The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.
Good afternoon. We are going to start off with our guest today, whom we have had the pleasure of having at the briefing before, and that is Rein Paulsen, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Director of the Office of Emergencies and Resilience. He is joining us from Kabul to discuss the work that FAO is doing with farmers in Afghanistan.
We will get on with our regular programming.
Just to let you know that there is a briefing, close consultations going on on Sudan right now, after the open meeting, where the delegates heard from Volker Perthes, the SRSG [Special Representative of the Secretary-General]. He has agreed to come out to the stakeout afterwards, so we will let you know. He will take two questions and will say a few words. We will let you know when that happens.
One more update on Afghanistan, which is to tell you that in the past few days, several UN road missions were successfully conducted from Mazar-i-Sharif to Maymana and from Kabul to Jalalabad. We, along with our partners, continue to deliver aid to millions of people in need, as you just heard.
Yesterday, a convoy with aid from UNHCR [the UN refugee agency] reached Nangarhar. This is the second convoy of relief items that have entered Afghanistan through the Torkham Border Crossing since 15 August. I think Iftikhar was asking about border, land convoys yesterday.
Elsewhere, the World Food Programme’s (WFP) seasonal food assistance continues, with one month’s worth of food being provided to vulnerable families that had been previously assessed. In the last week, assistance reached 5,726 people in Kunduz city, 392 people in Pul-e-Khumri, and 2,500 people in Takhar.
In anticipation of high food needs and further disruptions to supply chains, WFP is also pre-positioning food and other stocks at strategic border points in Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. A logistics hub is being established in Uzbekistan, in Termez.
And as you know, yesterday, more than $1.2 billion dollars in humanitarian and development aid was announced thanks to the generosity of Member States at the High-level Event on Afghanistan, which the Secretary-General chaired. I should add that he should be landing back in New York shortly. This includes funding for the Flash Appeal and the regional response.
We stressed that pledges now need to be disbursed quickly so that the UN and humanitarian partners, including national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), can move quickly to turn funds into food, health care and protection for Afghan children, women and men in need.
Today marks the one-month anniversary since Haiti was struck by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The quake left 2,247 people dead, 12,763 people injured, and 650,000 people in need of emergency assistance. As a reminder, more than 136,000 houses were damaged or destroyed.
The Government of Haiti, the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team and some 141 humanitarian partners have upped capacity to provide assistance to impacted people.
Despite access constraints and gang violence along the main supply route, some 26 convoys from 45 humanitarian partners have reached the population in the South.
Food security partners have also reached more than 143,000 people to date with food and cash-based transfers and have served more than 130,000 hot meals in Grande Anse, Nippes and the Sud departments of Haiti.
Nearly 2 million litres of safe drinking water have reached 250,000 people, 114,000 non-food items and kits have been distributed, and 11 Emergency Medical Teams have been installed across all three affected departments.
Priority is now on the most vulnerable people in rural areas, as well as the restoration of basic services, including health and education.
Classes are scheduled to resume on 4 October in the three most-impacted departments in the country.
A $4 million allocation from the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) was approved on 9 September by the Emergency Relief Coordinator, Martin Griffiths.
The 2021 Humanitarian Response Plan for Haiti, which aims to assist 1.5 million people, seeks $235 million and is currently only 16 per cent funded.
On Thursday, at the briefing, we will have Bruno Lemarquis, the Humanitarian coordinator for Haiti, and he will be joined by Giuseppe Loprete, the head of the IOM (International Office for Migration) Mission in Haiti.
Back here, at 3 p.m., the Secretary-General will speak at the closing of the seventy-fifth session of the General Assembly, and he will discuss how that session was held under the shadow of a formidable foe: the COVID-19 pandemic. The Secretary-General will also talk about how this has been the most challenging period facing the world since the Second World War. And he will pay tribute to the departing President, Volkan Bozkir.
After that, the Member States are to consider the election of Abdulla Shahid of the Maldives for President of the seventy-sixth session of the General Assembly.
Once that has happened, the Secretary-General will speak at the formal opening of the seventy-sixth session. He will talk about the need to persevere in dealing with COVID-19, the continued effort to implement the Sustainable Development Goals and the urgency of living up to bold climate targets at [COP26 in Glasgow].
And we are delighted to welcome back Monica Grayley as the spokeswoman for the President of the seventy-sixth session.
