Just after midnight, the Secretary-General’s Policy Brief examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on South-East Asia will be launched, looking at how governments have acted swiftly to battle the pandemic and avoid its worst effects.
It will also spotlight how COVID-19 has highlighted deep inequalities, shortfalls in governance and the imperative for a sustainable development pathway.
Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, briefed the Security Council this morning on Syria. He told Council members that the Syrian economy, devastated by nearly a decade of conflict, has entered a period of extreme fragility. For the year as a whole, he said, the economy is expected to contract by more than 7 per cent.
He warned that food prices are 240 per cent higher than in June last year, so families across the country can no longer afford the very basics. Some 9.3 million people are food insecure, he said, while more than two million more are at risk of becoming food insecure.
Mr. Lowcock added that the ceasefire reached in March in the north-west between the Russian Federation and Turkey is largely holding, but some air and ground-based strikes have been reported in recent weeks.
The Humanitarian Response Plan for Syria, with a funding requirement of $3.4 billion in 2020, is 32 per cent funded halfway through the year.
A one-month campaign by the World Health Organization, which began on 29 June, targeted more than six million people in ten heavily populated and COVID-19-affected districts in Baghdad with health promotion and awareness messages. Its purpose was to limit transmission of the virus, following an increase in the number of cases reported in Iraq.
The campaign, dubbed "Your health is important," was conducted in each of the ten districts for a period of three days. It will now be extended to Sulaymaniyah, Basra, Missan, Thi Qar and Wasit on 9 August and will target areas reporting a high number of cases.
The World Food Programme (WFP) today said that the relentless rise of hunger, deepening inequality and an active hurricane season are threatening the people of Latin America and the Caribbean and may have far-reaching consequences unless swift action is taken.
Latin America has become the region most affected by the virus, accounting for over a quarter of the world’s cases.
WFP said the region is set to see a 269 per cent rise in the number of people facing severe food insecurity, bringing the total to 16 million people not knowing where their next meal is coming from in the coming months, up from 4.3 million last year.
From its regional humanitarian hub in Panama, WFP is supporting the logistics for the pandemic response, transporting humanitarian and health cargo to the frontlines. WFP is providing food rations for children no longer able to attend schools, and vouchers and cash so people can shop at local stores. It is also helping governments strengthen and expand national safety net programmes.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs today said the crisis in the northeast region, now in its 11th year, shows no sign of abating, with fighting and attacks escalating in recent months.
Following attacks by armed groups and clashes with government forces, more than 40,000 people have been newly displaced to already-congested camps and host communities in May and June alone across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states.
Worsening insecurity has also directly affected aid operations, with three aid workers killed and a UN helicopter hit and damaged by bullets in Borno State earlier this month.
With 1.8 million people internally displaced, the protection of civilians remains a major concern for the UN, and our humanitarian colleagues say that there have been gross violations of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law.
The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated vulnerabilities and needs across northeast Nigeria, with 10.6 million people now in need of assistance, up from 7.9 million in January.
Less than 30 per cent of the more than $1 billion of the required humanitarian funding for 2020 has been received so far.
A new report, released today by the UN Refugee Agency and the Danish Refugee Council, details how most people taking irregular journeys between West and East Africa and Africa’s Mediterranean Coast suffer or witness unspeakable brutality at the hands of smugglers, traffickers, militias and in some cases, even State officials.
Data from the report, titled ‘On this journey, no one cares if you live or die’, suggests that a minimum of 1,750 people died on these journeys in 2018 and 2019, making it one of the deadliest routes for refugees and migrants in the world. These deaths are in addition to the thousands who have died or gone missing while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe after reaching north African shores.
UNHCR is calling for greater efforts, as well as more cooperation between States, to strengthen the protection of people travelling these routes and to provide credible, legal alternatives to these dangerous and desperate journeys. They are also calling for accountability and greater efforts to dismantle smugglers’ networks.
A new joint analysis by the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund says that, by the end of June, some 108,000 children under the age of one might have missed out on their first measles and other vaccines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The agencies warn that, in the long term, this could translate to children living compromised lives, with low immunity, and becoming more prone to catching and spreading infectious diseases.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that heavy monsoon rains have affected some 4.7 million people, including nearly two million children.
These floods are forecast to be the longest since 1998, inundating nearly a quarter of the country.
Nearly one million houses are waterlogged, and some 90,000 people have moved to shelters.
Humanitarian partners are coordinating with the Government to distribute food, water purification units, hygiene and dignity kits, and emergency shelter supplies.
SENIOR PERSONNEL APPOINTMENT
Today, the Secretary-General appointed Pedro Antonio Guazo Alonso of Spain, also a national of Mexico, as Representative of the Secretary-General for the investment of the assets of the United Nations Joint Staff Pension Fund.
Acting as Representative of the Secretary-General for the investment of the assets of the Pension Fund since April this year, Mr. Guazo is Director of the Finance Division and Deputy Controller in the Office of Programme Planning, Finance and Budget of the Department of Management Strategy, Policy and Compliance in New York, since 2012.
He had previously served in a similar capacity at the World Food Programme in Rome.
With over 10 years of experience in high level management positions in the UN system, together with more than 17 years of experience in the private and public sectors, Mr. Guazo brings expertise in national, regional and global practices for financial and pension fund systems.
Tomorrow at 2.30 p.m., there will be an end-of-presidency press briefing by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen of Germany, President of the Security Council for the month of July.