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Central African Republic ‘very volatile’, despite important progress – UN peacekeeping chief 

Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations, praised the peacekeeping mission in the country, MINUSCA, in providing security to thousands of internally displaced, helping to safeguard democratic order and protecting civilians “in the face of persisting attempts by the armed group coalition to asphyxiate the country”. 

However, notwithstanding these “outstanding efforts”, he upheld: “The situation remains very volatile”. 

Alarming humanitarian situation  

At the same time, insecurity has blocked the passage of more than a thousand trucks carrying lifesaving supplies, food and medical necessities, to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ongoing violence has also resulted in “significant renewed displacement and increased humanitarian needs and pushed civilians to again seek refuge in neighbouring countries”, said Mr. Lacroix.  

The Central African Republic “is now the most dangerous place for humanitarian work”, he added, noting it that it accounted for over 46 per cent of worldwide incidents registered by international non-governmental organizations last month.   

Glimmer of hope 

And yet, in “a major achievement”, the country is on track to successfully conclude a democratic transfer of power within the constitutional timeline, according to the UN official.   

Two years since its signing, the Political Agreement remains “the only viable framework for peace”, said Mr. Lacroix.  

“It is now essential that these democratic gains are preserved by completing the electoral process and advancing a peaceful resolution to the crisis”, he asserted. 

To start “healing the national trauma”, the UN peacekeeping chief advocated for “inclusive and meaningful dialogue…without delay” and for the international community to support national efforts by “promoting cooperation and coherence in the peace process”.   

Bolstering the mission 

Mr. Lacroix told the Council that as “the main guarantor of security for the civilian population”, MINUSCA is addressing the volatile situation and responding to increased protection needs. 

However, warning that the mission is being overstretched, he recommended the addition of 2,750 military and 940 police personnel to “strengthen MINUSCA’s ability to implement its priority mandated tasks…namely, to protect civilians, create the conditions for progress in the political process, and to facilitate the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance”.  

Against the backdrop of seven peacekeepers killed in hostile attacks during electoral violence and two others in the line of duty during the same period, Mr. Lacroix upheld that an augmentation would also contribute to safeguarding UN staff.  

A reinforcement would “address increased needs, as well as the existing capacity of MINUSCA”, he continued, pointing to ongoing efforts to optimize the peacekeeping mission’s performance.  

MINUSCA/Hervé Serefio
A woman casts her vote at a polling centre in the Central African Republic.

Advancing peace 

Mr. Lacroix painted a picture of rising human rights violations, increased civilian abductions and killings. Attacks against humanitarian workers, extrajudicial executions and conflict-related sexual violence are also on the rise, and he said that advancing peaceful dialogue must be coupled with fighting impunity, including for grave crimes committed in the electoral period.   

“This will require a commitment by national authorities to pursue accountability for violations by State and non-State actors, while safeguarding human rights and preserving and expanding civic space”, he said. 

The UN peacekeeping chief underscored the importance of reviewing and adjusting security needs with a view to re-establishing operational readiness for national defence and internal security forces.  

“The Central African people have suffered so much and deserve our steadfast support and attention”, he said, while also recognizing the “bravery and sacrifice” of MINUSCA personnel in this “exceptionally challenging context”.  

Central African people have suffered so much and deserve our steadfast support — UN peacekeeping chief

Other voices 

Meanwhile, Rita Laranjinha, Managing Director for the European External Action Service in Africa, outlined for ambassadors her support for all efforts to end impunity for rights abuses, as a key component of reconciliation and a sign of respect to and justice for victims and their families.   

She stressed that official corruption must end and urged prompt attention to the “disinformation” and hate speech that endanger peacekeepers and undermine trust in governance. 

Kessy Martine Ekomo-Soignet, Director of youth-led peacebuilding organization URU, spoke of a climate of “fear” that permeates much of CAR society, but maintained that the cry for peace was still being heard, loud and clear. 

“Our hopes are stronger than our fears”, she said, calling for redoubled efforts to “silence the guns” and honour the dreams of communities for peace.  

Ghana receives first historic shipment of COVID-19 vaccinations from international COVAX facility

Confirming the news on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that further supplies of the AstraZeneca/Oxford jab will reach Côte d’Ivoire later this week.

