HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STEPHANE DUJARRIC

SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES

THURSDAY, 3 DECEMBER 2020

 

SECRETARY-GENERAL/GENERAL ASSEMBLY SPECIAL SESSION ON COVID-19 
This morning, the Secretary-General addressed the General Assembly’s Special Session in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
He said that, for the first time since 1945, the entire world is confronted by a common threat, regardless of nationality, ethnicity or faith. 
Mr. Guterres noted that, while COVID-19 does not discriminate, our efforts to prevent and contain it do, adding that it has hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. 
While a vaccine may be available soon, the Secretary-General stressed that we must not fool ourselves – a vaccine cannot undo the damage that will stretch across years, even decades, to come. 
As this difficult year draws to a close, he said we must resolve to take the tough, ambitious decisions and actions that will lead to better days ahead.   
The Secretary-General added that, in a global crisis, we must meet the expectations of those we serve with unity, solidarity and coordinated multilateral global action. 

SECURITY COUNCIL \ SECURITY SECTOR REFORMS 
This morning, the Security Council held a meeting on security sector reform. 
Briefing on behalf of the United Nations Secretariat, Assistant Secretary-General Bintou Keita, said that for societies recovering from conflict and instability, Security Sector Reform holds a great promise,  
Adding that there is broad recognition that this is a key element of UN support to national efforts to sustain peace and prevent “the outbreak, escalation, continuation and recurrence of conflict” across the entire peace continuum. 
But she reminded Council members that expectations need to be realistic.  Security Sector Governance and Reform is a complex and long-term endeavour, sometimes spanning a generation. 
Therefore, she concluded, it is important that UN support in this area remain firmly grounded in and informed by the security needs of the population, taking into account each unique context and historical experience. 

ETHIOPIA/SUDAN 
A humanitarian mission has been on the ground in Afar since yesterday to assess the most immediate needs of people displaced by the conflict in Tigray and guide our response.  
This follows the agreement between the UN in Ethiopia and the Federal Government to facilitate the access of aid organizations to areas under the control of the Government. 
The conflict in Tigray continues to push people into Sudan in search of safety. More than 46,400 people - nearly half of them children - have now arrived in Sudan since the start of November.  
UNHCR and its partners are increasing the capacity of the Um Rakuba camp, which is already hosting more than 10,000 Ethiopian refugees. 

YEMEN 
The window to prevent famine in Yemen is narrowing as new figures reveal record highs of acute food insecurity in the country. That’s according to new information today from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF. 
The agencies’ New Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis for Yemen indicates that pockets of famine-like conditions – or Phase 5 food insecurity - have already returned for the first time in two years.  They warn that the number of people experiencing this degree of catastrophic food insecurity could nearly triple from 16,500 currently to 47,000 people between January and June of 2021. 
At the same time, today’s analysis warns that the number of people facing Phase 4 food insecurity– that’s the Emergency phase – is poised to increase from 3.6 million to 5 million people. 
 
UNICEF/EMERGENCY FUNDING APPEAL   
UNICEF today issued its largest ever emergency funding appeal. They are seeking $6.4 billion to reach 300 million people, including more than 190 million children, with essential support and services through the end of 2021.  
The appeal is a 35 per cent increase over funds requested for [this] year. UNICEF says that it reflects the expanding humanitarian needs globally amidst protracted crises from the pandemic. 
UNICEF also notes that the number of climate-related disasters have tripled in the last 30 years - threatening food security, increasing water scarcity, forcing people from their homes and increasing the risk of conflict and public health emergencies. An estimated 36 million children, more than ever before, are living in displacement due to conflict, violence and disaster. Malnutrition among children is on the rise in countries around the world.   

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC ELECTIONS UPDATE
In an update on the forthcoming elections in the Central African Republic, the Spokesman said the UN Mission in that country is aware of the ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Central African Republic earlier today regarding the candidacies to the presidential election scheduled, as you know, for the end of this year. 
The UN Mission calls on all stakeholders to respect the decision of the Court, and to work together to advance the electoral process. 
The United Nations continues to provide multifaceted support to that process. 

DEMOCRATC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO 
The UN Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo reports that the Deputy Special Representative for Operations and Protection, David Gressly, visited Fataki and Bayoo, two villages in Ituri’s Djugu territory, as part of the Mission’s support to local communities and authorities. 
There, he met with local women to discuss the impact of the ongoing conflict in the region and ways and means to restore peace in this part of Ituri. 
The UN Mission continues to work closely with the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) in Djugu, including with aerial reconnaissance, day and night motorized and foot patrols, the evacuation of soldiers wounded in the fighting, and special military operations. 
The UN Mission has also deployed military bases in Fataki and Bayoo to prevent armed group activities and to protect the civilian population. 
  
FRANCE 
The Secretary-General is saddened by the passing of President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing. He expresses his sincere condolences and deep sympathy to Mr. Giscard d’Estaing’s family and to the people of France. As part of his legacy, Mr. Giscard d’Estaing will be remembered for his commitment and contribution to European integration as well as to cooperation among the leading industrialized nations.   

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES  
Today is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. In his message for the Day, the Secretary-General noted that when crises such as COVID-19 grip communities, persons with disabilities are among the worst affected. 
He said that even under normal circumstances, the one billion people living with disabilities worldwide are less likely to enjoy access to education, healthcare and livelihoods or to participate and be included in the community. He stressed that as the world recovers from the pandemic, we must ensure that the aspirations and rights of persons with disabilities are included and accounted for in an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID world.  

MALAWI/DISABILITIES 
Related to that, the UN team on the ground in Malawi, led by the Resident Coordinator Maria Jose Torres, called on everyone – including the Government, civil society and the private sector – to do more to ensure the full and equal participation of people with disabilities and to achieve the SDGs.  
Ms. Torres says that more than 10 per cent of Malawians who live with at least one type of disability continue to suffer disproportionate challenges to access education, health care services and dignified sources of income.  
The UN team also strongly condemned the recent cases of killings and exhumations of remains of persons with albinism. It called for an end to such attacks and desecration of tombs, as well as continued harmful beliefs that generate discrimination, exclusion and violence against people living with albinism.  
The team also noted the multiple challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities, particularly the threat of sexual violence, which has also been aggravated during the pandemic. 

FOOD PRICE INDEX 
The monthly update on the Food Price Index from the FAO states that global food commodity prices rose sharply in November to their highest level in nearly six years. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 105.0 points during the month, up 3.9 per cent from October and 6.5 per cent higher than its value a year earlier.  
FAO also noted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in terms of income losses, is an important driver of the levels of global food insecurity. The pandemic is intensifying already fragile conditions caused by conflict, pests and weather shocks, including recent hurricanes in Central America and floods in Africa. 
According to the quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, also published today by FAO, forty-five countries continue to require external assistance for food. Of those countries, 34 are in Africa. 

OCEANS 
The report of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy was launched today. In a video message, the Secretary-General said the report’s findings, which are the result of two years of research from experts, must be put into action. 
It says that with better policies and technology we can produce as much as six times more food from the ocean, generate 40 times more renewable energy, lift millions of people out of poverty, and contribute to one-fifth of the greenhouse gas reductions.
The Secretary-General also commended the 14 Heads of State on the Ocean Panel who have agreed that, by 2025, their countries will sustainably manage all the ocean areas under their national jurisdictions. He also acknowledged the leadership of those countries who have signed up to the Global Ocean Alliance.