United Nations
United Nations 29 May 2020

International Day of UN Peacekeepers & other topics - Daily Briefing (29 May 2020)

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Noon briefing by Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:
- Secretary-General/Peacekeeping
- Covid-19/Peacekeeping Missions
- Climate
- Honduras/COVID-19
- COVID-19/Brazil
- COVID-19/Postal Sector
- COVID-19/Tourism
- Yemen
- Security Council
- Nepal
- Libya
- Kenya/Floods
- Ethiopia
- Somalia
- Venezuela
- Nigeria
- World No Tobacco Day

SECRETARY-GENERAL/PEACEKEEPING 
This morning, to mark the International Day of UN Peacekeepers, the Secretary-General laid a wreath at the Peacekeepers' memorial to honour the more than 3,900 women and men who have lost their lives since 1948, while serving under the UN flag. 
In his remarks at a related event, he said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost everything we do, but not the service, sacrifice and selflessness of the more than 95,000 women and men serving in 13 peacekeeping operations around the world.
The theme of the international day this year is "Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace.'' In his remarks, the Secretary-General emphasized how women help improve all aspects of our operations and performance. 
He said peacekeeping is more effective for everyone when we have more women peacekeepers at all levels, including in decision-making. He added that we will continue to do everything we can to reach this goal. 
The Secretary-General also awarded the ‘2019 Military Gender Advocate of the Year Award' to Commander Carla Monteiro de Castro Araujo, a Brazilian naval officer serving with the UN Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) and to Major Suman Gawani from India, who served in the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). 
COVID-19/PEACEKEEPING MISSIONS
On a related note, we have an update on how peacekeeping missions continue to support Member States' response to COVID-19.  
Our colleagues from the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) report that the Mission provided personal and household goods, including televisions and computers to communities in Kosovo, including a children's shelter and a shelter for victims of trafficking. This support will help the children to continue online learning to finish the academic year. 
The UN Peacekeeping mission also reports it is working with young innovators, who are helping build 3D face shields for health workers.
The UN Mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL) recently handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and veterinary medicines to benefit communities in a number of villages in southern Lebanon. 
The UN Mission in the Central Republic (MINUSCA) continues awareness and information campaigns as part of COVID-19 prevention efforts, through the Mission's community violence reduction projects in Bangassou and Gambo, located in the country's Southeast.  In addition, the UN Mission, in partnership with local stakeholders conducted sensitization training workshops in Bouar.


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

Highlights:
- Security Council - Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict
- High-Level Event on Financing for Development
- ECOSOC
- Women's Participation in Peacebuilding
- Afghanistan
- Cyclone Amphan
- Airline Crash
- Africa Day
- Syria
- Peacekeeping Support to COVID-19 Response
- World Meteorological Organization
- ILO
- Joint Statement on 'Key Worker' Designations
- WHO
- International Day of UN Peacekeepers
- Unaffiliated Website
- Budget
- Obituary

SECURITY COUNCIL - PROTECTION OF CILIVIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT  
At the Security Council this morning, the Secretary-General said his latest report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict shows little progress. Last year, more than 20,000 civilians were killed or injured in just ten conflicts, he said, adding that this figure, which is limited to incidents verified by the UN, is just a fraction of the total. 
The report documents millions of people forced from their homes or displaced for a second, third or even fourth time. Again, last year, women and girls were subject to appalling sexual and gender-based violence. Tens of thousands of children were also victims of conflict.  
As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches every corner of the world, the Secretary-General warned that those already weakened by years of armed conflict are particularly vulnerable. The virus is not only spreading sickness and death, he said, it is pushing people into poverty and hunger. In some cases, it is reversing decades of development progress. 
The Secretary-General said he is encouraged by expressions of support for his global ceasefire call. However, he added, this support has not been translated into concrete action. Where armed conflict continues, COVID-19 makes the protection of civilians more challenging than ever - and our support more important than ever. His full remarks have been shared with you.  
Discussions at the Security Council today will be followed by a series of online thematic side events on strengthening the Protection of Civilians in armed conflict from tomorrow until Monday. More details and registration are available on OCHA's website. 

HIGH-LEVEL EVENT ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT
Tomorrow the Secretary-General, along with the Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, and the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, are convening the High-Level Event on Financing for Development in the Era of COVID-19 and Beyond.  It seeks to accelerate our global response to the significant economic and human impacts of COVID-19. The Secretary-General will stress that we must respond to the pandemic with unity and solidarity, which is a key aspect of financial support.
The High-Level Event will look at six areas of action to mobilize financing. These include expanding liquidity across the global economy; addressing debt vulnerabilities; stemming illicit financial flows; increasing external finance for inclusive growth and job creation; and strategies for countries to recover better. 
The event will happen starting at 8:00 am and likely end around 1:00 p.m. Following the conclusion of the High-Level Segment, the Secretary-General will be joined by the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Canada for a virtual press briefing to answer your questions. We expect the press briefing to start about 15 minutes following the end of the official event and the press briefing will of course take the place of our usual noon briefing. And you will be able to watch all of the events on the UN webtv.un.org web platform.
Opening remarks by António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Commemoration of the International Day of UN Peacekeepers 2020 - Women in Peacekeeping: A Key to Peace.

