HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
MONDAY, 29 JUNE 2020
On 30 June, the UN will launch a new initiative to help stop the spread of COVID-19 misinformation online. The campaign, named Pause, asks internet users to take time to think about what they share before posting it online.
From the stigmatization of health workers to people’s refusal to follow healthcare advice, the consequences are real and deadly, so the UN is asking people everywhere to take action directly, to Pause, to help control the spread of misinformation.
FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
I want to flag that the Secretary-General is convening a series of roundtables focused on Financing for Development.
The first roundtable will be this Wednesday - with renowned women economists, policy leaders and academics. They will share their insights and knowledge about what we can do to recover better and get on track to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.
This is following on from the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond, which as you all recall was co-hosted by the Secretary-General, as well as the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Canada.
The roundtables will continue the discussion on debt, external finance, international trade and the need to engage new and diverse perspectives, to rethink old models, and to recover from the pandemic stronger than before.
The UN Special Envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, arrived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia today. He is expected to have meetings with officials from the Government of Yemen and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The visit comes as part of the Special Envoy's efforts to negotiate a Joint Declaration between the Government of Yemen and Ansar Allah, which would commit the Parties to a ceasefire across Yemen, specific economic and humanitarian measures and the urgent resumption of the political process.
This morning, the Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, briefed members of the Security Council on humanitarian efforts in Syria.
He said that the United Nations continues to support COVID-19 preparedness and response measures across Syria, including the expansion of testing capacities. But he added that Syria’s health system is not prepared for a large-scale outbreak.
Mr. Lowcock said that prices of food, medicines, fuel and other essential commodities are soaring across Syria. The volatile exchange rate has seen the Syrian Pound lose more value in the last six months than in the first nine years of the current crisis.
Meanwhile, he said, under the cross-border operations, authorized by the Security Council, 1,781 aid trucks crossed the border from Turkey into north-west Syria in May. Most of the cross-border aid is food – and it is enough for 1.3 million people every month.
Still, he added, more and more children and infants are arriving at nutrition centres showing signs of chronic and acute malnutrition.
Mr. Lowcock warned that a failure to extend the cross-border authorization would sever the UN operation currently underway. It would also end the UN food deliveries and the support to nutrition centres and cause suffering and death.
This afternoon, Rosemary di Carlo, the head of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) is expected to brief the council on Peace and Security in Africa. Council members are also expected to renew the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali for another year.
In a video message we issued over the weekend for the “Global Goal: Unite For Our Future” campaign, the Secretary-General said that the COVID-19 pandemic is the quintessential global challenge, affecting every person, every economy and every corner of the globe.
He said that the UN is mobilizing to save lives, ease suffering and recover better, with a special focus on the world’s most vulnerable people and countries.
More than ever, the Secretary-General said, we need the World Health Organization (WHO), global unity and partnerships to ensure that new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and a people’s vaccine are safe, effective and affordable.
The full message is on our website.
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) are assisting host communities in the South of Lebanon with donations of personal protective equipment and swab testing machines to carry out these tests.
They have also supported the work of the Red Cross to establish two triage centers in the Tyre district, in south-western Lebanon.
Separately, in the south-eastern village of Adchit Al-Qusayr, UNIFIL peacekeepers donated critical medical supplies to the local dispensary and gave out personal protective equipment and sanitary supplies.
Meanwhile, our colleagues in the peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) are distributing 400 solar-powered radios in Eastern Equatoria. The radios will be used to combat misinformation and increase COVID 19 awareness, particularly in remote areas.
In Mali, the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA) is providing protection kits to the Cooperative of Road Transporters, as well as to members of civil society organizations located in Mopti, in Central Mali.
From Somalia, the head of the UN Mission visited the country’s national public health lab today, commending Somalia’s advances in diagnostic testing for COVID-19.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative, James Swan, stressed how critical the testing is, adding that the progress in scaling up Somalia’s capacity to confront the pandemic demonstrates what can be achieved when national and international experts work hand in hand.
On our efforts to address the virus in Timor-Leste, the 24 people who had been confirmed positive have now fully recovered.
Our team there, led by Resident Coordinator Roy Trivedy, is supporting the easing of emergency restrictions, with the Government’s main concern being people crossing the borders and increasing the risk of the virus spreading in rural communities.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), among other UN agencies, have strengthened border surveillance, case detection and contact-tracing, along with offering quarantine and isolation facilities.
While thankfully COVID-19 has not taken any lives in Timor-Leste, the virus is seriously impacting the economy, particularly the small- and medium -sized businesses and vulnerable groups.
Local markets and transport facilities have reopened, following WHO and Government health and safety protocols. The UN is providing support from the Secretary-General’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
The International Labour Organization (ILO), UN Women, UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and others have distributed $54 million to 270,000 households to help prevent people from sliding into poverty.
The World Food Programme has also launched its air service between Malaysia and Timor-Leste to transport humanitarian cargo and workers.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the Resident Coordinator are assessing the socio-economic impact of the virus and are supporting the Government’s Economic Recovery Plan, which is scheduled to last until 2023.
COVID-19/WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME
The World Food Programme (WFP) said today that, as the impact of the pandemic pushes millions more people into food insecurity in low- and middle-income countries, the agency is undertaking the biggest humanitarian response in its history.
WFP is ramping up the number of people it assists to up to 138 million. This is up from a record 97 million in 2019.
WFP’s new estimates show that the number of hungry people in the countries where it operates could increase to 270 million before the year’s end. That is an 82 percent increase from before the pandemic took hold.
The World Food Programme is appealing for US$ 4.9 billion over the next six months for its life-saving work they do in 83 countries.