HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,​
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 8 OCTOBER 2020

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL/WOMEN, PEACE AND SECURITY ROUNDTABLE 
This morning, the Secretary-General took part in a roundtable discussion with women leaders on the topic of Women, Peace and Security in Peacekeeping contexts.  He reiterated that women’s full, equal and meaningful participation in achieving and sustaining peace is a priority for the UN, as well as a centerpiece of his Action for Peacekeeping initiative. 
The effectiveness of women's leadership has been particularly evident during the pandemic, Mr. Guterres added. Yet women are under siege, bearing disproportionate care and economic burdens and facing an alarming surge of violence in the home. 
Mr. Guterres pointed out that in situations of conflict, it is often women who are brokering peace at the community levels. However, he added, they continue to be actively sidelined once those processes move to the national and international levels.  
This must change, he said. The Secretary-General called on Governments, the UN system, Regional Organizations, Civil Society, and the wider international community to take bold actions to translate commitments into reality. 
We must prioritize women’s leadership, he said, invest in community-based women’s networks as equal partners and we must adopt feminist approaches to accelerate women’s full, equal and meaningful participation. 
Today women’s leadership is a cause.  Tomorrow, it must be a norm. 

KYRGYZSTAN 
The UN continue to be very concerned about the situation in the Kyrgyz Republic. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Asia, Natalia Gherman, has been following the situation very closely, and is in touch with senior Kyrgyzstani officials to explore ways in which the United Nations can assist the country in finding a peaceful resolution of the current situation.
The Resident Coordinator is also in touch with the authorities in Bishkek and until a negotiated solution is reached, we urge Kyrgyzstanis to uphold the rule of law in the country and continue to exercise restraint, and refrain from violence.

YEMEN 
The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is following with deep concern the recent military escalation in Hudaydah governorate and the reports of a number of casualties among the civilian population, including women and children. 
He said that the military escalation not only constitutes a violation of the Hudaydah ceasefire agreement but it runs against the spirit of the ongoing UN-facilitated negotiations that aim to achieve a nationwide ceasefire, humanitarian and economic measures and the resumption of the political process. 
Mr. Griffiths called on the sides to immediately stop the fighting, respect the commitments they made under the Stockholm agreement, and engage with the UN Mission in Hudaydah’s joint implementation mechanisms.

SYRIA 
In Syria, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) tells us that the Syria Humanitarian Fund (SHF) has released $40 million, its largest ever allocation, to enable life-saving assistance for 1.3 million people across the country. 
This includes support to families in under-served areas where humanitarian needs are particularly acute and worsening under the added strain of COVID-19. 
Announcing the record release from the Humanitarian Fund yesterday, the UN Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Imran Riza, said that the $40 million allocation will bolster healthcare systems, augment food security and livelihood opportunities, and enhance important protection services. 
Since its creation in 2014, the Fund has supported 65 humanitarian organizations in Syria.

MALI 
This morning at the Security Council, the head of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, said that peace is close at hand, but the ball remains in the court of the Malian people, the Malians. 
With the formation of a government and the lifting of sanctions, Mr. Annadif said he hoped for a rapid establishment of the National Transitional Council (CNT), which will be the country’s legislative body. 
He added that the organization of credible elections that can lead to a return to constitutional order will be based upon political, institutional, electoral and administrative reforms, as set out in the Transition Charter. 
From this point of view, he said, the transition constitutes an opportunity for Malians to get out of an infernal cycle punctuated by a succession of periodic coups. 
He reiterated the UN’s commitment to work with Malians and emphasized the importance of seizing this opportunity to end the crisis in the country and to support this important phase in coordination with the international community, in particular the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.  In a tweet earlier today, Mr. Annadif welcomed the release of Boubou Cissé, as well as other officials detained since August, describing this as another positive gesture towards a successful and peaceful transition.

COVID-19/BRAZIL 
In Brazil, the UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Niki Fabiancic, continues to work with authorities to flatten the curve and lift livelihoods.  
Near Brazil’s border with Venezuela, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is providing mobile health units for indigenous people and refugees and, together with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), is offering hundreds of free medical consultations every week.  
Also, in the Amazon, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) delivered 200,000 medical, protective and cleaning items to front-line health workers serving 80,000 indigenous people in more than 700 villages. UNICEF has also provided 15,000 Venezuelan migrants with cash and food.  
For its part, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) helped government and civil society to compile reliable data on the impact of COVID-19 on maternal health, highlighting the need for uninterrupted services for women of all ages.  
UN Women is working on a campaign to prevent violence against women, while also involving women in decision-making for the COVID-19 response.

COVID-19/STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION  
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) today issued new guidance on how to reduce stigma and discrimination in the context of the COVID-19. The guidance is based on the latest evidence on works to reduce HIV-related stigma and discrimination and applies it to COVID-19. 
UNAIDS notes that since the start of the pandemic, numerous forms of stigma and discrimination have been reported. These include xenophobia directed at people thought to be responsible for bringing COVID-19 into countries, attacks on health-care workers and verbal and physical abuse towards people who have recovered from COVID-19. 
According to UNAIDS, as with the HIV epidemic, stigma and discrimination can significantly undermine the response.

CARIBBEAN 
In the Caribbean, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that they are bolstering their presence in the region during the hurricane season. OCHA has now established a Humanitarian Advisory Team in Barbados that adds to the teams already in place in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, as well as a country office in Haiti. 
The new Advisory Team will play a key role in strengthening the response capacity in 10 countries and territories under the coverage of the Resident Coordinator’s Office in Barbados and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. The team will provide support for national disaster management organizations, facilitate rapid resource mobilization and promote information sharing between partners.

STILLBIRTHS 
Nearly 2 million babies are stillborn every year, or 1 every second. That’s according to the first ever stillbirth estimates in a new report by the UN Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 
The vast majority of stillbirths - 84 per cent - occur in low- and lower-middle-income countries. 
In 2019, 3 in 4 stillbirths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa or Southern Asia.  
The new report warns that the COVID-19 pandemic could worsen the global number of stillbirths. A 50 per cent reduction in health services due to the pandemic could cause nearly 200,000 additional stillbirths over a 12-month period in 117 low- and middle-income countries.

SPACE WEEK
Tomorrow, the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) is organizing a webinar on its KiboCUBE programme to mark this year’s World Space Week.
The KiboCUBE programme is a collaboration with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency and gives developing countries the opportunity to deploy a satellite from the Japanese module of the International Space Station free of cost. Kenya and Guatemala have already deployed their first satellites into orbit through KiboCUBE building their space technology skills and gaining access to data and imagery. 
In the webinar, past and current winners of KiboCUBE will discuss how the programme has helped them with access to space exploration. Other winners, such as Mauritius, Indonesia and Moldova, are set to deploy their satellites through KiboCUBE in the coming months and years.

FOOD PRICE INDEX 
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today said that the Food Price Index rose 2.1 per cent in September and is 5.0 per cent higher than its value in September 2019. The increase was led by vegetable oils and cereals.  
FAO Cereal Price Index rose 5.1 per cent from August and is now 13.6 per cent higher than last year, a year ago. The FAO Vegetable Price Index rose 6.0 per cent in September, hitting an eight-month high as quotations for palm, sunflower seed and soy oils all rose in step with firm global demand.