Around the world: Daily updates from UN country teams - July 2022
Our UN teams are on the ground, working with governments and key stakeholders to bolster countries’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, helping ensure a smooth recovery. They tackle a range of multi-faceted priorities and key initiatives on a daily basis—from climate action to gender equality and food security—and utilize innovative approaches to problem-solving to better serve communities. Below are some highlights of their work this month.
Friday, 22 July - In Sri Lanka, our UN Resident Coordinator Singer-Hamdy said today she is gravely concerned about the use of force to disperse protestors. She noted that journalists and human rights defenders have a right to monitor demonstrations and their functions should not be impeded. Ms. Singer-Hamdy also reiterated the importance of the right to peaceful assembly and broad public consultations to resolve the current economic crisis and political instability.
Friday, 22 July - In Uganda, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Susan Namondo, is working closely with authorities and other partners to scale up response to food insecurity, which is currently affecting over half a million people in the northeastern region, including due to climate change-induced drought. Over 40 per cent of the population in the northeastern region have been facing high levels of acute food insecurity in the last five months. The World Food Programme (WFP) has mobilized $7.4 million of the nearly $19 million required, and is preparing to reach a total of 217,000 people with feeding programmes in three prioritized districts, in addition to protective rations for families with malnourished young children and pregnant and lactating women in six districts. We continue delivering treatment for those with acute malnutrition in all districts. For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) has mobilized over $2.4 million to support Ugandans to respond to the health impacts of the drought, through the provision of immediate technical support and on-the-ground service. Our UN team is collaborating with authorities on a roadmap that better prepares the most affected region of Karamoja to respond to shocks, including through early warning systems.
Papua New Guinea
Thursday, 21 July - Our UN team in Papua New Guinea unequivocally condemns a recent escalation of violence across the Highlands during the election period and calls for its immediate cessation. Recent and consistent reporting highlight a deteriorating security situation across the Highlands provinces of the country, with official sources confirming reports of deaths, assaults, rape, and extensive destruction of property and infrastructure. In a statement, acting Resident Coordinator Dirk Wagener said today that he is deeply concerned over allegations of the brutal killing of dozens of civilians, reports of heinous sexual violence against women, including at least eight girls, and estimates of several thousand people, mostly women and children, displaced. He added that this unmitigated violence shows utter disregard for human rights, the rule of law. Families in many districts are living in fear due to widespread violence in their communities; an estimated 3,000 people in parts of Enga alone have fled their homes due to the violence which has resulted in damage to schools and medical facilities. Businesses and markets have temporarily closed, while roads have been deliberately cut off through the digging of trenches and destruction of bridges resulting in disruptions in the delivery of goods and other critical services to communities, which are now experiencing shortages of food, fuel, medicines, and other supplies.The UN team is calling for a swift investigation of alleged crimes and the prosecution of alleged perpetrators, and stands ready, alongside its partners, to respond to any potential call for assistance by the Government.
Thursday, 21 July - In Sri Lanka, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, is responding to the needs of millions of people impacted by the ongoing economic crisis. The situation continues to deteriorate with over 70 per cent of households either losing their source of income or having their income reduced. In June, food inflation stood at 80 per cent. The Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP) launched in June, has reached 57,400 people – or 3.4 per cent of the targeted 1.7 million people. However, fuel shortages in Sri Lanka are a major operational constraint for the humanitarian response. Also, an estimated 960,000 people are in need of protection services. To meet the sexual and reproductive health needs of women and girls, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) distributed 1,500 dignity and maternity kits to bridge the gap in commodities that are currently out of stock, and to ensure continued protection of survivors of gender-based violence, UNFPA is directly funding key national shelters across Sri Lanka so that shelters remain open with expanded services. UNFPA will also procure life-saving medication for women and girls. Our Resident Coordinator on the ground also acknowledged the constitutional transfer of power to a new President. She called on all stakeholders to engage in broad and inclusive consultations to resolve the current economic crisis and the grievances of the people. She noted that a peaceful and stable Sri Lanka will require dialogue, full respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, including respect for the freedom of assembly and expression. She also reiterated that the UN stands ready to work with all stakeholders to fulfil the aspirations of the Sri Lankan people.
Monday, 18 July - Our UN team in Sri Lanka, led by Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, is scaling up efforts to respond to the needs of millions of people impacted by the ongoing economic crisis, also in line with the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan. Nearly 5.7 million people are in need of life-saving assistance. In the past year, the price of rice—a key staple of the Sri Lankan diet—has more than doubled, while the price of wheat (flour) has almost tripled, reaching unprecedented high levels and affecting millions of Sri Lankans. Similarly, prices of a wide range of imported basic food items, including sugar, dried milk, onion, and locally-produced chicken, meat, eggs and coconut oil were at record or near-record levels last month. Small-scale farmers, rural households and the most vulnerable need immediate livelihood and food assistance, our UN colleagues on the ground are warning.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is currently implementing programmes to reach 1.4 million food-insecure beneficiaries by this December, with cash and voucher assistance to vulnerable households, food assistance vouchers for pregnant women and 1 million schoolchildren with school meals. Also, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will supply 100 kg of fertilizer to over 15,000 small-scale farmers and work with them to bolster seed production and increase fertilizer efficiency. For its part, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has mobilized funds for seeds and cash assistance for close to 15,000 affected people. And to support long-term economic reforms and governance, UNDP is facilitating dialogue and countering misinformation to create awareness on the current socio-economic crisis and path forward.
