UN Geneva briefing - 02 February 2024
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UN Geneva briefing - 02 February 2024



2 February 2024


Rolando Gómez, Chief of the Press and External Relations Section at the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired a hybrid briefing, which was attended by spokespersons and representatives of the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the International Telecommunication Union.



Situation in Gaza

Jonathan Crickx, Chief of Communication in the State of Palestine for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), speaking from Jerusalem, stated that UNICEF estimated that at least 17,000 children in the Gaza Strip were either unaccompanied from their parents or relatives, or separated from both parents or former care givers. This corresponded to one percent of the overall displaced population - 1.7 million people.


Mr. Crickx, who had returned from Gaza this week, spoke of having met 12 children, of whom three had lost a parent. Behind each of those statistics was a child coming to terms with this horrible new reality. An 11-year-old Razan, for example, had lost almost all her family members, and her injured leg had to be amputated. She was still in shock, learning to live with a disability in the context where rehabilitation services were not available. In the middle of a conflict, it was common for extended families to take care of children who lost their parents. But currently, due to the sheer lack of food, water or shelter, extended families were distressed and faced challenges to immediately take care of another child as they themselves were struggling to cater for their own children and family.


Palestinian children’s mental health was severely impacted. These children presented symptoms like extremely high levels of persistent anxiety, loss of appetite, they could not sleep, and they had emotional outbursts or panic every time they heard the bombings. UNICEF now estimated that almost all children of Gaza, more than one million, needed mental health and psychosocial support. The only way to have this mental health and psychosocial support delivered at scale was with a ceasefire. That was not possible under the current security and humanitarian conditions. Mr. Crickx stressed that those children did not have anything to do with the conflict, yet they were suffering like no child should ever suffer. Not a single child, whatever the religion, the nationality, the language, the race, no child should ever be exposed to the level of violence seen on 7 October, or to the level of violence that we had witnessed since then.


Dr. Richard Peeperkorn, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative for the occupied Palestinian territory, also speaking from Jerusalem, stated that currently there were over 100,000 Gazans injured, missing, or presumed dead, out of the population of 2.3 million people. Those who were not injured or missing were struggling under the dire circumstances, trying to keep themselves safe, fed, healthy, and warm. Hostilities were increasing in the middle area of the Gaza Strip, which was further crippling access to the existing health facilities. In January, WHO had planned 15 missions to the north of Gaza, eight of which had been denied, informed Dr. Peeperkorn. The lack of sustained access to hospitals for both patients and health workers was very disconcerting. Only thirteen out of the 36 hospitals in Gaza were partially functioning, he said, and of the 73 primary health care centers, only 13 were functional right now. Critically injured or sick patients should be able to be referred in an orderly, safe manner, to Egypt or other countries willing to take them; an estimated 8,000 Gazans were believed to need for referral right now – of these 6,000 were related to war injuries, and 2,000 were connected to chronical illnesses. It was frustrating that only a small fraction of those in need, around 1,200 patients, had been successfully referred through Rafah so far.

High levels of food insecurity and contaminated water created a fertile ground for spread of infectious diseases. There had been over 245,000 recorded cases of respiratory infections, 160,000 cases of diarrhea in children under the age of five, and close to 70,000 cases of scabies and lice, among other diseases. WHO and partners were extremely concerned about malnutrition. Even though food aid was available, and the WFP had sufficient supplies, way too little food was getting into Gaza, and food distribution within Gaza was limited. Gaza used to be relatively self-sufficient with regard to various foodstuffs, but that was all gone now, informed Dr. Peeperkorn. Food production and distribution processes had to be restored as soon as possible, he stressed. Speaking of attacks against healthcare, which were continuing, Dr. Peeperkorn said that the 342 recorded attacks in the Gaza Strip had resulted in 627 fatalities and 783 injuries. 61 health workers were known to be currently detained.


Ahmed Dahir, Head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Sub-Office in Gaza, speaking from Gaza, said that thousands of people were moving to Rafah, many of whom looked visibly thin and weak from the lack of food. People were searching for food and safety, both of which were impossible to find in Gaza. The sick and injured were struggling to find the health care they need. Hostilities around Nasser Medical Complex and European Gaza Hospital were obstructing access for patients and health partners from reaching the hospital to keep them resupplied regularly. Lack of sustained supplies could dismantle the fragile health system, and it was a vital lifeline for keeping them functional. 


This week, the WHO had reached Al Nasser Hospital and the Gaza European Hospital, but access to the north of the Gaza Strip remained very restricted. WHO requests to reach several health facilities in the north had been denied. At the Gaza European Hospital, some 22,000 people were sheltering on hospital grounds; medical supplies were insufficient, and the risk of disease spread was increasing. Many health workers were split between taking care of their patients and their own families at the same time; their commitment and courage ought to be saluted. Many of them had been working for three months straight, without a pause. There were four WHO emergency teams helping with surgeries at this hospital. Meanwhile, hostilities around the Al Nasser Hospital were intensifying. Hospital previously had hosted 8,000 IDPs, but now only 2000 IDPs remained because the others had fled for safety. There was only a single ambulance available, and people were having to use donkey carts to bring in the injured. The hospital had 400 patients, supported by 200 medical staff, the majority of whom were volunteers. There was shortage of specialized medical practitioners.


Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), expressed deep concern over an escalation of hostilities in Khan Younis, which resulted in an increased number of people looking for safety in Rafah. Rafah had become a pressure cooker of despair, and OCHA was worried of what would happen next. Agencies were struggling to respond under these circumstances, informed Mr. Laerke. The Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescent societies had established hundreds of tents near Khan Younis, but more was needed. Half of all food distribution needed in Gaza was now in Rafah, which reflected how crowded that area had become.


Answering questions from the media about Israel’s announcement that the next combat theater would be in Rafah, Mr. Laerke, for OCHA, said there was no safe place in Gaza, and further fighting in Rafah would make it even worse. Rafah was so crowded that humanitarian vehicles could barely move. Mr. Laerke said that nobody would be protected in the next wave of fighting. Humanitarians kept saying that the situation could not get any worse, yet it was still getting worse by the day. The spirit of the international humanitarian law had certainly not been respected throughout the ongoing crisis, said Mr. Laerke. Dr. Peeperkorn, for the WHO, added that Rafah should not be attacked because people seeking safety there would have nowhere else to go. He said that he had never seen as many amputees in his life, including children. Most hospitals had effectively become trauma centers, affecting provision of regular primary healthcare and treatment of chronical diseases. Mr. Laerke said that humanitarian reports over the past week, since the International Court of Justice decision, did not indicate any improvement of the situation on the ground. Mr. Crickx, for UNICEF, said that UNICEF with partners was trying to provide mental and psychosocial support to some unaccompanied and separated children, but the sheer number of children in need made proper tracing and comprehensive support impossible. Rolando Gómez, for UNIS, reminded that the Secretary-General had underscored the importance of the vital work of UNRWA going, as the agency was the backbone of all humanitarian work in Gaza


Urgent and safe access needed to feed millions in Sudan


Jens Laerke, for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), informed that on 7 February, two response plans for Sudan would be launched – one for inside Sudan and one for displaced Sudanese in neighbouring countries. The launch, with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and the High Commissioner for Refugees, would be webcast on UNTV, and details would be provided soon. He informed that more than 13,000 people had been killed and some 25 million urgently needed humanitarian assistance. Over 1.5 million Sudanese had fled abroad to countries whose resources were already stretched.


Leni Kinzli, World Food Programme (WFP) Communications Officer in Sudan, speaking from Nairobi, said that the war in Sudan continued to rage and take an unimaginable toll on civilians. It was even more difficult for the WFP to deliver aid to those who needed it the most. WFP was calling on the warring parties to provide immediate guarantees for an unimpeded access to all zones, including conflict areas, where civilians were stuck and had no access to food. The situation in the country was dire. Almost 18 million people across the country were facing acute food insecurity, stressed Ms. Kinzli. WFP had repeatedly warned about a looming crisis, which could become a catastrophe. The number of the hungry had doubled over the past five years. An estimated 1.7 million people had fled to neighbouring countries, which had already been struggling. WFP was the logistics backbone of the humanitarian response in Sudan; it had established a cross-border corridor from Chad, through which it had thus far supported one million people.


WFP was currently able to deliver food to only 10 percent of the hungriest people in Sudan; the other 90 percent were largely stuck in the conflict zones. Humanitarian convoys had to be allowed to cross frontlines, something which was currently impossible for a plethora of reasons. WFP had food in Sudan, but the lack of humanitarian access and unnecessary hurdles were making most food distributions impossible. Every single of the WFP trucks had to be on the road every single day in order to reach all those people in need. Both parties to this gruesome conflict ought to provide an unimpeded, unobstructed, safe access for humanitarian agencies to people in need.


