FRIDAY, 10 JULY 2020

Today, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime released its World Wildlife Crime Report, which says that wildlife trafficking is not just a threat to biodiversity but also to human health. Many animals that are butchered and sold illegally have the potential for spreading diseases to people. The report shows that nearly 6,000 species have been seized over the past decade, including not only mammals but reptiles, corals, birds, and fish. No single country was identified as the source of more than 9 per cent of the total number of seized shipments. Meanwhile, the report identifies traffickers from 150 nationalities, showing that this is indeed a global issue. The report also notes that pangolins, which were identified as a potential source of the coronaviruses, continue to be the most trafficked wild mammal in the world. Demand for tiger products has also risen in recent years, as well as for tropical hardwood timber. The report also says that the sale of illegal wildlife products has shifted to online platforms and encrypted messaging apps as traffickers have found new ways to connect with potential buyers. 
Today, the High-Level Political Forum concluded its thematic review for the week. The two morning sessions addressed the “means of implementation to match the scope of the crisis and the breadth of our ambition for 2030.” Today was also the launch of the forthcoming week’s presentation of Voluntary National Reviews, which this year includes presentations by 47 countries. These reviews are voluntary and state-led. The afternoon session today will feature presentations from Armenia, Ecuador, Honduras, Kenya, Nigeria, Samoa and Slovenia. I also want to flag that on Monday at 9 a.m. there will be a virtual side event of the Secretary-General's Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent, where a report on the impact of COVID-19 on these groups will be launched. 
The UN remains extremely concerned about the SAFER oil tanker off the coast of Yemen, which as you know is carrying 1.1 million barrels of oil and is in poor condition. On 15 July, the Security Council is scheduled to hold a meeting on the issue. 
At the end of May, water reportedly entered the engine room of the tanker, which could have led to disaster. A temporary fix has been applied, but it is unclear how long this might last.  
The UN is encouraged that the local authorities recently signalled they would approve a UN mission to the site. The UN is following up with them now to confirm details. The UN hopes logistical arrangements will be quickly completed so this work can begin. The Organization stands ready to assist.  
The assessment mission will conduct feasible light repairs and will help to determine the appropriate next steps.  
The UN also acknowledges the helpful role of all Member States in working to resolve this critical issue. The UN appreciates Member States’ continued engagement and hope we are now moving towards a solution.  
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that that the first COVID-19 case in north-west Syria was confirmed yesterday. 
The patient had reportedly been isolating at the Bab Al-Hawa Hospital in northern Idlib Governorate since exhibiting symptoms on 5 July. Contact tracing was activated following positive results.  
While cases across Syria remain relatively low, the overall risk remains very high especially in areas such as the northwest where there are large displaced populations. 
Azerbaijan has nearly 22,000 cases of COVID-19, more than 13,500 recoveries, and more than 250 deaths. The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Ghulam Isaczai, is working with the Government’s task force on COVID-19, providing health and communications advice. The World Health Organization started a programme to temporarily bring Azerbaijani doctors living in Turkey back to Azerbaijan to boost capacity at local hospitals. WHO, the UN Development Programme, the UN Children’s Fund, and the UN Population Fund have distributed more than 100,000 items, including personal protective equipment, test kits, ventilators, thermometers, and disinfectant. The UN team has also been working closely with the Government on boosting risk communication capacities to ensure that the media is circulating verified information. 
The UN Mission in Mali is working with prison populations in the regions of Gao, Mopti and Timbuktu areas to raise awareness and help protect prisoners against the virus. The Mission has equipped detainees and prison staff with hand-washing kits, gloves and face masks. In total, around 530 prisoners will benefit, as well as the staff of their respective establishments. This contribution was made through the Nelson Mandela Project developed and implemented under the joint responsibility of the Department of Peace Operations and the UN Development Program.
In Darfur, the UN-AU Mission has distributed hygiene materials to internally displaced women and girls in Sortony. This includes 1,000 kits with sanitary items and jerry cans to be used as hand-washing stations. Working in partnership with the Sudan Social Development Organization, UNAMID continues to conduct awareness-raising activities in Central Darfur. The Mission has also helped transport blood samples from El Fasher to the Government’s health labs in Nyala, in south Darfur. 
The UN Mission in Kosovo continues to support women through economic empowerment activities. In the Mitrovica region, women helped sew thousands of face masks for vulnerable families. They also received extra supplies to enable them to engage in their own business ventures and secure their livelihoods. In total, the UN Mission has delivered 24,000 masks to five municipalities in northern Kosovo. 
Last month, the Secretary-General issued a statement in which he expressed his concern over the growing humanitarian and safety crisis facing seafarers due to COVID-19 restrictions. He called on countries to formally designate seafarers and other marine personnel “key workers” and to ensure crew changeovers can safely take place. 
Today that the International Labour Organization expressed its support for new measures to protect the rights of seafarers stranded at sea. The ILO welcomed a joint statement signed by more than a dozen countries that gives seafarers enhanced rights as key workers, allowing them to be repatriated and move more freely during the pandemic. More than 200,000 seafarers have been stranded at sea due to the virus, some of them for months because of restrictions on international travel and measures to contain the virus. 
In a statement released earlier today, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization otherwise known as UNESCO said that Hagia Sophia, which is part of the “Historic Areas of Istanbul,” is inscribed on the World Heritage List as a museum. UNESCO emphasized that this inscription entails a number of legal commitments and obligations. 
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, today warned of the crippling impact of the socio-economic crisis on Lebanon’s population. She urged the Government, political parties and the financial sector to work together to ensure the protection of the poorest and most vulnerable. She called on the country’s political parties and leaders to enact urgently needed reforms, and to prioritize the provision of essential needs such as food, electricity, health and education. She further called upon the international community to increase its assistance to the Government to support such efforts.
Tomorrow is World Population Day. In a message for the day, the Secretary-General noted that the COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone, everywhere, but it does not affect everyone equally. It is deepening existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, particularly for women and girls.
The Secretary-General said that with many countries on lockdown and health systems struggling to cope, sexual and reproductive health services are being sidelined and gender-based violence is on the rise. 
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) projects that if lockdown measures continue for six months with major disruptions to health services, 47 million women in low- and middle-income countries may not be able to access modern contraceptives, resulting in 7 million unintended pregnancies.  Some 31 million additional cases of gender-based violence can also be expected.
The Secretary-General noted that through international declarations and agreements, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, the international community has committed to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health care, eliminating the unmet need for contraception, and ending all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful practices, by 2030.  He stressed that we cannot allow the pandemic to reverse progress we have made towards these goals.
The guest will be Maximo Torero Cullen, the Assistant Director-General for the Economic and Social Development Department at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). He will brief on the launch of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 report.