UN Geneva Press Briefing - 10 May 2024
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UN Geneva Press Briefing - 10 May 2024


10 May 2024

Rolando Gómez, Chief of the Press and External Relations Section at the United Nations Information Service in Geneva, chaired a hybrid briefing, which was attended by the spokespersons and representatives of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the World Meteorological Organization, and the World Intellectual Property Organization.


Situation in the occupied Palestinian territory

Georgios Petropoulos, Head of the Sub-office of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Gaza, speaking from Rafah, said that the situation had reached even more unprecedented levels of emergency, following the Israeli military operation in Rafah. The largest impediment to humanitarian activities came from the fact that all crossings into Rafah were now closed. Movement of humanitarian staff and medical evacuations of civilians were limited. OCHA was working with Member States to find a rapid, sustainable solution to bring fuel and humanitarian aid into Rafah, as not having fuel would have immediate, adverse effects. Protection of civilians and influx of supplies had to remain priorities. Without fuel, numerous hospitals, mobile clinics, and ambulances would not be able to function. Safe water production in Rafah had already ceased, he said. As of today, out of the 12 bakeries in south Gaza, eight had had to stop operating because of the lack of fuel. Unless the supply of fuel resumed immediately, humanitarian, communication and banking activities would all have to halt within days, warned Mr. Petropoulos.

Hamish Young, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Senior Emergency Coordinator in Gaza, speaking from Rafah, said that in his 30-year long humanitarian career, he had never been involved in a situation as devastating, complex, or erratic as this. The previous day, he had walked around Al-Mawasi, the so-called “humanitarian zone” that people in eastern Rafah were being told to move to. More than 100,000 people had fled Rafah in the last five days and the stream of displacement continued. The roads to Mawasi were jammed – many hundreds of trucks, buses, cars, and donkey carts loaded with people and possessions. Mr. Young had even seen someone trying to move their latrine on the back of a donkey cart – just one example of how desperate people were. Open defecation was on the rise, and displaced people were subject to even greater risk of disease, infections, malnutrition, dehydration and other protection and health concerns. 

Mr. Young explained that for five days, no fuel and virtually no humanitarian aid had entered the Gaza Strip and the humanitarian agencies were scraping the bottom of the barrel. If not corrected, the lack of fuel could grind humanitarian operations to a halt. Without fuel, for example, the maternity wards in Emirati hospital could not function, while approximately 80 babies were born there every day. Without fuel, the water desalination plants, and the water wells could not function, the sewage system could not operate, and UN trucks could not bring the critical, lifesaving humanitarian aid to the people in need. Mr. Young said that over 14,000 children had reportedly been killed already, and a ground offensive in Rafah would undoubtedly result in this number increasing dramatically. He had seen firsthand many children who had lost limbs, who have suffered horrific burns. Mr. Young stressed the immediate need for fuel. Aid had to flow; hostages had to be freed; Rafah should not be invaded; children ought to be protected, not killed.

Margaret Harris, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the previous day a WHO team had visited the Naser medical complex, which was not fully functional, but there had been some improvements thanks to international support: dialysis patients were being accepted and blood tests were being conducted again, for example. Without fuel, however, all the lifesaving treatments could no longer be done, warned Ms. Harris. Missions to the north had been suspended to save fuel. The sewage system had to be repaired throughout Gaza Strip. If one was not killed by bombs, they could die of thirst, hunger, or infectious diseases.

Rolando Gómez, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), read an X post by Philippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in which he informed that the previous day, Israeli residents had set fire twice to the perimeter of the UNRWA Headquarters in occupied East Jerusalem. This had taken place while UNRWA and other UN agencies’ staff had been on the compound. While there had been no casualties among UNRWA staff, the fire had caused extensive damage to the outdoor areas. 

Answering questions from the media, Georgios Petropoulos, for OCHA, said that some 30,000 people had been leaving Rafah per day since the IDF had moved into the area. OCHA did not have sufficient tents, beddings, and other necessary supplies in the areas to which the population was now moving; and further supplies could currently not go in. The Erez crossing into northern Gaza remained open, through which humanitarian supplies continued to come in, but that was far from sufficient to meet the needs of two million people across Gaza Strip. Margaret Harris, for the WHO, said that some 9,000 people needed medical evacuation, but nobody was coming in and out. At least 30 people were confirmed as having died of hunger and dehydration. WHO-established malnutrition centers in both the north and the south needed fuel and supplies to keep going. 

Both Mr. Petropoulos, for OCHA, and Hamish Young, for UNICEF, said that the local population continued to be warm and welcoming towards UN humanitarian workers. Shelling was still very much going on, Mr. Young said. Evacuation orders were received from the IDF through established channels, but local people in Rafah were also receiving them through social media and leaflets. Every action that would stop a military incursion into Rafah should be supported, stressed Mr. Petropoulos. People’s physical safety and wellbeing had to be put first. Fuel should be coming in regularly and not in one-off deliveries, he said. Ms. Harris stated that all surviving hospitals were already massively overcrowded. Destroying access to healthcare was catastrophic for everyone, emphasized Ms. Harris. 

Floods in Brazil

Rolando Gómez, for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), said that the previous day, the Secretary-General had stated that he was deeply saddened by the loss of lives and damage caused by heavy rains and flooding in the south of Brazil. The United Nations team on the ground stood ready to assist the people of Brazil at this difficult time. The Secretary-General further noted that such disasters were a reminder of the devastating effects of the climate crisis on lives and livelihoods; he reiterated his call for swift international action to curb the chaotic effects of climate change.

William Spindler, for the United Nations Refuge Agency (UNHCR), stated that UNHCR was working with federal, state, and municipal authorities, and partner organizations in Brazil to mitigate the severe impact of the extreme weather events, including heavy rains, strong winds and cold, that had devastated areas of Brazil's southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. Massive floods had killed at least 107 people and affected more than 1.7 million, according to official figures. Another 134 people were missing. Those affected included some 41,000 refugees and others in need of international protection, including many Venezuelans and Haitians.

In coordination with local authorities, UNHCR was distributing relief items such as blankets and mattresses and assessing the needs of the affected population. UNHCR was also providing technical support to facilitate communication with the impacted communities so that refugees and migrants would have access in their own language to official information on protection recommendations and risks in the places where they lived. Extreme weather events in Brazil had been frequent and more devastating in recent years, including droughts in the Amazon region and severe rains in Bahia and Acre states, all of which UNHCR had responded to.

UNHCR estimated USD 3.21 million was needed to support the most urgent needs, including direct financial assistance to affected individuals and the provision of essential relief items.

Meteorologists were warning of further high-intensity rain and strong winds across the state until this weekend. Finally, Mr. Spindler stressed that severe climate events disproportionately affected refugees and other people requesting international protection. 

Full statement can be read here

Replying to questions, Mr. Spindler, for UNHCR, said that the UNHCR had been present in Brazil for several decades, with the primary objective of assisting the authorities with the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees. In Brazil, as in many countries of Latin America, refugees lived amid local communities rather than in camps, so UNHCR was providing support to the local people as well as refugees. UNHCR’s assistance to the areas hosting refugees came within the broader response led by the Brazilian authorities. UNHCR also worked with a number of local partners, through which it was providing assistance. Mr. Gómez, for UNIS, reminded that the UN team in Brazil was led by the Resident Coordinator. Misinformation and disinformation remained a major concern, not only in Brazil, but around the world, stated Mr. Spindler. Brazil was a country prone to natural disasters, which was why it was important to work on prevention, he said. 

Clare Nullis, for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), responding to another question, said that the WMO State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2023, released this week, highlighted the vulnerability of the entire region to climate change. A huge area of Brazil, several times the size of Switzerland, was affected by floods, she explained. El Niño played a major role in the Brazilian floods, but the impact of the climate change was as important. Every fraction of a degree of global warming meant that our weather, already on steroids, would become more extreme. April 2024 had been the warmest month on record, she informed, making it the eleventh month in a row to be recorded as the warmest ever. Ms. Nullis emphasized the importance of the “Early Warnings for All” initiative; the early warning system in the case of Brazil had helped reduce the number of victims. Brazilian meteorological services regularly issued accurate and timely early warnings. While the response by the authorities was rapid and efficient, the scale of the disaster made the response more difficult.


Responding to a question, Margaret Harris, for the World Health Organization (WHO), said that the current, very intense negotiations among WHO Member States on a pandemic preparedness treaty would end today. Next steps would be discussed and announced later today, she informed. The World Health Assembly, at the end of May, would consider the outcome of the negotiating process.

