HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

WEDNESDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2020

 

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL - CLIMATE 
This morning, the Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed spoke virtually at the Green Climate Fund Private Investment for Climate Conference. 
She said we are entering a new era of climate disruption and we need all hands-on deck now to tackle this crisis. 
Ms. Mohammed said we must prioritize investments that contribute to a low-carbon, climate-resilient recovery.  She called on governments to set a long-term vision by aligning their pandemic recovery plans with their national climate commitments. 
She also called on businesses to embed climate risks in their decision-making and align their portfolios with the goals of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals. 
Ms. Mohammed also noted that scaling up financing for adaptation and resilience will be essential to protect people and stressed that the work of the Green Climate Fund is needed now more than ever as we accelerate the decarbonization of the global economy. 
  
ISRAEL/LEBANON  
Representatives from the governments of Israel, Lebanon, and the United States met on October 14, that is today, to launch discussions aimed at reaching consensus on a common Israel-Lebanon maritime boundary.  The negotiations were mediated and facilitated by the U.S. team, led by Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker and Ambassador John Desrocher. The discussions were hosted by the UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon, Jan Kubis.
During this initial meeting, the representatives held productive talks and reaffirmed their commitment to continue negotiations later this month.  
 
AZERBAIJAN\ARMENIA
According to the World Health Organization, continued hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan will cause direct disruption to healthcare and a further burden on health systems that are already stretched due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both countries have seen recent increases in COVID-19 transmission. As of October 11th, Armenia’s newly reported cases have doubled over the last 14 days. In Azerbaijan new cases have increased by approximately 80% over the past week.
WHO stressed that COVID-19 does not respect borders or lines and that escalations in military conflict will create the environment for the virus to spread. 
This is yet another clear example of why the Secretary-General’s call for a global cease fire needs to be respected. As he has said often, as long as humans keep fighting other humans, the only winner will be the COVID-19 virus. 
We once again call for the parties to respect the humanitarian cease fire and engage in with the Minsk Group co-chairs on meaningful discussions. 
The UN teams in Armenia and Azerbaijan, continue supporting the COVID-19 response in both countries to save lives and livelihoods impacted by the pandemic. WHO is also expanding its operations to respond to increased health needs that continued hostilities will inevitably incur.

MALI  
The UN Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) tells us that they condemn two successive attacks against Malian Armed Forces in central Mali yesterday. The attacks by unidentified armed elements resulted in the death of at least eleven Malian soldiers and twelve civilians.  
The UN mission immediately deployed air assets to secure the area, while UN peacekeepers provided first aid to the wounded, and evacuated the most critical cases by helicopter to the appropriate medical centers. 
We join our colleagues in Mali in sending our condolences to the Malian government as well as to the grieving families and wish a speedy and complete recovery to those wounded. 

LIBYA 
Turning to Libya, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) says humanitarian partners are concerned about the fragile situation and a possible humanitarian disaster, should the current escalation and mobilization around Sirte lead to military operations. The lives of more than 125,000 people in and around Sirte remain at great risk.  
COVID-19 cases have increased exponentially across Libya, with 44,985 cases and 656 deaths confirmed, as of yesterday.  
Health systems have been affected by the closure of health facilities, due to a lack of resources and staff contracting COVID-19. In addition, fuel shortages and power cuts have affected the functioning of health services. 
A recent rapid survey carried out in Tripoli found that of 92 primary health care facilities that were functioning before the pandemic, only 54 are still operational.  
Across the country, humanitarian organizations have reached nearly 268,000 people, two thirds of the overall target, with humanitarian assistance since the beginning of the year.  
 
MYANMAR/CHILDREN 
In Myanmar, in a statement issued by the UN and our NGO partners on the ground, they expressed their sadness and shock concerning the killing of two children in fighting between the Myanmar army and the Arakan Army in Rakhine State on October 5th. 
The children were part of a group of local farmers allegedly forced to walk in front of a Myanmar army unit to ensure a path was clear of landmines. The two children died of gunshot wounds after fighting broke out. 
The statement called for a full, transparent, and expedited investigation of the incident and for anyone responsible for the killing of the children to be held accountable. 
It also expressed deep concern over the alarming increase of reports of killings and injuries of children in Myanmar. More than 100 were killed or maimed in conflict during the first three months of 2020, amounting to more than half of the total number in 2019, and significantly surpassing the total number of child casualties in 2018. 
As Myanmar tackles the COVID-19 pandemic, we and our partners urge all parties to the conflict to intensify efforts to ensure that children are protected from all grave violations, to ensure access to humanitarian aid, and to exercise maximum restraint in the use of force where civilians are present.                            

COVID-19/DOMINICAN REPUBLIC  
In the Dominican Republic, where our team, led by Resident Coordinator Mauricio Ramírez Villegas, is working to address the pandemic.  
UN agencies, together with non-governmental organizations, surveyed more than 6,300 households to gather data for the Government on the pandemic’s impact on employment, food security and education. The survey results will support the Government’s recovery programme to provide a safety cushion to prevent people from sliding into poverty and boost the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.  
The UN and its partners are helping to set up a Health Situation Room and a Public Health Intelligence Centre. 
Food aid has reached more than 90,000 vulnerable people, including children, pregnant women, older people, people with disabilities and people living with HIV\AIDS. 
 
TUBERCULOSIS 
A new report today released by WHO shows that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries were making steady progress in tackling tuberculosis. There was a 9% reduction in incidence between 2015 and 2019 and a 14% drop in deaths in the same period.  
However, the report says that access to TB services remains a challenge. It also warns that global targets for prevention and treatment will likely be missed without urgent action and investments.   
WHO says that funding is a major issue. In 2020, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care reached $ 6.5 billion, representing only half of the $ 13 billion target agreed by world leaders in the UN Political Declaration on TB, adopted in 2018. 
Disruptions in services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to further setbacks.  In many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from TB to the COVID-19 response.  
According to the report, approximately 1.4 million people died from TB-related illnesses in 2019.

KYRGYZ REPUBLIC
In response to questions, the Spokesman said the UN remains concerned about developments in the Kyrgyz Republic, where no clear political agreement has been reached since protests erupted last week in the aftermath of the 4 October parliamentary elections.
We urge all Kyrgyzstanis to uphold the rule of law and continue to exercise restraint, and refrain from violence.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Asia, Natalia Gherman, is due to arrive in Bishkek tomorrow evening, to engage with relevant actors.
On Friday, Ms. Gherman is scheduled to meet with a broad range of actors, including President Jeenbekov, (outgoing Foreign Minister) Chingiz Aidarbekov, the Chair of the Central Electoral Commission, the leadership of Parliament, and representatives of civil society organizations.
The Resident Coordinator remains in contact with the authorities.

NOON BRIEFING GUESTS TODAY 
The guests today will be the UN Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary-General Elliot Harris and Leila Fourie, the Chief Executive Officer of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and co-chair of the Global Investors for Sustainable Development (GISD) Alliance. They will discuss their action plan to scale up investment in sustainable development.  
   
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTION 
Timor Leste has paid its regular budget dues in full.  Their payment takes us up to 126 fully paid up Member States.