HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,​
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 18 AUGUST 2021

***The guests at the Noon Briefing were Mary Ellen McGroarty, the World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director in Afghanistan; Herve De Lys, the UNICEF Representative in Afghanistan; and Caroline Van Buren, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Representative in Afghanistan. They briefed reporters from Kabul. 

AFGHANISTAN/RELOCATION OF UN PERSONNEL
I just want to read you the following update on an issue you’ve been asking me about.
As we speak, a group of UN personnel is traveling today from Kabul to Almaty in Kazakhstan, where they will continue their work remotely. We thank the Government of Kazakhstan for the offer to host a temporary remote office of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
As the Secretary-General told the Security Council on August 16th, the United Nations presence in Afghanistan will adapt to the security situation. In light of the security and other constraints in Kabul and other parts of the country at the moment, it was decided to move a part of the UN staff out of the country. Personnel will return to Afghanistan as conditions permit.
As we have also been making clear, the UN is committed to staying and delivering in support of the Afghan people in their hour of need. The majority of humanitarian personnel remain in Afghanistan, providing vital assistance to millions in need.
The remote presence will provide close support to the UN family’s continuing work on the ground in Afghanistan.
This is a temporary measure intended to enable the UN to keep delivering assistance to the people of Afghanistan with the minimum of disruption while, at the same time, reducing risk to UN personnel.

NIGER
I have a statement on the situation in Niger. The Secretary-General strongly condemns yet another attack by unidentified gunmen on civilians in Niger that took place on 16 August in the department of Banibangou, in the Tillabéri region. He expresses his deepest condolences to the bereaved families. The Secretary-General is deeply concerned by the cumulative impact of these frequent attacks on the humanitarian situation in the region of Tillabéri, where already more than 100,000 people have been displaced and 520,000 are in need of humanitarian assistance.
The Secretary-General calls on the Nigerien authorities to spare no effort in identifying and swiftly bringing the perpetrators to justice.
The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the UN to continue supporting Niger in its efforts to counter and prevent terrorism and violent extremism, promote social cohesion and achieve sustainable development.

PEACEKEEPING
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the Security Council at a high-level debate on technology and UN peacekeeping.
He said that digital technology represents one of the greatest opportunities, but also one of the greatest challenges of our time.  He underscored that the international community must come together better to govern the digital space for good.
When it comes to UN peacekeeping, the Secretary-General said that it is essential that it fully embraces the digital world to improve its agility, anticipation and responsiveness to conflicts.
He noted that the strategy for Digital Transformation of UN peacekeeping operations will help advance data-driven and technology-enabled peacekeeping both at Headquarters and in the field.
The Secretary-General added that this initiative will require support from Member States to help in capacity building, training, equipment provision and financial contributions.

HAITI
In Haiti, our UNICEF colleagues tell us that they estimate about 1.2 million people – that’s including 540,000 children – are affected by the earthquake.
UNICEF says about half a million Haitian children have limited or no access to shelter, safe water, health care and nutrition. Search-and-rescue efforts are under way. However, criminal violence and insecurity are complicating the humanitarian response, with the main road from Port-au-Prince to the south of the country being controlled by gangs.
Nevertheless, a UNICEF truck was able to deliver medical kits to three hospitals in Les Cayes, with enough supplies – including gloves, painkillers, antibiotics and syringes – to treat 30,000 earthquake victims over three months.
UNICEF and its partners are also distributing tarpaulins for emergency shelter, latrines and showers; water reservoirs for safe water distribution; and hygiene kits. The agency estimates it will need $15 million to respond to the most urgent needs of at least 385,000 people for eight weeks.                                                                       
 
ETHIOPIA
Turning to Ethiopia, our humanitarian colleagues are telling us that the situation in Tigray remains unpredictable and volatile, while movement of Tigray forces in Amhara and Afar provinces continues.
Humanitarian access into the region remains restricted via the only road through Afar region, where there is insecurity, with extended delays for clearances of humanitarian supplies and intense searches at the checkpoints. Only 30 trucks with humanitarian supplies can be scanned each day under the current procedures, but, as we’ve been telling you, we need100 trucks of food, non-food items and fuel are needed every day to move into Tigray.
Humanitarian operations are also severely affected by lack of supplies, cash, banking services, fuel and telecommunications. Transport of ICT equipment remains prohibited by the authorities.
We, along with our humanitarian partners, continue to stay and deliver to help meet the existing and emerging needs. As of yesterday, there are 457 UN staff from 10 UN agencies supporting the humanitarian response there.
Twenty-nine mobile health and nutrition teams also continue to provide essential services, reaching more than 50,000 individuals with medical consultations at 72 health facilities and 47 camps for internally displaced people across the region.

RESIDENT COORDINATORS
I have five new Resident Coordinators to announce today.
Our colleagues from the Development Coordination Office tell us that Stefan Priesner of Austria took up his new post as Resident Coordinator in Iran, he started earlier this week, on August 16th, while, next Friday, Barbara Manzi of Italy will start as Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Burkina Faso and Karima El Korri of Morocco will start as the Resident Coordinator in Malaysia, which also covers Brunei Darussalam and Singapore.
On August 22nd, Yesim Oruc of Turkey will start her new role as the Resident Coordinator in Guyana, while Gianluca Rampolla del Tindaro of Italy assumes his duties as Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Venezuela, and that’s on August 23rd.
All these appointments follow the confirmations from the respective governments.
Full biographies of our new Resident Coordinators are available online. 

COVID-19/ECUADOR
And a quick COVID-19 update, today from Ecuador, which received a shipment of more than 100,000 AstraZeneca vaccines on Monday from COVAX which were donated by Spain.
To date, Ecuador has received more than 1 million doses through COVAX, with help from the Pan-American Health Organization and UNICEF.
Our UN team, led by our Resident Coordinator and good friend, Lena Savelli, has been supporting authorities to address the health and social and economic impacts of the pandemic.

SECRETARY-GENERAL ANNAN
As some of you know, today marks three years since we lost Kofi Annan, our former Secretary-General.
As the current Secretary-General said, Kofi was both one-of-a-kind and one of us, a man who embodied UN values and made all of us proud to call ourselves his colleagues and friends. We remember him today, and every day.
Our Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that, on this day three years ago, the world lost one of its moral voices.
On a personal note, I am sad.