Edward Harris, for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), informed that the Diplomatic Conference on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

would begin at WIPO on 13 May at 10 am, and it would be webcast on WIPO’s website. There would be 1,200 attendees; any journalists who wanted to be there should get in touch with Mr. Harris and be there early. A number of government ministers from around the world were expected to attend. 

Rolando Gómez, for the for the United Nations Information Service (UNIS), said that the Secretary-General was in Nairobi attending the UN Civil Society Conference, which is part of preparations for the Summit of the Future. He would be giving a press conference at 2:15 pm today, which would be webcast at UNTV. 

The Committee Against Torture would conclude its 79th session today and issue its concluding observations on the six countries reviewed during this session: Austria, Honduras, Azerbaijan, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, and Finland. 

The Committee on the Rights of the Child was concluding this morning its review of the report of Mali. This afternoon, it would review the report of Panama under Optional Protocol on the sale of children.

On 13 May, the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women would open on 13 May at 10 am its 88th session, during which it would review the reports of Republic of Korea, Montenegro, Singapore, Estonia, Kuwait, Malaysia, Brazil, and Rwanda.

Good morning.
Thank you for joining us here at the UN
office at Geneva for this press briefing today,
the 10th of May.
We have another very important and and dense, uh,
press briefing for you. We have briefers, uh, from
OA from UNICEF and from the World Health Organisation,
Uh, who were going to speak to the situation in Gaza.
We also have an update from our colleague from the refugee agency on Brazil,
as well as an announcement from
the World Intellectual Property Organisation. So we'll start off immediately
with our colleague for the From the office of the Coordinator of Humanitarian
Affairs, Mr Georgios
Petropoulos, who is the head of the sub office in Gaza for
who is joining us from Rafah
just to mention that we will take the three briefers on Gaza back to back,
and then we'll take questions at the end of the three briefings.
over to you.
Hi, everyone. Uh and, uh good afternoon from, uh, Rafa.
it's good to be here.
The the situation that we're seeing here in Gaza, I think, has reached, uh,
once again we say even more unprecedented, uh, levels of emergency.
So the recently evacuation order. We had,
uh, from the government of Israel linked to the military operation in Rafah.
Uh, is now counting 100 and 10,000 plus, uh, displaced people, um,
having to move north.
And most of these are people who have had to displace, uh, five or six times.
Um uh, what's on our plate right now is the largest, uh,
impediment to our activities is that every single crossing into, uh, rafah
government in south Gaza is closed and remains so,
uh, the closure, especially Rafah crossing. Um, and, uh, Kara
Salem has severed access. Uh, for us to fuel the supplies
and the movement of humanitarian staff.
It's also affected the movement of any civilians
that could go out for medical evacuation.
Um, in our assessment of, uh, both Rafa
and Karen
Salem, uh, to date, we've seen that they're not secure. They're not safe.
Uh, and they're not logistically viable. So there's a lot of work that we have to do
to get into that state,
that we're working hard with member states to find ways to bring this fuel
and supplies and to make sure that aid workers can get in and out.
Um, this solution would need to be sustainable. Uh, we have to bring some kind of, uh,
um, predictability to the aid here.
Unless these, uh, these solutions come quickly.
Um, our aid activities, uh, communication, uh,
with lack of fuel banking activities even will halt within the next two days.
Um, not having fuel, uh, will affect your life critical sectors.
Um, without supplies, we're already seeing, uh, market, uh, prices rise.
Um, and vulnerable members of society,
be forced to abuse of having to
make choices that are unacceptable that are dangerous
in order to access what does remain available
in the market or on displacement sites.
Um, so protection of civilians,
humanitarian assets and our actual supplies with assurance from
all parties has to remain a major concern Already,
uh, we have lost supplies from warehouses that have been in evacuation zones, uh,
from destruction and looting.
Um, shelling bombing has affected, uh, communication, cell phone, Uh,
internet towers.
Uh, it was Internet access.
It was the ability to communicate effectively with each other.
communities that we serve,
in the next day or so.
Uh, if we don't, uh, have fuel, we were going to lose, uh, functioning of five.
Ministry of Health hospitals, five field hospitals.
Um, almost 30 ambulances,
70 primary health care centres run by UN
R and other partners,
and 10 mobile clinics providing immunisation
trauma care and malnutrition services,
as well as 23 medical facilities in Alma
Which, as you know,
is where hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people have seek shelter.
any kind of meaningful, uh, water safe water production. Rafa
has already stopped.
facilities have to be maintained at their lowest levels just
to ensure that they're not destroyed by full stoppage,
would require weeks to, uh, to begin again.
In terms of the food, we have to say that, uh, the World Food Programme in UN
R a will run out of food for distribution in the south.
Uh, by tomorrow,
that means that people will be left home with what has already been distributed, uh,
in their in their shelters, in their homes and on site.
As of today,
we have 12 bakeries supported by humanitarian partners. Here in south Gaza.
Eight have ceased to operate due to lack of fuel stock and four that
are still operating at reduced capacities will be out of that stock by Monday.
Thank you very much.
Thank you very much, Georgios. And indeed, uh,
Janz, Who's with us here on the podium? We'll share these figures with you.
We're gonna turn immediately to another colleague. Uh, joining us from Rafa
from UNICEF Hamish
Young, who's UNICEF
emergency coordinator
in the Gaza Strip. Uh, Hamish over to you.
Uh, good morning. Thank you. And greetings from Rafa here in in Gaza.
I've been working on large scale humanitarian emergencies for
the best part of the last 30 years,
and I've never been involved in a situation as devastating,
complex or erratic as this.
When I arrived in Gaza in the middle of November,
I was shocked by the severity of the impact of this conflict on Children.
impossibly, it has continued to worsen since then.
Yesterday I was walking around the al
Mawasi zone that people in Rafa
are being told to move to. More than 100,000 people have fled
in the last five days and the stream of displacement continues. The roads to Alma
WASI are jammed. Many hundreds of trucks, buses, cars donkey carts.
You name it. They're loaded with people in possessions.
In fact, I was almost late for this briefing because I was held up, uh, in in that,
uh, human traffic,
Um, and And on the way in today, I saw someone trying to move their latrine,
Um, their temporary, uh, makeshift latrine on the back of a donkey cart.
I think this gives you some idea of just how desperate the people are.
Um, shelters already lined down the WASI
sand dunes.
And it's now becoming difficult to move between the mass of tents and tarpaulins.
People I speak with Tell me they are absolutely exhausted. They're terrified.
And they know life in Al Mawasi
will again almost impossibly be harder.
Families lack proper sanitation facilities. They lack drinking water,
and they lack shelter.
People are making improvised toilets by digging holes
in the ground around groups of tents.
Open defecation is on the rise.
Um uh, Georgia just, uh, uh gave us some some striking numbers on, uh um,
the lack of access to hospitals and health centres.
And as we know,
displaced people are subject to even greater risk of disease infections.
Um, malnutrition, particularly Children uh,
Um, and they're also subject to other protection and additional health concerns.
Um, beyond a few mobile health points and field hospitals with limited capacity,
the closest hospital is at least four kilometres away.
And that's assuming the road is even safe to use
in Gaza. Almost everyone has now been displaced more than once some many times.
Um, and as a result, they're at even greater risk.
Uh, yesterday, I was talking to, uh to someone who was packing up, um,
their family just outside, Uh, the, uh,
the the co ordination centre, where we are now,
and, uh, one of the The father told me, um, that he had no N,
no nothing other than bad options to choose from.
Um, And as he was telling me where he was going, he he started sobbing.
Then his Children started crying. Then they they started asking me what to do.
Um, it's just a tragic situation,
and and there's nowhere safe in Gaza for Children.
Um, all that said impossibly again, it will worsen, uh,
further if humanitarian operations are not revised in the next 24 to 48 hours.
Um, again, as George has just said.
For five days, no fuel and virtually no humanitarian aid is in
at the the Gaza Strip, and we are scraping the bottom of the barrel.
This is already a huge issue for the population
and for all humanitarian actors.
But in a matter of days, if this is not corrected,
the lack of fuel will really grind the whole humanitarian operation to a halt.
Um, without fuel.
The maternity wards, for example, in Emirati Hospital cannot function.
And this is while approximately 80 babies are born there. Every day,
pregnant women are left without options for safe delivery of their newborns,
as we've seen in other parts of Gaza over the last seven months,
when hospitals ran out of fuel,
life saving equipment such as ventilators and incubators stopped working.
And there's not even enough incubators to go around at the moment.
I was in a hospital last week,
Um, and every incubator had two, if not three, newborn babies in it,
