HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY ERI KANEKO,
ASSOCIATE SPOKESPERSON FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
FRIDAY, 30 JULY 2021
The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, has arrived today in the Tigray region on a UN Humanitarian Air Service flight. He visited a site for internally displaced people and heard from people affected by the crisis.
Mr. Griffiths was also briefed by humanitarian partners in Mekelle on the challenges they face. According to our humanitarian partners, an estimated 5.2 million people need assistance in Tigray.
Also today, the UN Children’s Fund said that it estimates that more than 100,000 children in Tigray could suffer from life-threatening severe acute malnutrition in the next 12 months. This is a tenfold increase compared to the average annual caseload.
UNICEF warned that this malnutrition crisis is taking place amid extensive, systematic damage to the food, health, nutrition, water and sanitation systems and services that children and their families depend on for their survival. The risk of disease outbreak is high, particularly in the overcrowded, unsanitary sites hosting displaced families.
In a statement, the United Nations in Afghanistan condemned in the strongest terms today’s attack on its main compound in Herat, in which an Afghan police guard was killed, and others injured. No UN personnel were hurt in the incident.
The UN Mission in Afghanistan said that the attack targeting entrances with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire of the clearly marked UN facility was carried out by Anti-government elements. Today, the area around Herat where the compound is located witnessed fighting between the Taliban and government forces.
The UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of the Mission in the country, Deborah Lyons, said the attack is deplorable. She stressed that the perpetrators must be identified and brought to account.
Ms. Lyons added that our first thoughts are with the family of the officer killed and she wished a speedy recovery to those injured.
Attacks against civilian UN personnel and compounds are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes. The UN Mission in Afghanistan expressed its gratitude to the Afghan Directorate of Protection Services officers who defended the compound from the attackers.
Also, today, in a tweet, the UN Mission said that it is concerned by escalating violence in and around Kandahar amidst ongoing Taliban attacks on the city. The UN Mission said that there are credible reports of scores of civilians killed and that it is working to establish facts on civilian harm.
AFGHANISTAN/ HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned of the alarming increase in civilian casualties and injuries, including women and children, in Kandahar.
Fighting has also been reported in the Nangahar Province and in new areas in the northeast province of Kunar, where 20,000 people were displaced.
The UN, along with partners, is assessing needs in these regions. In Kandahar, last week, some 1,800 internally displaced people received assistance, such as food and relief items. In Kunar, urgent needs include food, water, shelter and health services.
Humanitarians also said that scores of people have died following severe flooding in the hard-to-reach eastern Kamdesh District. The Afghan Red Crescent Society, the only organization with access to Kamdesh, is sending a mobile health team and will provide temporary shelter.
The UN is negotiating access with a non-state armed group, and will provide medical supplies, food and relief items. Afghan authorities will mobilize additional support from Kabul.
Humanitarian partners in Afghanistan need $1.3 billion to help nearly 16 million people in 2021, but only 38 per cent of the required funding has been received to date.
The UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) welcomed the official opening of the Coastal Road, in the presence of the UN Mission, which happened today.
The Mission congratulates the Libyan people, national and local authorities, institutions, and stakeholders involved, especially the role of 5+5 Joint Military Commission in this landmark and historic achievement. The Mission acknowledges the support provided by the Presidency Council and the Government of National Unity under the leadership of the Prime Minister in this regard.
Ján Kubiš, the Special Envoy for Libya, hailed the ongoing efforts and achievements of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission and its sub-committees for laying foundations for durable peace in Libya. The opening of the Coastal Road is another step in strengthening peace, security, and stability in the country, and in the unification of its institutions, said the Special Envoy. The Mission’s full statement is online.
The Acting Head of the Office of the Special Envoy for Yemen, Muin Shreim, concluded yesterday a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia, during which he met with Yemeni Vice President Ali Mohsen and Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalek, as well as other senior Yemeni officials. He also met with US Special Envoy Timothy Lenderking and other diplomats working on the file.
Mr. Shreim discussed the urgent need to agree on the cessation of all forms of military operations in Yemen and across the border. He reiterated the importance of taking urgent humanitarian and economic measures to alleviate the suffering of the people of Yemen. That, in turn, would create a conducive environment to resume the long-awaited inclusive and Yemeni-led political process under UN auspices.
In Syria, the UN is very concerned about reports of civilian casualties and displacement due to hostilities in Dara’a Al Balad and the risk of further escalation.
