Around the world: Daily updates from UN country teams - August 2022
Our UN teams are on the ground in 162 countries and territories, coordinating joint programmes and tackling a range of multi-faceted priorities and key initiatives on a daily basis — from climate action to gender equality and food security. UN Resident Coordinators and their teams utilize innovative approaches to problem-solving to better serve communities. Below are some highlights of their work this month.
Occupied Palestinian Territory
Wednesday, August 31 - As 1.3 million Palestinian children resume school this week, Our Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Lynn Hastings, along with our UN team on the ground, are concerned that since the beginning of the year, 20 children were killed in the West Bank – that’s a 67 per cent increase compared to the same period last year. There are currently 56 outstanding demolition orders against schools where at least 6,400 children are taught in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In the first half of 2022 in the West Bank, the United Nations recorded 115 education-related violations including, direct or indirect firing of tear gas, stun grenades, and/or rubber-coated bullets, intimidating military and settler presences at schools, detentions, and movement restrictions preventing students from reaching their classes. Nearly 8,000 students have been impacted, increasing the risk they will drop out of school. Our team flags that the latest escalation in Gaza claimed the lives of 17 children, with schools being overcrowded and operating on double shifts. Our UN team remains committed to protect children from violence and support them to fulfill their potential. Full statement here.
Monday, 29 August - In Pakistan, our UN team, led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis, is stepping up its response to severe rains and flooding across the country which have reportedly killed over 1,000 people, including hundreds of children. Some 33 million people in over 70 per cent of all districts have been affected, with 62 per cent of the hardest-hit districts declared ‘calamity affected’. Nearly a million [[993,000]] homes, almost 160 bridges and over 3,500 km of roads have been damaged, while around 730,000 livestock have been lost. Many rivers and dams are at flood levels. The situation is expected to worsen with ongoing heavy rainfall. While the UN and other humanitarian agencies are already working through authorities to provide life-saving assistance, much more is needed to help Pakistan cope with a climate-driven disaster of this scale. Calling it the worst floods Pakistan has ever seen, the Government and the UN are planning a flash appeal of US$160 million for immediate relief activities to meet the needs of the most vulnerable. Tomorrow our Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator will join us here at noon to brief you along with a Government counterpart as part of the appeal they will launch tomorrow – taking place simultaneously from Geneva and Islamabad.
Thursday, 25 August - Our UN team in Angola, led by Resident Coordinator Zahira Virani, congratulates all people in Angola for peacefully casting their ballots and exercising their democratic rights. Our team on the ground encourages continuous peace and cordiality during the period for counting the electoral votes as well as when results are announced all parties to maintain calm and restraint and peacefully allow the process of counting to continue in accordance with the law.
Thursday, 25 August - The UN Team in Thailand, led by Resident Coordinator Gita Sabharwal, is leveraging green technologies, circular, low-carbon practices and climate-resilient agriculture for sustainable food production and livelihoods to mitigate the impact of the global economic crisis. Through FAO and UNDP, the UN is partnering with small- and medium-sized enterprises to identify low-cost technologies to reduce food waste and streamline production chains; including deploying automation tools, resulting in increased crop yields, better quality of products, and lower production costs.
UNEP, in support of the green and bio-circular-green economy model, is helping decision-makers measure and capture the values of biodiversity, ecosystem services and strategies for sustainability of the rice production system. This uses modelling to understand potential impacts of land-use changes to organic rice expansion, sustainable rice management, and assessing factors that could encourage farmers to switch from conventional to organic practices. Meanwhile, the International Trade Centre is promoting organic agriculture by strengthening certification bodies and increasing knowledge on market export requirements.
UNIDO, to reduce emissions by facilitating the transfer of best available low-carbon technologies, is engaging with a cohort of 70 large and medium-sized companies to undertake resource efficiency and clean production processes specifically across polluting industries. These assessments are generating quick wins that cut waste, reduce environmental footprints, and introduce renewable energy. UNIDO is also incubating entrepreneurs, having mobilized over USD 13 million, who are innovating low-carbon technologies from biogas to low-carbon housing and plant-based foods, matching them with investors, resulting in joint ventures.
