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PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
04 October 2022
Cholera outbreak in Haiti
Christian Lindmeier, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that cholera had reappeared in Haiti, 12 years after the first outbreak. In February 2022, Haiti had marked three years without confirmed cholera cases. Unfortunately, several suspected cases and deaths had now been confirmed in the country, in areas completely controlled by armed gangs. The situation was evolving rapidly, as surveillance mechanisms were operating under extremely difficult circumstances, given the instability and restricted access. The collection of official data was taking long. Access to the gang-controlled areas, such as Cité Soleil, was very difficult. Health institutions were starting to close their doors because of the lack of fuel, electricity, and power supply. In the areas affected by violence, access to clean water and malnutrition were also an issue. A request had been prepared to procure oral cholera vaccines for Haiti, said Mr. Lindmeier.
Rhéal LeBlanc, for the UN Information Service, said that the Secretary-General was deeply concerned about the health and safety of people in Haiti. The United Nations was ready to deploy emergency response teams to support affected communities as soon as safe access was assured and fuel supplies were unblocked. The Secretary General appealed to all stakeholders to work together in this time of crisis, to ensure the gains made over the past 12 years in the fight against cholera were not eroded.
Responding to questions, Christian Lindmeier, for the WHO, did not have information on a possible request from Syria for the cholera vaccine. In Haiti, the WHO was relying on official data provided by the authorities, but it would not be surprising if real figures were higher and continued to rise. It was critical to strengthen surveillance, not only of cholera, but also of other infectious diseases. There was no information where the current outbreak originated. He also explained that some 80 per cent of people with Vibrio cholerae could be asymptomatic.
Nearly one million people flee northern Mozambique in five years
Matthew Saltmarsh, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that this week marked five years since extreme violence had erupted in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, forcing nearly one million people to flee. The conflict had not subsided, and thousands of families were still being forced to leave their homes because of attacks by non-state armed groups.
UNHCR was calling for an end to the violence and on the international community to provide sustainable support to reduce the suffering of the displaced population and local host communities in northern Mozambique. Extreme violence and displacement had had a devastating impact on the population. People had witnessed their loved ones being killed, beheaded, and raped, and their houses and other infrastructure burned to the ground. Men and boys had also been forcibly enrolled in armed groups. Livelihoods had been lost, and education had stalled while access to necessities such as food and healthcare had been hampered.
UNHCR was working closely with the government and other partners to support and advocate for the inclusion of all displaced populations in national services. As of September 2022, the USD 36.7 million needed for UNHCR to deliver life-saving protection services and assistance in Mozambique had been only 60 per cent funded.
Full statement is here.
Access remained a major issue, confirmed Mr. Saltmarsh responding to questions. Humanitarian access needed to be sustained across the country, he stressed. UNHCR did not have intelligence on the number, size, or affiliation of the armed groups in Cabo Delgado.
Nansen Refugee Awards
Matthew Saltmarsh, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), announced that Dr. Angela Merkel, the former German Chancellor, was the recipient of the 2022 Nansen Refugee Award.
Under Ms. Merkel’s leadership, Germany had welcomed 1.2 million refugees and asylum seekers in 2015 and 2016. “She showed what can be achieved when politicians take the right course of action and work to find solutions to the world’s challenges rather than simply shift responsibility to others,” said UNHCR High Commissioner in his statement. Germany had also been a major supporter of the Global Compact for Refugees in 2018.
The UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award selection committee had also chosen four regional winners: in Africa, the Mbera Fire Brigade, an all-volunteer refugee firefighting group in Mauritania that had extinguished more than 100 bushfires and planted thousands of trees; in the Americas, Vicenta González, whose nearly 50 years of service to displaced and other vulnerable people included establishing a cacao cooperative in Costa Rica to support refugees and host-community women; in Asia and the Pacific, Meikswe Myanmar, a humanitarian organization that assisted communities in need, including internally displaced people, with emergency items, health care, education, and livelihoods opportunities; in the Middle East and North Africa, Dr. Nagham Hasan, an Iraqi gynecologist providing medical and psychosocial care to Yazidi girls and women who had survived persecution, enslavement and gender-based violence in northern Iraq.
