Geneva Press Briefing - 23 February 2024
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Geneva Press Briefing - 23 February 2024


 23 February 2024


Two years of full-scale war in Ukraine

James Elder, for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), speaking from Kharkiv in Ukraine, estimated that over the past two years, children in war-ravaged Ukraine had had to spend 3,000-5,000 hours underground, which translated to some 200 days. From dozens of conversations with families and child psychologists, Mr. Elder concluded that psychological scars of children were deep. Some three quarters of young people reported needing psychological support, and only a fraction of them were getting it. Parents across Ukraine reported that their children were suffering from excessive anxiety and sleeplessness. Parents and children alike were worn down. While parental care was critical to addressing the prolonged stress experienced by children, parents themselves were chronically under stress and unable to provide adequate support to their children. 

In Kharkiv, informed Mr. Elder, only two out of 700 schools offered in-class learning, which, among other consequences, led to stunted socialization. UNICEF had mobile medical teams going door-to-door providing medical and psychological care, and training psychologists and counselors. However, the attacks continued, living in bunkers continued, and each day was sapping more of the remaining strength and hope. The often-praised resilience of Ukrainians came at a cost, he concluded.

David Fisher, Head of the Delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Ukraine, speaking from Kyiv, said that two years on, people in Ukraine were still pushing forward, people were carrying on, but all under the uncertainty of bombardment and lack of access to essential services in the hardest hit areas. Air alerts were constant even far away from the frontlines. IFRC had visited Kharkiv earlier this week, where local Red Cross staff and volunteers admitted to being tired but added that they had no right to be tired, so they carried on. Ukrainian Red Cross chapters had child-friendly spaces across the country and did their best to give children some sense of normality. Older people in rural areas were among the most vulnerable categories, having lost their homes and seen their health deteriorate. Ukrainian Red Cross had tripled the number of their volunteers and staff and revived numerous branches. In Mykolaiv, for example, Red Cross was providing one third of all drinkable water, and in many places they were the ones to provide first aid. They were also playing a part in reconstruction and recovery, said Mr. Fisher. Thanks to the donors, IFRC’s presence in the country had made a big difference; dozens of sister Red Cross societies were in Ukraine supporting the local society activities. Continued support was needed to ensure that early recovery efforts could go ahead.

Charlotte Sector, for UNAIDS, informed that UNAIDS had published a sitrep on the occasion of the second anniversary of the war. Despite the initial disruption to the national AIDS response at the onset of the war, the national AIDS program had gradually resumed routine operations.

Responding to questions, Mr. Fisher, for the IFRC, said that the highest needs and the most difficult access were in the east, in the vicinity of the contact line. There were constant aid raids and power outages in Kyiv as well, he explained. The biggest needs were in rural areas, where access to basic services was most difficult. Mr. Elder, for UNICEF, explained that UNICEF did not have access to Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine. Ms. Vellucci, for UNIS, said that the Secretary-General would address the Security Council meeting on Ukraine today.

Human rights violations in Sudan

Seif Magango, for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), speaking from Nairobi, stated that the armed conflict in Sudan had resulted in thousands of civilians killed, millions displaced, property looted, and children conscripted, as fighting had spread to more regions of the country. New OHCHR report detailed multiple indiscriminate attacks by both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in densely populated areas, including sites sheltering internally displaced people - particularly in the capital Khartoum, as well as in Kordorfan and Darfur - during fighting between April and December 2023.

Just this week, credible video evidence reviewed by the OHCHR showed that several students travelling by road in North Kordofan State might have been beheaded by men in SAF uniform in El-Obeid City – the victims seen as being RSF supporters based on their perceived ethnicity. The video footage posted on social media on 15 February showed troops parading with decapitated heads in the street while chanting ethnic slurs. In Darfur, thousands had been killed in RSF attacks, some of which had been ethnically motivated. The report found that between May and November 2023, the RSF and its allied Arab militia had carried out at least ten attacks against civilians in El-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur, killing thousands of people, most of them from the African Masalit ethnic community. Ms. Magango explained that by mid-December, more than 6.7 million people had been displaced by the conflict. This number had since increased to more than eight million, both in Sudan and abroad.

Human Rights High Commissioner Volker Türk stressed that “there must be prompt, thorough, effective, transparent, independent and impartial investigations into all allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights and violations of international humanitarian law and those responsible must be brought to justice.” 

OHCHR report can be accessed here

Answering questions from the media, Mr. Magango stated that the conflict in Sudan was becoming a forgotten one. Violations of human rights were continuing, and there were over 14,600 confirmed fatalities. More than eight million people were currently displaced. Some of the received allegations could amount to war crimes, stressed Mr. Magango. Independent, transparent, and prompt investigations were needed. OHCHR had shared the draft of its report and the press briefing note with the Sudanese authorities; the High Commissioner would present the report at the upcoming Human Rights Council session. Mr. Magango reiterated that the rules of war applied to both state and non-state actors, in other words to both SAF and RSF. 

Tarik Jašarević, for the World Health Organization (WHO), replying to another question, said that the ten months of the conflict had indeed had a terrible impact on the lives and health of people in Sudan, where the health system had been already struggling even before the war. He said that 70 to 80 percent of hospitals in conflict-affected states of Sudan were not working; people were dying because of the lack of access to basic health care. The situation in Sudan was getting worse and was not getting the global attention it deserved. 

Escalating humanitarian crisis in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo

Eujin Byun, for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), stated that UNHCR was gravely concerned by the worsening humanitarian situation civilians face in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Intensifying violence and conflict were exacting a heavy toll on innocent civilians, hundreds of thousands of whom were attempting to seek safety on the peripheries of conflict zones. Since the resurgence of fighting around the town of Sake in the North Kivu Province on 7 February, 144,000 individuals had been forced to flee the outskirts of Goma. They had fled indiscriminate bombings that had impacted displacement sites and other civilian areas over the past few weeks, and which had resulted in the deaths of more than 20 civilians and injured more than 60. 

The plight of the newly displaced in eastern DRC was compounded by the pre-existing, pressing humanitarian situation. More than seven million people remained displaced across the country, including half a million refugees. Those displaced contended with already high risks associated with inadequate shelters, poor sanitation facilities and limited income-generating opportunities. UNHCR had successfully advocated with local authorities for the extension of two displacement sites on the periphery of Goma and, with other humanitarian agencies, plans to deliver 900,000 shelters in 2024, nearly double the 500,000 built last year. To address these and many other humanitarian needs in the DRC, the 2024 Humanitarian Response Plan had been launched on 20 February, appealing for USD 2.6 billion to help some 8.7 million people in need across the country.  

There were 252 known armed groups operating in eastern DRC at the moment, so it was difficult to assign responsibility to any particular militia. UNHCR was calling on all actors to respect international humanitarian law, said Ms. Byun in a response to a question. Constrained humanitarian access to people in need was one of the major concerns for UNHCR, she stressed. 

UNHCR statement is available here

Health situation in Gaza

Christopher Black, for the World Health Organization (WHO), speaking from near Rafah in Gaza, said that this week he had taken part in three missions to the Nasser Hospital. Because of the active fighting around the hospital, and in spite of the close proximity, access to the hospital was very challenging. WHO and OCHA teams had evacuated 51 patients in critical condition; even the process of taking the patients out was extremely difficult. Hospital corridors were full of patients and barely lit; patients had to be carried on stretchers down multiple sets of stairs. Mr. Black recounted the bravery of the doctors and medical staff who had remained with the patients, and the Palestinian Red Cross which had worked with WHO and OCHA to get the patients out. Of the 51 transferred patients, there had been ten children and 21 women, specified Mr. Black in a response to a question. 

Human Rights Council

Pascal Sim, for the Human Rights Council (HRC), informed that the Human Rights Council would open on 26 February at 9 am its 55th regular session, which would last from 26 February to 5 April 2024, under the presidency of Ambassador Omar Zniber of Morocco. Delivering statements at the opening would also be the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres; the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Dennis Francis; the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk. The Council would then start its high-level segment, hearing from Ignazio Cassis, Swiss Foreign Minister. Dignitaries representing more than 110 Member States would address the Council. At 4 pm, there would be a high-level discussion on the realization of rights of persons with disabilities. Room XIX would serve as a spillover room in case Room XX was full. More information about the 55th session can be found at the HRC extranet page

Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service, stated that the information about the Secretary-General’s participation and press encounter was expected soon. She said that the President of the General Assembly would be in Geneva from 25 to 27 February, after which he would continue to Nairobi. UN PGA would speak at the opening of the Council and participate in the high-level panel on the realization of rights of persons with disabilities.

