The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener will travel to the region this week.
She will start off in Bangkok where she will meet with Thai authorities, United Nations regional officials and Ambassadors accredited to Myanmar who are in Bangkok.
In addition to Thailand, the Special Envoy is consulting on visits to other ASEAN countries as well as other neighbouring countries.
As she has highlighted repeatedly, a robust international response to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar requires a unified regional effort involving neighbouring countries who can leverage influence towards stability in Myanmar.
The Special Envoy will continue to support the important role of regional actors in facilitating stability and, ultimately, in finding an orderly and peaceful way out of this situation.
With support from the Security Council, Ms. Schraner Burgener will continue her efforts to visit Myanmar. She hopes that the Myanmar military will provide her access to the country and to detained leaders, including President U Wint Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
She, of course, stands ready to resume dialogue with the military and to contribute to a return to Myanmar’s democratic path, peace and stability. She is ready to visit Myanmar at any time.
Our colleagues on the ground say that they are alarmed by the humanitarian impact of escalating violence in north-eastern and south-eastern parts of the country in recent weeks.
In south-eastern Kayin State and Bago Region, thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes due to attacks by the Myanmar Armed Forces, including with the use of airstrikes, as well as due to clashes between the armed forces and the Karen National Union.
In the north-east of Myanmar, clashes have displaced 3,000 people since early March, while in northern Shan, fighting has forced more than 8,000 people from their homes since December of 2020.
The Security Council held a ministerial virtual debate on Mine Action this morning, the Secretary-General in his remarks, noted progress in the past years that have made significant expanses of land safe to use – from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Cambodia to Colombia.
But, he added, challenges have also intensified. Conflict has become more urbanized, armed groups are proliferating and the use of improvised explosive devices is increasing.
The Secretary-General pointed to three areas that require attention: He urged Member States to ensure that all peace operations have the capacity to operate in environments facing high explosive threats, and particularly improvised explosive devices. Peacekeepers must have the knowledge and the equipment they need to deliver on their mandates safely, he said.
Secondly, Mr. Guterres urged the Security Council to strengthen efforts to further integrate mine action into relevant resolutions, reporting and sanctions regimes. Finally, he called on those Member States that that have not yet acceded to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention to do so without delay.
We along with our partners are closely following with deep concern new reports of violations against civilians, including alleged beheadings and unverified reports of the use of child soldiers, during attacks by non-state armed groups and clashes in Cabo Delgado’s Palma District that have been going on since 24 March.
It is extremely difficult to verify information on these incidents at this time for us, but we are concerned about the situation of civilians who fled the violence and those who remain in Palma.
Nearly 12,800 people - 43 per cent of those 12,800 people are children - have arrived in the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba. Many more are expected to still be on the move in search of safety and assistance.
Humanitarian partners in Mozambique are assisting displaced people at the arrival points and scaling up the ongoing humanitarian response in Cabo Delgado. So far in 2021, more than 500,000 people in the province have received humanitarian assistance.
The United Nations calls on all parties to the conflict in Cabo Delgado to protect civilians.
The humanitarian community in Mozambique was already stretched prior to the Palma attacks, having responded to multiple climate emergencies, on top of conflict in Cabo Delgado, in the first months of 2021. Yet, the humanitarian appeal for the Cabo Delgado crisis is currently just 1 per cent funded. More resources are immediately required to meet the needs of people fleeing the violence in Palma.
The Secretary-General noted the announcement made by President Ouattara yesterday, in which he indicated that former President Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Blé Goudé are now "free to return to Côte d'Ivoire when they want".
The Secretary-General calls on all Ivorian stakeholders to build on the positive outcomes of the government-initiated dialogue to foster peace and national reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire.
Just to highlight the real impact of when the money no longer flows into our humanitarian appeals, the World Food Programme said today that, due to significant funding gaps, it is cutting food rations for refugees and internally displaced people in the country.
The cutbacks will affect nearly 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people, who will now receive 50 per cent of a full ration, down from 70 per cent.
WFP’s Country Director in South Sudan, Matthew Hollingworth, said it is a very painful decision to take from the hungry to give to the starving, but this is the reality.
The agency’s resources in South Sudan are stretched thin at a time when levels of food insecurity are at their highest in a decade and donors are grappling with the economic impact of COVID-19.
WFP immediately needs $125 million for its food assistance operations for the next six months to provide food in sufficient quantities.
