Around the world: Daily updates from UN country teams - October 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.
Monday, 31 October
Tunisia: Black Sea Grain Initiative
An update from our UN team in Tunisia, where the third of nine vessels from Ukraine arrived over the weekend, through the Black Sea Grain Initiative, bringing more than 78,000 tons of soft wheat to the country. A fourth vessel is scheduled to land today in Tunisia, with 30,000 tons of corn. The supply from these shipments is expected to cover over one month of import needs of wheat, corn and soya oil to Tunisia.
In the past months, the Tunisian population faced high inflation, which spiked from 6.7 per cent in January to 9.1 per cent in September, and continued shortages of basic food items, due to strained public finances and related supply issues.
To alleviate the situation, the World Food Programme (WFP) will distribute 600 tons of food to 7,500 vulnerable households in rural areas starting in the next few days. For its part, a new UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) program will expand a monthly cash transfer programme to families with children in need, for a period of up to 18 months.
As mentioned here before, the Black Sea Grain Initiative is helping push down historically high world market prices, which will also improve Tunisia’s ability to ensure the needed supplies of cereals.
Wednesday, 26 October
Myanmar: Increase in food prices
In Myanmar, our UN team is concerned that the increase in food prices is having serious implications on food security, while continuing to force people to adopt negative coping mechanisms, including less food intake, selling of assets, illicit activities, school dropouts and early marriages. The World Food Programme (WFP)’s market monitoring continues to highlight rising prices of food and fuel in the country putting increased pressure on the food security, especially for the most vulnerable. Overall, the cost of a basic food basket is 64 percent higher than the same time last year, with rice prices 53 percent higher. In some areas including in Rakhine, our colleagues report food price increase of 110 per cent. The average price of cooking oil has increased by 137 percent compared to one year ago, while fuel prices are up 94 percent. With nationwide poverty levels estimated at about 40 percent—reaching about 75 percent in Rakhine— the lack of income opportunities and household savings are being depleted. While food insecurity is highest in conflict-affected areas, it continues to affect people across the country. Our team highlights the importance of complementing ongoing humanitarian food assistance interventions with support to strengthen community resilience, including by supporting livelihoods and enhancing productivity.
Tuesday, 25 October
Bangladesh: Cyclone Sitrang
Our UN team in Bangladesh, led by Resident Coordinator Gwyn Lewis, stands in solidarity with the people of Bangladesh after Cyclone Sitrang struck that country’s southern coastal region on Monday, leaving at least seven people confirmed dead. Over 219,000 women, children and men were evacuated to temporary storm shelters by the storm. Ahead of the storm, the United Nations, Red Crescent Movement and national and international NGOs worked with District Commissioners from the low-lying coastal district to mobilize volunteers to ensure early warning and evacuation. In response, Governmental relief operations have already started with the distribution of cash and dry food. Complementary and in coordination with the Government, the humanitarian community is working on a 72-hour needs assessment and are coordinating with line ministries to identify needs. Major damage in agriculture, water facilities and infrastructure are anticipated in the hardest hit districts. In Bhasan Char and Cox’s Bazar, home to tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees, our colleagues on the ground report no flooding, but some minor damage.
Monday, 24 October
Myanmar: Reported airstrikes in Hpakant, Kachin State
The United Nations (UN) in Myanmar is deeply concerned and saddened by reports of airstrikes that took place in Hpakant, Kachin State around 8:00PM on 23 October 2022. Initial reports suggest that over 100 civilians may have been affected by the bombing. Numerous fatalities have also been reported. While the UN continues to verify the details of this attack, we offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of all those who were killed or injured. The UN calls for those injured to be availed urgent medical treatment, as needed. What would appear to be excessive and disproportionate use of force by security forces against unarmed civilians is unacceptable and those responsible must be held to account.
