Good afternoon and happy Friday to everyone. The Secretary-General has recently arrived in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, where he is set to meet the President of Moldova, Maia Sandru. Earlier today, the Secretary-General traveled to Odesa, Ukraine’s main Black Sea port, where he was greeted by Oleksandr Kubrakov, the country’s infrastructure minister. The Secretary-General boarded the M/V Kubrosli Y, a bulk carrier loading up some 10,000 metric tons of wheat. Touring the ship, he was able to witness grain filling up the ship’s holding tanks.
In speaking to reporters afterwards, Mr. [António] Guterres expressed his emotion at being able to witness the loading operation. He said that in less than a month, 25 ships have departed from Odesa and other Ukrainian ports, carrying well over 600,000 metric tons of food products. As he toured the port, the Secretary-General made a special appeal to the wealthier world for those bearing the brunt of the global food crisis. He said that it is time for massive and generous support so developing countries can purchase the food from Odesa and other ports — and people can buy it.
Tomorrow, the Secretary-General will fly to Istanbul to visit the Joint Coordination Centre for the Black Sea Grain Initiative. He will return to New York late tomorrow night.
In a statement issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General expressed his deep concern over a series of explosions in Afghanistan that have killed and injured more than 250 people this month, including children. He strongly condemned the Wednesday attack at the Abu Bakar Mosque in Kabul city. The Secretary-General extends his deepest condolences to the victims’ families and wishes a swift recovery to those injured. Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed. All Afghans have the right to live in peace and exercise their freedom of religion.
**Occupied Palestinian Territory
In a statement yesterday, United Nations agencies working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory said that they and their partners take seriously allegations of funding terrorism and the Israeli designations of seven Palestinian organizations as “terror organizations” and/or “unlawful”. However, they add, despite offers to review the allegations to determine if funds have been diverted, Israeli authorities have not given any compelling evidence to the United Nations Agencies nor its NGO (non-governmental organization) partners working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory to support these designations. The attempted closures of these organizations’ offices represent the latest in a series of actions by Israel that are further limiting the ability of human rights, humanitarian and development work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which affect all institutions working to promote human rights, development and delivering assistance. The UN agencies urge the Government of Israel to refrain from any action that would prevent these organizations from continuing their critical human rights, humanitarian and development work in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
**Horn of Africa
In the Horn of Africa, the World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding its assistance as levels of hunger soar after back-to-back droughts. Since the start of the year, 9 million more people have slipped into severe food insecurity across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, leaving 22 million people struggling to find enough food to eat. Across the Horn of Africa, the drought is expected to continue in the coming months, with a fifth poor rainy season forecast for later this year. Across the three drought-affected countries, WFP is targeting 8.5 million people across the Horn of Africa, up from 6.3 million at the start of the year. WFP is providing food and cash assistance to families and distributing fortified foods to women and young children to treat spiralling rates of malnutrition and prevent more people from slipping closer towards famine. WFP cash grants and insurance schemes are also helping families to buy food to keep livestock alive or to compensate them when their animals die. More information is available online.
Staying in the Horn of Africa, in Somalia, the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths, has released $10 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to ramp up emergency aid in the country, which is looking into the abyss after its worst drought in 40 years. Catastrophic levels of food insecurity have been declared for the first time since 2017, with 213,000 people in famine-like conditions and half the population — 7.8 million people — being acutely food insecure. The drought has displaced over one million people in Somalia since 2021, and an estimated 1.5 million children under age 5 face acute malnutrition. Humanitarians reached over 4 million people with assistance in the first half of this year, and they continue to scale up to avert the worst, supported by the additional CERF funds. With this latest funding, the Central Emergency Response Fund has allocated a total of $41 million to the drought response in Somalia this year.
In Zambia, our United Nations team, led by Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali, is bolstering efforts to support authorities to tackle multiple shocks, including the spike in costs of living, climate change and the pandemic impacts. On the health front, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has purchased 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, nearly a quarter million test kits, 1 million sets of personal protective equipment and 500 cold chains and solar fridges, boosting the national vaccination campaign, alongside the team’s communications efforts. Over half of the population is fully vaccinated. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also trained over 260 health workers to manage cases in isolation centres. For its part, the World Food Programme has helped 110,000 smallholder farmers recover from droughts, with training to protect degraded soil and diversify crops. We are also investing in entrepreneurship, with the International Labour Organization (ILO) training over 400 small and medium companies on safety and improved operations, while the UN Development Programme (UNDP) helped establish a fund to boost women’s access to credit and further support businesses.
And in Haiti, Martin Griffiths has allocated $5 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to help meet humanitarian needs caused by gang violence in Haiti. Since July, hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between gangs in Haiti’s Cité Soleil. Many others have been trapped in the fighting, cutting off their access to drinking water, food and health care. Overall, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates that nearly 280,000 people are affected by this situation. Funding through UNICEF and WFP will provide food, drinking water, health care and education support to more than 100,000 people. The high level of insecurity is compromising humanitarians’ access to impacted people, for food or cash distributions, as well as access to basic services such as health and education for at least 1 to 1.5 million people who are trapped in gang-controlled neighbourhoods. The Haiti Humanitarian Response Plan, asking for $373 million, is currently 14 per cent funded.
WHO has published today its first guideline for Ebola virus disease therapeutics, with new strong recommendations for the use of two monoclonal antibodies. WHO calls on the global community to increase access to these lifesaving medicines. The WHO guidelines will support health care providers caring for patients with Ebola, and policymakers involved in outbreak preparedness and response. The new guidance complements clinical care guidance that outlines the optimized supportive care Ebola patients should receive, from the relevant tests to administer, to managing pain, nutrition and co-infections, and other approaches that put the patient on the best path to recovery. More information is online.
Oscar had asked me recently about Nicaragua, and I can say that the Secretary-General is very concerned by the severe closure of democratic and civic space in Nicaragua and recent actions against civil society organizations, including those of the Catholic Church. Reports of a raid against the residence of the Catholic bishop of Matagalpa only heightens these concerns. The Secretary-General reiterates his call to the Government of Nicaragua to ensure the protection of human rights of all citizens, particularly the universal rights of peaceful assembly, and to freedoms of association, thought, conscience, and religion, and to release all people arbitrarily detained.
**World Humanitarian Day
Today is World Humanitarian Day. In a message, the Secretary-General notes that far from the spotlight and out of the headlines, humanitarians work around the clock to make our world a better place. Against incredible odds, and often at great personal risk, he says, they ease suffering in some of the most dangerous circumstances imaginable. The Secretary-General notes that today, the number of people who need humanitarian assistance has never been higher, because of conflicts, climate change, COVID-19, poverty, hunger and unprecedented levels of displacement. On this year’s World Humanitarian Day, he says, we celebrate humanitarians everywhere. We salute their dedication and courage and pay tribute to those who lost their lives in pursuit of this noble cause. They represent the best of humanity, the Secretary-General adds. As part of the day, we just had a wreath-laying ceremony to remember our colleagues and friends killed and injured in the attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad 19 years ago. Under-Secretary-General Catherine Pollard represented the Secretary-General at that event. And that’s it from me, are there any questions?
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