FRIDAY, 7 MAY 2021

I wanted to update you on the situation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, following the eruption of the Soufriere volcano: We have about 30 of our staff from seven different UN agencies there. They are supporting relief and recovery efforts on the ground in close collaboration with the Government, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency and other partners.
Along with earlier support for food assistance, water and sanitation, health and protection – including from violence against women and children – the UN team and our partners are providing support with reproductive health, shelter, education and protection of livelihoods, including livestock. 
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), for its part, is providing personal protective equipment and medical equipment to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, also with $250,000 delivered for water and sanitation supplies.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is rolling out a $300,000 crisis response and recovery effort to swiftly clean the volcanic ashes, with emergency employment for over 2,000 households.
With 20,000 people at risk of food insecurity, the World Food Programme (WFP) and partners continue to deliver immediate assistance. Three mobile storage units and two prefabricated offices are increasing the agency’s storage capacity. Around 90 per cent water flow capacity has been restored island-wide, in an effort led by the authorities, supported by the United Nations.

From Myanmar, the UN Country Team says today it remains deeply concerned about continued reports of violence used by the security forces against demonstrators. There are reports of death and injuries amongst demonstrators and bystanders on a daily basis.
Our team says that, according to the best available data, at least 774 women, children and men have been killed across Myanmar between 1 February and 6 May. The vast majority of those who were killed died of gunshots. The UN team is also concerned about the condition of 3,740 people who have been arbitrarily arrested and remain in detention.
Our colleagues in Myanmar said they are also concerned about the increasing reports of explosions and arson in different parts of the country.

In Madagascar, the desperate humanitarian situation continues in the Grand Sud part of the country, which is experiencing its most acute drought in four decades, and the situation is sadly deteriorating rapidly. More than 1.1 million people – about two out of every five people there – are severely food insecure.
The situation is expected to deteriorate in the months ahead.
Alarmingly, in Amboasary Atsimo district, about 75 per cent of the population is facing severe hunger, with nearly 14,000 people being catastrophically food insecure and in famine-like conditions.
The number of children admitted for treatment of life-threatening severe acute malnutrition in the first quarter of 2021 was four times higher than the five-year average.
The UN, together with our humanitarian partners, is scaling up the response, but more resources are urgently needed to save lives.
The Flash Appeal for Madagascar, launched in January, called for $76 million to support 1 million people, but is only 22 per cent funded so far. We urgently call on the international community to provide additional funding.

As you may have seen, the head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros, has just announced that the WHO has given Emergency Use Listing to Sinopharm Beijing’s COVID-19 vaccine. This brings the number of vaccines receiving WHO validation for safety, efficacy and quality to six.
Ghana today received its second batch of the vaccine from COVAX.
UNICEF helped to ensure the 350,000 doses arrived safely from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
More than 850,000 doses have been administered since March in Ghana. The UN team will help train health workers to administer the newly-arrived vaccine doses. We have also been helping with vaccinations on many other fronts, including logistics, operations, and communications.
Also, on COVAX, the Government of Honduras yesterday received nearly 190,000 doses through COVAX. These doses will allow all public and non-public health workers to be vaccinated.

From Papua New Guinea, where our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla, continues to step up their support to authorities to respond to the pandemic. As of yesterday, more than 4,000 people received their first dose of the vaccine. This effort includes the use of 132,000 COVAX-backed doses which arrived last month.
This week, the World Health Organization, the UN Children’s Fund and the Resident Coordinator’s Office backed the launch of the national communications campaign to boost vaccine uptake across the country. WHO and UNICEF also continue to support with logistics, training and case management, including with the forthcoming arrival of new equipment procured by the UN.
In addition, UNICEF and Gavi have handed more than 220 solar-powered vaccine fridges to authorities this week to help boost the country's cold chain capacity for the safe storage of vaccines and to increase coverage.