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Bi-Weekly Briefing

Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service, chaired the hybrid briefing, attended by the spokespersons and representatives of the International Organization for Migration, the World Food Programme, UN-Habitat, and the International Labour Organization.

COVID-19 testing for regional truckers in Kenya

Paul Dillon, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), stated that thousands of truck drivers across Kenya were being tested for COVID-19 by the IOM, one element of a broader effort to reinvigorate regional economies feeling the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. Billions of dollars’ worth of goods began the final leg of their in-land journey to Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo aboard transport trucks originating at the sprawling port in Mombasa in southeast Kenya.

IOM saw the integration of COVID-19 testing and other health measures into border management systems as critical to reanimating national and local economies and blunting the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19. IOM had sent medical staff, lab technicians, and a semi-automated Thermo Fisher testing system to the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital, enabling the testing of up to 400 samples within a day. The impact was measurable, reducing the turn-around time for results to between 24 and 36 hours, an important consideration for drivers under pressure to deliver their goods as quickly as possible.

Full press release is available here.

WFP support to urban poor in Kenya

Tomson Phiri, for the World Food Programme (WFP), said that in response to food shortages and hunger among the urban poor because of the impact of COVID-19 in Kenya, the WFP was rolling out cash and nutrition assistance for more than 400,000 people living in informal settlements in Nairobi and Mombasa. In Nairobi, WFP was on course to provide cash and nutrition products to 300,000 people for four months while in Mombasa, WFP was rolling out cash and nutrition supplements for over 100,000 people for three months.

WFP office in Kenya reported that the food and nutrition security of an estimated 1.7 million people in informal urban settlements was adversely affected by COVID-19. WFP would provide USD 40 monthly through mobile transfers to each eligible household to cover up to half the food needs for an average family of four – in line with the Government’s own cash assistance programme. Out of USD 64 million requirement by the WFP, only 36 percent had been secured thus far, said Mr. Phiri. With adequate funding, 725,000 people could be provided with food assistance in Nairobi’s informal settlements.

More information on the WFP’s work in Kenya can be found here.


Responding to a question from a journalist, Alessandra Vellucci, for the UN Information Service (UNIS), informed that as of 28 October, 34 new UN Secretariat staff in Geneva had tested positive for COVID-19; those were the new cases registered since 19 October. The number was undoubtedly high but also followed the broader trend in Geneva and Switzerland. No clusters had been identified so far. Ms. Vellucci informed about the contact-tracing procedures conducted by the UN Medical Service, which included staff, delegates, contractors and journalists that may have been in contact with an affected person on the UN premises.

Geneva announcements

Alessandra Vellucci, speaking on behalf of the Human Rights Council, informed that the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group would hold its 36th session starting on 2 November, for two weeks. A background press release had been issued the previous night, with details and a list of the 14 States who would be reviewed. The session would now take place in the Assembly Hall to allow for social distancing. Given the maximum capacity of 50 allowed in the room at any given time, the journalists were encouraged to cover the session on webcast.

Sophie Fisher, for the International Labour Organization (ILO), informed about the 340th session of the ILO’s Governing Body, which would be held from 2 to 13 November. It would be the first session to take place this year, and the first to be held as an essentially virtual event. In addition to the usual sections on policy development, legal issues, program, financial and administration, the agenda would also include a high-level day on 6 November, a report of the Director-General, a report of the committee on freedom of association, etc. More information is available here. If journalists wanted to follow any session, they should write to newsroom@ilo.org.

Graham Alabastair, for UN-Habitat, announced an embargoed hybrid press conference today at 1:30 p.m. The press conference was held on the occasion of the launch of the UN-Habitat World Cities Report 2020 on the Value of Urbanization and promotion of World Cities Day, which would be under embargo until 11 am on 31 October. The speakers would be Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director; Eduardo Moreno, UN-Habitat Head of Knowledge and Innovation; Paola Deda, Director of Forest, Land and Housing Division at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe; and Daria Cibrario, Director Geneva Cities Hub.

Ms. Vellucci added that the Secretary-General had issued a video-message on the occasion of the World Cities Day on 30 October; the message had been distributed.

She also informed about the upcoming Geneva Peace Week, which would take place virtually from 2 to 6 November and was jointly organized by UN Geneva, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, and the Graduate Institute. The 2020 theme was "Rebuilding trust after disruption: Pathways to reset international cooperation". The event would aim to galvanize leadership, build trust and contribute to transforming international cooperation in the wake of COVID-19.

Ms. Vellucci further informed that the Human Rights Committee, currently holding its virtual 130th session, would meet in private until the end of the session, scheduled for 6 November.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would meet in private until the end of the session, scheduled for 5 November at 5 p.m.

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