HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 24 FEBRUARY 2021
The government of Portugal has written to the President of the General Assembly and the President of the Security Council, officially nominating António Guterres as a candidate for a second term as Secretary-General.
The Secretary-General is grateful and humbled by this support and will do everything he can to be worthy of that trust.
SECRETARY-GENERAL CALL TO ACTION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Earlier today, the Secretary-General, in a briefing on his Call to Action for Human Rights, said in the General Assembly, the health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly turned into an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and a human rights crisis.
He added that we now have a unique and historic opportunity to forge a world where every person is afforded dignity; where every society can withstand crises; and where everyone’s future is built upon a foundation of inalienable rights.
He listed progress accomplished since the Call to Action was launched last year, but he said that our enduring challenge is to transform the promise of the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into real-world change on the ground.
Transformative change will take the full commitment and support from everyone, he added.
The UN team in Myanmar is gravely concerned that the recent events will jeopardize the COVID-19 vaccination effort that is underway.
Our colleagues say that Myanmar had developed a robust, meticulous national deployment and vaccination plan. It had already vaccinated 105,000 health workers as of 31 January.
Also on Myanmar, the UNICEF team in the country said today that it is alarmed by the continued use of excessive force against children by security forces during ongoing demonstrations.
Earlier this week, on February 22nd, a five-year-old child was seriously wounded in Kachin State when he was reportedly shot by a member of security forces using a slingshot. As we told you earlier this week, a child was killed by security forces in Mandalay over the weekend.
UNICEF is once again calling on security forces to refrain from violence, to exercise maximum restraint and for differences to be resolved through constructive and peaceful means, prioritizing the protection and safety of children and young people.
There are reports that a ship carrying Rohingya refugees is in distress in the Andaman Sea. The International Organization for Migration today called on countries in the region to meet their international obligations and to ensure that all people onboard are immediately rescued and safely disembarked.
The vessel has been at sea for more than 10 days and there has reportedly been loss of life on board.
IOM once again stresses that saving lives must be a top priority and that a lasting regional solution to a regional problem must be found.
At least 8,000 people have been displaced in Marib governorate in recent weeks due to the escalating hostilities. The vast majority of the displaced are women and children.
This comes on top of already high levels of displacement and humanitarian needs in that governorate. Displacement to and within Marib accounted for two-thirds of all displacements in Yemen last year.
The UN and its humanitarian partners are scaling up support and planning. Newly displaced households are receiving food, hygiene kits, healthcare and other assistance. However, a worsening of the situation could quickly overwhelm existing capacities and force hundreds of thousands to flee.
The UN continues to call for an immediate de-escalation of violence in Marib and the rest of the country and obviously encourage all parties in Yemen to redouble their efforts to support the work of Martin Griffiths in achieving a political solution and a nationwide ceasefire as soon as possible.
The Yemen high-level pledging event on Monday is a crucial opportunity for the international community to support the humanitarian response and show solidarity with the people of Yemen. Almost $4 billion, or rather $3.85 billion, to be precise, is needed to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to 16 million people in Yemen in 2021.
In his briefing to the Security Council last week, Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, gave an update on the situation of the tanker. Unfortunately, the UN has encountered new delays after recent additional requests from the Houthis, who also refer to themselves as Ansar Allah. Those additional requests focus on logistics and security arrangements. The UN is talking to them now to try to resolve these issues.
Because of this, it’s now difficult to say exactly when the mission could be deployed. Unfortunately, we can’t finalize mission preparations until all of the issues are resolved.
We understand that many Member States, including donors to the project, are extremely concerned by these new delays.The UN shares those concerns.
The UN remains eager to deploy the mission at the earliest possible opportunity. This mission is an important first step to avert an environmental and humanitarian disaster. There are about 1.1 million barrels of oil onboard the ship. A leak would have devastating ecological, humanitarian and economic consequences, not only for the people of Yemen, but for the entire Red Sea region.
The mission will provide the assessment needed to formulate a permanent solution. It is already two years too late and cannot not be stalled any longer.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
At the Security Council today, in a briefing about the Central African Republic, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the Head of Peace Operations, renewed the call to strengthen the peacekeeping mission with an increase of 2,750 military and 940 police personnel. He pointed out that this request is not intended as a means for a military solution. The additional capabilities, Mr. Lacroix said, would strengthen the Mission’s ability to protect civilians, create the conditions for progress in the political process, and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance. The increase would also contribute to enhanced protection of UN personnel and installations.
In recent weeks, Mr. Lacroix added that some important progress was achieved against the CPC armed group, but the situation remains volatile. He noted that over a thousand trucks carrying lifesaving supplies, food, as well as medical supplies required to fight the pandemic, remain blocked at the border with Cameroon, that very important road between Douala and Bangui.
In this context, Mr. Lacroix said it is now essential that these democratic gains are preserved by completing the electoral process. He reiterated the urgency to initiate an inclusive and meaningful dialogue and recalled that the peace agreement remains the only viable framework for peace in the Central African Republic.
The Spokesman paid tribute to UN colleague Mustapha Milambo, who died in the brutal attack Monday near Goma, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
For 16 years, Mustapha served with commitment, dedication and bravery as a driver for the World Food Programme.