Responding to questions, Ms. Kinzli said that this conflict should not be forgotten. This conflict had wide-reaching regional implications, and it was the time for the international community to realize the gravity of the crisis and implications. At the moment, 18 million people were facing acute food insecurity, twice as many as a year earlier. Hunger would increase from May on, when the lean season started, and crops became less available. Reports were being received on people dying of starvation, but those reports had to be corroborated. Millions of people could soon slip into the catastrophic levels of hunger, which could be described as famine. Some 3.6 million children under the age of five were suffering from acute malnutrition, informed Ms. Kinzli. The lack of access to the most affected areas made having exact numbers of hungry children impossible.


Rolando Gómez, for the UN Information Service (UNIS), stressed that a humanitarian ceasefire, humanitarian access to people in need, and respect for international humanitarian law were all needed in Sudan.


Food Price Index


Maximo Torero, Chief Economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking from Rome, informed that the FAO Food Price Index stood at 118 points in January 2024, down 1.2 points from its revised December level, as decreases in the price indices for cereals and meat more than offset an increase in the sugar price index, while those for dairy and vegetable oils only registered slight adjustments. The index stood 13.7 points below its corresponding value one year earlier. 


The Cereal Price Index averaged 120.1 points in January, down 2.7 points from December and 27.4 points from its January 2023 value. Global wheat export prices had declined in January, driven by continued strong competition among exporters and arrival of recently harvested supplies in the southern hemisphere countries. The Vegetable Oil Price Index averaged 122.5 points in January, up marginally by 0.2 points from the previous month, but still 17.9 points below its January 2023 reading. The Dairy Price Index averaged 118.9 points in January, virtually unchanged from its revised December value and standing 25.8 points below its value in the corresponding month a year earlier. The Meat Price Index averaged 109.8 points in January, down 1.5 points from December, marking the seventh consecutive monthly decline and standing 1.3 points below its corresponding value the previous year. Finally, the Sugar Price Index averaged 135.3 points in January, up 1.1 points from December and 18.5 points from its value a year before. The increase in world sugar prices had been mainly driven by concerns over the likely impact of below-average rains in Brazil on sugarcane crops to be harvested from April.


Further details can be found here.




David Hirsch, for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), informed that the ITU had opened media registration for the AI for Good Global Summit 2024, which would take place at the International Conference Center in Geneva (CICG) on 30-31 May, with other events being scheduled, including an AI Governance Day on 29 May. While many details were yet to come, lists of conference speakers, exhibitors and programme events were already available on the AI for Good website. The registration link is at https://aiforgood.itu.int/newsroom/. Industry and the UN system, along with media and other society actors, would all be involved in the Summit.


Rolando Gómez, for the United Nations Information Service, informed that the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was reviewing the report of Turkmenistan today.


The Committee on the Rights of the Child would close this afternoon at 5 pm its 95th session and issue its concluding observations on the six countries whose reports had been reviewed during this session: Republic of Congo, Bulgaria, Senegal, Russian Federation, Lithuania, and South Africa.


Finally, Mr. Gómez informed that 4 February would be the International Day of Human Fraternity.

