Updates from the field #10: Addressing the global pandemic together
Resident Coordinators are leading the UN teams, working day and night with Governments to flatten the curve and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent address to Resident Coordinators, the Secretary-General stressed that global challenges can only be addressed through cooperation, solidarity and multilateralism.
Read how UN teams across the globe are partnering with governments to tackle COVID-19. Below, we highlight some of the coordinated response efforts as of 15 May 2020.
In Belarus, where there are more than 25,000 confirmed cases of the virus and nearly 150 confirmed deaths according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN team, led by the Resident Coordinator, Joanna Kazana, is supporting the Government’s efforts to ensure access to health services and social protection, particularly to the most vulnerable people.
The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) are stepping up services and cash assistance to migrants and refugees and are setting up an information hotline.
UNAIDS joined a testing project for homeless people, provided masks and essential services for people with HIV.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) are supplying thousands of liters of disinfectants and antibacterial soap, as well as gloves and masks.
To address social exclusion, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Red Cross Society have joined forces with a global tech company to encourage and coordinate volunteers to help older people during the pandemic.
Turning to Ghana, which presently has more than 5,400 confirmed cases and 24 deaths, the UN team is addressing the impacts of the pandemic on youth, with a focus on unemployment, sexual and gender-based violence and limited access to health.
With nearly 60 per cent of Ghana’s population being under the age of 25, UNFPA, the Secretary-General’s Youth Envoy Jayathma Wickramanayake and the African Union’s Youth Envoy, Aya Chebbi, held online sessions to empower youth and increase their understanding of the disease. More than 300 young people from Ghana and other countries in Africa, Asia and Europe have joined these sessions.
The Resident Coordinator a.i., Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, encouraged the participants to see themselves as powerful agents of change and partners in the COVID-19 response. She added, “We must emerge on the other side of the COVID-19 crisis with a better world and recover better. To do that effectively we must massively increase our investment in young people. We need their innovation and drive, if we are to transform and reshape our societies”.
In Jordan, where there are currently 540 confirmed cases of the virus, the Resident Coordinator, Anders Pedersen, the Office of Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and the entire UN country team are working with the Government to address the pandemic.
UNHCR and the UNICEF are providing monthly cash assistance for 33,000 refugees. Led by UNHCR, the main hospitals and clinics in Zaatari and Azraq camps hosting 120,000 refugees from Syria are fully staffed with additional infection-control measures.
UN Women is providing cash to female Syrian refugees using blockchain technology. It is also working with UNICEF to distribute kits for babies. The kits are produced and sold by refugee women themselves.
UNFPA is boosting sexual and reproductive health services in camps and supporting gender-based violence prevention and attention services.
For their part, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the UNICEF and UN Refugee Agency are developing an emergency education plan.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has put remote-learning techniques in place for more than 118,000 Palestinian refugee students.
The UN team in Jordan is also addressing the medium and long-term socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.
The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are working with the Government to ensure food production - by working with farmers, protecting consumer prices and monitoring the levels of stocks and grains.
While Lesotho has only recently registered its first confirmed case of the virus, the UN team on the ground, led by the Resident Coordinator, Salvator Niyonzima, has been supporting the Government’s efforts in addressing the pandemic in areas including public health and the economy. WHO supported the case management Guidelines as well as support to the government the national COVID-19 plan.
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is also helping in setting up systems and guidance for surveillance of COVID-19 cases and contact tracing. UNAIDS has partnered with health institutions in South Africa they to support with modeling tools for Lesotho.
UNICEF is helping the Government to spread information about the virus over the radio and on social media.
UNFPA is focusing on preventing and addressing violence against women and girls, and UNDP is redirecting resources to address the immediate socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic with the Government and partners, and that includes the World Bank.
COVID-19 has also resulted in a migration emergency in Lesotho and its neighbours. IOM is assessing the plight of migrants returning to Lesotho, with many people living on the border with South Africa needing food, shelter, and obviously, medical attention.