Responding to a question regarding coverage of the Council, Ms. Vellucci explained that due to the liquidity crisis, UNIS was not able to recruit additional temporary assistance needed for full, usual coverage of the session. Automated webcast of all meeting would be ensured, said Ms. Vellucci; in addition, high-quality broadcast would be provided for the first morning of the 55th session and possibly for the end of the session – voting on draft resolutions. Press coverage would be provided for the first day and the voting, and possibly for other days, human resources permitting. She reiterated that UNIS was still providing full broadcast quality and press coverage of all UN human rights treaty bodies. 

Zero Discrimination Day

Charlotte Sector, for UNAIDS, informed that 1 March would mark the tenth anniversary of Zero Discrimination Day. UNAIDS’s call to action was in order to protect everyone’s health, everyone’s rights had to be protected. The world had made great progress towards the goal of ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. That progress had been powered by progress in protecting human rights. However, laws, policies and practices that punished, discriminated against, and stigmatize women and girls, LGBT and other marginalized communities violated human rights and obstruct access to HIV prevention, testing, treatment, and care. There was an urgent need to remove laws which harm people’s rights and to bring in laws which uphold the rights of every person.

More information is available here


Alessandra Vellucci, for the United Nations Information Service, informed that on 28 February at 1:30 pm, there would be a launch of a new report by the Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua on the human rights situation in Nicaragua. 

Committee on Enforced Disappearances would hold on 26 February a dialogue with Honduras under article 29(4) of the Convention, by which States parties may be requested to provide additional information on the implementation of the Convention.

Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights would close on 1 March its 75th session and issue its concluding observations on the six country reports reviewed during this session: Romania, Mauritania, Ireland, Iraq, Indonesia, and Sweden. 

Ms. Vellucci also informed that the UN Secretary-General would address the Conference on Disarmament on 26 February at 2:30 pm.