These are the first coronavirus shots from the COVAX scheme to be distributed outside India, where the vaccine is being produced under licence.

They were shipped from Mumbai to the Ghanaian capital, Accra, by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as part of the first wave of vaccines headed to several low and middle income countries.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore described their arrival as “the historic moment for which we have been planning and working so hard”, as the world ramps up the largest immunization campaign in history. 

“With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the COVAX Facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines,” she said.

Further supplies will be shipped to other nations as the global rollout gathers pace, when readiness criteria have been met and the doses produced.

Only the beginning

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director General, welcomed the development, along with COVAX partners Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

But he insisted that there was still “a lot of work to do” to secure support for WHO’s goal of giving the vaccine to all health workers and older people in the first 100 days of the year.

“We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere,” the WHO chief said in a joint statement. 

“Today is a major first step towards realizing our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it’s just the beginning. We still have a lot of work to do with governments and manufacturers to ensure that vaccination of health workers and older people is underway in all countries within the first 100 days of this year.”

Vaccine development ‘crucial’

Echoing the urgent need for universal vaccine distribution, Dr Richard Hatchett, Chief Executive Officer at CEPI, noted that there were now “multiple safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19 developed in record time”.

But the “increased spread” of COVID-19 variants had ushered in a “new and less predictable phase of the pandemic”, Dr Hatchett insisted. “It is crucial that the vaccines we have developed are shared globally, as a matter of the greatest urgency, to reduce the prevalence of disease, slow down viral mutation, and bring the pandemic to an end.”

In an appeal for greater support for the initiative, which Dr Seth Berkley, head of fellow COVAX partner GAVI insisted that the delivery of vaccines to Ghana was a proud moment, but it had to be repeated “to all participating economies” in coming weeks, “to ensure that those most at risk are protected, wherever they live”.

Governments and businesses needed to “recommit” to COVAX, the Gavi chief insisted “and help us defeat this virus as quickly as possible”.

In order for new coronavirus doses to be delivered to COVAX participants, the criteria which need to be fulfilled include confirmation of national regulatory authorisations for the vaccine in question, national vaccination plans and export and import licences.

Decline in deaths 

The development comes as WHO reported a drop in COVID-19 deaths for the third consecutive week.

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Some 66,000 deaths were reported last week, according to the UN agency’s latest update on the disease, which was issued on Wednesday.

WHO said deaths have fallen in all regions except the Western Pacific, which recorded a six per cent increase.

New infections also decreased by 11 per cent over the same period in four out of six regions.  However, South-East Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean reported small increases of two per cent and seven per cent respectively.

Globally, there have been nearly 111 million cases of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and more than 2.4 million deaths.

The United States, Brazil, France, Russia and India continue to report the highest number of cases.

Myanmar: Stop harassment of workers, UN agency urges military

In a statement on Tuesday, the agency said it received allegations that police and military are conducting door-to-door searches for trade unionists at their dormitories and hostels in the Hlaingtharyar industrial township, in the country’s largest city, Yangon. 

It is alleged that the acts of harassment and intimidation are “largely targeted” at young female workers working in the private sector industries of Yangon, who are living far away from their families in the rural areas, ILO said. 

“The ILO urges the military authorities to cease all acts of harassment and intimidation against these workers, in particular young female workers, and ensure that all workers can exercise their rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression as well as other human rights in a climate free of violence, pressure, fear and threat of any kind”, the agency added. 

Ongoing protests 

Mass protests have grown steadily across Myanmar since the military takeover on 1 February, and arrests of several key leaders and elected officials, including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and President Win Myint.  

The takeover followed escalating tensions between the government and the military over the November 2020 elections, which were won by Ms. Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD). 

At least two individuals, including a child, are reported to have been killed and many injured, since the crisis erupted. There are also reports of use of excessive and lethal force by security forces, including live ammunition, against demonstrators.  

Fears of disruption of essential services 

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) has voiced deep concerns over the use of force, cautioning that it may contribute to an escalation of violence against women, girls and young people. 

In a separate statement, the UN sexual and reproductive health agency, also expressed fears that essential services, including safe pregnancy and childbirth programmes, could be disrupted due to the ongoing crisis. 

