REGULAR PRESS BRIEFING BY THE UNITED NATIONS INFORMATION SERVICE
Alessandra Vellucci, Director of the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired the hybrid briefing, attended by the spokespersons and representatives of the Human Rights Council, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Health Organization.
Human Rights Council
Rolando Gomez, for the Human Rights Council (HRC), informed that today the Council was discussing the role of poverty alleviation in promoting and protecting human rights, particularly in the context of COVID-19. At 12 noon, Michelle Bachelet would present her global oral update, to be followed by her presentation of several country reports – Colombia, Honduras, Guatemala, and an oral update on Venezuela, followed by updates on Cyprus, Eritrea, and the impact of COVID-19. From 3 p.m., States and NGOs would engage in a general debate with the High Commissioner. On 1 March, the Council would have an annual panel discussion on the rights of the child, to be followed by presentations by the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, and by the Special Rapporteur on the sexual exploitation of children.
World Food Programme’s appeal for Tigray, Ethiopia
Tomson Phiri, for the World Food Programme (WFP), stated that the WFP was urgently appealing for USD 107 million to ramp up food assistance to reach one million people as hunger levels spiral in Tigray, Ethiopia. The Food Cluster estimated that three million people across urban and rural areas as well, including the displaced and returnees, needed emergency food assistance at least until late this year. Food insecurity in the region was driven by conflict, loss of jobs and income, disruption of markets and movement, loss of harvests, skyrocketing food prices, and severe difficulties accessing cash and fuel.
At the request of the Government of Ethiopia, WFP was providing food assistance and logistical support to both the Government and humanitarian partners. As part of its response, WFP was targeting one million people with food assistance and providing 875,000 children and pregnant or nursing mothers with specialized nutrition support. Since 15 December, WFP had delivered 20,000 metric tons of assistance, through 18 convoys and reaching various locations such as Adi Harush, Mai Aini, Mekele and Shire with critical supplies.
Escalation of violence in Marib region, Yemen
Boris Cheshirkov, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), informed that amid intensified clashes in Yemen’s Marib region, UNHCR, was calling for a safe passage for the fleeing civilians. Fighting parties had to spare no effort to protect the population caught in the conflict and ease its impact on civilians. Insecurity was increasingly hindering the delivery of aid to civilians in Marib, with dire consequences for the most vulnerable among them. The latest clashes were just a few kilometers from Marib city and people had little choice but to flee to relative safety in the urban areas.
The existing sites for internally displaced people were already overcrowded, and the humanitarian response was overstretched. More than 800,000 displaced Yemenis had been taking refuge in this part of the country. Most of them had been sheltering there since the start of the conflict in 2015.
Life in Yemen was getting more desperate and dangerous by the day. Based on UNHCR’s assessments, 64 per cent of displaced families have no sources of income. Others earn less than USD 50 a month to make ends meet. UNHCR sought USD 271 million for its 2021 operations in Yemen. So far only six per cent of that amount had been received.
UNHCR briefing note is here.
Paul Dillon, for the International Organization for Migration (IOM), stated that the IOM was watching with growing alarm as the growing number of people were being displaced in Yemen. There were now more than 117,000 displaced in the Marib Governorate. Sirwa district, the latest hot spot of violence, itself hosted some 30,000 displaced people. The displacement sites should be refuges and protected from all fighting. IOM was calling for a greater humanitarian presence and resources.
UNHCR’s appeal for displaced Central Africans
Boris Cheshirkov, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), said that UNHCR had today launched a USD 164 million appeal to provide life-saving assistance and protection to nearly 1.5 million uprooted Central Africans, including 210,000 who had fled a new bout of violence related to the December 2020 presidential elections. With no end in sight to the violence fueling the displacement crisis, nearly one third of the Central African Republic’s population of 4.7 million had now been forced to flee. Since the eruption of the new crisis, some 100,000 people had been displaced inside CAR, while neighbouring Cameroon, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Republic of the Congo had received 111,000 new arrivals. Refugees continued to cross every day.
Unless funding was swiftly made available, UNHCR would be forced to reduce or halt vital assistance, even as the needs were rising. Despite its limited resources, UNHCR had scaled up border and protection monitoring to proactively identify and address the most pressing needs of displaced Central Africans.
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), informed that as of 26 February, and since the beginning of the pandemic, a total of 226 UN Secretariat staff in Geneva had tested positive to COVID-19.
Edward Harris, for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), informed that that annual results of WIPO's global filing systems for patents, trademarks, industrial designs as well as cybersquatting and arbitration and mediation cases would be presented in a press conference on 1 March at 11 a.m. WIPO Director-General Daren Tang and Chief Economist Carsten Fink would address the media. The embargo would be lifted on 2 March at 10 a.m.
Rolando Gomez, for the Human Rights Council (HRC), informed that on 1 March at 1 p.m., the International Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic would hold a press conference to present their findings and analysis regarding arbitrary imprisonment and detention over the course of the conflict and continuing trends in the country, covering the period from March 2011 to December 2020. Speakers would be three members of the Commission: Paulo Pinheiro, Karen Abuzayd, and Hanny Megally.
Also on 1 March at 4 p.m., there would be a hybrid press conference on findings of the investigation conducted by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression into the case of Alexey Navalny. Speakers would be Agnès Callamard, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
On 4 March at 2 p.m., there would be a press conference by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movementon the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the conflict in Syria. Speakers would be Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Khaled Hboubati, President of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service, said that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women had suspended yesterday its 78th session, during which it had reviewed the report of Denmark. It would adopt its concluding observations on that report 4 March.
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would its 69th session on 5 March, during which it had reviewed the reports of Finland and Latvia.
The Human Rights Committee would open on 1 March at 4 p.m. its 131st session (virtual session, from 1 to 26 March), during which it would review the reports of Finland and Kenya.