Good morning.
Welcome to the press briefing here in
Geneva of the United Nations Information Service.
Today is 23rd of February.
We have quite a long list of speakers, but before we go
into the topics, I'd like to give the floor to Pascal,
who has a short update for you with a view of
the opening of the Human Rights Council session next week.
Pascal, we have the floor.
Thank you, Alexandra. Good morning, everyone.
I just wanted to give you a quick update on our upcoming session.
The United Nations Human Rights Council will begin its 55th session
on Monday, February 26th at the Paladin
National Room 20.
The session will open at 9 a.m. with statements from Omar NBER,
the president of the Human Rights Council, to be followed by Dennis Francis,
the president of the General Assembly,
as well as Antonio Guterres, the secretary general of the United Nations,
and Volker
Turk, the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The council will then start its high level segment with a statement from
Ignacio Cassis, the foreign minister of Switzerland.
We expect over 50 dignitaries to take the floor on
the opening day of the 55th session of the council,
including more than 40 full fledged foreign ministers.
This high level segment will continue on Tuesday all day
and is scheduled to end on Wednesday around midday
and on the opening day of the session at 4 p.m. the Human Rights Council will
hold its first panel discussion about the realisation
of the rights of persons with disabilities,
with a focus on their full and inclusive participation and inclusion in society.
And the president of the General Assembly and the High
Commissioner for Human Rights will open this panel discussion,
which will feature the following panellist.
Catherine Russell, the executive director of
the director general of the
director general of WHO,
and Catalina DeVos,
the executive director of the Disability Rights Fund.
from the Chinese Federation of Persons
with Disabilities will also deliver a statement
on behalf of the disability rights movement.
So on Sunday evening we will send you the
latest update regarding the opening of the session,
including the latest version of the list of speakers for this high level segment.
I also want to remind you that the doors of Room 20 will open at 8:30 a.m. on Monday.
So I recommend you come early.
Room 19 will be used as a spillover room in case Room 20 is full.
And all the council's official meeting will be Webcast on UN Web TV. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Pascal,
is there any question? Yes, Chris,
Not so much for
for you, Alexandra. Is
the Secretary General going to be available for
the price at any point before or after?
First of all, it is expected that Secretary General would come.
The official announcement. We're expecting the official announcement
by his office as soon as possible.
the my understanding is that having the secretary General here may
open the possibility for him to speak to the press.
we will confirm this as soon as we can.
Thank you.
Other questions
don't see any. And before we close this organisational
I just wanted to, As Pascal
has mentioned, the president of the General Assembly,
Dennis Francis, will be coming to Geneva. We have just sent you a media advisory
that has been prepared by our colleagues of his
press office.
The official travel in Geneva
will be from 25 to 27th of February and the
president of the General Assembly will proceed to Nairobi,
Kenya, where he will be from 28 February to 2nd March.
As we have just heard from Pascal in Geneva, the
will attend the opening of the 55th session of the Human Rights Council
and will participate in the high level panel that Pascal has mentioned.
Some indications of what he will say
on this occasion is in the media advisory that we have distributed to you.
I would like also to say that as part of his visit to Geneva,
the president will launch a campaign jointly with U Women and the president
of the Human Rights Council aimed at
preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
It will also
hold separate meetings with the president of the Human Rights Council
with the High Commissioner for Human Rights with the director General of
the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Director General of I.
And he will also speak to the civil society and to the delegates here in Geneva
and then he will go as I said to Nairobi to attend the succession of
the UN Environmental Assembly which will take place from 26 February to 1st march at
headquarters in Nairobi.
And you have more on this programme in the media advisory that we have circulated.
OK, so that is for next week. Maybe just before we go into Ukraine. Oh, I see.
There are questions. Sorry. Kathrin
Alexandra Um and thank you for giving me the floor.
I caught up the briefing a bit late,
but I don't know if you did mention or say anything
about the fact that due to a lack of liquidities,
um UN, TV and, uh, un I
won't be able
to cover as usual. Uh, the the 55th session of
you, you
human rights.
Could you please give us details about the amounts
that are needed in order to make a perfect coverage
not only for the press, but for the countries that are unable to attend and also the
NGOs that would like to cover
the best way possible the issues related to human rights.
Catherine, thank you very much for this question.
It gives me the opportunity to clarify a little
bit how the coverage of the council will be
assured by
As you
may know,
It is customary that the coverage of the council is
provided by us with the assistance of temporary staff.
And this year, as you said,
because of the liquidity crisis of the regular budget, unfortunately,
we cannot recruit this temporary assistant.
what we are going to do is and it's as explained in the media advisory on
the council that we have distributed to you last week or the beginning of this week.
we will definitely ensure
the Webcast of the sessions of all the sessions.
This is an automated Webcast that, as you know,
is realised as we do here with the mics and
the cameras show
the person the speaker in the room. So this is going to be provided.
This is a Webcast, so it's not broadcast
quality. Of course, for the journalists of television, it is not the best solution
and we are very conscious of that.
What we will try to do is to ensure as much
as we can do of broadcast with the regular stuff that we have,
and this is going to be basically the first day because of the high level segment,
we will offer broadcast quality images
and again. The Webcast will be assured for the whole length of the council
and we will also try to see if we can do something better for the end of the session
when the votes are on,
for what concerns the meeting coverage, meeting summaries that we normally offer.
The situation is the same. We don't have
the liquidity to recruit temporary press officers.
So we are going to try and ensure as much as we can
with our regular staff and definitely ensure the coverage of the first day
and of the voting.
You're asking how much money we would need to ensure better coverage.
That is not the right approach.
The point is not that we don't have money for this activity.
The problem is the liquidity situation of the whole organisation
that the secretary general has explained to member states in
a letter that was distributed
that was sent
a few weeks ago
and therefore the whole situation that it is not just the council.
Obviously we are working with the colleagues of the council
to see if any extra budgetary funds can be found
and if this is the case, we would be able maybe to provide more coverage. More, more,
more, more output
in this process. But for the moment, this is what we can offer.
Rest assured that we will do our best and that
for the high level segment, for example,
and for days that could be of very strong interest to the press.
We will try to provide at least some stories
on the content of the council and discussions.
And of course, our colleagues
of the Human Rights Council will also be on the forefront of this coverage.
will do our best. Basically, that is the bottom line.
you have still your
hands up.
Thank you for giving me the floor back.
I know that you guys are doing the best you can and that, uh, through the years,
we've seen that the uni
steam has melted
like snow
in the sun. So we know that it's not, uh, due to to goodwill.
Um, but, um, if you look to a practical solution,
we often speak about artificial intelligence.
Uh, when you use automatic, uh, filming often artificial intelligent is, um,
making a tran a transcription of what is said. It's not always high quality
and of course it it can't replace human beings. But, um, it might be interesting
certain level of interest for us to get those automatic transcriptions
that are made by through artificial intelligence of the meetings.
Thank you, Alexander.
Thank you, Catherine. Thank you for the suggestion.
Obviously, this is not something that we have at the moment,
but it's something that could be explored for the future.
I just would like to
give a detail on what you said.
The issue of the coverage, especially of the human rights bodies,
is not I wouldn't describe it as melting in the sun because we did have, uh, uh,
additional resources for the treaty bodies.
For example. We can ensure a full coverage, whether it's
cast or meeting summaries.
The problem is really because the council is traditionally covered and we get a
budget to ensure this coverage by recruiting
temporary assistance and because of the liquidity,
not the budgetary situation this year.
This is not possible. But thank you for the suggestion.
OK, so OK, there are more questions, I think for me. Julia Julia Luva.
Uh, yes. Hi. Thank you so much. Alexandra, I have a question. So you you mentioned
about the, uh, list of speakers for the high level day.
But can you please confirm if Iranian,
Chinese and Palestinian foreign ministers expect you to speak on the opening day?
Uh, deliver statements in person?
I'm sorry, Juliet. I don't know if you heard what Pascal said.
Pascal gave a list of the most important features of the first day. First days.
He also indicated that the list of the provisional because it changes
all the time the provisional list of speaker is available on the
Internet of the Council.
So I would like to ask you to either ask Pascal or check on that list,
which is updated all the time.
turn you on.
We can't hear you, I'm afraid
if it's also an organisational question, John,
maybe you want to send it in the chat or or to me,
I'd like to move to the to the first items of the agenda because we have a long list,
and I and I'm really here available with my colleagues if you need
more information on the organisation for next week.
So let's now go to the first topic on our agenda, which is Ukraine
thas Or maybe you want to come
to the podium.
As you know
First of all,
we are getting the mark of the two years since the escalation of the war In Ukraine
the High Commissioner for human rights worker Turk
noted that Russia's full scale armed attacks on Ukraine,
which is about to enter its third year with no end in sight,
continues to cause serious and widespread human rights violations,
destroying lives and
