HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC
SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
WEDNESDAY, 25 MAY 2022
In a statement issued last night, the Secretary-General expressed his shock and sadness at the heinous mass shooting that took place at an elementary school in Uvalde, in Texas. It is particularly heart-wrenching that most of the victims are children.
The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and to the entire community.
DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL’S TRAVELS
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, is in Indonesia, where, today, she formally opened the 7th Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction 2022. She did this together with the Indonesian President, Mr. Joko Widodo; the Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori; and the President of the General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid.
The meeting, entitled “From Risk to Resilience”, brings together governments, the UN system and others in how to share best practices and knowledge on reducing disaster risk.
The Global Assessment Report by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction found that there were from 350 to 500 medium- to large-scale disasters in 2021. This number could reach 560 – or 1.5 disasters a day – by 2030 without a radical rethink in how risk is managed and financed.
At the opening ceremony of the conference, the Deputy Secretary-General said we have a unique opportunity to consider the best policy options to move from risk to resilience, and to take important steps to ensure the recovery from COVID-19 puts us back on track for a safe and sustainable future.
On the sidelines of the event, the Deputy Secretary-General met with the Vice President of Zambia, Ms. Mutale Nalumango, as well as other senior government officials as well as UN partners.
Yesterday in Bali, the Deputy Secretary-General, joined by the Resident Coordinator for Indonesia, Valerie Julliand, visited the Tanjong Benoa Elementary School to observe a tsunami school drill with more than 200 students and teachers.
In Ukraine, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that over the past two days, fighting has continued in Luhanska and Donetska oblasts, and to a lesser extent in Kharkivska oblast. Other parts of Ukraine have also been impacted by missile attacks, all raising concerns for the protection of civilians.
UN humanitarian partners also warn that there are critical shortages of medicines in southern Khersonska oblast. Ninety per cent of the pharmacies across the oblast are closed and prices have increased three to five times.
We, along with our partners, are continuing our life-saving work across the country. We have supported nearly 7 million people out of 16 million who need humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
The UN thanks donors who have generously provided $1.37 billion. That’s about 61 per cent of the $2.25 billion required through August. Humanitarians stress that turning pledges into commitments is needed for the continuity of humanitarian operations.
The UN also continues to advocate for humanitarian access to the hardest-hit areas, including those beyond the control of the Government of Ukraine.
At the Security Council, there was an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Ramesh Rajasingham, OCHA’s Director of Coordination, said conflict continued to cause widespread civilian death and injury, damaged and eroded critical infrastructure, including hospitals and also put education at risk.
As an example, he said that over 900 schools in Afghanistan were destroyed, damaged or closed in the first nine months of last year.
Mr. Rajasingham called on all parties to conflict to take practical steps to better protect civilians – from tracking
reports of civilian harm to gauge the impact of military operations, to avoiding the use of explosive weapons with wide-area effects in populated areas.
He also called on parties to take steps to facilitate humanitarian activities.
In the Central African Republic, the UN Peacekeeping Mission has organized two roundtables on local elections, which are projected to take place this year and next. The roundtables promoted better female representation, among other things, and brought together authorities from sub-prefectures in Mbomou.
Meanwhile, the Peacekeeping Mission in Mali, in West Africa, has just concluded a three-day course on International Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law for the benefit of the Malian Armed Forces.
On the Philippines, more than 85,000 people from Marawi City in the Lanao del Sur province remain displaced five years after clashes between Government forces and militant groups displaced about 350,000 people – or about 98 per cent of the city’s population.
The UN is working with partners to continue to help the displaced people, who need assistance in the areas of food, livelihood assistance, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, health and nutrition, and protection.
In April of this year, more than 700 families were relocated to permanent shelters. Last week, UN-Habitat provided 1,000 shelters in five sites.
A team from OCHA is currently in Marawi to discuss outstanding needs.
As of yesterday, in all of the Philippines, more than 119,000 men, women and children remained displaced due to armed conflict, earthquakes, flooding and typhoons.
From Fiji, the UN team, led by the Resident Coordinator Sanaka Samarasinha, continues to help respond to the pandemic, including by supporting the national vaccination efforts.
To date, 95 per cent of the adult population is fully vaccinated. Through COVAX, Fiji has received more than half a million doses from Japan, New Zealand and the United States – and we thank these Governments for their donations.
The UN team has helped people in numerous areas, including in trade, social protection, emergency aid, and advancing the SDGs.
Today is Africa day. In a video message to mark the day, the Secretary-General said we celebrate the enormous promise and potential of this diverse and dynamic continent.
But as we mark the day, he added, we are also reminded of the multiple challenges preventing Africa from reaching its full potential –the COVID 19 pandemic, climate change, as well as the war in Ukraine that is creating a perfect storm for developing countries, especially on the continent.
The Secretary-General said we must intensify our efforts to end the pandemic, reform the global financial system, stop climate change and silence the guns across Africa.
Tomorrow morning, the Secretary-General is scheduled to speak at the opening segment of the High-level Policy Dialogue that is part of the Africa Dialogue.
NOON BRIEFING GUEST TOMORROW
Tomorrow the International Day of UN Peacekeepers will be marked at UN headquarters. Jean-Pierre Lacroix , the head of the Department of Peace Operations department, will be the guest at the noon briefing.