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REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE

Bi-Weekly Briefing

Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service, chaired the hybrid briefing, which was attended by spokespersons and representatives of the World Food Programme, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Meteorological Organization, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the World Trade Organization, the Human Rights Council, and Education Cannot Wait.

Update on northern Ethiopia

Tomson Phiri, for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that the WFP had completed its first round of food distributions to people impacted by the spread of conflict into Afar and Amhara regions. However, a lack of supplies due to various impediments to the movement of humanitarian aid still saw distributions in Tigray lagging behind. Since 15 August, the WFP had delivered food to over 350,000 people in Amhara and Afar. Some seven million people across Amhara, Afar, and Tigray needed assistance; WFP aimed to reach some 3.5 million people in those three regions in the upcoming rounds of distributions. Food insecurity was on the rise, with the situation becoming increasingly dire, which was why it was absolutely vital to have support of all parties to the conflict to allow for an unimpeded access of humanitarian delivered. There had been some positive developments in that regard recently, the WFP was cautiously optimistic, but much more needed to be done. WFP made sure that all parties to the conflict were consulted and included in its planning.

There had been some positive news on the movement of humanitarian aid into Tigray in recent weeks. Five convoys - 171 trucks – had entered Tigray between 5-29 September, carrying a combined total of 6,150 metric tons of food and nutrition supplies, which was enough to feed more than 360,000 people for one month. Despite those recent convoys, only 11 percent of the humanitarian aid needed had entered the region. Additionally, as of 30 September, more than 90 commercial trucks had exited Tigray and were now available for the movement of humanitarian aid into the region. One hundred trucks would need to be arriving daily to meet the needs of people in the region. Mr. Phiri stressed that not only food was needed in Tigray, but also fuel, as the reserves were running low. At the level of Ethiopia, the WFP had a funding shortfall of USD 426 million.

More details are available here.

Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), reiterated the call of the Secretary-General for an unimpeded humanitarian access to the people in need. Answering a question on the decision of Ethiopian authorities to expel UN staff from Ethiopia, the UN did not recognize the declaration of persona non grata for its staff, explained Ms. Vellucci. None of the seven concerned staff were currently in Ethiopia, added Ms. Vellucci.

Child recruitment and abductions in Mozambique

James Elder, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that as humanitarian access was slowly improving in Cabo Delgado, there were increasing reports of the use of children in armed groups, and of violations including abduction and sexual violence. There were videos of young boys and girls kidnapped and forcibly recruited by non-state armed groups, primarily the Al-Shabab. Such children were exposed to high levels of violence, missed school, and were separated from their families. Any child associated with an armed group should be primarily considered a survivor and a victim, and needed to be treated as such, stressed Mr. Elder. UNICEF welcomed the Memorandum of Understanding signed with the Mozambican Ministry of Defense to increase protection measures for children affected by conflict in Mozambique, and continued to work in collaboration with the Government and partners to prepare the services that would be greatly needed by rescued children to support their physical and mental health and psychosocial wellbeing, as well as safe reintegration to communities.

Thousands of children were at risk, some had been rescued, but no children had yet been released, said Mr. Elder responding to questions. There was evidence of sexual violence against girls as well as forced marriages, confirmed Mr. Elder. UNICEF was training Mozambique armed forces on how to react when they encountered children associated with armed struggle. There was video evidence of children as young as five being armed and indoctrinated.

Education Cannot Wait

Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, explained that her organization was focused on those children and youth left furthest behind. Education was one of the priorities of the UN Secretary-General, and, as a global fund of the United Nations, Education Cannot Wait had put the SG’s priorities in practice. Ms. Sherif presented the 2020 annual report “Winning the Human Race”, which showed how teachers in the most difficult places kept the light shining for children in need. An estimated 128 million of school-age children and adolescents in the precarious places across the world were suffering from a disruption in their education.

Education ought to be put at the forefront of the Sustainable Development Agenda. Ms. Sherif provided an example of students in South Sudan, who had lost 16 percent of schooling in their lifetime - compared to a 3-percent loss among students in Europe. In the Sahel, at the same time, attacks on schools had increased. The highest number of people on record were displaced in the world now, due to conflict or, increasingly, climate change, which only aggravated the situation further. Ms. Sherif explained how her global fund was working with a wide range of partners to cover various needs of children and youth; some 29 million children were being helped with distance learning.

In November, an Education Cannot Wait delegation would visit Afghanistan, with a particular focus on girls’ education. The organization was cautiously optimistic that it would be able to continue delivering quality education to girls in the country. A total of USD 1.8 billion had been mobilized by the organization in the past four years, said Ms. Sherif. Responding to questions, Ms. Sherif explained that there were different modalities of securing continuous access to education at the time of COVID-19.

