HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 13 AUGUST 2020
In Lebanon, mobile health clinics run by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are providing medicines and health services to those most in need. More than 2,000 people are receiving medication for acute and chronic conditions.
Hundreds more have received first aid services and psychosocial support. A dedicated helpline is being established for timely response to requests for assistance.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has facilitated the logistics and distribution of 10,000 tetanus vaccines, 42 emergency kits and emergency drugs to primary health care centres in need.
Some 5,000 female hygiene kits have been provided to impacted women and girls, following a UNICEF rapid needs assessment. UNICEF is also providing food and water, along with clothes and detergents, to 700 children as well as their caregivers.
The container terminal at Beirut’s Port has re-commenced operations on 10 August at approximately 30 per cent capacity. The first ships have already docked and the offloading of wheat is under way. The capacity at the Beirut Port is expected to increase over the coming week.
A World Food Programme (WFP) shipment of 17,500 metric tonnes of wheat flour is due to arrive by 20 August.
A patrol from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) arrived in Tonj on Tuesday evening, following clashes over the weekend between the South Sudan’s People’s Defence Forces and local youth. Dozens of people were reportedly killed.
The UN Mission says that the security situation is calm although tensions remain high. Peacekeepers met with local officials and military leaders, including the commander of the disarmament forces, as well as with community members and youth groups.
Peacekeepers set up a temporary operating base to help deter further violence and are supporting local reconciliation efforts.
They are also trying to make their way from Tonj to Romich, which is the village that was reportedly worst hit by the violence. Unfortunately, the road to Romich is currently impassable due to heavy flooding. The Mission is also trying to launch an air patrol instead.
In South Sudan, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that a response is underway to help 26,000 people in Bor impacted by flooding along the Nile River. The total number of people who have fled to Bor to escape flooding and conflict is now around 53,000.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has sent engineering troops and the World Food Programme (WFP) has sent supplies to repair damaged levees, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have donated more than 10,000 sandbags.
Yesterday, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) – together with the Government, donors, and our partners – visited Bor and Pibor, to see the affected areas and to meet with authorities and people impacted by floods. Food, health, water and sanitation hygiene, livelihoods support and protection, among others, have been identified as the main needs.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In a joint statement the G5 - which brings together the UN, Member States and international institutions that are partners of the Central African Republic – has expressed its concerns at reports of obstruction of voter registration, as well as threats and assault of members of the national elections’ authority by armed groups who are signatories of the Peace agreement.
The G5 also noted with concern the allegations of fraud related to the voter registration process and stressed that free, fair and credible elections can only take place if all citizens have confidence in the integrity and transparency of the process.
The G5 is calling on the signatories of the peace agreement to publicly reaffirm their support for the elections scheduled later this year, and to facilitate every step leading to them.
In Haiti, as part of the country’s COVID-19 response, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) tell us that they have trained more than 2,800 community health workers to support the Ministry of Health. The health workers have also been equipped with personal protective equipment and communication support such as megaphones.
In addition to this, PAHO has met with community leaders including voodoo priests, catholic priests, pastors, and traditional birth attendants to help them share accurate information about the virus and treatment centres. The agency said that this outreach is crucial to reach isolated communities, as well as those who believe in traditional medicine. Innovative measures developed during the country’s fight against cholera are also being used to tackle the pandemic.
For example, field nurses from the “Labomoto” programme - a testing initiative in which nurse on motorcycles travelled to isolated communities to ensure the sampling and transportation of suspected cholera cases to labs for testing - have now been deployed to help carry out testing of suspected COVID-19 cases in hard-to-reach areas.
COVID-19/SCHOOL HANDWASHING FACILITIES AND SANITATION
A new report released today by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that 43 per cent of schools around the world lacked access to basic handwashing with soap and water in 2019.
According to the report, 818 million children lack basic handwashing facilities at their schools. This puts them at increased risk of COVID-19 and other transmittable diseases. In the least developed countries, half of schools lack basic sanitation and water services.
The report stresses that governments seeking to control the spread of the virus must balance the need for implementation of public health measures versus the associated social and economic impacts of lockdown measures.
The World Food Programme (WFP) – in cooperation with the Tunisian Ministries of Agriculture and Education – has started its first ever cash transfers in Tunisia. The three-month initiative is designed to help more than 530 families whose children are no longer receiving school meals because their schools are closed as a result of the pandemic.
The families of children attending five primary schools in the Siliana region will now receive a fixed and unconditional cash transfer of about US$70 (200 Tunisian dinars) to help them meet their basic food needs. The cash transfer supplements the monthly allowance provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs to families who are part of its social protection programme.
We have two new Resident Coordinators to welcome. The first in Costa Rica and the second in Morocco. Their appointments follow confirmations from the respective Governments.
Maria del Pilar Baiocchi of Italy will serve as the Resident Coordinator in Costa Rica, and Sylvia Lopez-Ekra of Côte d’Ivoire will now be the new Resident Coordinator in Morocco. With the current travel restrictions, they will work remotely until they are able to join their respective duty stations.
Resident Coordinators work to boost the development coordination among UN agencies, funds and programmes. They are also mobilizing resources to support Government and local partners on the COVID-19 response, activating the UN’s full capacity on all fronts. This is fundamental to supporting countries in this Decade of Action to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
We are also proud to announce that we remain with full gender parity among all our Resident Coordinators serving in 162 countries and territories. The biographies of the two newest Resident Coordinators are online.
Sadly, I have to end with some sad news. For those of us who have been here for some time, you will remember our dear colleague Thérèse Gastaut. She sadly passed away last night.
A former Spokeswoman for the UN in Geneva, she ably served the United Nations for 37 years and had held positions in the Department of Public Information in New York, Geneva and Brussels.
Therese had the UN in her blood and in her heart. I often benefited from her advice and guidance, and we will all miss her terribly.