Updates from the field #24: Teams tackle health and environmental obstacles
This is an especially challenging time across the globe. The world is facing a global pandemic, with countries’ health, social and economic protections in jeopardy. Some countries are especially vulnerable as they are forced to battle added strains that further threaten these protections.
Today, we highlight how UN teams are working together with governments and partners to address COVID-19, as well as other obstacles as of 4 September 2020.
In Costa Rica, the UN team there, led by the Resident Coordinator Allegra Baiocchi, is supporting efforts to tackle the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
To support frontline responders, the UN team has provided 2 million items of personal protective equipment. The team also donated 27 tonnes of emergency medical equipment for the most vulnerable communities.
One of the top priorities is to protect indigenous groups, Afro-descendants, people with disabilities, older adults, children and youth. The UN contributed the national plan to curb the pandemic among indigenous peoples, producing guidelines and recommendations in several native languages, disseminated in 24 indigenous territories.
A UN-led campaign is working to curb the increase in sexual and gender-based violence. The team is providing hygiene kits and lifesaving cash assistance to prevent families from falling into poverty.
The UN is also boosting temporary employment for women and indigenous people. The UN team is supporting migrants and those in transit and is promoting remote learning during school closures, while preparing for the safe reopening of schools.
Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
On 28 August, the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator David McLachlan-Karr and the UN team in the Democratic Republic of Congo reported that the measles outbreak in the country is now under control, with a nearly 90 per cent drop in weekly cases compared to last year.
7.5 million children were vaccinated during a two-year measles response campaign in the most affected areas—an initiative led by national and local authorities.
The UN team, along with partners and NGOs, contributed to the progress with vaccination, surveillance, case management, logistics and strengthening of routine immunization.
In addition to supporting the country’s COVID-19 response, the UN and partners continue to strengthen the Government-led measles efforts to fully eradicate measles. Over US$3.3 million are still needed to implement this plan.
In Kyrgyzstan, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Ozzonia Ojielo, is working with authorities to address the impacts of the pandemic, including on the most vulnerable.
The UN team, with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) playing a key role, has delivered personal protective equipment – including gloves, gowns, and respirators – to 20 medical facilities in the capital and other hard-hit provinces. These facilities include hospitals for infectious diseases and centres for maternal and child health. These included gloves, insulating gowns, protective suits, surgical respirators and masks, face shields and others, totaling 5,500 pieces purchased with money from the UN’s “Recover Better Fund”.
Health workers are still among the most vulnerable, being infected at a higher rate than others. Women are especially impacted, as they comprise more than 80 per cent of the healthcare force in the Kyrgyzstan.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Mauritius, Christine Umutoni, is bringing together various UN entities to support the Government’s response. On 24 August, the group of regional UN entities launched a US $2.5 million Recovery Fund to support national efforts. Those efforts focus on women, men and children whose livelihoods have been impacted by the oil spill, especially the fishing community.
The UN Regional Directors for Eastern and Southern Africa have also pooled an initial US $250,000 to kickstart this fund, which was launched during a meeting between President Roopun of Mauritius and the Regional Director for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for Southern Africa, Charles Kwenin, on behalf of the regional group.
Also, on 24 August, the rear part of the ship—which had split in two—reportedly sunk, and despite the sustained winds, the oil clean-up continues. The UN team and partners, including Australia, France, India, Japan and the United Kingdom, are working with national and local authorities and communities to contain the oil spill and mitigate the impact on crucial ecosystems, such as mangroves, and save livelihoods.
The UN team in Peru, led by Resident Coordinator Igor Garafulic, supports the Government-led efforts to tackle the urgent health needs and the social and economic impacts. The UN team also expresses condolences to the Government and the people of Peru in view of the nearly 30,000 deaths due to COVID-19—according to official figures—and the UN mourns the loss of our own colleague, Julio Gamero Requena, renown Peruvian economist from the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Pan-American Health Organization donated US$1 million in supplies, including 130,000 tests. Together with UNICEF, they also donated 40 oxygen concentrators and US$24,000 in personal protection equipment for the indigenous communities. UNICEF identified gaps in water and sanitation services to support national authorities in the Amazon regions.
For its part, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) helped incorporate 20 Venezuelan doctors and 80 nurses into the health system, these were either refugees or migrants. UNHCR also repurposed $1.6 million for urgent cash transfers to refugees, and together with IOM is managing a $1.1 million provided by the European Union for cash assistance.
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) boosted a virtual schooling system for the country, while UNFPA supported authorities to address violence against women.