Wednesday, 19 October
Djibouti: Food aid and the Black Sea Grain Initiative
In Djibouti, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Jose Barahona, continues to support authorities who are leading the response to the ongoing impacts of combined droughts and the global cost of living crisis, among other socioeconomic challenges. The World Food Programme (WFP) launched a food assistance distribution campaign for 90,000 people facing acute and severe food insecurity in the most affected areas. WFP’s logistical hub has handled the arrival of two ships from Ukraine through the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which carried 60,000 metric tons of food aid for the Horn of Africa region, including for Djibouti. On the health front, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children Fund (UNICEF) have supported authorities vaccinate nearly 40,000 children against measles. That’s 86 per cent of all children below the age of five. Strengthening the COVID-19 socio-economic recovery, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) has trained over 950 young women and men, helping create 50 new youth-led businesses. More than 1,000 smallholder farmers received technical and financial support, and 3,000 community members were reached via 100 different social service programmes.
Monday, 17 October
Secretary-General and Resident Coordinators
The Secretary-General met today with UN Resident Coordinators, his representatives on the ground who lead our UN country teams to advance the 2030 Agenda, including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This was his first in-person meeting with this group of senior officials since the onset of COVID-19. He called on the Resident Coordinators to keep ambitions high, as they are the “UN development system’s biggest convening force to forge solutions” in countries at a time of multiple crises. The Secretary-General saluted the Resident Coordinators’ “heroic efforts”, along with our UN teams on the ground, facing unprecedented challenges, crisis after crisis. He also stressed Resident Coordinators’ pivotal role to help ensure results at scale, which depends on the entire UN system to step up together. The Secretary-General also warned of yet another difficult year ahead, and the need for UN support with greater scale than ever before. He called on Resident Coordinators to rally the full strength of the UN development system to forge partnerships and innovations to find solutions, including for financing for the SDGs. The SG also underscored that a focus on the cost of living crisis, social cohesion, climate change and development outcomes that advance human rights and inclusion will be key to rescuing the SDGs. Hewelcomed the progress in reforms to the UN system and encouraged Resident Coordinators to continue to make full use of the changes made and reinforced authorities to step up UN support whilst ensuring these are aligned with the concerns of the people and governments of the countries in which they serve”.
Friday, 14 October
Zimbabwe: Measles outbreak response
Our UN team in Zimbabwe is boosting support to authorities since a measles outbreak started seven months ago in the eastern province of Manicaland. Over 7,000 cases have been so far reported from 46 other districts in all 10 provinces in the country. UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Edward Kallon who is leading the overall UN support to the national response said that besides the ongoing vaccination drive backed by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), the UN team is mobilizing additional resources through the UN Central Emergency Relief Fund. The Government, with support from UNICEF, WHO, GAVI, and other partners has mounted a nation-wide measles outbreak response that is being implemented in phases. The first phase kicked off last month and is targeting over 2.2 million children living in the most affected districts. The main interventions include outbreak response vaccination activities, strengthening of disease surveillance and ensuring adequate high-quality treatment. UNICEF and WHO are providing technical and logistical assistance for all the interventions being implemented. All districts that have confirmed measles cases have been covered during the first phase of the campaign. The team is now targeting an additional 4.3 million children in the current second phase of the campaign.
Thursday, 13 October
The Gambia: Child healthcare emergency
Our UN team in the Gambia is reporting that 66 children below the age of five have died from acute kidney injury in the last two months and a half. This is a condition in which a person’s kidneys suddenly stop working. While the cause of this outbreak is currently unconfirmed, our UN team is supporting authorities to investigate the origin and prevent any further spread. The World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed 10 medical experts to boost health authorities’ work, providing the Government with half a million dollars to support its outbreak response. This includes supporting testing, collecting suspected drugs that were already reported, and currently used at medical facilities and households. Also, WHO and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) are supporting a five-day door-to-door campaign to increase people’s awareness of the outbreak and protect children from more harm by collecting any suspicious medicine that may have contributed to the outbreak.
Wednesday, 12 October
Cuba: Response to Hurricane Ian continues
Our UN team in Cuba launched just yesterday a US$42 million Plan of Action to support authorities to address the needs of people affected by Hurricane Ian. This effort is led by the UN’s Resident Coordinator Consuelo Vidal, with technical support from the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). It includes $3.7 million repurposed from the UN team’s funding as well as an additional $7.8 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). This newly launched plan supports both the immediate response efforts as well as longer term recovery needs in highly impacted sectors, such as housing, health, education, food security and access to drinking water and electricity. With the joint participation of UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes, the plan is expected to benefit almost 800,000 people in the most affected parts of the country.
