HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 19 OCTOBER 2020

BOLIVIA
In a statement, the Secretary-General congratulated the Bolivian people on the holding of highly participative and peaceful general elections that took place on 18 October. 
He encourages all political and social leaders to work together with the same commitment to democracy, respect for human rights and national reconciliation in addressing the current political, economic, social and health challenges.

SECRETARY-GENERAL/SMALL STATES
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke to the Forum of Small States.
He pointed to challenges that small states face, such as the collapse of the global tourism industry, the contraction of remittances, the major trade slowdown, and the climate crisis.
He said that small states have been vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. He added that we need effective international cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism to respond to the economic and social impacts and the underlying fragilities exposed and aggravated during the pandemic.
The Secretary-General also stressed that the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic must be linked to the Sustainable Development Goals.
He noted that we must ensure that a COVID-19 vaccine is considered as a global public good and be available and affordable to all.
On climate change, he added that we must build a global coalition in 2021 towards net zero emissions. Small states have a key role to play, he stressed, adding that he counts on their active engagement.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In the Security Council this morning, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the Central African Republic, Mankeur Ndiaye, reiterated the UN Mission’s commitment to support the forthcoming presidential and legislative elections, as well as local elections scheduled next year.
The political situation remains tense, he said, as he encouraged all those involved to view the upcoming elections as an opportunity to consolidate the democratic process and to find lasting solutions to the crisis the country has been facing. Mr. Ndiaye added that the coordinated and continuous support of international partners will be decisive in the success of the elections.
Turning to the pandemic, he highlighted that socio-economic vulnerabilities have been exacerbated by the virus. He strongly condemned the attacks against humanitarian workers, which are worsening the situation of populations in need. The Special Representative said the UN Mission will continue to take all necessary measures to protect civilians, civilian infrastructure and humanitarian workers.

CENTRAL SAHEL
A reminder that, tomorrow, the Secretary-General will address the ministerial conference on the Central Sahel by video message. The conference is organized by our humanitarian colleagues, together with Denmark, Germany and the European Union.
As we have mentioned, the Central Sahel, which includes Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, faces one of the world's fastest-growing humanitarian crises, as the head of the World Food Programme (WFP), David Beasley, said at a press briefing on Friday. More than 13 million people now require urgent humanitarian assistance – five million more people than estimated at the beginning of 2020.
A press conference is scheduled at 10:00 a.m., New York time, that will include Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as Denmark’s Minister for Development Cooperation and the European Union’s Commissioner for Crisis Management.
Both the ministerial conference and the press availability will be webcast.
WFP is warning that that, unless humanitarian access is urgently granted to organizations like theirs, catastrophic levels of hunger could hit hard in parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The ability of humanitarian organizations to deliver assistance to those most in need has been jeopardized by worsening conflict and insecurity, WFP said in their statement. Aid workers are also increasingly targeted by non-state armed groups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
The agency is urging participants at the tomorrow’s conference to find ways for organizations to engage with communities and all actors on the ground to open up safe passageways for humanitarian assistance to reach who need it.

LIBYA
In Geneva, the fourth round of the Libyan 5+5 Joint Military Commission talks began this morning. These are taking place at the Palais des Nations, with the presence and participation of the Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Libya, Stephanie Williams.
The launching of this round of talks is marked by in-person meetings between delegations of the two parties to the Libyan conflict.
The deliberations of this round will continue until 24 October. The UN Mission in Libya hopes that the two delegations will reach a solution to all outstanding issues in order to achieve a complete and permanent ceasefire across Libya.

YEMEN
In Yemen, our humanitarian colleagues tell us the situation continues to worsen as clashes surge in Hudaydah, Taiz and elsewhere.
Our colleagues report that more than 8,000 people have been displaced in October due to the recent escalation in violence. We, along with our humanitarian partners, are providing shelter, non-food items, food and drinking water to the newly displaced people.
Against this backdrop, COVID-19 continues to spread unchecked across Yemen. In parallel, the threat of hunger for millions is on the rise as food prices are 140 per cent higher than the average prices before the conflict.
Some 20 million people are food insecure, including nearly 10 million people facing [acute] food insecurity. Some two million children require treatment for acute malnutrition, of which 360,000 are at risk of dying without treatment.
The lack of funding is crippling humanitarian operations in the country. Sixteen of the UN’s 41 major programmes have already been reduced or shut down; 26 more will close or reduce services by the end of the year unless additional funding is received.
To date, the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan is only 42 per cent funded – the lowest level ever so late in the year. We call on all our donors to pay outstanding pledges and increase support.

VIET NAM
Turning to Việt Nam, we have been told that the central region of the country has experienced prolonged, heavy rains since 6 October, provoking widespread flooding and damage impacting some 5 million people.
More than 130,000 homes have been flooded and more than 66,000 people have been evacuated.
We, along with international NGOs and the Việt Nam Red Cross, are closely monitoring the situation with the Government and stand ready to provide support as required. We have already mobilized some funds for assessment and coordination.
The Government says they need shelter, food, water and sanitation, health care and cash assistance as priority needs. Together with our partners, a UN team will visit flood-affected areas tomorrow to determine what additional support may be required.

RESIDENT COORDINATORS
Our colleagues in the UN Development Coordination Office tell us that we have new UN Resident Coordinators in Indonesia, Madagascar, and Senegal. These appointments follow the confirmation of the respective host governments.
The Secretary-General has appointed Valerie Julliand of France as the new Resident Coordinator in Indonesia; Issa Sanogo of Côte d’Ivoire will be the new Resident Coordinator in Madagascar, and Coulibaly Siaka of Côte d’Ivoire will be the new Resident Coordinator in Senegal.
Resident Coordinators boost coordination among UN entities to support national and local efforts to tackle and recover better together from COVID-19 and to achieve the SDGs.
We remain with full gender parity among all our Resident Coordinators covering 162 countries and territories, as well as geographic parity between the global north and global south. The full list of Resident Coordinators is available online.

COVID-19/VACCINE
Our friends at UNICEF said today said that it has begun laying the groundwork for the rapid, safe and efficient delivery of the eventual COVID-19 vaccine by purchasing and pre-positioning syringes and other necessary equipment.
They will stockpile 520 million syringes in its warehouses. During 2021, assuming there are enough doses of the vaccines, UNICEF anticipates delivering over 1 billion syringes to support vaccination efforts.
Besides syringes, UNICEF is also buying 5 million safety boxes so that used syringes and needles can be disposed of in a safe manner by personnel at health facilities.

AFGHANISTAN
In a statement issued over the weekend on Afghanistan, the Secretary-General strongly condemned the indiscriminate attack that took place Sunday on provincial police headquarters in Afghanistan’s province of Ghor. According to preliminary reports, the attack claimed the lives of at least 13 persons and injured dozens of civilians, including women and children.

ARMENIA/AZERBAIJAN
Also, over the weekend, we issued a statement on the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in which the Secretary-General condemned all attacks on populated areas impacted by the conflict. He said the tragic loss of civilian lives, including children, from the latest reported strike on 16 October on the city of Ganja is totally unacceptable, as are indiscriminate attacks on populated areas elsewhere.