Updates from the field #28: Fighting together against the world’s common enemy, COVID-19
On the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, Secretary-General António Guterres reinforced his call for global solidarity. He urged combatants to lay down their arms and join in a global ceasefire. Mr. Guterres in his message for UN Day last Saturday, 24 October, stated:
“In our world today, we have one common enemy: COVID-19. Now is the time for a stepped-up push for peace to achieve a global ceasefire. The clock is ticking.”
Across the globe, UN country teams covering 162 countries and territories are rallying their efforts, along with governments and partners, to combat COVID-19. Today, we highlight some of those efforts.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), continued hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan will cause direct disruption to healthcare and place further burden on health systems that are already stretched due to the COVID-19 pandemic. WHO graded the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict as a Grade 2 acute emergency on the 6th of October.
Both countries have seen recent increases in COVID-19 transmission. As of 11th October, Armenia’s newly reported cases doubled over the next 14 days. In Azerbaijan, new cases increased by approximately 80% over a week.
The WHO stressed that COVID-19 does not respect borders or lines and that escalations in military conflict will create the environment for the virus to spread.
This is yet another clear example of why the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire needs to be respected. The ceasefire helps create conditions around the world for the delivery of lifesaving aid and the ability to bring hope to places that are among the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Secretary-General said often, as long as humans keep fighting other humans, the only winner will be the COVID-19 virus.
The UN once again calls for the parties to respect the humanitarian ceasefire and engage in with the Minsk Group co-chairs on meaningful discussions.
The UN teams in Armenia and Azerbaijan, continue supporting the COVID-19 response in both countries to save lives and livelihoods impacted by the pandemic. WHO is also expanding its operations to respond to the increased health needs that continued hostilities will inevitably incur, this includes preparations for increased COVID-19 transmission.
In the Dominican Republic, where our team, led by Resident Coordinator Mauricio Ramírez Villegas, is working to address the pandemic.
Together with non-governmental organizations, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), surveyed more than 6,300 households to gather data for the Government on the pandemic’s impact on employment, food security and education. The survey results will support the Government’s recovery programme to provide a safety cushion to prevent people from sliding into poverty and boost the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.
The UN and its partners are helping to set up a Health Situation Room and a Public Health Intelligence Centre, backed by the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO)/WHO, UNDP and the United States Agency for International Development.
The UN’s COVID-19 response has reached more than 90,000 vulnerable people, including children, pregnant women, older people, people with disabilities and people living with HIV\AIDS, supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) together with the government. Children, pregnant women, older persons, people with disabilities and living with HIV are among the target groups. WFP and the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) have also supported over 1,200 families of Haitian descent with basic food staples.
The UN country team in the Kyrgyz Republic, led by Resident Coordinator Ozonnia Ojielo, continue to work with authorities to address the impacts of the pandemic.
WHO delivered more than 1.5 million medical masks to the Ministry of Health, provided by the "Alibaba" Foundation, for health workers across the country.
Due to procurement and distribution challenges resulting from the pandemic, the UN has also provided supplies to treat at-risk patients, with a special focus on people with diabetes. With funding from the UN’s “Recover Better Fund”, the UN team, through UNICEF provided 4,000 insulin doses, half a million insulin syringes and 230,000 blood and urine glucose test strips, as well as containers for used syringes. These supplies will be distributed to 22 medical facilities across the country, including in remote areas. The team is also procuring another 20,000 doses of insulin to cover the needs of 650 children and adolescents for a full year.
The UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Sen Pang, is supporting authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and address its socio-economic impacts. The WHO, along with the UN team, secured nearly US $2 million to support the health response through procuring medical supplies and boosting treatment capacity.
The UN team also organized health education campaigns to promote hygiene and safety, together with the UN Information Centre. The UN has reprogrammed nearly US $4 million of its existing Cooperation Framework, which is jointly agreed with the Government, to respond to the pandemic. This helps to ensure the delivery of health and education services, while curbing violence against women and boosting livelihoods.
To protect the environment and families who depend on it for a living, several entities including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF, UNFPA and WFP, supported the national response to drought, while tackling the impact of COVID-19 on rural populations. To keep communal conservancies open and to combat poaching and deforestation, the UNDP launched an e-commerce platform for rural communities impacted by the slowdown in eco-tourism, while also providing around US$100,000 in cash assistance.
In Sierra Leone, where schools reopened in October after being closed for six months, the UN team, led by Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi, is supporting the national school feeding programme targeting 330,000 children in 11 districts.
Since March, the UN has been supporting the national response, focusing on providing lifesaving supplies, including food for quarantined women, children and men, and the most vulnerable groups. Also, the UN team delivered infrastructure and transportation of medical items for COVID-19 containment facilities.
The UN has also been working with farmers to double their productivity and incomes through mechanization and irrigation schemes, also supporting sustainable food production and resilient agricultural practices, including food diversification.
The UN communications experts have been working side by side with the Government on a communications strategy looking at how women and men are impacted differently by the pandemic. Gender experts were also deployed to five districts to ensure that gender concerns are a crucial component to the response.
The UN team continues to support authorities in ensuring that gender dimensions are included in data to help them tailor a comprehensive response that saves lives and livelihoods and leaves no one behind.