Briefing by Spokesperson for Secretary-General

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05-Sep-2019 00:26:08
Briefing by Stephane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Starting off with a humanitarian update from the Bahamas, the World Food Programme (WFP) today said it is organizing an airlift from the UN hub in Panama of storage units, generators, and prefab offices for two logistics hubs to be established on the main islands. It is also providing satellite equipment to ensure connectivity for emergency responders across the impacted islands.

The agency has also purchased eight tons of ready-to-eat meals and is arranging their transportation to the Bahamas so they can be distributed to the affected population.

Given the severity of the situation, WFP said a Limited Emergency Operation of $5.4 million for three months to assist 39,000 people has now been set up.

And, as you saw yesterday, we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General said he is deeply concerned for the tens of thousands of people impacted in Grand Bahamas and Abaco. He also called on donors to provide funding for the humanitarian response and recovery efforts as soon as the requirements are known.

Also yesterday in Nassau, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, met with Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and announced that the UN Central Emergency Response Fund would provide an immediate $1 million for urgent life-saving activities in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama.

Staying on the emergency funds, as we often mention in this briefing, in several countries, the delivery of assistance to people in need is seriously challenged by underfunding.

Today, Mark Lowcock, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, has released $75 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to support responses to 8 underfunded emergencies.

The countries set to receive this assistance are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Mali, Sudan, as well as Venezuela and the neighbouring region.

Mr. Lowcock said this will allow aid workers to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to more than 4 million of the world’s most vulnerable people affected by conflict, natural disasters, and other crises.

But he warned that, in total, there are 37 million people in need in the 8 crises. The funds released today will only cover a portion of the most urgent needs.

So far this year, the Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated $200 million through its Underfunded Emergencies Window. This is the most in the Fund’s history.

Mr. Lowcock urged donors to provide additional funding for the humanitarian response in each of these underfunded crises.

Staying on a humanitarian topic, UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched a diphtheria vaccination campaign in Yemen targeting over 2.8 million children between six weeks and 15 years.

More than 200 people died due to diphtheria since 2017 and over 4,000 people had the disease.

More than 8,000 health workers, community health workers and community volunteers are participating in the vaccination campaign in eight cities, including Hudaydah, Al Jawf, Dhamar, and Ibb.

Preliminary data indicates that over one million children have been vaccinated within the first five days of the campaign.

Related to vaccines, I wanted to flag something the World Health Organization (WHO) said today: they welcomed the commitments by Facebook to ensure that users find facts about vaccines across Instagram, Facebook Search, Groups, Pages and forums where people seek out information and advice.

Facebook will direct millions of its users to WHO’s accurate and reliable vaccine information in several languages.

The goal is to ensure that vital health messages reach people who need them the most and to reduce the spread of inaccuracies.

According to WHO, vaccine misinformation is a major threat to global health that could reverse decades of progress made in tackling preventable diseases.

The World Food Programme (WFP) says that favourable rains in Syria’s agricultural areas, coupled with improved overall security, have boosted harvests compared to last year.

However, food prices have been gradually increasing over the last 12 to 14 months, largely as a result of increased domestic fuel prices and a continuing depreciation of the Syrian Pound in the informal exchange markets.

WFP alerts food security remains a serious challenge due to continued localized hostilities, new and protracted displacements, and the sustained erosion of communities’ resilience after almost nine years of conflict.

Today, just want to give you a short update from the Central African Republic: following clashes on Sunday, the UN peacekeeping mission is closely monitoring the situation in Birao, a town in the country’s northeast.

Peacekeepers have established checkpoints to prevent further reinforcements of armed groups and they are also continuing patrols in the town to protect civilians as well as the more than 3,000 people that have sought refuge near the UN peacekeeping camps.

A joint technical mission by the UN Mission and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) traveled to Birao today to assess the situation.

Meanwhile, Mankeur Ndiaye, the Special Representative and the head of the UN mission in the country, continued discussions with the African Union and regional groups, both guarantors of the Peace agreement framework, as well as the Central African Government to help prevent new clashes in the area.

I want to flag that the Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, spoke at the World Economic Forum in South Africa today. She said that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has spread faster than any of its predecessors. Our shared challenge, she said, is to further the good it can bring while better managing its potential to undermine development, harm peace and security and curtail the enjoyment of human rights.

Her speech has been released to you.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) says that global food prices declined in August, according to their latest Food Index.

Sharp falls in the prices of staple cereals and sugar were the main causes for the global prices decrease.

The FAO’s Food Price Index, which tracks monthly changes in the international prices of commonly traded food commodities, averaged 169.8 points in August, down 1.1 percent from July, but still up 1.1 percent from its August 2018 level.

The full report is online.

I have an update on allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse for the second quarter of 2019, which concluded on 30 June. Not all the allegations reported have been fully verified, and many are in the preliminary assessment phase.

For the second quarter of this year, the United Nations received 38 allegations involving UN personnel, including civilian and uniformed personnel from peacekeeping as well as personnel of agency, funds and programmes.

Of these, 24 are allegations related to personnel of agencies, funds and programmes, and 14 are allegations related to civilian and uniformed personnel in peace operations.

Of the 38 allegations, there are 43 victims: 19 women and 10 girls, one man and two boys, 10 females of unknown age and one unknown victim who has not been identified).

12 of those allegations are categorized as sexual abuse, 19 as sexual exploitation, two are of an unknown nature, and 10 have been categorized as “other.”

Of the 38, one has been substantiated through an investigation and eight related to uniformed personnel have been referred to the Member States for further investigation; two allegations were not substantiated; 16 allegations are at various stages of investigation; 13 are under preliminary assessment to determine if there is sufficient information to investigate; two allegations are under review as limited information is provided; and four have been closed.

We also received 39 allegations involving non-UN personnel working for implementing partners. These allegations involve 42 victims and 39 perpetrators.

Our efforts to implement the Secretary-General’s strategy to combat sexual exploitation and abuse have continued to be strengthened. To enhance transparency, from this quarter, we will publish monthly updates on the status of allegations previously reported since we began quarterly reporting in 2017.

We are also continuing our efforts to engage with Member States and encourage their Heads of State/Government to join the Secretary-General’s Circle of Leadership on prevention of and response to sexual exploitation and abuse in UN operations, which now stands at 82. The Secretary-General also continues to encourage Member States to become signatories to the Voluntary Compact with him on the Commitment to Eliminate Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. 101 Member States have committed to that.

Today is the International Day of Charity.

This Day was established to recognize the role charity can play to alleviate humanitarian crises and human suffering within and among nations. The Day also serves to recognize and honor the efforts of charitable organizations and individuals, including the work of Mother Teresa.

September 5th is the day, she passed away on that day 22 years ago.

So, to honor her memory, and the work of all those involved in helping others, we encourage everyone to get involved or to donate, today and throughout the year.

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