The UN is monitoring the situation with concern, including reports of a period of relative calm today as discussions to reach a local agreement were underway. But the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented the death of eight civilians, including a woman and four children, with another six civilians, including two children, wounded between the 27th and the 29th of July.
The UN has also confirmed the displacement of 2,500 people due to violence and insecurity over the last 72 hours, and we have received reports of the displacement of over 10,000 people.
UN and humanitarian partners are working to scale up the humanitarian response to people in need in Dara’a Al Balad and in the areas of temporary displacement.
We reiterate the Secretary-General’s call for a nationwide ceasefire and urge all parties to de-escalate the situation and ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law. The UN further calls upon parties to ensure safe, sustained, and unimpeded access to all in need.
From Myanmar, the UN country team there continues to call for the protection of civilians, as reports of breaches of human rights continue, including extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detention, torture, ill treatment, and enforced disappearances.
Since the military takeover nearly six months ago, the violence carried out by security forces has left at least 930 civilians dead, including women and children, and thousands more people injured. The UN in Myanmar calls for accountability to bring the perpetrators to justice.
In the Philippines, according to humanitarian colleagues, as of yesterday, at least 38,000 people have been displaced by floods following monsoon rains.
The UN and humanitarian partners stand ready to support the response if requested.
In Brazil, more than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines – provided through the COVAX facility - were delivered yesterday. More than 400,000 additional doses are expected to arrive later today. This brings the total number of vaccines received through COVAX in Brazil to nearly 10 million.
The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Silvia Rucks, continues to support authorities to address the impact of the pandemic.
While more than 80 per cent of municipal public schools continue with remote learning, several UN entities, including UNICEF, UNESCO and the World Health Organization are advocating for the safe reopening of public schools in the country.
Through the Joint Sustainable Development Goals Fund, UNICEF, in partnership with other UN agencies, launched an early childhood care campaign to support national efforts. This includes the monitoring of pregnant women and children up to 6 years of age in nearly 3,000 municipalities.
For its part, IOM has conducted over 400 medical consultations for Venezuelan refugees and migrants in the Amazon region with mobile health units. UN Women, together with indigenous organizations, is providing emergency care, including basic items for disease prevention and food security in the Amazon.
In a new report, the World Food Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization say that in the next four months, conflict, the pandemic and the climate crisis are likely to increase hunger in 23 countries.
Ethiopia and Madagascar are the world’s newest “highest alert” hunger hotspots according to the report.
The “highest alert” list also includes South Sudan, Yemen, and northern Nigeria. In some areas of these countries, significant numbers of people are at risk of falling into famine.
The report flags other countries where life-threatening hunger is on the rise. They include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan, and Syria.
WFP and FAO say that humanitarian action is urgently needed to prevent hunger, famine and death in all 23 hotspots. Country-specific recommendations are included in the report.
WORLD DAY AGAINST TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
In his message to mark the Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Secretary-General calls on Governments to take urgent steps to strengthen prevention, support victims and bring perpetrators of trafficking to justice.
Half of the victims in low-income countries are children, the Secretary-General says. Trafficking of women and girls for sexual exploitation continues to be one of the most widespread forms of human trafficking, he adds.
In our fight to end and prevent this terrible crime, the Secretary-General concludes, the UN is committed to listening and responding to the voices of victims and survivors of human trafficking, ensuring their rights and dignity.
TRAFFICKING \ SAHEL AND EAST AFRICA
The UN Refugee Agency warned today of life-threatening gaps in the assistance provided to victims of trafficking along different routes within the Sahel and East Africa.
Survivors speak of sexual abuse and rape, kidnappings for ransom, being left to die in the desert, and being subjected to physical and psychological torture.
UNHCR and its partners have stepped up their efforts to identify those in need, and to help them access asylum procedures and other safety mechanisms. However, the agency says that critical services to protect vulnerable people on the move are still woefully lacking. Victims of trafficking have practically no one to turn to for help along these routes, they say.
UNHCR calls for more sustained efforts to address the root causes of forced displacement. The agency also calls for the expansion of safe and legal pathways for refugees, which are instrumental to providing viable alternatives to human smuggling and trafficking.
INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FRIENDSHIP
Today is the International Day of Friendship. The Day was proclaimed in 2011 by the UN General Assembly with the idea that friendship between peoples, countries, cultures and individuals can inspire peace efforts and build bridges between communities.