um, without fuel. The water
desalination desalination plants,
um, which are only running at 20 to 30% capacity anyway,
um cannot function. The water wells can't function.
Um, the sewage system, degraded as it is uh cannot operate at all,
and our trucks cannot bring the critical life
saving humanitarian aid to the people in need.
Food stocks to support the people in the south
are expected to run out in the coming days,
and the last functioning bakery in the South is about to run out of fuel
at a time when people are being forced to pick up and move again.
Life saving supplies that sustain and support them have been entirely cut off,
so let's be very clear this will result in Children dying.
These are deaths of Children that can and must be prevented.
And then there are families that cannot leave Rapa or choose to stay.
Hundreds of thousands of Children are injured, sick,
malnourished or have a pre-existing disability.
Over 14,000 Children have reportedly been killed already in this conflict.
A ground offensive in Rafah will undoubtedly
result in this number increasing dramatically.
Even the air offensive is is killing people already?
Um, one of our colleagues at uh the WHO lost a seven year old niece two days ago.
I've spent a lot of time in Gaza's remaining hospitals,
and the injuries I've witnessed are excruciating.
It's very hard to describe the impact of modern high tech weaponry on a four year old.
What it does to a young body is just beyond comprehension.
I've seen first hand many, many Children who've lost limbs,
who've suffered horrific burns, these type of injuries.
And, of course, the impact on the mental health of all Children in the Gaza ST
is terrible. And it's getting worse.
Those of us who are working here are doing
everything we can to keep the humanitarian response alive.
We remain hopeful our calls for a ceasefire will be heard and acted on.
But we are also braced for this senseless conflict to
continue to shock even the most seasoned of us.
We need fuel immediately.
Aid must flow. Hostages must be freed.
Rafa must not be invaded. And Children must be protected, not killed.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
Uh, Hamish, now over to Margaret from the World Health Organisation for
an update as well in Gaza.
And thank you very much to my colleague
from UNICEF for those updates and really bringing to
reality what a health system under such
threat under such pressure looks like
we have one bright spot. Our
team visited the NASA medical complex yesterday.
It's not fully functional, but
the work of the health partners in the health cluster. UK med
MSF France and UNFPA
along with who
to get it back up and running. This has just been done within days.
Weeks means that they
were actually accepting dialysis patients yesterday,
and they
are also their laboratory is able to perform some blood tests.
It's not
anywhere near where it was, but it's coming back.
And this was part of a contingency plan to try
to see where the hospitals could be made available.
Functional if this incursion happened,
but and we have prepositioned supplies in the various hospitals,
field hospitals, medical points.
But as has been made absolutely clear without fuel,
all that stops
all the things that a hospital does, all the life saving treatments
no longer can be done.
Even if you've got somebody back from the brink, you've operated on them,
you've put them on a ventilator.
Ventilator stops. They no longer breathe.
So without fuel, no matter what everybody's done,
the whole system collapses.
We have distributed fuel
to NASA medical complex and to other hospitals we who
are now the distributor of fuel to all hospitals. We've also had to suspend
our missions to the North currently to conserve fuel, to try to ensure that we can
provide as much fuel as possible to the hospitals in the South to keep them going.
And as I said,
think that's it.
a team of logisticians were working to repair the sewage system in NASA Medical
Medical Centre,
and that is something that needs to be done
throughout the strip. As my colleague very graphically described
a lack of sewerage services. Lack of clean water
means that if the bombs don't get you, you die of thirst,
infectious diseases or simply hunger.
Thank you.
Uh, very much, Margaret, if you'll indulge me, uh, we'll take questions in a minute,
but I I'm just gonna read out a tweet
that was, uh, put out last night from on
A on behalf of runway and R
is the Commissioner General Philip Lazzarini.
Uh, the tweet is as far as this evening.
Israeli residents set fire twice to the perimeter of
the UNRWA headquarters in the occupied east Jerusalem.
And this took place while UNRWA and
U UN agency staff were on the compound. While there were no casualties among
the staff, Uh, the fire caused extensive damage to outdoor areas.
The UNRWA headquarters has on its grounds a petrol
and diesel station for the agency's fleet of cars.
Now, uh, the director of UN
R A, with the help of other staff had put out
the fire themselves as it took the Israeli fire extinguishers
and police. A while before they turned up,
a crowd accompanied by armed men were witnessed, uh, outside the compound,
burned down the United Nations.
This is an outrageous development.
Once again,
the lives of UN staff were at a
serious risk in light of this second appalling incident
in less than a week, I have, uh,
that is the Commissioner General has taken the decision to close down the compound,
uh, until proper security is restored.
Uh, over the past two months, I should mention that, uh, this is, uh,
the Israeli extremists have been staging protests outside their honour,
A compound in Jerusalem
called by an elected member of the Jerusalem municipality. The tweet continues.
Um, this week,
the protests became violent when demonstrators threw stones at
the UN staff in the buildings of the compound.
Uh, over the past months, uh, UN staff have been regularly subjected to harassment
and intimidation.
Uh, the UNRWA compound
has been seriously vandalised and damaged
on several occasions as early extremists threatened
staff with guns.
Um, UN. Of course.
It is a responsibility of the state of Israel as an occupying power
to ensure the United Nations personnel and facilities are protected at all times.
Uh, UN staff,
premises and operations should be protected at
all times in line with international law.
Lastly, uh, the
Commissioner general calls on all who have influence to put an end
to these attacks and hold all those responsible accountable.
The perpetrators of these attacks must be investigated,
and those responsible must be held accountable.
Anything else? Anything less rather will set a dangerous standard. And, of course,
that's the end of the tweet. Of course, this illustrates that
our colleagues, um
of course in Gaza are at risk. We've lost many humanitarian colleagues.
We've lost nearly 190
of our UNRWA staff. As we've reported here,
it's not just in Gaza where we are
under attack.
So this is something that we really
wanted to emphasise the need for accountability,
the need for these
intimidations and attacks to end.
So I'll turn over to you colleagues for your questions.
And if you could kindly indicate who you want to point your question to, uh,
we'll start off right away for any in the room,
and then we'll turn
to the platform.
OK, we have a question from, uh, Mohammed of Ando.
Uh, thank you so much. Rolando. My question for
Jens Or, uh uh, uh uh
A guy
can reply it.
after the Israeli attack, almost 110
people fled
Rafah for safety.
As you well know,
my question is, where this force,
where displaced people go
Is this
number expected to increase rapidly and
the United Nations have any aid plan for these people?
Thank you.
Thank you. Ah, Mohammed. Ah, Georgios.
Yeah, Thank you very much for your question.
Uh, so we've seen since the, uh since the attack, we've seen, on average,
about 30,000 people leaving Rafa
every day.
they move from Rafa city towards the coast.
Uh, or they move north, uh, into the governance of
Khan Yis
or de
or what we call the middle area.
they add to the numbers of the displaced there.
So these areas already have displaced numbers.
Uh, in the hundreds of thousands,
Uh, the the humanitarian system has prepared, uh, through some, uh,
prepositioning of supplies and moving over of the
field hospitals and preparation for primary health care.
The problem is that at present, um, and when this when this, uh, new, uh,
operation started here in the South.
we simply have no tents.
Uh, we have, uh, no. No blankets, no bedding.
Uh, none of the items that you would expect the population on the move,
uh, to be able to, uh, to get from the humanitarian system.
Um, as I've already explained also, with the, uh, the lack of incoming supplies, Um,
what we will need for an increasing number of displaced, uh,
the the the the displacing number is not stopping.
Um, And as fighting, uh, moves into a more urban areas of Rafa,
uh, we do expect it to increase, uh, daily.
So that means that we don't have supplies for the newly displaced,
uh, and we will be running out, as we said, not just for them,
but for those that we were already trying to help, uh,
it's going to be a very critical time.
Uh, as we, uh, welcome people into new displacement sites.
Um, with nothing in our hands.
Thank you, Georgios.
OK, we'll take a question out from Gunilla VH
of wesa
Dark blooded
Uh, yes. Hi. Thanks for taking my question.
I have several questions I'm trying to understand.
Does this mean there is no way at all now to get humanitarian aid into Rafa?
There were reports about Israel opening up one crossing the other day,
so I just want to understand if it's completely isolated.
And then I wanted to know.
Um what about patients in the hospitals?
Are there any chances they can be evacuated? How many are waiting to be evacuated?
There were also reports about with heat now increasing. There are diseases.
There is a lot of
problems with sanitation. What kind of
of health issues Diseases are you you having?
And Margaret, you mentioned too, that people were,
uh, lack of food and lack of thirst. People could die from that.
Do you have any reports so far of people who actually