“In light of the unfolding events in Myanmar, UNFPA joins the wider UN family in expressing its strongest concern over the adverse impacts on the rights, safety, health and well-being of the people of Myanmar, including women, girls and young people” UNFPA said. 

Disruptions to essential services to meet the health needs of women and girls, including safe pregnancy and childbirth, “will have serious, even life-threatening implications if timely access to emergency obstetric and newborn care is compromised or not provided in general”, it added, noting that the most disadvantaged and vulnerable communities would be hit the hardest. 

“UNFPA stands with women, girls and young people in Myanmar and their right to sexual and reproductive health care, even during the crisis”, the agency added. 

ILO and UNFPA reiterated the call of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres for the military and security forces to respect the fundamental human rights of the people of Myanmar.

Supermodel Natalia Vodianova joins UNFPA to tackle stigma and advance women’s health

“For too long, society’s approach to menstruation and women’s health has been defined by taboo and stigma”, said Ms. Vodianova, stressing that the situation “has undermined the most basic needs and rights of women.”

In her new role with UNFPA, officially known as the UN Population Fund, Ms. Vodianova will seek to help culturally redefine menstruation, as a normal bodily function.

On any given day, more than 800 million women and girls aged 15 to 49 are actively menstruating. In many countries, taboos surrounding the cycle leaves girls vulnerable and can even be life-threatening, says UNFPA, as they are excluded from public life, denied opportunities, sanitation and basic health needs.

Major mission

The agency said in a press release, that the issue has been starved of the attention it deserves, but in recent years that has started to change, and “achieving this, is central to UNFPA’s mandate”.

“It’s a tragic irony that something as universal as menstruation can make girls feel so isolated…We all have a role to play in breaking the taboos around menstruation”, said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem, underscoring the significance of spotlighting the damage caused.

She added that the agency “is pleased to partner with such a powerful and committed advocate. Societies prosper when girls are confident, empowered and making their own decisions!”

Building on past momentum

Over the past three years, Ms. Vodianova has teamed up with UNFPA to launch a series of “Let’s Talk” events worldwide, which have mobilised policy makers, civil society and the private sector to help tackle shame, exclusion and discrimination, faced routinely by millions of women and girls.

Leaders from various sectors such as fashion, politics, sport, technology and media have also gathered in Turkey, Kenya, Switzerland, Belarus and India to advance women’s health.

Raised in poverty by a single mother in Russia, along with caring for a half-sister who has cerebral palsy and autism, Ms.Vodianova is a passionate advocate for human rights, including reproductive rights and the rights of people living with disabilities, UNFPA noted.

The agency said it was looking forward to working with her in her role as a bridge builder across the fashion and technology industries, where she’s an influential international voice, to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

COVID-19 imperils ‘historic advances’ in children’s access to school meals: UN report

According to WFP’s report, State of School Feeding Worldwide, 370 million children in 199 countries and territories were suddenly deprived of school meals, when schools closed due to the pandemic. That meal was for many their only nutritious food of the day. 

David Beasley, WFP Executive Director, highlighted the importance of what’s been lost: “That one meal a day is often the reason hungry children go to school in the first place. It’s also a powerful incentive to make sure they’ll come back after lockdown ends.

“We need to get these programmes running again – even better than before – to stop COVID destroying the futures of millions of the world’s most vulnerable children.” 

To that end, WFP will build a coalition to support governments scale up their school meals programmes, working with development agencies, donors, the private sector and civil society organizations, according to the agency. 

It has also launched a ten-year School Feeding Strategy to strengthen its global strategic role in school health and nutrition. In addition, the agency will promote research on school health and nutrition as a global public good, helping countries create more cost-efficient programmes. 

Benefits of school meals  

Before the coronavirus pandemic, national school feeding programmes delivered school meals to one in two schoolchildren globally – or 388 million children – more than at any time before, making them the most extensive social safety net in the world, according to the WFP report. 

Studies have shown that school meals have a major impact on the lives of children, particularly those from poor families, the agency said, explaining that they stave off hunger, support long-term health and help a child learn and thrive. For girls, these meals are even more important, as they help keep them in school longer, reduce child marriages, and decrease teen pregnancies. 