livelihoods. And to speak about this issue we have with us. In fact, not with us.
Because he
Kharkiv, we have James S
and to hear from him about the situation of Children and mental health and Tomaso
de la
with David Fisher, who is the
head of delegation in Ukraine who is reaching us from
Kev. So I will start with James
James. Give us your update and nice to see you.
I hope you are fine. Go ahead,
Alexandra. Thanks so much. David. Hi. Yeah, Good morning, everyone.
Uh, some new data.
UNICEF estimates that over the past two years of this war,
Children in Ukraine's front line areas have been forced to spend
between 3000 hours and 5000 hours underground.
That's the equivalent of between around 4 to 7 months.
So just take a moment trying to imagine
spending what would be the equivalent of 200 days over the past two years, confined
to a basement to a bunker to a hole in the ground.
That has been the reality for so many Children on Ukraine's front lines.
And so seeking safety from the missiles and from the
drones is coming at a great cost to these Children.
From my dozens of conversations this past week,
with families and with child psychologists in Kharkiv
and in front line areas,
they made it very clear that the situation
around mental health has become absolutely devastating.
The psychological scars are running deep and they are deepening by the day.
The data, which I will share straight after this,
also shows that around three quarters of young people have
recently reported needing some sort of psychological or emotional support.
A fraction of those are getting it.
So the ongoing shelling, the increased use of drones,
all this is building into an awareness that Children continue to be killed,
and so it's hindering families capacity
to overcome the deep stress and trauma inflicted by this war.
Parents across Ukraine report that their
Children are suffering from excessive fear.
Anxiety, sleeplessness, phobias, sadness.
Uh, And so, at a time when parental care is needed, most
half of those parents surveyed reported that
they are struggling to support their Children.
Quite simply, they're worn down in my conversations. Many of them broke down,
though, as I was told, We don't cry
only when our Children have gone to bed.
As a child psychologist in Kharkiv pointed out to me,
and this is a quote.
Parental care is essential to manage the immense
toxic stress that Children are enduring from prolonged exposure
to war and chaos.
But how do they when parents themselves are experiencing the same events
Now, despite education being that fundamental source of hope and stability,
it is chronically disrupted.
It's beyond the reach for a very large segment of Ukraine's Children.
Take again the Ha
Kharkiv city and that region.
Children in front line areas have been
in school for around a week in the last four years. Around a week.
Um co two years of covid two years of war
indeed, in Kharkiv City
uh, there are two out of 700 schools that offer in class learning.
Nearly every person I spoke to expressed deep concern over their Children,
be it preschoolers or teenagers stunted socialisation.
But finally there is a response.
David will speak to response many other UN colleagues. From a UNICEF
point of view.
We have front line medical teams going around, which includes a nurse, a doctor
and a psychologist going door to door to give mothers and Children support and care.
We have front line workers.
Still, it's bitterly cold, Uh, at the moment warm clothing, medicines,
life saving, support training.
A lot of psychologists in the care that I spoke to
Ukraine is now the most mined country on the planet.
So when we talk about childhood being robbed,
no socialisation, no school, no ability to play in those areas.
We have trained 5000 councillors and and supporters to do mine risk education,
which is now a part of the curriculum thanks to the government.
But the attacks continue.
The isolation in bunkers continue, and as such,
the attritional nature of this war is not just being
played out on the front lines in the battlefields,
but in families' lives in families' homes each day.
I think it's sapping a little bit more of that strength and that hope
We have heard a lot.
And we tend to admire the resilience of Ukraine and its Children and for very,
very good reason.
But we must not forget what this resilience is costing.
Thank you, Alexandra.
Thank you.
Thank you very much, James, for this update, and I go now to
you want to introduce David?
Yes, Absolutely. Thank you.
Thank you, Alessandra. So last week we presented the
survey on the level of depths that Ukrainians are facing
inside and outside the Ukraine and the regional perspective.
This week we will have our head of delegation Ukraine, David Fischer.
We will speak about the role of the Ukrainian across two years
on, but also what he saw in his visit in Kharkiv and
And, of course, the ongoing needs in Ukraine. Thank you.
Thank you, David. Welcome.
You have the floor.
Thank you. Good morning, everybody. Um
and and thanks James for that. Great.
Uh, that great introduction and a lot of it resonates with with our experience.
I mean, two years on, you know, after this escalation.
We see that people in Ukraine are still pushing forward. Businesses are moving.
People are trying to build their lives.
But it's all under this constant threat of bombardment and uncertainty. Um,
in the hardest hit areas, you know, that are close to the front lines.
People are having trouble accessing essential services medicines, food,
even water medicine.
Um, but even away from what they call the line of contact here,
um, air alerts are constant.
many internally displaced people are still living without any
kind of certainty in the centre in the West.
unemployment and high prices are affecting many other
vulnerable people in those communities as well.
Um, and international humanitarian support for these people is drying up.
Um, as the priority is moving to the east and to the south.
Um, so we also, uh, our team visited, uh,
earlier this week.
I visited the the branch there where all of
their windows are are are boarded up after,
you know, destruction from early on in the in the in the conflict.
Um, we met in the the basement of the opera house.
Um uh, to stay safe from the constant alerts that were happening while we were there.
Um, this It's an inspiring team.
Um, they told me, you know, that they are.
They're finding it hard. Um, like anybody else there emotionally, physically.
But they said they're tired, but they're not tired.
They just can't afford to be, um they need to keep moving forward. Um,
and, uh, on on Tuesday, um, we met with,
uh with the volunteers of the Ukraine Red Cross and
They work at sewing and washing machines to turn
around donated clothes for displaced and other vulnerable people.
These people are dealing with the conflict, of course, in their own lives,
when there are energy outages, Uh, in the coldest months.
thank goodness there were fewer this winter than
there were in the in the last winter.
And, um, you know,
this this toll on Children that James mentioned really resonates with them.
So, you know,
Ukraine Red Cross has these child friendly spaces
in their branch level all around the country.
Um, in Mikola,
which we visited last week. You know, they have these these centres and
they they have games with the Children and they when they do have to go um,
into the shelter.
They call it the sort of the Harry Potter chamber.
You know, they're just trying to make them feel like some sense of, of of normality.
Um, and also to give the parents, uh, some sort of break.
Um, but the Children are not the only ones who are, um, are bearing the brunt of this.
Some of the most vulnerable people are are, um, older people and rural areas.
Uh, a lot of them have lost their loved ones. They've lost their homes.
They have lost their savings. They're going into debt.
Ukraine Cross has this home based care programme
that they've been doing for many years.
and they have mobile health units to bring, uh, medical, Um, you know,
sort of support into these rural areas that just absolutely have
no access to it on a day to day basis.
Um, and the Ukraine cross has grown enormously in response to this threat.
Over the last two years,
they tripled the number of their volunteers and their staff.
They've revived over 100 of their local branches.
Um, they've reached more than 12 million people.
Um, with with emergency relief with health with social services.
In Mikola,
for instance, the Ukrainian cross is providing 30% of the potable water in the city.
They're doing a lot of new things in order to, you know,
to to support their communities around the country.
And they're playing a leading role as
the country's largest local humanitarian network.
They have emergency response teams that respond immediately with
the government responders when there's a missile attack,
when they do need to do evacuations close to the fighting.
Uh, they provide first aid, emotional support to people who are affected.
But probably some of their biggest tasks are
just kind of building this capacity to cope.
this this this resilience that the James
was talking about with psychosocial support,
rehabilitation for many,
many wounded people and disabled people because of the bombing
and kind of community level economic projects like
shared laundries and this kind of thing.
Um, and they're also playing a part now in reconstruction and recovery,
and it may feel strange.
But in the middle of all of this,
um, recovery is the way to go. Um, and
so we have not only many hospitals, rehabilitation centres,
schools that have been destroyed, for which, you know,
some minimal repairs can can make a difference.
But we also need to do recovery in people's
health and their livelihoods and their well being.
It's time for us now,
as the international community to be investing in
this more comprehensive way instead of just,
you know, relief items.
Um, this is the right way to be meet both the short and the long term needs.
It's an investment in the future of these people in Ukraine, and they deserve this.
Um, thanks to our donors at the International Federation of Red Present, uh,
Red Cross Red present Societies,
our appeal has made a big difference in allowing this to happen.
IFRC secretariats here in country with over a dozen sister, uh,
Red Cross societies also supporting Ukraine Red Cross as a local leader.
But our appeal is only about 60%
covered. Um, it's leaving a significant gap. So here we are, two years on.
Humanitarian needs are growing,
but we also have the need and the possibility
for recovery in many parts of the country.
We need to ensure that we're supporting vulnerable people wherever they are both
at the front lines and also those who are indirectly affected elsewhere.
Um, and we need to shift to this early recovery. Uh uh, approach.
And this is the call we're making.
That's it for me. Thank you.
Thank you
very much. David.
Let's open the floor to questions first in the room. Body body hugger, Phoenix TV.
Alright. Thank you. Uh, for next TV from Hong kong.
I need probably you can speak more that in details. What exactly? Which city
has the obstacle? The access
and met the obstacle problems and who met the problem of hygiene?
