United Nations

United Nations 9 Mar 2020

COVID-19 and other topics - Daily Briefing (9 March 2020)

Description:

Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:
- Secretary-General
- Deputy Secretary-General
- Sudan - Covid-19
- Cameroon
- Iran
- Yemen
- Press Conference Tomorrow
- Honour Roll

SECRETARY-GENERAL
This morning, the Secretary-General spoke at the 64th Commission on the Status of Women.
Mr. Guterres said that he was truly saddened that the extraordinary circumstances ushered in by the spread of the COVID-19 virus led to the postponement of the full session, but he added that he takes heart in knowing that all participants remain committed to the cause of gender equality.
He said that, "centuries of discrimination, deep-rooted patriarchy and misogyny have created a yawning gender power gap in our economies, our political systems and our corporations. This simply has to change," he said.
The Secretary-General added that he was particularly heartened to see a new generation of inspired young activists across the globe taking forward the spirit of constructive action and fearless resilience started in Beijing 25 years ago. He reiterated the UN's commitment to keep working with women across the world, to ensure women and girls everywhere have equal participation in all areas of life.

DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL
The Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, marked International Women's Day yesterday in Port Moresby, in Papua New Guinea, where she spoke about the Spotlight Initiative, a partnership launched by the UN and the European Union in 2016 to support governments, communities and civil society organizations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030. She said that Spotlight is the world's largest effort to end all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Deputy Secretary-General warned that around the world, there is an epidemic of violence against women and girls. One in three women will be affected by violence at some point in their lives she said, adding that a recent survey by the United Nations Development Programme found that around the world, nearly three people in every ten think it's acceptable for a man to beat his partner.

COVID-19
The United Nations in New York and Geneva is to start implementing measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for its staff, including telecommuting and flexible working arrangements, the UN spokesperson said today in New York.

"Following internal meetings over the weekend, taking into account the declaration of a state of emergency for New York State, it was announced today to all staff that it is recommended that UN personnel who have recently returned from countries identified by the host country should remain at home and self-monitor for 14 days," United Nations Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Monday (9 Mar).

"Telecommuting and flexible work arrangements have also been recommended for UN personnel taking into account business continuity requirements," he added

At the same time, Dujarric said, "the UN in Geneva aims to maintain essential activities while postponing or cancelling other activities. The Palais des nations is also considering how to put the latest recommendations on telecommuting issued by the Swiss authorities into practice."

The spokesperson reported that over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the global number of confirmed cases now topped 100,000.

WHO pointed out that some countries are demonstrating that the spread of the virus can be slowed and its impact reduced through the use of universally applicable actions, such as working across society to identify people who are sick, bringing them to care, and following up on contacts.


Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

- COVID-19
- Syria
- Yemen
- Iraq
- Central African Republic
- Locusts
- Mozambique
- Senior Designation in Libya
- Egypt Contributions

COVID-19
In response to questions, the Secretary-General said that, very important measures are being taken here at UN Headquarters and the situation is being assessed on a daily if not hourly basis.
He also expressed his total commitment to cooperate with the authorities of the host country, as well as the state and city authorities to be a part of the efforts here in New York to keep everyone safe.
Yesterday, the World Health Organization, UNICEF and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) issued new guidance to help protect children and schools from the transmission of COVID-19.
The guidance provides critical considerations and practical checklists to keep schools safe, as well as advice for national and local authorities on how to adapt and implement emergency plans for schools.

SYRIA
The World Health Organization condemns in the strongest terms the attacks on health care that have been a hallmark of the complex humanitarian situation in Syria, which this month enters its tenth year.
A total of 494 attacks on health care workers and installations were confirmed between 2016 and 2019, of which more than two thirds, or 337 attacks, were recorded in Syria's northwest. The data show that attacks on health in Syria peaked in 2016 and were the lowest in 2019, likely due to the reduced size of the area where active fighting has been taking place.
The total death toll on health care in Syria between 2016 and 2019 is 470.
The UN continues to be deeply concerned for the safety and protection of millions of civilians in the northwest Syria following more than three months of violence in the area.
The UN continues to scale up its response, including protection, shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene. The UN sent 927 trucks in February and 1,227 in January, carrying life-saving assistance for millions of people in northwest.
The UN urges all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, in line with obligations under international humanitarian law, and to ensure safe and sustained humanitarian access to people affected by the crisis.

