HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 6 AUGUST 2020
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, and the Secretary-General paid tribute to the victims in a video message to the annual Peace Memorial Ceremony.
He noted that the birth of the United Nations in that same fateful year of 1945 is forever intertwined with the death rained down on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Since its earliest days and resolutions, the Secretary-General said, the Organization has recognized the need to totally eliminate nuclear weapons, but that goal remains unachieved.
Seventy-five years is far too long not to have learned that the possession of nuclear weapons diminishes, rather than reinforces, security, he stressed.
The Secretary-General repeated his call for States to return to a common vision and path leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons.
In addition to the hibakusha, the survivors of the atomic bombing, he said that we should listen to the voices and ideas of young people in the cause of disarmament.
The Secretary-General also had a video message today to a dialogue on the UN’s 75th anniversary hosted by Hiroshima Prefecture.
In it, he said that this milestone is an important opportunity for us to take stock and consider how the UN can enhance its efforts across the organization to achieve its shared goals of peace, human rights and sustainable development.
The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator and Deputy Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Najat Rochdi, today said that the crisis following Tuesday’s explosion requires the support of all to surmount the devastating impact of the crisis on the Lebanese people and the country. Ms. Rochdi reiterated the Secretary-General’s commitment to supporting Lebanon at this difficult time.
Ms. Rochdi is releasing $9 Million from the Lebanese Humanitarian Fund, and the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock will release additional funding from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to address immediate needs and help strengthen the capacity of existing hospitals. This will include expanding and establishing additional Intensive Care Units (ICUs) where needed, and providing trauma kits, ventilators, medical supplies and medicine.
Health organizations have already initiated the procurement of medical equipment and supplies to support the emergency response. The World Health Organization (WHO) is providing assistance to cover 1,000 trauma interventions and 1,000 surgical interventions for people suffering from burns and wounds caused by glass and other debris resulting from the blast.
WHO reports that the blast has rendered inoperable three hospitals and two more have sustained substantial damage. The equivalent of 500 hospital beds have been lost due to damage.
Further assessments are underway in coordination with the Lebanese Ministry of Health to identify available capacity, material needs and operational gaps in the health sector. Health organizations have started to procure medical equipment and supplies.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is deploying SURGE teams including experts from the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) and UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) to assist with the emergency response.
With the Beirut Port inoperable, the UN and its partners are looking to adjust logistic networks to ensure sustained operations. Humanitarian materials will likely be redirected through the Tripoli Port. The change may have adverse consequences for some supply chains, as Tripoli Port has a lower capacity than Beirut Port. Beirut International Airport remains open for passenger and cargo flights.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) reports that it is continuing its assessment of the Maritime Task Force ship that was damaged in the explosions in Beirut on Tuesday. Mission leadership today visited the ship at the Beirut Port. Mission leadership also visited injured peacekeepers from Bangladesh in hospitals in the capital and in Saida. In the aftermath of the explosions, a total of 23 UNIFIL peacekeepers from Bangladesh had been admitted to hospitals, of whom 18 have been discharged. Two peacekeepers remain in critical but stable condition.
The UN Mission continues to engage with Lebanese authorities and reiterates its offer to support the authorities and the people of Lebanon in dealing with the aftermath.
This morning, during a Security Council session on the linkages between terrorism and organized crime, the head of the UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Ghada Waly, said that the COVID-19 crisis poses a host of new challenges to national authorities.
Comprehensive and cooperative responses are needed more than ever, she said, as organized criminal groups and terrorists may seek to capitalize on and exploit new vulnerabilities.
Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, added that terrorists are exploiting the significant disruption and economic hardships caused by COVID-19 to spread fear, hate and division and radicalize and recruit new followers. The increase in internet usage and cybercrime during the pandemic further compounds the problem.
Both speakers highlighted the support of the UN to assist Member States in implementing measures such as anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism, strengthening border security and more.
Under-Secretary-General Voronkov concluded with a call to continue our fight against terrorist groups and criminal networks to deny them the opportunity to exploit the COVID-19 crisis.
