HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 25 MARCH 2022
The Secretary-General welcomes the declaration by the Government of Ethiopia of an indefinite humanitarian truce, effective immediately and the commitment by Tigrayan authorities to a cessation of hostilities effective immediately.
The conflict in Ethiopia has caused terrible suffering for millions of people across Afar, Amhara, Tigray, Benishangul Gumz and Oromia. These positive developments must now translate into immediate improvements on the ground.
The Secretary-General therefore reiterates his call for the restoration of public services in Tigray, including banking, electricity and telecommunications, and calls for all sides to proactively enable and facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian assistance across the affected areas. The Secretary-General urges all parties to the conflict to build on this encouraging development to take the necessary steps towards a long-term ceasefire.
The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Osnat Lubrani, today issued a statement on which she describes travelling around the country in recent days, and seeing damage and suffering that no country, no human should ever have to experience.
Hundreds of thousands of people are trapped in cities where fighting is ongoing like Mariupol, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy and the capital, Kyiv, and in areas close to the frontlines. People are exhausted and running out of the basics needed for human survival, coping with constant bombardment and living in basements without heating, cooking fuel or water.
As an example, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the encircled city of Mariupol is running out of its last reserves of food and water. No humanitarian aid has been allowed into the city since it was encircled on 24 February. The World Food Programme said that the only way to reach Mariupol is through humanitarian convoys which up until now have not made it through.
Ms. Lubrani reiterates that civilians must be allowed to reach places of safety – and go wherever they choose – while safe passage for humanitarian supplies must also be allowed.
So far, the humanitarian operation continues to scale up and at least 890,000 people have been reached by the UN and its humanitarian partners with some form of assistance. That assistance includes food, shelter, blankets, medicines, water, sanitation, and hygiene supplies. This is in addition to the assistance provided by authorities, businesses, communities and the Red Cross Movement.
Today the World Food Programme also said it estimates that 45 per cent of the people in Ukraine are worried about finding enough to eat. Food is one of the top three concerns, along with safety and fuel for transport.
WFP estimates that one out of five people in Ukraine is already using some food-coping strategies like reducing size and number of meals and eating less food, and adults are sacrificing meals or eating less so children can eat.
WFP has provided food assistance to 716,000 people and is planning to scale up gradually to 1.2 million people in 2 weeks and 2.4 million people in one month.
For its part, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today warned that current indications are that, as a result of this war, between 20 and 30 per cent of areas sown to winter crops in Ukraine will remain unharvested during the 2022/23 season. In order to prevent or limit the conflict’s detrimental impacts on the food and agricultural sectors of Ukraine and the Russian Federation, FAO stresses that every effort should be made to keep the international trade in food and fertilizers open to meet domestic and global needs.
UKRAINE/HUMAN RIGHTS MONITORING MISSION
Today, in a statement, the Head of the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, Matilda Bogner, noted that day after day, the death toll and human suffering in cities, towns and villages across the country is increasing. She said that the extent of civilian casualties and the destruction of civilian objects strongly suggests that the principles of distinction, of proportionality, the rule on feasible precautions and the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks have been violated.
Ms. Bogner added that the Human Rights Monitoring Mission is also concerned by videos depicting prisoners of war being interrogated after their capture by both Ukrainian and Russian forces. She added that since the invasion by the Russian Federation, people believed to be thieves, bootleggers, pro-Russian supporters or curfew violators have been beaten in territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL/TRIP ANNOUNCEMENT
Tomorrow morning, the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will depart for Bangkok, Kingdom of Thailand, to attend the Asia Pacific Regional Forum for Sustainable Development, engage with regional directors of UN entities and meet with UN Resident Coordinators in the Region, Senior Officials and other stakeholders.
The Deputy Secretary-General will return to New York on 30 March 2022.
The Secretary-General is concerned about reports of fresh fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh. He urges the sides to refrain from any actions and statements that could escalate the situation and to address all outstanding issues, including humanitarian concerns, through direct dialogue and within existing formats.
This afternoon the Security Council will hold an open meeting to discuss the recent launch by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea of an intercontinental ballistic missile test. Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs will be briefing Council members.
UNITED NATIONS INTERIM SECURITY FORCE FOR ABYEI
The Acting Head of the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA), Major General Benjamin Oulefemi Sawyerr, travelled to Diffra to support efforts to prevent conflict following a deterioration in the security situation in the area since February.
