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UN Geneva Press Briefing - 20 February 2024


20 February 2024

Alessandra Vellucci, Director of 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 Refugee Agency, the United Nations Development Programme, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.


Third year of Ukraine war

Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), said that the second anniversary was approaching of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in violation of the UN Charter. United Nations reiterated its call for an end to the conflict.

Jaco Cilliers, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, speaking from Kyiv, said that UNDP had launched a new study on the impact of the war on micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Ukraine. The report underscored the significant role MSMEs played in the Ukrainian economy -- they accounted for 99.98 percent of all business entities and provided 74 percent of all jobs. A key finding of the report showed that MSMEs that had suspended operations at the beginning of 2022 had shown remarkable resilience, with 82 percent of them having partially resumed their activities by the end of 2023. Businesses in Ukraine were cautiously optimistic about their prospects in 2024, although their main concerns continued to be the unpredictable situation, low demand, and labour shortages. Still, businesses were not planning further staff reductions, which indicated that there was the potential for further economic recovery. 

Companies also said they planned to gradually put substantial unused capacity back into operation and are ready to increase turnover by about 50 percent in 2024 if demand arose. In 2023, companies had gradually restored their capacity utilization levels; with the weighted average rate of company capacity utilization being 53.4. According to the forecast, this weighted average percentage should increase to 56 percent in 2024, informed Mr. Cilliers. Almost 80 percent of the companies mostly relied on domestic loans and were not looking into attracting foreign investments. Businesses in eastern and southern Ukraine were facing 1.5 times higher losses than those in western parts of the country but were still keeping a positive outlook for 2024. Businesses were planning to retain staff, but had several concerns, including on the deterioration of the economy. UNDP’s approach was rooted in resilience and sustainability; the UNDP’s budget was USD 140 million over next four years.

More details can be found here

Philippe Leclerc, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Regional Director for Europe, speaking from Athens, stated that, after two years of full-scale war in Ukraine, amidst massive destruction and ongoing shelling and missile attacks across the country, the future for millions who had been displaced remained uncertain. As war raged on, humanitarian conditions remained dire inside Ukraine, where some 40 per cent of the population needed humanitarian and protection support. For many, this was not the first encounter with war and displacement as this week also marked ten years since the beginning of the war in Eastern Ukraine. There were currently almost 6.5 million refugees from Ukraine who had sought refuge globally, while some 3.7 million people remained forcibly displaced inside the country.

According to preliminary findings from a recent study by UNHCR, the majority of Ukrainian refugees and internally displaced people surveyed (65 and 72 per cent, respectively) still expressed a desire to return home one day. However, that proportion had declined, with more expressing uncertainty due to the ongoing war. Those displaced who were surveyed cited the prevailing insecurity in Ukraine as the main factor inhibiting their return, while other concerns included a lack of economic opportunities and housing. A key priority for UNHCR was to repair houses in Ukraine so that people can remain in their homes. Worryingly, a significant proportion of Ukrainian refugees surveyed – some 59 per cent – indicated that they might be compelled to return home even if this was not their preferred choice due to the ongoing war, if they continued to face challenges in host countries, mainly related to work opportunities and legal status. UNHCR urged host States to maintain a flexible approach to refugees’ short-term visits to Ukraine, and that refugees’ legal status and associated rights in a host country were not to be affected by visits lasting less than three months. The protection and needs of refugees had to be ensured until they can voluntarily and sustainably return home, in safety and dignity. UNHCR was appealing for USD 993.3 million – USD 599 million for inside Ukraine and the remainder to support refugees in host countries. The Ukraine appeal was currently just 13 per cent funded, warned Mr. Leclerc. Full briefing note is available here

Dušan Vujašanin, Head of the Central Tracing Agency bureau for the international armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), informed that, as of today, some 23,000 persons were reported to the ICRC as missing, the number which kept growing. The Geneva Conventions obliged parties to conflict to put in place information systems, which had an obligation to systemize all protected persons, such as prisoners of war, civilians, alive or dead. Such bureaus existed in both Russia and Ukraine and the two national information bureaus were under obligation to share with the Central Tracing Agency the information in their possession. This system, while imperfect, was functioning, and the CTA was regularly receiving information from the two sides. ICRC had been contacted well over 100,000 times by families of missing persons; some 31,000 requests for search for missing persons had been opened over the past two years. ICRC was receiving information both from families of missing persons and the parties to the conflict. Fate of about 8,000 persons had been clarified thus far. 

Mr. Vujašanin stressed that 23,000 families were still waiting for the news about what had happened to their loved ones. Families continued to visit and call the ICRC, trying to find out what had happened. The ambiguity and not knowing the fate of family members represented a heavy burden. This was a long-term investment, and it would take years to resolve the pending cases. 

Responding to questions from the media, Mr. Vujašanin, for the ICRC, said that the ICRC had a constructive relationship with both Ukrainian and Russian national information bureaus. He reiterated that the ICRC had been contacted over 115,000 times, by 31,000 families, as many families had called multiple times. ICRC was working confidentially with the two parties on the issue of prisoners of war. Mr. Vujašanin estimated that by the end of this year the number of open cases could grow to 30,000 from the current number of 23,000. The system currently in place had been used only in World War II and the Gulf War, so there was not that much earlier knowledge to build upon. So far, the ICRC had visited some 3,000 prisoners of war. Among the 8,000 resolved cases, there were both Ukrainian and Russian nationals; a very small proportion of them were children. Families had approached the ICRC with requests to trace missing children, but in relatively small numbers. ICRC also received lists from the authorities and actioned upon them. 

Mr. Leclerc, for UNHCR, answering questions, said that the UNHCR did not have a chance to systematically visit all places where Ukrainian refugees were hosted in Russia. Following Russia’s attack against Ukraine two years earlier, Ukraine had started mobilizing men to defend the country. A new mobilization law in Ukraine which was also addressed to male refugees, was a subject of many discussions in the country. He further said that States had different ways of organizing support to refugees. In Russia, UNHCR did not have a strong operational role; refugee camps were run by the authorities. Nonetheless, UNHCR had the role to ensure that the 1951 Convention was applied correctly; UNHCR teams regularly visited some camps across the country but did not have the capacity to visit them all. More than 30 percent of UNHCR’s budget was supported by the USA, he explained, through the State Department’s budget, which had not yet been approved by the US Congress.

Global measles situation

Dr. Natasha Crowcroft, Senior Technical Adviser, Measles and Rubella, at the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking from Cairo, said that the WHO was concerned about current upward trends in measles cases which was happening in all but one of its regions (the Americas). Latest global data on the number of cases reported to WHO were of 306,291 cases reported in 2023 compared with 171,156 cases in 2022, an increase of 79 percent. Dr. Crowcroft said that 92 percent of children who died from measles lived within 24 percent of the world’s population. More than half of all the countries in the world would be classified as being at high or highest risk of measles outbreaks by the end of 2024 unless urgent preventive action was taken. Nearly half of those countries were low- or middle-income countries. An estimated 142 million children under 5 years of age were susceptible to measles, and there was a huge inequity issue, as 73 percent of those children lived in low- or middle-income countries. Measles prevention required 95 percent of children to receive two doses of measles vaccine. Global measles vaccination coverage was only 83 percent and had not recovered to the level reached in 2019 of 86 percent. 

Dr. Crowcroft stressed that deaths from measles should not be acceptable in 2024. Parents, communities, governments, and global partners needed to raise up measles prevention in their priorities and take urgent action to make sure all children be protected. Every child should be fully vaccinated. Low-income countries needed to prioritize prevention of measles in their plans to catch up children with immunization, because measles would come back quickly if action was not taken and could be devastating in vulnerable communities. Global partners needed to consider the needs of middle-income countries that were falling behind and did not have access to the financial support available to low-income countries.

Answering questions, Dr. Crowcroft explained that infants in the first year of life were most vulnerable. Anyone with a compromised immune system and pregnant women were also susceptible. People of ages anywhere in the world could die of measles, she said. An increase in measles was observed across the world; weak health systems were the primary reason. Security in some parts of the world, access to health care, and disinformation also played a role. Dr. Crowcroft did not have any information on measles in Gaza, which used to have a good vaccination system in place. Vaccinations were preventing millions of measles cases in the world every year. The worry right now was the large gaps in immunizations, so the numbers of new cases could go up and be comparable to 2019. It was still difficult to estimate the number of deaths from measles in 2023, but there was likely to have been an increase compared to 2022. Generally, there were no issues with the supply of measles vaccines; the problem usually arose from the countries’ side – financing or logistics wise. 

Health situation in Gaza

Tarik Jašarević, for the World Health Organization (WHO), informed that the WHO had led two life-saving missions to transfer 32 critical patients, including two children, from Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza on 18-19 February, amid ongoing hostilities and access restrictions. The high-risk missions had been conducted in close partnership with the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The team had also provided limited supplies of essential medicines and food for the remaining patients and staff who were otherwise cut off from aid. Four Red Crescent ambulances had ensured the safe transportation of the patients, who had undergone medical assessment and triage under the coordination of the hospital director. 

Nasser Hospital had no electricity or running water, and medical waste and garbage were creating a breeding ground for disease. WHO staff said that the destruction around the hospital was ‘indescribable.’ The area was surrounded by burnt and destroyed buildings, heavy layers of debris, with no stretch of intact road. An estimated 130 sick and injured patients and at least 15 doctors and nurses remained inside the hospital. WHO feared for the safety and well-being of the patients and health workers remaining in the hospital and warns that further disruption to lifesaving care for the sick and injured would lead to more deaths. Efforts to facilitate further patient referrals amidst the ongoing hostilities were in process. Mr. Jašarević shared stories of patients laying in the corridors in darkness.

The dismantling and degradation of the Nasser Medical Complex was a massive blow to Gaza’s health system. Facilities in the south are already operating well beyond maximum capacity and were barely able to receive more patients. WHO repeated its calls for the protection of patients, health workers, health infrastructure, and civilians. Hospitals ought not be militarized, misused, or attacked. WHO reiterated its calls for all parties to uphold international humanitarian law and the principles of precaution, distinction, and proportionality, and to ensure sustained access so hospitals can continue providing lifesaving care.

Alessandra Vellucci, for the UN Information Service (UNIS), referred to a joint WHO/UNICEF/WFP press statement on the malnutrition of children in Gaza Strip.

Answering questions, Mr. Jašarević said that, ideally, the WHO would like to see the Nasser Hospital, as well as other health facilities in Gaza, protected, rebuilt, and properly supplied. This could only be achieved if there was a ceasefire and unimpeded access to health workers, patients, and humanitarians. He encouraged the journalists to view the footage recorded by a WHO colleague at the Nasser Hospital the previous day. Fighting was still ongoing nearby and the access to the hospital, as well as moving from one hospital wing to another, was close to impossible. 


Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service, informed that on 21 February at 10 am, there would be a press conference on the 55th regular session of the Human Rights Council. Speaker would be Omar Zniber, President of the Human Rights Council. 

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights was beginning this morning its review of the report of Indonesia and would conclude this afternoon its review of the report of Iraq.

The Committee on Enforced Disappearances was concluding this morning its review of the report of Cambodia. This afternoon, it would open its dialogue with Burkina Faso under article 29(4) of the Convention.

The Conference on Disarmament was having this morning a public plenary meeting, the first under the presidency of Indonesia.

Finally, 20 February was the World Social Justice Day, on which occasion the International Labour Organization was conducting several events around the world, including in Geneva.

Good morning. Welcome
to this press briefing of the UN Information Service here in Geneva. Today
is Tuesday,
20th February
and we have a few speakers today with us
to talk about the situation in Ukraine.
As you know,
we are approaching the tragic two year mark
of Russia's fully scale invasion of Ukraine.
Launched the in violation of the UN Charter and international law.
The war continues to inflict untold suffering on the Ukrainian people
and have profound global implications.
The war in Ukraine must end now in line with the UN Charter,
international law and resolution of the UN General Assembly, something
that we've been saying
and to give us an idea of the situation
on the ground and for the millions of people displaced we have today with us.
who is the
resident representative who is joining us from Ukraine.
She, a
has brought to us Philippe le
regional director for Europe, who is joining us from Athens.
And on my left we have Dusan
the head of the Central Tracing Agency
Bureau for the international armed conflict between Russia
and Ukraine. Of the
So we will hear about this brief first, and I would like to start with Mr C,
resident representative from Ukraine.
Sir, you have the floor, Please, if you want to give some introductory remarks
and then we will go to the question and answer at the end of the three briefings.
Thank you.
Thank you very much. And, uh, it's also a great opportunity for for me to be here.
Uh, let me just briefly introduce myself. Uh, my name is
As was mentioned. I'm the resident representative
of the United Nations Development Programme here in Ukraine.
Uh, and today we are at U NDP
released a new study conducted on the impact of the war on micro,
small and medium size enterprises, or M SME S
in Ukraine.
It is being launched at a side event in Tokyo, which is part of the Japan
Ukraine Conference for the Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction.
M SME S is really the backbone of the Ukraine
economy and comprises 99.98% of all businesses and entities,
and it provides 74%
of all jobs.
So this study is really important also for
economic growth and future opportunities in Ukraine.
Some of the key findings of the report and maybe I'll just mention a couple of them.
And it indicates that by the end of 2023
82 82% of the M SME S that had suspended operations
at the beginning of 2022 with the war had shown
remarkable resilience by partially resuming their activities within six months.
The recovery is mirrored in the GDP growth,
with a preliminary estimate of 5% for 2023
a sharp reversal from previous years decline,
which tells also a very good story of economic recovery in Ukraine.
Factors driving this recovery include improvements in energy supply,
external financial aid and growth in construction, trade,
agriculture as well as in the processing industry.
Despite challenges related to transport and logistics,
export blockades and economic sanctions,
Ukraine has actually managed to maintain microeconomic stability and the economy
and the economy is projected to grow into the future.
Businesses show cautious optimism for 2024 which is also great to see
and naming and naming their main concerns as the unpredictable situation,
low demand and labour shortages.
However, they are not planning further staff reductions,
indicating the potential for economic recovery.
Companies plan to gradually put sustainable unused capacity back into
operations and are ready to increase turnover by about 50%
in 2024 if demand arises.
To support the growth in business.
Almost 50% of these companies, uh only need small investment at the level of 30,000
to 300,000 over three years.
Despite the war, businesses adapted and maintained some financial capacity,
but all are hesitant to seek additional
financing due due to the unpredictable environment.
Almost 80% of companies are not considering attracting foreign investment,
but instead mostly rely on domestic loans.
We also see this as a missed opportunity within the framework
and what the potential is for businesses to also grow further.
Business in eastern and southern Ukraine face 1.5
times higher losses than those in the West,
but are maintaining a positive recovery outlook for 2024.
Every second entrepreneur said that their
businesses wouldn't survive without government assistance.
They said credits, employment programmes,
tax reduction and grants have been crucial for survival,
with a quarter of businesses benefiting from
and shown interest in continued support.
And lastly businesses expect a decline in orders but expect the market
They are planning to retain staff which is great to see,
but have concerns about labour shortages,
wage increases and the deterioration of the economy.
Maybe just to say what this also means for us at U NDP. In
response to rapidly evolving needs of the country,
U NDP has developed a comprehensive offer to
support the economic recovery in the country.
The offer aims to catalyse and revitalise Ukraine's economy
through targeted intervention across three critical objectives.
Our approach is rooted in inclusivity, resilience and sustainability,
ensuring that every step we take contributes towards a stronger,
more vibrant Ukraine.
The required budget for U NDP to keep afloat.
The SME sector in Ukraine is estimated in the region of 100 and 40 million
over the next four years,
and our ongoing work to support the private sector is
centred on the development of an enabling regulatory framework,
capacity building for business membership
organisations and the enhancement of the
regional employment services as well
as targeted assistance to entrepreneurship.
Thank you very much for those opportunities.
My team will share the notes, the report and the economic offer by
Thanks a lot back to you.
Thank you very much, sir.
Very appreciated.
I just wanted to call the attention of the journalist
to the updated joint rapid damage and its assessment,
which has been released by the UN this month alongside the government of Ukraine,
the World Bank Group and the European
Commission on the reconstruction of the country.
go now to our colleague of
Philippe Le,
the regional director for Europe who is calling in from Athens. You have the floor
good morning
indeed from from Athens, which is also hosting,
uh, many, uh, Ukrainian refugees.
And so, after two years of, uh, of the full scale war in Ukraine,
uh, I think it's important to remind
all that uncertainty prevails among the feelings of the refugees,
the internal displaced persons and the returning Ukrainians to Ukraine,
as we have seen over the past year.
But at the same time, I think we need to remind ourselves that not
only has it been two years,
but many Ukrainians have been facing displacement and war, uh, from 10 years ago,
as we are also marking the 10 years of, uh,
of the beginning of the war in eastern Ukraine.
And this uncertainty prevails within the refugee population,
the Ukrainian population
living in Ukraine and who have remained there.
As you may know,
6.5 million refugees from Ukraine have sought refuge in mostly
in Europe but also in other parts of the world.
And 3.7 million people remain forcibly displaced in their country.
We have just,
uh, done, uh, a study, um, questioning, uh, many refugees, uh, ID,
PS and returning refugees to to Ukraine 9900
of them over January and February to look
at how they see their future. And the report will soon be released.
But we can already share the preliminary findings
of it. And again,
uh, most of them, uh, are still believing that they will return home at one stage,
Uh, 65% among the refugees and 72% among,
uh, the internally displaced persons who were, uh,
who were asked this this question.
This is, uh, a declining,
uh, response, Uh, as, uh, with two years more of war, uncertainty prevails.
And people are not sure that they will be able to return at one stage
in their in their country and prevailing secu
insecurity is the main factor of obviously,
which is preventing people from thinking of
returning as the missile missile attacks continue.
The shelling and the massive destruction has taken place in parts of the country.
Uh, this is why UIR is continuing to have,
as a priority operational priority to repair homes so that people whose uh,
living conditions have been affected by selling can,
uh, quickly return and live, uh, in their homes again. 27,500 homes have been
repaired. Uh, since this uh programme started,
uh, but what we also hear from,
uh, the refugees who have returned or, uh, the ID PS is that,
uh, not only, uh, security is an issue,
but lack of economic opportunities and housing
and, uh, the lack of
economic opportunities and in particular, employment,
uh, is, uh is, uh, an issue for many of those who have returned
at the same time. It's good to hear Jacob, uh,
mention that,
uh, there are, uh,
labour shortages and hopefully this will be This will
enable more of the returnees to find an employment.
But the situation is very different.
From oblast to oblast, from province to province.
Um, I I think
What? What is also, uh, worrying. Despite the temporary protection which has been,
uh, provided to refugees
in most EU member states and Moldova,
is that 59% of of the of the refugees
that we asked have difficulties or feel that they might
be compelled to return to Ukraine for the wrong reasons
because they are having difficulties in their asylum countries.
So this this is very important that both in Ukraine itself, uh,
conditions to enable a return to take place are, uh are are sustained,
but also that people who cannot go back at this stage in Ukraine,
particularly the elderly,
those who are not having unemployment in exile are assisted and continued and
continue to be included in the national programmes of the asylum states,
in particular those with visibilities.
what we also observe and have seen in this refugee situation is
that family separation is a very important dimension of the exile.
Many of the women, the elderly, the Children who have arrived in refugee, uh,
in asylum countries are separated from men who continue to fight,
and we also continue to see and this is even an increase uh,
50% of the people we have asked are going back from time to time to Ukraine.
And we ask, usually for less than than three months, to check property,
to check family members to look at prospects of return.
And it's essential that we can continue to ask states to be flexible
in allowing,
despite temporary protection or refugee status,
that people may be authorised and go back on
a regular way in a regular fashion to their
country so that their connection to the state remains
so that they can see their family members.
This will all enable if peace comes at one stage,
uh, the the return and the reintegration
of many Ukrainian refugees. So
this, uh, I just want to stress also that what is continues to be important to allow,
uh, persons to remain in particular in the provinces affected by
the conflict. The
Kon Kharkiv zapor
that I visited very recently, uh, with uh, the High Commissioner Feli
Gandhi in January is to continue to support that resilience that we have observed by
insisting on the humanitarian support in particular in
these provinces to be maintained despite the war,
many of the people want to remain in places which are close to the front lines.
So we will need this
generosity that we have seen all over the world continue
for Ukraine as long as the war continues. This is why
UNHCR is appealing
for 993 million,
including almost 600 million for inside Ukraine to support
refugees in those countries and IDPs and returning refugees.
It is essential
that this support continues. The resilience that we witness in Ukraine
cannot be forever but needs to be sustained from outside.
again, the the main message that we all want to, uh,
to give at this almost well at this anniversary of the of the full stage war
in Ukraine is the need for continuous solidarity so that people
can entertain the hope of being able to return to Ukraine
in the forthcoming future future or
as we often see in other refugee situations in years to come.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much. Uh, Mr le Claire. And I'll turn now to my left. Uh, Lucian,
you have an update on the situation of the visiting
person and your work about it. Please.
All right,
Good morning, everyone. My name is Duhan
and I work with the
ICC as the head of the
Central Tracing Agency Bureau for the international armed
conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
So today I would like to take the opportunity to say
a few words about a very important issue of missing persons.
As of today, there are still 23,000
persons who are reported as missing
to the
and that number keeps growing on a monthly basis.
And if you allow me in a few minutes,
I would like to explain a little bit the mechanism that is put in place to
address the issue of missing persons and maybe reflect a little bit on this very,
very important issue that brings of course, as you can imagine,
a lot of anguish to the families.
Geneva conventions are very explicit when it
comes to the obligations and systems that
need to be put in place in situations of international armed conflict at this
those obligations are on the
state parties of the conflict,
which is basically the need for the authorities to
set in place something which is called National Information Bureau
it is very important. These are systems.
These are entities both in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine
that have been set up at the onset of the conflict,
who have for the obligation to centralise
all information about protected persons in their hands,
protected persons who are nationals of the adverse party.
And that means collecting
centralising all information about prisoners of war,
about civilian interns and all the other protected persons
alive and also dead.
So today we have a national information Bureau
in the Russian Federation and National Information Bureau
in Ukraine who are doing exactly that.
Geneva Conventions also
for the obligation of the
to create
the bureau for which I work, which is the Central Tracing Agency Bureau.
And our role is
that of a neutral intermediary.
So basically,
the two national information bureaus in the
Russian Federation in Ukraine have for the obligation
to share
with us with the
with the Central Tracing Agency
Bureau all the information that they have in
their hands about prisoners of war civilians alive
and that
that system has been put in place. As of
uh, it's been two years now that the system has been put in place.
The system functions. Is
it perfect? It's not, but it does function We receive on a regular basis
from the two parties to the conflict.
At the same time,
we have families who are contacting the
whether in Ukraine, whether in Russia,
whether here in Geneva but also National Red Cross and Red Crescent societies.
Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, German. A
number of almost 50 national societies families are contacting us on a daily basis
searching for their family members.
IC has been contacted in these
two years,
uh, over 100,000 times by different families.
And in that period, we have opened
over 31,000 requests
for search for missing persons. So families reported to us 31,000 missing persons.
in our very specific
role, where we are that neutral in the intermediary in the middle,
basically on one hand,
we receive information on prisoners of war and protected civilians in the
hands of the parties of the conflict directly from the parties themselves,
and we receive information
from the families about the persons they are searching for,
which allows us
to match that information.
Thanks to this access to information
out of 31,000
persons who are reported as missing to us,
we were able to clarify the fate of 8000 of these persons
and go back to the families and inform them of their fate and whereabouts.
And even talking now about it gives me goose bumps
because and I assure you that we had families,
mothers who were receiving news of the fate of their Children
after 238 months, learning that they are alive
What is really important is that
we know that our job does not end there.
The fact that 8000 families have received news about their loved ones,
it's not over because we still have 23,000 families who still do
not have the news of what happened to their loved ones.
And that's what we focus our energy on,
with the national information bureaus
in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine,
together with
delegations in the two countries, together with national Red Cross societies,
Ukrainian Red Cross, Russian Red Cross and other national societies.
And that's where we are putting our efforts.
We have families who continue visiting us.
We have families who continue calling us and trying,
trying to
learn what has happened
with their loved ones.
I think it's I'll finish with this. Needless to say that
the impact that this has on families,
this ambiguous loss of not knowing what has happened to our family members
is extremely,
extremely difficult
on these families.
And we also know from past experiences of past conflicts
that this is an engagement that will take
to accompany the families to continue
the search.
For us, this is a long term if you want investment together with families,
to be by the side of the families,
to work together with the authorities and hopefully
provide answers to as many families as possible.
Thank you.
Sorry. Thank you very much. Lucian
and Jens is not here. But if you need an update from
is able to answer your questions.
I think you've seen already what they have shared yesterday
about the situation in Ukraine and the surge of hostilities during the weekend.
So I'll open the floor to question, I think
hurry. Upper left from Riano. Voss.
This is the first one.
have a lot of questions for.
HCR for, uh, IC IC. So I don't know how you want me to do
the easiest? Because I've got other requests for the floor.
So just maybe ask your questions and then I'll give the
floor to one and the other one after the other.
We start with IC IC.
have three questions. The first one.
How would you rate your Cooper operation with the Russians
Authority during this mechanism that you are talking about?
My second question is, have you been able to
to verify the list that the Russian side provides after an
shut down near Belgorod and Russia claims that there
were 65% of the war and published a list
through these mechanisms,
are you able to verify
if it's true or not?
And my last question is that yesterday
we received a press release about this mechanism
and in this press release, you told that
from February received about 106,000
requests for research.
You are talking about 23,000 that are not closed and 8000 that you found.
So does that mean that some requests
were about the same person
who was missing?
And for
good fun?
the mechanism that has been put in place with the
national information bureaus from the Russian Federation and Ukraine works.
I would say that we have constructive relationships
with both entities and we're constantly working on
if you want to fine tuning and improving
that system,
which for me it's already, I would say a success.
I said, I always talk about, you know, glass half full, half empty.
I would call it glass glass half full.
So there's always as in anywhere.
There's always ways of improving things on our side, on the side of the authorities,
and we work together
with them on that,
Um, you you had a question about the numbers.
I think that there was a slight misinterpretation in that statement yesterday.
We have been contacted over 115,000 times,
but multiple times not by 115,000 families.
We were contacted by 31,000 families, more or less.
There are people who call us every day.
There is a father who is searching for his son,
who doesn't have mobile network reception where he lives.
He has to climb to the building of a nearby building to get the reception
He calls us every day
just to check that he didn't miss a call from us
in case we tried to reach him, and he didn't have the network.
So that's why the number of calls we receive is much higher than the number of people.
He also asked about a list of prisoners of war and the plane that was down
We work bilaterally and confidentially with
the authorities on obtaining information on
all protected persons and their fate,
including the prisoners of war and including prisoners of war who might have died
in order to confirm that information and share that with the other parties.
So we work on it with the Russian National Information Bureau.
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Detro, Reuters.
Um, we also
make a some form of
like that,
you mentioned the, um
the need for generous generosity,
uh, to continue for Ukraine as long as the war continues.
And, uh, the appeal of UN HCR for 993 million.
Um, I'm just wondering how that's going, Uh, and if you hope to fulfil that appeal,
um, And if you are seeing signs that this solidarity is is weaning is, uh is waning,
so there's maybe less of it now, given competing crisis.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
I said indeed that solidarity is required
because the humanitarian support is still needed.
Uh, again, I was mentioning,
uh, the visit we did recently in the oblast which are directly affected by the war.
But again, we know that the whole territory can be affected by war as well.
And, uh
and this is why we have asked for this 993
and particularly 600 million for inside Ukraine to
be able to continue to repair houses,
to provide
the necessary immediate humanitarian support to those who are affected,
as well as preparing for the inclusion of
national services of people who would return.
Right now,
the appeal is 13% funded,
and it's important that
that this solidarity is expressed, but it takes place at the time, As you know,
where many conflicts are are emerging on all parts of the
Uh, the High commissioner is just back from from Sudan.
Uh, the needs are extremely high, and we need all these needs to be supported.
We, of course,
Uh, very much looking at the situation in the US, which is
our main funder, Uh, globally.
So that the package that has been in this, uh, Congress, uh,
between the the the chamber of
the chamber and the senate can be released,
as it is a very important part of the support we need in Ukraine,
but also all over the world to respond to the needs of refugees.
Thank you very much. Jamie Keaton.
Sorry, Associated Press.
Thank you. Alessandra,
Um, I have two questions.
Um, one is for, um well, one for each of the, um panellists, Um, for for duchon
in particular. If we could just, um, go back to your your numbers. Um, before
you you mentioned that, uh the, uh, there are 23,000, uh,
persons who are reported as missing by IC RC.
And, uh, that number keeps growing on a monthly basis.
Could you give us a little bit more detail as to how much it's growing. Is it a,
uh, Is it, uh,
a a considerable number can And And what the rate is or the rate of changes?
Um, you also mentioned that the system functions, but it's, uh, not perfect.
Um, I'm just wondering if you could say how it could be improved.
And then, um, for, uh, Mr
LaPierre, if you could tell me a little bit.
the if you could, um,
we we asked you my colleague from, uh, ria Noves
asked the question about how, uh, IC RC would qualify Russia's
Cooper operation.
Uh, you mentioned that, uh, you don't have access to all sites? Um, of refugees.
Um um, in Russia, how would you qualify Russia's Cooper operation with UN HCR.
And, um, is that unusual that a country would, uh, deny access to refugees?
Is that, uh is that a common mo?
Most other countries, I imagine, would grant that, uh,
that access, Thank you very much.
Can I do some?
So we currently have
23,000 open cases of missing persons,
and we estimate that by the end of this year, that number will grow to around 30,000.
So we have between 501,000 new cases
that we receive on a monthly basis,
either by our delegation Ukraine,
the National Red Cross societies directly here or elsewhere
on the system. Why do I say the system is not perfect?
The system that has been put in place now this is the
only the second time after the World War Two that we are putting this system in place.
Which means that
you know, we all work on improving it on a daily basis because there is not a lot of
I would say inherited experience or practise experience
over the last 80 years or so.
We have launched this system
30 years ago
during the Gulf War
and so World war two, Gulf War. And now
So we work with the authorities on finding all the possible avenues
that would go to clarify the fate and whereabouts
of missing persons that would go beyond only extra
beyond exchanges of information. Only
the cases that have been
were sort of the easier ones where we had information
in the hands of the parties of the conflict.
It is much more complex to find out the whereabouts of people who are still missing
where their names do not appear
on any lists that we have access to,
which requires quite a lot of tracing work
where we are now finding ways together with the different authorities on doing that
which requires a lot of field work, which requires a lot of
information gathering from different sides,
but all with the same objective of clarifying the fate of missing persons
with the
Yes, you asked about the
the way we cooperated with the Russian Federation authorities. And, uh
and you know, I have now worked for UIR for 34 years,
and I have been working all over the world and
and indeed,
the states have different ways of organising
the support to refugees in some countries.
UECR is heavily involved in the operational support to these states to do so.
Sometimes it is,
uh uh determining
eligibility of refugee status instead of the state
or uh or or organising camps or accommodation for for the state.
But each state determines the way it implements the
Geneva Convention and how UN HCR can support.
in the Russian Federation, we do not have a strong operational role.
We are not the ones, uh, running the camps or running the programmes.
This is the decision of the Russian Federation State to do so,
and they have not requested
Uh, un
I's operational support, uh, for that,
but obviously, un
IR has a role which is beyond,
uh, an operational role.
Uh, an advocacy role, uh,
ensuring that the convention the 1951 convention is applied and and correctly.
And in the this context, we are visiting,
uh, many, uh,
collective centres and other places where
support is provided to Ukrainian refugees.
We do not have the possibility of immediately,
uh, attending to all the refugees by the small team we have in Moscow.
But it's very important that we, uh,
all over the country are able to regularly visit uh, these centres,
and this is what we do.
We do it, uh,
again with the competent authorities with the
commissioner for human Rights in particular,
Uh, so that, uh, we can directly witness and discuss, uh, with, uh,
the Ukrainian refugees on their needs on how to improve, uh,
the the support they are getting as well as, uh, being included.
in the in the society, uh, temporarily hosting them.
Thank you very much. I see Jamie as a follow up.
Thank you. Yes, I did, um, for, uh, duchan.
If I could just, um,
make sure the 23,000
, that you mentioned
the nationality are predominantly Ukrainians. Are they all Ukrainians?
Are there Russians in there? I mean, could you break it down by country?
Apologies. 23,000 is the total number of all missing persons
Ukrainian, Russian. There are also people of other nationalities, double
nationalities. I would prefer not to do the breakdown per
nationalities because as well, our role is purely humanitarian.
And I wouldn't want that to be
contending, contesting issue in any kind.
Thank you very much. I go to NC
Bruce, who is our correspondent of the New York Times.
Yeah. Thank you. Uh, I, I actually, I had a similar question to Jamie
Um, if you're not be perhaps able to tell us that the 23,000 breakdown,
maybe you could just give us an idea
of the 8000 cases that you
actually identified and resolved.
How many of those, uh, involve Russian nationals?
and I wondered also whether a lot of the, uh,
inquiries you're receiving,
uh, involve, um, Ukrainian Children who are thought to have gone to, um,
Russian Federation
and then a question for Mr Le Claire
I. I could you just confirm I that
your appeal is dependent on a package that is before Congress or you have, um,
bilateral funding from the United States?
that is separate to that. Thank you,
Our capacity to give answers
to these 8000 families is mainly based on the information
that we receive from the two national information bureaus.
And it's also based
on the information that
from its visits to prisoners of war on both sides.
So so far, we have visited 3000 prisoners of war on both sides.
And what I can say is that among 8000 persons, 8000 families who have received news
there are families
from Ukraine and there are, as well, families from the Russian Federation.
I mentioned previously that the national information bureaus
have the obligation to share with us lists of
prisoners of war and protected persons in their hands.
What they also do they share with us as well inquiries about their own citizens,
about their own citizens who are who they are looking for, who who are missing and
that includes Children.
And we do. We have received those inquiries
from the authorities.
For us, that's a top priority.
Issues of Children, not only in this specific conflict or elsewhere in the world.
Issues of missing Children are always on top of our priority
list. And we work closely with the relevant authorities on these specific cases.
We have already been involved in a number of
reunification of Children that took place,
including Children who came from the Russian Federation via Belarus to Ukraine.
Thank you very much.
Yes, Um, just to respond.
Uh, of course, Uh, it goes beyond Europe, and I'm in charge of Europe.
But of course, the United States is our
is the first donor,
uh, to UECR.
More than 30% of our budget is supported, uh,
regularly by the United States of America.
So, currently,
uh, the State Department is supposed to, uh, get additional, uh, budget, uh,
possibilities, including for the
to Ukraine,
which has not yet been voted by by Congress. And, uh,
and obviously, uh, that's, uh part of that, uh, support could possibly go
to UN CR and to other UN agencies to support
refugees in Ukraine, outside of Ukraine. And also,
uh, part of it is also humanitarian aid. So
it is vital for us to,
uh, be assured that we will continue to benefit from
a strong
humanitarian aid support from, uh, our main donor, the United States of America.
Um, thank you very much. The last question from Lisa Schlein, Voice of America.
Lisa was asking, and I'm looking at Fatima here
for, uh, duhan
and she says Yes. So, Lisa, you have a question, uh, apart from the notes.
Yes, I do.
Uh, and it follows up on what, uh, Nick Asked earlier, uh,
regarding the Children who have been deported to, uh,
Russia, I had didn't quite understand your your answer in that.
Uh, is it just the government that asks for the IC RC to trace them?
Or can families individually
ask to have their Children? Uh, traced by your organisation
and the numbers of Children that have gone over there?
I mean, the official number is more or less 20,000, 23,000.
But unofficially, that number has been quoted as over 100,000.
I mean, I mean, that's enormous. I don't know whether that's true or not,
but if you could be a little bit more precise about
what you have received in this regard and what you have actually been able
to do, many of these Children also from what I understand, have been adopted.
So perhaps that's a road that is a little bit more practical in
terms of being able to locate the families that have adopted these Children.
And, yes, please send us your notes. Thank you
on your first question about whether the families can approach us searching for
absolute, and that's our preference.
And indeed,
we have received tracing requests from families searching for Children.
yet not in the numbers that you have quoted as the numbers of missing Children that,
uh, or the list of missing Children you mentioned 20,000 or even more,
Uh, we have received, uh, we have received
a smaller,
rather smaller number of these requests for Children from families themselves,
which has
there are multiple explanations for that as well.
Uh, we also know that a number of Children that are being
searched for our Children who have been institutionalised
Children who have been orphans, orphans, etcetera. So,
so basically to reconfirm, we take cases from
from families directly,
and that's our preferred
because the families themselves are the ones who can provide
the most information about
the whereabouts about what has happened about circumstances, etcetera.
Nonetheless, we also receive lists
from the authorities, and we action
upon them Now, This issue, if I may, very, very briefly,
it's a very complex issue,
very complex issue. We started working with it, we started. We work on it
with the authorities and we have been having very, very detail.
We will be going to Ukraine next week,
and that will be the topic that will be on the top of the agenda for the discussion
with the various Ukrainian authorities. What we try to obtain is
as much information as possible about
primarily circumstances about what has happened about all the
details about the Children that are being looked for
in order to be able to,
in order to have a greater chance
of clarifying what has happened with these Children
and hopefully
reuniting these Children with
their families. So It's a very complex mechanism, a
very complex issue that doesn't have a simplistic solution to it.
And thank you very much. I see this
as a follow up.
Yeah, very quickly. Uh, how many cases have you
clarified? Uh,
have you clarified cases, and if so, could you tell us how many? Thank you.
If you mean cases of Children specifically. So I said among the 8000
, missing persons that we have
where we have informed families about our faith and whereabouts.
There is a portion of those cases that are Children,
but that's a rather small portion of
thank you very much. So I would like to thank very, very much the three speakers.
Mr Jiao Sers,
resident representative. Of course, Mon
regional director for Europe and
Duchan would just
and in
the head of this agency for
ask all the colleagues who are working with the three
colleagues to send you the notes as soon as possible.
And again, thank you very much for this update to the three of you.
Let me now turn to my rights.
is here with
Tariq, you have with you. Dr
Croft, who is the senior technical adviser on Mile
and Rubella.
And she is joining from Cairo for an update
on the global measles situation. You have the floor, and then we go to
Thank you. Thank you very much. So,
as you say, we have
fort with us to give us an update on the global measles
has been waiting patiently, so maybe
start immediately by giving her the floor.
Yes, indeed. Please.
Thank you.
thank you very much.
So I'm very, uh I'm glad to be here today because, uh,
we in the measles world are extremely concerned
about what's going on in terms of measles.
Um, there's been a consistent increase in measles cases
in all but one of, uh, deshi
regions. Um, the one region that's not seeing an increase right now is the Americas.
Um, they're holding firm, but, um, with increases in
five of the six, WO
we expect there to be cases and outbreaks in the Americas as well eventually.
Um, the latest case numbers.
There are more than 300,000 cases reported to WHO for 2023.
That's an increase of 79% over the year before
large or disruptive outbreaks have increased from 32 in 2022 to 51 in 2023.
So these larger outbreaks
and these are countries that have an instance of more than 20 per million,
um, those are are steadily increasing.
We know that measles and cases are actually this
reporting we're having is un is they're underestimate.
So we don't get all the cases reported.
So we do some modelling, um,
to to try and estimate what the true number of cases and deaths are.
We haven't got the the figures ready for 2023 yet because
it takes us a while to do to do the analysis.
But I can tell you in 2022 the number
of deaths increased by 43% according to our models,
um, to, um, more than 100 and 30,000 deaths occurring from measles.
And because our cases have gone up in 2023
we are anticipating that when we do our modelling analysis,
the number of deaths in 2023 will also have increased.
there's a great deal of inequity in the distribution of deaths from measles.
92% of all the deaths. All the Children that die from measles die
in only 24% of the world's population.
So this is very, uh,
skewed distribution and concentration of deaths in certain areas.
We can see looking forward to 2024 that this year is going to be very challenging.
one of the ways we predict that what's going to happen in terms of
outbreaks and cases is looking at unimmunized
Children and the distribution of unimmunized Children.
Um, and we can see from data that's produced with WHO data by the CDC, the US CDC,
that more than half of all the countries in the world are going to be
at high or very high risk of outbreaks by the end of this year.
Um, right now,
we're estimating 100 and 42 million Children susceptible to measles in the world,
and 62% of those are living in low income countries.
And those are the countries where
the risk, um sorry, low or middle income countries, I should say,
um and those are the countries where the risk of severe outcomes
from measles are the highest where Children are most likely to die.
Um, as I said earlier.
So why is this happening?
Well, there was backsliding in immunisation coverage during the pandemic,
so Children were not vaccinated.
Our health systems were, um, not fully operating
globally. Our immunisation coverage has crept
up to 83% which is not high enough.
We need 95% coverage to prevent measles cases occurring.
Um, it's up to 83% in 2022. We haven't got 2023 data. Um, yet,
Um, that's still below the level of 86% that we reached in 2019. So we still have a gap.
even if, uh, we reached 86% that wouldn't be high enough.
The other issue, apart from lower coverage, is delays to campaigns,
which we do in order to fill the gap left behind by by routine immunisation coverage.
When we don't reach enough Children, we we conduct campaigns,
and those have been delayed or because of the pandemic,
they haven't been as high quality as, um,
they they should be.
Um but I think the really underlying reason is that the lack of commitment of, um
governments, um, to to address measles because of, uh, competing issues.
so measles has really fallen off the
priorities of governments and of global partners.
Um, because of all the other things that are going on,
and we were just listening to some of those.
So what action is needed with parents
and communities and governments and global partners.
We all need to be making measles a higher priority. We need to raise it up our list
and take urgent action to pretend to protect Children.
we, um
where we're conducting catch up activities.
Many countries now are trying to catch up.
They need to make sure that measles is part of
their priority for catching up their populations with immunisation.
Not all countries are jumping on opportunities for funding to get,
uh, to reach Children with measles vaccines.
They need to be really raising up the list of priorities.
There's special consideration needing for measle.
Uh, for middle income countries,
middle income countries don't have access to the same kinds
of funding and are not getting the support from global partners
that is available
for low income countries and is also available
for middle income countries for other diseases.
So we need to change that because they need help.
Um, in 2019,
we had many measles outbreaks around the
world and middle income countries really suffered.
And we're worried that 2024 is going to look like 2019 with large outbreaks
in many middle income countries because they don't have the support they need.
So, um, just to wrap up, um,
in 2024. Uh, a death from measles should not be acceptable.
We have a very effective,
safe vaccine that can prevent deaths from measles everywhere.
And so we shouldn't be accepting these deaths.
And we should be taking every action we can to prevent them
and at every level, Um,
action needs to be taken to to stop what we're we
we're really concerned is gonna happen this year in 2024.
Thanks. I'll finish that.
Absolutely. Thank you very much.
Um, let me see if there are questions in the room.
I don't see any, so I'll go to Lisa.
Schlein was of America.
Thank you.
Um, good morning. I do have a couple of questions for you.
Uh, you were talking about the issue of inequities now, uh,
and that there are some populations most at risk
if you could speak about them and in particular,
what is the situation in Africa?
And does the, uh,
uh, the fact that so many of the countries in on the African continent continent
are in a state of war that happens elsewhere as well? And whether that
has an impact upon, uh, Children not being able to,
uh, be vaccinated against this killer disease?
And would you also speak about the situation in Gaza?
Uh, quite specifically what is happening there. And lastly,
what role does disinformation
play in the fact that, uh,
Children are not getting,
uh, getting vaccinated? It it was a big concern. Not too long ago.
Is it still a big concern?
Particularly, perhaps in developed countries? I'm not
Don't really know about that. That's why I'm asking you questions.
Thank you.
Mm. Mhm. Doctor Crow.
Sure. Um, thank you very much for those questions, Lisa. Um,
so the most vulnerable, uh, the most vulnerable are infants.
So the first year of life is the most vulnerable period of time.
Um, the other. Um
So So that's why we we really want to protect Children.
Then because they're the most likely to die.
But they're particularly like to likely to die if they have malnutrition.
And so that's one of the reasons that deaths are
concentrated in low income settings where Children have malnutrition,
which is
clearly made worse by situations of conflict, mass migrations, refugees,
all these other, um,
uh, other issues that that affect the the chances that, uh,
an infant will have malnutrition.
Um, so there they are primary
area of cons, uh, group of concern or community.
Then our primary concern is infants.
Beyond that, anyone who has any kind of compromise their immune system,
pregnant women are susceptible in that they can have
they can miscarry or have low birth weight babies.
So there are other groups that are, um, also susceptible that the the big, big,
biggest group is actually just infants so that they're,
um they're too young to be vaccinated or protected by vaccination directly.
And that's one of the reasons we're really concerned about increasing
immunisation coverage so that we can protect them through herd immunity
in terms of, um
and and as I say, I mean and people can die from measles anywhere.
So we're really concerned about the numbers increasing everywhere in the world.
uh, you may have heard there was a recent death in Ireland from, uh, an a, uh,
an adult, Um, a man who, Who who who acquired measles in the UK. So
you know, it's not, um, nobody is is invulnerable.
Uh, in terms of the African region, Uh, there are,
um there are outbreaks across the African region.
It's, uh there are also increases, however, in the European region at
where there are many highly functioning, um,
health systems,
Um, and also in the eastern Mediterranean region. So we're we're not.
It's not by any means focused in in the African region.
It's it's increasing everywhere.
The reasons, Um, why, Why? There are,
um and the the deaths are focused in the African region because
of the low income co number of low income countries there,
um, in terms of why the predominant reason is really weak health systems.
Um, it is astonishing to me how,
despite conflict, we can get kids vaccinated. I mean,
it it's not easy, and it doesn't always
succeed, but,
um, there are many conflict settings in which, um,
peace days are are are negotiated,
and so it's possible to to reach Children with vaccines.
but, uh, the predominant issue really is not conflict.
It's happening in countries it in, um,
where where? It's really the the weak health system.
It makes it harder to get into areas that are
that have security issues. Definitely, I'm not.
I'm not underestimating the the challenges. Um,
but what we really want to fix is health systems.
And, um,
disinformation is definitely a an issue everywhere,
but I think it's been overstated, perhaps in terms of our risks of of measles.
I it's it's really predominantly,
not disinformation that's led us to where we are now.
It's just failure to reach Children with vaccines.
Um, it makes it harder again.
But it's not the primary reason,
though in some communities it definitely is.
Um, it's been a huge issue in some communities in in high income countries.
It's definitely an issue in
in low income settings as well.
Um, but where there are good health systems, good information,
good vaccine supply, good cold chain like it's a
It's a a
huge systems issue
to get vaccines to Children.
Um, where those all work
the vaccine works.
Most parents want to get their their kids vaccinated and they'll come forward.
you asked me about Ga
Gaza I.
I don't have any information that there's any issue with measles in Gaza.
It's such a closed place that it would be,
difficult to see how, um,
measles would get there and they had a good immunisation programme prior to the
the conflict. So, um, it's not, um
it it's something we're we're watching. But the moment we we don't have
any information to share on that.
And we were here.
No, please go ahead.
And we will hear more about the situation. The situation in Gaza from
Tariq in a moment. But I'll give the floor to Emma far from Reuters.
Who has a question for you, Doctor.
Hi. Good morning.
Um, I was wondering if you could put this in historical context for us.
Um, how bad is this year and last year versus previous decades.
Um, you mentioned 2019, but apologies.
I don't know exactly what happened with measles there.
And, um,
this, uh, projection or this estimate that, um, deaths in 2023 were about 40% higher
than, um, the reported deaths. Uh,
would that the same thing apply for 2023? Sorry. You said that for 2022.
Would do you think that would also apply for 2023
and and any kind of ballpark estimates of what?
How many people died from it? Um, last year. Thanks very much.
Sure. So a historical context. I mean,
before vaccination, there would have been millions of cases.
And we're preventing, um,
millions of cases at the moment. We by through the vaccination we are we are giving,
I mentioned 2019 because that was the worst year we had since about 1996 that we had,
about, uh, nearly 900,000 cases reported in Ni in 2019. So
I said there were over 300,000 cases reported so far.
I These numbers are a moving target because
countries update their figures all the time.
that's why I'm being a little bit I you know,
I can tell you an exact number by a certain date, but if you ask me the next day,
the number may have changed because countries are sending data in all the time.
so you know, more or less. We're still at a third of the number of cases in, uh,
reported in 2023
than we saw in 2019.
which was a very bad year.
But we, um what we're worried about is that we're heading in that this year, 2024.
We've got these big gaps in in our immunisation programme. So
if those, um if we don't
fill those really quickly with a vaccine, measles will just jump into that gap,
and then we'll have, you know,
we we're worried that this is gonna look like another another 2019.
But, you know, predicting the future is very hard.
So I don't know what's actually gonna happen, but from everything we know,
we're very concerned.
what was your other question?
Historical context. I'm
Yeah, No, sorry. There was a few.
I was just wondering about that revision of the deaths
that you mentioned about 40% higher than the actual deaths.
Do you think that
would also be the case for 2023 And what was the death toll? Thank you.
Excuse me. Sorry.
So, um,
we know that surveillance is incomplete. That
that, um, countries don't report their
their cases completely.
Um, for deaths, it's even more incomplete.
So we really do rely on the modelling to try and work out what's going on.
So that 43% increase was from our modelling.
When we we modelled the cases in 2022 we modelled them in 2020.
Um, sorry. In 2021 and 2022
there was a 43% increase in the number of deaths between 2021 and 2022.
And there are also fewer cases in 2021 and 2022.
What we can see is, if we've got a 79% increase in cases
in 2023 we would anticipate
an increase in deaths in 2023 as well.
But we can't say it's gonna be a 79% because, uh, increase
because it depends where the where the cases occur.
So I won't be able to answer that question.
Apart from to say we think there's going to be a jump up in deaths as well.
The reason being that as IS uh, you know,
as as I was saying when I talked about vulnerability.
if the cases
occur in the African region,
then there are many more deaths than if the cases occur in the European region.
And we don't know how this year is gonna pan out,
Um, in terms of the regional distribution. So,
um, you'll have to ask me in. Uh, I'll I'll
I'll have some estimates for you for 2023 in November.
Uh, this year,
Robbie Miller. A
Uh, thank you, Uh, on on the vaccines that you that you say are needed.
Do you have these vaccines ready to go? Are there Are there stockpiles
ready that that could be deployed or, uh Or is,
are there any sort of shortage issues or anything like that?
Thank you.
We have, um it
the answer, I suppose, is it depends on how well people respond. The, um
we don't have a supply issue with measles containing
vaccines because we use so much of them.
There's a huge, uh,
a huge supply going on, so
but all the time, Um, so we you know,
we shouldn't do,
um it kind of depends where we get to most of
the supply issues we have are due to countryside problems of
either financing or, um, planning. Or there are other issues that come up.
Um, but with enough notice, the, uh,
manufacturers usually manage to accommodate the supply needs.
Thank you.
Thank you very much,
Croft. I think this was the last question.
Thanks for this update. As I said before, you were speaking from Cairo.
Although you are based in Geneva. So that is where you are coming
to us from.
And I give the floor to Tariq
to tell us a little bit more on the health situation in Gaza,
including the two in the two hospitals that
are in
critical situation, one that you have visited on Sunday together with
and the Palestine Red Crescent Society.
we have sent notes of
the presentation of Dr Croft
and also colleague.
Colleague from
who works with Dr
Natasha Kroft
sent some background information for those who are
interested to follow the story on measles.
Let's go to Gaza.
Uh, yesterday you have received from us uh,
uh information
and the video footage from the visits that
from the visit that our team, together with
OSHA and Palestinian Red Crescent
have done to
that mission that was that was described yesterday took place
on Sunday. But there was another mission
yesterday, so I'll
give you the update on that and there is also
a press release that is being sent right now.
It's also included in my notes So
so together on those two missions
on Sunday and yesterday,
there were 32 critical patients, including two Children
that have been transferred
to other hospitals in
southern Gaza.
These missions were connected in the close partnership with Palestine, Redress
and Society, and
the team also provided limited supplies of essential
medicines and food for the remaining patients and staff
who are otherwise cut off from aid
Red Cross.
Ambulances ensure the safe transportation of the patients who underwent
medical assessment and triage, and the co ordination of the hospital director.
Patients were moved to the European Gaza Hospital in Hani
Aqsa Hospital in Gaza's middle area and the International Medical Corps,
UAE and Indonesia Field Hospitals in
hospital, as you could have seen in the
yesterday, has no electricity.
There is also no running water,
and medical waste and garbage are creating a breeding ground for diseases.
Staff said the destruction around the hospital was difficult to describe.
The area
was surrounded by burnt and destroyed buildings,
heavy layers of debris with no stretch of intact road.
So I hope you have seen the footage. If you have not please have a look.
It's difficult to watch.
And the footage has been taken by our
colleague and friend that you all know Chris Black, who is right now
And guys, I managed to talk to him this morning and, uh,
he was really, uh uh uh uh He was really
profoundly touched by what? What he has
seen there, he said that, uh
there are patients
in corridors in darkness.
There he would he would turn his head lamp and there would be people there so
very difficult to to see these. These scenes of,
uh, people just being cut off. You come to the
you've seen the road there is. There is no one on the road. It's all destroyed.
There is no road, really and everything around. So there's just
120 patients
and some 15 doctors and nurses
inside inside Nasser.
So, uh,
really, really difficult
situation to see,
and this is something that should not be happening
in any hospital to any patients or health workers.
As I said. Estimated 130 sick and injured patients
and at least 15 doctors and nurses remain inside the hospital.
As the intensive care unit was no longer functioning,
staff transferred the only remaining
ICU patients to a different part of the complex
where other patients are
receiving basic care. Chris was telling me, notably about a lady
who needs renal dialysis for kidney failure
and who did not get
was not able to receive that dialysis for seven days. And you know that normally
people who require
kidney dialysis have to do it three times per week.
But then she was. She was really
when the
team came
and when she was able to be transferred,
and she was saying to Chris, Well,
I knew that when I saw you that I would I would be
able to live a little bit longer,
it's really
you will see in the note There are There are examples of patients who have been
and again, it's heartbreaking to see that
there are people in health facilities who are not able to be treated correctly.
And also what Chris was saying is that how heroic the work is
done by health workers who are still there, who often volunteers very young. And
when W
team arrives,
health workers are welcoming and smiling to them while at the same time
not having electricity, not having food, not having water.
And as you can see in the video,
several several parts of the hospitals have been damaged,
including the warehouse with the medical supplies that were also
destined to other hospitals in Gaza.
now this degradation of Nasir
complex is a massive blow to Gaza's health system.
Facilities in the south are already operating well beyond maximum capacity,
and the capacity of those six health facilities in
south are only 450 beds, and the needs are much bigger.
We repeat our call for protection of patients, health workers, health,
infrastructure and civilians.
We also
call for parties to uphold international
humanitarian law
and the principles of precaution, distinction
and proportionality, and to ensure sustained access so hospitals can continue
providing life saving care.
We have sent this press release, and we will also have more footage
from yesterday's visit. So please, please
check on uni feed
where usually
the footage is being uploaded.
Thank you very much for this update.
I would also like to call the attention of our journalist
to the joint press release that you sent out yesterday with UNICEF
WFP on the malnutrition of Children
in the Gaza Strip threatening their lives. And also the same kind of
situation has been made by the UN Population
Fund that has warned that if everyone in Gaza is hungry,
these include 50,000 pregnant women.
you have also seen probably the update from
on the situation we sent you yesterday. The updated
from on.
Uh, so I'll open the floor to question first in the room. Emma.
Good morning, Tarek.
I was wondering if you could speak a bit more about the Children.
You said that some Children were among them, and also are there any remaining?
And secondly, do you have anything about the allegations that some 70 people,
medics and volunteers were actually detained as part of the raid?
That's what Palestinian authorities are saying,
including the director, Mr
Abu Tama,
if you have any information on that. Thank you.
I don't have we heard the reports of detention, but we don't have any
precise information.
Maybe colleagues from the Human Rights office would know more about that
again. What we call for is really the protection of health facilities, patients
and health workers. So we hope that those who are detained
will have their human rights respected.
But again, I would refer to colleagues from the Human Rights Office on any
details. I don't have an exact breakdown on Children.
As I said, there were two Children that were among those 32
medically transferred
and day before yesterday.
But we can check on how many
Children there are among those 130 estimated patients that are still in the
in the hospital.
Uh, Tariq, Thank you so much, uh, for the brief.
And, uh uh uh sending, uh, the notes quickly. My question, uh, will be about the
Naser hospital.
Uh uh.
As you said, uh uh, there are many patients, uh, still in there, uh,
will all the will all of these patients be transferred to other hospitals or, uh,
will Nassar Hospital continue to provide service what is planned
in this regard. Thank you.
our team on the ground will continue to do whatever is best at that particular moment
to save lives and to save as many lives as possible.
Ideally, what we would like to see is to have hospital rebuilt,
have health workers, be back,
have fuel food and health supplies being brought back to
and to all the other hospitals.
So health
health system
can be rebuilt and then health workers can have a place to work
and then people would have a place to go and get their health services. Ideally,
that would be the solution. And that solution,
as we have been repeatedly saying,
can really only be achieved if there is a ceasefire and there is impeded access for
humanitarian workers.
In the meantime, we will,
during our visits, we will do
the best possible at that particular moment for patients,
including transferring those
who otherwise may be in
a life
life endangering medical condition.
We would try to find the best way to
provide them with the care they need,
Imogen? Sorry.
Hi, Tare.
I'm wondering about the practicalities of getting patients out of NASA.
Apart from
agreeing that you could go in, Was the Israeli military there? Did they help?
Did they help carry patients or anything
like that? I'm just wondering how that works, Or are they just gone?
Well, First, the first thing is really to get
to get a security clearance to go there,
and you will recall that two days before Sunday.
So on Friday and Saturday, we were not given
to get to do medical assessment and to do transfer of patients, which obviously
any delay
means just
more risk for people who need urgent medical
You have seen the footage and if you haven't, I would really
I would have. I would encourage you to see.
It's like all members of the team would really work.
And Chris himself was partly filming and
partly pulling patients and moving them in a
in a wheelchair. Helping to do that and you have seen
it was already dark and there was no electricity,
so the only the only light was was the flashlights
and from the from the from the mobile phones,
so very difficult conditions again,
This should not be happening hospitals should have electricity.
There should be light. There should be
There should be security.
Uh, and, uh,
and And there should be enough of health workers to to to provide care that's needed.
Yes, thank you.
Your press note that you sent says the raid continues.
Could you just give us an idea of what is still
going on in terms of military activity in the hospital?
Can you confirm that there
is an intention to try and get a convoy in again today or
in the next couple of days?
Oh, and one other minor detail. The press
also says one patient in IC U was transferred
to another
building. Was that was a typo. Where we talking? Multiple patients.
There is
at least two buildings,
and even communication between those two buildings is difficult.
For example,
when when our team arrived with the director hospital
health workers and nurses in that building where footage has been made,
have not been seen,
have not seen the the the the director for four days because it
was difficult to move from one building to another and you have seen
the footage and you could hear the gunshots and explosions. So there is
there is a still
fighting nearby, and that's why it's all deserted around around
the hospital.
So that was
There was there was one patient that has been transferred from one
place to another, where there were a few other medical workers
again. It's just it just it's just really it's
difficult to watch DVD scenes
and and and think that, uh,
that any any, any patient or any doctor, any nurse should be in that that situation
being in the dark and being without food
without electricity, without water,
any other question.
I don't see any,
thank you very much, Tarek,
really support what you said. You need to see
that footage. It
is really impressive. And you think of Chris in this very dire
So this brings us to my legal announcement at the end of the briefing
just to remind you that the Committee on Economic Social
Cultural Rights has been examining this morning the report on Indonesia
and this afternoon we'll conclude the report of Iraq,
and then we have also the Committee on
Enforced Disappearances where we spoke about it before
this is going to be holding reviews of the Report of Cambodia
this morning and this afternoon Burkina Faso
the next country to be examined on 26th will be Honduras.
And finally, as you may have seen,
the conference on this Amendment seven this morning a public plenary meeting.
It's the first under the presidency of Mr Fabri
Rudyard of Indonesia.
I also would like to remind you that today is World Social Justice Day.
You may have seen that I
is holding
several events around the world.
They have indeed six events to commemorate social justice and the one in Geneva.
It's called How Can International Geneva advance? Social justice
is going to be held today at one o'clock
and it's going to be
the Geneva
Graduate Institute.
have panellist Rebecca Greenspan, the secretary general of Angad
the director General of a
LA, the director of
Ris, and Marie Los,
the director of the institute.
think that's all I had for you. If there are no questions,
I thank you very much and, um, I'll see you on Friday. Thank you