have died from lack of food or lack of water.
Thank you so much.
Sorry for many questions. No, thank you. Good of those important questions.
Maybe Georgis will start with you and then go to Margaret after.
Sure. Thank you.
Um, if you remember. And I think this is a very ironic, um, turn of events.
Um, for months since the start of the year,
Uh, the UN and partners were trying to use, uh, two
routes of supply from south Gaza to the north of Gaza through, uh,
through two Israeli checkpoints,
uh, to feed 253 100,000.
We don't have a perfect number for the people that remain in north Gaza.
Um, and we were very, uh, very, very unsuccessful in trying to to make everyone safe,
uh, you know, have enough food and have access to health.
We simply couldn't do it for 300,000 people.
Uh, which led to malnutrition and, uh,
the information that we've already shared around,
uh, the hunger issues there and the risk
and the risk of that situation becoming worse.
Now with the crossings in Rafa all closed, we have a
crossing in North Gaza which continues to be able to bring, uh,
humanitarian supplies, mainly food.
Uh, we are left with one crossing, Uh,
increasingly dangerous, insecure and inefficient. Um,
not a meaningful humanitarian route
for the volume of needs that we are increasingly seeing
for the approximately 2 million people in Gaza that live south of the Wadi
and who are increasingly in desperate, desperate need for food, water? Uh, dignity
and shelter.
Thank you. Uh, Margaret?
Yes. On the patients, nobody's coming in or out.
So anybody needing evacuation And indeed,
I think the numbers I have are about 9000 people actually need evacuation.
And when we look at in the past, when we've had patients waiting to be evacuated, when
you look at the lists quite often
the percentage of those approved and those who get out
is different because they die while waiting to be evacuated.
Uh, so but at the moment, nobody is coming in. Nobody's coming out.
That's the real problem.
Uh, on the, uh, malnutrition, we don't have good numbers.
We don't have numbers about what people are dying of.
Uh, we know that at least 30 people did die of malnutrition and, um,
and dehydration. those are recorded numbers.
But that doesn't give you any idea of what's happening right now.
What I can tell you, though, is our stabilisation centres.
Our severe acute malnutrition stabilisation centres which, by the way,
didn't exist
before this conflict. But now we set up two in the south and one in the north.
They are full of patients.
Uh, I think the numbers I have are 4055 patients in the north.
The 55 patients totally 40 in the north and 15 in the south.
But again, all those centres are dependent on
having the supplies having the fuel, having the means to keep going.
Exactly. Ok, uh Yuri from RIA Novosti.
Yes, Thank you, Rolando. And thank you for the briefing.
My question is for the colleagues of OSHA
and other agencies that are in Wafa
right now
Do you feel
aggressivity towards you by the Gazans?
Because of the
impossibility for the UN to change the situation?
Do you feel a frustration
against you by the local people? Thank you.
Yeah. We'll maybe start with you. Georgios and Hamish.
Uh, feel free to chime in as well. Georgios?
Uh yeah. Thank you, I. I
I've been doing this a long time,
and I never been in a place where I felt so safe among the population.
Uh, people still smile at you.
I think it,
uh it means a lot to them in the situation that they found themselves in months ago.
the increasingly dire circumstances. Now,
um, so so pronounced with the closing of, uh, of
Rafa, uh, fully to the world.
Uh, that, uh, that aid workers of humanitarian staff remain here with them.
Um, we have to be very clear that we are their neighbours. We live next to them.
We share the same water.
Uh, we we we talk on the same,
uh, cell towers. Um, and we, uh we are subject to the same, um, shelling from
from air, land and sea.
I think I don't feel that, um, What I think is very specifically an issue
is what we're seeing in the street, which is increasing violence between them,
uh, for, uh, reduced space that they believe is safe And for reduced, uh,
commodities or wood with which to build the rudimentary shelters,
um, food,
fuel and other supplies.
Children's shoes, clothing, Uh, you know, hygiene products, uh,
and sundry sundry household items that they simply don't exist.
Um, and some of them are even being withheld, uh,
by merchants speculating on price increase.
uh, it's not It's not, uh,
some kind of risk of violence or some kind of changing mood
against people that are here and trying to help and showing solidarity.
Um, but it is a society in a very, very slow breakdown.
Thanks, Georgios. Uh,
um, not much, really. To add to what Georgia said just to reiterate that, uh, we feel,
uh you know, all of us feel very personally very comfortable here.
Um, I'm I'm quite happy to walk out. I leave my car, uh uh, parked some distance away.
Quite happy to walk through the crowds. People are friendly welcoming.
Um, when I was stuck in the traffic, uh uh, earlier today,
people were helping clear donkey carts out of the way. That type of thing?
Um, no, the situation remains very welcoming.
Uh, very warm and welcoming towards us.
Thank you both. OK, we'll take a question now, from Nick, Uh, Cumbres
of the New York Times. Nick.
Thank you for taking the question this is for
Georgios or anybody else who wishes to contribute.
But we understood that Israel took control of, um, Rafa
crossing. So I wondered if you could just give us an update. I mean, is there a large
military presence, tanks, armoured vehicles or whatever? Actually, at Rafah?
that will be obstructing any aid coming through.
you've also talked about continuing bombing. I mean, how intense is that?
Still, at the moment we heard that it was kind of
there have been some attacks on on Western Rafah, but, uh, of these areas that
you're seeing routinely targeted,
um, And what is the,
uh, proximity of of bombing to Alma
WASI, which is supposed to be a safe zone.
And one final question,
what are the conversations going on with co
gs at this point about restoring the entry
of, um, humanitarian assistance? Um, what are you being told?
Can come or when it might happen. Thank you.
Thanks. Nick. Uh, maybe Georgis.
Thanks. I think, um, on Rafa
crossing and thank you for the push on Rafa
We assessed it. Um, there is There is military presence along the corridor from
along both crossing from
Um, I think to to be to be clear, I don't necessarily.
We don't necessarily believe that the presence of party to
this conflict is going to obstruct aid necessarily or physically,
But even, um,
even if there were assurances to us being able to pass through a corridor
the proximity so close to a military
involvement fighting it's just not acceptable,
Uh, for something that has to be a humanitarian
zone. That's certainly for any route where where supplies go,
Um, for a crossing that then has to open to civilians and to aid workers.
Of course, we'd also be looking,
uh, for a crossing that is safe. That has the infrastructure,
uh, the support and the services available to people to safely go in and out.
So for the time being, uh, as I said before for us, we don't see it.
and it may be a link to the to the on the coca,
the government of Israel. You know, I think we're exploring all options.
Um, there's clear understanding that people fuel and supplies have to come back,
uh, to, uh to, uh, to Rafa and to Gaza in general, um, any crossing will do.
It's not these crossings, only as we've always called.
Uh, any way to get these three very specific things into Gaza
people fuel and commodities,
uh, to help, uh,
will be welcome. And I think the urgency is understood.
Um, the bombings continue to fall. They've always fallen all over Rafah.
There's no real area where there's no shelling or or airstrikes.
Um, in general, we'll be seeing is that, uh, they are increasingly closer to,
Mawasi or TAA
Sultan Area of Rafah, where I am,
uh, within, uh,
one kilometre to 800 metres from the joint humanitarian operations software,
which I'm talking to you.
Uh, and therefore, you could say in the last four or five days,
they are moving closer, also to, uh, to the coast to
uh, to where we have hundreds of thousands of displaced along
Thanks, Georges. Hamish, you have your hand up if you want to add something
only to
add that, uh uh, since since we've been online and speaking this morning,
I got a a message popped up that the younger brother of one of our colleagues, uh,
and a friend of mine, um, was killed in an airstrike, Uh,
a couple of hours ago this morning.
So, um, in answer to Nick's question, yes. It's very much still going on.
It's very real.
Um, thank you,
Amish. Of course. Our condolences to your colleague
and your friend,
uh, Christian German news agency.
thank you, Rolando.
I. I was going to ask you also about contacts with the authorities.
Can you describe to us? Uh uh, what exactly is happening?
Um, with Hamas as well as the Israelis.
Do you get information directly about evacuations?
Uh, do you get advance notice? In other words, do you know, uh, today what
is going to come tomorrow?
And are you also still coordinating in any way with the Hamas authorities?
Thank you.
Either one of either Georges or Hamish. Who wants to take that?
I think either of you are.
I can
I can start,
We get, um, we get evacuation orders, Um,
from the Israeli military through very particular channels,
Um, as the United Nations,
which we then share in the system the humanitarian system.
the evacuation orders, uh, have also gone out to to the people of Gaza through, um uh,
through social media, Facebook and Twitter and so on.
They've grown out through, uh, three leaflets that are passed.
Uh, and I can say also that the recent evacuation orders here in East Rafa
uh, also included direct phone calls.
Uh, I think to to civilians that were asked to evacuate,
um, their neighbourhoods and their homes.
Um, we will continue to engage the parties of the conflict, Uh, for safe access, uh,
for secure humanitarian, uh,
humanitarian supply for secure humanitarian routes.
