HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 11 MARCH 2022
The humanitarian situation in Ukraine continues to be deeply concerning and shows the human cost of this war and the human suffering. As I mentioned yesterday, the UN Refugee Agency estimates that 1.9 million people have been internally displaced. Most of them are in the west and north-west with about 500,000 displaced people in Zakarpatska, 387,000 in Lvivska and about 170,000 in Volynska.
The UN Refugee Agency also said that there are now more than 2.5 million women children and men, mostly women and children, who have crossed international borders out of Ukraine.
For its part, WHO said that since 24 February, there have been 29 attacks impacting health facilities, health care workers and ambulances. WHO stressed that medical facilities, medical personnel and medical transport must always be respected in war.
We also have reports, from the UN Children’s Fund, that leads the water, sanitation and hygiene work of the humanitarians, that in the east, about 650,000 people in Donetska oblast and about 40,000 people in Luhanska oblast do not have access to water. In Mariupol and Donetska, safe drinking water is urgently needed.
For its part, the World Food Programme said that 2,000 people have received value vouchers and that it will scale up this distribution to reach more people in areas where markets and systems are functioning. In Kharkiv, a WFP-contracted bakery is increasing its production line with a daily target of 30,000 loaves of bread, and that will benefit about 60,000 people.
On funding, as of today, the Ukraine Flash Appeal, whichs is asking for $1.1 billion, has received $129 million. It is 11 per cent funded.
Today, the UN food agencies in Rome issued reports showing the implications of the conflict on food security around the world. The World Food Programme is warning that the costs of its global operations look set to increase by $29 million a month. When added to pre-existing increases of $42 million since 2019, the total additional costs WFP is facing is $71 million per month.
This could spell disaster for millions, as WFP had already warned that 2022 would be a year of catastrophic hunger, with 44 million people in 38 countries teetering on the edge of famine.
For its part, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization warns that supply chain and logistical disruptions on Ukrainian and Russian grain and oilseed production, as well as restrictions on Russia’s exports, will have significant food security repercussions. FAO said that this is especially true for some fifty countries that depend on Russia and Ukraine for 30 per cent or more of their wheat supply.
The Director-General of the FAO, Qu Dongyu, noted that food prices, already on the rise since the second half of 2020, reached an all-time high in February of this year, due to high demand, input and transportation costs, and port disruptions. He warned that likely disruptions to agricultural activities of these two major exporters of staple commodities could seriously escalate food insecurity globally, when international food prices are already very volatile.
The Security Council held an open meeting on Ukraine. Briefing Council members was the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, and she said that the UN is not aware of any biological weapons programmes in Ukraine. Ms. Nakamitsu noted that this is largely thanks to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, to which both the Russian Federation and Ukraine are States Parties. Ms. Nakamitsu said that situations such as this demonstrate the need to further strengthen the Biological Weapons Convention, to operationalize it and to institutionalize it. She also addressed the worrying issue of the safety and security of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Both her remarks and the remarks of Rosemary Di Carlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Peacebuilding and Political Affairs have been distributed to you.
Ms. Di Carlo noted that the war in Ukraine is now in its third week and fighting continues unabated.
She said that the Russian armed forces are pursuing their offensive operations and laying siege to several cities in the south, east and north of the country.
Ms. DiCarlo stressed that all alleged violations of international humanitarian law must be investigated and those found responsible should be held accountable.
She added that the Secretary-General is grateful to the many Member States that are working towards a diplomatic solution to this dangerous conflict and that he is in regular contact with regional and other leaders.
The Secretary-General said in a statement that we issued early this morning to mark the end of the 11th year of the Syrian conflict and he said that the destruction that Syrians have endured is so extensive and deadly that it has few equals in modern history. There must be no impunity, he said.
Mr. Guterres added that we must not lose hope and we must act now. The Secretary-General said that we must show the courage and determination to move beyond rhetorical commitments to peace and to do all that is necessary to reach a negotiated political solution in line with Security Council resolution 2254 (2015). At the same time, he added, we must ensure greater humanitarian access to address the needs of people throughout the country.
The Secretary-General emphasized that we cannot fail the Syrian people. He called on all parties to meaningfully engage in the UN-facilitated political process and appeal for further support to scale up the humanitarian response. We must choose peace, he said in the message.
This weekend, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will travel to Beirut, Lebanon, to attend the Arab Regional Forum for Sustainable Development. She will also meet with UNRegional Directors and Resident Coordinators in the region, as well as senior officials and other stakeholders, to discuss strategies and programmes that can help countries accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. In addition, she will meet with women and youth as well as UN Staff affected by the explosion in the port in August of 2020.
