HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 5 AUGUST 2020
In a statement we issued yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims, as well as to the people and Government of Lebanon, following the horrific explosions in Beirut. He wishes a speedy recovery to the injured, including several United Nations personnel working in Lebanon.
The United Nations remains committed to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time and is actively assisting in the response to this incident.
As a result of the explosion, one of the UNIFIL ships of the Maritime Task Force docked in the port was damaged, leaving some UNIFIL naval peacekeepers injured – some of them seriously.
UNIFIL transported the injured peacekeepers to the nearest hospitals for medical treatment. The Mission is currently assessing the situation.
The Head of Mission and Force Commander, Major General Stefano Del Col, said: “We are with the people and the Government of Lebanon during this difficult time and stand ready to help and provide any assistance and support.”
The United Nations is working closely with the Lebanese Government to support all ongoing response efforts, particularly in the delivery of emergency medical assistance.
Support for the existing hospitals and trauma response capacity is a top priority for the UN. The World Health Organization is working closely with the Lebanese Ministry of Health to conduct an assessment of hospital facilities in Beirut, their functionality and needs for additional support, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specialists are being dispatched to Beirut at the moment to assist in the emergency response, both from the United Nations and multiple Member States. Experts are en route to support urban search and rescue operations. Teams are also equipped to conduct rapid assessments about the situation on the ground and help coordinate emergency response activities.
The United Nations is looking at all options to find ways to provide financial assistance to support ongoing response efforts.
The United Nations is also looking carefully at the immediate implications of the explosion at the port for ongoing response activities, both in Lebanon and Syria. Efforts to ensure sustained operations will be found in close coordination with Lebanese authorities.
Further assessments about the humanitarian needs following the explosion are underway. Additional information will be made public to help coordinate ongoing relief efforts.
As agreed in a call yesterday between the Prime Minister and the Special Coordinator, the Deputy Special Coordinator and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator is leading UN efforts in support of Lebanon’s emergency response, in coordination with the Deputy Prime Minister, who is leading the Lebanese efforts. UN agencies are participating in an emergency health task force with Non-governmental organizations to coordinate humanitarian support. The World Food Programme is undertaking an assessment of food needs. An assessment of shelter needs is also underway.
Tomorrow marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and the Secretary-General will have a video message which will be played at the Peace Memorial Ceremony.
The Secretary-General will pay tribute to the hibakusha, the survivors of the bombing, noting that they have turned their tragedy into a rallying voice for the safety and well-being of all humanity.
In his message, he will also reiterate his appeal for a world without nuclear weapons, calling on States to return to a common vision and path leading to the total elimination of these weapons.
We expect the Secretary-General’s message will be played at the ceremony at around 8:40 a.m., local time, tomorrow, which is around 7:45 p.m. this evening here in New York.
The Secretary-General has been following with concern recent developments in Zimbabwe. He urges the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure the protection of all fundamental human rights, notably the freedom of opinion and expression and the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, in accordance with Zimbabwe’s human rights obligations. He also calls on all political actors and civil society to resolve issues peacefully through inclusive dialogue.
In Sudan’s Khartoum State, the World Food Programme (WFP) has launched its first programme, together with the Government, to provide nutritional support for 175,000 pregnant and nursing women as well as children under the age of five.
WFP will provide specialized nutritious food and nutrition counselling at health centres to treat children and mothers suffering from moderate acute malnutrition, seeking to prevent severe acute malnutrition. WFP will work to ensure that all precautionary measures are in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as handwashing and physical distancing.
The food security and nutrition situation in Khartoum has deteriorated in recent years. It is estimated that 1.4 million people in Khartoum are experiencing high levels of food insecurity due to economic decline, inflation and food price hikes exacerbated by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Syria, the UN remains concerned about the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases across the country.
As of yesterday, the Syrian Ministry of Health confirmed 892 people tested positive, including 46 deaths.
In northwest Syria, 38 cases have been confirmed with no deaths reported. In northeast Syria, 34 cases were reported, including one death.
The World Health Organization is leading UN preparedness and mitigation measures across Syria, including in the northwest and in the northeast.
In Uruguay, where there have been nearly 1,300 COVID-19 cases and more than 30 deaths, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Mireia Villar Forner, is supporting the Government’s response. The UN has also mobilized more than $1.3 million to address the pandemic.
The UN helped to design the national contingency plan for COVID-19 and worked with our partners to produce ventilators. UN agencies have also provided protective equipment, as well as laboratory, medical, and cleaning supplies.
We have helped women, children, refugees, inmates and people living with HIV, among other vulnerable people, by providing access to safe care, shelters, hygiene kits and protection from violence and abuse. The UN has also carried out analysis and surveys to develop socioeconomic policies that protect lives and livelihoods.
The UN has also trained journalists on safe COVID-19 reporting practices.
GLOBAL INVESTORS FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
In a report released today, 30 CEOs from prominent corporations around the globe – members of the Global Investors for Sustainable Development Alliance (GISD)convened by the Secretary-General – identified more than 60 concrete measures to accelerate and scale up funding for the Sustainable Development Goals.
The report, Renewed, Recharged and Reinforced, focuses on six areas that are critical to the global sustainability agenda: addressing systemic sustainability risks, improving ESG data and scoring, globally conforming disclosure requirements, strengthening corporate governance, enhancing public-private sector partnerships and developing sustainable finance products and infrastructure.
Tomorrow, Reem Abaza, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, will brief the press.