Uh, water extra. Which city exactly is that, Kev?
so Thank you.
I'm sorry.
Or two days.
OK, I understand. This is for David. Go ahead.
Sure. Thanks. I mean, uh, the the
the the highest needs, obviously. And the the most difficult.
You know, uh, sort of access is along the front lines in the east and, uh,
in the south and also up in, you know, in some parts of the north or Sumi,
um, where the access, basically, you know, is is is blocked by the, you know,
an incredible volume of of fighting and bombing, which is going on.
But Kiev is also not spared with this, we have constant, uh, air raids here.
We've had some power outages here as well. Uh, because of this,
um, the prices have gone up, uh, both because of the war.
And also because of, you know, the sort of situation on the on the western border.
Um, so people feel this, uh, around the country.
the biggest needs, I would say is in rural areas, um, where just
it's It's very hard to to access basic services. Incomes are lower. Um, and
and, you know, we have, you know, sort of families who have split up.
And and as I mentioned, like, you know, sort of older people. Disabled people,
uh, are the ones that are most vulnerable.
Thank you very much, David. Other questions in the room.
I don't see any. So let's go to the platform.
Thank you. Alessandra, Uh, my question is for James.
Uh, I just wanted to know if Jens is in the room too, or if he's not here this morning.
Uh, no. This week. I think Jens is not in Geneva.
But if you have questions for our Chaves
is available,
but they are not, but they are not in the room. Yeah,
OK, OK, thank you. So for James, my question.
You said that Children on the front line had to hide between 300 hours and 500 hours,
mainly in the past year. Do these estimates
of the hours spent in bunkers also concern
Children in the territories controlled by Russia?
specifically talking about the Children in D,
and does UNICEF
have access to Russian controlled territories? That's why I was asking for OSHA
because I was speaking with who
And they said that their teams in Ukraine don't have access to these territories,
but they didn't explain what is the main problem
of having access. Who is not giving the access for what reasons? Uh,
and I was also asking if your teams in Russia can
access to the territories under the control of Russia to check
uh, the psychological,
uh, situation for the Children because for a lot of them,
the war didn't start in 2022 but in 2014.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
Shi. I'll give the floor to, uh, James But there is also Tariq on the line.
Tarik, if you want to intervene, just raise your hand.
Yuri! Hi. Thanks. I I'm sorry. It'll be a brief answer. We don't have access
in those Russian controlled areas that you mentioned. So
the the numbers and hopefully you've now got them as the briefing note.
It was, uh, 3000 to 5000.
So at its worst, around 200 full days.
Uh, and these are areas.
Some of these areas were Russian control,
but these are all areas of Ukrainian territory now under Ukrainian control.
So the areas you speak to I'm sorry.
Uh, and for the for those other elements about general access Yeah, you're right, I.
I prefer to watch them.
Ok, thank you very much.
Other questions
on Ukraine?
No, I don't see any. So just to remind you
that the Secretary General will speak today at
the Security Council meeting on Ukraine that there will be also a
plenary meeting on the situation
in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine of the General Assembly.
And you have this on the UN Web TV available for listening.
Thank you very much to our colleagues of
please stay safe.
And we continue our briefing
on another subject. Another important subject which is Sudan.
We have with us S
that you all know
the UN Human Rights Office regional spokesperson in
So if you have
information for our journalists on the horrific violations and abuses in
Sudan as fighting spreads, you have the floor.
Uh, yes, indeed. Uh, thanks, Alessandra. Good morning, everyone.
The armed conflict in Sudan has resulted
in thousands of civilians killed, millions displaced,
property loaded
and Children conscripted as fighting has spread to more regions of the country.
A report published this morning by our office details
multiple indiscriminate attacks by both the Sudanese armed forces
and the rapid support forces in densely populated areas,
including sites she sheltering internally displaced people,
particularly in the capital Khartoum
Kordofan and
Darfur, during fights fighting between April and December 2023.
Just this week, credible information um,
received by us and video evidence reviewed
by our office has shown that several students travelling by road in
Kan state
may have been beheaded by men in S
Obeid City,
based on their perceived ethnicity as being RSF supporters.
The video footage, which was which was posted on social media on 15th February,
shows troops parading with decapitated heads
in the street while chanting ethnic slurs
in Darfur.
Thousands have been killed in RSF attacks,
some of which were ethnically motivated.
The report finds that between May and November 2023
the RSF and its allied Arab militia carried
out at least 10 attacks against civilians in
Alka, the capital of West
killing thousands of people, most of them from the African
Masalit ethnic community.
There were also killings by the RSF and its allies in the town of
and in
Altamaha, where at least 87
bodies were buried in a mass grave
by mid December,
more than 6.7 million people had been displaced by the conflict,
both within Sudan and in neighbouring countries.
This number has since increased to more than 8 million.
The report cites the
People's Authority to support the Sudanese Armed Forces,
a pro
SAF entity,
as stating that it had armed 255,000 young men
in camps across Sudan.
Children were also recruited by the RSF from Arab tribes in Darfur,
African ethnic communities, including the four
also reportedly responded to recruitment campaigns by the SAF.
the report,
There must be prompt, thorough, effective, transparent,
independent and impartial investigations into
all allegations of violations and abuses
of international human rights
and violations of international humanitarian law.
And those responsible must be brought to justice.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
Let me see if there are questions on Sudan in the room.
I don't see any
our correspondent of the German News Agency. Christiane, You have a question for
Yes, thank you very much. Safe for the briefing,
I wonder your report, uh, goes all the way to December.
But since December, the situation has, if I understand correctly worsened a lot.
Do you have any indication
about numbers or or
incidents that have happened since, uh uh, the end of your reporting period?
Thank you.
Um, absolutely. Thank you so much for your question.
Um, the situation in Sudan indeed remains very concerning.
And as the commissioner has stated, uh, recently
it is becoming
a forgotten conflict.
Um, we continue to, uh,
to document and record
cases of, um killings, injury
uh, displacement.
And also, there's been cases, Um, and of, uh, sexual violence,
uh, be between, um, during this conflict.
Um, as for numbers, we
have, uh,
information, uh, to the effect that,
um, the fatalities now stand at at least 14,000,
uh, 600 people who have been killed during this conflict.
Uh, these figures,
um, have been collected by an organisation
that, uh we, um, believe to be credible, the armed conflict location,
a clear in the organisation.
And there is indeed, um, reason to believe that, um, the numbers are,
uh, way up in the thousands.
Um, as, uh, we state in this, uh, press briefing.
Uh, the number of people displaced,
um, has now crossed the 8 million mark,
which would concern, uh, everyone. Thank you.
Thank you very much. Huge numbers. Lisa Schlein, Voice of America.
Uh, thank you, Alessandra. Good morning. Safe. Uh, yeah.
I have a few questions for you.
How serious are these crimes that you are
talking about? Do they rise to the level of war crimes, the crimes against humanity?
Uh, could you specify that, please?
And also you're calling for an independent investigation.
Who do you have in mind to carry out this investigation.
Uh, probably the warring parties themselves would not be capable of this.
Or would they?
And also, uh, what has happened with this report?
Have you been able to pass it on to
the rival generals or anybody,
in charge of
of the two sides
to look at it. And if so, has there been
any sort of a response? I mean,
do you think that an independent investigation could be carried out with
their approval? Thank you.
Uh, thank you very much, Lisa. Um,
uh, indeed, these, uh, these, uh, violations are
incredibly serious under international law.
And as the High Commissioner has stated in response to this report,
having read it read it himself thoroughly
is that these, uh, violations would amount to war crimes.
Uh, but
the, uh, there is a need for indeed to investigate. And,
for instance, we are heartened by the
announcement by the Sudanese, um, the Sudanese authorities that
they will investigate the specific case of the beheadings. Uh,
the reports circulated of these beheadings and videos on the 15th, and on the 16th,
they vowed to investigate.
Uh, we intend to
follow up with them,
uh, on the progress of these investigations,
uh, and to, uh, we continue to call on, continue to call on them to
hold those responsible to account and end
to work towards ending this, um, uh, series of ethnically motivated,
uh, killings. Apparently, that we have, uh, reported on
for for many months. Especially in BF
on the question of whether the investigations will be independent,
we wait to see that we, uh
the obligation to investigate rests with the the
the authorities in Sudan and the international law.
And, uh, there is still an authority in Sudan, and we,
um we we have to call on them to respect the international obligations
and ensure that investigations are held.
And those investigations are
Uh, prompt, transparent, and, uh, ensure that, uh,
no one escapes justice and victims get
the justice they deserve.
uh, What is gonna happen to the report?
We have brought it to the attention of the Chinese authorities.
Um, we send them a draught, which they had been looked at.
We sent them this press briefing early this morning.
So they're completely aware of, um
uh, our findings, um,
and, uh, to add to that.
The high Commissioner is due to present this report to the Human Rights Council,
Um, at the upcoming session.
So, uh, not only Sudan, but the Q
national community
will get to be, um, appraised of the findings of this report and,
uh, hopefully help
towards ensuring justice and
also working towards,
uh, silencing the guns in Sudan.
I see Liza as a follow up.
Uh, yes, thank you.
Uh, well, I noticed that when you talk about,
uh, investigations and response, whatever
that you're referring to, the SAF. You make no re no reference to Darfur.
So I'm wondering,
uh, well, since it's a paramilitary group, whether, uh,
no accountability or can be expected from them or,
I don't know, cooper operation in terms of any sort of investigation.
What is your relationship with, uh, the Darfur