very good morning to you.
Welcome to this press briefing at the UN office at Geneva today,
the second of February.
We have a a very packed agenda.
Today we have artificial intelligence, we have Gaza, we have Sudan
and we have food commodities. So
we're going to start right away with our colleague from UNICEF, Jonathan Cris,
who is the chief of communication in the state of Palestine for UNICEF,
who is going to address unaccompanied it separated Children
as well as the huge urgent needs around mental health and
psycho social support to hundreds and thousands of thousands of Children
over to you. Jonathan
Good morning.
Um, UNICEF estimates that at least 17,000 Children
in the Gaza Strip
are unaccompanied or separated.
Each one
has a heartbreaking story of loss and grief.
This figure corresponds to 1% of the overall displaced population,
1.7 million people.
Of course,
this is an estimation, since it's nearly impossible to gather
and verify information under the current security and humanitarian conditions.
I returned, uh, from Gaza this week. I met with many Children. Each of them
had his or her own story of
loss and grief
of 12 Children I met or interviewed. More than half of them
had lost a family member in this war.
Three had lost a parent, of which two had lost both their mother and their father.
each of these statistics, it's a child who's coming to terms
with a horrible new reality.
11 year old Hazan.
She was with her family in her uncle's house when it
was bombed in the first two weeks of the war.
She almost lost all her family members.
She lost her mother, her father, her brother
and two sisters.
Razan's leg was also insured, and
it had to be amputated.
Following the surgery.
Her womb got infected.
Hasan is now being taken care of by her aunt and uncle, all of whom
have been displaced in Aha!
Where I met Vista
in a centre where unaccompanied Children are hosted and cared for.
I also saw two very young Children aged six and four, their cousins
and almost their entire respective families were
killed in the first half of December.
The four year old girl in particular is still very much in shock.
I met with these Children in Rafa.
we fear that the situation of Children who have lost
their parents is much worse in the north and the centre
of the Gaza Strip
in the middle of a conflict.
It's common for extended family to take care
of Children who have lost their parents.
Uh, but currently,
due to the sheer lack of food, water or shelter,
extended families are themselves distressed and face challenges
to immediately take care of another child as they
are struggling to cater for their own Children and family.
In these situations,
immediate interim care must be made available
at scale while keeping Children connected or
tracing their families so that they can be reunited when the situation stabilises.
like most of the Children who went through such a dramatic experience,
is still in shock. Uh, each time she recalls the events, she falls in tears
and gets exhausted. Um,
situation is also particularly distressing,
since her mobility is severely limited and specialised support
or rehabilitation services are not available.
Palestinian Children's mental health
is severely impacted.
They present symptoms like extremely high levels of persistent anxiety,
loss of appetite.
They can't sleep, they have emotional outburst,
uh, or or they panic every time they hear a bombing
before this war.
UNICEF was considering already before this war that 500,000 Children were already
in need of mental health and psychosocial support in the Gaza Strip.
we estimate that almost all Children are in need of that support,
and that's more than 1 million Children.
UNICEF and its partners have provided
mental health and psychosocial support to more
than 40,000 Children and 10,000 caregivers since the beginning of this conflict.
last week I attended one of these activities, and it's
really a a relief to see Children play, draw Dan, sing and
and smile.
It helps them to cope with the terrible situation they're going through.
And, of course, this is far from sufficient when we see the scale of the needs.
The only way to have this mental
health and psychosocial support delivered at scale is
with a long
lasting cease fire.
Before this war, in 22
2022 for example, the, uh, child protection
area of responsibility,
the child protection cluster led by UNICEF
provided this support to almost 100,000 Children,
and it's possible to scale up now. Uh, we have done it before
but it is not possible under the current security and humanitarian conditions.
And before I conclude, I'd like to add just one thing.
Um, these Children don't have anything to do with this conflict.
Yet they are suffering like no child should ever suffer.
Not a single child.
Whatever the religion, the nationality, the language,
the race no child should ever be exposed to
the level of violence seen on the seventh of October
or to the level of violence that we have witnessed
since then.
Thank you.
Thanks to you, Jonathan.
Uh, we're gonna take all the briefers all in one fell swoop on on Gaza,
and then we'll take questions at the end.
Turning now to, uh, Tarik who, uh, is with Doctor Pieper
Kor who joins us from Jerusalem. Tarik, do you want to start off or
do we go directly to, uh, doctor Doctor Pieper,
Thanks. I
think we can go straight to,
who is, uh, talking from Jerusalem. We also have online our head of, uh, uh,
sub office in Gaza, Ahmed Dair
Who, uh, may add a few words after after doctor Pieper
corn. So, uh, Rick over
thank you very much. I hope you can hear me loud and clear.
So, yes, I'm here in Jerusalem as the WHO we present for
occupy Palestinian territory.
And, uh, my colleague, Doctor Ahmed Dair,
is in Gaza and he's the team lead of, uh, our team in Gaza.
He's also the incident manager of Gaza.
Actually, I'm going back to Gaza, Uh, next week, coming Monday
to be there again with the team for a couple of weeks. Uh,
but then he starts and give some some overall again, an overall kind of picture.
when you look at the fatalities and injuries you talk about that, that's
over. One in 1000 Gazans
completely directly,
uh, affected by the war was going on. Over 100,000 Gazans are either dead
or injured
or missing
and presumed that.
And if you think that 100 thousands of people
on a population of 2.32 0.4 million people,
and and the ones which are
which are not
injured, that they are they alive,
they are struggling with with incredible circumstances and
and seeking safety where there is little safety,
see, searching for food, which is, as we know, hard to find,
trying to stay warm in all these makeshift tents
and shelters and think about 1.71 0.9 million people
Keep the rain and cold out. And, of course, fight the diseases which,
because of all of this weakened bodies,
declining immunity and the lack of access to health care.
And that's the reality of people in Gaza.
We've seen increasingly hostilities now in the middle area, worse in the last week.
And my colleague Ahmed Ta
will talk about it,
which is affecting
and already cripples health systems and and access for patients.
the health partners, health workers to resupply hospitals.
WHO as well
remains extremely chas.
We access the North
10 days ago.
But if you talk about humanitarian missions,
I think some of these figures we've raised
and and these are really important. So in in January,
we planned 50 WHO planned 15 missions to the north north body gas.
Three were facilitated, four were impeded because of unpossible. Roads
were postponed, but eight were denied,
but also from the 11 missions in the south south
Four were facilitated to postponed,
two impeded
and three, de night.
All those missions should, of course, happen.
And even
if there is a lack of safety guarantees,
there should be humanitarian corridors to make this make this happen
and to rapidly carry out humanitarian operations.
The lack of sustained access to hospitals for patients, health workers but also W
and partners to bring supplies is what we've seen is burden.
Dismantling the health system and NASA medical complex is a is a good case,
and I'm sure Ahmed will raise some specific on the
national medical complex being the most important referral hospital south of
Gaza, to together with European Gaza Hospital.
So you talk about the overall health system functionality
we talk about now that 13 out of the 36 hospitals in Gaza
are partially functional and two of them are minimal functional,
So that means 21 are not functioning.
There's a few more field hospitals and emerging medical teams operational,
not bringing in yes, the number of beds we want.
the three field the field hospitals fully operational, the UAE Hospital,
Jordanian and Rafa
Field Hospital, which is run by MS M,
and, uh,
when you look at the primary health care
centres from the 73 primary health care centres.
There's only 13 functional.
Another concern we have is, uh, WHO
and Parkinson.
With regard to medical referrals,
we, uh, suffer to
everybody who needs to be ref referred critically injured or sick,
should be able
to be referred
and orderly,
and the same sustained transfer of patients to
Egypt should be possible and other locations.
There's many countries who offer their services that they
are willing to take up Palestinian referral cases,
So everyone has a right to medevac.
We estimate now that a minimum of 8000
, Gaza should be referred.
So that's 6000,
probably related to the war injuries.
The multiple traumas, uh, we see burn injuries and
the need for other type of special care reconstructive surgery, etcetera,
and two thousands are late to medical conditions.
We shouldn't forget that Before the war, 50 to 100 patients
were referred to East Jerusalem and and and and the West Bank,
and 40 to 50% of that were related to cancer
Children, women, men.
what we've seen up to now since the start of the war, only 243 patients
have been referred together with 1000 companions.
That's that's a difference. I mean, like, that is way too.
we need a workable system. We've made proposals for it, et cetera.
It's it's it's really incredibly frustrating that this is not happening.
Then we see, uh, I think a lot of people raise their concerns about diseases.
I mean, if you talk about displacements, you talk about
the winter with around us.
We talked about the disruptors health system on the news,
water and sanitation conditions which are very poor everywhere.
Specifically in the in the shelters and all the makeshift shelters.
We see high levels of food, insecurity, hunger, et cetera.
Contaminated water is, of course, a cocktail,
uh, for diseases and disease outbreaks, which we see currently.
We see more than 250,000 respiratory infections since
uh, one of the 62,000 cases of diarrhoea and under five years old, 85,000,
which is a 2423 fold increase
from what's normally happening. So that is an outbreak.
We've seen 70,000 cases up to now
cases of scabies and
lice. Uh, uh, 45,000 cases skin rash
says that
almost 8000 cases of Jol
presumably and
that a currently trying to test that, uh, WHO together
with UNRWA and other trying to test that
and and making sure that we also get a system in place that where where
can be orderly transferred to Egypt.
So we get a better a
visibility on on on what's happening so that we want to go, of course,
to a place where we can,
where we can test where we can assess analyse et cetera, where we can prevent
as well
malnutrition, hunger. So we are, uh, and W HR
