PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
Rhéal LeBlanc, Chief of the Press and External Relations Section at the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the hybrid briefing, which was attended by spokespersons of the World Health Organization and the United Nations Refugee Agency.
Drought and conflict force 80,000 to flee from Somalia to Kenya’s refugee camps
Boris Cheshirkov, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that more than 80,000 people had arrived in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camps. The majority had arrived over the past two years, fleeing ongoing insecurity in Somalia and the unrelenting drought, the longest and most severe in decades.
Despite a recent decrease in the pace of daily arrivals, UNHCR and partners in Dadaab estimated that some 24,000 people had arrived since the end of September. Adequate space in the camps, where the newly arrived were sheltered, was running out, forcing many to reside in makeshift shelters along the outskirts, where clean water and sanitation facilities were either grossly insufficient or non-existent. Further challenging the response, a cholera outbreak had been affecting refugee and host communities. Over 350 cases had been identified since the end of October, mainly affecting children. Together with health partners, UNHCR was setting up additional treatment centres to increase access to health care for new arrivals and to be prepared in the event more cholera cases were reported.
In June, as part of a regional appeal for the Horn of Africa drought response, UNHCR had requested USD 11.1 million to assist more than 257,000 drought-affected people in Kenya, including 55,000 new arrivals. So far only half of the needed funds to respond to the drought had been received, said Mr. Cheshirkov.
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Responding to questions from journalists, Mr. Cheshirkov said the priority was to provide arriving people with urgent support. Even if cholera cases were seemingly under control, UNHCR continued to be concerned about the situation. UNHCR was cognizant of the important role Kenya was playing in hosting Somali refugees for over three decades; some half a million refugees and asylum seekers were currently in Kenya. Resettlement of refugees to third countries was also under discussion.
Carla Drysdale, for the World Health Organization (WHO), informed that today at 3 p.m. WHO would host a virtual press conference on the World Malaria Report 2022. A media advisory had been shared. The embargo on the report would be lifted on 8 December at 12 noon.
The third meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to draft and negotiate an international instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response was underway until 7 December, informed Ms. Drysdale. The body was looking into the conceptual zero draft of the instrument and discussing the way forward. One-on-one interviews with bureau members could be arranged. The meeting was being webcast live. Dr. Tedros had delivered opening remarks on 5 December, said Ms. Drysdale. The Bureau’s proposal on an updated timeline and deliverables can be found here.
On 8 December, there would be a virtual press conference to release the fifth Global Antimicrobial Resistance and Use Surveillance System (GLASS) Report . The report was based on inputs from 87 countries, and it was the first report trying to capture antimicrobial resistance rates since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Rhéal LeBlanc, for the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, informed that on 9 December at 9:30 a.m., on the occasion of Human Rights Day, there would be a press conference by Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. The regular press briefing by UN Information Service will consequently be moved to 11 a.m. that day.
Mr. LeBlanc also said that the UN Secretary-General would be in Montreal today to attend the second part of the 15th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. The first part of COP15 had been held in Kunming, China, in October 2021. This second part would include the continuation of negotiations by Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, which was hoped would lead to the adoption of an ambitious post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. COP15 would be webcast at UN TV.