The Secretary-General opened the High-Level Pledging Event for Yemen today. He said that we need $3.85 billion this year to support 16 million Yemenis on the brink of catastrophe. He implored all donors to fund our appeal generously to stop famine engulfing the country.
The Secretary-General said that more than 20 million Yemenis need humanitarian assistance and protection, with women and children among the hardest hit. He added that more than 16 million people are expected to go hungry this year and nearly 50,000 Yemenis are already starving to death in famine-like conditions.
Mr. Guterres said that the only path to peace is through an immediate, nationwide ceasefire and a set of confidence-building measures. That should be followed by an inclusive, Yemeni-led political process under United Nations auspices and supported by the international community.
There will be a virtual press conference wrapping up the event this afternoon, including the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock. Other speakers will include Per Olsson Fridh, the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs, and Manuel Bessler, Delegate of the Federal Council and Head of Swiss Humanitarian Aid. Mr. Lowcock will also have a statement from the Secretary-General on the outcomes of the conference.
Turning to Myanmar, the Special Envoy is continuing her contacts with various stakeholders.
As you will have seen, we issued a statement yesterday in which the Secretary-General strongly condemned the violent crackdown in the country, saying that he is deeply disturbed by the increase in deaths and serious injuries. The use of lethal force against peaceful protestors and arbitrary arrests are unacceptable, he said.
He urged the international community to come together and send a clear signal to the military that it must respect the will of the people of Myanmar as expressed through the election and to stop the repression.
On Syria, the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator, Imran Riza, as well as the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syria Crisis, Muhannad Hadi, have expressed sorrow over a deadly fire at Al Hol camp in northeast Syria. Initial reports indicate that at least four residents, including three children and one woman, died in the tragic accident, and at least 26 were injured.
Mr. Riza and Mr. Hadi extend their heartfelt sympathy to the affected families. They further emphasize that this distressing event underlines the fact that no one – most of all innocent children – should be living under the challenging and potentially dangerous humanitarian conditions in Al Hol camp.
Mr. Riza and Mr. Hadi express their concern that unless measures are taken to address the long-term welfare of camp residents, more tragic incidents at Al Hol are inevitable.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
Our colleagues in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic tell us they are continuing to support the national authorities to prepare for the second round of legislative elections, scheduled for14 March.
The Mission expects to complete the deployment of election materials from Bangui to the prefectures by this coming Friday.
In Kaga-Bandoro in the Nana-Gribizi Prefecture, the Deputy Special Representative, Lizbeth Cullity, met with local authorities and members of the local elections committee as well as community leaders. They discussed the implementation of the Political Agreement, the humanitarian situation and challenges to the organization of the second round of elections.
The Mission also sensitized local communities on the electoral process, including on voting procedures and their role to promote peaceful legislative elections. This took place in Bangassou.
Turning to Libya, aid organizations are appealing for $189 million to meet pressing humanitarian needs in the country in 2021.
The funding will provide critical supplies to 451,000 people – that’s 36 per cent of the 1.3 million people identified as needing humanitarian assistance this year.
Those targeted include people with the most severe needs due to the partial or total collapse of living standards and basic services, increased reliance on negative coping strategies, and widespread physical and mental harm. Among them are internally displaced people, returnees, and migrants and refugees.
Turning to Chad, I was asked a question about a recent attack in N’Djamena, and I can tell you that the Secretary-General regrets the use of violence and the subsequent loss of life reported at the residence of the presidential candidate, Yaya Dillo, that took place in N´Djamena. He urges national authorities to conduct a prompt and rigorous investigation into the incident and to hold those responsible accountable.
The Secretary-General deplores the use of force in the context of the electoral process in Chad. He urges the Chadian authorities to favour political dialogue ahead of the forthcoming elections and to continue efforts to foster an inclusive political process.
Some good news on the vaccine front: Our team in the Maldives, led by the Resident Coordinator, Catherine Haswell, has been supporting the country’s inclusion in COVAX.
Some 200,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in the next few weeks. The Government announced plans to vaccinate the full population of the Maldives. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are helping with planning and coordination, including by training healthcare staff on managing and administering the vaccine.
The Maldives was among the first countries to receive syringes through the COVAX facility. UNICEF is also providing support for the cold chain, supply, and storage management for vaccines.
As of today, more than 111,000 people have been vaccinated. The priority has been for frontline workers and people in high-risk groups.
The national vaccination programme ensures coverage to all Maldivians and residents in the country, regardless of their nationality, which is a good thing.
The free vaccination of undocumented migrant workers by the Red Crescent in the Maldives began on 24 February, backed by UN advocacy for vaccine equity and inclusion for all residents.
We are helping to combat misinformation and increase awareness among the public about the vaccine.
Also, vaccine distribution under COVAX got underway today in both Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.
ZERO DISCRIMINATION DAY
Today is Zero Discrimination Day. This year, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS, otherwise known as UNAIDS, is highlighting the urgent need to take action to end the inequalities surrounding income, sex, age, health status, occupation, disability, race and other factors that continue to persist around the world.
UNAIDS warns that inequality is growing for more than 70 per cent of the global population, increasing the risk of division and hampering economic and social development.
The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Winnie Byanyima, said that COVID-19 has magnified the fissures in our society, adding that the pandemic has seen marginalized communities taking the hardest economic hit, getting stuck at the back of the line for vital services and being scapegoated for the crisis.
PRESS BRIEFING TOMORROW
Tomorrow, my guest will be our friend, the Chief Economist of the United Nations, Elliott Harris. He will brief you on a new system of natural capital accounting known as SEEA, “the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting,” expected to be adopted by the 52nd session of the UN Statistical Commission, organized by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).
In response to what had I had been asked about Western Sahara, I can tell you that, as of today, the UN Mission there, MINURSO, continues to receive unconfirmed reports of sporadic firing across the berm.
The Mission continues to monitor the situation throughout the Territory, including in Guerguerat, to the extent possible given its capabilities.
We continue to urge the parties to exercise restraint.
On Lebanon, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reports that, in relation to the oil spill and tar deposited in parts of the coastline in Lebanon, the Mission has been in touch with local authorities. The Mission is also trying to see what help could be provided within its available capabilities and equipment.
As part of immediate assistance, UNIFIL donated equipment and tools to clean the coastline. One contingent also contributed a donation of additional personal protective equipment. Additionally, over the weekend, UNIFIL military and civilian personnel joined local communities and volunteers in cleaning the shores in Tyre and Naqoura.
I know colleagues from relevant parts of the UN system have been in touch with the Israelis to see if there is anything they can do on that end.