In South Sudan, the UN Mission (UNMISS) recently trained 70 young people from Bentiu in advanced computer skills to address the economic impact of the pandemic in the Unity region. The training aimed to help these young people find jobs and become economically secure.
UN peacekeepers also donated computers and printers to the youth centre in Bentiu.
In Kosovo, the UN Mission (UNMIK) supported youth cycling volunteers who delivered more than 600 reusable masks to 200 vulnerable families, and more than 1,000 posters with COVID-19 awareness information. The activity was organized by a multi-ethnic network of young peacebuilders.
The UN Mission is supporting this initiative and others that aim to build bridges between communities in raising awareness in the fight against COVID-19.
In Sudan, our humanitarian colleagues say that intensified heavy rains there have caused ﬂooding and landslides and have destroyed infrastructure, houses and livelihoods.
More than 50,000 people have been affected, with South Darfur, West Kordofan and El Gezira being the hardest hit states.
These storms are hampering the production of crops and increasing the risk of disease outbreaks, hampering the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thousands of people have been displaced following the collapse of a dam that reached full capacity last week.
The UN and our partners are supporting the Government-led response efforts and are providing aid to those who lost their homes and livelihoods. Flights carrying emergency supplies have reached Blue Nile state, where roads are impassable, and food, medicine and other supplies have been distributed in affected areas.
In Bhutan, where there have been more than 100 COVID-19 cases but no deaths, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Gerald Daly, has been working closely with authorities on a health and socioeconomic response to the pandemic.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are providing protective, laboratory, medical and cleaning equipment to boost testing and treatment capacity, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is training reproductive and maternal health workers. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is providing information technology support and equipment for contact tracing and monitoring in border areas.
The UN is also mobilizing more than $9 million to help mitigate the impact of the crisis on the economy, particularly the tourism sector, and to help the agriculture sector and people displaced by the pandemic.
UNICEF is also training hundreds of young volunteers on infection prevention and, together with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), is providing learning materials and support to the national school reopening plan.
The World Food Programme (WFP) launched its humanitarian air service today to help the countries and territories of the Pacific Islands.
The first flight, from Nadi in Fiji to Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea, delivered 44 cubic metres of medical supplies – including ventilators and masks – for Papua New Guinea’s response to COVID-19.
The supplies were transported on behalf of the Pacific Islands Forum, in support of the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway on COVID-19, which is a regional coordination platform established by the 18 countries of the Pacific Islands Forum to facilitate timely and rapid movement of medical and humanitarian assistance across the region.
The closure of airports and grounding of aircraft due to COVID-19 has dramatically reduced commercial air services, placing stress on the region’s supply chains and making it increasingly challenging for humanitarian and health organizations to get vital supplies and personnel to where they are needed most.
COVID-19/LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) today said that the region’s foreign trade will experience a sharp drop of 23% in 2020 as a result of the economic effects arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The fall will exceed the 21% decline recorded during the 2009 financial crisis.
This decline is taking place in a global context in which international trade accumulated a 17% drop in volume between January and May 2020. Latin America and the Caribbean is the developing region most affected by this situation, and it will be marked mainly by reduced shipments of manufactured goods, minerals and fuel.
FOOD PRICE INDEX
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today that food prices continued rising for the second consecutive month in July, led by vegetable oils and dairy products.
The FAO’s Food Price Index averaged 94.2 points in July, a 1.2 percent increase from June and nearly 1.0 percent higher than July 2019.
UNITED AGAINST RACISM
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today released the advocacy video entitled “United Against Racism.” In the video, leading personalities from all over the world have joined UNESCO in denouncing mounting racial discrimination.
The black and white film features messages by prominent women and men from the worlds of cinema, media, music, sport and science alongside UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay.
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENT
Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Hannan Sulieman of Sudan as the Deputy Executive Director, Management for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). This will be at the Assistant Secretary-General level.
Ms. Sulieman has spent 27 years with UNICEF. Most recently, she served as Acting Deputy Executive Director, Management where her expertise in management, operations, and policy have ensured optimal performance of several UNICEF divisions. She previously served as Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of the Executive Director (2016-2019).