UN UPDATE

The Week Ahead at the United Nations: 29 April – 3 May 2019

Monday 29 April

  • The Security Council is expected to adopt a resolution on MINURSO, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara and will hold an open debate on the Middle East.
  • The Security Council meets on the Middle East, with a focus on Syria.
  • OCHA briefs reporters on Cyclone Kenneth.
  • A new report on antimicrobial resistance is released.

Tuesday 30 April

  • UN Peacekeeping Operations in Africa (House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing)
  • International Jazz Day
  • The Security Council meets on UNISFA, the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei, Sudan/South Sudan.
  • UNFPA honors the memory and contributions of its first Executive Director with Her Excellency Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, delivering the 15th Rafael M. Salas Memorial Lecture.

Wednesday 1 May

  • The Humanitarian Impact of Eight Years of War in Syria (Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing; UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Ben Stiller is among the witnesses)
  • Indonesia takes the presidency of the Security Council for the month of May.

Thursday 2 May

  • World Tuna Day
  • The Security Council begins its annual two-day retreat with the Secretary-General.

Friday 3 May

In case you missed it:

Last week,the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues opened its two-week meeting focused this year on the generation, transmission and protection of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge. The Security Council held an open debate on sexual violence in conflict on 23 April, and consultations on Syria on 24 April. Secretary-General António Guterres addressed the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on 27 April. Among the noteworthy commemorations:

For more information:

UN Spokesperson: http://www.un.org/sg/en/spokesperson

UN, global health agencies sound alarm on drug-resistant infections; new recommendations to reduce ‘staggering number’ of future deaths

Deaths caused by infections from antibiotic-resistant bacteria will skyrocket over the next two decades, along with huge economic costs, without immediate, ambitious and coordinated action, the UN World Health Organization (WHO) and partners warned on Monday.

According to a groundbreaking report, the UN Ad hoc Interagency Coordinating Group on Antimicrobial Resistance warned that if no action is taken, drug-resistant diseases could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 and damage to the economy as catastrophic as during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. By 2030, antimicrobial resistance could force up to 24 million people into extreme poverty. 

PAHO/WHOLab assistant growing culture viruses and bacteria in the “Infectious Room” of the Cancer Institute of Columbia.

Currently, at least 700,000 people die each year due to drug-resistant diseases, including 230,000 people who die from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.

More and more common diseases, including respiratory and urinary tract infections, as well as sexually transmitted infections, are untreatable; lifesaving medical procedures are becoming much riskier, and our food systems are increasingly precarious, says the report.

“We are at a critical point in the fight to protect some of our most essential medicines,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General and Co-Chair of the IACG. “This report makes concrete recommendations that could save thousands of lives every year.”

The world is already feeling the economic and health consequences as crucial medicines become ineffective. Without investment from countries in all income brackets, future generations will face the disastrous impacts of uncontrolled antimicrobial resistance.

 Recognizing that human, animal, food and environmental health are closely interconnected, the report calls for a coordinated, multisectoral ‘One Health’ approach. 

 It recommends countries:

  • prioritize national action plans to scale-up financing and capacity-building efforts; 
  • put in place stronger regulatory systems and support awareness programs for responsible and prudent use of antimicrobials by professionals in human, animal and plant health;
  • invest in ambitious research and development for new technologies to combat antimicrobial resistance; and
  • urgently phase out the use of critically important antimicrobials as growth promoters in agriculture.

“Antimicrobial resistance is one of the greatest threats we face as a global community. This report reflects the depth and scope of the response needed to curb its rise and protect a century of progress in health,” said Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General and Co-Chair of the IACG.

“It rightly emphasizes that there is no time to wait, and I urge all stakeholders to act on its recommendations and work urgently to protect our people and planet and secure a sustainable future for all,” she added. 

The report highlights the need for coordinated and intensive efforts to overcome antimicrobial resistance: a major barrier to the achievement of many of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including universal health coverage, secure and safe food, sustainable farming systems and clean water and sanitation.

