HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NOON BRIEFING BY STÉPHANE DUJARRIC,
SPOKESMAN FOR SECRETARY-GENERAL ANTÓNIO GUTERRES
THURSDAY, 04 JUNE 2020
This morning, in a video message played to GAVI’s Global Vaccine Summit, the Secretary-General noted that COVID-19 is the greatest public health crisis of our generation, and he called for global solidarity to ensure that every person, everywhere, has access to the vaccine.
The Secretary-General stressed the need to make three key commitments.
First, he said we must find safe ways to continue delivering vaccinations, even as COVID-19 spreads. Second, we must use the networks of vaccine-delivery to deliver a range of other primary health services.
Lastly, when a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, we must make sure it reaches everyone.
This morning, the Security Council heard a briefing on peacekeeping, and was given presentations by the Force Commanders of the UN missions in Mali, South Sudan and from the UN Disengagement Observer Force.
Also briefing today was the Head of the Department of Peace Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix. He reminded Council Members that, as the world is facing the challenges of Covid-19, so is peacekeeping.
He paid tribute to the peacekeepers, civilian, military and police, who have shown dedication and commitment as they continue to carry out their mandates in the best way possible, given the constraints imposed on them by the pandemic. Over the past few months, he added, peacekeeping operations have shown their capacity to adapt.
The peacekeepers’ response has been guided by four main objectives: first, protecting our personnel and their capacity to continue critical operations; second, containing and mitigating the spread of the virus; third, supporting national authorities in their response; and fourth, protecting vulnerable communities while delivering on mandate implementation.
The Security Council adopted a resolution to establish the UN Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS).
The resolution says the new mission will assist the political transition, progress towards democratic governance, in the protection and promotion of human rights, and sustainable peace.
The mission will also support peace processes and implementation of future peace agreements, as well as assist peacebuilding, civilian protection and rule of law, in particular in Darfur and the Two Areas.
The resolution also says that the mission will support the mobilization of economic and development assistance and coordination of humanitarian assistance.
Also this morning the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), until the 31st of December of this year.
The UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) donated medical equipment and material to the Zalingei Teaching Hospital, located in Central Darfur.
The Mission also supported the national prison authorities by disseminating information materials on virus prevention in places of detention. Through its Rule of Law Division, the Mission worked on the development of contingency plans to handle virus cases in prisons, including designating isolation areas in detention centres.
In the Central African Republic, work continues to implement the mandate of the peacekeeping mission. This week, in Bangui, young recruits of the National Gendarmerie received a training on gender-based sexual violence, conducted by UN police officers.
In Mozambique, the UN and our humanitarian partners launched today two plans to respond to increasing humanitarian needs in the country. The appeals seek over US$103 million to support the Government-led response efforts.
The aim is to provide life-saving assistance to more than 3.3 million people impacted by the humanitarian consequences of COVID-19, as well as recurrent climate shocks and the increasing violence in the Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique.
In Cabo Delgado, the Rapid Response Plan will prioritize the urgent needs of more than 350,000 people in the province, including 211,000 who have been displaced by the increasing violence.
The wave of armed attacks in the region since October 2017 have escalated significantly since the beginning of the year, leaving tens of thousands of people without adequate access to food, water, sanitation or any basic services.
For the rest of the country, $68 million is requested to support the health response to COVID-19 and also to provide humanitarian assistance as well as protection to vulnerable groups whose lives and livelihoods have been impacted by the pandemic.
The Kingdom of Eswatini has 295 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 201 patients having fully recovered and three deaths reported so far. The UN team in the country, led by Resident Coordinator Nathalie Ndongo-She, continues to work with the Government, the people, and partners to flatten the curve and address the impacts of the pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) helped authorities update the COVID-19 Response Plan, including boosting contact tracing. Ahead of schools reopening on July 1st, WHO is preparing teachers and school staff on how to prevent and control the virus.
The UN is also supporting the Government’s communications efforts to reach out to communities and families, especially in hotspots across the country.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has helped train more than 4,000 community health volunteers and has also worked to improve health facilities accommodating COVID-19 patients with mobile showers, toilets and handwashing facilities.
The UNICEF and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have donated dignity and basic hygiene packs, water and sanitation supplies for children, youth and women in prisons and other detention facilities.
For its part, UNAIDS has donated 5,000 hygiene packs to people living with HIV. To combat misinformation and share fact-based, verified information, the UN team is also working closely with senior editors and reporters in Eswatini.
From Bangladesh, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) confirms to us that a 71-year-old Rohingya man is the first refugee in Cox's Bazar to die from COVID-19. The humanitarian community is deeply sad to learn of this development and sends its condolences to the families and the wider Rohingya community.
Some 30 other people have tested positive so far but, as testing is still ramping up, it's likely that the numbers are higher and there may have been others who have died of virus-related health issues.
Aid workers are striving around the clock to ensure that testing is available to refugees and that those who have COVID-19 have adequate facilities in place to care for them. They are also working to ensure contact tracing and quarantine of those who may have been exposed.
UNHCR has built isolation centres and stepped up its efforts to prevent the spread of the virus.
More than 3,000 refugees have also been trained in Early Warning Alert and Response procedures to identify and refer potential cases. UNHCR says that the Joint Response Plan for the Rohingya Crisis is only 26 per cent funded.
COVID-19/LEARNERS WITH DISABILITIES
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today said that they have joined their partners in the Global Action on Disability (GLAD) Network to raise awareness on the urgent need to mitigate the impact of school closures due to COVID-19 on learners with disabilities.
As many as half of the estimated 65 million primary and lower secondary-school age children with disabilities in developing countries were already out of school before the pandemic started.
The Secretary-General said that they face a lack of accessible public health information. They also face significant barriers to implementing basic hygiene measures and to accessing health facilities.
He added that girls and women with disabilities in particular face greater risks such as domestic violence.
FOOD PRICE INDEX
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said today that global commodity food prices fell for the fourth consecutive month in May, as supplies appear strong and demand weakens due to economic contractions triggered by the pandemic.
The FAO Food Price Index averaged 162.5 points in May, that is 1.9 per cent below the previous month. It was the lowest reading of the Index since December 2018.
INNOCENT CHILDREN VICTIMS OF AGGRESSION
Today, we mark the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. We acknowledge the pain suffered by children who are victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse.
The day also serves to reaffirm our commitment to protect children, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
Tomorrow is World Environment Day. This year’s theme is “Time for Nature.” In his message, the Secretary-General sais that to care for humanity we must care for nature.
He stresses that we need our entire global community to change course, and adds that as we work to build back better, we need to commit to a green and resilient future and put nature where it belongs -- at the heart of our decision making.
This year’s host for the Day is Colombia. The theme seeks to both educate the public about the value that our natural world provides, as well as stress the urgency of protecting it.
You can find a list of digital activities planned online and follow on social media with the hashtag #ForNature.