HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 6 APRIL 2022

NEW CO-CHAIRS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS ADVOCATES GROUP
The Secretary-General today is appointing Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley of Barbados and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada as the new Co-Chairs of the group of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocates.
The two Prime Ministers will work alongside our Sustainable Development Goals Advocates to support the Secretary-General in raising global ambition and action to keep the promise of the SDGs.
With the clock ticking and multiple crises driving us further off track, the Secretary-General said that we must do everything in our power to deliver these Goals. He added that he is pleased that Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will help lead advocacy to do just that.
The Secretary-General thanks the previous Co-Chairs of the group, President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and the former Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg. They have respectively led the group since 2016 and 2014 and will continue to stay engaged as Co-Chairs of the Advocates Emeritus Group, a group of alumni Advocates who continue to support the Sustainable Development Goals.

ETHIOPIA
In a statement, the Secretary-General welcomes the news that trucks with food assistance and fuel have reached Tigray and Afar following the declaration of the humanitarian truce.
The Secretary-General calls on all parties to keep the momentum and to follow through on their commitments to facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to all people in need. He reiterates his call for the restoration of public services in Tigray, including banking, electricity and telecommunications, as well as commercial access.   
We reiterate our unwavering commitment to support a peaceful and prosperous future for all Ethiopians.

SOMALIA
In a statement on Somalia, the Secretary-General welcomes the recent establishment of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS). He reiterates the unwavering commitment of the UN to Somalia and expresses his full support to ATMIS and the Somali security forces in their ongoing fight against Al-Shabaab.
The Secretary-General urges all partners to urgently ensure sustainable and predictable funding for ATMIS and resourcing of the Somali security forces in support of the country’s security transition. He looks forward to working closely with the African Union, Federal Government of Somalia and all partners to support a phased handover of security responsibilities to Somali security forces.
The Secretary-General pays tribute to the significant achievements of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) over the past 15 years. He expresses his gratitude to the AMISOM troop- and police-contributing countries for their commitment to advancing peace in Somalia, and honours those who paid the ultimate price.

UKRAINE
I have an update on Ukraine: Following his mission to Russia, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, is on his way to Ukraine, where he expects to meet senior Government officials to explore opportunities for humanitarian pauses.
Regarding funding, donors have provided an additional $50 million to support the critical humanitarian work in Ukraine. While 58 per cent of the $1.1 billion requested in the Humanitarian Flash Appeal has now been received, more funds will be required to help people whose lives have been overturned by the war.
On the ground, our humanitarian colleagues say more than 6 million men, women and children in Ukraine are struggling every day to access water, which an essential human need.
Damage to infrastructure has left more than 1.4 million people across the country without access to clean water, mostly in the oblasts of Luhanska and Donetska, but also in parts of Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernihiv and Mykolaiv. Another 4.6 million people have limited access to water or rely on unsafe sources, according to recent estimates from ourselves and our partners.
In the city of Lozova in Kharkiv, more than 60,000 people have been cut off from the water supply and another 40,000 from electricity since April 2nd, following damage to infrastructure due to intense fighting.
Over the last few days, we and our partners have received reports of increasing fighting, shelling and clashes in the Donbas region in the east, as well as in the southern oblasts of Ukraine.
Clashes continue to impact residential areas and damage key infrastructure, that is of course preventing people stranded in encircled cities from accessing vital supplies or safely evacuating. Lack of access prevents us from verifying these reports.
The fighting also is obstructing much-needed aid from reaching those most in need. Mariupol, Kherson, Mykolaiv, and areas of Luhanska and Donetska oblasts are the worst impacted areas.
In Mykolaiv, shelling reportedly damaged a children’s hospital, an orphanage and an oncology centre two days ago.

UKRAINE/BUCHA
On a related note, the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Alice Wairimu Nderitu, expressed her dismay and condemnation at the disturbing events at Bucha, which point to very serious signs of the possible commission of war crimes. The Special Adviser echoed messages by the Secretary-General and other UN officials for an immediate ceasefire and an effective and independent investigation leading to criminal accountability over the killing of civilians in this location.
At the same time, the Special Adviser warned about the impact of this crisis in other regions in Europe. Specifically, she called on all actors in positions of responsibility to strengthen efforts for prevention in the region of the Western Balkans, since the painful legacy of the past could be heightened by dynamics of deterioration associated with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.             

BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA
On that note, as Bosnia and Herzegovina marks 30 years since the siege of Sarajevo, the UN team is reiterating the importance of pursuing justice and reparation for the victims, survivors and their family members.
Lasting nearly four years, the siege was the longest since World War II, with more than 11,000 men and women and more than 1,600 children losing their lives in Sarajevo alone.
The Resident Coordinator for the UN in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ingrid Macdonald, has met with survivors’ associations across the country and continues to spotlight the importance of countering the denial of atrocity crimes and glorification of war criminals. She said that such rhetoric perpetuates the suffering of survivors and families of victims and has no place in a democratic society.
Ms. Macdonald reiterates her call for political leaders and authorities across the country to take measures to prevent and act upon all manifestations of hatred and discrimination, as well as to ensure that all people in Bosnia and Herzegovina live in an environment of mutual understanding, respect and dignity.

