In Afghanistan, the UN Humanitarian Air Service, operated by the World Food Programme, is resuming flights to enable 160 humanitarian organizations to continue their life-saving activities in Afghanistan’s provinces.
The air passenger service is currently linking Islamabad to Mazar-i-Sharif and Kandahar, with three flights already having taken place to Mazar-i-Sharif since 29 August. WFP says all efforts are being made to step up operations as soon as possible and increase the number of flown-to destinations in Afghanistan. In addition, a cargo airbridge is being established to transport non-food items, such as medical and other emergency supplies to where they are needed the most.
UNHAS’ domestic passenger service requires $18 million and $12 million is required for the cargo airbridge. Both services will be utilized by the entire humanitarian community.
From 2002 to 2021, the UN Humanitarian Air Service in Afghanistan served more than 20 destinations in the country; it will seek to return to these locations once security and funding permits.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The UN Mission there reports that yesterday, unidentified assailants ambushed a civilian convoy of approximately 100 vehicles, that was being escorted jointly by peacekeepers and the Congolese military. This happened near Ofay, which is south west of Bunia in the Ituri province.
Our colleagues there, along with the Congolese troops, responded by opening fire against the assailants. A UN Quick Reaction Force was also dispatched to the scene. The incident resulted in at least four civilians killed and 16 vehicles burnt. Peacekeepers said there were no casualties for UN personnel or damage to UN assets.
UN peacekeepers and the Congolese army have been escorting civilian convoys between the towns of Komanda and Luna - that’s about 40 kilometers north of Beni since August 7th. They started doing this following an increase in threats posed by the ADF group in the area. The Mission said today they are determined to continue this joint activity with the Congolese Army, reiterating that it is essential to the population and the humanitarian community.
In a statement issued today, the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Ethiopia, Grant Leaity, warned that with the inability to bring in sufficient and sustained levels of humanitarian supplies, cash and fuel, the humanitarian situation in the North of the country is set to worsen dramatically, particularly in Tigray.
Mr. Leaity noted that an estimated 5.2 million people, or 90 per cent of the population across the Tigray region, urgently need humanitarian assistance. He said that millions are on the brink of going hungry, including 1.7 million people in the bordering areas of the Afar and Amhara regions.
Mr. Leaity pointed out that while humanitarian access is now viable and secure inside most of Tigray, the region remains under a de facto humanitarian aid blockade, where access to bring life-saving humanitarian relief continues to be extremely restricted. Stocks of relief items, cash and fuel are running very low or are completely depleted in certain locations. Food stocks already ran out on 20 August.
The Acting Humanitarian Coordinator stressed that the lives of millions of civilians in Tigray and neighboring regions in Afar and Amhara depend on our capacity to reach them with food, nutrition supplies, medicine and other critical medical supplies.
Our colleagues at the Office for Children and Armed Conflict told us that new action plans were signed this week between the UN and the Plateforme – a coalition of armed movements in Mali.
With these action plans, the Plateforme has committed to releasing all children present in its members’ ranks. They have also committed to end the military use of schools and to guarantee unimpeded delivery of humanitarian assistance to all children.
Ms. Gamba, our Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has called on the international community to support reintegration activities for the children, emphasizing that these services, which include psycho-social support and access to education, are essential to help boys and girls fully regain a place in communities and society as a whole.
The Plateforme has been listed in the Annexes of the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict since 2018.
The World Health Organization said today 42 of Africa’s 54 countries are set to miss the goal of vaccinating the world’s most vulnerable 10 per cent against COVID-19 by the end of September.
Almost 21 million COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Africa through the COVAX Facility in August alone. This is an amount equal to the previous four months combined. With more vaccines expected from COVAX and the African Union by the end of September, WHO said there is a possibility that enough doses could be delivered to meet the 10 per cent target.
As more doses arrive, African countries have to move forward with their plans to rapidly vaccinate the millions of people that still face a grave threat from COVID-19, this was by said Dr Moeti, WHO’s Regional Director.
Currently, 39 million people— that’s around 3 per cent of Africa’s population— is fully vaccinated.
The Philippines has received 13.2 million vaccine doses from the COVAX Facility. As of 22 August, the country has administered more than 30 million doses. Our team, under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez, has been supporting the Government, including through the use of digital tools for contact tracing in cities with a high number of cases and in leading risk communications and community engagement.
Our colleagues at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, said that global food commodity prices rebounded rapidly in August after two consecutive months of decline. This was led by strong gains in the international price quotations for sugar, wheat and vegetable oils.
The FAO Food Price Index was up 3.1 per cent from July and 32.9 per cent from the same month last year.
The UN Environment Programme today launched a report which says that one-third of the world’s countries have no legally-mandated outdoor air quality standards.
Where the law exists, standards vary widely and often misalign with World Health Organization guidelines. The report also says that at least 31 per cent of countries that do have the power to introduce air quality standards have yet to adopt them.
Trinidad & Tobago and Guinea-Bissau have paid their budget dues in full. We are now up to 126 Member States.