HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

FRIDAY, 15 OCTOBER 2021

AFGHANISTAN/ATTACK 
The UN Mission in Afghanistan today said that terrorism continues in the country with at least 30 people killed and scores injured in a suicide attack on Kandahar’s largest Shia mosque. The attack took place during Friday prayers. UNAMA stressed that the UN condemns the latest atrocity targeting a religious institution and worshippers. Those responsible must be brought to justice.

AFGHANISTAN/REFUGEES 
The UN Refugee Agency today urged states to facilitate and expedite family reunification procedures for Afghans whose families are left behind in Afghanistan, or who have been displaced across the region. UNHCR said that recent political developments in Afghanistan have not led to large-scale cross-border displacement. However, many among pre-existing Afghan refugee and asylum seeker populations remain separated from their families owing to the inaccessibility of family reunification procedures. 
UNHCR stressed that the principle of family unity is protected under international law and in binding regional legal instruments. Domestic legislation in many countries also has this principle.  

ETHIOPIA 
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is greatly concerned about the situation in the north of the country, where they are receiving reports of an intensification of the conflict in multiple locations. 
Despite extremely challenging circumstances, aid workers continue to deliver assistance to people across the three northern provinces. 
In Tigray, where more than 90 per cent of the people need aid and an estimated 400,000 people are living in famine-like conditions, aid operations continue to face significant challenges. Although more than 200 trucks of humanitarian supplies arrived in Tigray last week, far more is needed, and the convoys did not receive clearance to carry much-needed fuel or medicine. 
The lack of cash, fuel and supplies is disrupting the response in multiple areas. Last week, UN’s humanitarian partners were only able to reach 17 per cent of the people who should have received food assistance. Water trucking services in Central and North-western zones have been reduced, and that impacts more than 472,000 men, women and children. 
Our colleagues say they are particularly concerned that much-needed medical supplies continue to be blocked from entering Tigray. Nine trucks carrying medicine have been awaiting approval to enter Tigray since the beginning of August. 
In Amhara and Afar, the UN continues to scale up operations so that people impacted by the fighting receive the help they need. Since the beginning of August, 640,000 people in Amhara and 72,000 people in Afar have received food assistance. 
Again, the UN calls on the parties to the conflict to halt the fighting and ensure that aid workers are able to reach all people in dire need of help. 

SECURITY COUNCIL/KOSOVO 
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Kosovo, Zahir Tanin, briefed the Security Council on the situation there. He warned Council members that escalating tensions had the potential to unravel the steady but fragile progress that had been made to rebuild trust between Kosovo’s communities. 
Mr. Tanin added that as Kosovo is approaching another local election in two days’ time, the focus at central and municipal levels should now be trained upon delivering the high expectations of people for change. He urged the government to focus on rebuilding the bonds of trust between all the communities in Kosovo and in the political leadership. 
And he stressed that rebuilding trust demands a sincere approach to the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue process, as well as building an encouraging atmosphere among the different communities within Kosovo.  

YEMEN 
The UN’s Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, David Gressly, warned that the escalation of fighting in Yemen in recent weeks, particularly in Ma’rib, Shabwah and Al Bayda governorates, is having a devastating impact on civilians. 
He is particularly concerned about the situation in Ma’rib Governorate’s Al Abdiyah District. The ongoing security situation has severely restricted movements in and out of the district for an estimated 35,000 people, including 17,000 extremely vulnerable people who had found refuge there after fleeing conflict in another area.  
He called on all parties involved in the fighting to agree now to a cessation of hostilities for Al Abdiyah District, to allow for the safe passage of civilians and aid workers, and for the evacuation of all of those who were wounded in the fighting.                                                                 

VENEZUELA 
Following the completion of a technical assessment, the Secretariat has responded positively to the request of the National Electoral Council of Venezuela to deploy a UN Panel of Experts for the November 2021 municipal and regional elections.   
A team of three experts will deploy to the country in November to follow the electoral process. The team will provide the Secretary-General with an independent internal report of the overall conduct of the elections.  
 
MIGRANT WORKERS 
A new report by the International Organization for Migration says that migrant workers face a higher risk of injury and death than other workers.   
An estimated 164 million migrant workers make up almost 5 per cent of the global workforce. They are more likely to have jobs in the informal economy, where risks are greater, and they are overrepresented in hazardous jobs.
IOM says that more data is needed, notably on circumstances of deaths, to design policies to ensure the safety of migrant workers.  

LATIN AMERICA 
UN agencies are jointly saying today that they are saddened by the sinking of a boat in Colombia carrying 30 people to Panama, in which three people were killed and six others – including children – are missing.
The agencies said this incident once against highlights the desperation of families and the risks people are exposed to as they search for safety and for a better life.
Increased numbers of people are crossing the Darien Gap. Of the 91,300 people who crossed between January and September, 19,000 are believed to be children.
We stress the need for safe, regular and orderly migration routes and to strengthen investigations into networks involved in trafficking and smuggling. The agencies also urge States to protect the rights, including to seek and receive asylum, of all people on the move.

NIGERIA 
In Nigeria, the World Food Programme today warned that it might cut food aid as early as next month to more than half a million women, men and children in the northeast unless it receives urgent funding. 
These cuts would impact WFP’s operations in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states unless it receives at least $55 million soon. 
The cuts could come as severe hunger reaches a five-year high in Nigeria following years of conflict, a situation that has been worsened by COVID-19, high food prices and limited food supply. 
The number of displaced people in northeast Nigeria reached an all-time high of more than two million in September. Some 4.4 million people in the area do not know where their next meal is coming from, and more than one million children are malnourished. 
 
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF RURAL WOMEN 
Today is the International Day of Rural Women.  The theme is “Rural women cultivating good food for all.”  The Secretary-General said that despite ensuring the world can be fed, many rural women suffer from discrimination, systematic racism and structural poverty.  

WORLD FOOD DAY 
Tomorrow is World Food Day, and the theme this year is “Our actions are our future.” In a message, the Secretary-General says that the Day is not only a reminder of the importance of food to every person on the planet — it is a also call to action to achieve food security around the world.   

INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY 
Sunday is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The Secretary-General stresses that poverty is a moral indictment of our times. For the first time in two decades, extreme poverty is on the rise.  
  
GUEST TODAY AND MONDAY 
Omar Abdi, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, was the guest at the noon briefing today. He briefed reporters on the situation in Afghanistan.  

On Monday, at 12:30 p.m., there will be a press briefing by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Irene Khan.