SAHEL
While we rightfully focus quite a bit of time on the situation in Ukraine and the humanitarian impact, I also want to continue underscoring the humanitarian needs in places in the world, notably in the Sahel, where our humanitarian colleagues report that needs across the region are at unprecedented levels due to escalating conflict, climate change, rising food insecurity and record-high food prices.
In total, more than 30 million men, women and children in the Sahel will need assistance and protection in 2022.
The war in Ukraine will worsen the suffering of Sahelians by further driving up food and fuel prices. Supply disruptions will trigger further price shocks as importing countries scramble for supplies in a tightening market. 
This year, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that more than 18 million people in the Sahel will face severe food insecurity between June and August. This is the highest caseload recorded since 2016.
Civilians caught between armed groups, intercommunal violence and military operations are often forced to flee their homes to seek safety. According to our humanitarian colleagues, more than 6 million people are uprooted across the Sahel. Large-scale displacement is straining weak social services and scarce natural resources.
Vital basic services, such as education and health, are badly impacted. Almost 6,000 schools are closed, according to UNICEF, and that is, of course, depriving millions of children of education, putting them at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Last year, humanitarian organizations raised $3 billion for the humanitarian response plan in the Sahel countries and reached over 28 million people. Funding levels, however, do not match increasing needs, and over the past five years, none of the UN-coordinated humanitarian response plans across the Sahel has been more than two-thirds funded.                                                                          
Six countries in the area – that is Cameroon, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad, and Nigeria – have developed Response Plans for this year, which call for $3.8 billion. Three months into the year, the region’s humanitarian requirements are only 10 per cent funded.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
We issued a statement yesterday afternoon in which the Secretary-General strongly condemned the attack by suspected members of the CODECO militia against peacekeepers serving in the UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The attack took place in Bali, in the province of Ituri, and resulted in the killing of one UN peacekeeper from Nepal.
The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the family of the fallen peacekeeper, as well as to the Government and the people of Nepal.
Staying in the country, yesterday, more than a week after clashes between the Congolese army and the M23 armed group in Rutshuru, four UN agencies – that’s OCHA, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – as well as NGOs were finally able to reach the town of Rutshuru to deliver food, non-food items and medicine.
However, our colleagues on the ground tell us that clashes broke out this morning, forcing a delay in the aid distribution. The distribution will start as soon as the security situation allows it.
As sporadic clashes continue, we, along with our humanitarian partners, call for unhindered access to affected areas to provide emergency response to thousands of people, whose situation could deteriorate further if assistance is delayed due to insecurity.

SOUTH SUDAN
From South Sudan, the UN Mission there commends the launch that took place yesterday of the National Consultative Process for the establishment of the Commission for Truth, Reconciliation and Healing. The UN Mission says it demonstrates a commitment to justice, accountability, reconciliation and healing.
Yesterday’s launch follows the decision taken on April 3rd by the signatories to the Revitalized Peace Agreement to unify the command structures of the security forces. 
We strongly encourage all parties to channel this renewed momentum towards completing the remaining benchmarks of the peace agreement. This Mission on the ground voices hope that this will help ensure that free and fair elections can be held on time, which is crucial given the resurgence of sub-national violence across South Sudan as well as growing humanitarian needs.

DJIBOUTI
In Djibouti, our team continues supporting authorities to respond to the pandemic and other challenges. 
The team distributed nearly 900,000 sets of personal protective equipment and 200,000 rapid tests. To date, nearly 150,000 persons have been received at least one dose, with 270,000 doses of vaccines landing through COVAX.
Our UN team also helped distribute food to over 100,000 vulnerable people in Djibouti, supporting authorities to address needs of 34,000 refugees and over 6,000 migrants via mobile patrols. Access to water was also improved in rural areas for 40,500 people, 240 tons of animal feed were distributed to over 2,400 pastoralists and 212 hectares of agricultural land were rehabilitated, benefiting 47,000 people.
In addition, 19,000 children were vaccinated against measles and polio and all the people diagnosed with tuberculosis were treated with a cure rate of 82 per cent. And early 150,000 people, or almost 15 percent of Djiboutians, benefited from indoor spraying as part of the fight against malaria.
The team was also able to channel 1 million metric tons of food to East African countries, by using Djibouti as a key logistic hub. That’s a 150 per cent increase from 2020 to 2021.

YEMEN
The Special Envoy for Yemen, Hans Grundberg, spoke to the press in Amman today and noted the start of the first nationwide Truce in Yemen for the past six years. He said that this is both a precious and a precarious moment and is a rare opportunity in a long and brutal war to make progress towards a political solution.
Since the start of the Truce, Mr. Grundberg said, we have seen significant reduction of violence. However, there are reports of some hostile military activities, particularly around Marib, which are concerning indee. The Special Envoy said that the UN is currently setting up a coordination mechanism with the parties to maintain open channels of communication and help in de-escalation.
He added that the Government of Yemen released two fuel ships on the eve of the Truce, Friday, as a much-welcomed sign of goodwill. Two more fuel ships were released today.
Meanwhile, he said, preparations are underway for the first commercial flight to take off from Sana’a. The Special Envoy’s office is also preparing for a meeting that convenes the parties to agree on the opening of roads in Taiz and elsewhere.

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SPORT FOR DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE
Today is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. This theme is “Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future for All: The Contribution of Sport.”
This morning, there was an event at Headquarters during which the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said that sport promotes respect and equality, and it also provides a platform for tackling global threats like climate change, with major sporting events and leagues, athletes and fans having the potential to be powerful advocates in this cause. She also said that the business of sport must show leadership by slashing its carbon footprint and promoting green and accessible solutions.

NOON BRIEFING GUEST TOMORROW
Tomorrow, David Gressly, the humanitarian envoy]for Yemen, will be the guest at the Noon Briefing.