This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the closed virtual meeting with leading mayors supported by the C40 Cities. He noted that cities are on the frontline of the climate crisis, with more than half a billion urban residents already facing rising sea levels and more frequent or severe storms.
The Secretary-General said that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global catastrophe, but investment in recovery is a generational opportunity to put climate action, clean energy and sustainable development at the heart of cities’ strategies and policies.
He called on all to take urgent action on three fronts. First, to work with national leaders to make sure they engage, and they present ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions, well before COP26 in November; second, to commit cities to net-zero by 2050, make ambitious plans for the next decade, and bring fellow mayors and local leaders with them; third, to use the recovery from the pandemic to accelerate investment and implementation in clean, green infrastructure and transport systems.
He emphasized that as we look forward to COP26, and this year’s other important conferences on energy, transport, biodiversity and food systems, let’s make 2021 a turning point – a make it or break it year.
PRESS CONFERENCE/STATE OF THE GLOBAL CLIMATE IN 2020
On Monday, at 11:30 a.m., there will be a hybrid joint press conference with the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, Petteri Taalas. They will present the report on the State of the Global Climate in 2020.
According to the report, climate change indicators and impacts worsened last year. Last year was also one of the three warmest years on record, despite cooling effects of La Niña.
The report says that extreme weather combined with COVID-19 is a double blow for millions of people in 2020.
This morning, in the General Assembly, the Secretary-General paid tribute to the memory of the late President of Tanzania, John Magufuli.
On behalf of the United Nations, he offered his condolences to the late President’s family, the Government and people of Tanzania.
The Secretary-General said that Tanzania have reached its ambition of becoming a middle-income country four years ahead of its 2025 goal. He reiterated the commitment of the Organization to continue working closely with the country’s new President, Samia Suhulu Hassan, the first female President in Tanzania.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO
The UN Peacekeeping Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is telling us that the cities of Butembo and Goma are relatively calm today. Commercial activity is progressively resuming in the Goma neighborhoods where clashes occurred earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Mission, Bintou Keita, wrapped up her trip to Eastern DRC yesterday. At a press conference in Beni, she welcomed a parliamentary initiative to create a Commission of Inquiry into the situation of insecurity in the eastern and north-eastern part of the country, and noted that the UN stands ready to lend its full support to the work of this commission.
She also reiterated that the Mission remains fully mobilized to bring stability to North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri in support of security forces and the justice system.
Our humanitarian colleagues in Nigeria continue to receive alarming reports of clashes between insurgent groups and Nigerian Armed Forces in the town of Damasak in Borno State. Recently, they say, non-state armed groups have also been conducting house to house searches, reportedly looking for civilians identified as aid workers.
As you will recall, a week ago, humanitarian assets in Damasak were targeted. At least five NGO offices and several NGO vehicles, as well as a mobile storage unit, water tanks, a health outpost and a nutrition stabilization centre were damaged. More clashes were reported this week.
These attacks will affect humanitarian assistance and protection to nearly 9,000 internally displaced people men, women and children and 76,000 people in the host community. This morning, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) said that up to 80 per cent of the population in Damasak has been forced to flee. While many fled towards Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, and to Geidam town in neighbouring Yobe State. Other people crossed into Niger.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) colleagues in Niger are planning an inter-agency mission, with local authorities, UNHCR staff and partners in both countries have also deployed assessment missions to identify the most pressing needs along the border.
HUNGER IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA
The World Food Programme (WFP) said today that immediate action is needed to prevent a hunger emergency impacting millions of families in West and Central Africa.
More than 31 million people in the region are expected to be food insecure during the lean season this Summer. This is the period when food is scarce before the next harvest. That number is over 30 percent higher than last year.
WFP plans to assist nearly 18 million people in West and Central Africa this year and requires $770 million in the next six months to operate in 19 countries in the region.
On Syria, a quick update on the UN cross-border operations: On Wednesday, we dispatched 54 truckloads of humanitarian assistance from Turkey to north-west Syria via the Bab al-Hawa crossing. These trucks are some of the hundreds of the UN delivers each month with essential and life-saving assistance.
In March, a total of 920 trucks delivered humanitarian assistance across north-west Syria. Many more consignments are planned for the coming weeks.
We estimate that cross-border aid represents up to 50 per cent of all cross-border humanitarian deliveries. Of the 4.2 million people in the north-west, over 75 per cent require humanitarian aid. The cross-border operation reaches 85 per cent of these people every month.
We believe that a renewal of the cross-border authorization for an additional 12 months later this year is essential.
Ending on a happy note, from Kingston, Jamaica, we are delighted that our friends in Jamaica have paid their budget dues in full, which brings us to 89 Member States which have done so.