uh, fighters? The, uh, response? Uh, the res.
Uh, I'm sorry. I shouldn't call them Darfur
and fighters.
Uh, and they were rapid. Uh uh. Response group.
Thank you.
Uh, thanks so much for your question, Lisa.
Yeah. Yeah. So, um,
actually, we do call on both parties to
respect international law because the obligations,
um under international law during an armed conflict such as the one,
attaining in Sudan apply to,
uh, state and non state actors.
we we, um
we have called on the RSF repeatedly,
uh, to
to desist from attack from attacking civilians and civilian,
um, infrastructure,
uh, to
end the, um,
pattern of sexual violence that we have seen, uh, on
in in in areas where they have taken control,
uh, to release all civilian detainees. So we are
and completely, uh, alert and aware to the violations that RSF,
um may have under, uh, uh, carried out or its allies
and allegations to that effect.
And we call on them to to to to respect international law.
as to the relationship, uh, we we and we, of course,
address the man international law as
people a A as an entity that is subject to it and continue to
call on them to to respect
their obligations. Thank you,
Catherine Tian
Yes. Thank you, Alexandra. Good morning. Safe and thank you for briefing us.
Um, my question is related to what you just mentioned about, um
um the High Commissioner that is going to uh, present his report on march 1st,
Um, as also the the expert, the designated expert.
Um, first of all, could you tell us?
I don't know if you know about it.
If there would be a press conference or a possibility for the press
to meet
some of the maybe the experts
and and and some people that are working at
your office about that issue
And also do you know who is going to Which kind of level will represent Sudan
in Geneva?
Maybe you don't know yet.
And I forgot to ask Pascal
and I will ask, um,
if I'm Yeah, still on.
I will also ask a related question not to you addressed to you, but addressed to WHO.
Uh, because, um, among the human rights you have access, um,
to care. And we know that Sudan is actually battling cholera dengue.
Um, and, um, if WHU could give us more, um, information about,
uh, the situation.
Thank you. Thank you, Kathrine.
Thank you. I'll give the floor to safe.
Uh, also, um, we have Tariq online,
so maybe Tariq will be able to answer your question.
This gives me the opportunity to inform you that
even if it was
not announced. We have
Chris Black who has connected from Gaza
on the line. So after we have finished with Sudan and we have heard from Eugene on the
we will try to connect with Chris for an update
on the health situation in Gaza just for your information.
So let's start with
Saif to answer
Catherine's question, and then I'll go to Tariq. Thank you.
Uh, thank you, Katherine, Um,
on the press conference, I'm not aware at the moment whether that has
is is in the works,
but I can assure you that the, um,
the standard expert is due to be
in, uh, Geneva and will be appearing with the High Commissioner.
And I think perhaps if you were to make a request to interview them, it
would be considered.
So I would encourage you to make, uh, that that request.
As of now, I'm not aware of plans to
to the press conference, um, up on the sidelines of the,
uh of the address to, uh to the council,
um Sudan representation. As indeed You're right.
I don't have information on who they representing Sudan. Perhaps Pascal
can assist if you reach out to him directly. Thank you.
Hello. Can you Can you hear me? Yeah. Thank you. Thank you very much. Uh uh,
Katrina for a question.
You have, uh, you have heard from our,
uh, acting, uh, representative in Sudan.
like I think it was.
It was last week or week before about the situation in Sudan, and indeed,
10 months of of the conflict.
It had a deadly impact on the on the lives, livelihoods and
health of the people.
The conflict has plunged the country into humanitarian crisis
of huge proportions,
and health system was already weak and struggling due to conflict and disease
outbreaks and and and hunger that was caused by by by drought.
And now, obviously, it's getting even worse.
And coming under enormous pressure caused,
uh, by the, uh, by the wall, I'll just give you some. Some, uh uh, examples.
Uh, about 70 to 80% of hospitals in covid
affected states are not working,
and the remaining ones are overwhelmed by the influx of people seeking care,
many of whom are internally
displaced. People are dying from
a lack of access to basic and
essential health care and medication critical services,
including maternal and child health care
and management of severe acute malnutrition and
treatment of patients with chronic conditions
have been discontinued in many areas.
Uh, what I
suggest to do is to send you, uh, some, uh, some numbers, uh,
updated numbers on cholera.
And, uh, and other other health, Uh, uh, health aspects in a in a note.
So So you have it, but, uh,
we as WHN you have heard also from our director general. Uh uh, uh uh.
We really keep, uh, uh, uh uh referring. How bad situation in Sudan is. And it's
the fact that it's getting even worse and that
this this crisis is not getting the the tension that we would like it to have.
Uh, So So we will, uh, will continue doing that. And
I will be sending some, uh, some figures in in my notes.
Thank you very much, Jamie.
Thank you, Alessandra. And my question is, for as i Magoo,
um, and Mr Magoo,
could you just, um, be a little bit more specific about,
um, what the high Commissioner was referring to when he talked about
potential war crimes?
Um, in the context of the news release.
Um, it was sort of mentioned after
there was a reference to the recruitment of child soldiers.
Um, and then the preceding paragraph before that talked about,
uh, of course, the, uh, sexual violence and rape.
So I just want to be as specific as
possible when he's talking about potential war crimes.
What are those potential war crimes specifically. Thank you so much.
thank you very much. Um,
the the the the potential war crimes. Um,
so the conflict in Sudan has thrown up a lot of violations of the Geneva Convention.
Um, and international humanitarian law generally.
So you've got killings. You've got, uh, rape. You've got
up sexual violence. You've got recruitment of Children. You've got people buried.
um, in mass graves, uh,
left to lead.
I'm afraid we have lost safe.
Safe. Are you there? Can you hear me?
Yeah. Now you're moving again. Yeah. You were frozen. Can you please just repeat the
the last sentence?
Ok, uh, so I was saying, um, the the this
conflict in in Sudan has
I don't know what's happening with the line safe, but we we can't hear you.
Yeah, you're back again. Let's Let's try another time, please.
Otherwise, maybe you can answer Jamie in writing in the chat. Please go ahead.
Because we we lose you.
Go ahead.
It it
could be something to do with my my connection.
Uh, let's try again.
Um, So, um, I was basically saying on the question of war crimes,
uh, the the violations of, uh, of, uh, the Geneva Conventions and IHL.
More generally,
uh, during the conflict in Sudan have been such that
there could be many instances that would
amount to war crimes that commissioner is talking about.
Some of these violations would amount to war crimes.
Specifically, if you look at the what the report we've just released,
you have, um, killings on a massive scale,
uh, killings that are ethnically motivated.
You've got, uh, reports of, um,
uh, being sexually violated.
And then the more recent case, which is not in the report. But we found
to be really egregious,
so egregious that we needed to bring it to the world's attention.
need, the the
healing in cold blood, uh, of of these, uh, young men, uh, simply for who they are.
And their beheading.
All of that uh,
in a in aggregate, Uh,
would, uh, amount to war crimes.
But of course, it would have to It would take a tribunal
to come to that conclusion. And that's why the High Commissioner
has repeatedly and and in this case, also called for an investigation.
to ensure that
those responsible are held to account and to actually,
uh, go to the root of the nature and the extent of these violations. And what
whether they would they would amount to war crimes.
So, in short, that's what I would, uh, I would say about that. Thank you so much.
Thank you very much. Saif,
to both of you for this briefing on Sudan which concludes this subject here.
I've got Eugene with me on the Po,
but I see that
Greece is on and with a camera. So
the permission of Eugene, who has been very nice. Thank you, Eugene. I'd like to go
directly to Chris Black in Gaza before we lose the connection.
Let's try to be with him for a little while.
Chris, thank you very much for connecting. I
know it's difficult and thanks for doing this even if not announced.
We are always very happy to have you.
You have an update on the health situation in Gaza. Go ahead, please.
Thank you very much, Alexandra. For your for your time and hello to colleagues. Who?
I know very well from Geneva. It's funny to be talking to you here from Gaza today.
Um perhaps I'll talk a little bit about the the
three missions I was on to to Nasser Hospital.
Um, and then if you have any follow up questions, I can I can talk about those.
Um, so I went, uh, three days in a row. This would have been, um
so five, starting five days ago,
Uh, on the the missions with the WHO and O
um, very complex missions, uh, because of the nature
of the environment around the hospital with active fighting there and
in the days before and even while we were there, um, even though it's not very far,
uh, the distance is here. Everything is kind of close.
But here,
the distance from from from where we are in Rafa to to NASA is about 2.7 kilometres.
But even just negotiating that part of road through incredible devastation.
Incredible destruction.
Um, with roads,
um, just churned up by by by the fighting and by tanks
was really a challenge for, for for the WHO
and NHO vehicles,
but also for the for the ambulances of the Palestinian Red Crescent
that were were with us.
Um, we had on two occasions we had four ambulances, and on one other occasion,
we had five
and they struggled to reach the hospital.
We could get to about 50 metres from the hospital.
Um, and there then, over the three days, we've, uh, evacuated.
We referred we, sir, we were We
were involved in the referral of patients, um,
from the health facility that that were
identified by the director of the hospital,
as the cri critical of the patients that needed to move to to move first.
So 51 patients,
um, many of them unable to walk. We we moved them in stretchers.
Um, some, they are called walking patients, but they're actually in wheelchairs.
And even the process of getting them out of the hospital was really challenging.
Especially the first. The first time we were there, we fell into the evening.
It was dark. There's no electricity in the hospital.
Um, there's the hospital corridors are full of patients and of
of, um, just
the chaos of a hospital That's that's come under fighting. So there's, um
you know, uh,
medical supplies and gurneys and everything was in
the hallway and negotiating that at night.
Um, for example, the IC U was on the fourth floor of the emergency building.