Also, the International Labour Organization (ILO) is providing direct support to 400 vulnerable farming households, through the provision of seeds at subsidized rates, enabling them to grow in the next harvest season. ILO is also providing support to farmers and fishermen and cash-for-work for rural communities, including women and persons with disabilities. On the health front, Over US$85 million worth of medicine and hospital equipment have been donated by governments, organizations and individuals, through the World Health Organization (WHO)-managed donations to face immediate shortages. WHO has also provided $1.5 million to health authorities to procure critical medicine and will soon procure urgently needed critical equipment.
Our humanitarian colleagues tell us that of the US$47.2 million requested under the Humanitarian Needs and Priorities plan to meet the targeted needs of 1.7 million people through September only $8.5 million (18.1 per cent) have been received so far. This includes the Rapid Response allocation of $5 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
Friday, 15 July - In Botswana, where our UN team led by Resident Coordinator Zia Choudhury is reporting that Botswana is set to become the first country in Africa to achieve the major milestones set out by the UN General Assembly, so-called the “95-95-95 targets,” eight years before the target of 2030. According to a recent survey, 93 percent of estimated people living with HIV are aware of their status. 97.9 percent of those aware of their status were on antiretroviral therapy, and 98 percent of those on the therapy achieved viral load suppression to reduce the amount of HIV to an undetectable level. The UN joint team on AIDS is scaling up its technical support to authorities with prevention programmes among key populations and adolescent girls and young women. They are developing a standard package of services and standard operating procedures for programming, generating granular data showing the inequities fueling the epidemic, and empowering community organizations in implementing programmes. Our team is also working to ensure the sustainability of the response to improve its efficiency and address structural barriers, including the stigma that hinders people from accessing services.
Friday, 15 July - The President of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid, is in Guatemala, where he was received by the President of the Republic, Alejandro Giammattei. Thanking him for his visit, he reiterated the commitment of Guatemala, a founding member of the UN, to improve the living conditions of the population. President Shahid met with the President of the Judicial Branch Silvia Patricia Váldes Quezada, along with deputies of the Congress of the Republic, as well as Judge Dina Ochoa, President of the Constitutional Court. In addition, he met with representatives of the 24 agencies of the UN system. His visit ended with the signing of an agreement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Guatemalan Institute of Migration and the UN system in Guatemala, for the creation of a council on migration and refugee issues. Over the weekend, he will visit UN projects in the country.
Friday, 15 July - Roberto Valent, Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean for the UN Development Coordination Office (DCO) was in Guyana from 11-15 July. He attended the opening ceremony of the National Toshao’s Council Conference, a critical governance mechanism for indigenous people in Guyana, as well as meeting His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of Guyana; Hon. Brigadier (Ret'd) Mark Phillips, Prime Minister; senior Ministers of the Government; the Leader of the Opposition, and civil society representatives. Discussions have focused on a range of issues including Guyana’s low-carbon development model, energy transition, digital transformation, disaster risk reduction, and gender based violence. A key highlight of Mr. Valent’s visit to Guyana was a meeting with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary-General on Tuesday 12th July. The CARICOM SG and Regional Director talked about a range of development priorities, spanning economic diversification, food security, human services, climate resilience, violence against women and girls, crime, and the rule of law.
Friday, 15 July - Following the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, our Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy urged all stakeholders to ensure a peaceful transition of power in full respect for the Constitution of Sri Lanka. She noted that it is imperative that the transition of power is accompanied by broad and inclusive consultation within and outside Parliament. In her statement she reiterated the comments by the Secretary-General on the importance of addressing the root causes of the current instability and the people’s grievances. Dialogue with all stakeholders is the best way to address the concerns and fulfil the aspirations of all Sri Lankans. The authorities must ensure that in maintaining law and order the security forces exercise restraint and operate in strict compliance with human rights principles and standards. The United Nations stands ready to provide support to the Government and people of Sri Lanka to address both immediate and long-term needs.
Thursday, 14 July - Moving to Panama, our UN team led by Resident Coordinator Cristian Munduate, issued a statement on the strikes and protests currently taking place in the country, urging the Government and different actors to find consensus to restore calm and order. The closure of main roads connecting the country has affected the population's basic needs, and our UN team is calling for these roads to be kept open to guarantee access to food, health, education, humanitarian services and other vital needs of the people. Our team reiterates its commitment to support the country's on-going work to find inclusive, participatory and peaceful solutions to the situation.
