HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 05 JUNE 2020
The Secretary-General this morning spoke to the High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation. He thanked the members of the Board for their engagement and support, in particular to his global call for a ceasefire. They discussed possible further efforts in that regard.
The members of the board and the Secretary-General also talked about the impact of COVID-19 on conflict situations and on mediation efforts, as well as some cross-cutting issues such as the role of women and youth leaders.
In a statement we issued late last night, the Secretary-General said that he looks forward to continued close cooperation of the United Nations with the countries and institutions of the Central American Integration System (SICA) to address the profound socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including on food security, human mobility, gender violence as well as climate change.
The Central American Integration System remains an important framework for regional collaboration at a time when integration is more necessary than ever to respond to the emergency and recover better.
During a Security Council briefing on Peace and Security in Africa this morning, the head of Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, said that the G5-Sahel Joint Force is on the right track, although there is still a long way to go. The pandemic adds another layer of complexity to the already challenging security situation in the Sahel, he added.
Terrorists and other groups in the region are attempting to capitalize on the pandemic to undermine State authority and destabilize Governments. Attacks on national and international forces continue unabated and the civilian population continues to bear the brunt of the instability.
The Under-Secretary-General said that strengthening the Joint Force is only one strand in a comprehensive international approach required to tackle the root causes of instability in Mali and the Sahel in the region.
Improving governance, eradicating poverty and protecting human rights of all citizens, including the most disenfranchised, remain critical. More needs to be done to ensure that such efforts are given the same weight as military operations.
In Mali, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), worked on the rehabilitation of the Songobia bridge, using over $ 90,000 from the Trust Fund for Peace and Security for Mali. The bridge, which links parts of the Mopti region to Burkina Faso, is a crucial axis for exchanges between the two countries.
Peacekeepers have also provided significant assistance for the creation of the temporary base of the G5 Sahel Joint Force in Sénou. This was done in accordance with the Mission’s mandate and with the support of funding from the European Union.
In Central African Republic, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSCA) reports that yesterday, peacekeepers responded to a disruption during a distribution of humanitarian assistance at the PK3 camp for displaced people in Bria. A police unit from the Mission responded to the incident and secured UN staff and property.
The situation is now reported as calm, although peacekeepers continue to patrol. The Central African Police is conducting an investigation.
Yesterday’s incident follows tensions with anti-Balaka elements in the camp, including an incident in May of last year. At the same time, UN peacekeepers attempting to dismantle anti-Balaka bases inside the premises were targeted by camp residents who threw stones at them.
In Southern Lebanon, our peacekeeping colleagues report that primary health dispensaries and a mobile clinic in Tyre Caza, in south-western Lebanon, received sanitary and personal protective equipment, which will help support families living in host communities. The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) donated more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to four public schools in south-western area.
Finally, our peacekeepers in Kosovo tell us that they are funding a legal aid centre, which provides free legal aid to vulnerable groups, specifically women, pensioners, and minority communities.
In response to the pandemic, the centre has also adopted new methods to reach beneficiaries, such as live public television call-in shows, online videos and client sessions.
HUMAN RIGHTS/DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, said today that in the past eight months, about 1,300 civilians have been killed in conflicts involving armed groups and government forces.
She said she is appalled by the increase in brutal attacks on innocent civilians by armed groups, and by the reaction of the military and security forces who have also committed grave violations, including killings and sexual violence. Some of the incidents may amount to crimes against humanity or war crimes, she added.
In Panama, as the Government leads a process of gradual reopening, the UN team is working with the authorities and other partners to continue saving lives and livelihoods. Under the leadership of the acting Resident Coordinator, Cesar Nuñez, the UN team has donated personal protection and other medical equipment to the Government’s pandemic response.
With the UN Development Programme (UNDP) as technical lead, we have assessed the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
UNDP reports that the region expects up to a 25 per cent reduction in tourism. The Panama Canal Authority received 35 cruise cancellations, abruptly ending the cruise season.
We have also launched with the Government a communication campaign regarding violence against women. This is crucial, considering that Latin America and the Caribbean has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world.
UN entities, including the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Population Fund (UNFPA), UNDP and UN Women, are donating hygiene kits for female detention centres in Panama. The UNODC and other entities are also supporting the male and juvenile detention centres across the country.
For its part, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working closely with the authorities to guarantee the inclusion of indigenous peoples as part of the government food security assistance programme.
UNAIDs, UNFPA and UNDP are working closely with the Ministry of Health to guarantee having a continuous supply of life-saving treatment for people living with HIV, and that includes, of course, migrants.
According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures, there are over 14,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Panama and over 350 deaths reported due to COVID-19.
In Afghanistan, the UN and our humanitarian partners continue to support the Government-led COVID-19 response. We have helped establish ten testing laboratories and trained more than 3,200 healthcare workers in infection prevention and control.
Along with our partners, we reached over one million vulnerable people with hygiene kits and hygiene promotion and provided almost 4 million people with soap bars. We also reached out to around 900,000 people with COVID-19 awareness and prevention measures kits, as well as providing approximately 74,000 people with psychosocial support services to cope with the mental health-related consequences of the disease.
In addition, 11,000 children have received home-based learning materials.
Aid agencies continue to deliver life-saving assistance in response to ongoing conflict and natural disasters to millions of Afghans, including with food assistance.
With our partners, we are also revising the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for the country, integrating COVID-19 needs. The number of people in humanitarian need is now estimated to be 14 million people, up from 9.4 million at the start of the year.
As of yesterday, Afghanistan had 18,054 confirmed cases of the virus, which includes 300 deaths.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
Today is World Environment Day. The theme for this year is ‘Time with Nature” and it seeks to highlight the importance of protecting the world’s biological diversity. In his message for the day, the Secretary-General said that we must put nature at the heart of our decision making.
Today, the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) launched its “Race to Zero” that will run up to COP26. The campaign promotes a healthy, resilient zero carbon recovery and brings together a coalition of net zero emissions initiatives, covering 992 businesses, 449 cities, 21 regions, 505 universities and 38 of the biggest investors.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) today announced the winners of the 11th Equator Prize which recognizes indigenous communities from across the world. The winning organizations showcase innovative, nature-based solutions for tackling biodiversity and loss and climate change.
The winners this year come from Canada, Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mexico, and Thailand.
You can find more about their initiatives online.
INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED AND UNREGULATED FISHING
Today is also the International Day for the Fight against Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities are responsible for the loss of between 11–26 million tonnes of fish each year. That is estimated to have an economic impact of $10–23 billion.