Uh, from north to south, um, from south to south, Uh, and for the understanding that,
uh, every single humanitarian worker and protected sites should be respected
and should be neutral and remain a place of safety.
Uh, for the aid workers and the people, uh, that reach them for our services.
OK, thank you very much. Uh, Georgios, um,
we have a question from Lisa Schlein, the Voice of America. Lisa.
Thank you, Orlando. Good morning, everyone.
Uh, I'd like to, uh, uh, get your impression, uh, about
president. Uh,
Biden has said that he would suspend
arms shipments to,
uh to Israel if the,
operation the incursion in Tarafa. goes ahead. How important is this? Do you think?
Uh, Netanyahu seems to have dissed that, uh,
situation and said he's gonna go ahead anyway?
Are you fearful that, uh
uh, the US has perhaps lost any kind of, uh,
you know,
influence that it has had upon Israel and that it can do any anything about this?
Or do you believe that it might have
some kind of, uh
uh, an influence upon the operation?
Thank you.
And if everybody would please send us the notes as soon as possible because
there's so much material to digest. Thank you.
OK, I don't know if maybe Georgia had any thoughts on that.
Uh uh, I,
I think from the beginning, um,
every single, every single way that we can to avoid, uh, an operation in Rafa
to avoid, um,
a AAA military incursion or or a battle in the last part of Gaza that's left
standing physically from the beginning.
The the last part we have, I think, uh,
anything approaching meaningful humanitarian assets and infrastructure,
um, has to be has to be looked at, and we have to stop. We have to stop
this at all costs. Um
the system that we have had to deal with.
The system that we're trying to use to bring a I DS to more than 2 million people.
Um, is profoundly, uh, not fit for that purpose in its current form.
Um, any further, Uh, any further attack, uh, will render it, Uh,
I think beyond the pale is something we've never really seen.
And, uh, and I think that question really has to be put on the table.
Um, it's we have to put people first.
We have to, uh, make sure that, uh uh in this in this war,
like all the wars but specifically on this one
where people really cannot reach places of safety.
Um, we we we talk about people first. And what What has been done to them?
Uh, what is continued to be done to them,
Um, and how fast we can end it for everyone here.
Um, being affected by the war, including including the hostages,
thank you very much, Georgios.
uh, we do have a question, though, from, uh, Robin, uh, Millard of
France. Press online. Go ahead, Robin.
Thank you.
I I've got a question for Margaret on another topic,
but I'll I'll I can come back to that on on Gaza.
Um, have you been told anything about when fuel might be able to come in?
Have you been given any,
uh, promises or or guarantees?
And secondly, on on the patients in the hospitals, which are set to run out of fuel,
Uh, within a day or two.
how many patients are actually being treated in those hospitals? Thank you.
Maybe on the first question of the fuel. Um, either.
You know, I guess Georgios may be best placed there.
Yeah, thanks. It's a short one. We we have had attempts every day. Um,
they fall short either because of the, uh, very
complicated, uh,
which to
to Gaza. Uh, and the, uh, security situation in Gaza. So, um, uh,
it could be. Could be tomorrow. Could be the day after.
Um, but I think it's very clear that, um, everyone wants us to go to work.
There is an understanding that if you have to come in,
uh, again, it's not something that should be a one off. It has to come in the volume,
and it has to come in every day and it has to come in safe.
Absolutely. OK, uh, Margaret on the hospitals.
So we're talking about fuel for hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip.
Remember, this is not simply only in the south.
Now we know that there were
500 beds added through the work of the
emergency medical teams and the field hospitals,
and another
1500 beds were available. But
all the hospitals are massively overcrowded. So if I would have to add
thousands more of patients
So we're really looking at
thousands. I can't give you a clear number, but you're talking about
thousands of people today,
but also the thousands of people who need help
tomorrow and the next day and the day after.
closing. Destroying
access to healthcare is absolutely catastrophic. Really? For everyone.
Thank you very much. Uh, Margaret.
OK, I think we've exhausted, uh, the questions on, uh, Gaza.
Unless there are any lost hands going up. No, I don't see that's the case. So
I'd like to, uh, extend my profound thanks to both of you.
Uh, Georgios and Hamish, uh, stay safe and
and thank you very much, uh, for this ever important briefing, so
and of course. Uh, do join us again.
Um, I think there was a question for you, Margaret from Robin on different subjects.
So, Robin, if you want to pose that question out, please do so.
Thank you. Yes, on the on the pandemic agreement talks.
Um, what's the What's the latest situation there?
Can you give us, uh, an update on on where the talks are at And, uh,
perhaps the likelihood of whether, uh, an agreement can be concluded on time today.
Thank you.
Yes, I do have an update on that, Um,
the current round of negotiations by WHO
member states on a proposed pandemic agreement
will end later today.
During the past two weeks,
negotiators have held extensive discussions on
multiple aspects of the proposed agreement
meeting often into the early hours of the morning. II, I pity them.
The member states are still continuing their discussions
today to make as much progress as possible.
Next steps on the way forward will also be
discussed today and they will be announced later today.
So we will let you know when we know,
as previously decided by member states in 2021
the World Health Assembly which, as you know,
happens at the end of this month will
consider the outcome of the negotiating body process.
So that's what I have currently.
Thanks for that update. Margaret. Um,
any further questions for Margaret before we relieve? Uh, her?
OK, uh, well, thank you again, as ever, Margaret,
um, I'm gonna call William Spin
of the UN High Commission for Refugees.
Uh, who's going to address the floods in Brazil?
And maybe while, uh, William is making his way up here,
I'll just remind you of the statement that we
did share with you yesterday from the secretary General,
Uh, and through which he expressed, uh,
that he's deeply saddened by the loss of lives
and the damage caused by heavy rains and flooding in the south of Brazil.
Extended his condolences and solidarity to the government and people of
Brazil as well as to the families of the victims.
And Secretary General also noted that disasters such as this are indeed a reminder
of the devastating effects of the climate crisis on lives and livelihoods.
So that statement, um,
is in your inbox as of yesterday,
over to William for an update from UN HCR.
Thank you Rolando.
The UN refugee agency is working with federal,
state and municipal authorities as well as partner organisations in Brazil
to mitigate the severe impact of the extreme weather events,
including heavy rains, strong winds
and cold that have devastated areas of Brazil's southern state of Rio Grande do
Massive floods in particular have killed at least 107 people
and affected more than 1.7 million,
according to official figures.
Another 134 people are reported missing.
Those affected include some 41,000 refugees and
other people in need of international protection,
including many Venezuelans and Haitians who live in affected areas,
some of which can only be reached by boat
in co-ordination with local authorities.
is distributing relief items such as blankets and mattresses,
assessing the needs of the affected population and providing
technical support to facilitate the communication with impacted communities
so that refugees and migrants have access in their
own language to the official information about protection.
Recommendations and risks associated with the places where they live
in the coming days
will be supporting the issuance of lost
and damaged documentation to refugees and asylum seekers
to guarantee they can access social benefits and public services.
The agency will also strengthen local teams of civil society partners
to provide psychosocial support and respond to most vulnerable cases,
including among host communities.
Additional relief items such as emergency shelters, kitchen sets, blankets,
solar lamps
and hygiene kits are being mobilised from different
humanitarian stocks in the region
to be delivered to Brazil. Once logistical arrangements are confirmed,
supplementary items will also be delivered from UN, a
stockpile in the north of Brazil,
according to government data,
Rio Grande do Sul is the state
which received the third largest number of Venezuelans relocated from
Jaima at
the country's northern border, with Venezuela
hosting more than 21,000 since April 2018.
The incidence of extreme weather events has been frequent
and more devastating in recent years in Brazil,
involving droughts in the Amazon region
and severe rains in different locations such as
and Acre
states, of which UN
had also
R estimates
million is needed to support the most urgent needs,
including direct financial assistance to affected
individuals and the provision of essential relief
items as the impact of the climate events in the state is huge.
More than 85% of the state's territory was affected.
Around 68,000 people are living in adapted shelters and
more than 327,000 have moved from their houses.
New episodes of high intensity rain and strong gusts
of wind could bring new disruptions to Rio Grande do
state until this weekend. According to meteorologists,
severe climate events are disproportionately affecting refugees
and other people requesting international protection.
Funding available to address the impacts of climate change is
not sufficient to address the needs of those forcibly displaced
nor the communities hosting them.
Without help to prepare for, withstand and recover for climate
related shocks,
they face an increased risk of further displacement.