The UNCT is bringing technical expertise and convening private sector entities, banks, investors, and insurers to scale up sustainable financing premised on ESG principles. UNDP-led SDG Investor mapping and risk-financing strategies are enabling the identification of investment opportunities designed to unlock financing needed for development.
Wednesday, August 24 - Our UN team in Algeria sent out an appeal today for increased support from the international community to boost lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to Sahrawi refugees risking serious food insecurity and malnutrition. Our UN team recognizes the Government and international donors’ consistent solidarity through humanitarian support over more than four decades to Sahrawi refugees.
Pressed by global challenges, this support is now regrettably insufficient to meet current needs. Our UN team and other humanitarian actors are facing significant funding gaps toppled by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the subsequent global rise in food and fuel prices, and the effects of the war in Ukraine. Funds required for food assistance alone doubled to US$39 million this year compared to $19.8 million before the pandemic hit.
Resident Coordinator Alejandro Alvarez stressed that this has deeply affected all sectors of humanitarian support, which is worryingly hindering refugees’ access to food, water, health, nutrition, education and other essential livelihood services. The forced 75 per cent reduction of the World Food Programme (WFP)’s lifesaving monthly rations is particularly concerning as it is less than half of the recommended daily intake of calories per person.
Each beneficiary now receives less than 5kg ration compared to the planned 17kg per person per month. Mr. Alvarez added that international solidarity is crucial to reverse the rapid deterioration of the nutrition situation in the refugee camps, with long lasting effects for the population, especially children. [The complete Press Release is available on UN in Algeria in French and in English, Arabic and Spanish on the UNSDG website].
Wednesday, August 24 - On what we are doing in Pakistan to support authorities’ response to recent heavy flooding: Our UN team, led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis, is boosting support to national and local authorities, particularly in the most affected provinces of Balochistan and Sindh. Some 3.3 million women, children and men have been affected since mid-June and 830 people have lost their lives, according to official figures. Over 400,000 homes, nearly 130 bridges and close to 3,000 km of roads have been damaged, while over 700,000 livestock have been lost.
To date, the UN team has mobilized approximately US$7 million to respond, with a focus on those most vulnerable people. Following a multi-sectoral rapid needs assessment, a response plan is being finalized in collaboration with authorities, to coordinate the joint response and call for further resources, including from the Central Emergency Response Fund. Our team has been proving support in the areas of nutrition (1,100 metric tons of food rations, therapeutic food, nutritional supplements), water and sanitation, education and child protection. We also provided medicine, water purification tablets, tents, mosquito nets, blankets, soaps, hygiene and dignity kits, new-born baby kits, tarpaulins and other goods.
This week, Mr. Harneis visited Lasbela, a severely affected district in Balochistan and he is scheduled to meet with Sindh officials in the coming days. Earlier this month Mr. Harneis visited Quetta, Karachi and Multan and met officials, UN entity staff and humanitarian partners to better understand the situation and boost preparedness and response.
Tuesday, 23 August - In Eswatini, our United Nations team, led by Resident Coordinator George Wachira, continues to strengthen the country’s responses to the impacts of multiple crises, including COVID-19, Cyclone Eloise, civil unrest in June 2021, and most recently, the war in Ukraine. With the support of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministry of Health has vaccinated 33 percent of the population for COVID-19. UNICEF and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have contributed over US$7 million towards making teaching and learning accessible to all children, including through diversified remote and web-based learning platforms.
A cash-for-work initiative by the World Food Programme (WFP), through the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, is creating labor-based employment in rural communities to alleviate poverty and food security among 340,000 people in need of humanitarian assistance. 1,700 “neighborhood care points” are providing nutritious meals to over 58,000 vulnerable children.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and WFP’s “Home Grown School Feeding” initiative, through the Ministry of Agriculture, is enhancing efficiency and access to nutritious and safe food for school meals produced by local smallholder farmers. Following the civil unrest, a joint UN mission, including the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the UN Police Division in the Office of Rule of Law and Security Institutions of the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Department of Peace Operations (DPPA/DPO/OROLSI) was deployed to support Eswatini police services to better integrate human rights in their work.
