In a statement, the Secretary-General said that he is deeply saddened by the reported death of at least 123 people following a large landslide today in the town of Hpakant, Kachin State, Myanmar.
The Secretary-General expressed his deep condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. He reiterated the readiness of the United Nations to contribute to ongoing efforts to address the needs of the affected population.
The United Nations in Myanmar today today also expressed its sadness at the loss of life due to the landslide, commending the courageous efforts by the men and women involved in the difficult rescue and recovery efforts .
The Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council meeting on COVID-19. He said that the consequences of the pandemic can be seen even in a number of countries traditionally seen as “stable”. But the impacts are particularly apparent in countries already experiencing conflict or emerging from it – and may soon engulf others, he warned.
In some countries, the Secretary-General said, fragile peace processes could be derailed by the crisis, especially if the international community is distracted.
He noted that populists, nationalists and others who were already seeking to roll back human rights are finding in the pandemic a pretext for the repressive measures unrelated to the disease. Meanwhile, the Secretary-General added, stigma and hate speech are on the rise and an epidemic of misinformation online has run rampant.
He detailed the work the United Nations is doing to address these problems, telling the Council members that our challenge is to save lives today while buttressing the pillars of security for tomorrow.
The Secretary-General welcomed the adoption by the Security Council of its resolution on COVID-19 and its recognition of his efforts to respond to the crisis, in particular his appeal for a global ceasefire.
The adoption of this resolution will send an important message to conflict parties and may help change calculations on the ground, the Spokesman said in a note issued yesterday.
The Spokesman issued a readout yesterday afternoon of the phone call between the Secretary-General and General Haftar, the Commander of the Libyan National Army. The Secretary-General reiterated that there was no military solution to the conflict in Libya. The solution can only be political, and Libyan-owned and Libyan-led, he said. The Secretary-General reaffirmed the full commitment of the United Nations to dialogue within the 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission.
The Secretary-General expressed his shock at the recent discovery of mass graves and stressed the need for full respect of international human rights law and international humanitarian law. He also indicated his commitment to help find a solution for the reopening of blocked oil terminals and oil fields in the country.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that between 10 April, when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Yemen, and 1 July, authorities have announced 1,122 confirmed cases, including 303 deaths from the virus. The fatality rate is alarmingly high at around 25 per cent — that’s five times the global average. Although resources are limited, aid agencies have scaled up the COVID-19 response. More than 12,000 metric tonnes (MT) of medical equipment, testing kits and medicines were procured, with 8,616 metric tonnes of these having already arrived in the country. Humanitarian partners are deploying two high capacity mobile ﬁeld hospitals with nearly 100 beds and providing salaries to 9,000 frontline health care workers. Aid agencies are also responding to other deadly diseases, including cholera, diphtheria, dengue and malaria, and providing nutrition treatment to pregnant women and malnourished children. On 2 June, at the High-Level Pledging Conference for Yemen, international donors announced pledges of a combined $1.35 billion that’s less than the $2.41 billion needed to cover essential humanitarian activities in the last six months of this year, leaving a gap of more than $1 billion. With only $558 million provided so far, the aid operation is on the brink of collapse unless donors fulﬁl their pledges immediately and those who have not pledged, pledge now.
With the prospect of peace talks starting this month between the Afghan government and Taliban negotiators, the UN Assistance Mission in the country (UNAMA) urged parties to redouble efforts at protecting civilians from harm. The UN Mission also urged parties to de-escalate the conflict in order to save lives and create a conducive environment for the forthcoming talks in Doha. The Mission is particularly concerned by a recent spate of violent incidents in which members of Afghanistan’s civil society have been targeted. In the first six months of 2020, preliminary figures indicate that more than 800 civilians were killed and injured in deliberate attacks against civilians. UNAMA attributed responsibility for approximately half of these civilian casualties to the Taliban. The UN Mission’s continued call for an end to violence is also immediately linked to the need for all parties to provide the necessary focus and resources to combat the current virus pandemic.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched cash transfers and nutrition support for more than a quarter of a million people struggling to survive from the impact of the virus on informal settlements in Nairobi. Nearly 280,000 people, who struggled to feed themselves even before the onset of the pandemic and have lost their income due to COVID-19 restrictions, will receive these cash distributions.
To help people at risk of monsoon flooding in the country’s north, WFP has helped disburse funds to some 30,000 vulnerable people living within the flood zone through a mobile banking system. WFP says that by offering cash prior to the floods, families have the flexibility to purchase food or other items and to make plans to move out of harm’s way.
From Peru, which has more than 285,000 confirmed cases and over 9,600 deaths due to COVID-19, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Igor Garafulic, has supported authorities on the health front and is now focusing on the social and economic response and recovery. The UN has donated 15,000 COVID-19 tests and helped with the purchase of 2.5 million masks. The team has also gathered $1 million in donations for lab supplies, protective equipment and 15,000 testing kits. A UN-backed digital platform has brought together 20,000 volunteers to help older people and people with disabilities receive Government's cash transfers. The UN is also advising authorities on supporting people living with HIV, sex workers, migrants, and women and girls who are victims of violence, among others. The UN is also carrying out communication campaigns in several languages to reach indigenous peoples. Our team is also working with journalists and social media influencers to curb the spread of misinformation.