Mayor General Sawyerr met with the Khartoum-appointed Chief Administrator and Misseriya community leaders to discuss the need for dialogue, the establishment of community protection committees, and the activation of an early warning system to reduce the risk of violence. He also assured the community that the mission will continue to prioritize security and the protection of civilians throughout Abyei during and after its transition into a multinational peacekeeping mission.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) said that yesterday, peacekeepers on a security patrol came under fire from armed individuals near the village of Ouarara, in the Gao region. In response, the peacekeepers fired back and one of the assailants later died from his injuries.
None of the peacekeepers were injured. The incident is being investigated and is another example of a concerning surge in violence against peacekeepers in Mali, particularly in relation to armed attacks as well as the use of improvised explosive devices – otherwise known as IEDs.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) today said that new data shows that in two months - between December of last year and January this year - the number of displaced people in Burkina Faso
has increased by 10 per cent, bringing the total number of internally displaced people to more than 1,7 million men, women and children.
Nearly one person out of five in Burkina Faso urgently needs humanitarian aid, in particular in the East, North-Central, North, and Sahel regions.
With more than 1,600 security incidents reported in February, 11 per cent more than in January – the ongoing violence negatively impacts access to basic social services both for people displaced and communities hosting them. By February, over 3,400 schools and 160 health centers were closed because of the security situation.
The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan, launched in February, seeks $591 million to help 3 million of the most vulnerable people. As of today, the plan is only 9 per cent funded.
The lack of funding is resulting in gaps in the provision of shelter and essential household items as well as water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) support.
Access to drinking water is particularly difficult and has worsened by the sabotage of water points by non-state armed groups in several regions of the country in February.
This year, OCHA has allocated $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund CERF to tackle food security, protection, wash, health, nutrition, shelter and education needs in the hard to reach Sahel and East regions.
In Myanmar, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) teamed up to provide cash transfers for vulnerable communities affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through UNOPS Livelihoods and Security Fund.
The Fund has provided one-time, cash transfers to over 46,000 households, including internally displaced people and poor families in conflict-affected communities in Kachin, northern Shan, Rakhine and Chin states.
The Fund’s previous emergency cash transfers to mothers, pregnant women, people with disabilities, migrant workers and the elderly, empowered people with choices when addressing their essential needs, including food and health care.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today said that the number of Nicaraguan refugees and asylum seekers in Costa Rica has doubled in the last eight months, reaching more than 150,000. This represents 3 per cent of Costa Rica’s total population of five million.
The agency said more Nicaraguans are seeking protection in Costa Rica than all the refugees and asylum seekers combined during Central America’s civil wars in the 1980s.
Today is the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In a message, the Secretary-General says that this is a day to remember the crime against humanity; the unprecedented mass human trafficking; the degrading economic transactions and unspeakable human rights violations.
The Secretary-General notes that today, people of African descent continue to confront racial discrimination, marginalization and exclusion. He says that the political, economic and structural power imbalances rooted in colonial rule, enslavement and exploitation, still deny equality of opportunity and justice. The Secretary-General calls on all to stand united against racism and together build societies based on dignity, equality and solidarity.
As part of the Day, the Department of Global Communications (DGC) – together with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) – today held an online cultural event, called “Rhythms of Resistance,” to highlight the history of the transatlantic slave trade, its ongoing legacy of racism, and Africa’s cultural impacts on the Americas. Speakers includes the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, UNFPA’s Executive Director, Natalia Kanem, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, Gabriela Ramos, the First Vice President of Costa Rica, Epsy Campbell Barr, and the Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Hilary Beckles, among others.
On Tuesday, 29 March, the General Assembly will hold an in-person meeting in the General Assembly Hall at 10:00 a.m. to commemorate the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The keynote speaker will be Nikole Hannah-Jones, the creator of “1619 Project”.
Today marks one hundred days since Typhoon Rai swept through 11 of Philippines’ 17 regions, impacting close to 12 million people, damaging over 2 million houses and leaving tens of thousands of people displaced.
Since then, the UN and its humanitarian partners have reached more than 715,000 of the most affected people with some form of emergency assistance.
To date the Humanitarian Needs and Priority Plan is 34 per cent funded with $56.6 million. The top response priorities are food, shelter, agriculture, water and sanitation.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is very concerned about the protection of people living in high-risk areas and the Resident Coordinator, Gustavo Gonzalez, is working with the Government and partners to explore durable solutions for people from the no-build zones.
INTERNATIONAL LABOUR ORGANIZATION/DIRECTOR-GENERAL
The next Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) will be Gilbert Houngbo from Togo. Mr. Houngbo, who is currently President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, was elected by the ILO’s Governing Body during their meeting in Geneva. He will be the 11th Director-General of the ILO, and the first African to hold the post.
The new Director-General’s five-year term will begin on 1 October 2022.