Monday, 22 August - Over the weekend our Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Imran Riza, the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, Muhannad Hadi and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Adele Khodr expressed their deepest concern about the continuing escalation of hostilities in northern Syria. The attack on 18 August in the region claimed the lives of four women and girls, injuring 11. The following day, on 19 August, the attack on a market in Al Bab city reportedly killed 13 civilians, including four boys and one girl, and injured nearly 40 people, including nine children. These terrible tragedies once again show that civilians, many of them women and children, continue to suffer the effects of ongoing hostilities in parts of Syria.
Our senior UN officials urge all parties to take all feasible measures to minimize harm to civilians and abide by their obligations to protect civilians. Our UN team in Syria offers its sincere condolences to the families of the victims and wishes the injured a speedy recovery. Our colleagues on the ground are committed to working with all stakeholders towards a peaceful and prosperous Syria, including advocating for a sustainable political solution for all. Ensuring the protection of civilians is paramount for a future where Syrians can rebuild their lives and live without fear of violence.
Friday, 19 August - In Zambia, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali, is bolstering efforts to support authorities to tackle multiple shocks, including the spike in cost of living, climate change and the pandemic impacts. On the health front, the UN Children Fund (UNICEF) has purchased 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, nearly a quarter million test kits, one million sets of personal protective equipment and 500 cold chains and solar fridges, boosting the national vaccination campaign, alongside the UN 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 centers. For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) has helped 110,000 smallholder farmers to recover from droughts, with specialized 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 to bounce back with improved revenues, while the UN Development Programme (UNDP) helped establish a fund to boost women’s access to credit and further support businesses.
Thursday, 18 August - In Comoros, our team, led by Resident Coordinator François Batalingaya, reports progress on the COVID-19 vaccination coverage, as they also continue supporting authorities to tackle the pandemic’s social and economic impacts. Now, over 70 percent of adolescents aged 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated, following a month-long national campaign, led by health authorities with the support of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition, our joint efforts helped authorities vaccinate nearly half of the entire population. As a result, Comoros is now among the top ten African countries with high percentage of fully vaccinated people. This success is also attributed to a gender-based community engagement co-led by WHO and UNICEF to involve nearly 200 women and 140 young reporters in vaccination promotion for youth and early screening.
Wednesday, 17 August - Also in Bangladesh, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis, continues to support authorities to tackle the impacts of the pandemic on the health, social and economic fronts. With our colleague’s support, nearly 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered –that covers over 76 per cent of the population. About 65 per cent of all these vaccines landed through the COVAX Facility. Our team is also supporting authorities to deliver hybrid education modalities, with the continued use of distance learning, alongside regular classroom settings. Also backed by the UN, authorities are monitoring the safe reopening of schools, while boosting school curriculum with catch-up programmes and an extended school calendar.
Wednesday, 17 August - We have news from our colleagues in Sri Lanka, as they continue supporting authorities to tackle the country’s worst economic crisis since its independence. To ensure a rapid but also sustainable recovery, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, signed today with authorities a new roadmap to advance the Sustainable Development Goals in the next five years—the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework. This aims to revitalize economic activities, also impacted by the pandemic and improve social services, decent employment, social cohesion, health and well-being for all people.
Our team is also supporting Sri Lanka’s most immediate needs to prevent a humanitarian crisis, targeting 1.7 million people with health care and essential medicines. This support also includes nutrition services, safe drinking water, emergency livelihoods and protection, as well as an agricultural boost. Our team has raised nearly US$38 million to tackle these immediate needs, which we announced here three months ago. Today’s newly launched development framework further injects an estimated $60 million from the UN team’s core budget allocations – and we thank our Member States for this essential contribution – also bringing an additional $325 million through other resources in the next five years.
Tuesday, 16 August - We have an update from our UN team in Cuba, led by the Resident Coordinator Consuelo Vidal, as they continue engaging with the Government and partners to support needs, following the multiple explosion of fuel tanks in the province of Matanzas nine days ago. Our UN team contributions are focused in the health, water and sanitation needs, also with the urgent task to kick start recovery in the affected area. Also, our team is gearing efforts to provide water treatment plants and pumps, as well as health supplies. We have also offered expertise to assess possible environmental damages and impacts on the economy and services offered to local population.
