HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC,

SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

WEDNESDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2020

SECRETARY-GENERAL/COVID-19 

The Secretary-General spoke at a high-level event on the ACT-Accelerator, which seeks to speed up efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic by supporting the development and equitable distribution of the diagnostics, vaccines and treatments the world needs. 

Today’s meeting was also co-hosted by the World Health Organization and the governments of the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The Secretary-General said the ACT Accelerator and its COVAX Facility are prime examples of multilateralism in action for the global public good.   

He stressed that it is in every country’s national and economic self-interest to work together to massively expand access to tests and treatments, and to support a vaccine as a global public good. 

 

BIODIVERSITY SUMMIT  

The Secretary-General spoke at the first Biodiversity Summit in the General Assembly Hall, where he said that we need to rebuild our relationship with nature.  

Mr. Guterres said that ten years ago, we secured commitments that should have protected our planet, but we have largely failed to implement them.  

He said that deforestation, climate change and the conversion of wilderness for human food production are destroying Earth’s web of life, but we need this web so that we and future generations may thrive.  

The Secretary-General noted that imbalance with nature has led to the emergence of deadly diseases such as HIV-AIDS, Ebola, and now COVID-19, demonstrating the intimate interconnection between the health of our planet and our own.  

The Secretary-General said that much greater ambition is needed to meet the global biodiversity targets and stressed that degradation of nature is not purely an environmental issue. It spans economics, health, social justice and human rights, adding that neglecting our precious resources can make geopolitical tensions and conflicts worse. 

He called on countries to prioritize finding nature-based solutions as we recover from the pandemic, investing in nature and securing policies and targets that protect biodiversity and leave no one behind.

 

KUWAIT

In a statement issued yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed his deep and personal sadness at the passing of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of Kuwait.  

His Highness was a distinguished statesman and an outstanding humanitarian who contributed to building bridges of understanding in the Gulf Region and beyond. In doing so Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad earned international recognition for his wisdom, generosity and achievements in state-building and preventive diplomacy.

In both the statement and his remarks to you at yesterday’s press event, the Secretary-General extended his heartfelt condolences to the family of the Amir and to the people of Kuwait. 

And today, you will have noticed the UN flag in the traffic circle is at half-mast in honour of the late Amir. 

 

LIBYA  

The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) says that delegations representing the Government of National Accord and the “Libyan Arab Armed Forces,” and comprising police and military officers, have concluded two days of security and military talks. Those talks were facilitated by the UN Support Mission in Libya and held in the city of Hurghada, Egypt. 

The Mission says that discussions were marked by a spirit of responsibility, transparency and mutual trust. They addressed a number of pressing security and military issues, including confidence-building measures, security arrangements and tasks and responsibilities of the Petroleum Facilities Guard.  

The Mission welcomes the outcomes reached during the discussion. UNSMIL hopes that this positive development will contribute to paving the way towards a final and lasting ceasefire agreement. 

 

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC 

The UN Peacekeeping Mission welcomed a meeting that took place earlier this week between the current President and former Central African Heads of State. The Mission said this contributes to a peaceful electoral process and reiterated its call for dialogue. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General Mankeur Ndiaye will also continue to meet all concerned, within the framework of his mandate of good offices. 

Today, the Peacekeeping Mission and the International Criminal Court also announced that they will consolidate their partnership as part of an existing agreement between the two entities, which also includes strengthening the fight against impunity as well as assistance to victims in the country. 

Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration operations have ended in Bria and Kaga-Bandoro. In Bria, 307 combatants, including 23 women, were disarmed and demobilized. In Kaga-Bandoro, 113 including nine women were also disarmed and demobilized. In total, close to 300 weapons as well as ammunition was recovered.   

 

SOUTH SUDAN

The UN Mission continues to support the country as it battles the COVID-19 pandemic: 

In Torit in Eastern Equatoria state, the UN Police assessed the impact of the lockdown on women and girls in relation to gender-based violence. The officers then launched a campaign for local police and others on deterring sexual violence against women and children through workshops, training for the Special Protection Unit of the South Sudan National Police Services, as well as radio spots. 

In Wau in Western Bahr el Ghazal, the UN mission supplied a local school where some children are internally displaced with textbooks and teaching materials. 

 

COVID-19/KENYA 

In Kenya, the pandemic is impacting lives and livelihoods against a backdrop of floods, locust invasion and drought. The UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee, deployed $45 million from its regular development framework, jointly agreed with the Government.  

Together with national authorities, the UN launched a flash appeal to mobilize $270 million to complement efforts to address the pandemic. The UN has also deployed nearly 150 staff and volunteers to bolster the response of national and local authorities.  

The UN has prepared a COVID-19 socio-economic response and recovery plan to address the health care system, social protection, employment opportunities and social cohesion.  

 

SOMALIA 

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that without aid, more than 5 million people could face acute food insecurity by the end of this year due to the combined effects of flooding, the Desert Locust infestation, and the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. 

Despite multiple challenges this year, high levels of sustained aid by the UN and our partners and Government support have helped prevent worsening food insecurity in the country.  

Nearly 2 million people have received food assistance every month since April, while 1.4 million people have received health services.  

The Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia, which seeks just over $1 billion to help 3 million people, is currently just over half funded. Additional resources are urgently required to prevent food security from deteriorating in Somalia. 

 

U.N.-E.U. AGREEMENT/PEACE OPERATIONS AND CRISIS MANAGEMENT 

The Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, Atul Khare, and the Head of the European Union Delegation to the UN, Ambassador Olof Skoog, yesterday signed an agreement to enhance cooperation and strengthen the collective response in peace operations and crisis management. The aim is to maximize the impact on the ground by strengthening interoperability for the planning and execution of operational support. 

The Agreement reflects the mutual commitment of the EU and the UN to multilateralism by reaffirming that partnerships are essential to address the growing scale and complexity of challenges in international peace and security.

 

GUINEA 

Tomorrow, Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel will join representatives of theEconomic Community of West African States – ECOWAS and the African Union on a joint high-level visit to Conakry, in Guinea. 

This is an important opportunity for the three organizations to renew their support for the holding of a peaceful, inclusive, and transparent presidential elections, scheduled for October 18th. 

 

PRESS BRIEFING TOMORROW  

Tomorrow at 1p.m., Vassily Nebenzia, the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation and President of the Security Council for the month of October, will brief on the Council’s programme of work. 

 

INTERNATIONAL TRANSLATION DAY 

Today is the International Translation Day, which is meant as an opportunity to pay tribute to the work of language professionals. They play an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, understanding and cooperation, contributing to development and strengthening world peace and security.