Hurricane names

Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that the Atlantic hurricane season 2021 had been so active that it had exhausted the regular list of storm names for the second consecutive year. WMO would now use a new list of supplemental names for any forthcoming tropical cyclones in the basin. WMO maintained rotating lists of names in alphabetical order for tropical cyclones to alert the public of potential hazards.

The 2021 season had so far been less devastating than 2020, but it had proved to be unusually active in terms of Accumulated Cyclone Energy and the number of storms. Even in the event of an active season, impacts were limited if major hurricanes remain at sea. And even with a quiet season in terms of ACE, a single landfalling hurricane could be very costly and devastating. Hurricane Ida stood out as the season’s deadliest and most damaging storm, causing havoc in southern United States. Another powerful hurricane, Grace in mid-August, had hit the Leeward Islands, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Mexico.

Announcements

Rolando Gomez, for the Human Rights Council, informed that the Council had a few days left in the current, 48th session. Discussion on racism and racial discrimination was coming to an end, after which the Council would discuss the situation in Ukraine. At 4 pm, the Deputy High Commissioner would present a report on the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to be followed by an update on the human rights situation in South Sudan. On 6 October, the Council would hear from an expert on the human rights situation in Cambodia, and from the High Commissioner on the situation in Sudan. There were 28 draft resolutions lined up for action with 38 amendments; they were all available online and would be considered on 7 and 8 October.

Mr. Gomez informed that on 6 October at 11:30 am, there would be a hybrid press conference by the Team of International Experts on the Situation in Kasai, in which they would present their final report of international experts on the situation in Kasai in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Speakers would be Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Chair of the Team, and Marie-Thérèse Keita-Bocoum, Member of the Team.

Fernando Puchol, for the World Trade Organization (WTO), informed that the UN General Assembly had recently adopted a resolution proclaiming 7 October as the World Cotton Day, recognizing its vital importance. As part of the 2021 celebrations of this day, the Secretariats of the WTO and of the International Trade Centre would organize on 6 October at 3 pm a webinar to examine the status and potential of African value chains for cotton, textile, and the clothing sectors. More information could be found here.

Mr. Puchol also informed that the Prime Minister of Mali Choguel K. Maiga and the Trade Minister of Burkina Faso Harouna Kabore would address the WTO General Council on 6 October.

Jean Rodriguez, for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), informed that this week UNECE would host a Ministerial Meeting on Urban Development, Housing and Land Management focusing on “Affordable, adequate, and resilient housing in liveable cities”. Some 50 million people in the UNECE region lived in inadequate housing conditions. Despite this intolerable situation, housing policies and in particular affordable housing were not high enough on the political agenda in many countries in the region. The COVID-19 pandemic had further exacerbated those problems and the lockdowns it had imposed in many countries had highlighted the difficult situation of millions of people, including in the richest countries of the region, like Switzerland. The Ministerial Meeting aimed at raising political awareness on affordability issues and propose solutions, in particular through the regional exchange of experiences and good practices for promoting access to decent, adequate and affordable housing as part of countries’ response to and recovery plans for the COVID19 pandemic. The Ministerial would be broadcast live on http://webtv.un.org

Fadela Chaib, for the World Health Organization (WHO), stated that today at 5 pm, there would be a WHO Facebook live on COVID-19 with Dr. Mike Ryan and Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.

A virtual press conference would take place on 6 October at 5 pm on the Global Advisory Body’s review of the RTS,S malaria vaccine evidence, to inform the potential first-ever WHO recommendation on the broad use of malaria vaccines for children in sub-Saharan Africa. Several panellists would partake in the press conference, including Dr. Tedros and the WHO Regional Director for Africa.

On 7 October, at 10 am, there would be the launch of the Mental Health Atlas 2020, which would provide an overview of mental health services in 171 countries around the world, showing progress or lack of progress in meeting targets set by the global mental health community. Speakers at the launch would be Dr. Tarun Dua, Unit Head, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, World Health Organization; and Dr. Fahmy Hanna, Technical Officer, Department of Mental Health and Substance Use

On 7 October at 3:30 pm, there would be a joint virtual press conference with UN Secretary-General and Dr. Tedros.

Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), informed about the release of the multi-agency report 2021 State of Climate Services: Water, which showed that more than two billion people were living in countries under water stress, and water-related hazards had increased. The report also showed why more needed to be done to meet water- related challenges. Speakers at the press conference to launch the report, today at 12 noon, would be Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the WMO, and Maxx Dilley, Director, Climate Services Department of the WMO.

Alessandra Vellucci, for the UN Information Service, said that on 8 October at 1:30 pm, there would be a hybrid press conference by Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, following UNHCR’s 72nd Annual Executive Meeting.

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would begin this afternoon its review of the report of Bolivia and would conclude it in the afternoon on 5 October.

The Committee on Migrant Workers was concluding this morning its review of the report of Azerbaijan.

Finally, Ms. Vellucci informed that the list of laureates of the 2021 Young Activists Summit had been just announced. The #YAS2021 would be held at the Palais des Nations on 18 November.

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