partner is extremely concerned about malnutrition
and and, uh,
the the people.
The Gazans are, of course, in the middle of a of a massive catastrophe,
and it could get worse.
we hear all these stories like famine loop, uh, famine loops.
We see this also with with all our missions and and
I hope that Ahmed will be clear on the missions which were
going on a week ago to the north to Shea,
but also the one to,
to not
And nutrition, of course, depends every aspect of health.
It's just not just the amount of calories.
You talk about what you eat, but it's the quality.
And and and populations are not supposed to survive
on food aid for months and months and and
and and focus on that.
And specifically, I want to stress that
there is food aid available.
WFP has sufficient food AIDS available.
there is a lot of problems to get into Gaza, so it's way too little food.
Get into Gaza, and it's a big distribution within Gaza. Furthermore,
I mean
and you should take
up also with FA,
and Gaza.
Uh was relatively self sufficient when it came to meat and poultry, eggs,
vegetables, fruits, fish, et cetera. That's all gone.
That whole industry has gone. That needs to be,
uh, recovered as well. And
for that as well, I want to make also a plea.
The private sector engagement, the UN and NGO S and
cannot do alone cannot do this alone cannot change the situation alone. There is
you talking about the population of 2.3 million people,
the private supply chains that need to be restored
as soon as possible.
Commercial goods and activity specifically food related, of course, should be,
uh, uh, allowed to enter again.
They always have been the backbone of any economy, including Gaza.
my maybe the last part. We, of course, unfortunately, see an ongoing,
um, health attacks, which we monitor, which we check,
which we get reported and and checked.
So we talk about three and 42 attacks in the Gaza Strip. Uh
since the war started,
which result to six of the 27 fatalities and then seven of the 83 injuries, and
we also want to raise that, uh,
but we have been reported on the 61 health workers
are detained.
And of course, they we, uh, their families,
the organisation deeply concerned about their, uh, their whereabouts.
95 healthcare facilities have been affected.
Uh, including 27 hospital damage out of the 36
and affected 86 ambulances,
including 47 with sustained
Maybe I don't know if that's possible. Now that that
can come
in, I want to close here.
Thank you very much. Ricky, we We'll now turn to
Ahmed out
here again. He's, uh, WHO, uh, the Gaza sub office head.
Uh, who joins us from Gaza. If I'm not mistaken over to you,
And thank you for joining.
Yeah, Thanks. And, uh, good morning, uh, colleagues, um
and then then thanks, uh, To To To To Rick. Uh,
so to add on this.
And I will be talking a bit more on on the missions, uh, with, uh, the BH
Um, having, uh, for the last, uh, couple of days, Um, the hostilities, uh,
have intensified in in some
Uh, we are seeing thousands of people moving, uh, toward, uh, Rafa.
Uh, families are being displaced over
and over,
Um, many just moving with clothes and and and their back, uh,
sheltering and And makeshift plastic tents,
which are not enough to keep them safe from from the harsh weather.
And then and and in the last couple of days, uh, Bogas
is witnessing a harsh weather winter and and and lots of rain.
Uh, people are looking visibly weak and thin from from
lack of nutrition.
Everyone, we, uh, we speak is is to is hungry
and and and they need food. Uh, people are searching for food and safety.
Uh, both are Al are almost impossible. to to to find the other.
The sick and the injured are really,
really struggling to find the health care that they need,
uh, hostilities around.
And the European
RZA, uh, hospitals, uh, which are the the the largest, uh,
tertiary hospitals in And, um,
are obstructing access, uh,
for patients and health partners from reaching the hospitals to keep, um,
these hospitals resupplied.
Uh, regular lack of sustained, uh, supplies could, uh, mental
health. Uh, facilities.
Um, it is It is.
It is better lifeline for keeping them, uh, functions.
Uh, this week, um, the WHO, uh, managed to reach, uh, European
Gaza Hospital and
nasi Nasir medical complex.
But access to the north, uh, remains extremely difficult. Um,
but, uh, we last reached the Shea
north and Gaza on
20th January, 10 days ago.
Just yesterday.
Uh, we planned, um, four missions, uh, of which three were denied and only, uh,
one to European gaza.
Uh, hospital was, uh, facilitated
our request, uh, to resupply Ali
and ASHA,
where the
was the request for
Kal and
one, as well as aml, uh,
were Beni.
And we know these hospitals, especially for the north are the only remaining, uh,
minimum functionals, um, which serving?
Large number of populations in in in in the north.
Uh, just to talk about, uh, visit our visits.
Uh, yesterday from the European Gaza Hospital,
we were able to access, uh, the the the hospital after four weeks and resupply.
Um uh, with the medicine
and and and medical supply.
Uh, we saw a hospital.
We saw the hospital really struggling to keep up with the needs.
Uh, the hospital is is very crowded with around 22,000 people sheltering,
on the hospital grounds. And and many of these ID BS are actually coming
from from from the central of Han unis.
the crowd is is taking, um, a tool on water,
sanitation and hygiene facilities and increased
risk of, uh, of disease spread.
There are simply not enough bathrooms, uh, to, uh, to cater. So many so many people.
It's it's it's It's shocking, uh, to see, uh, such, uh, uh, situations.
The hospital has
be of, uh, capacity of 670 but, uh, currently has, uh,
800 patients being supported by
100. Uh uh, health workers and fif 550
nurses. Um, uh, Many of them, uh,
are sheltering at the hospitals with their families,
and and and And they need to keep, you know, taking care of the families along, uh,
caring of
of, uh, of, of, of patients. And that is
uh, putting them in a huge, uh, overburdens on on their shoulders.
Uh, being responsible from first from their family on
in terms of security, providing ensuring that the families have food, water,
and then at the same time, you know, taking care of, of, of, of, of, of the patients,
we always you know, we see, we see when we see the medical, uh,
staffs at the hospitals, we
salute them and and their commitment and and and the the
the harshness which some of them they have been working,
you know, for the last three months.
In without without any. So,
um, at the hospitals with also, um uh I notice that, um,
services are are are minimum working like, for instance, the general surgery IC U
burn unit paediatric, and
an IC U,
um are very, very limited. Um, there are four.
the WHO supported and then coordinate emergency medical teams working to support,
um, the the the current, uh, surgeries at the at at at of the hospital.
Um, just also to talk a bit more on NASA hospitals, which we visited a few days ago.
And that was on 29th of January. Uh, we had, um, on 29th of January.
We had two mission plans, uh, one
of one for medical supply and one for food.
Um, which was, Which was delayed, Um,
and And we couldn't proceed eventually for the
for the for the for the three missions.
So we had to decide what it was like to to to
first go for for the medical supplies.
So we delivered large large, um, amount, uh,
quantity of of medicine and supplies enough for 1000 people.
Uh, hostilities around the hospitals are really intensifying.
And And hospital, if if we talk about four weeks ago,
uh, the hospital had, uh, 8000 IBB.
Now it's almost empty, as as people left in in in a search of of, of safety.
And that's what our earlier said. That large number of people are moving from
pan, uh,
uh to, uh, the the bar.
the hospital, um, has 400 patients, uh, supported by 200 medical staff,
Uh, where the majority of them whom are were volunteers.
And there's really shortage of specialised,
uh, specialised, uh, medical. Uh uh uh, uh, Practitioners.
Uh, kidney dialysis. We know that, uh, Nasir
medical complex, uh, used to serve, um um, more than 100 and 50
kidney failure patients per day.
But this significant reduced, uh, because of the ongoing DTIC
fighting and and the
I think we might have just lost you,
Ahmed. Um, well, yeah, I think, uh, he's no longer connected.
So maybe if, uh, Tarik, if you could tap, uh, Mr DA
here to rejoin us, we'll turn now to Jens.
Who's got an update from the office for
the coordinations of humanitarian affairs on Gaza.
Over to Jens?
Yes, Thank you,
Rolando. I
want to say just a few things,
and I apologise in advance if it's repetitive
for some of the things you've already heard.
But it's very important for us and for
to put on record today, our deep concern about what's happening in
in the southern part of the strip because it's really not looking good.
So I want to emphasise our deep concern about
the escalation of hostilities in Khan
which has resulted in an increase in the number
of internally displaced people seeking refuge in Rafah.
In recent days, thousands of Palestinians have continued to flee to the south,
which is already hosting over half the
Gaza's population of some 2.3 million people.
Most are living in makeshift structures, tents or out in the open.
is a pressure cooker of despair
and we fear for what comes next.
As we have heard,
Kunis has also come increasingly under attack.
And it has been shocking to hear about the
heavy fighting in the vicinity of the hospitals,
jeopardising the safety of medical staff, the wounded and the sick,
as well as thousands of internally displaced people seeking refuge there.
Agencies are indeed struggling to respond under these circumstances,
however, over the past couple of days,
we have managed to distribute more than 1000 family tents ini
on the coast for IDPs living there. Out in the open,
some 1450 bedding items, including blankets, mattresses and mats,
have gone out
and more than 1000
clothing kits were distributed to IDPs in Rafa,
the Egyptian and Palestine Red Crescent.
Our partners there have also established tented camps near
with some 600 tents. And we understand they would like to
establish more.
And finally, from our food security partners. We hear that
in the last week of January, they managed to provide food assistance
across the Gaza Strip
and reached a total of 1.7 million people with some food.
And half of the distribution
of food is in Rafa
reflecting, of course, the very high concentration of people there. Thank you.
Thanks to you, Jens.
OK, we'll take questions now, but, uh, maybe just to the flag that we do have, uh,
Maximo torero of the FA O Food and Agricultural Organisation online.
Uh, Maxim, if there's any point in time or if you have a specific question,
uh, on food insecurity, maybe you can address that, but indeed, um,
lots of important messages just shared.
Uh, we'll start with Imogen.
And if, uh, you could pose, uh,
if you can indicate who you're posing your question to, that would be appreciated.
Imogen of BBC over to you?
Yeah, Hi, it's it's for the the aid agency, the WHO, UNICEF.
we've heard this suggestion from from Israel that the next
field of operations will be rougher.
I just wonder if you could, um,
react to express your your understanding of what the consequences might be.
Maybe I don't know. Uh, Rick, is that something you could address?
Let's start with Jens. Go ahead, Jens.
Thank you very much, Imogen.
