HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY FARHAN HAQ,
DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 29 MAY 2020
This morning, to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, the Secretary-General laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers’ memorial to honour the more than 3,900 women and men who have lost their lives since 1948, while serving under the UN flag.
In his remarks at a related event, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything we do, but not the service, sacrifice and selflessness of the more than 95,000 women and men serving in 13 peacekeeping operations around the world.
The theme of the international day this year is “Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace.’’ In his remarks, the Secretary-General emphasized how women help improve all aspects of our operations and performance.
He said peacekeeping is more effective for everyone when we have more women peacekeepers at all levels, including in decision-making. He added that we will continue to do everything we can to reach this goal.
The Secretary-General also awarded the ‘2019 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award’ to Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian naval officer serving with the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and to Major Suman Gawani from India, who served in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
On a related note, we have an update on how peacekeeping missions continue to support Member States’ response to COVID-19.
Our colleagues from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) report that the Mission provided personal and household goods, including televisions and computers to communities in Kosovo, including a children’s shelter and a shelter for victims of trafficking. This support will help the children to continue online learning to finish the academic year.
The UN Peacekeeping mission also reports it is working with young innovators, who are helping build 3D face shields for health workers.
The UN Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) recently handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and veterinary medicines to benefit communities in a number of villages in southern Lebanon.
The UN Mission in the Central Republic (MINUSCA) continues awareness and information campaigns as part of COVID-19 prevention efforts, through the Mission’s community violence reduction projects in Bangassou and Gambo, located in the country’s Southeast. In addition, the UN Mission, in partnership with local stakeholders conducted sensitization training workshops in Bouar.
Last night, the bureau of the parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with the UK and its Italian partners, agreed on new dates for the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, which will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021, in Glasgow.
The UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said that efforts to address climate change and COVID-19 are not mutually exclusive and that if done right, the recovery from this crisis can steer us to a more inclusive and sustainable climate path.
There is more information on the UNFCCC website.
In Honduras, there have been more than 4,600 cases and nearly 200 deaths from COVID-19.
The UN team, led by acting Resident Coordinator Martín Arévalo, yesterday presented its COVID-19 plan to the Government. This plan was developed by the Humanitarian Country Team with 40 national and international organizations.
It calls for nearly $100 million to help some three million Hondurans who are most in need. The new plan seeks to slow down transmission and strengthen health services. It will focus on mitigating the pandemic’s impact on livelihoods and promoting human rights.
The UN team is also working to “recover better” by identifying long-term solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
As of today, more than 740,000 people have benefited from actions already taken by the Humanitarian Network in the country.
In Brazil, our team, led by Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic, is working with national and local authorities on the health and socioeconomic pandemic response. The country now has over 411,000 cases and over 25,000 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19, according to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) figures.
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) is purchasing 10 million COVID-19 tests and is helping the Government identify global suppliers for urgently needed medical material. With funds from local governments, the UN Office for Project Services purchased personal protective equipment such as masks, non-surgical gloves and safety glasses for health teams in several cities.
The UN team is also working with local authorities in the Amazon region, focusing on protection of indigenous peoples and migrants, especially those coming from neighbouring Venezuela. On the border with Peru and Bolivia, the UN and partners donated 1.5 tonnes of food to more than 250 migrants who were in transit and were unable to leave Brazil due to the COVID-19-led border closure.
UN Women is also working with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) for specialized police stations that serve women and support centres for women who have suffered domestic violence.
And a new music video was released with artists Iza, from Brazil, and Maejor, from the United States. The video has reached nearly three million views in a week and has UNHCR-supported refugees participating alongside celebrities, calling on young people to be agents of change for all people and our shared planet.
The volume of items sent by post has dropped 21 per cent so far this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) said today.
This is the biggest drop the UPU has seen since electronic data started being recorded between its 192 member countries in 2010.
UPU adds that only one of every approximately two items sent are arriving at their destination within the same week, as opposed to around one during normal times.
The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) released yesterday a set of guidelines to reopen tourism and help the sector to emerge stronger and more sustainably from COVID-19.
The guidelines highlight the importance of restoring the confidence of travelers through safety and security protocols designed to reduce risks in each step of the tourism value chain.
These protocols include the implementation of check procedures where appropriate. Among them are temperature scans, testing, physical distancing, enhanced frequency of cleaning and the provision of hygiene kits for safe air travel, hospitality services or safe events.
Depending on when travel restrictions are lifted, the UN agency warns that international tourist arrivals could fall by between 60% and 80%. This puts 100 to 120 million jobs at risk and could lead to US$ 910 billion to US$ 1.2 trillion in lost exports.
The guidelines are available on the World Tourism Organization website.
In Yemen, seven weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was announced, the virus is spreading unchecked across the country.
The Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen, Lise Grande, said that “if we don’t get the funding we need and if more isn’t done to suppress the virus, COVID-19 could engulf Yemen.”
Of 41 major UN programmes in Yemen, 30 will close in the next few weeks. A week after the first confirmed case was announced, humanitarian agencies were forced to suspend incentives for up to 10,000 frontline health workers from lack of funding.
In spite of the lack of funding, the UN and other humanitarian agencies are staying and delivering aid to millions of Yemenis. Some 14,000 volunteers are informing communities about the virus; more than 4,500 metric tonnes of medical equipment, testing kits and medicine has already arrived in country; 4,500 metric tonnes are on the way, and partners are helping to build, upgrade, equip and train staff in 59 intensive care units across the country.
This morning, the Security Council held a closed meeting by video conference on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and sanctions.
This afternoon, the Council is expected to vote on resolutions on the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), South Sudan sanctions, the UN Mission in Iraq and the African Union-UN Mission in Darfur.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights today expressed her shock at the killing of five men in Nepal by opponents of a relationship between people of different castes. She also condemned other cases of caste-based discrimination and violence that have taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Michelle Bachelet said that it is distressing that caste-based prejudices remain deeply entrenched in our world in the 21st century.
She stressed that ending caste-based discrimination is fundamental to the sustainable development vision of leaving no one behind.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) deplores the killing of 30 migrants in a shooting on Wednesday involving a trafficker in Libya.
The tragedy occurred is a smuggling warehouse in Mezda, southwest of Tripoli, where a group of migrants were being held. Eleven migrants who sustained severe injuries have been rushed to the hospital.
IOM is calling on Libyan authorities to immediately launch an investigation to bring those responsible to justice.
In Kenya, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that seasonal heavy rains have affected nearly 302,000 people in 43 of the 47 counties. Currently, according to the Kenya Red Cross Society, over 211,000 people are displaced, up from 116,000 at the beginning of the month.
Nearly 27,000 livestock have been lost and over 30,000 acres of crops submerged, increasing the risk of food insecurity across the country.
The UN Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated US$ 3 million to the response, which will support partners in providing shelter, food, water, sanitation and health services to the affected population. Emergency shelter and non-food items have been distributed to over 5,600 households.
In Ethiopia, excessive heavy rains which started in April have led to flooding, displacement, loss of lives and livelihoods, as well as damage to infrastructure in different parts of the country.
According to authorities, flooding has affected more than 470,000 people, of whom over 300,000 people are displaced.
The Government, the UN and other humanitarian agencies, and communities are responding to the needs of flood-affected and displaced people, although with limitations.
Our humanitarian colleagues say that $25.6 million is urgently required to address unmet needs as well as early recovery support.
In Somalia, our humanitarian colleagues tell us that seven Somali health workers were abducted two days ago from a mother and child health clinic run by an NGO in Gololey village in the Middle Shabelle region. These seven health workers and another civilian were subsequently killed.
The Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, said any attacks against medical facilities and personnel are unacceptable and a breach of international humanitarian law and any common decency. He called for a thorough and transparent investigation.
In Venezuela, a plane carrying 12 tonnes of humanitarian aid from United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has landed in the country to support the UN humanitarian response.
This shipment includes 127,000 water purification tablets, 18 water tanks and 40,000 nutritional support packages. These supplies complement UNICEF's response, which has already delivered some 90 tonnes of supplies to 189 health institutions, including 38 hospitals, clinics and community health centres in 13 states.
To date, the UN and other partners have reached one million people as part of the COVID-19 response and in the continuity of other critical response areas of health, shelter and equipment, food, protection, education and nutrition, including for returnees.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) today warned of worsening conditions for displaced Venezuelans in the southern region of the continent as winter approaches. UNHCR is worried that their plight could now worsen with the onset of winter as temperatures drop in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, which together host more than 1.5 million Venezuelans.
UNHCR is also strengthening humanitarian partnerships to be able to provide essential healthcare for refugees in vulnerable conditions.
In Nigeria, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners are stepping up their assistance for nearly 4,000 displaced people who lost all of their possessions in a large fire in a camp in Maiduguri in eastern Borno State.
Two people died in the fire and thousands were left without shelter.
UNHCR is working with authorities, aid agencies and local partners to make sure those affected receive shelter and other relief items as people are once again displaced inside and outside of the camp. Many, including young children, are living under the open skies, needing immediate help with shelter, food and clothing.
WORLD NO TOBACCO DAY
This year, World No Tobacco Day will be marked on Sunday. It will focus on protecting children and young people from exploitation by the tobacco and related industry.
Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching a new kit for school students aged 13 to 17 years old, alerting them to the tobacco industry's tactics.
WHO notes that every year the tobacco industry invests more than US $9 billion to advertise its products. Increasingly, it is targeting young people with nicotine and tobacco products in a bid to replace the eight million people that its products kill every year.