HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 22 OCTOBER 2020
Ahead of UN Day, which, as you know is on October 24th, the Secretary-General is speaking just about now at a virtual event in the General Assembly Hall.
A recorded performance, featuring the Teatro alla Scala Orchestra and special guest Roberto Bolle, along with other world class dancers, is being shown.
In his remarks, the Secretary-General will emphasize the importance of culture in the work of the United Nations.
He will say that he hopes that today’s concert will inspire us towards the global solidarity that is needed so urgently at this unprecedented time.
He will also reinforce his appeal for a global ceasefire so we can devote all our energies on fighting COVID-19.
GLOBAL EDUCATION MEETING
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke by video message to the virtual Global Education Meeting, organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and co-hosted by the Governments of Ghana, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The Secretary-General noted that in his recently-issued Policy Brief on the impacts of COVID-19 on Education, he warned that the world was at risk of a generational catastrophe. He pointed out that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and marginalized children and youth.
The Secretary-General emphasized that we now need to support the learning recovery in low and middle-income countries, and to factor education into every stimulus package.
Also, through a video message, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, stressed that education is the docking station for all the Sustainable Development Goals and that delivering SDG 4 is a great responsibility on us all, led by the education community.
The Security Council is meeting in person today on Sudan and South Sudan.
Briefing Council members, the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Parfait Onanga-Anyanga noted that the preventive measures applied by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) appear to have been successful in weakening the spread of COVID-19 in the region. He added that the focus has shifted to economic recovery and restoring people’s livelihoods.
Mr. Onanga-Anyanga said that he is happy to report that the relationship between Sudan and South Sudan continues to strengthen.
Also addressing the Council was Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the head of UN Peace Operations. He noted that the peace process has made little progress in Abyei.
He said that the general security situation in Abyei remained rather volatile, including attacks against UN personnel and instances of intercommunal violence, including armed attacks on villages.
The World Health Organization (WHO) today said that the roll-out of newly approved antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests for COVID-19 in Africa will significantly boost testing capacity and make a game changer in the continent’s fight against the pandemic.
According to WHO, many African countries have struggled to test in sufficient numbers to control the pandemic. The new rapid tests are easy to use, cheaper than PCR and provide the results in just 15–30 minutes, enabling countries to decentralize testing.
WHO says that rapid antigen tests are an addition to PCR tests, not a replacement for them. Currently the two tests which WHO has approved for emergency use are the “standard Q COVID-19 Antigen Test by SD Biosensor Inc” and the “Panbio COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test Device” manufactured by Abbott.
Globally, 120 million of these tests are being made available to low- and middle-income countries through the ACT-Accelerator, a coalition launched by WHO and partners, comprising international organizations, the private sector and philanthropists. It aims to expedite the development, production and availability of promising tests, vaccines and treatments for COVID-19.
In Colombia, the acting UN Resident Coordinator there, Jessica Faieta, is leading our team’s work to support national and local efforts to save lives and livelihoods, in coordination with the UN Verification Mission on the peace and security front. Through the “Health for Peace” project, the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are all boosting access to health services in conflict-affected municipalities.
The UN team is also working on the pandemic response plan for the Amazon region in cooperation with our teams in Brazil and Peru. As a result, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) provided hygiene kits and risk communication support while the World Food Programme (WFP) increased food distribution.
The UN in Colombia is also providing food, sanitation, and shelter to more than 900,000 people while supplying protective equipment, including 15,000 masks, all produced by former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) combatants. These were given to indigenous communities. We also secured more than $50 million to support socio-economic recovery plan.
A UN impact assessment showed that Colombia’s economy contracted nearly 16 per cent in the second quarter and unemployment rates reached nearly 17 per cent in August.
Today, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is co-hosting, along with the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union, a virtual donor conference to help the Rohingya, both inside and outside Myanmar.
Speaking at the event, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, said that today’s conference sends a message to the Rohingya, the world’s largest stateless community, and to their generous host communities that the world has not forgotten them.
He noted that the UN, along with our partners have continued to support more than a million Rohingya refugees and their host communities in Bangladesh.
Mr. Lowcock added that the Rohingya refugees themselves have been the backbone of the response to COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar and stressed that there are still some 600,000 Rohingya inside Myanmar. Those people continue to have their basic rights denied, they suffer extreme hardships in Rakhine State and elsewhere.