In April, 2024
launched its first Climate Resilience Fund to reinforce
the need to build the resilience of refugees,
displaced communities and their hosts to the increasing
intensity of climate change related extreme weather events.
Thank you.
Thank you very much.
William, we have we have a question, uh, for you from Bianca of Global TV
Thanks Hollande.
In fact, I have, um many questions.
Um I will have also a question for Claire later. But I'll start now with, uh, William.
Uh, first a clarification.
The UN HCR is working in Brazil
to support only the refugees or did also extend
the support for the local population with the shelters.
For example,
this is, uh, a clarification. But, um
uh, how do you see the the Brazilian response to this disaster
like the authorities,
the volunteers But what else can be done and how the world could
also help Brazil at this point And the last thing
despite all challenges,
uh, the state of H
Grande do
so is facing.
Brazilians are
now also having to deal with fake news
regarding this tragedy, for example, that the, uh, the
state of hire
so is preventing the entry of trucks with donations because
the lack of invoice things that make any sense.
But anyway,
how concerned is the UN
HCR also with fake news? In which extent can fake news complicate even more?
The situation there Thanks a lot.
Thank you for those questions
about the first one.
presence in Brazil dates to several decades and the
main purpose of our presence in Brazil is,
of course, to
help the authorities deal with the arrival of asylum seekers and refugees.
So this is our main mandate and the main area of work.
But of course, when a situation like this happens,
we need to look into how it's affecting
also the local population. Because after all,
in Brazil, like in many parts of Latin America, refugees
are living with the local people. They don't live separately.
They don't live in refugee camps. So it's the host communities that we support.
We work closely with them because,
uh, we need to strengthen their capacity so that they can continue to, um to, uh,
host refugees.
And that means, uh, providing, uh, or strengthening
social services access to education to health for
the local people as well as the refugees.
So in this case,
our response concentrates on those areas that are hosting refugees.
Because, as we heard,
um, the floods are impacting,
you know, a large number of people, uh,
so and our response is a part of a wider
response from the United Nations and and other organisations.
So, uh,
we are concentrating and focusing our response on
those areas that host refugees But of course,
we are providing assistance to everybody,
whether they are refugees or whether they are Brazilian citizens.
Um, on the question of, uh, fake news, Uh, it's, uh it's it's a problem.
I think, uh, that, uh, we face in many parts of the world.
Uh, not just when there are natural disasters like this, but, you know,
in many other circumstances,
they tend to
exacerbate tensions with society. We see in many cases that they target
individuals. They promote hatred
of people, whether they are
from different nationality or different
group, or also against LGBT,
uh, people and and so on. So it is a serious concern.
It's something that needs to be addressed. It exacerbates, uh, already,
uh, difficult situations.
It can also lead to difficulties in providing humanitarian assistance.
So this is this is a major concern,
I think not just in Brazil, but in many parts of the world.
And, uh, could you remind me what? Uh, the other question was
I. I think maybe, uh, I think those are the two questions I recall.
But maybe, is there another one, Bianca?
Or is that are you satisfied with with those responses?
Yeah. I I asked specifically what else can be done?
I asked about the Brazilian response authorities and
volunteers but what else can be done?
Uh, like how the world could
also help Brazil at this point if you, uh if you can
add thanks a lot.
In this case,
the response is being led by the local and federal authorities in Brazil.
So as I said, our contribution is
comes within this kind of wider effort by the authorities.
So we are helping the authorities. We are not leading in the response.
But we are part of a wider response together with other
UN organisations,
civil society organisations, local volunteers, as you said, and of course,
the authorities, civil defence and so on.
this is a kind of joint effort in which we participate.
Brazil is a country that is prone to natural disasters.
So it's very important to work on prevention.
Um and also uh particularly in those areas that are
mostly affected and prone to to to this, uh, situations
and among those populations that are particularly vulnerable.
the impact of climate change affects everybody, but some
individuals and communities are at a
more vulnerable situation particularly refugees and migrants, because they are
not from the country. They come from other countries.
And that means that they don't have the same
kind of social networks,
family and so on that nationals have often they are
also living in areas that are more exposed to risk.
So they are impacted in a disproportionate way
by by these events. But of course, these events affect everybody.
Uh, thank you very much. Uh, William. And if I may, uh, just add, uh, indeed,
um, Brazilians are the Brazilian government is leading the efforts,
But on behalf of the UN, uh, we have a resident coordinator in country
who's representing U NDP who's leading the UN team's response. And
and just to echo what was mentioned at yesterday's briefing,
the response includes shipping emergency supplies
and monitoring the spread of disease,
supporting shelter and related needs and
distributing emergency kits and monitoring Children and
uh, some some of whom have been separated from their families as
as William just alluded to
on this your fake news. I mean, it's just to echo what William said This is
a scourge which is, uh, facing us around the globe and And indeed,
that's why it's important for you
members of the press, uh, for your accurate reporting to help us contend
with this, uh, massive amounts of disinformation, which really
does not help us in our in carrying out our jobs. Uh, so this is really just the point.
I wanted to make,
uh, to echo and support, uh, William's comments.
We have a few hands that have gone up still, Uh, I know that, Claire.
You have a question that'll be pointed to you.
But before that, maybe just to go to Maya plants,
you have a question for William, perhaps.
Yes. Good morning. Thank you. Uh, Rolando? Yes?
My question is regarding the number of UN
HCR personnel that are deployed now in Rio Grande
do so
By the way, that's my hometown at the streets. I used to walk by as a teenager.
So it is quite heartbreaking to see
the situation.
If you could give me perhaps numbers if you
have of personnel that has been deployed because you mentioned
that they are also helping the local population.
Thank you for, uh, for that question. And, uh uh, my condolences. Uh uh.
To you personally since, uh,
you, uh you, uh, family, uh, friends are directly affected by by this, Um,
by this tragedy,
UNHCR has a number of staff in Brazil
specifically on Rio Grande do
We work through a number of partners that are present on the ground.
We work with, for instance,
Children's villages. We also work with the Jesuit
service for migrants and refugees
who are present on the ground.
so, uh, we work through many of these organisations that we help to finance,
uh, in areas of the reception, integration of refugees and asylum seekers.
Also, local development, protection and assistance.
We provide, uh, through them
protection services and community based protection.
So, uh, we are also in contact with refugee led organisations.
So these are organisations, uh, by the, uh, refugees themselves
who organise themselves to defend their interests.
And, uh and we support that as well.
Uh, there are a number of, uh, uh
partner in the academic world as well.
Uh, you since you are from that state, you might be aware of the Sergio Viera de
and, uh, the, uh
Unicos University
and, uh uh, which is housing around 2000
families at the moment.
So through the efforts of all these partners,
we managed to reach a greater number of people.
Thank you very much. We still have a few hands. I'm sorry.
Um, I didn't see Antonio in the room. Maybe before we go to Antonio, I just see that.
Maya, is that a quick follow up to the previous question
that you have your hands still up there?
Yes, thank you very much. Uh,
Roland, it's a quick follow up it is again.
Uh, just if you could send us your notes And also what is the number of refugees?
I don't know if you mentioned before
that that UN HCR was already taken care of or
are they already integrated in the community or where they are
living in a separate sort of encampment of sorts.
And two is, uh yeah, the number of people you're helping on the UN H A
in the on the refugees from Venezuela side and the number of people you're helping
that are now the people from Porto
Alegre. The citizens of Port
Thank you, Maya. Yes. I hope that you will get my notes soon.
If you haven't received them yet, And most of this information is there.
The numbers of people affected the number of
people that we are assisting the number of
in the state and in the whole of Brazil.
But on your question of whether they are separate,
located in separate areas.
As I said earlier on in Brazil, as in most of Latin America,
there are no separate refugee camps housing refugees.
They are living with the host community in the same conditions
and in the same type of places as the local community.
Thank you very much. And Clara, I see you there. I haven't forgotten you. I know.
My I think, uh, Bianca has a question for you, but before we turn to that, maybe, uh,
Antonio from Spanish News Agency in the room has a question as well.
Yes, thank you. Orlando and William. So
I think you mentioned that Rio Grande.
is the third state that, uh, has more, uh, refugees from Venezuela and Haiti.
I think,
uh, do you know which are the the other ones that have important, uh,
