Tomorrow, the French Government and the United Nations will co-convene an international conference in support of the Lebanese people, one year after the deadly explosion in Beirut. The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, will address the conference by VTC, on behalf of the Secretary-General.
She will point to the need to support Lebanon’s people while the country is in the throes of one of the worst crises in its recent history. Over half of Lebanese people now live in poverty, one in three Lebanese suffer from food insecurity and nearly four million people are at risk of not accessing safe water.
She will stress that, under the leadership of Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, we look to the rapid formation of a government to implement reforms and tackle the crises.
The Secretary-General has said that the Lebanese people are resilient with immense spirit and will to build forward, together. This conference will be a moment to demonstrate strong political support for the population of Lebanon.
Also on Lebanon, the International Support Group for Lebanon, of which the United Nations is a member, met today on the eve of the anniversary of the Beirut port explosion. All members expressed their solidarity with the families of the victims, and with those whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted. The Support Group urged authorities to swiftly complete the investigation into the port explosions, so that the truth may be known and justice may be rendered.
Members also welcomed the forthcoming conference that I just mentioned to you that is co-chaired by the UN and France to address the humanitarian needs of Lebanon’s most vulnerable people.
The International Support Group noted that one year has now passed without a government in Lebanon. Members took note of the designation of a new Prime Minister and called on leaders to support, without delay, the formation of an empowered new government that implements meaningful reforms.
The full statement of the Support Group – which includes the United Nations, the European Union, the Arab League and seven countries – is available online.
FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
You will have seen that, late yesterday, there was an announcement out of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to announce that the Board had approved a $650 billion allocation of Special Drawing Rights to boost liquidity.
I can tell you that the Secretary-General very much welcomes this decision. This is coming at a time when fiscal constraints have been worsened by the COVID-19 crisis.
The Secretary-General notes that it will be important for the economies who do not need this boost to consider channeling these resources to vulnerable low- and middle-income countries that need a liquidity injection by replenishing the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust Fund.
It is critical also to also quickly establish the proposed Resilience and Sustainability Trust at the IMF to support a comprehensive response and recovery, including providing more support for vaccinations and debt management and to support the efforts of developing economies in restructuring for inclusive growth.
Early this morning, you will have seen that we issued a statement to mark that it has been seven years since Da’esh brutally targeted the Yazidi communities in northern Iraq. Thousands of Yazidis were subjected to unimaginable violence on account of their identity, and, until today, many remain in displacement camps or are still missing. Full accountability remains essential.
Recognizing the pain and courage of the Yazidis, recovery and rehabilitation remain a priority. The Secretary-General therefore commends the recent enactment of the Yazidi Survivors Law by the Government of Iraq and its recognition of the crimes committed by Da’esh against the Yazidis and other communities. He encourages swift and full implementation of this law.
Today, the UN Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) called for an immediate end to fighting in urban areas, saying that civilians are bearing the brunt of the violence.
The latest reports show that 40 civilians have been killed and 118 injured within the last 24 hours in the city of Lashkagah as the Taliban continue their ground assault. In Kandahar, at least 5 civilians were killed and 42 wounded.
The Mission said that the Taliban ground offensive and Afghan National Army airstrikes are causing the most harm and added it is deeply concerned about indiscriminate shooting and damage to health facilities and civilian homes. All parties must do more to protect civilians or the impact will be catastrophic, according to the UN Mission in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in the country said it is continuing to provide emergency lifesaving assistance to families who have been newly displaced [because of] the violence. Nearly 360,000 people have fled their homes this year due to conflict.
The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has deployed Mobile Health Teams to respond to communities impacted by the conflict and provide quick relief in the form of health and psychosocial support to the most vulnerable.
Turning to Ethiopia, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, is ending his mission today in Addis Ababa, where he met with the Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen Hassen and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gedu Andargachew Alene, as well as UN and non-governmental heads of agencies, as well as our humanitarian staff.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in the Amhara region due to ongoing regional and ethnic conflicts, flash floods, and food insecurity.
In Amhara, intercommunal conflicts in the Central Gondar zone, and in the Awi zone, continue to increase the number of internally displaced persons. Worsening conflict along the Amhara-Tigray regional border is further increasing displacement, with an estimated 100,000 internally displaced men, women and children in various pockets across the region.
UN agencies are supporting our partners and government counterparts throughout Amhara, including in health and nutrition and cash programmes. Response, however, remains insufficient to meet increasing humanitarian needs, with limited humanitarian presence in the region.
Immediate resource mobilization is required to meet the urgent needs of impacted communities. Emergency shelter, food and non-food items are the key priorities for us. Pre-positioning of supplies particularly for health, nutrition, shelter, and protection is urgently required.
A new report by the UN Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) stresses the need to prevent torture in places of detention in Iraq, including in the Kurdistan region.
More than half of all detainees interviewed by UNAMI and the UN Human Rights Office for the report provided credible and reliable accounts of torture – consistent with patterns and trends that have been documented in past reports.
“No circumstances, however exceptional, justify torture or any form of impunity,” said Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, our Special Representative in Iraq. She encourages increased efforts towards prevention and accountability, in line with Iraq’s obligations under international and its domestic law.
From Myanmar, our colleagues on the ground there continue to be concerned by the humanitarian impact of the fighting in various parts of the country.
More than 220,000 people have been internally displaced due to armed clashes in the west, north and south-eastern parts of Myanmar since February 1st.
This comes against the backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases and the onset of monsoons, with recent floods affecting thousands of people across the country. There is also growing food insecurity, and critical services - such as healthcare and the banking sector - continue to be disrupted.
We, along with our humanitarian partners, are trying to reach some three million of the most vulnerable people with aid and protection, but are hampered by access constraints, [such as] insecurity, road blockages, travel restrictions and, of course, COVID-19-related measures.
Also, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy on Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, will be briefing you by videoconference on Friday at 10:00 a.m.
In Malawi, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres, continues to help authorities address the multiple impacts of the pandemic.
The UN recently facilitated the delivery of 192,000 doses donated by France through COVAX. This adds to the 360,000 doses previously received through COVAX in March. The new vaccines enabled Malawi to resume vaccinations last week after a month-long pause due to a shortage of vaccines.
We are working closely with our partners to get more doses into the country. We are also supporting authorities with prevention, testing and treatment of COVID-19 cases, while addressing the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.
Kyrgyzstan last week received more than 220,000 doses of vaccines through COVAX. Those were donated by Sweden. This is the first shipment of 2.6 million doses the country expects to receive in total through COVAX.
Kyrgyzstan will also receive nearly 200 vaccine freezers and 86 refrigerators later this month to bolster the country’s cold chain, with the support of UNICEF.
Since the start of the pandemic, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Ozonnia Ojeilo, has been working to boost the health system, including ensuring the safety of frontline workers.
We have a new Resident Coordinator to announce, and that is Savina Ammassari of Brazil as the Resident Coordinator in Gabon, following the host Government’s agreement.
Ms. Ammassari started in her new post a month ago and is leading our efforts on the ground in supporting authorities to address the multiple impacts of the pandemic, to recover better from COVID-19, and towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.