So up four stairs down four stairs and narrow space is caring patients,
and it was in the dark.
It was really, really a challenge.
But, um, the one thing I would remember
is the is the bravery of the, uh of the health personnel that stayed behind,
um, through this fighting to to to stay with their patients
the the the bravery of the the hospital director,
and the bravery of the Palestine
Press. Ambulance crews
who, uh, who are risking their lives to to save the these patients. And, uh,
And like I said, we were successful. 51 patients.
We referred to the I MC Field Hospital here in Rafael.
Um, not a long drive. It's a half an hour drive. An ambulance convoy.
Um, and then those patients, some stayed there in the I MC facility,
which is which is a fantastic facility.
Uh, deployed under the emergency medical teams. Uh, initiative coordinate by WHO
and others were referred to, uh, other hospitals here in Gaza.
So complex operations, Um really,
hard to describe the
the situation in the hospital that I saw.
Um, hopefully it's evolved. Since then. In the last two days, WHOO
have been working with the the the health, uh, directors at the hospital to
try to get the generator, uh, functioning again.
Um, it had run out of fuel.
Uh, before we arrived. It it has some fuel now that we brought in.
Um, the generator itself is is is running,
but, uh, power is not getting to the health facility.
This was an enormous health facility.
This is a giant health facility very, very important for the health of Gaza.
And, um,
the fact that it doesn't have electricity still is is really is really a challenge.
So the generator is functioning,
but the power between there and the control
panel and the hospital itself is not functioning.
So that's what they were working on the last two days.
That's what they're working on again today.
I think I'll leave it at that.
If you have any questions about that,
or about the time I spent here in Rafa
visiting other health facilities or or life in Rafa,
I'd be happy to take them. And thank you for this opportunity,
Alessandra and, uh, colleagues in Geneva. And I'm happy to be with you today.
Thank you, Chris. Questions in the room about the
hugger Phoenix TV.
Hi, Chris.
So lovely to see you there.
question. Simple, simple question. B.
so do you have the difficulties to access anywhere in Gaza? And how many staffs
in total
Uh, from, uh, WHO. Thank you.
Thank you. Both for the question and nice to hear your voice, my friend.
Um, yes,
there's There's difficulties in in movement because of of roads or difficulty.
And all our movements are coordinate,
through the international system so that the the
movement is safe and and and organised.
So there's there's definitely challenges there.
Um, the numbers I have, I think,
are just under 30,000 people killed and just
under 70,000 people injured at this point.
So, uh, and that those numbers are changing.
Of course, by the day over.
Sorry, I. I don't know if I if I understood.
Well, I think, uh, but it was asking also how much how many stuff, uh,
WHO has in in Gaza.
today I think we are.
maybe seven or eight international staff here, Um,
and we're joined by a country office that has been working here throughout the
throughout the last few months, but also throughout the last few years.
A very strong WTO country office.
Um, so we have quite a few colleagues from there.
I'm not sure the actual number of colleagues there I would have to check that for you,
but I think
certainly more than 10 or 12.
Um And then, of course, all these missions that we were doing,
um, we're working really hand in hand with, uh, with
OSHA as well as colleagues from UN FP A.
I've been out with colleagues from UN IE.
Um, I've been out with colleagues from, um WFP.
I've been out with colleagues from DS S keeping us safe.
So it's really the the entire UN system here.
It's not just, uh it's not just WHO that's involved in in in helping
the for the health of the people here. It's really a UN
cross UN effort, and it's really, um,
it's really one. It's just inspiring to be part of that. And it's a side of
WHO that that I don't get to see so often. So because I'm not always in the field.
And so seeing WHO operation on these in the in these situations,
along with colleagues from the UN, is really, uh,
it's really inspiring. I have to say
I don't know if you can answer this question that came in writing to
my WhatsApp is Can can you say exactly from where you're talking in Gaza
and indeed, thank you. That's a good question.
I should have mentioned that off the top I'm right now, just on the outskirts of Rafa,
in an area called Al
So it's not. It's on the top of Rafa, so not far from Kunis.
I can hear some shelling going on from Can units. I could see some smoking Canon
Unis is on the way in, so I'm just
very close to the sea at the very edge of Rafa here today.
I was in the ed of Rafa earlier on,
but I came out here to get better Internet so I could actually
have a conversation with you, because the internet here, connectivity again.
What you
talking about? Access connectivity here is really a giant issue
in terms of communicating and coordinating movements. Um,
cell phone network is basically not working,
so we're really reliant on the internet in one or two locations. This is one of them
along with satellite communication. So
the roads are one issue and and connectivity
is really another issue in terms of coordinations,
especially for the TV men that you are.
I have a question from Katrina.
Hi, Chris.
Uh, hope you're safe. Um, nice to see you. Thank you so much for the images that, um,
you posted, uh, when you were in the hospital, it was absolutely a a real nightmare.
Um, um, Chris questions.
Um, you spoke about 51 patients.
How many Children and women among them.
Another question is, uh, related to the doctors. How many doctors left?
Um, in that so-called hospital. Can we still call it an hospital?
Um, you OK? You answered electricity. What about water? clean water.
How do you have? Um do they have access to clean water?
Um, and also,
you spoke about difficulties. Um, in movement.
how are the Israeli, um,
people helping
and supporting,
uh, the missions
in order to have access to the hospital
and to the patients. Thank you, Chris. Take good care of yourself.
Klin for your question. Um, I hope I can remember it all,
um, number of health workers. I think we're saying it was
about 15 or 16 health workers,
if I remember correctly.
and, uh, one thing,
because I went over the three days, uh, that I'll never forget is, um,
on the first day in the dark, them just coming out of the dark and greeting us.
Uh, and the second thing is the smiles on their faces that they were happy to see us.
Um, they were happy that the
the help that we were bringing in
was helping the patients that they've been looking after round the clock.
They they're living themselves, of course, with the patients.
Um, And when we got there, that was for days in the dark.
And to answer your question with no running
water with no sanitation and with no electricity.
and as far as I know, the water situation hasn't changed.
We brought in some bottled water for the patients and, um, for the health workers.
And we brought in some food for the patients
and health workers.
But it was we limited the amount of material that we can move, uh,
within our vehicles.
Um, what was your question? Next question,
Children. How many Children? How many women? Children.
I think if I remember correctly,
there was two Children in the 51 patients that we moved.
And I don't believe I have the breakdown between
men and women. But if you would want, I can get you that number afterwards.
Um, the the missions that we did were facilitated what we call facilitated, um,
through the through the CL.
Um you said they were facilitated missions and coordinate with, um,
the Israeli authorities.
thank you very much. Is there any other question for Chris?
I don't see other ends up, so
thank you very, very much. Please stay safe.
And this is really something that we all want to tell you.
Thanks very much for
crushing in the press briefing.
It's always a pleasure to see you come back and tell us about
the situation of the health sector in Gaza
and good luck for your, uh, activities in the next days.
So thank you very much, Eugene, for your patience.
And, uh,
I'll give you the floor now on DC and then we
will still have to hear from Charlotte Sector of units.
Good morning, everyone.
I'm here today to bring your attention to yet another humanitarian crisis,
particularly the
UN refugee agency is gravely concerned by worsening humanitarian situation,
civilians in the
face in the
eastern part of the country,
Intensifying violence and conflict are exacting a
heavy toll on innocent civilians and hundreds of
thousands of whom are attempting to seek safety
on the peripheries of a conflict zone.
Since the resurgence of fighting around the town of
sake in the North Ku
province on 7 February,
144,000 individuals have been forced to flee at the outskirts of Goa.
They have fled indiscriminate bombing
that have impacted displacement sites
and also other civilian areas
over the past few weeks, which have resulted in the death of more than 20 civilians
and also injured more than 60.
While conflict around Zaki
rages, Non state armed groups in
have launched a horrific spate of attacks
against civilians this week
in the Bay
region of North Kivu as well as in the IRU
territory of Ituri
Protection Monitoring reported
that they have received the reports of killings and kidnapping
and the burning of homes.
We are
we are we heard the story of a Jean Paul individual, the father
internally displaced father who moved from Musha
three months ago,
now displaced again to Goma.
That means that there is a multiple displacement happening in eastern Congo
as well as that.
The less and less safe zone for the individual and the displaced population
this atrocity against civilians and displaced population and urgently
call for a cessation of hostility across the eastern province
provinces to safeguard the civilian lives.
The plight of the newly displaced in eastern
DRC is compounded by the pre-existing
and pressing humanitarian situation.
More than 7 million people remain displaced across the country,
including half a million refugees
already seek asylum
those displaced. The content
with very high risks associated with the inadequate shelters,
poor sanitation facility
and limited income generating opportunity.
UNHCR has successfully advocated with the local authority for the
extension of the two displacement sites on the periphery of Goma
and with the other humanitarian agency plan to deliver 900,000 shelter in 2024
nearly double the 500,000 built last year.
But those are not enough
to address these and many other humanitarian needs in the
The 2024 humanitarian response Plan was launched on 20 February,
appealing for 2.6 billion to help some 8.7
million people in need across the country.
and its partner launched on 20
22nd February yesterday a regional refugee response plan to provide
critical protection and assistance to
Congolese refugees in neighbouring countries.
The plan requires $668 million to support nearly 1 million