refugee populations?
Do you have the numbers?
I also would like to know if the UN HCR
participates in the decision to allocate these these refugees,
uh, in different states of Brazil.
And, uh And, uh, how how is this Decided?
Because, uh, for me, it is curious that Rio Grande so
is quite far from Venezuela. So
So what? What are the the the main reasons to to choose this these states. Thank you.
Uh, thank you, Antonio. That's, uh that's a good question.
Um, the the state that receives the largest number of, uh, Venezuelan refugees is
jaima in the north, which is, uh, bordering Venezuela.
Um, so you're right. Uh uh. Rio Grande do
Sul is very far.
Uh, but since, uh, Jaima
for many years has been receiving the
bulk of the refugees from Venezuela and it
is a state that is facing several challenges,
not least because of its remoteness.
The Brazilian government, with the help of
and other organisations,
started a programme of
moving people from
Roraima to other parts of Brazil to other cities on a voluntary
basis as well and in coordinating with the receiving states or cities.
Of course.
So over 100 cities and towns all over Brazil are part of this of this scheme
Over 100,000 people have been relocated from
Rama to other parts of Brazil. And when they arrive there,
they are provided with accommodation and help
to find work so that they can integrate
quicker into their new homes.
So the idea is to share the responsibility of hosting this large community away from
the state that has received the most to other states.
I can give you more information about this scheme and
send it to you.
Thank you very much. Uh, William. OK, uh, Bianca, back to you.
And I think maybe you had a question. May maybe both for William and Claire.
Hi. Um, can you hear me again? Yes. Loud and clear. Go ahead.
Thanks again.
Yeah. In fact, I have to Claire. And I think 33 main things. One is,
uh, Claire just, um,
shared with us the latest forecast from the Brazilian Meteorological Service.
So how concerned is the WMO with this forecast?
Uh, a second point.
Um uh,
this week we saw the launch of the report on
the State of the Climate in Latin America last year,
and Celeste
said that, uh, unfortunately, 2023 was a year of hacker,
uh, climate hazards in the region.
So following what we are seeing in Brazil is 2000, uh, 2024
in the way to be even worse than last year.
And, uh, last one.
Claire, as Hollande just remembered, uh, Antonio Guta has highlighted
that, uh, disasters
like this are a reminder of the devastating effects of the climate crisis. So
we know that
there are no tools to confirm at this point if
this tragedy was or not caused by climate change.
We know that. But how likely
is that
this disaster in hug
do soon related to global warming?
Thanks again.
Go ahead, Claire.
OK, thank you. Um,
thank you for the, uh, for the questions. Um,
as you said, the state of the climate in Latin America and the Caribbean, which
the World Meteorological Organisation released, uh, earlier this week
highlighted the vulnerability of the entire region to extreme weather
and climate change impacts. Um, in 2023
will 2024 be worse?
It's difficult to say at this stage, but obviously, if you know,
if you are in the affected flooded, flooded area right now, I mean you know,
obviously, you know, 2024 for those affected is an absolutely, you know,
record breakingly bad
Um and I think what I would
like to stress it's just the the size of this.
You know, we're talking about a huge, huge area, you know,
multiple times of of of Switzerland, it it's not just a a local river, which is, uh,
which has overflowed its banks. It's it's massive. And it really will,
you know, undermine socio-economic development in that entire area, you know,
for for a long time, too.
to come,
is it
related to climate change? Um,
we posted a story on our website a couple of days ago saying that,
you know, El Nino is obviously playing a major role, Um,
in the floods in Brazil as El Nino is in the floods in East Africa.
But on top of that, you've got
you you've got climate change.
Um, So as we said in our Latin America report, um, this week, you know,
it's a double whammy.
It's a double whammy of El Nino and plus climate change.
Um, and that's what we're seeing in Brazil right now.
Even when El Nino fades, which it will do.
The long term effects of climate change are with us.
every degree of or every fraction of a degree in
temperature increase means that our weather will become more extreme.
you know, warmer, warmer atmosphere holds more moisture.
So that's why we are seeing much more. You know, many more extreme rainfall events.
you know, our our our weather is on steroids.
Um, and until we find a cure for it, it's or until we, you know, stop
consuming the the greenhouse gases which are
which are driving this extreme weather.
We we're gonna see more floods. We're going to see more
extreme floods. We're going to see more intense drought.
We're gonna see more intense heat waves. Um, and you know it. It it's something that
WMO and Celeste
We we're saying it on on a daily basis. You know, we really do need, uh,
climate action. And we need it. We need it urgently.
and just to underline my point, um, today on our website,
we've just posted a news story to say that
April globally was the
April on record
again. It's you.
You know, we seem to be in a phase of Oh, another month, Another record.
Um, so we've had now had 11
months in a row
where it was the hottest month on record. So it was the hottest April on record.
It was the hottest March Hottest February hottest January et cetera, et cetera.
For 13 months, sea surface temperatures have been record high.
So even, you know, even even longer than, uh, even longer than the the land, uh,
the average global surface temperature.
Um, that is
combination of El Nino, but it it's it's also climate change.
It's a very, very strong climate change signal. So yeah.
Yeah. Thank you, Claire. And thank you for flagging that latest update on on April.
Uh, Maya is we're back with Maya, and then Bianca also has a question.
So maybe starting with Maya.
Yes, thank you, Rolando, for taking my question.
The question is for Claire, If I could have, uh uh, the copy of the report in Spanish.
Um, that, uh, you issued this week the report you issued this week regarding latinum
And, uh, also, uh,
how is WMO involved in any way in supporting the Brazilian government and
in particular the state of
government in this moment.
OK, um,
so, um yes, The report is available in Spanish. I'll I'll I'll send it to you.
Um, the way WM OS operates is through our members.
And in this particular instance, the Brazilian National Meteorological Service.
They've been
very, very, very active indeed in
issuing early warnings, um, regular updates, regular forecasts,
which are then obviously used
by, um, federal and regional authorities in their disaster management.
Um, our role in WMO is to try to
strengthen the capacity of national meteorological services such as in
Brazil to deliver these forecasts and deliver the deliver.
These, uh, um services. Um, we are one of the
leading, you know, leading players in the global
early warnings for all initiative.
Um, and that really is to ensure that nobody is left behind that you know,
the forecasts
reach everybody who needs them, um, and that
people can act on those on on those forecasts.
So this this is a really major initiative. It's, um,
spearheaded by the UN Secretary General.
And as I said, WMO the UN Office for disaster risk reduction,
the International Telecommunications Union and the
International Red Cross and Red Resident Society.
We are We are all working together to
to try to push this push this forward. Um, obviously the scale of the flooding in
in what we're seeing in Brazil now, um,
it's it's absolutely horrific.
But But hopefully the fact that, you know, the early warnings were issued, they were
made available, you know, hopefully that did, you know,
help minimise the the casualties.
And any one life lost is one too many. But, you know, we hope by
by, you know, forecasts early warnings we can keep, you know,
the loss of life and to to a minimum.
Thank you very much, Claire.
I see that both, uh, might you might have your hand back up again.
I don't I mean, if there's something that,
uh, you can maybe pose, uh, to Claire, uh, bilaterally. Uh, unless it's a
well, go ahead,
just follow
up. So a
So this early warning systems were non existent or they were, but
they had they missed it because the scale of the damage,
gives you on the idea that there was no proper
early warning system
to evacuate people or is can you just
quickly say something about the early warning systems,
Because how do they work?
It's like the national
meteorological services of that
city. Or or or that city Municipal has some sort of what? Radar sensors, whatever
the satellites that are kind of capturing things around it around the globe,
that will impact that region in that specific moment.
Is there a way that you can tell us? Why is it seems
it has failed this early warning system.
I Sorry, I. I disagree with that. Um, the
early warnings have been issued
reliably and repeatedly by the National Meteorological Service.
They they've been they've been issuing the warnings.
The forecasts have been spot on the you know, they've issued another forecast
today warning of yet more heavy rain. Um, you know, to hit the area.
So the warnings are there,
they are accurate. Um, this is not the case in all parts of the world.
Which is why we've got the early warnings for all initiative.
But certainly what we've been seeing in
in Brazil is that the you know,
the national meteorological and hydrological service really has
done a tremendous job in issuing the forecast and issuing the warnings.
The It's the scale of the, you know, the scale of the disaster, the
the intensity of the rainfall, the fact that it's lasted for so long
that obviously makes disaster response very, very difficult.
But the warnings are there. It's, you know, they they worked. They have worked.
Thank you very much.
Uh, Bianca, A quick, uh, follow up to a previous question, perhaps.
Yeah. Thanks again. Orlando. Um,