SECURITY COUNCIL
The Security Council is holding an open meeting today on countering terrorism and extremism in Africa.
Briefing Council members was Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary DiCarlo. She said that, today, Africa is moving forward with its own agenda of progress, peace and prosperity. 
But, she said, the continent continues to see the threat of terrorism and violent extremism, which continues to grow in some areas, despite our efforts to prevent and counter it at the national, regional and international levels.
She added that, as the Secretary-General stated, we cannot address terrorism without addressing underlying factors. 
She also said that we must address poverty, weak governance, intercommunal tensions, gender inequality, youth unemployment, illicit activities such as the trafficking in weapons and people, and the use of new technologies and social media to recruit, inflame and incite.
Noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:
- COVID-19 - UN Offices
- COVID-19/WHO
- COVID-19/OCHA
- COVID-19/Pakistan
- Libya
- Syria
- Central African Republic
- Tanzania
- Uzbekistan
- Global Goals
- Financial Contribution

COVID-19/UN OFFICES
UN teams around the world are continuing to offer support to national and local authorities to prepare and respond to the pandemic.
In Zimbabwe, upon the Government's request, the UN is also supporting the most immediate preparedness needs such as training of healthcare workers, while ensuring their own safety, on caring for patients with COVID-19. The UN is also supporting the Government with the school system's preparation, with posters for schools and leaflets for students to take home and share with families, while also preparing for potential home-schooling needs.
The UN is also engaging with the private sector and civil society for a whole-of-society response to COVID-19. In parallel, the UN has also supported the Government in developing a Risk Communication and Community Engagement Preparedness, Readiness, Response Plan, as well as public information material for distribution and display at health centres and other public places, including airports and other points of entry into Zimbabwe.
In China, the UN team has been supporting national and local efforts to share information on COVID-19 through traditional and social media channels targeting various age groups and communities. These efforts have helped reach over 1 billion views on several social media channels.
UN entities also translated COVID-19 preparedness messages in more than 40 languages and dialects tailored to the elderly or those in ethnic minority communities.
On social media, the most prominent is the Social Distancing Campaign jointly launched by the WHO and the Resident Coordinator, which has attracted over 51 million views and more than 540,000 people have participated in online discussions. A subsequent online survey conducted in early March indicated a 34 per cent increase of people maintaining social distancing since the outbreak, and more than 90 per cent of survey respondents correctly identified hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette and social distancing as some of the top four WHO recommendations.

COVID-19/WHO
The World Health Organization today called on Member States in South-East Asia to urgently scale-up aggressive measures to combat COVID-19, as confirmed cases cross 480, with eight deaths.
Eight of the 11 countries in WHO's South-East Asia region have confirmed cases of COVID-19, and the numbers of cases are increasing quickly.
While this is an indication of an alert and effective surveillance, it also puts the spotlight on the need for more aggressive and whole of society efforts to prevent further spread of COVID-19, WHO said. We clearly need to do more, and urgently.
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

- COVID-19: UN Response
- Refugee Resettlements Suspended
- Mali
- Sudan
- ILO
- Education
- Unicef
- Yemen
- Libya
- Mozambique
- FAO
- Senior Personnel Appointment

COVID-19: UN RESPONSE
The Secretary-General is in the office today with a reduced staff. He is spending most of the day making calls to leaders of UN entities, staff and missions around the world to check in on them and to see how they are doing.
Following is an update on the UN system response to the pandemic:
In Peru, in addition to immediate health needs, UN entities are working with the Government to minimize the social and economic impacts of the outbreak.
The Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been working permanently with the Ministry of Health on public health system preparedness and community awareness.
Meanwhile, the International Labour Organization has also been working with other ministries to protect people's rights.
Turning to Venezuela situation, UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are working with Government counterparts to support migrants and refugees, who are coming from Venezuela to access social programmes that may be limited. And UNFPA is also working on reproductive health services in that regard.
Meanwhile, in Uzbekistan, preparedness is in full speed with the UN team's collaboration with government counterparts. UN staff have been trained for emergency communications with the Ministry of Health and various other government agencies. The training included monitoring of public opinion, countering false information and working with communities. This complements a UN-backed campaign with the Government on COVID-19 in Uzbek and Russian.
REFUGEE RESETTLEMENTS SUSPENDED
The UN Refugee Agency and the UN Migration Agency - IOM- today announced that they are temporarily suspending resettlement departures for refugees.
This decision is the result of the measures countries are taking to reduce entry into their territories due to COVID-19.  This means that travel arrangements for resettling refugees are currently subject to severe disruptions. Some countries have also placed a hold on resettlement activities given their public health situation, which impacts their capacity to receive newly resettled refugees.
The two agencies said that they are also concerned that international travel could increase the exposure of refugees to the virus.
The 2 agencies are appealing to States, and working in close coordination with them, to ensure that movements can continue for the most critical emergency cases wherever possible.
The suspensions will begin to take effect within the next few days. Both agencies look forward to resuming full resettlement travel as soon as prudence and logistics permit.
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:
- Gabon/Equatorial Guinea
- Covid-19/Csw
- Syria
- Iraq
- Rohingya
- Libya
- Somalia
- Wildlife
- Noon Guest Tomorrow
- Honour Roll

GABON/EQUATORIAL GUINEA
The Secretary-General took part in a ceremony to mark the Special Agreement on the border dispute between the Gabonese Republic and the Republic of Equatorial Guinea.
The Secretary-General congratulated the two countries for demonstrating the political will, courage and perseverance necessary to put in place domestic measures to make this agreement possible.
The ceremony marked the successful conclusion of a United Nations mediation process, which aimed at facilitating a peaceful solution to the longstanding border dispute between Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The Special Agreement will allow both countries to submit their dispute to the International Court of Justice.
The Secretary-General said he hopes the steps taken by these two countries will be an inspiration for others facing similar challenges. By submitting their dispute to the International Court of Justice, he added, they are now showing the world that it is possible to find peaceful solutions, in accordance with international law.

COVID-19/CSW
World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros said today that there are now 90,893 reported cases globally and 3,110 deaths.
Twelve new countries have reported their first cases, with 21 countries having one case only.
Dr. Tedros stressed the actions newly-affected countries take today will be the difference between a handful of cases and a larger cluster.
He said that while containment is not possible for seasonal flu, it is possible for COVID-19, with contact tracing helping to prevent infections and save lives.
He also voiced concern over how countries' abilities to respond are being compromised by the severe and increasing disruption to the global supply of personal protective equipment due to rising demand, hoarding and misuse.
He emphasized that this is a question of solidarity and cannot be solved by WHO or one industry alone - it requires all of us working together to ensure all countries can protect the people who protect the rest of us.
On the Commission on the Status of Women: following the Secretary-General's recommendation to Member States to amend the format of the 64th session of the CSW in light of the current concerns regarding COVID-19, the Commission decided that the 64th session will convene at 10:00am on 9 March for a procedural meeting.
The meeting will include opening statements, followed by the adoption of a draft Political Declaration and action on any other draft resolutions. The session will then suspend until further notification. No general debate will take place and all side events planned by Member States and the UN system in conjunction with CSW 64 will be cancelled for next week. The Secretary-General will address, as scheduled, he will address the ceremony.

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