"(...)The pandemic has required us to hold the ceremonies for the Military Gender Advocate Award and the Dag Hammarskjold Medal virtually.
But what the virus has not changed is the service, sacrifice and selflessness of the more than 95,000 women and men serving in 13 peacekeeping operations around the world.
Every day, our peacekeepers continue to protect vulnerable local populations, support dialogue and implement their mandates while fighting COVID-19. 
They are doing everything they can to be an integral part of the solution to this crisis while keeping themselves - and the communities they serve - safe.
As always, they give the United Nations family many reasons to be proud.
But the virus is not the only threat that our peacekeepers face. Hostile acts, improvised explosive devices, accidents and diseases continue to take a heavy toll.
Today, with the awarding of the Dag Hammarskjold medal, we pay tribute to the 83 military, police and civilian personnel from 39 countries who lost their lives last year serving in UN peace operations.
I honor their memory and express my deepest condolences to their families. I hope that this medal offers them a measure of comfort (...)" - António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations [Excerpt].
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

Highlights:
- Seafarers
- Central Africa
- Mali
- Sudan
- Libya
- Sahel
- Zimbabwe
- Syria
- Yemen
- World Day Against Child Labour
- Verified Initiative
- Financial Contributions

SEAFARERS
The Secretary-General is concerned about the growing humanitarian and safety crisis facing seafarers around the world. As a result of COVID-related travel restrictions, hundreds of thousands of the world's two million seafarers have been stranded at sea for months. Unable to get off ships, the maximum sea time stipulated in international conventions is being ignored, with some seafarers marooned at sea for 15 months. 
Shipping transports more than 80 per cent of the world's trade, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the pandemic response and recovery. This ongoing crisis will have a direct consequence on the shipping industry. The world could not function without the efforts of seafarers yet their contributions go largely unheralded; they deserve far greater support at any time but especially now. 
The Secretary-General calls on all countries to formally designate seafarers and other marine personnel as "key workers" to ensure crew changeovers can safely take place. 
United Nations agencies, including the International Labour Organization and the International Maritime Organization, have worked with the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation to develop protocols for crew changeovers, taking into account of course of full public health concerns. The Secretary-General calls on all governments to urgently implement these protocols, allowing stranded seafarers to repatriate and others to join. 

CENTRAL AFRICA
The Secretary-General's Special Representative for Central Africa, François Louncény Fall, told the Security Council that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of citizens, as well as the functioning of States and regional institutions in Central Africa. The resulting economic crisis disproportionately affects the subregion of Central Africa, where many countries are oil producers. As governments are forced to choose between the urgent public health priorities, they risk lacking the resources needed for the smooth functioning of national institutions and the financing of crucial reforms. Mr. Lounceny-Fall highlighted the efforts of regional Governments and organizations to counter the virus. But, he added, the persistence of armed conflict in some parts of Central Africa undermines our efforts to respond to challenges posed by the pandemic. The Special Representative condemned deliberate attacks on civilians, and the destruction of private property and public infrastructure, including hospitals. 
Noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Highlights:
- Policy Brief/Africa
- Africa Dialogue
- Human Rights Chief/ Africa
- Economic and Social Council
- Global Human Development
- COVID-19/Child Malnutrition
- Security Council/Middle East
- South Sudan
- Cyclone Amphan/Bangladesh
- COVID-19/Kenya
- COVID-19/Armenia
- World Bee Day
- International Day For Biological Diversity
- Noon Briefing Guest Tomorrow

POLICY BRIEF/AFRICA
In a new policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on the African continent, the Secretary-General highlights the continent's swift response to the pandemic, but also calls for global solidarity with Africans now and to recover better.  
In a video message recorded for the launch, the Secretary-General said that most African countries have moved rapidly to deepen regional coordination, deploy health workers, and enforce quarantines, lockdowns and border closures.
They are also drawing on the experience of HIV/AIDS and Ebola to debunk rumours and overcome mistrust of government, security forces and health workers. But, despite these efforts, the pandemic threatens progress achieved on the continent and will aggravate long-standing inequalities.
The Secretary-General called for international action to strengthen Africa's health systems, maintain food supplies, avoid a financial crisis, support education, protect jobs, keep households and businesses afloat, as well as cushion the continent against lost income and export earnings.
The Secretary-General also emphasized that African countries should have quick, equal and affordable access to any eventual vaccine and treatment.  These must be considered global public goods, he said. He added that ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world. 
AFRICA DIALOGUE
This morning, during the opening session of the Africa Dialogues series, the Secretary-General reiterated the solidarity of the United Nations with African countries as they tackle the new coronavirus.  
He welcomed African support for his call for a global ceasefire, but also warned that the pandemic is affecting capacity to support peace and security efforts across the continent.
My message to the international community, he said, is that failure to respond quickly and adequately could jeopardize progress towards Silencing the Guns by 2020 and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals as well as Africa's "Agenda 2063".
He said that the empowerment of African youth and repeated that women should play a central role in all peace processes, just as they needed to be central to every aspect of the COVID-19 response.
These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa, and disruption could escalate quickly, he concluded, as he renewed his appeal for global solidarity with all African countries.
HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF/ AFRICA
In a joint statement following the publication of the Secretary-General's Policy Brief on Africa, the UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, and the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR), Solomon Dersso, called for urgent measures to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic.
Bachelet and Dersso said that while measures to restrict movement and increase social distancing were essential in the fight against the virus, they were having a dramatic impact on populations, especially those who rely on informal daily work for their survival.
They both also underlined the importance of preserving freedom of association, of opinion and expression as well as access to information during this time. The human rights chiefs joined the Secretary-General's call for equitable access for COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.  

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