yeah. Um, I I had a question to Claire is, uh,
sorry to Claire
that, uh, I, I think she didn't answer.
It was regarding the the forecast for today because it's, uh, a
lot of rain again. So,
if the forecast is confirmed, uh, how bad can be the situation now
and last last one.
Just, uh and I'm sorry for, uh,
I apologise to my colleagues because we are really into this story, Maya and I.
But for Brazil, it's really, really a dramatic, uh, thing.
The situation is very, very, very difficult. So,
uh, if both, um
uh, Claire and William, if both of you can just, um, give it could be a small sentence.
But just to compare this situation, this
uh, disaster in Brazil with other floods in the world.
Because, uh, yeah, just to to give us a big picture
of the intensity and the dramatic scale
of what we are seeing now in
I promise it's finished.
OK, so, um,
so the forecast today and I'm just reading from the, you know,
from the the forecast from the National Meteorological Service,
they are the ones who are responsible.
Um, so according to the National Institute of Meteorology, um,
it's important to note that the predicted rainfall volumes
may cause new disturbances in areas already affected previously.
Uh, and for this reason, in MT. Which is the service,
uh, warns and recommends following the guidelines of the national civil defence.
So they are making their forecast, their warnings
available to federal and regional authorities.
You know who are then responsible for
the you know, any additional evacuation measures any additional, um,
emergency planning measures
in terms of comparing it. Um
it it it's it's on a massive massive scale. Um,
it's part of
Brazil. Um,
if we look at what's been happening in East Africa, um,
that that's equally it's equally dramatic, you know,
and for anybody who's caught up in this.
Anybody who loses,
you know, loved ones who loses their livelihood, who loses their their crops.
You know, you can't really say, Well,
it's worse what's happening in Brazil than than East Africa.
But in, you know, in East Africa, when we,
um, see what happened in in Kenya and the Kenyan president last week said, um,
you know, no corner of Kenya is
not affected by by the scale of the flooding there. Um, you know, you see the
small scale farmers in East Africa who've lost everything.
They've lost their livestock, they've lost their
their their their crops. They've lost everything. They've been displaced.
Um, infrastructure has been washed away in Brazil and in and in East Africa. So you,
it it's It's a really, really dire emergency for anybody who's brought up, you know,
be it be it in Africa or or be it in Brazil.
OK, I'm, um, going to allow one follow up from Maya and then we really need to end it.
But unless this is something that you can pose to, um,
to Claire or William bilaterally, is this a really quick, uh,
follow up for clarification.
Go ahead. Thank you very much.
Orlando? Yes?
Um, yeah. Uh, they say that is on the scale of Katrina.
Uh, the damage, the a
the devastation that's happening in Puerto
So that's something that perhaps most people are familiar.
What happened in Katrina?
Um, but, uh, what I would like to ask now is, um you're saying
the early warning systems were in place. They were given sufficient warnings.
And how come people could not evacuate in time?
It's because there are no systems in place.
Uh, so this is a failure of the Brazilian government,
or it's also because it is somewhat a new, uh,
new incidents right that are happening more frequently and that governments
need to step up and prepare better for situations like this.
I don't think I would
use the word failure. Um, for this particular
case, um, from what I've seen, you know, the Brazilian government
you know, very rapidly, very efficiently. It's just the
It's just the scale of this, um the the scale of the the magnitude of the disaster,
which does make you know it very, very difficult.
And as William
said, um,
you know there's not enough funding being put
in sort of early warning systems, generally in climate adaptation. Um,
climate, miti mitigation. Um, but
I think, you know, and
as as the UN Secretary general says, you know, when we are at war with nature,
as we you know are by constantly, you know, adding more pollution to the atmosphere.
Then nature strikes back, and and nature has, unfortunately, you know,
hit back in in in Brazil.
Thank you very much, Claire. Uh, much appreciated. Um,
thanks, colleagues, for your interesting questions on this important subject.
Uh, Ed Harris of White
B is with us, and thanks for your patience.
Uh, Ed has, uh, an announcement on the diplomatic conference
over to you.
thank you, Orlando. Good morning, everyone.
Uh, you will have received copious amounts of information
from me about the upcoming diplomatic conference which begins on Monday.
So just a couple of logistical notes before
everybody heads out for a nice sunny weekend.
It begins at 10 a.m. here at White B.
It will be Webcast.
You can find the link, uh, through our website for anybody who wants to come over.
Please give me a call in advance and arrive as early as possible.
There are 1200 attendees who have, um,
indicated that they'll be arriving also on Monday morning.
So we're expecting a capacity crowd.
Uh, for folks who want to shoot inside, we can bring you in a bit, um,
let you do some beauty shots.
And, uh, of course, you can do what you want on the premises.
So just to say, please give me as much, uh, forewarning as possible.
And I hope to see everybody on Monday morning. Have a great weekend.
Thanks, Rolando.
Thanks to you, Ed. And thanks for those, um, those important notes.
Uh, we do have a Oh, no, we don't have a question. We thought I had a question for you.
we do have a question. Sorry. My shortsightedness.
just, uh I don't know if it's prepared among your amount of, uh, material, but, uh,
we would like to see the programme.
Thank you.
That Yep.
On the programme.
Yeah. Sorry, II. I got muted.
Uh, yeah, the programme you can find through the, uh, through the website.
There's a main page that has all the links if you want. If you want?
I can email it to you. Uh, there's an agenda. You can find it through our meeting site.
Uh, give you a basic rundown of what's to be expected on the first few days.
Uh, Michelle, I'll send that to you. No problem.
Right after the, uh,
we finish here.
Thanks. Ed I, I suppose. Michelle, is that the same question on the programme?
Maybe another question. Uh, go ahead.
Maybe we can unmute. Michelle.
Thank you. I was having trouble. Um,
I'm meeting myself,
Uh, you know, I.
I had another question, um, about, uh, the list of, uh, participants. I don't know.
Do you have, uh,
sort of dignitaries that are gonna be coming for this conference? And, um, also, um,
just tell us what what we should expect regarding this, uh,
new agreement that is being negotiated.
Should we expect an adoption of the agreement, and if so, when? Thank you.
Uh, let's let the last go first.
So the, um So the diplomatic conference is scheduled between May 13th and 24th.
So that's from this Monday to the following Friday.
Uh, so it's the hope that yes,
there'll be some sort of signing ceremony on that final Friday, if not before.
As for
participants, there isn't a list that's been published,
but we are expecting a number of government ministers from around the world.
Um, I can tell you about that bilaterally as it as it firms up right now,
I can say there'll be a number are are planning to attend.
Great. Thanks, Ed, for that, uh, those notes.
Any further questions for Ed?
No. OK,
thank you again for joining us. And good luck. Uh, next week at the conference.
OK, just a couple of announcements from me before we wrap up. Firstly, to
remind you of Secretary General Antonio Guterres, she's currently in Nairobi.
He's, uh,
there today and tomorrow he's there attending a UN civil society conference,
which is an important step towards the
preparations for the summit of the Future,
which takes place in September of this year.
Uh, Mr Guterres,
uh, is expected to deliver remarks at the conference's closing session.
Uh, this afternoon, uh, and it will be webcast.
He's also scheduled to do a press conference.
I believe this is 215, uh, 2. 15 today. Uh, our time,
uh, Mr Guterres will be doing a press conference, which will be a Webcast, of course.
So do
to put that on your radar.
Uh, now, in terms of human rights meetings, we have three different committees, Uh,
two underway and one Starting next week,
the Committee Against Torture is wrapping up its
79th session, uh, this afternoon, after having
reviewed the reports of Austria, Honduras,
Azerbaijan, Lichtenstein, North Macedonia and Finland.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child is had sessions start this week,
and it continues next week.
it's reviewing this morning it's reviewing the report of Mali. In this afternoon,
it will review a report of Panama under the optional protocol on the sale of Children
and then lastly,
next week we have the Committee on
the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women,
otherwise known as C
A, which commences its three week session
during which it will review the following country reports the Republic of Korea,
Montenegro, Singapore, Estonia,
Kuwait, Malaysia,
Brazil and Rwanda.
You have a media advisor with all the information
there in and lastly,
the Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review Working Group
will conclude its 46 session this afternoon
after adopting the final reports for the session,
namely for Eritrea,
Vietnam, the Dominican Republic and Cambodia.
So you also have information on that.
And maybe just mentioning that, uh, over the
on the other side of the pond, we have the General Assembly.
Uh, this afternoon, uh, we'll convene its emergency special session on Israel.
Uh, OPT, um, this is to do with the membership of Palestine. Uh,
and this is, uh, rather a bid for membership.
And this is taking place at 10 a.m. New York time. So 4 p.m. our time.
And, of course, that's also Webcast.
That's what I have. That's all I have. Rather, uh any questions for me?
No, in that case, uh, have a good weekend in Bon Appetit.