More from the World Food Programme.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
The UN peacekeeping mission in the Central African Republic is telling us that the National Elections Authority announced that the next round of legislative elections, initially scheduled for 2 May, has been postponed until 23 May. This, they said, will give authorities more time for ongoing technical and operational preparations.
The Mission also indicated that based on the provisional results published on 21 March, the forthcoming legislative elections are likely to involve roughly 50 constituencies in Bangui and 12 of the 16 prefectures of the Central African Republic.
Moving on to Yemen, over 5,000 COVID-19 cases have now been confirmed since the start of the pandemic. This number has doubled in just one month, signaling an alarming and dangerous surge in the virus.
Fatalities are on the rise, with almost 1,000 deaths having been recorded so far. A third of those have been confirmed since mid-March.
We know that these figures greatly underestimate the country’s actual disease burden due to limited testing capacities and underreporting as well as challenges of access to any treatment.
Health partners are working hard to scale up support, including through enhanced surveillance, expanded testing and the provision of essential medicines and supplies. Efforts are underway to vaccinate priority groups, following the arrival of the first batch of doses that I reported on last week.
As of today, Yemen’s Humanitarian Response Plan, which is seeking $3.85 billion, is only 13 per cent funded.
Our team in India has been supporting authorities to safely reopen schools, and in some areas to continue remote education, with a focus on reaching children in marginalized and disadvantaged communities.
UNICEF has worked on e-learning and other programmes in 17 states, reaching nearly 60 million children, half of them girls. UNICEF helped to train 400,000 people working in early childhood education.
For its part, the UN Population Fund has reached more than 22,000 teachers and half a million students on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
The UN Refugee Agency helped more than 3,400 refugee children access education and provided nearly 3,000 education kits.
The Food and Agriculture Organization and the International Maritime Organization today announced that they have partnered with 30 countries to tackle marine litter and clean up the world’s oceans.
The GloLitter Partnerships Project will assist developing countries in identifying opportunities to prevent and reduce marine litter, including plastic, from the maritime transport and fisheries sectors. The project aims to decrease the use of plastics in these industries and identify opportunities to recycle plastics, to better protect our fragile marine environment, as well as lives and livelihoods, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.
Five regions will be represented: Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific.
Today, the FAO said that global food commodity prices rose in March, marking their tenth consecutive monthly increase. FAO noted that quotations for vegetable oils and dairy products led the rise. The Price Index was 2.1 per cent higher in March than in February. It reached its highest level since June 2014.
FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
The Secretary-General is encouraged by calls for the extension of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which has already provided US$5 billion in savings, which is helping vulnerable countries contribute to the pandemic response.
To truly enable a global recovery, the DSSI and Common Framework for Debt Treatment must also be expanded to include vulnerable middle-income countries, which face increasing debt risks.
In the same vein, he also wholeheartedly welcomes the calls for a general allocation of $650 billion in Special Drawing Rights, which will provide the liquidity needed, including to purchase and invest in vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics.
We call on the IMF to explore how to further support vulnerable low-income and middle-income countries in line with its mandate, and also for them to work with their members to continue exploring ways for voluntary post-allocation channeling of Special Drawing Rights to support members’ recovery efforts.
Since the very beginning of the crisis, and most recently during the Summits he co-hosted with the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Canada, the Secretary-General has been calling for a three-phased approach to the debt crisis: a debt standstill, targeted debt relief for the most vulnerable, and a reform of the international debt architecture.
INTERNATIONAL ROMA DAY
The Secretary-General sent a message today to the International Romani Union as it marked the 50th anniversary of its first Congress.
He said that the troubled human rights situation of Roma worldwide has long been a matter of serious concern to the United Nations. The United Nations, he said, is strongly committed to working together with Roma civil society and other partners in strengthening the protection of human rights and freedoms.
The Secretary-General said that we stand with all Roma who stand up to combat multiple forms of discrimination, including stereotyping and hate speech. We will continue to speak out against anti-Gypsyism and support efforts to secure the genuine inclusion of Roma in societies across the globe.
Today at 1:30 p.m., there will be a press encounter by the Co-chairs of the Group of Friends on Climate and Security – that is Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, of Germany; Ambassador Margo Dieye, Permanent Representative of Nauru; along with Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the United States. They will brief you from the Security Council stakeout area.
Tomorrow at 10 a.m., there will be a virtual briefing by the President of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Ambassador Munir Akram, will hold an end-of-term press briefing, entitled “Face to Face”, to discuss how ECOSOC can respond to the challenges of the pandemic.
Lastly, we are up to 87 fully paid-up Member States. So we say thank you to our friends in Greece, in Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation.