10 June 2021

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

**Noon Briefing Guests Today

I will be joined shortly by the UN Global Compact Executive Director, Sanda Ojiambo, and also the Chief Executive Officer of the Carbon Disclosure Project, Paul Simpson.  They will be here to brief you on a new research from the Science Based Targets initiative, a body enabling businesses to set ambitious emissions reduction targets, that reveals that none of the G7’s leading stock indexes are currently aligned with a 1.5 °C or 2 °C pathway and calls on the largest G7 listed companies to urgently increase climate action.

Ms. Ojiambo will be here in the Press Briefing Room and Mr. Simpson will join us by the marvels of technology.

**Secretary-General’s Travels

As we told you yesterday, the Secretary-General will head out later today to attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall.  On Friday, in London, he will have a number of bilateral meetings, notably with the Chair of the UK COP [26] (Conference of Parties) that will take place in Glasgow, and other senior officials at the Foreign Office.  He will then head to Cornwall Saturday morning and leave Sunday afternoon from Cornwall.

I will be travelling with him.  Farhan [Haq] will be here on Friday to brief you.

Also, I think you were told by the Spokesperson for the PGA (President of the General Assembly) about the event on Friday, related to the second term for Mr. [António] Guterres.  We do expect to have a stakeout with the Secretary-General after the General Assembly completes its work on that.

And that will be a week from Friday.


Moving to Ethiopia:  The World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that alarming new data has confirmed the magnitude of the hunger emergency gripping Tigray.  An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis shows that more than 350,000 people are already facing catastrophic conditions in Tigray.  This is the highest number of people classified by the IPC in a phase 5 catastrophe in a single country in the last decade.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, known as IPC, is an initiative that brings together 15 UN agencies, regional and [international] NGO (non-governmental) organizations, and it is there to help guide our humanitarian work.

The World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) today made a joint call for urgent action to address the dramatic acute food insecurity in northern Ethiopia.

According to WFP’s Executive Director, David Beasley, WFP has swiftly mounted an emergency food assistance operation deploying more than 180 staff and increasing food distributions to reach 1.4 million people.  Yet, according to Mr. Beasley, this is barely half of the number that the UN should be reaching.

According to David Beasley, three things are needed to prevent hunger from claiming millions of lives in Tigray:  that’s a ceasefire, unimpeded access for all humanitarian partners, and money to expand operations to meet the growing numbers of people who desperately need emergency food assistance.  These are the three things that we’ve been telling you about for quite some time.

Also, earlier today, the Head of the UN’s Humanitarian Department, Mark Lowcock, participated in a high-level round table held by the European Union and the United States on the humanitarian emergency in Tigray.  Speaking at the virtual event, he warned that there is a famine now in Tigray and added that this is going to get a lot worse.

Mr. Lowcock pointed out that the worst can still be avoided if we help Tigray now.  He stressed that a rerun of 1984 would have wide-ranging and long-lasting ramifications.

The high-level round table was held just prior to the G7 Leaders’ Summit as a prelude to the Heads of State discussion on Ethiopia.


In Haiti, preliminary estimates by our humanitarian colleagues suggest that more than 5,000 people have been displaced since the beginning of the month, following clashes between gangs in Port-au-Prince.

Incidents in Martissant, Cité Soleil and Bel-air have resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as several fires.  For example, in Martissant, at least four civilians were killed and 29 injured just in the first week of June.

People have fled to safer areas and are now staying with relatives.  But many others, including children, are sleeping outside, on the ground or in informal shelters.

According to the Office for the Coordination of humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the newly displaced need urgent assistance and protection.  Priority needs include sanitation, shelter, access to clean water and food.  Response efforts are under way to assist some 2,000 of the most vulnerable people.  These efforts are led by the Municipality and Civil Protection, with the support of the UN.

This week’s displacement brings the overall number to some 10,000 residents of these areas, who have been displaced in the past 12 months due to similar incidents.

We, along with our partners, are closely coordinating with Haitian authorities to ensure humanitarian access.


From Myanmar, the UN country team there says they remain deeply concerned over the continued use of force against children.  They call on security forces to refrain from violence and keep children and young people out of harm’s way.

The UN Children’s Fund says that 56 children have reportedly been killed by security forces since the military took control of the Government in February.

**COVAX — Antigua and Barbuda

Quick COVAX update, today from the Eastern Caribbean, where our team there tells us that Antigua and Barbuda received its second shipment of doses yesterday, with help from the UN and COVAX partners.

Across the Eastern Caribbean, we are working with authorities to support national vaccination campaigns and to help continue to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while also fighting misinformation to boost confidence in the vaccines.

**Child Labour

A child report released today by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF shows that the number of children in child labour has risen to 160 million worldwide.  This represents an increase of 8.4 million children in the last four years.

Released ahead of the World Day against Child Labour, which is marked on 12 June, the report warns that progress to end child labour has stalled for the first time in 20 years.  This has reversed the previous downward trend that saw child labour fall by 94 million between 2000 and 2016.

ILO and UNICEF warn that globally, 9 million additional children are at risk of being pushed into child labour by the end of 2022 as a result of the pandemic.  A simulation model shows that this number could rise to 46 million if they don’t have access to critical social protection coverage.

**Asia/Pacific Food Systems

At a virtual high-level meeting today, six UN agencies called for bold new thinking and decisive action to transform food systems to meet increasingly complex challenges, including those resulting from the pandemic.

The Asia and Pacific region is the world’s most populous and fastest-growing developing region, yet it hosts the largest number of undernourished people globally.

Even before the pandemic, Asia and the Pacific had been facing a number of challenges to food and agriculture, such as climate change and rapid urbanization.

The event took place ahead of the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit, to be held here in New York in September.

**Food Outlook Report

A couple of other food-related notes.  Our colleagues in Rome, at FAO, today published a report showing that global food trade is poised for a resilient year, even as international food commodity prices are set to remain high amid supply and demand uncertainties.

The Food Outlook reports that trade flows continued to reach new highs during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.  In fact, on a global level, trade in agricultural products performed more robustly than the broader merchandise sector.

That has contributed to driving FAO’s provisional forecast for the food import bill in 2021 to $1.72 trillion, a 12 per cent increase from its previous high of $1.53 trillion in 2020.

**Peter Rabbit

And on a lighter note, but still on food:  We, along with the Food and Agriculture Organization and the UN Foundation have teamed up with Sony Pictures and the beloved animated character Peter Rabbit.  The aim of this campaign is to encourage people to take action around SDG2, which is moving to zero hunger, through a digital global campaign that highlights the importance of healthy eating, reducing food waste, and other sustainable practices that are important for people’s health and the health of our planet.

The campaign, which runs in the lead up to World Food Day in October, includes a children’s activity book and drives people to go to a website called ACTNOW, which is the UN’s own portal for individual action on sustainability and climate change.

You can go visit

**Press Encounter Today

Immediately following the Security Council meeting on cooperation between the UN and regional and subregional organizations, there will be a press encounter with the Permanent Representatives of the current and former European Union members of the Security Council.  That’s France, Estonia, Ireland, Belgium, Germany and the Head of the Delegation of the European Union, on the EU and the UN.  That will of course take place at the Council stakeout.

**Financial Contribution

And I close with some excellent news that we are now up to 106 Member States that have paid up in full.  Our friends in Ngerulmud have paid.  If anyone knows what the country that is the capital of, you get first question for a week.  Palau.

**Questions and Answers

Spokesman:  You’re sharp in class and you clearly have not studied.

All right.  Célhia, you’ve been angling for a question.

Question:  [inaudible]

Spokesman:  You need to turn on your mic.  There we go.  It’s on.  And if you could take off the mask, so I know it’s you and I can hear you.

Question:  Yes.  There is a meeting, debate this afternoon at 2 between the members of the Security Council and the African group, seeking a non-permanent seat for 2022-24.  When should we expect a result?

Spokesman:  I think that’s a question to ask to our GA colleagues when the vote will take place.  I think it’s soon there will be a vote in the General Assembly.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow at 10, there will be a vote in the General Assembly with the new Council members.

Question:  Now, it will be only a discussion?

Spokesman:  That’s my understanding.  I know the official vote will happen, as our very helpful colleague from AFP says, tomorrow at 10.

All right.  Señor?

Question:  Following up on your comments on Nicaragua yesterday.  Is the UN trying to speak to the Nicaraguan authorities in some way to… to get these opposition leaders released or to mediate in some way?

Spokesman:  I would not use the term “mediate”.  I know that contacts are being had, I assume at various levels, but we’ve made our position publicly very, very clear.

Mr. Sato?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I have a few questions.  One is about SG’s attendance at the G7 summit.  So, the SG reiterated the needs of the total abolition of coal power plants in the future.  Is he going to push the G7 leaders again to set up the specific timeline for abolition of coal power plants?

Spokesman:  I think what the Secretary-General has been pushing for on coal, on more ambitious goals having to do with fighting climate, more ambitious goals in terms of financing, right, you’re talking about the 100 billion.  He will… this… I mean, this was his message publicly, but he will say the same thing privately to G7 leaders.  I mean, we need not only bolder commitments, but we also need concrete timelines to fulfil those commitments.

Question:  One… one other question regarding the Tokyo Olympic Games.  The Japanese Government is very much struggling for the opening of the Summer Olympic Games, but there’s certain anxiety and worries from all the other world.  What is the SG’s position on attendance of the Tokyo Olympic Games?

Spokesman:  I mean, it’s not for the SG to opine on whether people who are not sure should attend the Games.  That is a decision that is for the Japanese Government to take.  It’s not for us to thrust ourselves into that debate.

Okay.  See if there are any questions in the…

Kaori Yoshida and Abdelhamid.

Question:  Stéphane, this is Kaori Yoshida from Nikkei.  Can you hear me?

Spokesman:  Yes, ma’am.

Question:  Okay.  I have a question regarding Mr. [Hiromichi] Mizuno and the reports of his involvement in influencing the results of a Toshiba annual general meeting.  Does the Secretary-General have any reaction to this?

Spokesman:  I don’t have anything for you on that.  I just… I may have something later.  I just don’t have anything for you… I don’t have anything to share with you on that at this point.

Correspondent:  Okay.  Thank you.

Spokesman:  Abdelhamid?

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I have a couple of questions also.  I want to start with the Muslim family assassinated or killed in London, Ontario, on Monday.  A Muslim hater ran over the family with his truck, as probably you know.  I’m asking if there’s any statement or any reaction from the UN about this heinous crime?

Spokesman:  Abdelhamid, I would encourage you to look at the Secretary-General’s Twitter feed, where he personally tweeted his utter condemnation of this act on Tuesday.  He also called, once again, to stand up against Islamophobia and all forms of hatred.  I think he was very clear in his own words.

Question:  Thank you, Stéphane.  I was away for a couple of days, and I wasn’t following exactly what happened here.

And I have a second question about the Israeli Flag Day, which now is set for the 15th.  The march, which started the latest round of clashes, started because of that march by Israeli extremists to claim Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel on the occasion of its occupation in the 1967 war.

Now, it is scheduled for the 15th of the month, and Hamas is threatening again if this march goes on and gets closer to the al-Aqsa Mosque, there might be a new round of attacks.  Are you aware of the new date and if the SG will say something about it?

Spokesman:  I would say exactly what Mr. [Tor] Wennesland has said very recently, is that given the fragility of the ceasefire, he encourages all sides to refrain from anything that could be seen as a provocation.  He would encourage everyone to exercise restraint, and what we need is space for the solidification of the ceasefire.

Question:  And my last question.  Last night, Stéphane, an Israeli specialist unit, which they are dressed like Arabs, they entered the City of Jenin and killed two Palestinian security men and one civilian.  And one Israeli officer was killed as well, the first clashes between security… Palestinian security forces and Israeli forces, which could be alarming.  Are you aware of that and if there’s any reaction to that?

Spokesman:  We’re very much aware of the incident, which is of great concern to us — over the security incident.  I think incidents like this significantly increase the tensions between the Palestinian authorities and Israel and risk… frankly risks further escalation.

Okay.  Unless I see anything or hear anything, or I see Toby.  Tobias, please.

Correspondent:  Thanks, Steph.

Spokesman:  What’s the capital of Palau?

Correspondent:  That’s cruel!  [laughter]

Spokesman:  That’s okay.  Ask your question.

Question:  That’s rough.  My question is just Christine Schraner Burgener… I know she’s been… that there’s been a request for her to appear to us, but I… I wonder if you think that’s… you know, could happen soon, if there’s a timeline for… for her press availability?

Spokesman:  No.  I mean, I… let me… there is no timeline for her press availability.  We’re still in discussions.

Okay.  Thank you, all.  I will now ask our guests to come to the table.  I will move to the podium.

For information media. Not an official record.