Skip to main content

REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE

Bi-Weekly Briefing

Michele Zaccheo, Chief of the Radio, TV and Webcast Section at the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Geneva, chaired the hybrid briefing attended by the spokespersons and representatives of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme and the World Health Organization.

International Youth Day

Michele Zaccheo, for the United Nations Information Service, recalled the Secretary-General’s message on the occasion of International Youth Day, in which he had underscored the power of partnerships across generations, stating that this year’s theme, “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”, was a reminder of a basic truth – people of all ages, young and old alike, needed to join forces to build a better world for all. Too often, ageism, bias and discrimination prevented that essential collaboration. When young people were shut out of the decisions being made about their lives, or when older people were denied a chance to be heard, everyone lost.

The full text of the message is available here.

World Humanitarian Day

Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said that, ahead of World Humanitarian Day on Friday, 19 August, OCHA was launching the 2022 campaign and public call to show support for the daily work, determination, bravery and sacrifice of humanitarians.

Amid never-before-seen global needs, the United Nations aimed to reach 204 million of the most vulnerable among the record 303 million people in need around the world. Moreover, humanitarians were being called on to respond in ever-more dangerous environments. According to Humanitarian Outcomes, more than 140 aid workers had been killed in the line of duty in 2021, the highest number since 2013; all but two had been national staff. In addition to those killed, 203 aid workers had been injured and 117 kidnapped. The most violent countries remained South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria, and most of the fatalities in 2021 had been caused by small weapons, air strikes and shelling. So far in 2022, 168 aid workers had been attacked, of whom 44 had died.

World Humanitarian Day commemorated those lost and paid tribute to those who carried on their work. That year’s theme was encapsulated in the hashtag #ItTakesAVillage, which the media and the public were invited to follow to show solidarity with people in need and appreciation for those who delivered aid.

Michele Zaccheo, for the United Nations Information Service, recalling that the date of World Humanitarian Day had been selected for its significance as the date of the bombing of the Canal Hotel in Baghdad, said that all were warmly invited to the commemorative ceremony to be held outside Room XX on 19 August, at 3 p.m. The event – to be attended by the Director-General of UNOG, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Executive Secretary of the UNOG Staff Union, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Iraq to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva and the Director of Coordination Division and Head of OCHA – would also be carried live on UN Web TV. The Secretary-General’s message on the occasion of World Humanitarian Day would be circulated under embargo next week.

Replying to questions from journalists, Mr. Laerke said that the campaign was primarily a call for support and appreciation because humanitarian work remained very dangerous and those who carried it out should be encouraged, especially amid current historic needs. It was tricky to make a direct causal link between the campaign and any improvement on the ground. Attacks against aid workers were a particular problem in areas where access to people in need was difficult. The different appeals were variously funded, some below 20 per cent. The total amount of all the United Nations coordinated appeals around the world for 2022 – which included annual humanitarian response plans, flash appeals and regional appeals for refugees financing the activities of United Nations humanitarian actors, various international organizations except the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as international and national non-governmental organizations – was $48.7 billion, of which only $15 billion had been received. The largest-ever shortfall masked the fact that donors had contributed the highest-ever amount; the problem was that needs were far outpacing resources. The largest drivers of need were armed conflict and climate change, with some crises arising from a combination of both, not to mention the continued fallout from the coronavirus disease pandemic. It was in the entire world’s interest for humanitarian responses to be appropriately funded.

In response to a question, Tomson Phiri, for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that the vessel that would be collecting the shipment of Ukrainian wheat purchased by WFP was expected to dock at the port of Yuzhne, Ukraine, that afternoon. It was unclear, however, when it would be loaded and able to depart again.

Monkeypox

Replying to a journalist, Margaret Harris, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the renaming of viruses and diseases were done by different groups. For existing diseases, the process included consideration by the International Classification of Diseases, which was collecting naming suggestions via a dedicated platform. Work was also under way to rename the two strongest clades of the monkeypox virus in Africa because they referred to geographic places, in contravention of naming guidelines.

Announcements

Michele Zaccheo, for the United Nations Information Service, said that the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination would be concluding that morning its review of the report of the United States of America. The Committee would also be reviewing the reports of Azerbaijan (15–16 August), Slovakia (16–17 August), Zimbabwe (17–18 August) and Suriname (18–19 August).

He also said that on Monday, 15 August, at 10 a.m., the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would open its twenty-seventh session, to run from 15 August to 9 September, during which it would review the reports of China (mornings of 17, 18 and 19 August), Indonesia (afternoons of 18 and 19 August), Japan (22 August p.m. and 23 August a.m.), New Zealand (23 August p.m. and 24 August a.m.), Republic of Korea (24 August p.m. and 25 August a.m.), Bangladesh (25 August p.m. and 26 August a.m.), Lao People’s Democratic Republic (29 August p.m. and 30 August a.m.) and Singapore (30 August p.m. and 31 August a.m.). On the afternoon of Wednesday 17 August, the Committee would hold a meeting with States parties on the situation in Ukraine.

Lastly, he said that no date had yet been announced for the next public plenary of the Conference on Disarmament, which remained under the presidency of Ambassador Paul Empole Losoko Efambe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and would move to the presidency of Ecuador until the closure of the session on 16 September.

* * *