When school meal programmes use locally produced food, they also boost a community’s economy, creating stable demand and market, supporting local agriculture and strengthening local food systems.  

The report highlighted that in the post-COVID-19 world, school feeding programmes will be even more of a priority investment, as they help countries to build a healthy and educated population, while supporting national growth and promoting economic development. 

UNICEF/Mark Naftalin
Students at a school in Honiara, Solomon Islands, eat lunch at school. (file photo)

Up to $9 back on the dollar 

Efficient school meals programmes yield returns of up to $9 for every $1 invested, and create jobs, WFP said, pointing to its calculations that about 1,668 new jobs are created for every 100,000 children fed. 

“After the turmoil of recent months, we must seize the opportunity to start building the better world we all want to see”, Executive Director Beasley urged, stressing that “WFP is fully committed to working with our partners to ensure that no child, regardless of where they live, goes to school hungry – or worse, doesn’t go to school at all.”  

UN to review deadly convoy attack in DR Congo which led to Italian Ambassador’s death

The UN’s Department of Safety and Security (UNDSS) will be leading a detailed review into the incident, the agency said in an update on Tuesday. 

Forced to disembark 

Ambassador Luca Attanasio and his security escort, Vittorio Iacovacci, were among seven people travelling in two WFP vehicles from Goma, capital of North Kivu province, to visit one of the agency’s school feeding programmes in Rutshuru, approximately 40 kilometres away. 

The group left Goma at approximately 9:00 AM, local time, on Monday.  An armed group stopped the vehicles around 10:15 AM, forcing all the passengers to disembark.  One of the drivers, Mustapha Milambo, was killed at this time. 

“The remaining six passengers were then forced into the surrounding bush at gunpoint where there was an exchange of fire”, WFP said.   

“During the exchange of fire, the Italian Ambassador, Luca Attanasio and his security escort, Vittorio Iacovacci, were mortally injured and subsequently died.” 

The other passengers, all WFP staff, are safe and accounted for. They include the agency’s Deputy Country Director, Rocco Leone; School Feeding Programme Assistant, Fidele Zabandora; Security Officer, Mansour Rwagaza, and the second driver, Claude Mukata. 

Tribute to a brave staff member 

Mr. Milambo, the WFP driver, was buried on Tuesday, according to the agency’s Executive Director, David Beasley, who commemorated the murdered staff member in a post on Twitter. 

“Mustapha was laid to rest today in DRC, following yesterday’s attack that took his life”, he wrote.  “For 16 years, he served with commitment, dedication and bravery as a @WFP driver. He will be greatly missed by us all. Please keep his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers”. 

The UN Secretary-General has strongly condemned the attack and has called on the Congolese authorities to swiftly investigate this “heinous targeting” of a UN joint field mission, according to a statement issued on Monday by his Spokesperson. 

 

Experts accuse Iran of rights violations in shooting down Ukraine airlines flight

Agnes Callamard, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and Javaid Rehman, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the country, have consistently expressed concern over the 8 January 2020 incident. 

Flight PS752 was heading from Tehran to Kiev when it was struck down by two missiles fired by the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), killing all 176 people on board.    

Iran said the military personnel mistook the civilian aircraft for a US missile. 

The strike took place in the context of heightened tensions following the targeted killing of General Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian official, by the United States, and Iran’s subsequent retaliations on US bases in Iraq, where he was killed. 

Following a six-month inquiry, Ms. Callamard wrote to the Iranian Government last December. outlining observations and circumstances surrounding the strike. She said she has yet to receive a response. 

The letter remained confidential for 60 days, in line with the Human Rights Council’s policy on communications to States, and was published on Tuesday.

Her letter concluded that the Iranian authorities violated the right to life of the passengers and crew onboard the plane. 

Avoidable deaths 

“In situations of high military tension, the most effective means to prevent attacks on civil aviation is to close the airspace”, she said. “Had Iran, knowing full well that hostilities with the US could readily escalate, closed its airspace for civilian traffic that evening, 176 human beings would not have been killed.” 

She said Iran’s explanations for downing the flight present many inconsistencies and contradictions. 