Mr. Saltmarsh noted that this year marked a century since Fridtjof Nansen, the first High Commissioner for Refugees, had been awarded the 1922 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to repatriate prisoners of war and to protect millions of refugees displaced by conflict, revolution and the collapse of the Romanov, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires.
UNHCR press release is available here.
The ceremony would take place in Geneva on 10 October, announced Mr. Saltmarsh in responding to questions. Ms. Merkel would be in Geneva to accept the award, he confirmed. He added there was no discussion on her taking up any role with the UNHCR. The prize award for the winner was USD 150,000, whereas for the regional winners it was USD 50,000.
The Nansen Refugee Award Selection Committee comprised a member designated by the Norwegian Government; a member designated by the Swiss Government; the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe; the Executive Director of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies; the Chairperson of the Executive Committee; and a guest member.
Human Rights Council
Rolando Gomez, for the Human Rights Council (HRC), said this was the final week of the 51st regular session of the Council. The Council was concluding today the general debate on item 9 – racism and racial discrimination -, to be followed by an oral update by the OHCHR on the situation in Ukraine.
Later, the Council would discuss the situation the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to be continued on 5 October. On 5 October, the Council would be presented reports on the human rights situations in South Sudan, Cambodia, Somalia, the Philippines, and the Central African Republic. On 6 and 7 October, the Council would take action on as many as 42 draft resolutions.
Mr. Gomez also informed that today at 2 p.m. there would be a hybrid press conference to present the first report of the International Independent Expert Mechanism to Advance Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement. On 5 October at 2 p.m., the Team of International Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo would present its report in a hybrid briefing.
Responding to questions, Mr. Gomez stressed that there had been no action to restrict the speaking rights of UN Watch or any other non-governmental organization accredited with ECOSOC. On the contrary, efforts were made to widen space for civil society, who were an invaluable partner of the Human Rights Council. It was hoped that all the draft texts would be voted on by the end of day on 7 October; their order would be announced on 5 October.
Catherine Huissoud, for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), informed that UNCTAD would publish, on 7 October, its Creative Economy Outlook 2022.
The creative economy provided all countries with a feasible option for development, in particular developing countries. Services generated increasing revenues for countries, with services having a dominant role. The report was published at a time when the global community faced some of the most significant challenges in decades and explored how new and emerging technologies were fundamentally changing some creative industries. The lack of harmonized definitions and methodologies and the lack of data remained a challenge for measuring the sector, and economists explored how to solve this problem.
The report would be launched at the 3rd World Congress on Creative Economy in Bali, Indonesia.
Christian Lindmeier, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that on 7 October, an expert speaker would attend the UN Geneva briefing to address seasonal flu in the northern hemisphere.
Mr. Lindmeier announced that the WHO was releasing its first blueprint on dementia research today. Although dementia was the 7th leading cause of death globally, dementia research accounted for less than 1.5 per cent of total health research output. Addressing dementia comprehensively required research and innovation to be an integral part of the response. Strategies were needed to better understand, prevent, and treat the underlying diseases that caused dementia and, at the same time, provide care and support for people with dementia.
Fernando Puchol, for the World Trade Organization (WTO), announced that the WTO would publish its Revised Trade Forecast on 5 October. At 11 a.m., there would be a hybrid press conference in Room D at the WTO with Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Deputy Director-General Anabel González, Senior Economist Coleman Nee, and Spokesperson Daniel Pruzin. Interested media would need to register in advance. At 10:15 a.m., an embargoed press release would be emailed to registered journalists; the embargo would be lifted at 12 noon.
He also announced that today at 5 p.m., the WTO Spokesperson Daniel Pruzin would brief, on deep background, on the Informal General Council. Then, on 6 October at 5 p.m., he would give a briefing on the Formal General Council, on the record.
Asked about the timeline of the discussions on whether to extend to therapeutics and diagnostics the TRIPS Decision adopted at the 12th Ministerial Conference, Mr. Puchol said that a series of informal meetings of the TRIPS Council had been scheduled in October, November and December for members to make a decision by the deadline of 17 December.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was beginning this morning the review of the report of Tajikistan and would conclude today the review of the report of Guatemala.
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Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired a hybrid briefing, which was attended by spokespersons and representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the Human Rights Council, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.