REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service (UNIS) in Geneva, chaired the hybrid briefing, attended by the spokespersons and representatives of Education Cannot Wait, the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Mine Action Service, the World Health Organization, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Refugee Agency and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Education Cannot Wait
Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait, said that 222 million children and youth were seeing their education disrupted by emergency situations and protracted crises. The main factors contributing to that record number were the number and increasingly protracted nature of conflicts, climate change and the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Of that total, 78.2 million were out of school entirely, thereby exposing boys to the risk of recruitment by armed groups and girls to the risk of sexual violence, trafficking and early marriage. A further 119.6 million attended school but were not achieving proficiency in literacy and mathematics and 24.2 million were reaching proficiency but did not enjoy other services such as school meals, psychosocial support and water and sanitation. Education must be moved from the margins to the centre.
The Government of Switzerland and Education Cannot Wait, together with the Governments of Germany, the Niger, Norway, and South Sudan, would be convening a high-level financing conference in Geneva, on 16 and 17 February 2023. Earlier in 2022, the Minister of Development of Germany had announced an additional 200 million euros for Education Cannot Wait, making Germany its biggest strategic donor, followed by the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Education Cannot Wait called on all Member States and the private sector to show the same level of generosity.
Replying to journalists, Ms. Sherif said that Education Cannot Wait’s target population was children aged 3 to 18 years, primarily those affected by emergency situations and protracted crises. While most of its work was carried out in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and parts of Latin America and Asia, some funding had been channeled towards joint programmes in Ukraine and to supporting education in refugee camps on the Greek islands. Some of Education Cannot Wait’s success stories included rebuilding schools after the explosion in Beirut, bolstering programmes for children with visual impairments after the severe budget cuts to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, establishing a comprehensive non-formal education system for Rohingya children in Bangladesh and training teachers in Ethiopia.
Human Rights Council
Rolando Gomez, for the Human Rights Council, said that the day’s programme included the presentation of reports by the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, the Special Rapporteur on discrimination against leprosy victims and their families, as well as the Secretary-General’s report on the Islamic Republic of Iran. There would also be a panel discussion on menstrual hygiene management, human rights and gender equality.
The programme for 22 June included a panel discussion on good governance in the context of COVID-19 and the presentation of various reports on business and human rights and the report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
At least 21 draft resolutions were expected to be considered at the end of the session.
Pablo Parra, Chief of Mine Action Programme, United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) – Colombia, said the 25th International Meeting of Mine Action National Directors and United Nations Advisers (NDM-UN25) would be held on 23–24 June at the World Intellectual Property Organization. More than 700 participants would attend from around the world, as well as UNOG Director-General, the Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Resources and the Assistant Secretary-General for Rule of Law and Security Institutions. Topics would include the humanitarian development and peace nexus, information management, and innovation in explosive risk education. Side events would be used to highlight case studies, including one from Colombia that had found that every dollar invested in mine action returned $7 in social development. The press was welcome at all parts of the Meeting.
Ultraviolet radiation levels
Carla Drysdale, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that a new app for mobile phones – SunSmart Global UV – had been launched by WHO, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Labour Organization. The app provided five-day ultraviolet (UV) radiation and weather forecasts at searchable locations, highlighting time slots when sun protection was required, in an effort to reduce the global burden of skin cancer and UV-related eye damage. In 2020, it was estimated that over 1.5 million cases of skin cancer had been diagnosed and more than 120,000 people had lost their lives to the highly preventable disease. The app included national and local data streams and could be adapted into multiple languages. It was available free of charge for all operating systems.
Claire Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), said that very high radiation levels had been seen in Europe in recent days. For example, Météo Suisse had indicated that, on 20 June, the UV index in some mountain areas had reached the maximum 11. Vincent-Henri Peuch, Director of the EU Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, had stated that large parts of Europe could experience UV index values in excess of 8, which meant that a sunburn could occur in as little as 15 minutes depending on skin type. It was also very important to provide related health advice, for instance that high protection sunscreen did not offer full protection and that exposure to the sun should simply be avoided in the middle of the day when the UV index was above 8.
In response to questions, Carla Drysdale, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the Emergency Committee on Monkey Pox was scheduled to convene for the first time in a closed meeting on Thursday, 23 June. Details regarding its composition and the communication of outcomes would be provided in due course. There would be no COVID-19 briefing that week.
Global refugee resettlement needs
Shabia Mantoo, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that, according to the Projected Global Resettlement Needs Assessment, more than 2 million refugees would be in need of resettlement in 2023, a 36 per cent increase compared to resettlement needs in 2022 of 1.47 million. The increase was attributed to the humanitarian impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the multitude of protracted refugee situations and the emergence of new displacement situations in 2022. Most of the need in 2023 would be from countries of asylum across the African continent, closely followed by the Middle East and North Africa and Türkiye. Syrian refugees had the highest global resettlement needs for the seventh year running, followed by refugees from Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Myanmar.