refugees in neighbouring countries and 1 million host community members,
the majority of whom are in Angola, Burundi,
the Republic of Congo, Rwanda,
Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia.
Thank you very much, Eugene, Let me see if there is any question on DRC in the room
or online. Katrine
Yes. Good morning, Eugene. And thank you. For, uh, this briefing on the RC.
Um um I read your, um, press release, but I haven't seen anything about who did what.
Because these people have been bombed. By whom?
Um, if I'm not mistaken. It is, um, the M 23
uh, groups that are, in fact, attacking
around Goma and pushing, um, the ID PS, uh,
clause of Goma and, um,
related to a report published by, um, UN.
it looks like the M 23 is supported by, uh, foreign countries.
um, could you tell us more about, um,
who is attacking whom
and where? Thank you.
Thanks, Catherine.
As we are aware,
there is a 252 non state armed group operating in eastern province of Dr
So it's very difficult to point out who did what at the moment.
So un
is basically calling all parties in the region,
attacking civilians to respect the
humanitarian principle and humanitarian nature of
displacement sites to protect and safeguard the lives of civilians.
Thanks. Catherine.
Lisa Schlein.
Yeah. Good morning. Uh, first to follow up on the question that Catherine asked you.
I mean, there may be 250 20 or whatever this astronomical number of
armed groups fighting around there.
But media reports consistently consistently consistently talk about M 23.
And they talk about the Congolese government pointing its finger at Rwanda
as, uh, as supporting them. So, you know, you certainly have heard this.
Do you not have any
comment to make about that?
And then,
uh, if I may on, uh, a few a couple of other questions,
Um, on your humanitarian operation.
Um, uh,
are you able really to reach the people that you need to safely have any of your,
uh, aid workers or other aid workers been attacked by the, um excuse me by the warring
parties, whoever they may be.
And then
what about the Sudanese armed forces?
I mean,
you talk about all of these rebel groups, but the Sudanese armed forces must be,
uh I'm sorry.
I'm getting
my African countries all messed up here.
The Congolese armed forces
must be there, Right? I got it right now fighting with, um, these groups, too.
I mean, is, is there active fighting going on between the government forces and
M, 23 or whoever else is there. And what, uh, you know is anyone winning?
Is the government making any kind of an impression on this
thing? Thank you.
Thanks, Lisa,
For your
question, let me address from the non
state armed group that you mentioned that, of course,
that we are aware of the report being published by different actors.
But then, as I mentioned that, as there is a 252 non state armed group
actively operating across the eastern provinces,
it's really difficult for us to comment and
comment on the specific non state armed group.
I hope that answers your question. Maybe not answering. But yes, that's what we
can tell for now and the humanitarian access. Thank you for your question.
So basically restrict the humanitarian access and
the growing needs for displaced people is our biggest concern that
a lot of
hundreds of thousands of displaced people are
cut off from the vital humanitarian aid.
That's why we called last year that
humanitarian access impeded humanitarian access, have to guarantee
to reach those people in need a desperate need.
There is no shelter. They left everything. Their houses were burned
the Children
and then also women are just
such a dire situation at the moment what we are hearing from the ground. So
we are calling basically all parties involved its
non state armed group or the government government,
the forces that you mentioned all parties to respect
humanitarian law and international human rights law so that humanitarian
agency can access those people in need. Thank you,
I hope I answer your question.
I hope so too. Ok, thank you very much. Eugene,
Let me see if there are other questions. So thanks very much for this and
I'd like to thank also Charlotte for her patience.
She has an announcement for you from you.
Yes. I'll make it quick. Thank you, Alexandra. Um,
just just I wanted to say that the UN a S came out with a sit rep and a brief, um,
a brief on Ukraine two years.
We agree. Uh, mental health is an issue, and so is gender based violence. However,
uh, silver lining is that
there has been
treatment. HIV treatment and testing.
HIV testing are back to almost pre-war levels.
So that is the somewhat positive aspect of
this and surprising it really does show resilience.
As many of the earlier speakers said,
Moving right along, I will keep it short.
Zero Discrimination Day is March 1st. Why do we care?
Because, as you know, there has been a lot of pushback
against LGBT rights against women's rights, et cetera,
And so UN A I DS is trying to kind of push back on that and
ask for some multilateralism. You know, we're seeing it being attacked.
We're seeing democracies being attacked,
and we're trying to kind of get people
to think about.
By protecting everyone's rights. We will protect everyone's health.
I'm not saying there's a right or wrong. It's just saying,
If you don't protect people's rights, you do not protect people's health.
Thank you very much, Nasik.
Thank you, Charlotte. And we have taken good note.
A note of your
additional information on Ukraine.
Any question to
in the room or online? I don't see any,
but I see the tarik as raises.
Hand Tarik?
Uh, yes. Uh, thank you. Thank you, Alexandra. Uh uh.
I was just chatting with with Chris, and he,
uh he sent me the numbers that you katrin asked.
So among the 51 patients that have been
medically referred outside of NASA Medical complex.
Uh, there were 10,
uh, under 16 years of age. So so Children
and 21 female and 30 male. So this is the information that Chris just gave.
Thank you very much. Much appreciated.
OK, so I don't see other hands up. I've got a couple of announcements for you.
In addition to what we have heard from Pascal
for the Council,
I wanted to remind you that the Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights will close
next Friday 1st March, its 75th session
during which it has analysed the
reports of Romania, Mauritania, Ireland, Iraq, Indonesia and Sweden.
The Committee on Enforced Disappearances, which is meeting at Palais
Wilson. We have next Monday afternoon at three P MA dialogue with Honduras.
And then I wanted to remind you also that the Conference on Disarmament will hold
its high level segment of the year 2024 from next Monday 26th to Wednesday,
28 February.
This is going to be in room 18 under the presidency of Indonesia.
I don't think I have ever told you the other
presidents that as you know they come in alphabetical order.
Indonesia will be present until 15 March
and it will be followed by Iran, Iraq, Ireland
and Israel.
As you can see in alphabetical order the last announcement on press conferences,
we are going to send you more announcements for press conferences.
I know that there have been a few requests, but
the moment the only confirmed one that we've announced is by the group of
human rights experts On Nicaragua's latest report
on the human rights situation in Nicaragua.
The experts will talk to you on Wednesday 28 February at 130 to launch the report,
and you will have the chair, Jean Michel
and two members of the group of experts, Angela Maria Gura
and Arriella Peralta Dise
if there are Oh John! Oh John,
let's see if we can hear you. Go ahead.
I have to switch to my mobile. My computer's
question to the beginning of the briefing concerning the
human rights session next week it will be webcast,
but will it also be live streamed through the
European Broadcasting Union to TV stations or not?
Thank you.
OK, so as I said, we don't the webcast will be assured,
insured by the automated cameras in the room
and they will be And the images will be available on U web TV
on the first day we should be able.
I think we can confirm that we will ensure for the first session.
For the first part of the high level segment,
we will have broadcast quality images and those will be made available on uni feed.
And of course,
and the other broadcaster will be able to also pick it up.
I can't speak for the other days, unfortunately, but definitely for Monday.
Yes, Alexandra?
As John came back to the beginning of this, uh, briefing, I'd like to ask you a favour.
You know that, um,
Akanu had found an agreement a couple of years
ago for the accredited journalists that have a badge.
Um um
UN badge, uh,
valid for one year
to enter room 20 from the back. Go through security from the back of the
because like that, we can have access to quick access to
the department of the press, because if we have to line up with all the
NGOs, officials, ambassadors, delegations,
it takes forever
And usually when we enter the room, it's too late.
Seats are already taken and the room only open 30 minutes before.
Um, the the high level starts. Would it be possible for you,
uh, to help us once more
and to see if we could enter from the back of the room as it was?
Um, the case, Um, in the during the previous years.
Yes, I do remember very distinctively,
distinctively, that we had obtained that agreement with security.
So I can ask again, that's not a problem.
But I am pretty sure that it would not be possible for the first three days of the high
level segment because of the number of high level delegations
that comes in and out one after the other.
As you know, we have lots of lots of dignitaries.
You will see it on the list of speakers of the high level segment,
lots of very high level dignitaries that come in and out.
So I don't think that that little door would be able
to cater for more people than already the official delegations.
But I can ask, and definitely I can ask for the
for the beginning of
the end of the high level segment. The normal session. We will see what we can do.
Yes, Katrin.
Uh, thank you, Alexandra.
Maybe you could, um, find a kind of agreement about the time slot that if we arrive,
let's say, one hour before the be
beginning, from this time to this time this hour to this hour,
we would be allowed to enter from the back.
That means like you just mentioned
ahead of the arrival of delegations.
And after a certain hour,
we wouldn't be allowed any more to go from to enter from the back of the room.
It's a good suggestion. I'll give it a try for sure.
thank you so much.
No worries. And we will try to facilitate your life on Monday.
Rolando will be in the room.
Uh uh
with Francois
and our interns, and we will really do our best to, you know,
monitor also the press gallery.
just wanted to confirm my colleagues of UN TV are
telling me that broadcast cameras live signal will be passed to
on Monday morning. At least to answer to your question. Yes, As I said,
definitely. And
also, when we have the broadcast camera coverage, which is, as I said,
only for the moment,
only limited to Monday for the first session of the high level segment.
Thank you very much. And indeed, I wish you a very good weekend.
And, uh, brace yourself for next week. It's gonna be interesting.
I'll see you there. Thank you.