“The inconsistencies in the official explanations seem designed to create a maximum of confusion and a minimum of clarity. They seem contrived to mislead and bewilder,” she wrote. 

‘Reckless disregard’ 

“As for the mistakes that have been admitted, they suggest at minimum a reckless disregard for standard procedures and for the principles of precaution, which should have been implemented to the fullest given the circumstances and the location of the missile unit in the proximity of a civilian airfield.” 

Ms. Callamard and Mr.Rehman were among a group of independent experts who also wrote to the Iranian authorities last February, expressing concern over the use of force in protests that followed the attack. 

In his latest report to the Human Rights Council, Mr. Rehman has also raised concerns over harassment of families of the victims of Flight PS752, including death threats. 

Special Rapporteurs are not UN staff, nor are they paid by the Organization.  They are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and advise on specific country situations or thematic issues. 

Climate crisis and economic shocks leave millions food insecure across Central America

According to WFP, the economic crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic and years of extreme climate events have left almost 8 million people in Central America chronically hungry so far this year.

‘Long and slow’ recovery

“Considering the level of destruction and setbacks faced by those affected, we expect this to be a long and slow recovery”, said Miguel Barreto, WFP Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.

A WFP survey in January showed that around 15 percent of people indicated they were making “concrete plans” to migrate, as a result of livelihood losses and unemployment.

Moreover, 6.8 million people were hit hard by record-setting hurricanes Eta and Iota, which left them homeless or jobless as well as destroying over 200,000 hectares of staple food and cash crops across the four countries, and more than 10,000 hectares of coffee farmland in Honduras and Nicaragua.

Hitting ‘rock bottom’

As COVID-19 has wracked food security in Central America, the number of households living in hunger during the pandemic, has nearly doubled in Guatemala compared to pre-pandemic numbers. In Honduras, it has increased by more than 50 percent.

 “Urban and rural communities in Central America have hit rock bottom”, said Mr. Barreto, stressing that “the COVID-19-induced economic crisis had already put food on the market shelves out of reach for the most vulnerable people when the twin hurricanes Eta and Iota battered them further.”

Central American communities have borne the brunt of a climate emergency, as years of drought and erratic weather have disrupted food production – especially staples like maize and beans, which depend heavily on regular rainfall.

Urgent funding needed

WFP is calling for international support to provide urgent humanitarian assistance in Central America and to invest in long-term development projects and national programmes that help vulnerable communities withstand future crises, especially those which recur.

The UN agency requires $47.3 million over the next six months to assist 2.6 million people in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua in 2021.

First wave of COVID-19 vaccine syringes start journey to Maldives

The shipment is part of “the first wave” of syringes and safety boxes organised by the agency, which over the next few weeks, plans to dispatch more than 14.5 million single-use needles to more than 30 countries, including Côte d’Ivoire and São Tomé and Principe.

These include the 0.5 millilitre syringes which are meant for use with the AstraZeneca vaccine, while the 0.3 millilitre version is for the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.

One billion jabs

In total, UNICEF aims to supply up to one billion syringes and 10 million safety boxes to countries in 2021, ahead of the broader rollout of new coronavirus vaccines in 82 low and low-to-middle income countries.

“In this global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, syringes are as vital as the vaccine itself,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“It is critical to have adequate supplies of syringes already in place in every country before the vaccine arrives so that the vaccine can be administered safely. This would allow immunization to start immediately and help turn the tide on this terrible virus.”

Oxygen shortage hits 500,000

In a further update on lifesaving coronavirus supplies, the UN is warning that COVID-19 has left more than half a million people around the world without enough oxygen canisters to help them breathe more easily while fighting the infection.

According to the UN-launched international drug purchasing facility, UNITAID, demand in low and middle-income countries has spiked because of the virus – although the problem pre-dates the coronavirus because of cost and logistical barriers.

To respond to the emergency, a COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce has been launched to supply oxygen in up to 20 countries, including Malawi, Nigeria and Afghanistan.

It’s part of the UN and partner-led COVAX initiative to protect people from COVID-19 worldwide and it needs $1.6 billion in funding over the next 12 months.