we are reading the same news, aren't we?
And that's exactly why it was important for us
to go on record today and highlight this situation.
This movement of thousands of people
who have been under bombardment in Hanoun
is now rushing to the South,
where we already have such a unimaginably high concentration
of people. I said, It's It's like a pressure cooker of, of, of despair.
People living in the open industry.
You know,
our vehicles can hardly move simply because there are tents all over the place.
So what I can say about that is
we fear for what comes next. If we look at what has happened in the past
when evacuation orders have been given,
people move because of that. They also move because of the fighting
Moving closer.
Then what happens next? Are they truly safe? No. There's no
safe place in Gaza. Also, not in Rafah.
Thanks, Jen.
Uh, maybe colleagues, if you want to add,
maybe just put your hand up to make it easier for us
to moderate.
Uh, at any point in time. In fact,
uh, let's take a question from the room here,
Jamie of the Associated Press over to you, Jamie.
Thank you. Uh, Rolanda,
um, just to follow up on what you said, Jens,
we've obviously been hearing about the dire situation
in, um, in Gaza in the south for for many, many weeks.
Can you, uh and you know, you mentioned the pressure cooker.
Um, you know what makes this particular
worse than it was before? I mean, you you've touched on a lot of that already, but
could you just be as specific as possible? Uh, really?
What's tipping the balance here?
And if we could just go back to the, uh, UNICEF, um um representative.
Um, I just wanted to make sure I got that headline number again. Um,
the first one that he mentioned about 17,000.
Could he specify exactly what he was talking about. Uh, who Which people?
The the Children that, uh,
that are without parents. If I understood that correctly or are no longer, um,
yeah, thanks.
OK, we'll start with Jens and we'll go to Jonathan after. Go ahead, Jens.
Thank you, Jamie. I think it's our concern is for
all sectors of the response we hear
from our health partners about disease outbreaks.
We hear that even though
try their best, our partners in food security to deliver as
much as they can. There's simply not enough food.
There's not enough clean drinking water,
and there's no protection.
Nobody is guaranteed from the next kind of wave of fighting that we fear is coming on.
It's like every week we think
it can't get any worse. Well,
go figure it gets worse.
Thanks, Jen. Uh, Jonathan on the 17,000.
Yeah. Thanks. Thanks for the question.
I think it's important to clarify what we're talking about.
So UNICEF use, um the the terminology.
Unaccompanied Children or separated Children.
So what? What does that mean?
So unaccompanied Children are the Children who
have been separated from both parents or
other relatives
and are not being cared for
by an adult
who, by law or custom, is responsible
doing so. OK, so that's unaccompanied Children
and then separated Children.
Our Children who are separated from both parents or for from their previous legal,
uh uh, primary caregiver,
Uh, but not necessarily from other relatives. So apologies.
It's a bit technical, but this is this is the terminology that we are using, uh uh,
in in UNICEF.
Thanks for that, Jonathan.
OK, we have another question from the room and then we'll go up to the platform.
Uh, Beza and Lou,
Thank you, Rolando. My question would be for Jens as well.
I would like to have a follow up
on the Rafah
As you already mentioned, it hosts over half of the population of Gazan people.
And if we see an Israeli attacks pointing there in the
future which is already mentioned by the Israeli Defence Minister,
do you think that such attacks
or do you afraid that such attacks would force
another force and mass evacuation for the people?
And also, do you think it would further hinder the,
ability of humanitarian assistance, which is already, you know,
in a dire situation. Thank you.
Yeah, Thank you.
Of course, we fear
that this could
get worse for these people.
I cannot speak about things that hasn't really happened yet.
But we look at the history of these announcements, and then we see what happens next.
we go back to what is the law?
What is international humanitarian law? And
as you know, when we speak about the law,
we speak about the letter of the law and we speak about the spirit of the law.
Now the letter of the law, whether
international humanitarian law is followed. That's
for competent
judicial bodies to decide. But the spirit of the law
which talks about
of civilians
in all conduct of hostilities.
That has certainly not been a feature
of this crisis.
whether it will all of a sudden become a feature
in the coming days or weeks in Rafa,
well, that remains to be seen.
But history
is gives us
that cause for concern. And without a doubt,
without a doubt a deep fear
for all those Palestinians internally displaced or otherwise,
who lived there in Rafah before
What they You know how they feel these days.
Thanks, Jen. Zen. I'm being reminded of colleagues.
If you could send your, uh, notes, uh, for accuracy,
that would be much appreciated. OK, we'll turn now to Lisa.
A voice of America Over to you, Lisa.
Thank you. Good morning,
Rolando and all
colleagues there.
Uh, yeah, I I'd like to, um, just beat the horse on Rafa one more time, a little bit.
And that is,
um if there is an Israeli attack on Rafa
and as you have all said,
there is no safety and no protection, and nowhere for them to go.
Is it possible that they might actually try to breach the border and cross over?
Try to
cross over into,
uh, Egypt the co.
Uh, if you would talk about that and the consequence of such a situation occurring
and then, uh, nobody, which is a surprise to me.
But it has brought up the issue of, uh, UN
R A and the suspension of a two UN R A. And I was wondering,
uh, whether you are seeing the impact of this situation on, uh,
its ability to operate on the ground or whether,
as they've said, um,
the money is gonna give out by the end of February whether the organisation UN
R a is still able to operate,
uh, in Gaza and, uh,
um, collaborate with you in your operations. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Lisa. I think it's as to your first question.
It's something everybody is looking at, what might
I don't have a crystal ball,
and I can't speak for the hundreds of thousands of people
who are there in rough or what they might do next.
In terms of
operations, I think it's better that
themselves speak about their operation
and what change impact This whole debacle has had.
Thanks, Jens and and I.
I feel compelled to remind you of the important comments made by the secretary
general a few days ago. In fact, it was Wednesday when,
when addressing uh,
the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,
he said
he underscored the importance of keeping U NRW A's vital work,
going to meet the dire needs of civilians in Gaza
and to
ensure its continuity of services to Palestinian refugees
in the occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
And of course, he noted that UNRWA is indeed
the backbone of all. Humanitarian response in Gaza.
Those comments, uh, we shared with you a couple of days ago.
We'll turn now to Yuri of Rio Novosti for a question over to your Yuri.
Yes, Thank you. Rolando. I have one question for Dr
Peppercorn. And one question for Jens.
For who
do you know in total?
How many health workers have been killed and
imprisoned in Gaza since the seventh of October?
Uh, one, I mean, one data for killed and one data for imprisoned.
And second question is for Jens.
Do you see any improvement in the humanitarian situation since
the decision of the International Court of Justice requiring Israel
to facilitate humanitarian assistance? As far as I understand and see? No.
And can we say that the situation has even worsened since the decision? Thank you.
We'll start with, uh, Dr Peppercorn Rick on the first part.
First question about health workers. Go ahead.
We, um
Well, let me first say it so that we we have difficulty. We cannot a
rate the number of health workers kills. Yeah, that's, uh uh,
some were just, uh, body parts. So we we don't know.
There are definitely uh, health workers kills on duty,
and there's also health workers kills in their in their houses.
I mean, like, that's, uh
What we can
What? I said, uh, directly related what we call attacks on health care.
There are 627 fatalities and 783 injuries.
We also have at least reported to us 61 health work detained.
Actually, that's an underestimation. What we understand.
And I maybe want to go back to There's a little talk about,
uh, uh, Rafa
and and and the changing what you every time takes us.
The situation constantly changed when I was in Gaza a couple of weeks ago.
So next week going back,
we I say na
complex was still relatively fully functional.
We we we didn't even call it partly functional.
It has three times the number of patients. It has, uh, over 1000 patients instead of
it has most of their health workers and staff still functional.
It had all the specialisations. There's also
and then
and limber,
and reconstruction centre within that supported by WHO was all functional.
And when you see in a couple of weeks. That's the middle area we talk about
at the moment.
So not only are these
are vastly reduced because of all the evacuation orders
and insecurity and fighting just around the hospital.
So we don't even talk now about a direct attack fighting around the hospital.
What does it mean?
It means that health workers evacuation orders,
health workers leave and they go move to the
to the south. It means that patients don't have access, ambulance can come in.
uh, WH
parks cannot deliver their supplies so very quickly that hospital
from functional became partly functional to now barely functional.
And this is a three
level hospital key hospital, and this is what's constantly happening.
We've seen this in the North. Etcetera can happen in the
in the
in in the South
and coming to Rafa.
Even when I was there, he saw all these people flooding in
and and and I think
Jen told them as well.
Uh, currently, there's a few difficulties, even to to, uh, to reach
the offices, et cetera, because there's
There is, um
uh there's
ID PS everywhere.
Everywhere along the coastal roads everywhere. There's ID, P
and And so,
yeah, once you hear about the potential attacks, it should not happen.
There is Rafah used to be a town of 2000 people. A bit of a sleepy town.
I've been here many times,
and now it's harbouring more than half of the Gazan population.
mind you, where do those where where should those people go? So it's
maybe the point should be it should not happen.
Uh, Ra,
I should not be attacked. That should be the
the key message over to you.
Thanks very much. Rick, can I just note that
Ahmed Dair
was able to rejoin us on the call?
Uh, Jen's second question, perhaps.
Yeah, um,
thank you.
We report
what decisions are made by courts and so on every day, as you know,
as the courts of course, are completely independent.
So I just want to de link
the two things.
If you look at our situation reports daily over the past week, two weeks,
I do not detect any improvement whatsoever in
the humanitarian situation anywhere in the Gaza Strait.
Thanks, Jens. Ok,
looking to see if we have further questions
in the room or online?
Uh, Musa
Go ahead.
Can we unmute Musa?
Yeah. Oh, OK. Thank you.
Uh, my question for the, uh, UIF, uh, about the the 17,000, uh, Children.
Uh uh uh uh, Can you Precisely. Uh, please.
Where are these Children now And who take care of, uh, of them,
uh, in, uh, in in Gaza and Laa
and, uh, or in, uh,
anywhere else. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr
Thank you, Musa.
it's extremely difficult to say
what? What we know is that,
uh, we are in contact with many of the Children,
through our partners, and we are providing as UNICEF
Uh, not only the mental health and psychosocial support I was mentioning, but also,
uh, uh, support when it comes to the tracing
and trying to ensure that,
uh uh, these Children can be identified.
You know, sometimes AAA child is coming, uh, brought by
to a hospital and either be because he's too young or because, uh,
he or she, uh, is in shock. They they simply can't even say their names.
So So it's It's making things extremely difficult when it comes to tracing.
is is provided with its partners is trying to provide F uh, uh, support to, uh uh, uh,
some of these Children.
the scale of the needs is immense. And So, for example, we have,
um uh, a lot of, uh, challenges to reach the north or the centre of the Gaza Strip,
as as my colleagues has mentioned, and we don't know how many, uh,
unaccompanied are separated ship, Uh,
are there?
So this is why it's extremely important for us
to, uh,
advocate for a long lasting cease fire because we need to have the environment,
the conditions that will allow to do the proper tracing to do, uh, uh,
the efforts for regrouping these Children with their extended families whenever
possible and to provide the mental health and psychosocial support that they
that they really need.
Thanks very much, Jonathan. I see that, uh, Richard, uh, peppercorn has his hand up.
Uh, Rick,
you wanna add something?
Yeah. Maybe you wanna add something?
I think for my, uh, union colleague rightly,
rightly so Raises the whole area of mental health psycho social support,
and I think we we hardly we discussed it. We hardly, uh, discussed.
We hardly actually focus on that because we we talking about fatalities and about,
uh, 70,000 people. So almost 28,000
1000 fatalities and and and and
67,000 people injured. And and
And if you go around the hospitals and
can raise a bit more so, of course,
we talk a lot about trauma and multiple trauma spinal injury birds, et cetera.
I've never seen
so many empties in my life,
including among Children.
I wanna, uh,
stress that.
And if you also think about the, uh, all these injured people,
the impact that it has and will have not only on themselves but their families,
their communities, et cetera, even
if there's no war.
I mean and and think about now rehabilitation and recovery, et cetera.
Now, uh,
all the focus now and on most of these hospitals
are the functional. They have turned to trauma centres.
So what is, of course, finally always really important?
Is basic health service primary health care
the whole rate modern child health, reproductive health service, etcetera,
etcetera, including non
cable diseases,
oncology, diabetes, high blood pressure
and, of course, mental health, social support and
and Gaza being Gaza and and being affected by
multiple escalations and wars helped the last time and and
and, uh, the isolation it was in, it already always had.
You see that always in areas in, in, in, in
countries and areas where there's
chronic conflicts,
you see a lot of mental health
support, which is needed.
So there were already an estimated 500,000 Gaza affected by mental health.
Well, that definitely
has massively increased. And it should be something to
focus on as soon as we can also
focus on other regular healthcare primary healthcare.
Uh, basic health services, including mental health,
social support.
And, yeah, I want to make a plea of that.
Not only, uh, of course, for all the people affected,
but also think about the health workers
and health carers themselves.
So there's
uh, there's massive needs
and and and,
yeah, massive needs to to do that for that.
To do that, of course, you need to again have access corridors, but of course,
much better.
It will be when there's a ceasefire and you really can
start focusing on on rebuilding health and rebuilding health services.
would say
thanks very much. Rick. Um
I think with that
we've concluded
questions on Gaza. Unless there are any lost hands. No, I don't see that's the case.
Well, uh,
taking this opportunity to thank you all very much. Jonathan, Rick
aed and of course, Jens.
Uh, for your very important, uh, messaging on this, uh, crisis,
we'll stay with Yan. So we're moving now to the situation in Sudan.
Um Jens announcement on the launch of a
humanitarian refugee response plan for this year.
Yes. Thank you, Rolando.
you should have received. But I want to put on the record here as well
that we are launching on 7 February
the two response plans that we have for Sudan the humanitarian response plan
for inside Sudan and the refugee response plan for the neighbouring countries.
The official launch is here in the Palais at 1030 you are invited to the room room 26.
It will also be webcast on
Web TV
just to introduce it in Sudan.
10 months of conflict have come at an
intolerably high price for the Sudanese people.
More than 13,000 people have reportedly been killed and some 25 million
need humanitarian assistance.
The war has also forced
more than 1.5 million to flee abroad
to countries that were already hosting
large refugee populations and with overstretched
There will be press availability
with the emergency relief co ordinator Martin Griffiths
and the High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grande.
And that will be communicated to you in a separate email. Thank you.
Thanks. Uh, to you, Jens. And thanks for sharing the meat advisor with the details.
Uh, we're gonna stay on, uh, Sudan.
We're going to turn to our colleague from the
World Food Programme who joins us from Nairobi.
Lenny Kinsley, who is WFPS communications officer
in Sudan.
Lenny, over to you. Thank you.
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me.
so the war in Sudan continues to rage on and take an unimaginable toll on civilians.
As the conflict is spreading to new areas.
It is ever more challenging for WFP to deliver assistance
to people, especially those who are trapped in conflict hotspots
and who are in the highest levels of food insecurity.
That's why today, as the United Nations World Food Programme,
we are urgently calling on Sudan's
warring parties to provide immediate guarantees
for the safe and unimpeded delivery of humanitarian food assistance
to conflict,
uh, to the conflict hit parts of Sudan, especially across conflict lines
where hungry and displaced civilians are trapped and
cut off from life saving humanitarian assistance.
I'm gonna be very honest.
The situation in Sudan is beyond dire and one
of the worst humanitarian crisis in recent history.
Despite WFPS efforts to provide assistance to 6.5 million
people across the country since the war broke out,
almost 18 million
people across the country are currently facing acute food insecurity.
That means that only one third of the people
who are struggling to have a basic meal a day
are getting the help they so desperately need.
WFP has repeatedly warned of a looming hunger catastrophe in Sudan
in the coming months.
People must be able to receive aid immediately
to prevent a crisis from becoming a catastrophe.
Shockingly, the number of Hungary has more than doubled from a year ago
and an estimated 5 million people are experiencing
emergency levels of hunger
or I PC. Phase four on the integrated phase classification scale,
especially affected our conflict areas such as Khartoum, Darfur
WFP is also the logistics backbone of the humanitarian response in Sudan and
has ramped up life saving assistance in response to this deepening crisis.
To reach families in Darfur, WFP established a cross border corridor from Chad
Uh, over which 1 million people have received food assistance.
Other agencies have also been able to use this cross border
corridor to deliver other much needed support.
However, WFP is currently only able to regularly deliver
urgent food assistance to one in 10 people who
are facing emergency levels of hunger in Sudan.
In short,
that means 90% of the people who are the hungriest
are not getting assistance.
These people are large, largely trapped in conflict hotspots, including
Khartoum, Darfur
and now Jazeera State, uh, where conflict spilled over, uh, in December
for assistance to reach them,
humanitarian convoys must be allowed to cross front lines.
Yet it is becoming nearly impossible for aid
agencies to cross due to security threats,
ongoing fighting and forced roadblocks and demands for fees and taxation.
The situation in Sudan today is nothing short of catastrophic.
Millions of people are impacted by the conflict.
WFP has food in Sudan.
The lack of humanitarian access and
unnecessary hurdles are slowing down our operations
and preventing us from getting vital aid to
the people who most urgently need our support.
A vital humanitarian hub in Jazeera state,
which previously supported over 800,000 people a month,
was engulfed by fighting in December, as I mentioned before
and a key WP warehouse was looted.
WFP is trying to obtain security guarantees to resume operations in the area to
reach vulnerable families who are now trapped and in urgent need of assistance.
But these guarantees have not yet
uh, come through.
Over half a million people fled Jazeera in December.
We're seeing pictures and hearing stories of many of them
who are now sheltering wherever they can find a roof
over their head for refuge,
including in hundreds of schools across eastern and northern Sudan.
Some are only sleeping under a mosquito net if that.
For many, it was the second or third time they have been displaced in this conflict,
which has sparked the world's largest displacement crisis.
But just 40,000 of these 500,000 of
newly displaced have so far received WFP assistance
because of delays in clearances from authorities.
Around 70 trucks
carrying enough food to feed. Half a million people from one month
were stuck in Port Sudan for over two weeks in January,
waiting for approvals to move out of the warehouse.
Clearances were only secured last week and now distributions are ongoing
in Kassala,
and Blue Nile states.
Another 31 WFP trucks,
which should have been making regular aid deliveries to Kordofan
Ksi and Wad
have been parked empty and unable to leave El
Obeid in south central Sudan for over three months.
Every single one of our trucks needs to be on the road each and every day,
delivering food to the Sudanese people who are traumatised
and overwhelmed after nine months of this horrific conflict.
Yet Light's life saving assistance is not reaching those who need it the most,
and we are already starting to receive reports of people dying of starvation.
Both parties to this gruesome conflict must look beyond the battlefield
and allow aid organisations to operate.
For that,
we need uninhibited freedom of movement across conflict lines
to help people who so desperately need it right now,
regardless of where they are.
Thank you very much,
Lenny. Thanks to you.
Indeed, This is a absolutely gruesome conflict, as you just said.
Um, so thank you for highlighting these important
We have a bunch of questions for you and perhaps Jens, uh, starting with Christian
of the German news agency Christian
over to you.
Thank you very much. Um, uh, Lenny, that was horrific. Of course,
I I'm just wondering who
Who are you addressing?
Excuse me. Who are you addressing your urgent calls to?
Because we all know that the international community can't do much about this.
What's, uh what are your contacts with the conflicting parties?
And what do you hear in response to your
demands to be allowed to deliver food aid to
people? What? What do they tell you? Why they
are making this so difficult? Thank you.
The WFP.
Is engaging with, um, through an interagency led, um, access mechanism, Um, by O
to facilitate access andand humanitarian corridors.
Um, and this is directly with the parties to the conflict.
So obviously, our our, um, call here is directly to the parties to the conflict,
but it's also very much so to the international community.
Um, because the, uh it is necessary to con
for the actual access negotiations that are going on the ground,
um, to exert pressure from other, um,
and outside parties and from the international community,
because that actually supports
our access negotiations.
Um, and, uh,
we continue to urge all parties to
the conflict to facilitate this humanitarian access.
Um, but obviously, as I'm sure you have seen and heard in the news,
it's extremely difficult and a politically volatile context.
Um, where both parties are trying to gain the upper hand.
Um, and so this makes it very difficult to negotiate access. Um,
because of because the fighting continues.
Thanks, Lenny. Um, we'll take a question now from Catherine
Fionn. Uh, Franco
Go ahead, Catherine.
Thank you. Uh, Rolando, um
and thank you, Lenny,
uh, for telling us all, um, giving us providing us all these information.
Uh, could you be kind enough to send us as quickly as possible? Your notes?
Uh, that would be very helpful.
And also, in a kind of follow up of the question of my colleague Christiana,
what do you think will make the difference?
Because, I mean, Sudan has always been, uh,
a country that has been left on the side.
What do you think will make the difference now with all the two
main conflicts where people are totally focused on meaning Ukraine and opt.
Uh, and could you please, um, tell us you just spoke about people starving?
Could you give us figures?
Um, how many people? The difference between last month and this month or last year.
And this year,
Uh, that will, uh, help us also. Thank you so much.
OK, so to your first question of what will make the difference,
Uh, I think what is necessary, and as WFP would would say is necessary
is, uh, that this conflict cannot be forgotten.
Uh, and the people of Sudan are not invisible, but more so.
This is a conflict that has wide reaching regional implications.
especially as we've seen 1.7 million people
flee to neighbouring countries like Chad,
south Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia.
and it's time for the international community to wake up and see these alarm bells.
and these these wide reaching regional implications and what that
could mean for stability in the East Africa region.
And so that is what I think would make the difference.
Um and and and what needs to happen, Uh, before it continues to to
go further out of control as the conflict, um, is is ricocheting.
The effects of it are ricocheting across the region.
And your second question was on the reports of starvation.
Uh, so
currently, we are seeing 18 million people facing acute food insecurity,
uh, and the same time last year and this is in the harvest season.
I must say so. This is actually
the time when food is most available in Sudan.
Um And so if we compare that to the same time last year, it's twice as much.
Uh, and
we can only expect we're expecting to see, as is typical, um,
in the yearly seasonal calendar for Sudan, that hunger will increase come May,
when the lean season hits,
crops become less crops and food stocks become less available.
And what is also really concerning right now is
that it's actually the cultivation time for wheat.
But the conflict is also impeding farmers abilities to reach their farms, uh,
and put in much needed fertiliser and cultivate these this, um,
the wheat production,
uh, for which harvest is expected in April,
Uh, and then directly to the reports of the starvation.
Um, it's very hard to have specific data points,
Um, because these reports are coming from conflict hotspots like Khartoum,
where we're hearing that people are trapped
in areas between areas of control between the south and the RSS.
Um, so these are anecdotal accounts that we're hearing, um, but the
and and we're working on getting the data to support and back that up.
Um, and, uh, as as I mentioned before, we anticipate that this, uh,
hunger crisis will only deepen in the coming months.
Thanks, Lenny. Maybe Catherine, if I may just say very broadly speaking.
And this is something we've been saying since the answers to the crisis.
What we need,
what we need is political will. We need a ceasefire.
We need facilitation of humanitarian access.
We need critical items and services to be guaranteed.
And we need a respect for international
humanitarian and human rights law.
So we'll take the next question from Peter Kenny of all Africa,
All Africa. Yes, Go ahead, Peter.
if we can unmute Peter, no.
OK, We may have to come back to you, Peter.
We'll move on to Lisa from VO a in that case, Lisa, over to you.
Thanks, Orlando. And, uh, yes. Good morning, Lenny.
Thank you for this terrible briefing.
Um, you mentioned that, um
uh, people are already dying from starvation.
Now, for some time, uh, WFP and other agencies have been warning
of a looming, uh, famine. Uh, UNICEF did so early on in this briefing. In fact,
I'm wondering if people already are starving,
whether famine is not already there or how soon,
Uh, it's possible to, uh I mean, II, I don't know.
When do you get to the point of famine? How many people have to starve before
this actually is? A reality becomes becomes a fact,
uh, according to your system.
And could you talk about the malnutrition? How serious that is? It must be going.
Must be skyrocketing. Are you
are Are Children in particular dying from this?
And are you and other agencies able to reach them and save any lives?
Or is this Has this become
almost an impossibility in order to deal with this situation? Thank you.
Uh, so 1st, 1st year question on, um,
on the on whether people are dying of starvation.
As I said we are receiving reports of this,
um and and especially in the conflict hotspots
that these reports need to be corroborated with data
and evidence. Um, and
just to get a little bit into the technicalities of how um, declaring a famine works.
Um, basically,
it's a certain percentage of the population that is in I
PC five out of five in the integrated phase classification scale,
which is an internationally recognised food security assessment.
And so 20% of a population,
um, what would trigger a call for famine?
Um, would be if 20% of the population is in that I PC five category.
Now, at the moment, we're currently seeing
5 million people
in the four out of five in its emergency level hunger. So four out of five.
And what we're warning about now is that if we aren't able to reach those who are
in that
four category emergency level,
they would, in the coming lean season, which is in a few months away,
slip into the catastrophic levels of hunger.
Um, which could be described as famine like conditions
depending on what percentage of the population and which areas, uh,
would be in that level.
Um, so to bring it back to the point.
That's why our calls are so urgent now,
because there's still time to do something about it
and for us to deliver in those conflict hotspots.
and sorry. Your second question was,
if you wouldn't mind, um, posing that again, Lisa, I couldn't recall.
Uh, yeah,
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. I just No,
no Apologies, please.
Um, yes. I was asking about the situation of malnutrition, particularly as
it affects Children.
I would imagine that is skyrocketing if you
have some information on that numbers and whether
it's even possible to help these Children provide
them with the kind of life saving therapy that
is needed And seems from what you have been telling us. Perhaps not possible.
Thank you.
So there's around 3.6 million Children under the age
of five who are suffering from acute malnutrition.
and last year, or actually, since the conflict started,
we have been able to provide
prevention and treatment for moderate acute malnutrition
for around 600,000 Children under five and pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Um, in fact, uh, in places like Port Sudan.
you know, few malnutrition centres where WFP is providing,
uh, what is called ready to use supplementary food. It's a
peanut packet that has nutritional supplements.
And we've seen that this helps, uh, Children recover from malnutrition,
so we are able to help in areas where we have access.
Um, but the main concern is in areas where we don't, Which are the conflict hotspots,
Uh, like Khartoum,
the country's capital, which is pretty much in the centre,
and and also now Jazeera state,
where conflict spilled over in the middle of December,
as well as in, uh, different parts of the Darfur,
especially South Darfur and North Darfur, where we have not been able to get, uh,
assistance through
since around June of last year.
So it's extremely concerning,
um, and and
the issue of access and and actually ascertaining how how many Children
are suffering from malnutrition in these areas is also just as difficult,
because we simply don't have access.
Um, due to the ongoing conflict and these access constraints
Thanks very much, Lenny.
Uh, and, uh, we have a question again from Catherine Fianca.
And I know that you've asked for the notes to be sent. Katherine. So
But please, uh, pose a question if you have one.
Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Orlando.
Just to remind the spokesperson that when they send us notes through the chat,
we are not always able to copy and paste them.
So it would be really helpful to just mail them to unis or directly, uh,
to the group of of UN. Um
um, correspondents,
uh, I I'd like to come, uh, Lenny back.
Also, S, uh, to the Sudanese refugees that are leaving
for chad or for, uh, car.
Uh, could you give us or for other countries, uh, DR Congo also.
So, um, could you tell us also give us some, uh, uh
details about it
because, in fact, the they're leaving their country Sudan, because, um,
the situation is is is terrible.
But in fact, they become a burden for countries that have already,
uh, difficulties.
Thank you. Thanks. K and I should just mention that William of UN
HCR is also online, so I don't know if William you had anything to add. Please.
Uh, please just chime in.
Ok, um,
maybe, uh, Lenny, if you wanna start off with any comment on that?
Yeah. So,
as I said before, 1.7 million people have fled Sudan crossing borders.
It is not just refugees.
It's actually also returnees that are going
back to South Sudan who were previously refugees
in Sudan.
Uh, and as you rightly mentioned,
the resources in these places are extremely stretched.
Um, there are around 500,000, um, people who fled parts of Darfur
into Chad,
uh, where our operations there are also facing extreme funding shortfalls,
which has made it difficult to provide,