Tuesday, 11 October
Malawi: Cholera outbreak
In Malawi, our team, led by acting Resident Coordinator Maria Ribeiro, has been boosting support to authorities in response to a rapid surge in cholera cases. As of this past Sunday, the outbreak had claimed 117 lives, with a case fatality rate nearly three times higher than the acceptable global threshold. The outbreak has accelerated across the country, jumping from 1,000 to over 4,200 confirmed cases in the last two months. Cholera has now spread to previously unaffected districts reaching 82 per cent of districts. The UN Children’s fund has delivered water and sanitation supplies to 1.5 million people. UNICEF has also led mass media and community mobilization efforts. Over 350,000 people can now identify cholera signs and take critical prevention measures. For its part, the World Health Organization (WHO) has trained over 1,000 health workers on cholera treatment, surveillance, and case management, while providing epidemiological expertise, rolling out oral cholera vaccine campaigns, reaching 1.3 million at-risk population with a single dose and 110,000 with two doses of the vaccine. Currently, Malawi’s National Cholera Response Plan has a remaining funding gap of US$13.2 million. To support our efforts on the ground, the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund has just approved US$1 million to the World Health Organization and the UN Children’s Fund to continue providing technical, financial, and logistical support to national authorities.
Monday, 10 October
Sri Lanka: Scaling up the crisis response
Our UN team in Sri Lanka, led by Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, continues to support the country to respond to its worst socio-economic crisis in history. Our work under the US$47.2 million joint Humanitarian Needs and Priorities Plan (HNP)—which responds to the Sri Lankan authorities’ request for multi-sector international assistance—have been complemented by additional appeals, helping raise additional funds. By the end of September, the UN-backed plan had reached over 1 million out of a total target of 1.7 million highly vulnerable people with assistance on food security, agriculture, nutrition, water, protection, and health. To date, cash assistance from the World Food Programme (WFP) has reached more than 150,000 people, as part of an aid scale-up that aims to reach 3.4 million people this year. A first consignment of WFP-purchased rice and iron-fortified rice has recently landed and will support one million children with school meals for three months. For its part, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)—supported by USAID funding—is boosting rice production and strengthening food security through the provision of fertilizers to farmers. FAO has also provided immediate cash assistance to over 6,800 small-scale fishers in Sri Lanka’s four poorest districts.
Venezuela: Supporting landslide victims
In Venezuela, our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Gianluca Rampolla, expressed sincere condolences for the people killed by the heavy rains and landslides, especially in the town of Tejerías, which is around 50km southwest of the capital Caracas. Mr. Rampolla conveyed solidarity with the affected communities and said he is in contact with local authorities to mobilize support for those who were most impacted.
Friday, 7 October
Cuba: Boosting our response to Hurricane Ian
An update from Cuba, where our UN team’s emergency effort to boost authorities’ response to Hurricane Ian moves ahead, under the leadership of Resident Coordinator Consuelo Vidal-Bruce and with technical support from the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). A combination of UN entities’ own emergency funds and our prepositioned items are available to authorities, totaling US$6.8 million. The World Food Programme (WFP) is distributing over 2,000 tons of food in the most affected areas, covering basic nutrition needs of over half a million people for two months, focusing on vulnerable groups. For their part, UN Development Programme (UNDP) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) contributions—including hygiene kits, water storage containers and tarpaulins—are already benefiting thousands of affected families in the hardest hit western province of Pinar del Rio.
Thursday, 6 October
Myanmar: Press freedom in strife
In Myanmar our UN team is concerned about the safety of journalists. According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as of this week, at least 170 journalists have been arrested since the military takeover on 1 February last year. Nearly 70 journalists, including 12 women, remain under detention. UNESCO has also recorded over 200 incidents of media repression. These incidents include killings, arrests, detention, criminal cases, imprisonments, and raids of editorial offices. Forty-four journalists, including seven women, have been sentenced for criminal offences by local courts. Also, media workers report that they experience digital surveillance of mobile phones and social media platforms. Between 250 to 300 journalists are now in border areas or in exile, with around 11 media outlets having transferred operations to border areas after having their licenses revoked. UNESCO remains committed to working to protect and defend their press freedom as well as to promote the safety and protection of media workers whether they are inside or outside the country.
