PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
11 July 2023
Race to support surge of refugees fleeing Darfur
Pierre Honnorat, Country Director for Chad for the World Food Programme (WFP) spoke from a refugee camp in Goz Beida, Chad, noted that arrivals from Sudan to Chad were increasing with 20,000 arriving in the last week to the small town of André alone, along and nearly 63,350 since the first week of June. Since the start of the conflict in Sudan in April, over 270,000 people, both refugees and returnees, had crossed the border into Chad. With such a huge inflow of people expected to continue, it was vital to preposition enough humanitarian assistance to meet their needs. The majority of new arrivals were women and children under five years of age, many of whom were wounded. Admissions of malnourished children to health centres were similarly increasing, straining already limited resources. Working with health actors and the local authorities, the WFP had constructed six temporary health units at the border so far. Further, the Programme had scaled up operations on the border and planned to provided food and nutrition assistance for the next eight months to 360,000 expected new arrivals and host communities. Thus far, the Programme had also provided food assistance to 151,640 people recently and host communities. Efforts to scale up the response to the crisis was made possible thanks to several donors.
However, Mr. Honnorat noted that prepositioning enough food on the eastern border had to take place before the rainy season rendered roads inaccessible, blocking access to many people in need. Furthermore, the WFP’s emergency response in Chad was significantly underfunded compared to the scope of its mission. The WFP urgently needed at least $157.3 million to support new arrivals as well as the existing caseload of refugees, internally displaced people and food insecure people for the next six months in Chad. The programme needed to assist at least 520,000 refugees in Chad this year to prevent a rapid deterioration of food security, and that required a budget of $13 million per month minimum. Its operations in the country had received just under $14 million since fighting broke out in Sudan in April. The funding gap for the Programme’s support for refugees in Chad stood at 90 percent and resources were depleting fast as more people arrived each day—which created tensions on both sides of the border. The situation was urgent in André. The provision of food assistance was critical to avoid an escalation of tensions.
In response to questions, Mr. Honnorat said that the lack of financing in response-funding was unprecedented. While funding had indeed increased comparatively to previous years, so had demand for aid following consecutive years of food insecurity and flooding in the region. Malnutrition was already catastrophic before the conflict, which did not seem like it would stop soon. It was possible that Chad was now hosting the largest number of refugees from Sudan. As of 19 June, 2023, Egypt had hosted the largest number at 255,000.
Mr. Honnorat underscored that $13 million was a minimum, and it was needed just for the refugee population the Programme was serving in Chad. He noted a sense of calm and relief among refugees to be out of conflict zones; but after closer inspection, feelings of distress were present. Children were dying from malnutrition every week. The malnutrition rate for children was high and it was important to monitor children in a situation of acute malnutrition in the camp. Two large tents were constructed in support of the hospital, one for the wounded and one for malnourished children.
Also answering questions, Alessandra Vellucci, for UNIS recalled how important it was to talk about the need for support not only for Sudan but for the bordering countries as well. The press had a role to play by diffusing the UN message to address the dire situation.
The latest number of refugees from the conflict in Sudan could be found here.
UNAIDS Global AIDS report
Ben Phillips, Director of Communications for Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), said that on Thursday, “The Path that Ends AIDS” report would be released. A press conference would take place at 2 p.m. on 13 July in the Palais de Nations, room B-128. The report showed new data demonstrating that it was possible to end AIDS by 2030. Indeed, the world could end what has been the world’s deadliest pandemic, and some countries were already on this way. The path to end AIDS was not a mystery, but a financial and political choice. By taking this path to end AIDS, the world would ensure that it was more prepared for other pandemics threats to come, as well as advance progress on every sustainable development goal.
The report would outline the path, which countries were already following it and what other measures all countries could take to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. Speaking during the conference would be representatives of UNAIDS, the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV, the former President of the Swiss Confederation and of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition, and the former Minister of Health of Botswana. A roundtable was scheduled for after the press conference with representatives from non-governmental organisation and civil society actors, followed by a reception; media were welcome to both.
In response to questions, Mr. Phillips said that new statistics on adults and children using anti-retroviral medications to treat HIV/AIDS are available in the report and would be provided. The materials were embargoed until the Thursday afternoon, but the report could be sent out to press on an embargoed basis today. A French translation of the foreword, executive summary and key data would be available. The roundtable discussion would be held in room 18 building E and would be livestreamed, however in-person participation would have the added benefit of a performance of the gay men’s chorus Les Genevoix at the reception. The press would be able to ask questions at the event.
Human Rights Council
Pascal Sim, on behalf of the Human Rights Council (HRC) said the Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic issued a report as a conference room paper yesterday documenting torture and ill-treatment throughout the country.
At 12:30 p.m. today, Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the Palestinian Territories Occupied Since 1967, would give her first press conference in Palais de Nations, room B-128.
At 3 p.m. this afternoon the HRC would hold an urgent debate on public acts of religious hatred in European and other countries with opening statements from United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief, Nazila Ghanea. So far, 79 speakers were registered to speak during the debate. Pakistan might ask for the adoption of the accompanying draft resolution directly after the debate.
The Council would consider a total of 30 draft resolutions starting Wednesday 12 July in the afternoon. Seventeen amendments to draft resolutions had been received.
In response to questions, Mr. Sim said that the debate was expected to last at least three hours, until 6 p.m. earliest. Voting on the tabled resolution could take place at 7:30 p.m. if Pakistan asked for voting. Depending on the timing, voting could also take place with the other 30 resolutions. The list of speakers for the urgent debate would be sent out in the early afternoon today, together with the statements from the High Commissioner and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief.
Sarah Bel for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said that on Friday, 14 July, the Programme would launch a new report as part of a series of policy briefs on the debt crisis entitled “The Cost of Inaction: the Links Between Debt Servicing, Social Protection and Poverty, 2020-2023”. It contained new estimations of poverty rates in developing countries as a consequence of debt accumulation in the past three years and how it compared to social spending in those countries. The press release would be available in English, French and Spanish. Registration was required for attendance.
In response to questions, Ms. Bel said that the report was a direct follow-up to the recent Paris Summit for the New Global Financial Pact and complemented what was decided about debt forgiveness. While the report was also complementary to the work of with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and other actors, it was not co-written with them.
Alessandra Vellucci, for UNIS, said that the Human Rights Committee would continue its 138th by concluding its review of the report on Colombia this morning and would examine the report of Lesotho tomorrow.
The Committee Against Torture would begin its work tomorrow morning with the report of Switzerland. Its 77th session would also review the reports of New Zealand, Romania and Spain.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report (or SOFI) Report 2023 would be discussed at a hybrid press conference with representatives of the Food and Agricultural Organization, the World Food Programme, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) on 12 July 2023 at 3:30 p.m.
The Internet Governance Forum would hold a press conference on Friday, 14 July at 9:30 a.m. to discuss the mandate of the IGF Leadership Panel and the scope of its activities since its establishment last year. A media advisory would be sent out about the subjects that would be addressed during the conference.