HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
TUESDAY, 12 JANUARY 2021
SECRETARY-GENERAL VIRTUAL VISIT TO UNITED KINGDOM
The Secretary-General is wrapping up his first virtual visit to the United Kingdom today.
In a few minutes, he will be meeting with Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales. The meeting is expected to focus on the issue of climate change.
This morning, the Secretary-General also had bilateral meetings with Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of State at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, as well as with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby, who is also a member of the SG’s High-Level Advisory Board on Mediation.
And, yesterday, during their meeting, the Secretary-General thanked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his country’s support to the United Nations, as well as for the UK’s political and financial leadership in the fight against the pandemic.
Earlier this week, the lawn situated at the front of Queen Elizabeth II Centre, in Westminster, was renamed United Nations Green in commemoration of the 75th anniversary.
This morning, the Security Council held a ministerial-level meeting to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Counter-terrorism Committee, established through resolution 1373.
Vladimir Voronkov, the head of the Counter-terrorism office, began his remarks by noting how quickly the Security Council acted to establish the committee in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
Throughout the last two decades, he said, the threat of terrorism has persisted, evolved and spread, causing unspeakable human suffering and loss. Over the years, he added, the Council has provided critical impetus and guidance for Member States, which has led to important successes, helping Member States to bring terrorists to justice and disrupt additional attacks.
Mr. Voronkov said the Security Council’s leadership remains critical to ensure a unified front against terrorism, adding it is essential to reinvigorate international counter-terrorism cooperation during and after the pandemic, with a focus on emerging threats and challenges.
Also speaking at this session was Michèle Coninsx, the Executive Director of the Counter Terrorism Executive Directorate. She said that the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated an already challenging threat landscape.
She added we must ensure that future counter-terrorism policies respect the rule of law and are both human rights-compliant and gender sensitive.
The U.N. continues to be extremely concerned about the potential impact of the US designation of the Houthis as a foreign terrorist organization on the humanitarian situation in Yemen – particularly on the risk of famine.
Yemen remains the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Nearly 80 per cent of the population - more than 24 million people - require some form of humanitarian assistance and protection. The situation on the ground continues to worsen as 50,000 Yemenis are already living in famine-like conditions with five million more just one step away.
Preventing famine remains the top priority right now. To do so, we need to increase humanitarian funding, support the economy, and push for an end to the violence.
By the end of 2020, Yemen’s 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan had only received 50 per cent of the $3.38 billion needed for the aid operations, meaning they only received $1.7 billion of the $3.38 billion needed. That’s less than half of what had been received in 2019.
The Libyan Political Dialogue Forum’s Advisory Committee will be meeting this week at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, from the 13th to the 16th of January.
The Committee was recently established to discuss outstanding issues related to the selection mechanism of a unified executive and to put forward concrete and practical recommendations upon which the Political Dialogue Forum’s plenary shall decide.
The 18 members of the Committee represent a broad geographical and political diversity and includes the participation of women, youth and cultural components.
The first meeting will begin tomorrow morning with opening remarks by the Acting Special Representative, Stephanie Williams.
In South Sudan, the latest report on children and armed conflict found that there has been a significant decrease in violations against children since the peace agreement was signed in 2018.
However, the report says that grave violations continue to be committed against children by all parties to the conflict.
The UN has verified more than 700 grave violations against children across South Sudan, with the Central Equatoria state being the most impacted region. The majority of violations are attributed to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-in-Opposition, the SPLA-iO and Government security forces, including the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces.
The World Food Programme is warning that three years of consecutive drought in Madagascar, coupled with a sharp recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, will leave a third of the population in Madagascar’s south struggling to put food on the table.
Some 1.35 million people – or 35 per cent of the region’s population – are projected to be food insecure. This is nearly double the number of people in the same period last year.
WFP currently provides food assistance to nearly half a million severely food-insecure people in the nine hardest hit districts in Southern Madagascar. By June of this year, the agency intends to scale up its assistance to reach almost 900,000 of the most vulnerable people.
WFP urgently needs $35 million.
EBOLA VACCINE STOCKPILE
Today, WHO, UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) announced the establishment of a global Ebola vaccine stockpile.
This will allow countries, with the support of humanitarian organizations, to contain future Ebola epidemics by ensuring timely access to vaccines for populations at risk [during] outbreaks.
Ebola vaccines have made one of the most feared diseases on earth preventable, Dr. Tedros, the head of WHO said.
The effort to establish the stockpile was led by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision, also with financial support from Gavi, which is the Vaccine Alliance. UNICEF will manage the stockpile, stored in Switzerland and ready to be shipped for emergency use.
UNICEF today said that as COVID-19 cases continue to soar around the world, no effort should be spared to keep schools open or prioritize them in reopening plans. The number of out-of-school children is set to increase by 24 million, to a level we have not yet seen in years and have fought so hard to overcome.
UNICEF said that too many countries have opted to keep schools closed, some for nearly a year, despite evidence that schools are not a driver of the pandemic.