Tuesday, 16 August - Today in the Swiss capital, Bern, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Ignazio Cassis, and the Minister of Justice of Uzbekistan, Ruslanbek Davletov signed an agreement on the restitution of funds to be returned to the people of Uzbekistan through a UN-managed trust fund to support the ongoing work to advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Central Asian country. The funding will arrive in Uzbekistan in multiple tranches. At present, some US$131 million are ready to be returned. The money will be channelled through the United Nations’ Multi-Partnership Office Gateway (MPTF).
This is part of the partnership between our UN team on the ground, led by Resident Coordinator Roli Asthana, and Government of Uzbekistan. At the event in Bern today, Ms. Asthana welcomed both countries’ initiative saying that the United Nations is committed to helping ensure that the resources are utilized to strengthen public trust by providing tangible and sustainable benefits and improvements to the lives of the people of Uzbekistan. She added that the UN team is committed to transparency, accountability and inclusive dialogue with Uzbek civil society and the government, as the funds will empower Uzbekistan to accelerate its journey towards attaining the Sustainable Development Goals.
Monday, 15 August - In Armenia, our UN team on the ground expresses their deepest condolences over the tragic explosion at a market today in Yerevan. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones and we also wish a swift recovery to those who were injured. Our UN team remains committed to supporting all people in the country in this difficult time.
Friday, 12 August - Our UN team in the Philippines, led by Resident Coordinator Gustavo Gonzalez, is supporting authorities to tackle the effects of inflation, which has doubled in the past seven months, particularly due to the spike in food and transportation [[fuel]] prices. Our team on the ground is strengthening authorities’ data collection and monitoring systems to improve policies and immediate responses that address the disproportionate impacts on those most poor and vulnerable.
Our UN team is also concerned that the country is almost completely [[95%]] dependent on imported fertilizers, which has seen prices triple, placing unprecedented stress on the agriculture sector and threatening productivity gains from major crops in the coming months. The World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) are enhancing local household-level data gathering to complement national data and better tailor policies and immediate responses, including to boost agriculture, food security and sustainable energy. This builds on lessons from a recent Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund-backed initiative to better prepare the country to respond to future shocks, which hit the poorest hardest.
Friday, 12 August - One year after the devastating earthquake which struck the south of Haiti, our UN team on the ground says that building back the region remains challenging. The blockading by gangs of a key road from the capital hinders aid delivery to these mostly rural areas, while also limiting local producers’ access to services and markets in the capital. We continue to find solutions to reach the most vulnerable people even though the country’s US$373 million humanitarian response plan for 2022 is only a quarter funded. You will remember that the earthquake killed almost 2,500 people, injuring 12,800.
Thousands of homes, hospitals and schools as well as other key infrastructure, including bridges and roads, were damaged or destroyed. From day one, our humanitarian colleagues launched an immediate response alongside authorities and partners by providing food aid or cash to pay for food to over 450,000 people, many them displaced. Over 230,000 children whose education had been interrupted were able to return to UN-built classrooms. Medical support was provided to 31,000 people, including pregnant women, some of whom gave birth in temporary maternity wards set up by the UN on the grounds of destroyed hospitals.
Thursday, 11 August - Our UN team in Senegal, led by Resident Coordinator Siaka Coulibaly, is boosting support to authorities to tackle the effects of the surge in food and fuel prices, due to the war in Ukraine and the impacts of climate change in local food production. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UN Women, and UN Population Fund (UNFPA) are working with authorities to support producers affected by the changing rainfall and temperature patterns. This joint UN programme has benefitted over 14,000 food insecure households in eight regions.
For its part, the World Food Programme (WFP) is providing meals for over 230,000 students in more than 1,200 rural public schools, while the Interational Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reached out to nearly 300,000 farmers from over 600 organizations to boost productivity and incomes with an initial funding of US$25 million. Also, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) is improving livelihoods of 7,000 women in the fisheries industry, modernizing production and marketing schemes. Our UN team is also partnering with authorities to transform and strengthen the agri-food system through more competitive processing centers across the country.