Thailand: Grief, shock over an attack at a childcare centre
Our UN team in Thailand, through our UN Resident Coordinator Gita Sabharwal, along with the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) expressed shock, sadness and their deepest condolences to the bereaved families following the tragic shooting incident at an early childhood development centre in the northern part of the country. In a statement, UNICEF condemned all forms of violence against children who should never be a target or witness of violence, anywhere, anytime.
Wednesday, 5 October
Sierra Leone: Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine
Some good news from our UN team in Sierra Leone. This week the country became one of the early adopters in West Africa to introduce and roll out the Human Papilloma Virus vaccine as part of the routine immunization to prevent deaths due to cervical cancer. This is the second-most frequent cancer among women in the country. Over 500 women are diagnosed every year, and nearly 75 per cent of them end up dying from the disease. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) supported authorities to launch a nationwide campaign to target over 150,000 ten-year-old girls through schools with two doses over six months. The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is also supporting the efforts, along with the rest of the UN team, which is also ensuring support for vaccination storage. Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi celebrated the importance of the vaccination campaign, which will contribute to progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals by enhancing the health and well-being of girls over their lifetime, increasing their opportunities for longer education, productivity, and enhanced income potential.
Tuesday, 4 October
Cuba: Dealing with devastation from Hurricane Ian
An update from Cuba, where our UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Consuelo Vidal-Bruce, with the technical support of the Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is supporting authorities to tackle the needs of the people most affected by Hurricane Ian. The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has donated more than 8 tons of health supplies and medicines, which have been distributed to hospitals in the westernmost province of Pinar del Río, the most affected area. The contribution also includes a hurricane response kit with supplies for the health sector, including medical backpacks for health professionals serving affected communities. Thanks to support from the Embassy of Mexico to the UN team, 20 chainsaws have recently arrived in the country to fast-track the restoration of electricity and kick-start recovery by clearing access to the most affected areas. The World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) have also agreed with Cuban authorities to preposition food, water and sanitation supplies and shelter emergency resources, including tarpaulins, water tanks, mobile warehouses, kitchen kits, pallets and lighting towers.
Uganda: Ebola response
We move to Uganda, where our UN team is boosting support to health authorities following the declaration of an Ebola outbreak two weeks ago, when a case was confirmed in the central region. So far, there are 43 confirmed cases and nine reported deaths in five districts with a case-fatality rate of over 20 per cent. Four people have recovered. Authorities are rolling out a US$20.5 million UN-backed response plan, focusing on 20 high-risk districts with support from health partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO). Our UN team has deployed technical, financial, and operational resources to support the national response. WHO deployed 21 of its staff to support the local response, providing Ebola prevention kits for health workers also supporting training and deployment for nearly 900 village health teams and contact tracers. For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is supporting risk communication and community engagement, including the use of radio stations, also engaging religious leaders.
Monday, 3 October
Myanmar: Protecting the well-being of civilians
An update from our UN colleagues in Myanmar, who are concerned that ongoing hostilities across the country continue to endanger the lives and wellbeing of civilians. More than a million people have now been newly displaced by conflict and insecurity since the military takeover in February 2021. Fighting between the Myanmar Armed Forces (MAF) and the Arakan Army (AA) has escalated in Rakhine state and southern Chin, limiting freedom of movement and affecting the safety of civilians. In Rakhine, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, the use of landmines and mortar shelling, as well as tight security measures and access constraints are putting people’s lives in danger and preventing lifesaving assistance from reaching people in need. Nationwide, landmines and explosive remnants of war continues to claim lives and endanger civilians. Food security is also a major concern, as many families are not able to buy enough food due to a spike in inflation and the price of basic commodities, along with the rapid devaluation of the national currency and interruptions to farm production due to explosive ordnance contamination and the costs of seeds and fertilizers.
Interested in more? Check out previous daily updates from UN teams 'around the world':