The Secretary-General visited the Golden Temple in the Indian city of Amritsar just now, which is his last stop in the country before he heads back to New York. He expressed his deep respect for the religion of the Sikh people and the wonderful Golden Temple, in which the spirit of peace, tolerance and ecumenism is present. During his visit to the site, the Secretary-General shared a meal in the Temple’s kitchen, which is the biggest community kitchen in the world, serving thousands of meals a day, 24 hours a day, and open to all. In addition, no plastic is used in the kitchen and all implements are metal.
Earlier this morning in New Delhi, the Secretary-General presented Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the 2018 Champions of the Earth Award.
In giving the award, the Secretary-General said that Prime Minister Modi is being honoured as a statesman who recognises that climate change poses a direct existential threat and understands the enormous benefits of climate action. This, the Secretary-General said, is the bold environmental leadership the world needs.
Afterwards, the Secretary-General met with President Ram Nath Govind, whom he thanked for his warm welcome. The Secretary-General lauded the strong bonds between India and the United Nations.
Later in the afternoon before traveling to Amritsar, the Secretary-General and his delegation met with Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj over a working lunch.
Yesterday afternoon, Emergency Relief Coordinator and Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, Mark Lowcock, announced an allocation of $15 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund, or CERF, to bolster relief assistance for people affected by the 7.4-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck Indonesia’s Central Sulawesi late last week.
Mr. Lowcock said that the Government of Indonesia is experienced and well-equipped in managing natural disasters, but sometimes, as with all other countries, outside help is also needed. Given the scale and complexity of this emergency, UN agencies and humanitarian organizations are working closely with Government counterparts to provide life-saving assistance.
CERF funds will allow UN agencies and humanitarian organizations to support the Government-led response in the areas of logistics, shelter, safe water and sanitation, health care, camp coordination and camp management, emergency livelihoods and protection services.
Our humanitarian colleagues say that, as of today, more than 1,400 people have reportedly died, with more than 2,500 people seriously injured. It is expected that these figures will increase as more areas become accessible.
Vital infrastructure, including roads and bridges, have been destroyed, while the main airport in Palu has sustained damage. Numerous land and mudslides have cut off affected communities, severely hampering the delivery of relief.
Some 66,000 houses have been damaged, with nearly 71,000 people having been uprooted.
The Government has welcomed specific offers of international assistance in line with identified humanitarian needs on the ground, which, at this time, include air transportation, tents, water treatment, and generators.
The UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner, and the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, will travel together to Nigeria and then to Chad over the weekend. Their mission aims to highlight and support joint humanitarian and development efforts in these countries.
In Nigeria, they will travel to Borno State and visit a site for internally displaced persons and a transition centre.
In Chad, they will visit a nutrition centre in N’Djamena where international NGOs and UN agencies are treating children with malnutrition, amid one of the worst nutrition crises the country has ever experienced.
They will also meet high-level officials in both countries.
This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke at the event on “Shedding Light on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation,” which also served as the launch of the Economic Intelligence Unit Benchmarking Index.
She said that every day, across all countries and levels of society, millions of girls and boys face the alarmingly common childhood experience of sexual abuse and exploitation, scarring them for life. The global economic impacts and costs of this can be as high as $7 trillion.
The Deputy Secretary-General said that countries have started to address this issue and the Benchmarking Index will help push this challenge higher up the global agenda.
She said that preventing violence and exploitation of children is everyone’s business, everywhere, at all times, adding that we must address this challenge and break the silence.
And again today, I thank a Member State for its full contribution to the regular budget. Saudi Arabia’s payment takes the Honour Roll to 143 members.