HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 1 JUNE 2020
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will be addressing the opening of a high-level virtual pledging event for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. Something that we have been flagging here almost on a daily basis That event is co-hosted by the United Nations and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It will start at 9:00am New York time and you will be able to watch it on the un web tv platform. Twenty-four million people – that’s 80 per cent of the population in Yemen – need aid and protection. The humanitarian operation assists more than 10 million people every month. However, without additional funding, life-saving programmes will soon be forced to reduce or even close in what is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis.
A press conference will follow the event at 1:10pm, New York time. Media questions should be submitted in advance and up until two hours before the closing of the event on WhatsApp or by email to our OCHA media colleagues.
Yacoub El-Hillo, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, said over the weekend that he was shocked by the horrific reports about Wednesday’s shooting at a smuggling warehouse in Mezda, killing 30 migrants and injuring 11 others.
He said that authorities with influence on the ground in the area where this incident took place have the responsibility to ensure that human smugglers and traffickers are not allowed to continue their inhuman and degrading acts. Such heinous and merciless crimes against helpless individuals should be investigated immediately and those responsible have to be brought to justice.
The Secretary-General notes that the relative calm that characterized election day continues to prevail in Burundi.
He reiterates his call to all parties to ensure that their words and actions promote peace and harmony among all Burundians. The Secretary-General emphasizes that any electoral dispute should be addressed through established legal and constitutional channels under Burundi law.
The Secretary-General reiterates the support of the United Nations to the people and Government of Burundi.
A newly published paper, issued by the office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO), argues that the COVID-19 emergency underscores the inadequacy of the frameworks governing the economic and administrative relationships between Israel and Palestine.
Nickolay Mladenov, the Special Coordinator, welcomed the recent Israeli-Palestinian cooperation to deal with the health crisis. But the Special Coordinator’s office warns that, if current trends continue, the achievements of the Palestinian Government over the last quarter century will fade, the peace and security situation will worsen, and a hardened and more extremist politics on both sides will inevitably result.
Mr. Mladenov adds, “All sides must do their part in the coming weeks and months in order to preserve the prospect of a negotiated two-state resolution to the conflict, in line with relevant UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements”.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
In Latin America and the Caribbean, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that nearly 938,000 cases and over 49,000 associated deaths were reported as of Saturday across the region, relating to COVID. That surpasses Europe and the US in daily infections. According to the World Health Organization, the region is now the new epicentre of the pandemic. South America - where Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Ecuador have the most cases - has over 800,000 infected people and over 38,000 deaths.
The United Nations has been supporting governments and civil society in the region through its different agencies, funds and programmes, including for the development of national response plans to the pandemic. In Venezuela, the UN and our partners have been providing assistance to more than one million people since mid-March, mostly in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene. In Colombia, over 750,000 people have been reached since the end of April, mainly with health response. And in Haiti, the UN continues to support national authorities in strengthening health response capacity and disseminating awareness messaging, while they continue to deliver critical lifesaving support in other areas, particularly food.
In Guatemala, where there are more than 4,700 confirmed cases of the and more than 100 deaths. The UN team on the ground has been supporting the Government’s emergency response to the virus and has provided $1 million from the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund. As you will recall, this is the fund announced by the Secretary-General for the socioeconomic recovery and response. The UN team, led by the Resident Coordinator, Rebeca Arias, is focusing on providing health services, protecting and training health workers and improving surveillance capacities. This includes improving lab capacity and boosting women’s access to health services. The UN is working to protect human rights. This initiative includes guaranteeing decent quarantine locations for migrants who have returned to Guatemala. Several UN entities are involved in this, such as the International Organization for Migration, the Pan-American Health Organization, the UN Population Fund, the UN’s children fund, the UN Refugee Agency, the UN Human Rights Office, as well as UN Women. UN entities and our partners have donated an additional $600,000 for medical, hygiene and protection supplies, as well as training, shelters, and communications campaign to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
WOMEN AND GLOBAL CEASEFIRE EFFORTS
I want to flag that in a joint video message released today, the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo; and the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, made a call to ensure women are central to global ceasefire efforts. The three officials said the pandemic is a wake-up call: [the world cannot face conflict and a pandemic at the same time]. In their message, they stressed that with women fully engaged, and if so, we will emerge stronger from the crisis.
WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
A new survey released today by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that prevention and treatment services for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) have been severely disrupted since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The survey, which was completed by 155 countries during a three-week period in May, confirmed that the impact is global, but that low-income countries are the ones being affected the most. WHO warns that this situation is of significant concern because people living with noncommunicable diseases are at higher risk of severe COVID-19-related illness and death.
WHO said that a record number of countries are now monitoring and reporting on antibiotic resistance. WHO warned that the data they provide reveals that a worrying number of bacterial infections are increasingly resistant to the medicines at hand to treat them. WHO is concerned that the trend will further be fueled by the inappropriate use of antibiotics during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence shows that only a small proportion of patients with the virus need antibiotics to treat subsequent bacterial infections. WHO has issued guidance not to provide antibiotic therapy or prophylaxis to patients with mild COVID-19 or to patients with suspected or confirmed moderate COVID-19 illnesses, unless there is a clinical indication to do so.
A new Ebola outbreak has been identified in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This time, the virus is impacting people in the country’s west, in the Equateur province. The Congolese health ministry has identified six cases, including four people who have died. On Twitter today, the head of WHO, Dr. Tedros, said the agency already has staff in the main city in Equateur, in Mbandaka, which is the town impacted. They are supporting the response to this new Ebola outbreak. This is happening as you know, the DRC is in the final phases of battling the virus in the country’s East. Dr. Tedros added this is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat that people face. WHO is continuing to monitor and respond to many health emergencies, he said.
The UN Development Coordination Office welcomes three new Resident Coordinators. They are to be posted in Ghana, Guinea and the Philippines. The appointments follow confirmations from the respective Governments. Charles Abani of Nigeria will serve as the Resident Coordinator in Ghana; Vincent Martin of France will serve in Guinea; and Gustavo González of Argentina will be the new Resident Coordinator in the Philippines. Unfortunately, as you can imagine, given the new travel restrictions, our new colleagues are working remotely until they are able to physically join their respective duty stations. As you know, Resident Coordinators lead the development work in our UN family on the ground, which is fundamental to support countries in this Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. They are also mobilizing resources to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also proud to announce that the UN remains with full gender parity among Resident Coordinators serving in 162 countries and territories.