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Our UN teams are on the ground in 162 countries and territories, coordinating joint programmes and tackling a range of multi-faceted priorities and key initiatives on a daily basis — from climate action and food security to gender equality and safety of civilians. UN Resident Coordinators and their teams utilize innovative approaches to problem-solving to better serve communities. Below are some highlights of their work this month.
In a statement marking the International Day of Education, our Resident Coordinator Lynn Hastings, leading our UN team in Palestine, said that education plays a vital role in peace and development, helping increase empathy, and tolerance and decrease poverty, which is a key driver of conflict. She said that we cannot afford to lose the progress already made and that we must build on that progress both in Palestine and around the world as a key part of attaining the 2030 Agenda [for Sustainable Development] which is fast closing in. She added that the UN team in Palestine is committed to working alongside education actors to translate education goals into reality.
Our UN team in South Africa, led by Resident Coordinator Nelson Muffuh, continues to provide technical and advocacy support following the outbreak of measles in five of the country’s nine provinces. Our team on the ground is working with health authorities on mass vaccinations, including implementing a nationwide campaign against measles and building surveillance capacity. The World Health Organization (WHO) has deployed technical experts in seven provinces for continued active response to the outbreak, including case investigations. Sensitization campaigns and strategic planning to prepare the public in non-affected provinces are scheduled to launch in the next couple of weeks. WHO has also provided financial and technical support to training on campaign preparedness. For its part, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) multimedia campaign truck continues to travel in affected provinces helping increase vaccinations. UN agencies continue their communications drive on social media, public health centers, local communities, and traditional media to encourage vaccinations. Health authorities plan to extend the vaccination campaign to children up to the age of 15, tripling the target number of vaccinated minors. Our colleagues tell us that the next couple of weeks will be particularly critical, with the reopening of schools, kicking off the new academic year.
In Mozambique, our UN team led by Resident Coordinator Myrta Kaulard continues supporting health authorities to eradicate polio, vaccinating practically all children under the age of five, with around 8.6 million children reached by almost 19,000 joint vaccination teams in 2022. The country had recorded at least eight confirmed polio cases earlier last year, with additional suspicious cases. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), together with other members of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative and partners conducted six rounds of vaccination in 2022 –focusing on areas with detected cases and targeting children under five. Four more rounds are planned this year. Thanks to an intensified focus on the central Tete province, no wild polio case has been reported there for over 150 days. Health authorities, with WHO and UNICEF, are training vaccination teams as well as community members for local surveillance. We are also procuring 30 million vaccine doses and 8,000 vaccine carriers, expanding on-the-ground surveillance, while supporting vaccine management and social behavior change.
Our UN team in Madagascar, led by Resident Coordinator Issa Sanogo, continues to support vulnerable people in the south of the country, severely affected by ongoing droughts. The impact of climate change is most visible in the Grand Sud region, where typhoons and droughts have been harmful to communities. Several UN agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the World Food Programme (WFP). In 2022 our team supported 53,000 households and farmers by providing more than 30 water tanks and by constructing irrigation channels, allowing farmers to shift their full attention to their crops instead of securing water. For its part, WFP continues distributing food and cash to more than 1 million people, also strengthening local governance structures so they can develop their own response plans. Our colleagues on the ground are concerned that 12 out of 21 districts in the Grand Sud risk seeing the situation deteriorate into a food security crisis this spring, with nearly 480,000 children currently at risk of acute malnutrition and needing urgent support.
Our UN team in Palestine, led by Resident Coordinator Lynn Hastings, continues working with authorities and civil society partners to advance human rights – including women’s rights – and the Rule of Law. The joint programme, called Swasya, meaning “equity” in Arabic, is rolled out by UN Women, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and provided training to 500 Palestinian Justice staff in 2022 on transparency, integrity, and accountability. Overall, 600,000 Palestinians across the Occupied Palestinian Territory accessed a form of legal aid in 2022, with UN support. Also during this period, our team pioneered the first legal aid incubator in the Middle East, involving 15 newly practicing lawyers from Gaza – 10 of them women. Colleagues on the ground are also strengthening the provision of services to women who survived violence through “one-stop” support centers in Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus, digitalizing records and providing mediation services for child dispute cases. Our Resident Coordinator called for more support to protect women, including through the adoption of the Family Protection Bill. She also thanked The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the European Union for their financial contribution to this important initiative.
Our UN team in Malawi, led by Resident Coordinator Rebecca Adda-Dontoh, is boosting support to authorities to tackle the worst cholera outbreak in two decades, with an upsurge of hundreds of new cases in the past two weeks. Since the onset of the outbreak last March, over 23,000 cholera cases have been recorded with nearly 800 preventable deaths. Authorities declared a public health emergency last month, as they reported over 7,000 new cases and nearly 300 deaths. Our team confirms that schools in the country’s two biggest cities reopened today following a temporary closure that affected nearly 1 million children over the last two weeks. To avoid students falling further behind after years of COVID interruptions, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ensured Water, Sanitation and Hygiene facilities were in place, while the World Food Programme (WFP) distributed hygiene items, reaching over 600,000 learners. UNICEF and World Health Organization (WHO) are working with authorities to train healthcare workers on cholera case management. They also provided nearly 60 urgently needed staff, nearly 440,000 Oral Rehydration Solution doses, and over 1.3 million water purification tablets. Our team also supported the national Oral Cholera Vaccination campaign, which delivered nearly 3 million doses to at-risk populations. UNICEF has also handed over US$300,000 in further life-saving supplies, such as Acute Watery Diarrheal kits, tents, and antibiotics, which will be distributed to cholera treatment centres.
