Noon briefing by Stephen Dujarric, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.
Today, the Secretary-General is appointing Elizabeth Spehar of Canada as Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding Support in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, otherwise known as DPPA. Ms. Spehar succeeds Oscar Fernandez-Taranco of Argentina. The Secretary-General is also appointing Bruno Lemarquis of France as his new Deputy Special Representative in the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mr. Lemarquis succeeds David McLachlan-Karr of Australia.
I was asked a bit earlier about the situation in Yemen and I can tell you that the Secretary-General expresses his concern and deplores the recent Saudi-led Coalition’s airstrikes in Sana’a that resulted in numerous civilian casualties.
Our humanitarian colleagues report that, according to the Government of Tonga, three fatalities have been confirmed, with several people injured. At 1:30 p.m., the acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Fiji, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu, Jonathan Veitch, will brief you remotely and give you more details on the situation on the ground. He will speak to you from Suva in Fiji where he is based, and where it will be about 7:30 in the morning when he speaks to you.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, spoke to the Council today during the open debate on women, peace and security. She said that the situation that now faces women human rights defenders, and prospects for women’s full participation in shaping and building peace – are vastly worse than they were before the pandemic got underway.
Our colleagues on the ground are leading an inter-agency assessment team to Qadis District in northwestern Afghanistan following the 5.3 magnitude earthquake that struck the area yesterday afternoon local time. They tell us that initial reports indicate that 26 people have been killed, four people injured, and hundreds of houses damaged or destroyed. Heavy rains before the earthquake reportedly made mud brick houses more vulnerable to damage.
The Special Envoy for Syria, Geir Pedersen, was recently in Teheran, where he met Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian and other senior Iranian officials. He was also in Doha, where he met Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.
In a statement we issued yesterday, the Secretary-General expressed his sadness following the death of the former President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has announced it is seeking $ 1.6 billion from the international community in 2022.
Our UN team in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is supporting authorities to prepare sufficient storage facilities and refrigerators for new batches of vaccines landing in the country. The UN Children’s Fund has so far provided nearly 150 fridges and three cold rooms. Our team is also procuring 100 solar fridges, 100 freezers, three cold chain devices, two generators, 500 coolers and 1,000 vaccine carriers—to keep vaccines cold and safe during transportation.
Venezuela just received a fifth shipment with over 3.1 million COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX mechanism. Our colleagues in the Pan-American Health Organization were responsible for the procurement and logistics to deliver these vaccines, which now total over 12 million in Venezuela through COVAX alone, with more on the way for several countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Nearly 93 million doses have been delivered so far to 33 countries in the region.
Our Resident Coordinator in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ingrid MacDonald, said in a statement that while Martin Luther King Jr. was yesterday every day is a crucial day to condemn hate speech in all its forms.
She continues to raise the alarm to combat hate speech, regarding recent incidents involving the glorification of war criminals and damage to the inscriptions paying tribute to the victims of the Srebrenica genocide.
In Ecuador, some good news concerning the environment. Our Resident Coordinator, Lena Savelli, joined authorities in Galapagos—on behalf of the Secretary-General— for the signing of an Executive Decree that extends the current marine protected area there with an additional 60,000 square kilometers or over 23,000 square miles.
At 3 p.m. this afternoon, the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, will hold an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the office. In a video message, the Secretary-General reminds us that 25 years ago, the global community issued a bold call to action to better protect children impacted by conflict.