UNITAID spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel, said that since the start of the pandemic nearly a year ago, affordable and sustainable access to oxygen has been a growing challenge, in low and middle income countries, “while COVID-19 has put huge pressure on health systems, with hospitals in many low and middle-income countries running out of oxygen, resulting in preventable deaths.”

Mr. Verhoosel said that 1.1 million cylinders of oxygen are needed every day, while 25 countries have reported surging demand, the majority of which are in Africa.

© UNICEF/Charles Asamoah
UNICEF has begun shipping syringes for the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines under COVAX.

Call to smooth access for vaccine distribution

The UN civil aviation organization ICAO, and the World Customs Organization (WCO), published a joint statement on Tuesday, calling on governments to demonstrate “maximum flexibility with respect to border clearance” and the air transport supply chain operations which are essential to the effective distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and related medical supplies.

The two agencies have also developed new guidelines to help countries achieve better alignment of their customs and security procedures.

Signed by ICAO Secretary General, Fang Liu and WCO Secretary General, Kunio Mikuriya, the joint statement on vaccines urges the rapid establishment of the infrastructure needed to support end-to-end vaccine storage and logistics for public supplies.

Improved open collaboration between aviation and customs authorities and partnering organizations, is also strongly emphasized in the statement. The agencies are also encouraging countries to designate required aviation staff as “key workers” providing an essential service, in alignment with the WHO’s Roadmap for Prioritizing Uses of COVID-19 Vaccines.

World risks ‘collapse of everything’ without strong climate action, Attenborough warns Security Council

Climate shocks such as record high temperatures and a “new normal” of wildfires, floods and droughts, are not only damaging the natural environment, said UN chief António Guterres, but also threatening political, economic and social stability. 

“The science is clear: we need to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century,” the Secretary-General said.  

“And our duty is even clearer: we need to protect the people and communities that are being hit by climate disruption. We must step up preparations for the escalating implications of the climate crisis for international peace and security.” 

A matter of when, not if: Boris Johnson 

Heads of State and Government, as well as other senior political leaders, participated in the Council meeting, which was convened by the United Kingdom, co-host of the latest global climate change conference, known as COP26, taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, in November. 

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired the online meeting, calling for action now. 

“Whether you like it or not, it is a matter of when, not if, your country and your people will have to deal with the security impacts of climate change”, he said, urging them to show the global leadership necessary to keep the world safe. 

Sir David Attenborough’s warning 

The UK holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member Council this month, and renowned British naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough issued a sobering warning to leaders. 

“If we continue on our current path, we will face the collapse of everything that gives us our security: food production, access to fresh water, habitable ambient temperature, and ocean food chains,” he said, adding “and if the natural world can no longer support the most basic of our needs, then much of the rest of civilization will quickly break down.”  

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While there is no going back, Sir David stressed that if countries act fast enough, “we can reach a new stable state.”  He pointed to the immense public support worldwide for climate action. 

“People today all over the world now realize this is no longer an issue which will affect future generations,” he said.  “It is people alive today, and, in particular, young people, who will live with the consequences of our actions.” 

‘Young people are the solution’ 

Nisreen Elsaim, a young activist from Sudan, spoke of how climate vulnerability is forcing young Africans and their counterparts elsewhere to leave their homelands, which can contribute to conflict.   

“As a young person I am sure that young people are the solution”, said Ms. Elsaim, chair of the UN Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change. “Give us more space, listen to us and engage youth.” 

She also welcomed the Council’s resolution establishing the new UN political mission in her country, UNITAMS, which specifically mentions climate change and youth participation as priority issues. 

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‘The multilateral challenge of our age’ 

The UN Secretary-General has repeatedly referred to climate change as “the defining issue of our time”.   

In his briefing to the Council, Mr. Guterres outlined the need for action in four priority areas: prevention, protection, security and partnerships. 

Under prevention, he emphasized the need for countries to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which seeks to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. 

“The climate crisis is the multilateral challenge of our age”, he said, underlining the need for unparalleled global coordination and cooperation.  

“I urge Council members to use their influence during this pivotal year to ensure the success of COP26, and to mobilize others, including international financial institutions and the private sector, to do their part.”

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