In Moldova, there are currently nearly 5,000 cases and 179 confirmed deaths due to the coronavirus. The UN team there, led by Resident Coordinator Simon Springett, with WHO technical know-how, is focusing on risk communications and ensuring that essential equipment reaches people at both the national and local levels. With the support of development and cooperation agencies – including Sweden, Switzerland, the US, the European Union, as well as the World Bank – the UN team has provided medical equipment and testing kits to state institutions. This includes more than 140,000 masks and 30,000 items for personal protective equipment, 60,000 gloves, ventilators and other protective equipment and disinfectant.
The UN team has also ensured there is the medicine necessary for people living with HIV. The UN has trained more than 1,100 mayors and community leaders and over 9,000 doctors, epidemiologists and hospital managers. The UN is also developing an online dashboard to help the Government and people visualize the COVID-19 curve, to help raise awareness and encouraging people to stay at home. This system will also track needs in terms of essential medical supplies.
In Mozambique, where there are more than 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases but no reported deaths, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Myrta Kaulard, is focusing on preventing the spread of the virus and addressing the drastic economic impacts.
WHO is working with the Government, is leading the health response. The UN is helping to ensure the speedy delivery of essential medical supplies at low cost.
The UN Development Programme and UNICEF are supporting the Government to provide connectivity, electronic services and digitalization during the lockdown.
UNICEF is also helping to provide education and protection for millions of children out of school. The UN and our partners have set up an SMS code so that women and girls can report cases of domestic violence, which have been increasing during the lockdown, as they have in many other countries.
The UN Joint Team on AIDS is reprogramming up to 50 % of their funding for COVID-19 related activities.
The UN team and partners enabled an SMS code so women and girls can report cases of domestic violence, which has been increasing during lockdown. For its part, UNFPA has supported over 5,600 mentors to address gender-based violence.
In the central region, IOM, UNHCR and other UN entities work with national authorities to assess over 70 resettlement sites and provide COVID-19 prevention materials, including 600 hand-washing stations at different locations in the sites.
From the Pacific, two UN Resident Coordinators – Sanaka Samarasinha and Simona Marinescu – who are leading UN teams covering 14 countries and territories, launched a $35.3 million COVID-19 response plan.
It addresses immediate needs in education, food security, livelihoods, water and sanitation, nutrition, protection, logistics, as well as emergency telecommunications. Although existing UN resources have been redirected towards the pandemic response, there is still a $19 million funding gap.
Although some Pacific countries have no confirmed cases of the virus, their economies are already deeply impacted, with a massive slowdown in tourism, imports, exports, and remittances.
The Governments, the UN, as well as all of our partners, are focusing on a speedy recovery that protects the most vulnerable, especially women and children, as well as jobs and small businesses.
An additional Pacific health plan, led by WHO, requires $42 million for procurement, training of medical personnel and risk communications.
These funds will complement resources from the Multi-Partner Trust Fund for COVID-19 Response and Recovery which, you will recall, was launched by the Secretary-General to address the impacts in highly fragile, climate-vulnerable and tourism-dependent economies. Some of these countries of the Pacific are still recovering from the impacts of recent Cyclone Harold.
In neighboring Thailand, which currently has more than 3,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 56 reported deaths, the UN team, led by the Resident Coordinator, Gita Sabharwal, is working with the Government to address the impacts of the pandemic and is focusing on the most vulnerable groups.
In the northern part of the country, UNHCR has provided treatment facilities for 32,000 refugees coming from Myanmar. UNCHR also provides soap and water supplies for handwashing at entry and exit points in camps.
The team has set up additional handwashing sites in all nine temporary shelters along the two countries’ common border. Also, IOM has distributed almost 20,000 information, education and communication materials to educate and inform migrants about practicing good hygiene with limited water.
Given Thailand’s large informal sector, the UN is supporting the Government to scale up social protection to save livelihoods and jobs, with an emphasis on women, the elderly and youth. Working with small and medium-sized businesses, UNDP and its partners are providing 15,000 food packs for medical crews in 16 hospitals. This is helping 17,000 restaurant workers keep their jobs.
The UN team is also partnering with policy think tanks to monitor the impact of the Government’s ﬁscal stimulus package and is advising on a more inclusive recovery to get Thailand back on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.