uh, to consistently plan assistance.
Um, for those refugees that are crossing the border from Darfur, um,
we can get you an exact funding figure.
Um, after the briefing,
Um, but, uh, this is basic. This is stretching the resources, um, E, especially in,
um, the countries and neighbouring countries in the region. Who where?
Where resources are already,
um, so low and where, especially in places like South Sudan,
the context is already so fragile.
Lenny, thanks very much.
Uh, for that I'm not sure if there are any further questions I don't see.
That's the case. So I'd like to thank you very, very much.
This is indeed a very tragic situation, which, uh,
we need to be, uh
we need to have spotlight.
So thanks very much for your important intervention today.
And please do join us at any point in time
and good luck.
Uh, I'm not sure if Jens has anything to add. I would like to thank you as well, Jens.
As always for joining us here. Uh, we'll now shift to we have two more. Um quick.
Uh, briefings one, from FA O.
We have Maximo Torero who is, as you know, FA O,
chief economist who joins us from Rome.
He's going to speak with us about the FA O
Food Price index monthly update on global food commodity prices.
Afterwards, we have a brief announcement from David Hirsch
of the ITU. But firstly to you, maximum
and thank you for joining us. Thank you.
No, thank you. Thank you very much.
And it's pretty complex to present this in the middle of
the two cases that we just heard. But in any case, so,
uh, this is, uh, the F
Food price index that is released, uh, at 10 a.m. this morning in Rome.
Um, following on this on its 2023 trajectory. The FA O Index price index decline
in January by 1% standing 10.8 0.4 below its value on a year ago and 26.4% below
the peak reach in March 2022.
the decline in the F FA O food price index
in January were led by decreasing the price for cereals
and meat,
which offset the increase in rice prices and sugar prices.
The key drivers, uh,
of the food price movements in 2024 and it's important to understand
that these are commodity prices, which is different,
different to the final prices that you consume at
the retail or wholesale market.
So the first driver is that global wheat export prices decline in January,
driven mostly by strong competition among exporters
and the arrival of recently harvested
supplies in the Southern Hemisphere countries,
while those of maize fell sharply, reflecting improved crop conditions
and the start of the harvest in Argentina combined
with larger supplies in the United States of America.
By contrast, uh, the commodity which is still a concern is Rice,
which rose 1.2% in January,
reflecting the strong pace of the Thai
and Pakistan achievement of higher quality indica rice
and additional purchases by Indonesia.
Palm oil prices were driven by seasonal
peak UH lower seasonally lower production
in May,
producing countries and concerns of
unfavourable weather conditions in Malaysia,
an increase in imported money slightly pushed by sunflower seeds, oil prices
and, by contrast, international soy and rape. Seed oil prices decline
on an account of prospects of large supplies from South America
and lingering ample availabilities in Europe respectively.
In the 36th sector,
international price quotations for butter and whole milk
powder increased largely due to the increasing demand
from nation buyers,
nearly upsetting declines in those for skim milk powder and cheese.
As for the meat, uh,
abundant supplies from the exporting countries drove prices of poultry
bovine and pig meat lower.
By contrast,
international of wine meat prices increase on on high global import demand
and lower supplies of animals for slaughter in lasagna.
Sugar prices increased slightly, uh,
underpinned by concerns over likely impact of below average rates
in Brazil on sugar cane crops are harvested from April,
coupled with
unfavourable production prospects in Thailand
and in India.
So just to summarise uh,
we are seeing an improvement in the global prices. El Nino impacts still are not yet,
uh, Rice price remains the exception,
and El Nino is affecting rice and cool, affecting the future.
But let's hope that the prospects improve.
Uh, the cereal production seems on
Uh, and we have 2836 million tonnes,
up 1.2% from 2022 according to the new projections
of the latest cereal supply and demand breath,
which is also released today.
So yet there are some potential chocks, uh, for example, where we are observing
in the chipping cost, uh, Panama
Cano. Because of lack of water, Uh,
and this is affecting the mobility of of of, of vessels,
the red, uh, sea and many inland waterways. Uh, which
we are observing the potential increase in
risks and therefore that affects immediately.
Transportation costs
and mobility, velocity of mobility and risk, uh, and insurance.
And this could affect, uh, future prices.
And FA O always will continue to monitor, uh,
significant developments to provide timely analysis
on the vulnerability of global food markets and implications on food security.
So let me stop there and more than happy to answer any question.
Thank you very much. Much. Garcias Maximo, for this update.
Do you have any questions
I don't see? That's the case. I think, uh, you were very, very comprehensive.
Very thorough. So thanks once again. And, uh, you're always welcome, Uh,
joining us here at this press briefing. Maximo,
thank you so much.
We will not turn to David last, but certainly not least. Uh, David Hirsch
of the International Telecommunications Union has an update.
Media registration for IT USA I for good is now open.
You've made my announcement for me.
Thank you for inviting me up here, but I'll reiterate,
um, in no uncertain terms that Yes, uh, media media registration for, uh,
IT U's next edition of its A I for good.
Uh, global summit 2024
was opened.
Uh, the event will take place at C IC G here in Geneva
from 30 to 31 May. That's the main event. There are other events
that are being scheduled around this and during,
um and the planning for that continues, we'll make sure that we update as that goes.
That would,
uh, include as well on the 29th of May
in a I governance day.
Um, although many of the details are still coming together on the activities,
there are already a lot of details on the website.
So please do check the I for good website for speakers,
for exhibitors and for programmes that are being planned.
We pledged to you to make the registration process as seamless and easy as possible.
And we look forward to seeing you, uh, at that event,
all the details are in the release.
Thank you, Elena.
Great. Thanks very much. Uh, Jamie has a question for you.
Thanks, David. Thanks for coming to see us.
a I for good.
Uh, a I has been causing a lot of concerns in a lot of different quarters.
I'm wondering what, uh, ITU sort of position is on that.
I mean, people are concerned about,
uh, job displacement. They're concerned about, uh,
uh, intellectual property being impinged upon.
Are those kinds of subjects gonna be brought up? And then,
uh, could you also, uh, give us a glimpse as to who might be coming?
Obviously, there's some big players in the A I space.
I'm thinking of the head of Microsoft.
I'm thinking about the head of, uh, of, uh, open a I and others.
Are you going to get the real corporate players that really can make an impact?
And really, uh, beyond just the
the United Nations International Organisation and and advocacy groups that, uh,
have, uh, voices to express on this matter.
Thank you.
Thank you. Jamie
I. I think that to your first question, I think there's been no, uh,
lack of consideration that this is a complex space within to work.
And that's the That's the role that ITU has played and seeks to play in this space.
This is,
um ITO said consistently that this is not something that any
one organisation can solve or entity can solve on its own.
So it's committed to serving as a convenor of forum for activities like a I for good.
Uh, it is a multi stakeholder event, and ITU has been the centre
of the A I conversation be
with a I for good,
but also as part of the inter agency Working
group and other activities that are going on.
Uh, I would also remind that
the priority of a I for good is to ensure
that a I and associated technologies are used for good to
use to help advance and achieve the sustainable development goals.
So that is very much a focus
and comes very much with the reality that no,
again no organisation can do that alone.
that that leads to your second question.
I would
more direct you to the list,
that are already starting to be populated on
the website and as well as to colleagues.
But yes, the the short answer is that yes, industry will be involved.
The UN system is going to be involved.
Um, we we know that the society at large,
um, needs to be involved.
And that includes, uh, the media,
that the one that are interested in these these
these activities and that raise the profile of them,
and that is an open activity. And we we do.
We do impress upon people to to register through the site.
Can I just follow? Do you expect Sam Altman to come
if you you the speakers are on the list for that are up there right now. Sam Altman is,
uh, for the moment, scheduled to appear remotely and to present remotely
on the site. But I would say that that name and others are all on the list.
That list is subject to change, as are many lists. So we're not,
um I can't make any sort of promises relative to how that looks.
List shaped up by 30th of May. But as of now, uh, there are many names on the list and
and meant more to come.
That's great. Thank you very much. David. Appreciate that update.
Um, any questions? Any further questions for David?
No, I don't see if that's the case.
Thank you once again
for this flagging this important event.
Uh, before we wrap up just a couple of quick announcements from me just to
keep you on track for the human rights treaty bodies.
We have the committee on the Elimination of discrimination against, uh,
the Elimination of discrimination against Women C
A that is
re reviewing today. The report of Turkmenistan
and the Committee on the Rights of the
Child will conclude its 95th session this afternoon
after having uh issued its concluding observations for
the following six reports during this session.
Republic of Congo, Bulgaria, Senegal, the Russian Federation,
Lithuania and South Africa.
The Universal periodic review will also conclude its 45th session, uh,
this afternoon, after adopting reports the remaining reports for Belize, Chad,
the Congo and Malta
and Fri Oh, no, Friday, which today is Friday.
Sunday The fourth of February is is is coming Sunday,
and this is also the International Day of human fraternity.
I don't know if anyone knew that, but it's an important day, of course, uh,
among other things,
that we celebrate the spirit of mutual respect and so
the day that binds us together as one human family.
These values today are being severely tested.
Our world is marred by divisions, conflicts and inequalities.
This is what the SG, the secretary general, says in his message.
He calls on people to come together, protect and uphold human rights,
combat hate speech and violent extremism,
and push back against those who proffer from fear.
Message is more poignant and meaningful today more than ever.
So that message is in your inbox. And unless you have any questions for me
going once going twice,
I would like to wish you a very nice weekend