The Deputy Secretary-General will then go on to Paris on 17 and 18 March to engage with Permanent Delegates to UNESCO, UNESCO leadership and senior Government officials on the Secretary-General’s 2022 Transforming Education Summit. That summit is supposed to take place in September.
The first week of bilateral consultations with various Yemeni stakeholders concluded yesterday. Leaders from major Yemeni parties met with the Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Hans Grundberg, to discuss ideas for his Framework, including a multi-track process, that aims to chart a path towards a sustainable political settlement to the conflict in Yemen.
All participants welcomed the consultations and expressed support for Mr. Grundberg’s efforts.
Some of the key points raised during the first week focused on the need to address the plight and common challenges facing all Yemenis, including the humanitarian situation and alarming living conditions of civilians across the country and the need to address a fractured economy.
Mr. Grundberg will continue his planned bilateral consultations with other parties and stakeholders in the coming weeks.
In northern Ethiopia, the humanitarian situation continues to be of extreme concern.
Humanitarian needs are growing as fighting continues in Afar’s Kilbeti Zone and sporadic clashes are reported in Amhara, near the boundary with Tigray.
In Afar, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have reportedly been displaced since late last year, but the fighting continues to limit access to many areas, and we have not been able to verify exact numbers.
In Amhara, people continue to flee to the Kobo, Zekuala, Sekota, and Zarima districts. Authorities estimate that Kobo now hosts over 53,000 displaced people.
We and our NGO partners continue to provide assistance in Amhara and Afar where security allows.
In Amhara, we, the Government and local NGO partners provided food to more than 588,000 people in the past week, bringing the total number of people we have helped to 7.4 million since late December.
In Afar, in the past week, 87,000 people received food assistance in the conflict-affected Kilbeti Zone. We hope to reach some 620,000 men, women and children with food across Afar in the coming weeks.
In Tigray, deliveries of aid and fuel by road remain suspended, with humanitarian organizations significantly reducing or suspending operations.
In the past week, only an extremely small fraction of the 870,000 people meant to receive assistance – some 34,000 people - received food assistance. This includes 23,000 refugees from Eritrea.
On a more positive note, medical and nutrition supplies continue to be flown into Tigray’s capital, Mekelle, with about 100 tonnes of supplies arriving in recent days. But this remains far less than can be transported by a single convoy of trucks, of course. In addition, the lack of fuel affects the delivery of supplies from Mekelle to other parts of Tigray.
In Mozambique, Tropical Cyclone Gombe made landfall in Nampula Province today. According to estimates from national authorities, it has the potential to impact more than 584,000 people, almost 700 health centres and over 7,000 schools.
We are especially concerned about the 1.4 million people living in high-risk areas that will be exposed to the cyclone for four consecutive days.
We are in close contact with authorities to provide immediate support and humanitarian assistance.
This new crisis comes in addition to the impact of Storm Ana, which hit the country in January, and the ongoing complex crisis in Cabo Delgado that has displaced 730,000 people.
Mozambique needs $400 million for the humanitarian response to the crisis in the north and Cyclone Gombe will bring in additional pressure on humanitarian needs as well as on the country’s economy.
And in Malawi, the UN team there, led by acting Resident Coordinator Shigeki Komatsubara, tells us that it continues to support the Government to contain the recent polio outbreak.
Malawi confirmed its first polio case in 30 years on February 16th, and this was also the first polio case in Africa in more than five years. So far, there has been no further spread of the disease in Malawi, thanks to swift and concerted efforts by national authorities, supported by WHO and UNICEF.
A communication campaign on polio prevention was rolled out immediately, while we backed a rapid response team that has been helping on coordination, surveillance, data management, communications and operations. The two UN agencies are supporting several rounds of mass immunizations against polio, with the first round set to begin on March 21st.
The Secretary-General spoke today by phone with the Foreign Minister of Egypt and the President Designate of COP27, Sameh Shoukry. The Secretary-General offered the support of the UN system to work closely with the COP27 Presidency on key priority areas to deliver ambitious and concrete outcomes, in light of the worsening climate crisis. The Secretary-General stressed the importance of much deeper and faster emission cuts, especially from G20 countries, as well as vastly improved outcomes on adaptation, in particular a doubling of finance for adaptation as a starting point, until reaching the 50 per cent mark of total climate finance.
Mr. Guterres and Minister Shoukry agreed on continued collaboration during this year, in the lead up to COP27, which, as you will recall, will take place in Sharm-el-Sheikh, in Egypt.
Nigeria and Greece have paid their regular budget dues in full.