Resettlement – which involved the relocation of refugees from a country of asylum to a country that had agreed to admit them and grant them permanent settlement – was a life-saving tool to ensure the protection of some of those most at risk or with specific needs that could not be addressed in the country of asylum. Consequently, it was available only to a tiny fraction of the world’s refugees. At the height of the pandemic in 2020, refugee resettlement had plummeted to record lows. Although departures had almost doubled to 39,266 in 2021, UNHCR was calling on States to help narrow the gap between the numbers of those in need of resettlement and the number of places made available. In addition, UNHCR was appealing for predictable, multi-year resettlement commitments from States and called on them to speed up resettlement processing and departure arrangements and to strengthen their processing capacities and reception structures in a sustainable manner.
The full briefing note is available here.
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), noted that the Secretary-General, in the context of World Refugee Day on 20 June, had stated that there had been twice the number of resettlement opportunities when he had headed UNHCR than there were today, and had called on everyone to stand together in solidarity and defend the integrity of the international protection regime.
UNCTAD’s reports and event
Catherine Huissoud, for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), said that today UNCTAD would be posting online the fourth edition of its SDG Pulse, which contained the new Inclusive Growth Index based on the economy, living conditions, inequality and the environment. The SDG Pulse also provided extensive macroeconomic data on trade openness, finance, structural transformation of economies, maritime transport, and information and communication technologies. It showed stalling progress towards the 2030 Agenda under the compounding effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the rising costs of climate change.
UNCTAD would be holding a special hybrid event, The Bridgetown Covenant and Post-MC12 Trade Challenges on 22 June, from 3 to 5 p.m., in Room XIX. UNCTAD member States would discuss how to incorporate the outcome of the 12th Ministerial Conference of World Trade Organization into the implementation the outcome of the 15th United Nations Conference on trade and Development (UNCTAD15), with a focus on international responses to trade and development challenges in the short, medium and long term. Interpretation would be available in the six official languages.
Lastly, UNCTAD would soon publish a new Global Trade Update focused on the impact of inflation and commodity prices on trade. It would also contain data on trade by the Russian Federation and Ukraine with the three major global economies using the year-over-year percentage change in the value of merchandise trade during March and April 2022. The update would be made available by the morning of 23 June.
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), said that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would be reviewing that day the reports of the United Arab Emirates and Morocco.
The next public plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament would be on Thursday, 23 June, at 10 a.m.
Ms. Vellucci announced that, on Tuesday, 21 June, at noon, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) would be holding a hybrid briefing to provide and update on the humanitarian situation in Nigeria. The speaker would be Matthias Schmale, United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator (a.i.) in Nigeria.
On Wednesday, 22 June, at 2.30 p.m., the Permanent Mission of Spain and the Club de Madrid would be holding a hybrid briefing at which Danilo Türk, former President of Slovenia, President of the Club de Madrid and Member of the High-level Advisory Board for Effective Multilateralism, would share his reflections on the links between the war in Ukraine, multilateral peace and security mechanisms and the retreat of democracy, as well as the proposals arising from the Club de Madrid’s recent work in that domain.
On Thursday, 23 June, at a hybrid conference at noon, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) would launch a report on internet shutdowns. Speakers would include: Peggy Hicks, Director, Thematic Engagement Division; Tim Engelhardt, Human Rights Officer; and Marcelo Daher, Human Rights Officer.
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change would speak at a hybrid conference Friday, 24 June, at 9.30 a.m.
Ms. Vellucci also announced that the UNOG Director-General would deliver a keynote address on global challenges in the future of multilateralism at the opening session of the annual meeting of the Academic Council on the United Nations System, on Thursday, 23 June, at the Palais des Nations. A high-level panel discussion would follow entitled “A World in Crisis: Evidence-Based Solutions for Intensifying Global Challenges”, featuring the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, WHO Chief Scientist and the Director-General of the International Organization for Migration. The event would be webcast on UN Web TV; those who wished to attend in person were invited to contact Rhéal LeBlanc.
Lastly, on the occasion of the International Day of Yoga, the Secretary-General had stated that “This year’s theme — Yoga for Humanity — reminds us how yoga is truly universal. […] In a world beset by disaster and division, yoga’s values of mindfulness, balance, moderation and discipline are essential as we seek out a new relationship with one another and with our planet. On this important day, let us be inspired by this timeless practice and its values.”
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