HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 6 MAY 2021
The Secretary-General welcomes the United States government’s unprecedented support for the waiver of intellectual property protections regarding Covid-19 vaccines.
It opens the opportunity for vaccine producers to share the knowledge and technology that will allow the effective expansion of locally-produced vaccines and can significantly increase the supply to the COVAX facility. We must also ensure that countries have the materials required to produce these vaccines.
We are all agreed: none of us will be safe from the virus until all of us are safe.
The Secretary-General this morning paid tribute to the United Nations personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty over the course of last year.
He said that the year 2020 was like no other in the history of the UN. The world faced a merciless pandemic that continues to sow tremendous suffering. He added that in view of the magnitude of the pandemic and its extraordinary impact, this memorial service also honours all colleagues who passed away from the illness last year.
As a result, he said, this year’s memorial service paid tribute to the highest number of colleagues lost in a single year - honouring 336 of our colleagues.
Mr. Guterres said that the staff honoured today embodied the essence of multilateralism -- people around the globe joining forces to build a better world.
This morning, he also spoke at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue. In his remarks, Mr. Guterres warned that under current commitments, we are still heading for a temperature rise of 2.4 degrees by the end of the century, but added that if we work together, we can avert the worst impacts of climate disruption, and use the recovery from the pandemic to steer us to a cleaner, greener path.
“The bottom line” he added, “is that, by 2030, we must cut global emissions by 45 per cent compared to 2010 levels to get to net zero emissions by 2050.”
The Secretary-General said the success of COP26 rests on achieving a breakthrough on adaptation and finance. He underscored that the forthcoming G7 Summit is a pivotal moment and called on the leaders of the G7 to take the lead, with other developed countries following, to make substantial climate financial pledges in the coming five years.
And we all have a small and narrowing window of opportunity to do the right thing,” he said.
The humanitarian situation in Yemen is falling off a cliff, with more than 20 million Yemenis needing humanitarian assistance.
This includes more than 16 million men, women and children, who are going hungry this year. Tens of thousands of people are already living in famine-like conditions, with five million just one step away.
COVID infections have been surging, with hospitals and health facilities reportedly turning away patients due to lack of resources to treat them.
Fighting has been escalating, especially in Marib, where an offensive by Houthi forces has so far displaced nearly 20,000 people and threatens the safety of millions.
The rainy season is also getting under way, with floods in recent days impacting more than 22,000 people – most of whom were already displaced and living in inadequate shelters.
Aid agencies need $3.85 billion to hold back a massive famine, respond to the COVID surge and meet other critical needs this year. To date, the response is only 34 per cent funded.
The aid operation in Yemen used to help nearly 14 million people per month. That’s now down to about 10 million people a month, mainly due to funding cuts.
The UN has just released today $65 million for the humanitarian response in Ethiopia. The amount is made up of $45 million from the UN-managed Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund and $20 million from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
The funding comes as the security situation in Tigray remains volatile, aid workers are unable to reach all those in need, and COVID-19 cases have been reported among displaced people in Mekelle.
A total of $40 million will be dedicated to the aid operation in Tigray, where it will fund emergency shelter, clean water and health care facilities. It will also fund work to prevent and respond to cases of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as emergency telecommunications to support the humanitarian operations.
The remaining $25 million will fund humanitarian operations in the rest of Ethiopia, including in response to drought in the Somali and Oromia regions.
According to Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 16 million people need humanitarian assistance throughout Ethiopia, including four and a half million in Tigray alone.
The UN team in Myanmar remains deeply concerned over the continued use of force against children, including use of live ammunition.
The UN team again calls on security forces to refrain from violence and to keep children and young people out of harm’s way.
According to UNICEF, as of today, at least 53 children have reportedly been killed in the violence since February 1st. Many more children have been injured.
In India, the UN team on the ground continues to support the authorities – both nationally and locally – to tackle the pandemic.
UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the UN Population Fund have delivered nearly 10,000 oxygen concentrators, nearly 10 million medical masks and more than 1.5 million face shields. The UN team has also purchased ventilators and oxygen-generating plants.
UNICEF is also providing cold chain equipment for COVID-19 vaccines. Our team has also delivered testing machines and kits, as well as airport thermal scanners.
Also, WHO is providing tents and beds for temporary health facilities and, as we told you last week, the agency has deployed thousands of public health specialists to help address the pandemic.
UNICEF and the UN Development Programme are also helping to monitor more than 175,000 vaccination centres across India.
Tor Wennesland, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said that he was deeply concerned by the surge in tensions and violence in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan.
Mr. Wennesland reiterated that the Israeli security forces must exercise maximum restraint and use lethal force only when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life. Perpetrators of violence on all sides must be held accountable and swiftly brought to justice.
He added that the latest developments related to the eviction of Palestine refugee families in Sheikh Jarrah and other neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem are also very worrying. He urged Israel to cease demolitions and evictions, in line with its obligations under international humanitarian law.
A new report released today by the Climate and Clean Air Coalition and the UN Environment Programme shows that human-caused methane emissions can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade. The reduction would avoid nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045 and would be consistent with keeping with the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.
Methane accounts for nearly one-fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Most human-caused methane emissions come from three sectors: fossil fuels, waste, and agriculture. Because methane is a key ingredient in the formation of ground-level ozone, otherwise known as smog, a 45 per cent reduction in this gas would prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat, and 25 million tonnes of crop losses annually.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization today said that the international food commodity prices rose for the 11th consecutive month in April, with sugar leading the increase and cereals resuming their upward trend.
The FAO Food Price Index was up 1.7 per cent higher than March and 30.8 per cent higher than its level in the same month last year. The index reached its highest level since May 2014.