Yesterday, on behalf of the Secretary-General and the UN team, our Resident Coordinator in Nepal Hanna Singer-Hamdy expressed her deepest sympathies to all Nepalese and foreign nationals onboard the Yeti Airlines Flight. She mourns the terrible human loss and extends her heartfelt condolences to the friends and families of the victims.
In a statement, our UN team in Peru regretted the loss of lives and expressed their deep concerns about the increase in violence related to the current social protests, offering condolences to the families of the deceased. Our colleagues on the ground urged authorities and security forces to urgently take measures to ensure respect for human rights, including the right to peaceful demonstration, to observe the standards and norms applicable to the use of weapons against protesters, and to facilitate a peaceful and negotiated solution to the crisis. Our team also called on all people and social organizations that have been demonstrating to refrain from acts of violence and to exercise the right to protest peacefully, respecting life and public and private property. We urge all parties to also protect the rights of people in vulnerable situations and to ensure that injured people receive timely medical attention. Our team in Peru also called for diligent, independent, impartial, and transparent investigations around allegations of human rights violations and to ensure justice for the cases of dead and injured people (including civilians, journalists, police, and military) since the beginning of the mobilizations, which began last month, ensuring lives are protected. The UN team in Peru is committed to supporting the mediation and generation of dialogue between the parties, monitoring compliance with international human rights standards to solve the crisis and return to the course of development and well-being.
As Uganda today marked the end of the Ebola outbreak, our Resident Coordinator Susan Ngongi Namondo appealed to the public to continue embracing prevention measures put in place by health authorities and the World Health Organization to avoid the recurrence of the disease. She also flagged that the Ebola outbreak is much more than a health crisis as it impacts every facet of society, along with COVID-19, threatening the advancement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Women, health workers, and people with disability are at high risk of infection, so prevention must continue, she said. With WHO and other UN entities, our team supported authorities’ response, including with surveillance and contact tracing, case management, and follow-up care for Ebola survivors. Our colleagues also supported diagnostics and laboratories, risk communication and community engagement, infection prevention, and control and waste management. Efforts also entailed care and treatment for patients in Ebola Treatment Units, safe and dignified burials, and ensuring the continuation of other essential health services. In Geneva, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus congratulated Uganda saying that this shows that Ebola can be defeated when the whole system works together, from having an alert system in place and finding and caring for people affected and their contacts to ensuring full participation of affected communities in the response.
We have an update from our team in Nigeria, led by acting Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Matthias Schmale, as they continue supporting authorities and civil society organizations to tackle gender-based violence. The problem increased dramatically since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, jumping from 60 reported cases in March 2020 to over 3,000 by July 2022. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN Population Fund (UNFPA), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), UN Development Programme (UNDP), and UN Women and partners are supporting women and girls survivors through the Spotlight Initiative, a joint UN and European Union programme. Over 800 survivors received psycho-social support and medical aid between March 2020 and October 2022. Our team also supported the creation of a community centre that provided services to over 1,100 victims during the same period. In addition, four maternal waiting homes have been established and 60 health workers have been trained to manage these homes. Also during this period, we have also helped install local surveillance and response teams to raise awareness about violence against women and girls and ensure that incidents are reported and addressed. Over 75 men and boys were also trained on skills in communicating and reporting on violence against women and girls, and 60 women’s rights groups were trained to more effectively advocate for ending gender-based violence.
In a statement yesterday, our UN team on the ground said they followed the events with concern, as protesters attacked and violently invaded public buildings in Brasilia, including the National Congress, the Planalto [Presidential] Palace, and the Federal Supreme Court. The UN strongly condemns any attack of this nature, which poses a serious threat to democratic institutions. Our UN team called on authorities to prioritize restoring order and upholding democracy and the rule of law.
Our team in Burundi, led by acting Resident Coordinator John Agbor, is stepping up its response efforts as health authorities declared a cholera outbreak last week. Forty cases have been reported in the country’s most populous city, Bujumbura, and neighboring Cibitoke province. Around 75 per cent of cases are already cured while the rest are being treated in two centres. To support authorities’ response plan, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO), in partnership with the Burundi Red Cross and Doctors without Borders (MSF), have distributed drinking water and installed water bladders to 5,700 households in the affected communities, also supplying 7,500 households with chlorine tabs for home water treatment. They also helped disinfect 7,500 households and public places, including health centers, schools, and markets. Around 2,300 households received water and sanitation kits, such as jerry cans, soaps, and buckets. UNICEF and WHO have also provided nine treatment kits and two testing kits to health authorities with the capacity to treat up to 900 cases. Our UN team is also supporting radio stations to boost preventative messages, mobilizing partners for door-to-door sensitization and hygiene promotion messaging. With the participation of UN agencies, the three-month response plan was adopted on 5 January with a budget of US$3.5 million that still needs to be mobilized.
Interested in more? Check out previous daily updates from UN teams ‘around the world’:
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