Bi-Weekly Press Briefing 11 April 2023
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Press Conferences | FAO , ITU , UNCTAD , UNHCR

Bi-Weekly Press Briefing 11 April 2023

PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE

11 April 2023

 

Thousands of newly arrived Somali refugees in Ethiopia relocated to new settlement

Olga Sarrado, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that the relocation of newly arrived refugees in the Somali region of Ethiopia, who had fled clashes in Somalia’s Lascanood city, had begun, with 1,036 of the most vulnerable people transferred from border areas to a new settlement over the past three days. Transportation to the new site, located some 50 km from the border in Mirqaan, Bokh district, was being organized by Ethiopia’s Refugees and Returnees Service with UNHCR and partners.

The Government of Ethiopia had generously allocated 400 hectares where refugees could settle and access existing services, such as health care, water, and education. UNHCR continued to engage with local authorities and leaders to assess gaps in basic services so support benefits both refugees and Ethiopians. Ms. Sarrado reminded that, since clashes had started in mid-February, thousands of people had arrived in the Somali region of Ethiopia seeking safety. As of last week, 91,000 people had been registered by RRS with UNHCR’s support.

Last month, UNHCR and humanitarian partners had launched an inter-agency emergency refugee response plan of USD 116 million to address the immediate critical needs faced by refugees and host communities in this area. Ms. Sarrado reminded that Ethiopia had welcomed refugees for decades and currently hosts nearly 990,000 refugees from neighboring countries like South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, and Sudan.

UNHCR’s full statement is available here.

The AI for Good Global Summit

Frederic Werner, Head of Strategic Engagement, Telecommunication Standardization Bureau,

at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said that the AI for Good had been built on the rationale that AI could contribute significantly to the attainment of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. There were also several concerns connected to AI, he noted. To identify practical applications of AI that existed today and how to scale them for the Global Goals. Virtually the entire UN system was engaged on this process along the ITU. Great efforts had been made to bring many different voices to the table. The Summit was more than a talk-shop; it was very much hands-on, action- and result-oriented. AI for Good had started in 2017, and there had been three in-person summits in person, followed by online summits. On 6-7 July, there would be a return to an in-person meeting in Geneva, informed Mr. Werner. The conference would have a very strong robotics element, with more than 45 robotics topics under consideration. There would also be the first humanoid robot press conference.

More information about the Summit can be found here.

Media advisory is available here.

Replying to questions, Mr. Werner said that AI had entered the mainstream in recent months, largely thanks to Chat GPT. Generative AI would certainly be on the agenda. A lot of the issues to be discussed, such as ethics, had been addressed over the year, and would remain on the agenda at the upcoming Summit.

Food Price Index

Upali Galketi Aratchilage, Senior Economist, Markets and Trade Division, at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking from Rome, informed that the FPI for March, released on 7 April, fell for the twelfth consecutive month, down 2.8 percent month-on-month and 20.5 percent year-on-year, from the peak in March 2022. The decline in the index in March from the previous month was due to drops in international prices of cereals and vegetable oils and a slight drop in dairy prices, partially counterbalanced by some increases in sugar and meat prices. Much of the decline could be attributed to abundant supplies and better production outlooks.

Mr. Aratchilage stated that abundant supplies were especially true for cereals, wheat, maize, and rice. FAO’s latest forecast for world cereal production in 2022/23 (2,777 million tons) was close to the record harvest in 2021/22 (2,812 million tons). Wheat production in most leading production regions, including the European Union, the Russian Federation, North America, Asia and Near East Asian countries, showed greater potential, only slightly behind the record harvest in 2022. The extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative had also contributed to reducing potential market anxiety, further helping cereal prices decrease.

Although international food prices had declined for the last year, said Mr. Aratchilage, global food prices remained 30 percent higher than the average in 2020. Domestic food price inflation remained elevated in almost all low- and middle-income countries, with many experiencing double-digit inflation. More information about the latest FAO Food Price Index can be found here.

Announcements

Catherine Huissoud, for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), informed that UNCTAD would publish on 12 April at 4 p.m. its Trade and Development Update, in which it called for a bold international economic agenda to avert another lost decade for developing countries, facing projected USD 800 billion in foregone income, and battling unprecedented levels of debt distress. Global growth was expected to be lower than projected, signaling potential economic downturn, said Ms. Huissoud. The press kit would be shared at the end of the morning, under embargo. UNCTAD senior officials were presenting this analysis at the IMF/World Bank Spring meeting in Washington this week, calling for increased and specific support for developing countries on the various issues mentioned in the report.

David Hirsh, for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), said that ITU had finalized report on preparatory studies for the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference. A press release had been issued on 7 April.

Rolando Gómez, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), stated that today the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination started its 109th session, during which it would review the reports of the Russian Federation, Niger, Argentina, Portugal, the Philippines, and Tajikistan.

He reminded about the message of the Secretary-General on the death of Benjamin B. Ferencz, who had investigated and prosecuted Nazi war crimes at the Nuremberg trials and had been an early and passionate advocate for the establishment of an international criminal court which he described as “the missing link in the world legal order”.

Finally, Mr. Gómez informed that a ceremony to commemorate victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis in Rwanda would be held at the Palais des Nations on 13 April, in the presence of the UNOG Director-General. The Secretary-General’s message can be found here.


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