**United Nations Food Systems Summit
You will have seen that yesterday, we issued a statement in which the Secretary-General noted that the international community has a vital opportunity to help advance the vision of the 2030 Agenda by transforming how we produce, process and consume food. He stressed that a well-functioning food system can help prevent conflict, protect the environment and provide health and livelihoods for all. In food, there is hope, he added.
As leaders prepare for the historic Food Systems Summit on 23 September, the Secretary-General is urging everyone to come with ambitious commitments to feed hope for a better future. He emphasized that it is our moral imperative to keep our promise to achieve the SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals] by 2030.
The Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mahamat Saleh Annadif, was in Guinea’s capital, Conakry, yesterday.
The objective of the mission was to listen to the assessment of political and diplomatic actors about the situation following the political change that occurred on 5 September in order to contribute to a resolution of the current crisis that would guarantee peace and stability in Guinea.
He met with the head of the Comité National de Rassemblement et de Développement — the CNRD — and that is, the head of the CNRD is Lieutenant Colonel Mamady Doumbouya, as well as other members of the CNRD.
He also had meetings with leaders of the main political parties, representatives of the international community and the UN country team.
In his exchanges, Mr. Annadif stressed the importance of ensuring the stability and unity of Guinea as well as the protection of human rights. And added that the United Nations, in coordination with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), will accompany the people of Guinea as they work towards a swift resolution to the crisis.
A couple of COVAX updates for you from Latin America:
In recent days, Colombia has received 3 million doses of vaccines to support the country’s national vaccination campaign. This brings the total number of doses Colombia has received through COVAX to more than 5 million.
On Sunday, Paraguay received 300,000 doses donated by Spain, and we thank them.
Over the weekend, Nicaragua received nearly 200,000 doses, also donated by Spain, through COVAX. This brings the total number of doses Nicaragua has received through COVAX to more than 800,000, with more on the way.
The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), together with other UN and national partners, is coordinating the logistics of deliveries of vaccines throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. Throughout the region, our teams continue to help authorities address the multiple impacts of the pandemic, especially in the most impacted and vulnerable groups, including indigenous peoples, women, migrants and refugees.
**Press Briefings Tomorrow
Just a last note. Tomorrow at 9 a.m., there will be a hybrid press briefing on the High-level Dialogue on Energy, which is a virtual summit convened by the Secretary-General that will take place on 24 September. The speakers will be the Co-Chairs of the High-level Dialogue: Achim Steiner, Head of the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), and Damilola Ogunbiyi, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All.
At 11, there will be a background briefing for you by Selwin Hart, my good friend, Selwin Hart, who heads the SG’s climate team. That’s in advance of the SG’s climate meeting on Monday next week.
And at noon, I will be joined virtually by Richard Kozul-Wright, from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), to present the UNCTAD Trade and Development Report 2021.
I will take a few questions before our friend Mr. Perthes is ready to go to the stakeout.
**Questions and Answers
Question: A quick question on Guinea. What… you basically said what the discussion was but not… nothing about the outcome. Is there any resolution to this that the UN is trying to push?
Spokesman: I mean, the resolution that we would like to see is, of course, a return to democratic rule in Guinea. There are, as I understand it and as I've seen, a number of internal national consultations going on this week.
Question: Thank you, Steph. I have a question. So, the Secretary‑General just recently spoke about the need of vaccinating the world… 70 per cent of the world by next year. The Washington Post posted an article this morning saying that the President [Joseph] Biden will be convening a virtual meeting on, basically, that. It says that it will call on global leaders to make commitment to fight the pandemic, including fully vaccinating 70 per cent of the world by September next year or at least by 2022.
Is the coordination between those efforts for next week, understanding that the President Biden will be physically here at the UN? It said, according to the article, the meeting will be on Wednesday, which is within that frame time of the…
Spokesman: I mean, I don't have… of course, we're speaking to our friends in Washington. I don't have confirmation of the Secretary‑General's final programme for next week, but I'm sure he will participate in one way or another.
We very much welcome the announcements that were made recently by the United States, which led to a great increase in COVAX… vaccines available through COVAX, and I note that other countries have also done so recently.
Question: Do you hope that there might be an announcement at the end of the…?
Spokesman: I mean, we… what we hope is for a much fairer world in terms of vaccine equity. We hope that those who live in countries with very few vaccines will get those vaccines and get them quickly.
It is important for them, for those people who don't have them, but it is important for the planet as a whole so that we are able to stomp out this virus together. Otherwise, we're going to get keep getting different mutations.
Okay. I don't see… do I see question… see you… we will make an announcement about Mr. Perthes as soon as he comes out, and that should be shortly.