In a social media post, David Beasley, the Executive director of the World Food Programme, said he was like an older brother to many in the WFP office in Goma. He was always ready to lend an ear or to give advice. He added that he was known for his sense of humour and the fantastic team spirit he brought to his service for the World Food Programme.
Mustapha was laid to rest yesterday. On behalf of the entire UN family, the Spokesman sent his deepest condolences to his family and to his friends. As many colleagues who had the pleasure of working with him have said, he will be greatly missed.
Ghana has become the first recipient of COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, receiving 600,000 vaccines today.
In a joint statement, the World Health Organization and UNICEF called this a momentous occasion, with the arrival of vaccines critical to bringing the pandemic to an end.
They stressed that the only way forward out of this crisis is to ensure that vaccinations are available for all.
WHO and UNICEF noted that the shipments also represent the beginning of what could be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. COVAX plans to deliver nearly two billion doses of vaccines this year.
In Mozambique, conflict and climatic shocks in the northern province of Cabo Delgado continue to drive increasing displacement and lead to a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in that region.
Nearly 670,000 people were internally displaced in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula by the end of last year. From those, almost 580,000 men, women and children were uprooted from their homes in 2020 alone.
More than 950,000 people in the three provinces are now facing severe food insecurity.
The region is also facing an outbreak of cholera, with nearly 5,000 cases and 55 deaths reported by mid-February in 2021, mainly among displaced people. This is happening amidst a severe disruption of services in health, water and sanitation and hygiene.
Humanitarian partners in Mozambique urgently require additional funding to scale up the response in Cabo Delgado. The Humanitarian Response Plan seeks $254 million to help 1.1 million people affected in Cabo Delgado and neighbouring provinces in 2021.
In Mexico, UNHCR and the UN Migration agency today began preparing individuals and families in the informal Matamoros camp for entry to the United States. This is in line with the U.S. plan to terminate a policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) that forced asylum-seekers to wait for their U.S. immigration hearings in Mexico.
UNHCR began in-person registration of some 750 people and IOM is conducting COVID-19 tests to ensure protection of public health. At the same time UNICEF is ensuring humane treatment of children and their families.
This action by UN agencies comes at the request of the United States and Mexican governments to assist with the re-entry into the US of an estimated 25,000 people who have active immigration proceedings in the U.S. but were returned to wait in Mexico under the MPP program. More information online.
The Secretary-General sent his best wishes to Costa Rica on the second anniversary of its National Decarbonization Plan. He congratulated Costa Rica for its recently updated Nationally Determined Contribution in the Paris Agreement.
Costa Rica is also developing a Just Transition Strategy to create stable and well-paying green jobs, and to turn the current moratorium on exploring and exploiting fossil fuels into law.
In Colombia, the UN team led by the acting Resident Coordinator, Jessica Faieta, has been supporting the
authorities to join the COVAX facility for vaccine rollout, which began just a few days ago. Colombia is one in a handful of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean in the first phase of the COVAX-related vaccine rollout, with the Pan-American Health Organization and working with authorities to prepare for this effort.
Colombia is also one of the 31 countries that are using a platform developed by WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank to evaluate countries’ readiness for COVID-19 vaccines. The work done in Colombia is also being led by the health local authorities and PAHO, with UN entities, NGOs, and other national partners.
The focus is to boost preparedness for the vaccine rollout at the local level, reaching the most vulnerable populations, as well as monitoring, evaluation, and documenting lessons learned.
The UN System in Ecuador issued a statement last night expressing solidarity with the families of those killed and injured in the violent events that took place in three prisons in Ecuador.
The UN team on the ground called for a prompt and impartial investigation into the events and for those responsible to be brought to account. Further, the UN in Ecuador stressed that the crisis should be managed in adherence with the Constitution and international human rights standards.
UN colleagues also called on the authorities to address the root causes of this situation. They expressed readiness to support the authorities in these efforts.
A report today by the UN World Food Programme warns that the COVID-19 pandemic risks reversing a decade of hard-won gains in global efforts to provide nutritious food to the world’s most vulnerable children through a daily free meal in school.
According to the State of School Feeding Worldwide report, one in two schoolchildren, that’s 388 million children worldwide, were receiving school meals before the pandemic struck. This was the highest number in history.
The report notes that by April 2020, 199 countries had closed their schools and 370 million children were suddenly deprived of what was for many their only nutritious meal of the day.
WFP calls for global action to get coverage back to pre-pandemic levels and to expand further. The report stresses that in a post-COVID-19 world, school feeding programmes are even more of a priority investment. Efficient school meals programmes yield returns of up to $ 9 for every $ 1 invested.
NOON BRIEFING GUESTS
Guests are the noon briefing today were the Executive Director of the UN Population Fund, Natalia Kanem, and Natalia Vodianova, model, philanthropist and an impact investor, who is UNFPA’s newest Goodwill Ambassador.
Tomorrow at 11 a.m., there will be a virtual briefing on the launch of the Financial Integrity for Sustainable Development Report by the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda, otherwise known as the FACTI Panel.
Kuwait has paid its regular budget dues in full.