Updates from the field #25: UN teams are not backing down 

Personnel wearing full protective gear sits at a table with a woman who gives her thumbs up.
Photo: © Bruno Mancinelle

The fight against COVID-19 continues for countries across the globe. Teams on the ground are maintaining their strong commitment to fight COVID-19. Today, we highlight the work of some of the teams across the world as of 18 September 2020. 


The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Niky Fabiancic, joined a national meeting with congress and civil society representatives to boost prevention among people without homes or living in the streets. This is part of the UN socioeconomic response and recovery plan, which targets the most vulnerable groups. The UN team continues focusing on the Amazon region, with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), distributing over 5,000 masks and thermometers and hundreds of hygiene kits for refugees and migrants living in the Northern Region and border towns with Venezuela. The UN team is also using social media and text messages to boost information about the pandemic for people in the Amazon, including in hard-to-reach areas.  And the International Labour Organization (ILO) is working with authorities to improve safety for health workers across the country.   

Photo: © Bruno Mancinelle

 For its part, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) is focusing on curbing sexual violence against girls, a problem that has been aggravated during the pandemic. And very importantly, to halt the spread of misinformation, the UN has partnered with a comic book character, Monica, and her friends, who have joined the UN’s Verified campaign to ensure that science-backed information is disseminated on COVID-19, reaching millions of people across Portuguese-speaking countries. 


To fight the spread of COVID-19 and to mitigate its impact in Belarus, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Joanna Kazana, has provided some US$7.5 million to the national response, including addressing the socioeconomic impact and supporting the health system. Also, the World Bank approved over U$100million in loans for the Belarus COVID-19 response. 
The World Health Organization (WHO) delivered 250 oxygen concentrators, while UNICEF supplied 40 remote-sensing thermometers to be distributed to educational institutions as well as 60 air circulators for the capital, for the city of Minsk.   
WHO has also helped to enhance the national airport’s prevention and detection programmes, totally more than $55,000 so far. A recent survey led by UNFPA found that nearly 40 per cent of the population feels the financial impact and emotional toll from the pandemic.   
And the UN along with the World Bank are continuing with a campaign, including on billboards, to curb the spread of the pandemic. 


We move now to Cambodia. Together with the Government, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Pauline Tamesis, is helping the poorest households cushion the impacts of COVID-19. 
Along with partners such as Australia and Germany, the UN and the Government are working together to help the poorest households, rolling out a cash transfer scheme that will help an initial group of more than 600,000 people living below the poverty line. The UN has provided 1,700 tablets to authorities to track these cash transfers and identify health, nutrition and educational needs. This led to an expansion of cash transfers to include pregnant women and households with children below the age of two, adding scholarship programmes and disability allowances. 
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UNICEF are helping the Government with distance learning for the more than 3 million students who are out of school due to the pandemic. Educational programmes are being broadcast on official channels and over social media networks, with more than one million views. The UN’s work on education also includes sign language, braille and radio programmes for multilingual education. 


We now move to Djibouti where the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Barbara Manzi, is supporting the national response to the pandemic. With support from UNHCR, the team delivered two ambulances and medication to boost emergency treatment capacity.  

Also, IOM and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with authorities to train community leaders on COVID-19 prevention, targeting thousands of vulnerable groups, including more than 1,000 refugees and migrants.  

The World Food Programme (WFP), in collaboration with authorities, is also providing food to more than 6,000 vulnerable households, with food distribution for children, pregnant and lactating women and older people in refugee settlements. UNHCR and WFP are also mobilizing community leaders to take action against the sexual exploitation and abuse of women and girls in refugee camps during the pandemic.   

While, WHO and UNHCR supported the government with campaigns to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases during the school reopening period. 


We have an update from our UN team in India, led by Resident Coordinator Renata Dessallien, on their work to support Government-led health and socioeconomic consequences of the pandemic, with over 4.2 million confirmed cases to date.   
WHO has assisted with contact tracing of 8 million cases, while UNICEF has trained 2.2 million health workers in Infection Prevention and Control, reaching 650 million children and families with life-saving information. The UN team has also supplied personal protective equipment. 
To reach the most vulnerable, the UNDP helped 100,000 migrant workers access social protection and reached 100,000 sanitation workers with safety kits and 4,000 metric tonnes of dry rations.   
And UNFPA trained 5,300 sanitation workers on safe waste disposal. UNFPA also helped develop a helpline directory for women in distress and supported guidelines on reproductive and adolescent services during lockdown, while ILO supported guidelines for gender responsive job recovery.  
The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) has reached out to 120,000 persons living with HIV while the UN refugee agency targeted 40,000 refugees and asylum seekers with critical information to prevent the spread of the disease. The UN in India is also supporting the Government’s anti-stigma campaign, with more than 170 million social media impressions in August 


The UN team in Timor-Leste, led by Resident Coordinator Roy Trivedy, has mobilized US$18 million to respond to COVID-19, with US$2.2 million of reprogrammed funds. The team has provided essential medical supplies, including 180,000 masks and 100,000 items of personal protection equipment, that was done through WHO.   
Through seven WFP charter flights, more than 300 aid workers and nearly four tonnes of life-saving goods have been transported in the past two months.   

Photo: WFP

The team is also rolling out a back-to-school campaign with messages on handwashing, social distancing and ensuring continued learning, with nearly all schools having reopened to date.   

UNICEF is delivering 13,000 handwashing buckets for schools and led UN’s efforts to collect data on food and nutrition, as well as bolstering water and sanitation for health facilities 
The UN has also focused on preventing violence against women and girls as part of the European Union-UN Spotlight Initiative.   

UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are finalizing an assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on livelihoods. 

UN entities involved in this initiative
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
International Labor Organization
International Maritime Organization
UN Women
United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
United Nations Development Programme
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
United Nations Population Fund
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations Children’s Fund
World Food Programme
World Health Organization
Other entities involved in this initiative
World Bank
World Bank

Goals we are supporting through this initiative