Wednesday, 10 August - We have an update from our colleagues in Cuba, where our team on the ground is providing support to authorities to address the impacts of the fire that broke out in the province of Matanzas on August 5, followed by multiple explosions of fuel tankers. The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)/ World Health Organization (WHO) has already delivered emergency medical supplies.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Population Fund (UNFPA), the Development Programme (UNDP) and our humanitarian coordination colleagues (OCHA) have also identified emergency resources to provide an integrated response to demands, under the leadership of our Resident Coordinator. We are saddened by the loss of lives and continue extending our utmost solidarity to Cuba and all people affected by this disaster. We also thank countries such as Mexico and Venezuela for sending immediate support, including 20 airplanes to help put out the fire. Our colleagues on the ground also tell us that at this point the fire is winding down, which will help authorities assess the impacts and wider needs for communities and for the environment.
Tuesday, 9 August - Our UN team in Pakistan, led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Julien Harneis, is stepping up its response efforts to assist millions of people impacted by recent flooding, following the authorities’ recent official request for assistance. Mr. Harneis visited the flood-affected areas just last week and met with officials and affected people. Around 530 people have died – nearly 40 per cent of them children– and over 600 were injured, according to official reports. Heavy rainfall triggered flooding across the country last month, as authorities reported an overall increase of 180 per cent in monsoon rainfall this year.
This also severely destroyed key infrastructure and impacted livestock, a key source of livelihood. In addition to the UN’s rapid needs assessment, the World Food Programme (WFP) is providing cash to affected communities, along with mother and child nutrition projects, while the World Health Organization (WHO) is providing medicines, mosquito nets and blankets. For its part, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has distributed over 6,000 dignity kits and 500 new-born baby kits, while the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has sent 500 tents, along with tarpaulins, blankets and buckets to support 70 affected refugee families. Also, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has distributed maternal and neonatal supplies. For its part, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working with authorities to assess the needs and provide veterinary supplies. Our UN team continues providing technical support to a government-led needs assessment in the most affected districts.
Monday, 8 August - Our UN team in Cuba, under the leadership of Resident Coordinator Consuelo Vidal, has expressed its condolences and utmost solidarity with all Cubans following the fire in the province of Matanzas. They extended their support to the Government and are following the situation closely. Authorities have been working around the clock to put out the fire. Our colleagues on the ground tell that the situation has worsened in the last few hours due to the collapse and explosion of two fuel tanks. Local authorities report 4000 people have been evacuated and although the highest concentrations of pollutants are in the area close to the fire, the smoke cloud is spreading to the western provinces.
Mauritius and Seychelles
Friday, 5 August - Our UN team serving Mauritius and Seychelles, led by Resident Coordinator Christine Umutoni, is ramping up support to authorities to tackle the impacts of the rising costs of fertilizers. This is urgent for both countries, currently 100 per cent dependent on imported chemical fertilizers. We are boosting import substitution strategies that benefit the environment and local producers – including women. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Women are ready to use seaweed for the local production of bio-fertilizers in Mauritius. This is through a US$400,000 grant from the Joint Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Fund emergency development modality, tackling the impacts of the crisis in 100 countries and territories. It builds on a similar seaweed fertilizer production practice carried out in the Seychelles, bolstering aquaculture and hydroponics, also with the UN team’s support and through the Joint SDG Fund.
Tuesday, 2 August - We have an update from our team in Myanmar. Our colleagues from the International Labour Organization (ILO) say that eighteen months since the military takeover on 1 February 2021, Myanmar remains deeply affected by heavy job losses and growing decent work deficits. Labour conditions are deteriorating for many workers with serious violations of labour rights, as referred to in decisions of the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association, ILO Governing Body and in the International Labour Conference Resolution of 2021. The ILO estimates that 1.1 million fewer women and men were employed in Myanmar since 2020 in an updated estimate that indicates a small recovery in jobs, but well below 2020 levels. Job losses remain higher among women than men. Labour productivity contracted by nearly 8 per cent in 2021 and a further 2 per cent in 2022, reversing the strong gains that had been made in previous years prior to the military takeover.
Interested in more? Check out previous daily updates from UN teams 'around the world':