with doctors, in the Northern region of the country. The focus is on women's health and prenatal care during the pandemic, with the UNFPA in the lead.
And in the Amazon region, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) continues its mobile health units targeting indigenous peoples and also migrants coming from Venezuela, with almost 150 medical visits this week alone.
A report released today by the UN Children’s Fund and the International Telecommunications Union shows that two thirds of the world’s school-age children do not have an internet connection in their homes. This represents 1.3 billion children aged 3 to 17 years old.
UNICEF points out that nearly a quarter of a billion students worldwide are still affected by COVID-19 school closures, forcing hundreds of millions of students to rely on virtual learning. Those with no internet access, education can be out of reach.
The report notes that the digital divide is perpetuating inequalities that already divide countries and communities. Children and young people from the poorest households, rural and lower income states are falling even further behind their peers and are left with very little opportunity to ever catch up.
Our colleagues from the UN Development Coordination Office tell us that François Batalingaya of Rwanda is taking up his post as Resident Coordinator in the Comoros today. His appointment follows confirmation from the host Government.
Resident Coordinators lead UN teams as they support countries respond and recover better from the COVID-19 pandemic to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, while making the most of the UN’s assets at the country, regional and global levels.
We also remain with full gender parity and North-South balance among all of our Resident Coordinators serving in 162 countries and territories.