Senior UN official strongly condemns Southern California synagogue attack

The top official for the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) has strongly condemned the attack Saturday on a synagogue in Southern California, denouncing the deadly incident as a hate crime targeting Sabbath worshipers on the last day of Passover.

UN Photo/Aliza EliazarovThe High-Representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, briefs reporters at UN Headquarters (file).

According to news reports, on Saturday, a gunman armed with a semiautomatic rifle entered a synagogue in Poway, California, some 40 kilometres north of San Diego, yelling anti-Semitic slurs, and opened fire. The attack left one woman dead, the rabbi and two others wounded.

This incident comes in the wake of a series of attacks against mosques, synagogues and other places of worship in the past months, including the Easter Sunday suicide bombings targeting churches in Sri Lanka that killed more than 250 people. Last month, dozens of worshippers were gunned down at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

In a statement, UNAOC High Representative Miguel Moratinos reiterated that such cowardly attacks are  not confined to one religion, country or ethnicity.

Mr. Moratinos also stressed that this spate of violence against houses of worship targeting innocent and peaceful citizens “should not obstruct our efforts to combat hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination.”

He vowed to continue to work on developing his Plan of Action for safeguarding religious sites to guarantee that worshipers can observe their rituals in a spirit of peace and compassion.

On behalf of UNAOC, the High Representative expressed his deepest condolences to the family of the victim and wishes those who were injured a speedy recovery.

The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations was established in 2005, as the political initiative of former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and co-sponsored by the Governments of Spain and Turkey. A High-Level Group of experts was formed to explore the roots of polarization between societies and cultures, and to recommend a practical programme of action to address the issue.

UN appeals for international support as flood waters rise in wake of second Mozambique cyclone

With Mozambique and Comoros battling heavy rains and raging flood waters in the wake of Cyclone Kenneth – the second major storm to hit southern Africa in the past six weeks – the United Nations and its humanitarian partners are supporting national authorities in assessing needs and providing help.

UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said on Sunday that Secretary-General António Guterres is appealing to the international community for additional resources, critically needed to fund the response to the twin tragedies in the immediate, medium- and longer-term.

OCHA/Saviano AbreuMacomia district, in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, has been hard-hit by Cyclone Kenneth, which made landfall on 25 April.

“The Secretary-General is deeply saddened at reports of loss of lives and destruction in Mozambique and Comoros as a result of tropical cyclone Kenneth, six weeks after Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe,” the Spokesman said in a statement.

The UN chief also extended his condolences and solidarity to the families of the victims and to the governments and peoples of Mozambique and Comoros.

In a flash update earlier Sunday, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said the cyclone, with powerful winds that ripped the roofs off homes, caused the death of at least five people in Mozambique’s Pemba city, Macomia district and on Ibo Island, according to Government reports.

Some 3,500 homes in Comoros have been totally or partially destroyed and there are reports of electrical outages, road blockages and at least one bridge collapse, according to WFP.

The UN and its partners have been in the region since late March, after Cyclone Idai made landfall near Beira City in central Mozambique. The long-lived cyclone continued across land as a Tropical Storm and hit eastern Zimbabwe, southeastern Malawi and parts of Madagascar with heavy rains and strong winds.

Last Friday, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock lamented that Cyclone Idai had devastated central Mozambique, killing more than 600 people, unleashing a cholera epidemic, wiping out crops in the country’s breadbasket, forcing a million people to rely on food assistance to survive, and causing massive destruction of homes, schools and infrastructure in one of the world’s poorest countries.

He stressed that Cyclone Kenneth marks the first time two cyclones have made landfall in Mozambique during the same season, further stressing the Government’s limited resources. Malawi and Zimbabwe are also expected to experience heavy rains and flooding caused by Cyclone Kenneth.

“Cyclone Kenneth may require a major new humanitarian operation at the same time that the ongoing Cyclone Idai response targeting three million people in three countries remains critically underfunded,” said Mr. Lowcock, adding:  “The families whose lives have been turned upside down by these climate-related disasters urgently need the generosity of the international community to survive over the coming months.”