Wednesday, 13 July - In Nigeria, our UN team, led by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator a.i. Matthias Schmale, is continuing to prioritize support to national initiatives for the 2030 Agenda, including the Government’s work to respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Our team contributed to the provision of health care services to more than 125,000 members of vulnerable communities in Borno state while implementing risk communication initiatives, including on the on-going work to tackle obstetric fistula, reaching nearly 68,000 people. On the socio-economic front, IFAD provided more than US$1 million to vulnerable smallholder farmers through a sub-national level programme to sustain and boost production while UNFPA ensured support to sexual and reproductive health services continue to be provided. Contributing to our support to vulnerable communities, UNODC partnered with the European Union to ensure the implementation of criminal justice responses to terrorism and violent extremism that are based on the rule-of-law, contributing to federal prosecutors in Nigeria reviewing close to 2,900 case files that contributed to the release of 1,800 adults and 580 children from custody, as well as the referral of 230 cases for trial before the Federal High Court. For its part, the UN information centre trained more than 300 journalists, 37 per cent of whom are women, on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Monday, 11 July - Moving to Bangladesh, under the leadership of Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis, our UN team is continuing to support the Government’s response to recent floods that have impacted nine districts in the northeastern parts of the country. With our NGO partners, our team continues providing access to food, drinking water, cash, emergency drugs, water purification tablets, dignity and hygiene kits as well as education support to affected communities. More funds are urgently needed to support more than 7 million vulnerable people in these areas, including women and children. To date, of the more than US $58 million needed to provide essential support to more than 1.5 million people in the most heavily impacted districts, just US$7 million have been available. Following her mission to the crisis areas, the Resident Coordinator stressed in a joint press release with partners that with further rains expected, there is an urgent need to scale up support to the national response.
Thursday, 7 July - Moving to Côte d’Ivoire, our team, led by Resident Coordinator Philippe Poinsot, is continuing its support to the national COVID-19 response. By the end of the first quarter this year, 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in the country, contributing to the full vaccination of more than 4 million people or 27 per cent of the target population over 18. We are supporting mobile immunizations initiatives, which have been key to boosting COVID-19 vaccination coverage, while contributing to risk communications campaigns to tackle misinformation. Our team also continues to ensure the provision of other health services, including malaria prevention, and provided 18 million insecticide-treated mosquito nets to more than 6 million households. On the socio-economic front, we supported the construction of more than 100 new classrooms from recycled plastic bricks, which impacted 5,000 children. Our UN team also provided 800,000 tons of seeds to 10,000 producers to boost rice production while contributing to the installation of five solar irrigation systems in the northern region to combat the lack of water during the dry season.
Wednesday, 6 July - Moving to Comoros, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator François Batalingaya, is supporting national authorities in advancing the ratification of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Last week, the Resident Coordinator, in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and the European Union, supported the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UN ECA) in providing the head of state and other government partners with guidance on designing a national strategy and roadmap to facilitate the Comorian Government’s ratification and entry into what is expected to be the world’s largest free-trade zone. Under this free trade agreement, small island developing states like Comoros will gain access to a trade zone with over 1.2 billion people to boost initiatives aimed at accelerating progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.
Tuesday, 5 July - Moving to Bangladesh, our UN team under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis who returned from a recent visit to the affected area, is boosting humanitarian support of the Government after weeks of heavy flooding in the north and northeast of Bangladesh, which is impacting over 7.2 million people. Since 17 June, the Government of Bangladesh evacuated over 472,000 people to some 1,500 shelters following what is being described as the worst flooding in over 20 years. While water is slowly receding, communities remain stranded. Our team is providing nutrition support and facilitating access to drinking water, cash, emergency drugs, water purification tablets, dignity and hygiene kits as well as education support. UNICEF has provided emergency life-saving support to nearly a million people in two districts. WFP distributed 85 tonnes of fortified biscuits to 34,000 households in three districts while UNFPA has provided referral support for pregnant women to access hospitals and positioned midwives to provide 24/7 emergency obstetric care. UNFPA is also operating maternity waiting homes for pregnant women waiting for institutional delivery.
Friday, 1 July - In South Africa, under the leadership of Acting Resident Coordinator Ayodele Odusola, our UN team continues to focus on rebuilding the province of KwaZulu-Natal, which has suffered from multiple crises over the past three years, including the pandemic, the civil unrest of last year, and recent floods that led to the loss of more than 400 lives and destroyed infrastructure worth millions of dollars. Agencies including UNICEF, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNODC and others have contributed to the Central Emergency Response Fund, in response to the floods and also reprogrammed more than US $1.2 million to support in the rebuilding process. On the health front, and in response to the pandemic, our UN team provided more than $750,000 in direct assistance and technical support related to US $4.6 million for government programmes, including the Solidarity Fund. We are working with authorities through the district development model, which is aimed at improving the provision of social services to people across South Africa.
Interested in more? Check out previous daily updates from UN teams 'around the world':