HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

WEDNESDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2021

YEMEN 
In Yemen, fierce fighting continues, including in Marib, Shabwah and Al Bayda governorates, where clashes have escalated over recent weeks, according to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
This escalation is having an increasingly devastating impact on civilians. Nearly 10,000 people were displaced in Marib in September – the highest rate recorded in the governorate in a single month so far this year. 
The UN is particularly concerned about the situation in Al Abdiyah District, in the south-west of Marib. The district is home to an estimated 35,000 people, including many who had found refuge there after fleeing conflict in neighbouring areas. The area has been encircled by Houthi forces since late September. 
The UN urges all parties to the conflict to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, including ensuring the protection of civilians and providing safe passage for those fleeing conflict areas. 
We also call on all parties to facilitate safe, timely and sustained humanitarian access in all impacted areas of Yemen. 

ETHIOPIA 
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that the situation in the northern part of Ethiopia continues to be highly unpredictable and volatile.   
The delivery of humanitarian supplies into Tigray remains heavily constrained through the only road access route from Afar.  
Between October 6th and 12th, 211 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray, compared to 80 trucks a week earlier.  
While the increase in the number of trucks is a positive development, this is still insufficient, given that 100 trucks a day need to arrive into Tigray to meet humanitarian needs. Since July 12th, nearly 900 trucks have entered Tigray – which is just 14 per cent of what is needed to enter the region.  
The UN has not been able to get fuel into Tigray since the end of July. Ten fuel tankers are currently sitting in Semera, in Afar province. These tankers have received approval by the Government to proceed, 
and we hope they will be able to move into Tigray with the next convoy.  
However, the UN still has not been able to have medicine into Tigray.  
Several UN partners have significantly reduced or shut down programmes because fuel, cash and supplies have either been depleted or are facing severe shortages. 
In spite of this, UN partners have continued to respond to some of the most urgent needs in the province.  
While more than 146,000 people received food last week, at least 870,000 people on average per week need to be reached. 
In neighbouring Afar and Amhara regions, UN partners are scaling up the response, having reached some 639,000 people with food in Amhara since early August and some 72,000 internally displaced people in Afar.  
The UN urgently calls on all parties to allow unimpeded and sustained access to all people in Tigray, Amhara and Afar. 

AFGHANISTAN 
In Afghanistan, the UN team there continues to support the people of the country to tackle the pandemic. 
To date, there have been more than 150,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as well as more than 7,200 deaths. 
With support from the UN, some 760,000 COVID-19 tests have been conducted. 
Nearly 80 per cent of the 5.2 million vaccine doses that have arrived in Afghanistan came from COVAX. UNICEF helped with vaccine delivery and distribution, as well as the cold chain. 
As of earlier this month, nearly 2.4 million people have been vaccinated, with more than 1.5 million being fully vaccinated. 
The UN team has held awareness-raising sessions on preventing COVID-19 and how to treat it. The UN has provided personal protective equipment, medical equipment and medical training. 
All 34 of Afghanistan’s provinces have allocated isolation wards for COVID-19. 

SECRETARY-GENERAL/FIFTH COMMITTEE 
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke to the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee on the proposed programme budget for 2022. 
He noted that, around the world, thanks to the support and engagement of Member States, the United Nations has stayed and delivered in a world upended by the pandemic. 
Mr. Guterres said that, throughout the pandemic, reforms have remained on course. Unlike past emergencies, the Secretariat did not need to create new structures to manage the response.   
Instead, the new reform structures in development, peace and security and management already in place facilitated a unified and agile response to the pandemic, saving time and money.  
The Secretary-General told Member States that the UN requires a total of $3.119 billion before re-costing for the programme budget for 2022.  

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR DISASTER RISK REDUCTION 
Today is the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction.
In a message for the day, the Secretary-General stresses that to meet the cascading challenges of the 21st century and safeguard the lives, health and livelihoods of all people, we must reduce systematic risks. 
The Secretary-General notes that weak governance, growing poverty, biodiversity loss, collapsing ecosystems and unplanned rapid urbanization are all interconnected drivers of disaster risk. Left unaddressed, they aggravate the intensity and frequency of disasters and increase the need for humanitarian assistance.