The UN Refugee Agency welcomed today the decision by the Government of Uganda to give safe haven to thousands of refugees fleeing escalating violence in the eastern neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo. A first group of about 1,500 asylum-seekers - the majority of them women and children - entered Uganda yesterday. The head of UNHCR in Uganda said this is proof that even in the midst of a pandemic, there are ways to manage border restrictions in a manner that respects international human rights and refugee protection standards.
A new report today released by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) says that electronic waste has surged up to 21 per cent in the past five years.
The report says that a record 53.6 million tonnes of e-waste was produced globally in 2019 — for perspective, that’s the weight of 350 cruise ships the size of the Queen Mary 2. The report also shows that only 17.4 per cent of last year’s e-waste was officially documented and properly collected and recycled. This means that gold, silver, copper, platinum and other high-value, recoverable materials conservatively valued at US$57 billion – that’s a sum greater than the gross domestic product of most countries – were mostly dumped or burned rather than being collected for treatment and reuse.
FOOD PRICE INDEX
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that in June, global food commodity prices rose for the first time since the beginning of the year. This was driven by a rebound in vegetable oils, sugar and dairy quotations. The FAO Price Index averaged 93.2 points in June and that is some 2.4 per cent higher than the previous month. According to the quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, also published today, conflicts and weather shocks remain critical factors underpinning the high level of severe food insecurity in countries requiring external assistance for food. The COVID-19 pandemic is also having wide-ranging and severe effects, particularly through the loss of income.
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the virtual belated Commemoration of the International Day of Vesak 2020.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General noted that this year, the Buddha’s teachings can help remind us all of the unity we need to meet the COVID-19 challenge. He emphasized that it is only by combining our energies and expertise that we can address the tremendous fragilities of the world today.
The Secretary-General appointed Abubacarr Marie Tambadou of the Republic of the Gambia as the Registrar of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals. Mr. Tambadou succeeds Olufemi Elias of Nigeria, to whom the Secretary-General is grateful for his dedicated service to the Residual Mechanism and international criminal justice. Until recently, Mr. Tambadou was serving as the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Republic of the Gambia, a position he held since 2017. He brings over 14 years of experience in the area of international criminal justice, including through his role as Special Assistant to the Prosecutor of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals and Trial Attorney and later Appeals Counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
The Secretary-General appointed Irena Vojáčková-Sollorano of Germany as his new Deputy Special Representative for Iraq, in the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and Resident Coordinator. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano will also serve as Humanitarian Coordinator. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano succeeds Marta Ruedas of Spain, who retired from the United Nations in May. The Secretary-General is grateful for Ms. Ruedas’ long and dedicated service to the Organization.
Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano brings to this position more than three decades of global expertise in migration and refugee issues, coordinating United Nations development and humanitarian responses, including as United Nations Resident Coordinator in Turkey (2016-2019) and Serbia (2013-2016). Since August 2019, Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano has served as United Nations Regional Director a.i. of the Development Coordination Office for Europe and Central Asia in Istanbul. From 2010-2013, Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano was the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Director for Migration Management in Geneva, and served as IOM Deputy Chief of Staff in 2009. Prior to that, she served in senior IOM roles in Bangkok, Vienna, Geneva and Manila. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano holds a Diploma in International Economic Relations from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna, a Master’s Degree in History, Geography and International Law from the University of Vienna, and a Bachelor’s degree in History, Sociology, Geography and Political Science from the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Ms. Vojáčková-Sollorano is proficient in English, German and Czech.
The annual High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development starts on Tuesday. This year’s theme is “Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development.” So far, 47 countries are expected to share their Voluntary National Reviews which are their plans to advance the Sustainable Development Goals while tackling the pandemic.
On Monday, Member States of the Economic and Social Council will meet to hear the analysis and recommendations from UN entities and the Council’s expert bodies on the impact of COVID-19 on the SDGs and how to recover better and fairer.
On the opening day, this year’s Sustainable Development Goals Report will be released. The report shows that the pandemic has reversed decades of progress, especially for the most vulnerable among us. At the end of the Forum on 17 July, there will be a high-level conversation on the kind of multilateralism needed today to respond to global crises such as COVID-19.
NOON GUESTS ON MONDAY
Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, and Jimmy Smith, Director General of the International Livestock Research Institute will brief the report entitled “Preventing the Next Pandemic: Zoonotic Diseases and how to break the chain of transmission.”
At 1 p.m. Winnie Byanyima, the Executive Director of UNAids, will discuss the launch of the annual UNAids Global Aids Update Report.