HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 27 JULY 2020
Tonight, at one minute after midnight, the Secretary-General will release his policy brief on COVID-19 and the Urban World. The report will give an overview of the stark impact the pandemic is having on cities. It will demonstrate how the crisis has worsened existing inequalities, development deficits and has thrown the UN’s sustainable urbanization policies into question. It will also give recommendations on how to tackle this inequality and ensure that vulnerable populations are protected.
A new UN report released today says that, even though there has been a drop in civilian casualties in Afghanistan, it remains one of the deadliest conflicts in the world for civilians.
There have been fewer [civilian] casualties in the first half of 2020 compared to the same time period last year - mainly due to the reduction in operations by international military forces and Da'esh in Khorasan.
However, the new report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said that there has been no reduction in civilian casualties caused by the Taliban and Afghan national security forces.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Deborah Lyons, urges the parties to reflect on the harm they are causing to the Afghan people and to take decisive action to stop the carnage and get to the negotiating table.
Also in Afghanistan, there is a deteriorating humanitarian situation amid rising cases of COVID-19 and funding deficits for the country’s humanitarian response plan.
There have been more than 36,000 confirmed cases in the country, and 1,269 deaths due to the virus. As the testing capacity and the health system in Afghanistan is limited, these numbers very likely do not reflect the true severity of the outbreak.
So far, less than one quarter of Afghanistan’s 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) is funded, compared to 27 per cent this time last year. Without urgent funding, life-saving activities, which include the COVID-19 response, will be delayed and lives will be lost.
This afternoon, the Security Council will hold a closed session by VTC to discuss the recent political developments in Mali, as well as mediation efforts. On the UN side, members of the Council will be briefed by the head of the peacekeeping mission in Mali, Mahamat Saleh Annadif.
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC
In the Central African Republic, the joint operation named “A la Londo” is making progress against the 3R armed group.
Yesterday, UN peacekeepers took control of the town of Besson from the armed group.
Last week, UN and Central African forces also regained control of the towns of Niem and Gedze.
The head of the peacekeeping mission, Mankeur Ndiaye, reiterated his commitment to continue the operation until the surrender of the 3R armed group and until the population of the area can live in peace.
PEACEKEEPING COVID SUPPORT
And staying in the Central African Republic, the UN Mission continues to support the country’s pandemic response with logistical and operational support through what is called “Quick Impact Projects”.
The Mission delivered medical equipment and personal protective gear, freezers, chlorine and more.
Schools received tables, benches and teaching materials, while the Coordination of Islamic Women of Ouaka was given cassava mills to help them process cassava for commercial purposes.
MINUSCA also supported the equipment of a training room for young people in Boeing-Bimbo, in the Ouaka Prefecture, which will help facilitate social cohesion and peaceful cohabitation between communities.
And from South Sudan, the UN Mission continues to raise awareness about COVID-19.
The Mission is helping to provide reliable information to people in Basukangbi, a remote village with no communications network, in Western Equatoria State. Peacekeepers spoke with local community leaders and others on the dangers of COVID-19 and how they can keep themselves and others safe. The UN Mission also helped to construct a road that will allow people to reduce the amount of travel time to the nearest town to sell their produce and buy essential supplies for their families.
In Brazil, where there are now nearly 2.4 million confirmed cases and more than 86,000 deaths due to COVID-19, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic, is working with national and local authorities to address the immediate health needs and curb other impacts of the pandemic. The team is focusing specifically on addressing these impacts in the Amazon region to protect indigenous peoples and vulnerable communities.
The International Organization for Migration’s (IOM) mobile health units are assisting refugees and migrants. IOM and local partners also delivered 700 hygiene kits, furniture and appliances to poor families, including those coming from Venezuela.
For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) worked with 300 girls from vulnerable settings and over 30 public servants to tailor public policies and services seeking to protect and empower girls during the pandemic. UNICEF also delivered more than 7,000 hygiene kits to Afro-Brazilian communities in the North.
In addition, UN agencies are supporting local authorities to relocate nearly 160 Warao indigenous people to a new permanent shelter.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that at least 3.3 million people are currently affected, with nearly one quarter of the country being flooded, according to an assessment just completed by the Government and aid partners.
Some 40 per cent of those affected are children, with nearly half of the 93 people who have died being children.
The flooding has damaged housing and infrastructure, including dams, water wells, hygiene facilities and more than 1,900 schools. It has also severely disrupted healthcare services in many areas.
Livelihoods, local markets, crops, livestock and fisheries have also been severely affected, which our humanitarian colleagues warn could also lead to increased food insecurity.
Humanitarian partners are responding, in coordination with the Government of Bangladesh.
The spokesman provided an update on the investigation into a video involving staff members of the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO).
A third male international staff member who was in the UN vehicle in Tel Aviv has also been identified as having engaged in alleged misconduct.
The staff member has been placed on Administrative Leave Without Pay, pending the results and conclusion of the ongoing OIOS investigation.
WORLD HEPATITIS DAY
Ahead of World Hepatitis Day, which is marked tomorrow, the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the proportion of children under five years of age chronically infected with hepatitis B (HBV) dropped to just under 1% in 2019. This is down from around 5% in the pre-vaccine era, which is the period between the 1980s and the early 2000s.
WHO notes that this marks the achievement of one of the milestone targets to eliminate viral hepatitis in the Sustainable Development Goals.
On World Hepatitis Day 2020, the World Health Organization is calling for united and stepped-up action to build on this achievement. Globally, more than 250 million people are living with chronic hepatitis B and infants are especially vulnerable.
PRESS BRIEFING TOMORROW
Tomorrow, Selwin Hart, the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Climate Action and Assistant Secretary-General of the Climate Action Team, will brief reporters on the launch of the Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change and other efforts to address climate change as the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic.