Our colleagues in Myanmar have been expressing their strong concern at today’s reported use of force by security forces against demonstrators.
The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Ola Almgren, called on the security forces to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
He stressed that the use of disproportionate force against demonstrators is unacceptable.
Mr. Almgren also reiterated the Secretary-General’s recent statement in which he urged the military leadership to respect the will of the people of Myanmar and adhere to democratic norms, with any differences to be resolved through peaceful dialogue.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Myanmar today expressed its deep concern at the impact of the ongoing crisis on the wellbeing of children. UNICEF also reminds all parties of their obligations to uphold children’s rights as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Myanmar is a State Party, and under the Myanmar Child Rights Law enacted in July 2019.
In the context of ongoing demonstrations and current events, UNICEF calls on all parties, including security forces, to exercise the utmost restraint, to resolve differences through constructive and peaceful means, and to prioritize the protection and safety of children as they express their opinions.
Geir Pedersen, the Special Envoy for Syria, briefed the Security Council in its closed consultations today about his diplomatic efforts.
You’ll recall that he had convened the fifth session of the drafting body of the Syrian Constitutional Committee two weeks ago. In his remarks at the close of that meeting, Mr. Pedersen said that the session had been a disappointment and that we cannot continue like this.
On the humanitarian situation, I can tell you that we remain concerned about the situation of almost 62,000 people living at Al Hol camp in Syria, 93 per cent of whom are women and children, including more than 31,000 children under the age of 12.
We and our humanitarian partners continue to provide comprehensive and lifesaving assistance at Al Hol, including through food, clean drinking water, health facilities, shelter, and a range of other services.
To help protect families against cold winter temperatures, close to 4,000 tents have been replaced, and essential items distributed, including heating fuel, blankets and winter clothes.
The UN stresses the need for full and regular humanitarian access to the camp so that all residents continue to receive essential assistance.
We also emphasize that durable solutions for all residents are needed. Any returns must be voluntary, safe, and dignified, as well as fully informed.
You will have seen that we issued a statement yesterday afternoon in which Antonio Guterres commended the announcement by the President of Colombia, Iván Duque, that the Government of Colombia will provide temporary protection to the 1.7 million Venezuelans living in that country. This will allow approximately a third of the 5 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the region to access services and contribute to the Colombian economy.
The Secretary-General noted that the inclusion of Venezuelan refugees and migrants will contribute to the pandemic recovery process and enable Venezuelans in Colombia to access the country’s health and other basic services.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Migration Agency (IOM) also welcomed the announcement and said that they and their partners stand ready to contribute with their technical expertise, field presence, logistical capacity and resources to support the roll-out of this very important initiative.
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY FOR ALL
This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke by a pre-recorded video message to the Sustainable Energy for All Youth Summit.
She said that young people have a critical role to play in building the global coalition for carbon neutrality by 2050.
Young people understand the links between sustainable development and climate justice, she said, and have risen to the forefront as advocates and innovators in bringing sustainable energy solutions to homes, communities and countries.
Ms. Mohammed stressed that, as we recover from the impact of the pandemic, it is important that we recover better with sustainable energy for all.
She encouraged youth to actively shape the events taking place this year, such as the General Assembly Debate and COP26, to help the UN reach the future we want.
As we told you earlier, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Ramesh Rajasingham, is in Burkina Faso this week. Today, he visited the area of Djibo, in the country’s north.
Also, today, in Ouagadougou, he met with government and donor representatives and launched the country’s 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan, which appeals for $607 million to help 2.9 million people. This is a 43 per cent increase in cost compared to the amount sought in the middle of last year.
More people are being targeted – 61 per cent more than January of last year. This also takes into account the increasing unit costs of delivering aid, including due to COVID-19 related measures.
As we have said, Burkina Faso is experiencing the world’s fastest-growing displacement crisis. More than one million people have fled their homes over the past two years. As of January, more than 2 million people – about 10 per cent of Burkina Faso’s population – were struggling to feed themselves.
Vital basic services, particularly education and health, have been disrupted. Almost 2,400 schools are closed in affected areas, depriving 350,000 children of education. Close to one million people have no access to medical care.
Despite these challenges, the humanitarian community in Burkina Faso continues to scale-up assistance. Aid deliveries have tripled since 2019.
Tomorrow, the Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator will go to Kaya, in the Center North of Burkina Faso.
On South Sudan, the head of the UN Mission in the country, David Shearer, said that the implementation of the peace agreement has been far too slow. This is partly due to an increase in violence.
The UN Mission is helping communities - including young people and church leaders - to hold reconciliation meetings to look at the root causes of conflict.
The Mission has also increased patrols to potential hotspots and this week will deploy peacekeepers to seven temporary operating bases across the country.
Mr. Shearer said that that Protection of Civilians sites in Bor, Wau and Juba have successfully transitioned to conventional IDP camps under the Government’s responsibility.
UN engineers are building and improving 3,200 kilometers of roads across the country to help increase communication among regions, increase trade and jobs, and create opportunities to build peace.
Our colleagues in the peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) continue to support the Lebanese authorities in their fight against COVID-19.
Recently, UNIFIL provided personal protective equipment, PPE, and other medical supplies to communities in Tyre, Bint Jbeil and Marjayoun in Southern Lebanon. Peacekeepers also donated generators to the Lebanese Armed Forces and three laryngoscopy video systems to public hospitals.
In Bolivia, our team there, led by Resident Coordinator Susana Sottoli, has been supporting the Government to ensure its participation in the COVAX facility. Bolivia expects to receive a shipment of nearly 1 million vaccine doses in the next few weeks. To make this happen, the UN team helped the country prepare its cold chain capacity, purchase vaccines and plan their safe distribution. This effort will target healthcare workers first, as well as the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
The team and authorities are also boosting communications efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while backing the UN’s “Verified” initiative to curb the spread of the so-called “infodemic.”
The UN team has so far repurposed $31 million of its existing funding to address the social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
We are delighted to thank our friends in Vienna, Sarajevo and Warsaw for their payments in full.
Because of Austria’s, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s and Poland’s payments, we have now reached last year’s Honour Roll total of 35.